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Are Amps and Cabs still a thing moving forward?


dmdavies

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I'm lucky that my current drummer plays at a decent level and we can actually talk (loudly) over his drumming. It does mean that we generally have to mic up drums on occasions where other drummers would not but that's no big deal.

He's been a pro drummer over the years and played world stadium type tours in 90's incl Wembley Arena.

I have heard him play harder and louder but its not something he does instinctively. 

I've played with drummers in past too where i had to use earplugs.  Agree that drummer sets the level on stage and current band being "more mature" we are all happy with a lower stage volume.

Dave 

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Drummers.

Rule 1. Right kit.

Having a big kit is generally loud and sounds flabby and uncontrolled. Get a smaller, quieter acoustic kit. Its not only quieter, it makes things sound tighter. Get darker sounding cymbals. They tend to be less shrill and quieter.

On a small stage, or troublesome room, the sound from acoustic kits fly off everywhere, bouncing into open mics. In which case, get a decent electric kit. Most drummers moan about electric kits. Most drummers moan that they can't hit drums hard if they are told to quieten down. An electric kit gets around this. An electric kit going into a laptop and triggering a decent set of samples will sound infinitely better than an acoustic kit... or the stock sounds from an electric kit. HOWEVER, nothing beats the feel of a genuine hihat. Simple. Run an electric kit and mic up a separate hihat. (Even better, it frees up another trigger channel for other sounds).

And the next thing - mic up the kit appropriately. A small kit miced up properly and subjected to some processing will sound better than a big kit. It's easier to make a small kit sound fat through a PA, than to try and calm an overly live large kit.

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IME, the biggest, and potentially most damaging volume issues are at rehearsals in a small room rather than gigs.  It's so easy to fall into the routine of turning up, plugging in and guessing the volume for the room.  A methodical soundcheck based on the loudest acoustic instrument can work wonders for keeping the volume down. 

As much as guitarists don't like to be told it, they are not the most important part of the sound, they are the colour and flavouring.

Typically, we start with drums, mic the bass drum if necessary. Then add bass guitar and it balanced with the drums.  Lead vocals next, then guitars, keys and backing vocals.  It's pretty easy and quick and stops the volume war before it has a chance to begin.  Once we've done this process there is absolutely no reason for anyone to adjust their volume control.

We also do the odd 'technical' rehearsal every now and then. Particularly as myself and both guitarists all use Helix devices, and our drummer has a digital sample device with a couple of pads and pedal trigger. So it's handy for setting patch levels and eq's at gig volume just to make sure everything's fitting together nicely and there's no massive volume spikes (or worse, not enough of a volume boost for solos)

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1 hour ago, 40hz said:

If your drummer is too loud, turn him on to an electric kit. A lot of the newer ones are indistinguishable from the real thing, sound-wise. The drummer in one of my covers outfits uses one (as he also hates playing loud) and it really cleans up the group sound as a whole.

I actually have a small electric kit in my spare room. It sounds fantastic and as you say you can turn it down. The best thing about it is the bass drum sound. No pillows needed to stuff down the back! I kept saying you should get one and he was on board but circumstances have meant that the band hasn't played for years unfortunately.

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Some of the more expensiver electronic kits can actually allow for different strengths of hit. If you hit harder the drum sounds louder. I think it was a  Roland kit I was looking at and it was pricey but it just shows how technology is moving if you want perfection.

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1 minute ago, ubit said:

Some of the more expensiver electronic kits can actually allow for different strengths of hit. If you hit harder the drum sounds louder. I think it was a  Roland kit I was looking at and it was pricey but it just shows how technology is moving if you want perfection.

I think you would be hard to find a kit from the name manufacturers that doesn't support multiple velocities!

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2 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

I think you would be hard to find a kit from the name manufacturers that doesn't support multiple velocities!

It was a few years ago I saw it and it was a Roland and about £2000. I appreciate others are now following this route.

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2 hours ago, casapete said:

I would guess that this has been a perennial problem for most people on here! One of my old bands suffered immensely from this - the drummer played so loudly that everything else struggled to keep up. I ended up having to wear earplugs as it was beginning to affect my hearing. Despite having a few words with him on many occasions, it remained problematic. The snare and cymbals are what did it for me. (In my current band the drummer has an electric kit, so no problems there.) I think what annoys me is that any one band member playing too loud does kind of dictate the stage levels of everyone, really selfish and inconsiderate.

These statements from you guys really highlight to me how much of a problem we've got in my band..... 

Our drummer is loud, but at most of our gigs he's virtually drowned out by the guitars. I usually stand out front at soundcheck and tell the guitarists to turn down, which they do, but then I see the lead guitarist tweaking his volume throughout the set. The guitar amps really seem to cut through and carry across the venue, but they can sound quiet on stage, so they should trust my feedback at soundcheck and leave them as they are. 

This all then puts me in a difficult position, because I'm torn between turning up to hear myself with the guitarists, or leaving the volume down to give the drummer a chance. 

We do mic the kick drum sometimes, but as we're only running a pair of mid-tops for vocals it doesn't really work very well. 

All this, combined with the fact I've worn earplugs for years now because it's just too loud for me should tell me all I need to know!

Need a review of things when we get gigging again..... 

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9 minutes ago, TRBboy said:

These statements from you guys really highlight to me how much of a problem we've got in my band..... 

Our drummer is loud, but at most of our gigs he's virtually drowned out by the guitars. I usually stand out front at soundcheck and tell the guitarists to turn down, which they do, but then I see the lead guitarist tweaking his volume throughout the set. The guitar amps really seem to cut through and carry across the venue, but they can sound quiet on stage, so they should trust my feedback at soundcheck and leave them as they are. 

This all then puts me in a difficult position, because I'm torn between turning up to hear myself with the guitarists, or leaving the volume down to give the drummer a chance. 

We do mic the kick drum sometimes, but as we're only running a pair of mid-tops for vocals it doesn't really work very well. 

All this, combined with the fact I've worn earplugs for years now because it's just too loud for me should tell me all I need to know!

Need a review of things when we get gigging again..... 

Sounds to me like a monitoring issue.  What sort of guitar amps do your guys use and where are they pointing them?  If they are having trouble hearing them when it's plenty loud enough out front it's likely a positioning and/or beaming issue.  Remember, higher frequencies are more directional than lower ones.

The other solution is to invest in a simple IEM setup.  You could mic the guitar amps and put them through the monitor mix.  This will also block out the crazy loud drummer.

Another thought, I wonder how well the Phil Jones Ear Box would work with guitar amps? They'd definitely be able to hear themselves. https://philjonesbass.net/cms/index.php/product-eb-001/

Edited by Greg Edwards69
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8 minutes ago, Greg Edwards69 said:

 

Sounds to me like a monitoring issue.  What sort of guitar amps do your guys use and where are they pointing them?  If they are having trouble hearing them when it's plenty loud enough out front it's likely a positioning and/or beaming issue.  Remember, higher frequencies are more directional than lower ones.

The other solution is to invest in a simple IEM setup.  You could mic the guitar amps and put them through the monitor mix.  This will also block out the crazy loud drummer.

Another thought, I wonder how well the Phil Jones Ear Box would work with guitar amps? They'd definitely be able to hear themselves. https://philjonesbass.net/cms/index.php/product-eb-001/

Lead guitarist /singer has a Laney 100w valve head into a Marshall 4x12, rhythm guitarist has a laney 50w valve combo. It's the lead guitarist that's the biggest issue really, however because the rhythm guitarists amp is lower to the ground, he can't hear it as well, and it can be bloody loud out front. 

We do have a cheapo IEM setup that we bought for vocals really, but in recent times the guitarists have been micing their amps through it too. However, they seem to ditch the headphones after a few songs, so not sure how much help this is! 😂

I stopped using the IEMs because hearing the other two singing clearly really put me off when I was trying to sing too! Prefer my earplugs because I can hear my vocals on my head better (if you know what I mean). 

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10 minutes ago, TRBboy said:

I stopped using the IEMs because hearing the other two singing clearly really put me off when I was trying to sing too! Prefer my earplugs because I can hear my vocals on my head better (if you know what I mean). 

I know what you mean. I sometimes struggle to hit the right pitch when using IEMs for vocals only.  I've found using an IEM in one ear and an earplug in the other helps a bit.

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11 minutes ago, Greg Edwards69 said:

I know what you mean. I sometimes struggle to hit the right pitch when using IEMs for vocals only.  I've found using an IEM in one ear and an earplug in the other helps a bit.

That's an odd one as our singer actually sings better with his IEM. He reaches notes he struggled with before. 

I've never tried them so have no direct experience with them.

Dave

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27 minutes ago, TRBboy said:

I stopped using the IEMs because hearing the other two singing clearly really put me off when I was trying to sing too! Prefer my earplugs because I can hear my vocals on my head better (if you know what I mean). 

Man, our rhythm guitarist insisted on buying himself a mic even although he was a dreadful singer. We used to turn his mic down. Once I heard such an off key note that I stopped singing and looked to see which one had sang it. No one admitted to hitting that dreadful backing singing but I am pretty sure it was him.

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2 minutes ago, ubit said:

Man, our rhythm guitarist insisted on buying himself a mic even although he was a dreadful singer. We used to turn his mic down. Once I heard such an off key note that I stopped singing and looked to see which one had sang it. No one admitted to hitting that dreadful backing singing but I am pretty sure it was him.

No comment that could have been me when i tried it. :laugh1:

I've not sand since 70's and altho i've tried in recent years i just can't get the hang of it.

Dave

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@TRBboy I've found that once someone can hear themselves properly through better monitoring (whether a wedge or IEMs) rather than backline then things start to get better in the volume-war stakes. What desk are you running?  Does it have enough aux sends to provide individual monitor mixes for each band member?  Guitars can be very directional and at least with a wedge pointing at their faces there is a consistency to what is heard compared to a cab behind someone.

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9 minutes ago, dmccombe7 said:

That's an odd one as our singer actually sings better with his IEM. He reaches notes he struggled with before. 

I've never tried them so have no direct experience with them.

Dave

I would sing better with IEMs if I could only hear myself, but hearing the other two really clearly in my ears whilst I'm trying to sing is just incredibly off-putting

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Just now, DaytonaRik said:

@TRBboy I've found that once someone can hear themselves properly through better monitoring (whether a wedge or IEMs) rather than backline then things start to get better in the volume-war stakes. What desk are you running?  Does it have enough aux sends to provide individual monitor mixes for each band member?  Guitars can be very directional and at least with a wedge pointing at their faces there is a consistency to what is heard compared to a cab behind someone.

No, sadly we don't have facility to run individual monitor mixes, so we all just hear the same thing. 

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1 minute ago, TRBboy said:

I would sing better with IEMs if I could only hear myself, but hearing the other two really clearly in my ears whilst I'm trying to sing is just incredibly off-putting

Think he only hears his own vocals but not sure TBH.

Dave

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2 minutes ago, TRBboy said:

No, sadly we don't have facility to run individual monitor mixes, so we all just hear the same thing. 

There are plenty of low-budget digital solutions this problem - I'm a big fan of the Behringer XR18 https://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_x_air_xr18_bag_bundle.htm?sid=0aaf6f9b655aa9c429f79b95925bab46 coupled with a set of active PA speakers or speakers/power amp will give you 6 x aux sends for monitors, 4 FX slots and 18 input channels.  Other solutions are out there for not a lot of cash.  Get the monitoring sorted and a lot of problems go away...including on-stage volumes

 

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1 hour ago, ubit said:

Some of the more expensiver electronic kits can actually allow for different strengths of hit. If you hit harder the drum sounds louder. I think it was a  Roland kit I was looking at and it was pricey but it just shows how technology is moving if you want perfection.

Irrespective of this, I've never seen a band play with an electronic kit that doesn't lose something that you get with a real kit.  I depped for a band that used a good electronic kit but it was noticeable listening to them that it wasn't a real one.  It might have been the settings he was using, or maybe that he wasn't tweaking the sound to suit the room but it seemed to lack the aggression that you get when you strike a real skin in anger.  It wasn't just me that noticed either.

On the other hand, there's a massive benefit in being able to regulate the drum volume, but only if the lead guitarist plays ball. 

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16 minutes ago, Nicko said:

Irrespective of this, I've never seen a band play with an electronic kit that doesn't lose something that you get with a real kit.  I depped for a band that used a good electronic kit but it was noticeable listening to them that it wasn't a real one.  It might have been the settings he was using, or maybe that he wasn't tweaking the sound to suit the room but it seemed to lack the aggression that you get when you strike a real skin in anger.  It wasn't just me that noticed either.

On the other hand, there's a massive benefit in being able to regulate the drum volume, but only if the lead guitarist plays ball. 

So long as the responsiveness of the pads has been adjusted to suit the drummer and the correct sounds picked for the style of the band, then IME this entirely down to "hearing with your eyes".

A band I was in previously went through various line-ups one without a drummer and two with drummers using different electronic kits. However in all three cases the drum sounds were exactly the same samples triggered either by a sequencer or by the drummer. Interestingly the lineup which most people thought had the "best" drums was the one whose kit looked like  conventional acoustic drums, but had been damped to the point where there was no more acoustic sound that your typical electronic drum pads and the heads were fitted with piezo transducers for triggering the actual drum sounds we used.

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20 hours ago, BigRedX said:

For me it's up there with the "everything sounds better when it's loud" phenomenon. The real test of any music is if it still sounds good when it's quiet.

(The following is mostly copied from elsewhere)

Obviously not everything, but when you play music loud, it is easier to pick out all the details, and hearing all the different parts of a song usually means that the music sounds better. Plus loud music relieves stress, when you listen to (loud) music, endorphins are released. Also loud music works like a stimulant. You can literally get pumped up by loud music, as music can lead to an increased body temperature and heart rate. 

 

20 hours ago, wateroftyne said:

Sound is all about the brain interpreting vibration. It doesn't matter how it got there.

It can do, there is a direct connection between your inner ear and the pleasure centres in the brain.

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26 minutes ago, Nicko said:

Irrespective of this, I've never seen a band play with an electronic kit that doesn't lose something that you get with a real kit.  I depped for a band that used a good electronic kit but it was noticeable listening to them that it wasn't a real one.  It might have been the settings he was using, or maybe that he wasn't tweaking the sound to suit the room but it seemed to lack the aggression that you get when you strike a real skin in anger.  It wasn't just me that noticed either.

On the other hand, there's a massive benefit in being able to regulate the drum volume, but only if the lead guitarist plays ball. 

That's down to the quality of the samples. The inbuilt sample set of a hardware unit is much smaller than say, something like Addictive Drums, Steven Slate Drums, EZDrummer etc... Their sample library is massive and contains all the nuances that are otherwise uncaptured using the built in sample set natively found on electric drum kits. Stick something like the Zep kit through a decent PA and it'll be pinning you* to the back wall no problem.

 

* It won't, just like your trousers won't flap when you stand in front of your bass amp - but you get my drift. 

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1 minute ago, MacDaddy said:

Obviously not everything, but when you play music loud, it is easier to pick out all the details, and hearing all the different parts of a song usually means that the music sounds better. Plus loud music relieves stress, when you listen to (loud) music, endorphins are released. Also loud music works like a stimulant. You can literally get pumped up by loud music, as music can lead to an increased body temperature and heart rate. 

Exactly like when a baby cries 😛

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1 hour ago, TRBboy said:

Our drummer is loud, but at most of our gigs he's virtually drowned out by the guitars. I usually stand out front at soundcheck and tell the guitarists to turn down, which they do, but then I see the lead guitarist tweaking his volume throughout the set. The guitar amps really seem to cut through and carry across the venue, but they can sound quiet on stage, so they should trust my feedback at soundcheck and leave them as they are. 

Sounds like the guitar amps are positioned so they're pointed at the back of the guitarists knees. Try angling them backwards so they're pointed directly at the guitarist's ears. And if possible off to the side so it's not pointed at the back of their heads.

On some gigs I've done on sound I've put mics in front of guitar amps I know for a fact I won't be putting through the house. That way I can tell the guitarist they should run at a quieter level so I can push it out front and make it sound better. I have sometimes mic'd a guitar amp to only put it in the guitarist's wedge if I think the angle of the cab will be a problem.

Re electric drums I generally much prefer acoustic drums but they can be a good solution for a pub / club / function band if you have a drummer who struggles to control their level. You really need a good PA with subs to get the best out of them though.

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