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Why not mic the bass amp live?


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It's a complicated question.

The DI out from an amp is normally pre-amp out, that can be post or pre-EQ. An external DI might be post power amp where the DI is connected parallel to the speaker cabinet. The advantage of this is that there's a contribution from the power amp. Of course, a DI doesn't need to be through an amp at all. 

 

Mic'ing a cabinet can be accomplished in different ways. The sound of the cab contributes to the tone. The speaker can be close mic'ed. The position of the speaker matters. This can make the sound brighter or more bassy. The mic is important. It makes  contribution as well., every mic has a characteristic frequency response. The cab can also be mic'ed from a distance, for instance a meter away. This allows the mic to pick up room ambience. I like the sound of some air between the speaker and the cabinet.

Tone can be contoured by the mixing desk. Digital desks allow for all types of plugins to be used. This includes high pass/low pass filters, compressors of all types, speaker emulations, effects, etc. In this case, the sound person will usually want a basic signal.

All this allows for a lot of different options and ways to approach the tasks.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, beans-on-toast said:

Mic'ing a cabinet can be accomplished in different ways. The sound of the cab contributes to the tone. The speaker can be close mic'ed. The position of the speaker matters. This can make the sound brighter or more bassy. The mic is important. It makes  contribution as well., every mic has a characteristic frequency response. The cab can also be mic'ed from a distance, for instance a meter away. This allows the mic to pick up room ambience. I like the sound of some air between the speaker and the cabinet.

Totally agreed with all of this... in a recording sense - but does it really matter to get it 100% right live? With live mixing, there is always compromises. With a sound engineering hat on here, if that was the reasoning behind micing a cab live, it would be straight into the DI for you.

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I've always been throughly confused by this and i guess some of this will be down to genres of players. I use my SVT for that lovely tubey power amp goodness in a stoner band. The use of a few pedals (fuzz and wah)

I get to a gig "please plug in to the supplied DI pedal"  it now sounds sterile to my ears when i walk out front. The ideal scenario that ive had before is running both a DI and mic. this then being blended. 

It sometimes depends on the sound guy, they are not all created equal, some can work wonders with a DI, others struggle to do anything with it but i guess it would be the same if they were given a mic'd signal to work with.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

Totally agreed with all of this... in a recording sense - but does it really matter to get it 100% right live? With live mixing, there is always compromises. With a sound engineering hat on here, if that was the reasoning behind micing a cab live, it would be straight into the DI for you.

There is no right or wrong. You want the best sound you can get factoring in the cost/time to achieve it. Many argue that the audience wouldn't appreciate the difference. As a player, I want whatever is going to inspire me to play the best.

Live recordings from the 50's/60''s/70's that I like are all mic'ed amps, recorded with analogue tape. That's my highest benchmark. I do use DI's when called for.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, simon88wilson said:

I get to a gig "please plug in to the supplied DI pedal"  it now sounds sterile to my ears when i walk out front. The ideal scenario that ive had before is running both a DI and mic. this then being blended. 

I suppose one mans sterile, is another mans clean mix. I guess somebody who mixes the same venue night in, night out, has a good idea of what works in the window that has been allocated for sound check.

In other cases, the sound man may give the bass just 10 seconds of attention.

So many variables, but if you start making the output from the stage bigger, the worse any problematic elements within the venue are going to get.

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6 minutes ago, simon88wilson said:

I've always been throughly confused by this and i guess some of this will be down to genres of players. I use my SVT for that lovely tubey power amp goodness in a stoner band. The use of a few pedals (fuzz and wah)

I get to a gig "please plug in to the supplied DI pedal"  it now sounds sterile to my ears when i walk out front. The ideal scenario that ive had before is running both a DI and mic. this then being blended. 

It sometimes depends on the sound guy, they are not all created equal, some can work wonders with a DI, others struggle to do anything with it but i guess it would be the same if they were given a mic'd signal to work with.

 

 

I too like getting in front of an SVT and a wall of sound. How you monitor and interact with the amp and speaker cab is important in terms of your playing. 

 

Very true about not all sound engineers being equal.

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2 minutes ago, beans-on-toast said:

There is no right or wrong. You want the best sound you can get factoring in the cost/time to achieve it. Many argue that the audience wouldn't appreciate the difference. As a player, I want whatever is going to inspire me to play the best.

Live recordings from the 50's/60''s/70's that I like are all mic'ed amps, recorded with analogue tape. That's my highest benchmark. I do use DI's when called for.

 

 

Agreed. But the PA that is available now - and certainly the processing, is not akin to those available in the 50s, 60s, 70s.

The comment you make about being inspired to play the best - and I see that a lot. But really, are you playing for yourself, or for your audience. Who has the best sound? The audience, or the player? You can't have both. Chose one.

Best sound is subjective, of course - but likewise, the recorded shows from the analogue era, will still have been processed in a studio, subject to analogue outboard and through a mastering stage for delivery to vinyl and cassette. I would wager the release is night and day from the source material. In fact, I don't wager, I know that it will be.

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6 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

I suppose one mans sterile, is another mans clean mix. I guess somebody who mixes the same venue night in, night out, has a good idea of what works in the window that has been allocated for sound check.

In other cases, the sound man may give the bass just 10 seconds of attention.

So many variables, but if you start making the output from the stage bigger, the worse any problematic elements within the venue are going to get.

However for certain genres and bands a clean mix is not what is wanted and sometimes it is obvious that a sound man has a sound he wants (which isn't venue dependent) rather than what would fit the band.

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2 minutes ago, simon88wilson said:

However for certain genres and bands a clean mix is not what is wanted and sometimes it is obvious that a sound man has a sound he wants (which isn't venue dependent) rather than what would fit the band.

Which is why touring bands of note use their own sound man - and the bass players rig comprises of both of what is on stage and off it.

With modern tech, you can get any bass sound you want and take away a lot of the problems that come with traditional amps - it's just that there's a few dinosaurs out there that are still stuck in the mindset of yesteryear. That's OK - but that in itself is compromising one of two things, the player, or the audience, or both.

They'll always be the people that want tubes. That want mics. That want wedges to put their feet on. But it's all a compromise. Again, player, or audience. Choose one, or compromise.

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1 hour ago, EBS_freak said:

Because the colouration that the amps give is a significant part of a guitar sound. A DI guitar without processing sounds awful.

Does a bass amp not have the same colouration? 

What if its an effects-heavy bass sound? 

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26 minutes ago, beans-on-toast said:

I play for myself. The sound guy works for the audience. Hopefully they are both as good as they can be.

You better play alongside the sound guy as he/she can put a pitch shift or delay on your channel and make you sound like a right wally. A band's biggest ally is the sound guy, unless there's a monitor engineer... and then it's them.

Your job? To play for the audience and play your instrument to the highest ability that you can in the situation that you are in.

Their job? To work with the player to deliver the best sound to the venue for the audience to hear.

Who's the person that sits in the middle and is the key link between you and your audiences ears? Yeah, your best friend.

 

Edited by EBS_freak
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Just now, BadHands said:

Does a bass amp not have the same colouration? 

What if its an effects-heavy bass sound? 

Not to the same extent because the key frequencies from the sound of a guitar sit within the frequency range that is more sensitive to the human ear - and the nuances in guitar tone are more immediately apparent. The bass is additionally, more of a supporting instrument, so again, it comes down to the compromises that you may want to make in a live situation to benefit the sound of the whole band. Again, I'm never surprised by the amount of bands out there with players who only care about their individual sounds as opposed to the band sound. A lot of the time, bands could sound much better if they played at lower volumes, with the PA doing the lifting... and with sensible backline (if used) that doesn't over power the PA.

As a side note, I always surprise drummers when I say that the best sounding kits are the smallest. With smaller shells, the kit sounds tighter, theres less overtones and unwanted sympathetic resonance going on... and with the processing of modern desks, outboard/plugins, you can make a cocktail kit sound massive. 

If you do need a heavily processed sound from your bass amp, I would take a DI pre the bass amp and run an emulation at the desk that recreates what the bass amp is doing. Or ditch the bass amp completely (or at least just leave it their for stage decoration) and have it all modelled and fed back to the player via monitor or IEM. Or if the amp absolutely had to be in play, remove it off the stage and mic it in a separate room (or an iso box if a room wasn't available).

When micing up something like a fridge, the speaker speaker is close miced anyway, so the sound of the cab is lost anyway. So a smaller wattage amp that grinds like you want but at a lesser volume, into a single 1 or 2x10, from a mic output point of view, would be comparable... certainly enough for live use.

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I don't worry about my onstage sound. I make sure that I can give the person dealing with the sound a DI that sounds the way I want it to.

Anything on-stage is just for monitoring.

However, if the person doing the sound wants just a straight DI with no whistle and bells then that's that I'll give them. Being heard is more important to me than 'my sound' and it's their job to decide how that's best achieved, on that night, in that venue.

Edited by ahpook
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For gigging in my last band I always went DI from my Sansamp Para Driver. As it was always gear shares or provided rigs the only way to get a consistent sound to FOH was to bypass whatever amp or cab I was using, leaving that really for on stage sound which wasn’t that important to me. That said on the rare times I used my own full rig or an Ampeg SVT set up I did enjoy it more. 

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41 minutes ago, simon88wilson said:

I've always been throughly confused by this and i guess some of this will be down to genres of players. I use my SVT for that lovely tubey power amp goodness in a stoner band...

Either these are big 'stadium' venues, in which case mic'ing is fine, or more modest venues, in which case there's no need for bass in the PA at all. There'll be a DI feed to FOH just so that the sound tech can balance a little for the hall, but such an amp, oozing tubey power-amp goodness, is going to be heard for quite some distance. B|

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1 minute ago, ahpook said:

I don't worry about my onstage sound. I make sure that I can give the person dealing with the sound a DI that sounds the way I want it to.

Anything on-stage is just for monitoring.

However, if the person doing the sound wants just a straight DI with no whistle and bells then that's that I'll give them. Being heard is more important to me than 'my sound' and it's their job to decide how that's best achieved, on the night, in that venue.

Sensible. I do try to get my onstage sound the way I prefer it, but I appreciate that it won't necessarily work as well as I might like to believe out front in conjunction with other instruments, voices, room acoustics, etc. It's the engineer's job to make everything work well together in the PA. So I try to give them something clean to work with. 

The obvious problem with mic'ing cabs is spill from other sources, especially drums.

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41 minutes ago, beans-on-toast said:

There is no right or wrong. You want the best sound you can get factoring in the cost/time to achieve it. Many argue that the audience wouldn't appreciate the difference. As a player, I want whatever is going to inspire me to play the best.

Live recordings from the 50's/60''s/70's that I like are all mic'ed amps, recorded with analogue tape...

I doubt that much mic'ed bass was fed to many FOH PA systems back then, excepting 'Woodstock'-type gigs. Most clubs had a pair of WEM columns, and struggled already with just the vocals in there. Not sure about the US scene, but mixing consoles were rare in those dark days (yes, I was there...). I didn't get my drums mic'ed up, even in the '80s. The bass amp was all there was on stage, for the hall. Recording a 'live' act would be different, of course, but FOH was brute bass horsepower, back then. B|

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5 minutes ago, ahpook said:

I don't worry about my onstage sound. I make sure that I can give the person dealing with the sound a DI that sounds the way I want it to.

Anything on-stage is just for monitoring.

However, if the person doing the sound wants just a straight DI with no whistle and bells then that's that I'll give them. Being heard is more important to me than 'my sound' and it's their job to decide how that's best achieved, on the night, in that venue.

Its a good attitude. If you give a sound guy a feed they don't like and they tell you, it's because they are working in both yours and theirs best interest. If the mix sounds cack, everybody will look at the sound guy. The sound guy can't hold up a big banner and say, "the bass players feed resembles seven shades of sh 1 t".

Chances are, if you have somebody who is on the ball, if there's a song where you're bass needs over drive, they'll drive it.

I remember going to see a Floyd tribute and I knew one of the singers in the band. She was saying how the band were concerned cos it was a big show and they had a stand in sound engineer. Turned out this guy was the biggest Floyd nut and was getting all the delays, drives and riding the faders all night like an absolute boss.

I think there's a big misconception about sound guys - there's good ones... and terrible ones. Let me find an example of how hard proper sound guys work on a desk.

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All these people that are looking for consistent tone and using fx by the way, something like a Kemper should be top of your hit list. The DI out of those gives everything - even a split on stage and foh feed if neccesary.

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2 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

All these people that are looking for consistent tone and using fx by the way, something like a Kemper should be top of your hit list. The DI out of those gives everything - even a split on stage and foh feed if neccesary.

Not suitable for a pub-band budget, though, and all that investment in SVT magic is for nought. xD

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4 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

I think there's a big misconception about sound guys - there's good ones... and terrible ones. Let me find an example of how hard proper sound guys work on a desk.

This is true, not all of them are guys ! :D

 

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