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Why not mic the bass amp live?

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Hi all! 

Was deep in a YouTube hole yesterday and sat through a few videos of how certain live music channels record their audio, and sure enough, EVERYONE just used a DI/Line out from the bass amp.. 

Is there a particular reason this happens? Is capturing a bass sound more difficult with microphones than DI? Does this not also apply to guitarists as well? 

Not looking to rant, just genuinely curious as to why this is such a tenacious occurrence. 

Thanks! 

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There are some bassists who mic their cabs for live performance. I guess it depends on the sound you want and the equipment available. 

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8 minutes ago, Supernaut said:

When I record, it's always mic on the cab, DI on the head/pedal and blend according to taste. 

Same, I find on my set up that the DI gives better clarity & presence but the cab adds in greater depth.

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I played a fairly large outdoor gig before lockdown where the hired "professional" PA company "mic'd" my cabinet. With an SM57, a good 15" away from the cabinet edge, off axis. I wished that they had DI'd, especially as I had clearly explained why the DI would be a better option. I forget the name of the PA company, maybe that's not a bad thing. Don't even get me started on their "IEM" mixes lol..

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I play a theatre venue where the sound guy close-mic’s my Barefaced Super Twin as well as taking a DI from my amp head - because he knows BF and likes the way they sound. I don’t know what the proportion of mic to DI was in the FOH mix though.

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have you ever known the bass player in a band to have the time and luxury to actually mic up their cab? far too busy sorting out the PA and lights and the Guitarists (Gods) Mic placement to the mm on his poxy 412 as well as getting in the first round...

 

Edited by skidder652003
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For 'live' recording, the best bass tone from a cab is usually a few feet away in front, or off-axis (not always, but usually...). Unfortunately, on the kinds of stages most of us are playing, it's either not physically possible to but a mic there, or, if there's room, it'll be picking up everything else..! Most sound techs, if they're micing at all, will use the DI principally, and blend in a spot of the mic strip if it really adds something. As often as not, it doesn't.
Not quite the same with festival-type arrangements, where there's a much greater spacial separation, pretty good equipment and mics available, a decent sound tech with enough Fx racks to get an adequate sound for the occasion. It may not sound good, however, when solo'd from the console, as we know from listening to some top band's 'live' takes.
It can be done, but is rarely really worth the trouble and expense. B|

Edited by Dad3353

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DI mixes to a desk are cleaner - speakers tend to not capture all the top end - including all that lovely harmonic content that comes from the unmiced tweeter (assuming there is one - people! make sure you use tweeters!).

It's better to have all the source content to process (and take away if necessary) at the desk.

If the cab is a key part of the sound (e.g. capturing the drive from the amp), then its best to DI and mic and blend at the desk.That way, you get the best of both worlds. (You can get DIs that tap off the power amp but they aren't that common place on stage)

In smaller venues, the majority of the time, the bass is DIed because it's one less mic stand on stage and one less mic to get nicked... and a lot less hassle. Plug in. Done.

And above all, if you put DI first, if the bass amp goes down, the bass can still be heard and nobody looks around at the person on the desk and starts giving them evils.

Why not DI amps you say? Because the colouration that the amps give is a significant part of a guitar sound. A DI guitar without processing sounds awful.

And don't send your DI post EQ. You ears are on stage, not in the audience. Let somebody else take care of that for you otherwise you could sound like a complete shower out there.

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1 minute ago, Dad3353 said:

For 'live' recording, the best bass tone from a cab is usually a few feet away in front, or off-axis (not always, but usually...). Unfortunately, on the kinds of stages most of us are playing, it's either not physically possible to but a mic there, or, if there's room, it'll be picking up everything else..! Most sound techs, if they're micing at all, will use the DI principally, and blend in a spot of the mic strip if it really adds something. As often as not, it doesn't.
Not quite the same with festival-type arrangements, where there's a much greater spacial separation, pretty good equipment and mics available, a decent sound tech with enough Fx racks to get an adequate sound for the occasion. It may not sound good, however, when solo'd from the console, as we know from listening to some top band's 'live' takes.
It can be done, but is rarely really worth the trouble and expense. B|

And in some cases the sound guy will put up a mic just to keep a bass player happy and not even plug it into the console, or if they do, send it foh. The less open mics on stage, the more gain before feedback. And losing headroom for a bass where a DI will do the job, isn't worth it, or the additional subby frequencies that bleed brings.

It doesn't matter what a soloed channel sounds like. It's what it sounds like in the mix that counts. I hate the sound of an isolated P bass. In the mix however, it's glorious.

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8 minutes ago, skidder652003 said:

have you ever known the bass player in a band to have the time and luxury to actually mic up their cab? far too busy sorting out the PA and lights and the Guitarists (Gods) Mic placement to the mm on his poxy 412 as well as getting in the first round...

 

Im surprised theres even space on stage for a bass amp. Clearly the solution is no amp, and just a tiny DI box to the PA. The ironic thing is, it would probably sound better than most amp setups.

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I only did home recording. SM57 1 meter away off the speaker, just off the centre cone. Amp was set loud. Great result

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4 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

Im surprised theres even space on stage for a bass amp. Clearly the solution is no amp, and just a tiny DI box to the PA. The ironic thing is, it would probably sound better than most amp setups.

you've obviously been to my gigs at the Volunteer in Honiton!

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23 minutes ago, Dood said:

I played a fairly large outdoor gig before lockdown where the hired "professional" PA company "mic'd" my cabinet. With an SM57, a good 15" away from the cabinet edge, off axis. I wished that they had DI'd, especially as I had clearly explained why the DI would be a better option. I forget the name of the PA company, maybe that's not a bad thing. Don't even get me started on their "IEM" mixes lol..

a SM57 isn't actually that bad a mic to use live. Yes, there's a pronounced roll off, but a lot of the time its really mushy down there isn sub bass and infra sub world. A lot of what you are hearing when listening to the bass are 1st and 2nd harmonics and psychoacoustics... and not the fundamental. But if you are worried about the audience not feeling the thud of your bass, a sub harmonic synthesiser to put that low-end hit in at the desk may actually give you a better sounding bass through the subs.

I wasn't there so can't comment on the company... but there is (admittedly maybe a fringe case!) a chance they were well on top of their game... and they also have the option of boosting the bass on the EQ. Admittedly, if they weren't running a separate monitor desk for processing your IEM, the SM57 may have sounded a bit naff in your ears, especially ones like yours where it can cope with the fatter low end frequencies.

Edited by EBS_freak

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12 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

And in some cases the sound guy will put up a mic just to keep a bass player happy and not even plug it into the console, or if they do, send it foh. The less open mics on stage, the more gain before feedback. And losing headroom for a bass where a DI will do the job, isn't worth it, or the additional subby frequencies that bleed brings.

It doesn't matter what a soloed channel sounds like. It's what it sounds like in the mix that counts. I hate the sound of an isolated P bass. In the mix however, it's glorious.

Ahh the DFA channel :)

 

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Just a comment of bass cabs, for onstage use, I still reckon the sweet spot for actually hearing yourself on stage with a cab, is a rolloff starting maybe as high as 100hz. I know that will be a contentious comment to some! All that sub on stage makes life more difficult for both yourself and the sound guy. If you are micing up all this low-end too, chances are theres more work to be done by the sound guy to clear it up from all the other mics. Hence, DI - clean, and all the information from the bass is in there.

 

If you can, let the full range be taken care of by the PA, use your bass amp (if you must), for monitoring and try and keep all those sub frequencies (at least on stage), low.

Edited by EBS_freak
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Just now, Phil Starr said:

Ahh the DFA channel :)

 

Every desk should have one. Usually labelled guitarist (running a 4x12 that's usually already overpowering the singers vocal only PA - but you know, not enough guitar still)

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21 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

And don't send your DI post EQ. You ears are on stage, not in the audience. Let somebody else take care of that for you otherwise you could sound like a complete shower out there.

This this this!

One sound for stage, one sound for FOH. 

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13 minutes ago, SH73 said:

I only did home recording. SM57 1 meter away off the speaker, just off the centre cone. Amp was set loud. Great result

You could get a bus through there!

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2 hours ago, EBS_freak said:

So much harmonic content lost. All the sobs.

Next you'll want me tweeting.  Nah, Bog off.

Edited by SpondonBassed
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27 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

...

And don't send your DI post EQ. You ears are on stage, not in the audience. Let somebody else take care of that for you otherwise you could sound like a complete shower out there.

But my precious personal SOUND!

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2 minutes ago, JapanAxe said:

But my precious personal SOUND!

That sound that you have spent hours crafting in your bedroom....? You know, that room that is in no way acoustically representative of the environment in which that sound is going to be heard when you play out live?

Edited by EBS_freak
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