Help with live sound in a tiny room

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

Post Reply
User avatar
vivalastblues
steve albini likes it
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:30 am
Location: Australia

Help with live sound in a tiny room

Post by vivalastblues » Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:28 pm

So I put on shows at my house sometimes, and last time it was mostly just drumless music, and sounded fine in the room. Last night we had 4 fairly loud rock bands and it was just too much and people couldn't really hear the vocals, they were at their limit before feeding back. I'm not really much of a live sound guy and I was just wondering if there's anything I can do other than tell the bands to turn down.

As far as gear goes I've got 2 mackie SRM 450s (powered for those who arent familiar), and an old tascam mixer. That's basically it. No EQ other than limited desk EQ and no reverb really (i used a guitar delay pedal). I do actually have an old rack spring reverb that I could hook up.

Do I need more volume out of the PA? Like maybe a sub or something? Do I need to get an EQ to get rid of useless frequencies?

Oh and the room is obviously quite small being in a house...I would say it's about 4-5m squared.

Let me know if I should be posting this elsewhere, I guess recording techniques might not be the best place for it...

thanks!

dino
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 194
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2003 6:40 am
Location: a mile west of the crossroads & the old circus grounds

Post by dino » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:44 pm

If the drummer can't or won't play at a level that works for your room, your options are few.
One... No more drums in the room or Two... (and I'm gonna get crucified for this) rent an electronic drum set and run it through the PA.
I don't think making the rest of the band louder is the best thing in an already insufficient space.
The s#!+ bouncing off the walls will pretty much muck up the sound....Respectfully submitted, dino
I'd gladly trade everything I have now for a nice sounding room and a bucket of 57's

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3334
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:36 pm

A graphic eq (with as many [frequency] bands as possible) between the mixer and the mackies might really help. After you set up your mics, and before people get there, "ring out" your room. Set up your speakers and mics as close to where they'll be, and how they'll be aimed, come showtime as possible. Then You keep turning the volume up until something feeds back and then you bring down just that frequency on the graphic until it stops, then you turn the volume up again, repeat. Once the crowd arrives, they will absorb a lot of frequencies, so it helps if you need to turn up even more. Also, use your head as far as "getting rid of unneeded frequencies." If you're mic'ing a guitar rig, roll off the bass and treble, on a kick drum, roll off the treble, for vox roll of the bass and some of the treble, etc. I know people will crucify me for this, but I do this sort of sound by eye, rather than ear, a lot. I can just look at a channel marked "kick" and know what to roll off. Then, when the band starts playing, it's time to use your ears and bring back a little mids there if it could use it. Etc. Roll off the frequencies on the individual mics before you "ring out" the room, btw.

Also, what mics are you using? Maybe you want to go hypercardioid, instead of cardioid, if that's what you've got. Also, use your eyes again, and make sure the angles are right. Put the speakers (and points of first reflection, if you can) in the nulls of the mics. Hypercarioid will give you bigger nulls to work with.

Maybe there's a magic bullet in your case, a speaker aimed straight into a microphone that you can just move forward, for example, but usually, I find that it takes an "all of the above" strategy to get good live sound. You need to place the mics right, eq each channel, eq for the room, be careful where you put PA and monitor cabs, educate the musicians about what to do and not do, etc., etc.

Also, some room treatment would probably help a lot. Aside from the audience and the couch, I mean.
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

ashcat_lt
tinnitus
Posts: 1078
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:54 pm
Location: Duluth, MN
Contact:

Post by ashcat_lt » Thu Nov 06, 2014 5:45 pm

It's always the drummers fault! ;)

It really comes down to "stage" volume. Imagine if you stood where the mic is and had the vocalist sing into your ear. What do you hear? That is what the microphone will pick up, and what the PA will amplify. If dude has his tongue in your ear and is screaming at the top of his lungs and the rest of the instruments are still louder...

User avatar
JWL
deaf.
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:37 pm
Location: Maine
Contact:

Post by JWL » Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:13 pm

Yep. Turn down, tell the drummer to play softer so everyone can turn down and still be heard.

Absorption in the room near the band (esp on the ceiling above the band and the back wall behind the band) will help a lot.

In a small room, vocals can only be so loud before feedback. The band should base their volume on that.

dino
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 194
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2003 6:40 am
Location: a mile west of the crossroads & the old circus grounds

Post by dino » Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:44 am

4 to 5 meters squared (or 14ft to 16ft sq. for us igerent mericans) really is a tiny area! An untreated room that size is only going to take so much sound level before things become an uncontrollable cacophony. All the eq-ing in the world on the PA isn't going to make the drums sound better. You'll just end up with unpleasant sounding vocals. The last band I mixed for (The Midnight Riders- "The drunker you get, the better we sound") played some ti--iny rooms and fortunately our drummer, Dave was a master at playing soft but sounding loud. That was the only way we could have pulled it off. Realistically, if getting the drummer to play softer is not an option then the afore mentioned electronic drum set would allow you to set the maximum level that everyone else would then adjust to.
Respectfully, olduncledino
I'd gladly trade everything I have now for a nice sounding room and a bucket of 57's

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8655
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:24 am

Tell 'em it's not "unplegged night", but mebbe is "in the garage night".

You might try insisting on brushes or those thundersticks for the drummer, and even limit the number of cymbals ...

Guitarists will always say they need the master cranked for their tone; a leather jacket or heavy blanket 1/2 covering the speakers(s), which is facing the side walls, can help; do suggest small amps (a band playing ProJrs. can sound pretty cool, especially if they use pedals).

Bass is tough, but if you can limit the bassist to a single 12" or 15" bottom with or without horn (mebbe an investment for the club), or even DI ...

Finally, ring out but keep the vocal monitors low in the hope they'll adjust to them.

Double-secret-probation finally, set up a small recorder and tell 'em you'll get best results and they'll get a usable demo if they'll just keep it down. :twisted:
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8655
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:27 am

Oh, and like Cal's in Chicago used to do, sell ear plugs over the bar! :lol:
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
LupineSound
gettin' sounds
Posts: 126
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 1:42 pm
Location: Pawtucket, RI
Contact:

Post by LupineSound » Fri Nov 07, 2014 6:20 am

Get a shitload of OC 703 and start making corner bass traps and broadband absorbers. It'll do wonders.

User avatar
Jarvis
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 189
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 12:38 am
Location: the new york

Post by Jarvis » Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:08 am

I'm always amused when people think that you can switch from acoustic drums to electronic, like it's the same thing. Ask Jimi Hendrix to play acoustic and yeah he can, but he's a little more skilled than your average electric guitarist. Many musicians play by feel and the feel of real drums is very different from pads. I remember a session where the engineer removed the padding from my kick and I couldn't play the part I had written.
Just sayin'
Ivan the Threadstopper

macpogue
audio school
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:32 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Post by macpogue » Wed Nov 12, 2014 12:18 pm

How are you placing the speakers? it's not a mind-blowing trick, in my experience with house shows, if I have options, I put the speakers up high above the audience and in front of the microphone/sound source. that way, even if you have the same level of signal before feedback, the sound hitting the audience is as close and direct as possible. if you need more volume, try seeing if a band has an extra speaker to string up as an extension of your speakers, or try plugging an aux out from the mixer to a guitar amp.

try turning up the sound system to the point of feedback and then moving the speakers around to see where they feedback least.

in my experience, if a band doesn't know to turn down for a small room already, asking them to change the way they play usually results in band discomfort, translating into audience discomfort. ymmv
I run House Studio and play in Sister Palace

dino
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 194
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2003 6:40 am
Location: a mile west of the crossroads & the old circus grounds

Post by dino » Sat Nov 15, 2014 2:28 am

[quote]I'm always amused when people think that you can switch from acoustic drums to electronic, like it's the same thing.[/quote]

Of course your right Jarvis, but if the drummer can't or won't play softer and the rest of the band bases its volume off the drummer this situation will become uncontrollable. The OP is talking about a pretty small space and something drastic has to happen to make it workable....d

[quote]macpogue wrote-in my experience, if a band doesn't know to turn down for a small room already, asking them to change the way they play usually results in band discomfort, translating into audience discomfort. ymmv[/quote]

I guess the question then would be; is there a solution for the OPs dilemma?
Perhaps he could push everything through the PA and send it to one of these things then have everyone wear cans. [url]https://wholehousefmtransmitter.com/?gc ... AkfN8P8HAQ [/url]
I'd gladly trade everything I have now for a nice sounding room and a bucket of 57's

Trick Fall
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 413
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2007 5:09 pm
Location: Long Island

Post by Trick Fall » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:04 am

Jarvis wrote:I'm always amused when people think that you can switch from acoustic drums to electronic, like it's the same thing. Ask Jimi Hendrix to play acoustic and yeah he can, but he's a little more skilled than your average electric guitarist. Many musicians play by feel and the feel of real drums is very different from pads. I remember a session where the engineer removed the padding from my kick and I couldn't play the part I had written.
Just sayin'
Not that i disagree with what you are saying, but I played a small bar in NYC in the early 90's called scrap bar. At first we though it would be horrible because it was electronic drums and sans amps and we were a very loud punk band. It actually turned out to be one of our best sounding gigs to that point and we learned something that night.

To the OP, a graphic eq wil help a bit if you can find the feedback frequency, but there's really no substitute for a slightly lower volume. It really depends on how hard the drummer decides to bash.

User avatar
roscoenyc
george martin
Posts: 1361
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:56 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by roscoenyc » Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:56 am

I'd start at the source.

Round up a house back line that is suited to your place.
Matched level amps (15 to 20 watts for the guitars)
Buy some lighter sticks and ask the drummer to use them.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 16 guests