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Are Amps and Cabs still a thing moving forward?


dmdavies

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No axe to grind either way, I’ve seen good and bad sound from IEM and non IEM using bands.

What I think is important (for big bands) is probably Their own engineer and a good in house engineer who knows the venue, how the sound behaves depending on capacity.

Two of the best sounding gigs I have been to over the past couple years were both where artists were not using IEMs - great mix, great volume levels

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10 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

No axe to grind either way, I’ve seen good and bad sound from IEM and non IEM using bands.

What I think is important (for big bands) is probably Their own engineer and a good in house engineer who knows the venue, how the sound behaves depending on capacity.

Two of the best sounding gigs I have been to over the past couple years were both where artists were not using IEMs - great mix, great volume levels

I had the pleasure of seeing Def Leppard at the O2 a couple of years ago. No amps on stage at all. All using Amp-FX straight to desk with IEM. The sound was incredible.

Allegedly they dug out the Hysteria stems and created guitar patches based on those original recordings.

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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

You don't even need to use an EQ module on the patch. If you are after the same high cut on all your sounds you can make use of the global EQ instead.

Even if there is a mic on the cab, the only person who knows for sure that it is being used is the FoH engineer. I'm sure that plenty of PA engineers will put up a mic to keep the bass player happy and then use a DI exclusively for the FoH sound.

In the days when I still had a conventional bass rig when I went into the studio I would ask for one of the cabs to be mic'd up, but there was still also a DI from the amp and one direct from the bass itself. And I would never know which of those signals was the one that ended up in the final mix and TBH so long as the bass sounded right for what I had envisaged on the track I really didn't care.

IMO the Helix doesn't need to offer a "sim" of any classic studio EQ. I'd be perfectly happy with a standard 4-band parametric as found on just about any modern digital desk.

Whilst true regarding the high cut, I do tweak it for the odd patch. However, I prefer to use the global eq to adjust my stage speaker and bypass it to FOH. So having a high cut per patch just work better for me.  (FWIW, I tried an equal loudness Global eq curve that a Helix guru friend of mine created at the weekend. Worked quite well and worth experimenting with http://drtonelab.com/lab/jon-willis-live-comp).

Yes, the standard parametric eq in the Helix is usually enough, but I'd love to hear some classic console emulations that I used to use in PodFarm.  So many classic bass and guitar tracks were recorded this way. JHS even created the Colorbox pedal to emulate 'that' sound. Maybe Helix may model this pedal one day.

 

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On 24/08/2020 at 08:48, gt4ever said:

To flip it on its head, from a punters point of view,  I visually like to see a backline, It gives a backdrop and character to the band imo.  Seeing the choice of cab and amp tells me a lot about the musicians as well.

Now if I see a band with no backline I applaud them (along with my ears) for being progressive and forward thinking, to be able to realise that there are solutions to the volume problem.

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29 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

There's so many cooler props than an amp that you could have on stage.

Oh... and washing machines have been done.

Rush have been using various props instead of amps for years. I think as well as running washing machines they've had bread ovens which rotate the bread.

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We played  a gig at a party in an old barn once. The electrics were shoddy and my Ampeg SVT kept cutting out. I was forced to go straight into the desk via a sans amp, which I luckily had in my bag. Trouble is, we didn't have any dedicated monitors. It was all backline and PA bleed. What an ordeal. I couldn't hear myself at all and hated the gig. Strangely we went down really well, even after the first half when my amp was cutting out. Drunk folk have no clue!

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2 minutes ago, ubit said:

We played  a gig at a party in an old barn once. The electrics were shoddy and my Ampeg SVT kept cutting out. I was forced to go straight into the desk via a sans amp, which I luckily had in my bag. Trouble is, we didn't have any dedicated monitors. It was all backline and PA bleed. What an ordeal. I couldn't hear myself at all and hated the gig. Strangely we went down really well, even after the first half when my amp was cutting out. Drunk folk have no clue!

Thats because they were only there to see you.

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On 24/08/2020 at 15:35, TRBboy said:

We generally play pubs, weddings venues, parties etc, and usually only run a pair of mid-tops for vocals (and sometimes kick drum). We're pretty loud for a pub covers band.. And regularly having battles with levels of issues getting a good sound. The drums often get lost (as does the bass sometimes) due to the two guitarists valve amps. 

I've been trying to sell the idea of upgrading the PA and running everything through it for years, so that we can reduce the stage volume, have more control, and achieve a more consistent sound, possibly with a view to ditching the backline at some point.

Sadly no one else wants to buy into the idea. The vibe I get from the guitarists is that I'm creating a problem that doesn't exist, and that they just want to get the big amps out and make some noise. 

The drummer doesn't really have an opinion as he feels the whole conversation is outside of his sphere of knowledge. 

I find the whole thing frustrating, but a band is a democracy and I'm one voice out of 4, if I can't get the other guys to buy into it then that's that. 🤷🏻‍♂️

EDIT: We do actually have a pair of subs, but they virtually never get used because the rest of the guys don't think it's necessary. Unless we're playing a big outdoor gig or something. 

We play pubs but I decided to invest the cash in a flexible digital system that gives us so many options for monitoring/FOH sound and went for the X32 rack desk with a pair of digital stage boxes - one upstage, one downstage.  Every band member has their own dedicated monitor mix, we have enough spare channels to run multiple signals to multiple channels e.g. each guitar mic (Sennheiser 906) runs into two desk channels - the wedges are fed with a hard limited signal from channel A set so that some lift is heard - this means that lead patches don't jump up too aggressively but the uncompressed signal has plenty of additional gain to lift above the band through the 2nd dedicated FoH channel B which doesn't feed any wedges.  We can also EQ each channel differently if there are feedback issues although inserting a graphic on each aux send feeding monitors has made this an unnecessary requirement.

I'm lucky in that although no-one else contributed financially (a decision on my part to avoid the arguments) everyone else in the band has bought into the idea of lower backline levels and good monitoring leading to a much reduced on-stage volume giving way to better FoH sound that's easier to manage.  I'd like to go completely backline free but the current compromise setup is working fine with both guitarists running at around 15w on-stage.

In reality - it takes 10 mins to pop a few extra mics in front of the guitar cabs and with a digital desk you have a base setup loaded that needs tweaking for each venue then save it away to the desk for the next time that you play there...it really doesn't get much easier.

This is complete contrast to an 'old school' guitarist I worked with in the past that couldn't get past 100w heads and 4x12s!!!

 

Edited by DaytonaRik
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2 hours ago, EBS_freak said:

 

I'd taken a step back but I'll bite.

 

Here's some view points to consider.

Plenty of people go to a gig, or festivals to "see" bands, yet still have obstructed view of the stage due to people's heads... or in some cases, end up watching the show via big screens alongside the stage. Would make for a pretty poor experience if the sound was pants too.

For a lot of artists, it's all about seeing the spectacle of the show but it's a given that the sound has to be good also. You may recall the media couldn't wait to rip into the Spice Girls when there were complaints about the audio. Seeing the show was not enough. And you could argue that the audience were a home crowd and not exactly your audiophile audience.

Plenty of people have been to gigs where the sound as been horrible... and it's always the sound mans fault for doing a stinky poo house mix. In reality, the sound guy is an important member of the band - even if they aren't on stage. They can make or break your sound. If somebody wants to come on stage and run an amp so loud to get "their sound" and feel good, so be it. After all, they are the talent. However, ultimately - and this is the science here, you are going to get bleed into other microphones and the mix will suffer. How much depends on how much of those little nuances that impact the mix sum. So yeah, there's so much you can get from baffles, correct mic choice and placement, monitor wedge volume etc... I get that you won't get a CD mix in a gig situation - but as an audience member you do want to be able to hear things clearly - and you don't want to have that lone guitar cab overpowering the front of house speakers. Or perhaps you do. You'd hope that an artist would want to sound the best that they could out front, even if it means compromising what you want on stage - after all, it's the audience that are paying your keep.

In reality, it's about the right rig for the right gig. If you are playing a small gig, you have to compromise with the backline you are using to work with the sound guy to make you sound the best out front. If people don't want to sound the best out front, why are they even bothering? It's a certain arrogance of artists that has always been entertained for so long.

 

 

Most sound problems at gigs are: in big gigs, terrible venue acoustics, where the FOH guy / gal is on a hiding to nothing. Small gigs: The band are just too loud.

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26 minutes ago, DaytonaRik said:

We play pubs but I decided to invest the cash in a flexible digital system that gives us so many options for monitoring/FOH sound and went for the X32 rack desk with a pair of digital stage boxes - one upstage, one downstage.  Every band member has their own dedicated monitor mix, we have enough spare channels to run multiple signals to multiple channels e.g. each guitar mic (Sennheiser 906) runs into two desk channels - the wedges are fed with a hard limited signal from channel A set so that some lift is heard - this means that lead patches don't jump up too aggressively but the uncompressed signal has plenty of additional gain to lift above the band through the 2nd dedicated FoH channel B which doesn't feed any wedges.  We can also EQ each channel differently if there are feedback issues although inserting a graphic on each aux send feeding monitors has made this an unnecessary requirement.

I'm lucky in that although no-one else contributed financially (a decision on my part to avoid the arguments) everyone else in the band has bought into the idea of lower backline levels and good monitoring leading to a much reduced on-stage volume giving way to better FoH sound that's easier to manage.  I'd like to go completely backline free but the current compromise setup is working fine with both guitarists running at around 15w on-stage.

In reality - it takes 10 mins to pop a few extra mics in front of the guitar cabs and with a digital desk you have a base setup loaded that needs tweaking for each venue then save it away to the desk for the next time that you play there...it really doesn't get much easier.

This is complete contrast to an 'old school' guitarist I worked with in the past that couldn't get past 100w heads and 4x12s!!!

 

That's exactly the problem, my guys just don't see the issue. And my lead guitarist /singer has a 100w valve head and 4x12 and wants to crank it up! Damn thing produces more bass frequencies than I do....  😅

Edited by TRBboy
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7 minutes ago, TRBboy said:

That's exactly the problem, my guys just don't see the issue. And my lead guitarist /singer has a 100w valve head and 4x12 and wants to crank it up! Fan thing produces more bass frequencies than I do....  😅

There's no educating stupid.

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Just now, EBS_freak said:

There's no educating stupid.

Ain't dat da troof.

The reality is (IME anyway) that the only solution is to walk away from that band and/or guitarist.

Unless he's an 11-year-old, in which case there may still be time to educate/train him. If he's supposedly an adult, then he won't be doing much more learning.

 

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