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Concert in a Gym

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Foxinabox10, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    I'm working on a concert that we're putting on in a gym in about a month and a half and have some questions.

    First, someone told me not to mic the amps, but many others (including myself) have disagreed. Is there any validity to this suggestion?

    Any other suggestions for me?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Well I guess that depends upon the size of your gym and the size of the amps.

    I have done a lot of shows in small venues where the amps did not require micing up. Maybe a DI for the bass guitar but unless the guitar amps are not going to cut it in the size of the room I wouldn't bother.

    However, from a learning stand point, you may want to do it anyhow. A lot of the time you will hear the guitars over the mix anyhow and will have to tell them to turn down.

    What are your reasons for wanting to mic them?
     
  3. jbeutt

    jbeutt Active Member

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    what's the nature of the show? Lots of bands? just you guys?

    What's your basis for thinking you should mic the amps?

    If you have the equipment, why the heck not? But I'd definitely suggest that when you sound check, you begin with those levels down. If you're running loud enough amps, there's no reason to mic them. They'll mix in the room, especially in a gym. You'll probably find yourself turning them down.

    Here's a procedure i think could work.

    1) get your backline+drums sounding good by themselves, no vox, no micing. just mix them right on the cabinets.

    2) add in the vocals, and try your best to mix it into the backline/drums that are un-miced


    The reason you should avoid micing the cabs is that if you don't have much experience mixing, there's a huge risk of losing your vocals. In your position, i'd try my best to work it out without miced cabs.

    But definitely let us know your position in better detail (gym specs, PA equipment, Backline/drum specs and so on). Lay it all out.
     
  4. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    The gym is fairly large and I've always run amps where the amp is simply so that the guitarist can hear himself a little louder where he is standing in addition to the monitor mix (it just stops the constant nagging to turn the guitars up so loud in the monitor mix when someone else needs to hear vocals). Since we would set amp levels rather low during the sound check and tell them not to change them, I would have complete control of the mix from the sound board and the mix would sound better. I do have quite a bit of mixing experience and we've got over 2000 W (Continuous) speaker power planned in addition to the monitors, so I think we're good as far as that goes.

    Another question...how necessary would a plexi-glass screen for the drum kit be?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  5. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    I haven't used a shield but it would depend on how much control you want over the drums. It depends on whether you feel that the drums without shield would overpower the rest of the mix. At 2000W FOH they would have to be playing quite hard. Also if you do shield it then you have to do more mixing to balance the drum mix into the monitors for the other members of the band. If you are going to mike amplifiers as opposed to using DI boxes they are going to bleed into the audience anyway. I have been to many High School concerts where the drums aren't shielded and there has been no problem. Also if this is a high school band it is good practice for them to balance their volumes because they won't always have this extra sound gear you are providing.

    Just my ten cents worth.

    Do you already have the shield or would you have to hire it? If hiring would the money be better spent elsewhere eg another mic.
     
  6. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    How big is the PA?
     
  7. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    Can you be a little more specific AVGuyAndy? I said above that we have 2000 W planned to be available should we need that much.
     
  8. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    If it were me, get the PA sounding good in the gym first with vocals. Gyms are usually a pain in the butt. And they're big, so it's hard to get good coverage. 2000w wouldn't seem like enough. I would let the guitar players crank it, and mike the drums, but not the amps at first. Then, if you have time left over, mic the guitar amps just in case. If you have subs, then DI the bass with a quality DI. If not, have the bass player crank it.

    And, you really can't tell the musos to not touch the controls on the amp. After all, the band is ultimately responsible for their sound, you are there to make them louder. Besides, they will just ignore you anyway.
     
  9. CHScrew

    CHScrew Active Member

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    considering that It is a normal Basketball Court size gym, and your playing for people in the stands. I would say use a shield for the kit. Drums are alot more overpowering than you'd think. If you have one on-hand then use it and you can remove it if you need to.
     
  10. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    AVGuyAndy, the band is not ultimately in charge of the sound as you said. Ultimately, I am in charge of the sound.
     
  11. blsmn

    blsmn Member

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    In a perfect world, yes you are. When dealing with bands (are these high school bands?) playing in a gym, the only way you could garnish complete control would be to use a drum shield and run all the instruments through DI's or amp modelors. I can't begin to count the number of times I have been through the "set the amp levels low and do not change them" scenario only to have the musos start cranking everything at show time when their energy level gets pumped. If you're talking "being in charge" meaning bringing the levels of all other instruments up to an ear shattering level to match the overzealous guitar player and then hoping you could actually outmaneuver the instrumental chaos to bring the vocals out front without feedback, then yes I guess you could say you are in charge. If you are talking about having complete control of the mix once the show starts you cannot accomplish that unless there are no amps involved and a shield is used. Yes, you are the person responsible for the sound of the show, but being in charge of things once the band starts will only happen if you have complete control.
     
  12. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    GIGO

    And unless you "own" the bands persoanlly, the bands DO decide what their music sounds like. As a sound provider and mixer, you are just there to setup a system and mix it, not tell the band "OK, this is how you are going to sound" Bands spend a lot of time rehearsingand getting their sound right.

    AND 2000w for a full basketball stadium is not enough. The money spent on a drum shield is better spent on racks and stacks.
     
  13. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    Maybe I was unclear, the bands are in charge of their sound, but we are in charge of how that mix is achieved. We are running the show and paying them to play, but we control how loud the show goes and we control how they will be miced.

    AVGuyAndy, how do you figure that 2000w for a gym is not enough? Based on Crown's calculator at http://www.crownaudio.com/apps_htm/designtools/elect-pwr-req.htm , at a distance of 50 feet, we can achieve 105 dBSPL with 1420 watts, so I don't know why you suggest 2000 is not enough.
     
  14. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    You're going to need a lot of boxes (and therefore power) to cover the entire gym.
     
  15. jbeutt

    jbeutt Active Member

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    There's no way you can use a calculator like that to figure out your power needs. You have to take into account the power handling of the speakers, their dispersion and a number of other factors, like the reverberation or absorption of the gym. I would say that calculator is practically useless in the real world.

    If you're running 2000 watts of power, that means your total PA RMS should be about 1200 watts. I'll venture out on a limb and assume you're running more than one PA cabinet. So if you're doing one speaker per side, that's 600 watts RMS per speaker. That isn't nearly enough to fill a gym at rock type levels.

    Just to fill us in, what equipment specifically are you using for your PA?

    As to the job of the mixing engineer. The producer (in a high school band, then the band themselves) determines the sound of the band. This is usually reflected in their CDs. It's the engineers job to recreate that sound in the space. But the band is usually still the boss. Many times a band will carry mics with them that they absolutely LOVE but ultimitely sound like crap. You can suggest a change, but they have the last word. So really, if it's a situation where the bands the boss, and they're insisting on something that won't sound great, you have to just go with it.

    Now high school musicians don't have enough experience to insist on anything. That really makes you responsible for the set up. Insist they don't change their amp levels or that the drummer play at a certain volume. If they don't, they're really screwing themselves. They ought to rely on your knowledge.
     
  16. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    As I said above, it is 2000w of continuous power available in the speakers, 4000w of program. We will have 4200w of amp power on hand should we need all of that.

    Also, FYI, we have a high school band opening for two other bands...Pawn Shop Roses (voted best independent band in Philadelphia for 2005) and Pepper's Ghost (toured with Ashley Simpson, Gavin Degraw, and have had music featured on TV). These aren't bands that have no clue what's going on and both asked that we have someone run a sound system, so they gave us the control (at least partially) as I see it.
     
  17. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    You still haven't answered jbeutt's question on what you have for PA.


    And guess what, it's not the band's job to know what's going on with the PA. They're there to make music. These bands sound like your typical bar band.

    I wouldn't mic any drums/guitars for the high school band, just let them use the vocal mics, unless they are both using the same backline and kit.
     
  18. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    For the PA: We have three or four speakers (not sure yet) for each side...all Peavey that combine for 1000w continuous per side. We also have 4 monitors. For amps, we are borrowing amps from Guitar Center (free of charge!!). For the board, we have a Mackie 24x4 VLZ Pro.

    The high school band doesn't have a drummer, so that's not an issue. For the amps, all of the bands will use their own amps and they will all be set up on stage ahead of time next to each other, so we'll just have to move the microphone for the amps to the next band's amp...not too hard.

    I know it's not their job to mess with the PA system, which is why it's my jurisdiction to tell them to turn their amps down to a reasonable level for them to hear them and I will mic them for the mains and monitors so everyone else on stage can hear them.
     
  19. jbeutt

    jbeutt Active Member

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    It sounds like the only reason to mic the cabs is going to be for the monitors. The bigger bands playing probably have a monitor setup they're used to or at least some idea of what they like. They'll definitely want to hear themselves.

    I really don't think you'll need to put them too much in the PA. Their cabs should fill a gym space pretty well. Considering you don't have a very large rig, I don't thinnk you'll gain a whole lot by putting the guitars in the PA. Putting them in the mains, with the smaller PA your running will probably lead to more problems and the potential to lose the vocals. Considering they're the only source that will really rely on amplification, you need to protect it.

    Whether you mic them or not you have the exact same problem. You preset the guitar amps to good levels no matter what. Unmiced, they'll just be louder, but the problem is the same: get them mixed to good levels by themselves and make sure they aren't touched again.

    If you aren't running subs, there's no reason to mic or DI the bass.

    Just an addon: It can't hurt to expiriment and I'm actually a little confused about the question whether to mic or not. If you have the mics, and you're going to be micing the cabs for the monitors, it doesn't take too much knob turning to get them in the mains. If it sound good, go with it. If not, it's just as easy to get rid of them.
     
  20. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    I was just clarifying that it was not a bad idea to mic the amps, because someone told me that it was an awful idea and would cause problems...I had never heard this before, so I wanted to check.
     

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