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#702617 - 08/05/07 12:27 PM Multi-Keys - stage sound vs. mains sound  
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6
16251 Offline
Junior Member
16251  Offline
Junior Member

Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6
I'm having major sound problems and I need to vent and would like to hear from anyone who can help me with my problem. Background: I play a Roland FP7 and a Triton Extreme. I use two KC100, facing me on angle (neither are facing audience,) run in stereo using a small mixer. My stage sound volumes have no effect on main mix which leader of band mixes from bandstand (he wears sponge ear plugs during gigs.)

ME: I'll change my volumes based on level of band during evening. I try to keep a level so I won't start banging my piano, so I use my piano as a marker. When I play strings, brass, organ, etc. I compare them to my piano sound to keep mix between both keyboards as even as possible. I'm usually told by leader located on other side of stage that I'm to loud on stage, even though guys near me ask me to turn up. So leader's solution is to turn me down. Sometimes to judge my outside sound I turn off my stage sound (we have no monitors on stage, singers use innerear.) Lately, when I turn down my stage sound I can't hear any presence on my sound, it's all vocals which is very loud (the other night in a few songs I leaned my arms over all my notes on synth and no one noticed!) This usually makes me turn down my stage sound to a wisper (who likes to play your heart out knowing no one is hearing you out front.) Last night the people with innerears near me told me they couldn't hear me. I told them I don't control the main mix. It's because the leader has me so soft that they can't hear me. They're used to hearing my live stage sound and now they think I'm messing with my sound when I turn it down.

LEADER: He thinks my piano is too loud and that's why he turns me down but he says he wants more strings sound. He thinks the solution is to give him separate outs for my 2 keyboards. (I feel he hears like this because those spongy earplugs makes him hear more mids and lows and that's why he thinks my strings are too soft.) I think a person playing on stage trying to run my sound with separate outs is a bad idea. And I feel that when my sound is at a the proper level, it will always be considered to loud by him.

Now I'm thinking about buying my own stereo inner ear and let the band find my sound how ever they can. Screw playing real music, as long as I have a good mix in my head and can't hear how bad it sounds out front (I still make the $$.) But I'm also not in favor of playing loud enough on stage that the musicians hear me and we're playing good music but I'm nowhere out front. - At least the cocktails with sax player are fun!

Any thoughts?


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#702618 - 08/06/07 01:42 AM Re: Multi-Keys - stage sound vs. mains sound  
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 192
Mike Warren Offline
Full Member
Mike Warren  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 192
Cairns Australia
Originally posted by 16251:
Any thoughts?
Yeah. Drink lots more cocktails. smile

If someone on stage is mixing the FOH sound you will never get a good mix. He could probably learn how to get a good mix if you played the same venue and same audience every time but there are too many variables in normal band situations. Mixing with ear plugs in is laughable.

With more that a couple of musicians in a band you really do need someone who knows what they are doing out front mixing. Getting your on stage balance right should be done in rehearsals and the settings translated with only minor tweaks at performances.

Most bands tend to have their stage volumes too high. It makes a big difference if the stage volume is reasonable. This used to be a major problem with a band I was in. The lead guitarist would always crank up his Marshall stack forcing everyone else to turn up their volume. One day, when I wasn't needed for a song, I went to the FOH mix position and our sound engineer pointed at the lead guitar fader on the mixer. It was all the way off and the lead guitar was still quite loud. The problem from the audience perspective was that if you moved off axis with the guitar amp it disappeared from the mix. I finally conviced him to turn down and we were much tighter since everyone could hear the others.

Digital Fake Book
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#702619 - 08/07/07 12:01 AM Re: Multi-Keys - stage sound vs. mains sound  
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 258
MoodyBluesKeys Offline
Full Member
MoodyBluesKeys  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 258
Trent Woods, NC
You got some good advice from Mike's post. Most of the real pro bands now are using in-ear monitors, each musician has a little fader accessible, so each one can mix however they want it to sound. FOH pretty much MUST be done from somewhere within the audience, thet is the ONLY way to hear what the audience hears. The musicians who use amps on the pro scene tend to use a preamp to get the tone, pedals for tone modification, and a DI into the FOH sound system with a separate feed to the monitor mix system.

Especially in the hard rock bands, they like to have a lot of big amps on stage for visual effect, but they frequently are just there to see, no sound. The old "wall of sound" like the Grateful Dead used still lives, but all the cabinets are just fakes or cabs not hooked to anything.

The biggest problem with the guitarist (except ego) is that, unlike a typical keyboard sound, lead guitarists depend on their amplifier to be overdriven for a particular sound. (What most are emulating is the sound that old time blues musicians got as street players - they did not have money to buy a good big amp, so they used itty bitty cheap amps - like a Fender Champ - and turned them up as high as they would go. Guitarists now pay thousands to get that distorted sound.) Guitarists also want tube amps instead of solid state - the type of distortion produces is quite different.

The traditional Marshall guitar amps were either 50 or 100 watt (a few pro models were higher). 50 watts at guitar frequncies is enough to damage your hearing. A lot of recent botique guitar amps are designed to have both a high and low power setting, like 15/50 watts.

The guitarist needs a smaller amp (but convincing him of this may be impossible). Failing that, he needs to turn down the amp, and use a pedal for the distortion (this is more possible, but not a sure thing for agreement).

I play a pair of keyboards in a group myself. On our "home" location, we use amps and have experimented enough to know how to set them for best results - this is ALWAYS lower than we start out. I also have had to get used to not using as much power (I formerly played bass guitar - needs a lot more power than guitar to be heard the same).

LEADER - I hope your band doesn't have to lose gigs because of leader ego problems. I do feel that the leader might be more receptive to turning you back up FOH if a good percentage of the singers (who do have the in-ear system) tell him that you cannot be heard in their mix.

Best case would be for whoever has most influence with band leader to persuade leader that the band NEEDS someone out front mixing FOH sound.

All I can do otherwise to encourage you is to just recommend that you be a pro - do your best to make the sound as good as you can for the paying customers.

Jim Cason
Promised LAN Computing, Inc.
Howard C171 Grand, Kurzweil PC3X, PC3, PC361, PC2X, PC2.
JBL 10&15 EONG2s, EV SxA100+s QSC K10s, HP & ThinkPad DAWs, eMu 1820M & 1616M.
Epi Les Paul & LP 5str Bass, Trace amp-cabinets.
Formerly in electronic keyboard repair trade - semi-retired

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