Live Sound Engineering Tutor?

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This topic contains 34 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Roy Roy 5 years ago.

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  • #46656
    Profile photo of coffee_king
    coffee_king
    Participant

    Hi All
    I’m currently depressed with my very basic skills as a sound engineer and after one too many gigs with ridiculous feedback coming through vocal mics the second the drummer plays anything I’ve decided its time I looked into finding a tutor or something to improve my knowledge.
    I’m actually a musician and do the sound for my band, but please don’t start going on about how you “Can’t be both” as Ive heard it on this forum too many times before and its not productive to say so thanks.

    I’m willing to pay to be taught, or I can give up my time helping out roadying / setting up mics / co-engineering at gigs.
    So does anyone know anyone in the Staffordshire area that might be able to assist me?

    The reason I’m on the QU forum is that I own a QU16 myself so to be taught directly on this fantastic machine (Or similar) would be a great help.

    Thanks in advance.

    #46662
    Profile photo of debzdoodle
    debzdoodle
    Participant

    Can’t help you from the U.S.- sorry but Could you get a few recorded tracks down and spend a day just playing with each channel – EQ, comp, gate, FX etc. ? That would help you so much because sometimes it’s just a case of becoming familiar with each aspect of the system. Then have the band set up and play and spend some time doing the same thing concentrating on monitors and drum mic placement. Do this when you have time and you are not rushed at a gig.

    #46664
    Profile photo of coffee_king
    coffee_king
    Participant

    Hi
    Cheers for thr response. I really do mean LIVE sound though. I’m fine at mixing at home using Logic etc when nothing is spilling/feeding back into anything else.

    #46665
    Profile photo of dcongdon
    dcongdon
    Participant

    Hi Coffee_king,

    Hope you can find some helpful training. We all started somewhere. I think you might benefit most from talking with another musician who mixes from stage. There are some techniques I would teach if mixing from FOH that would not apply to stage mixing. I encourage engineers to build a dynamic mix…but that takes constant attention and periodic adjustment. I assume you have to mix from stage without all of the “information” and thus more conservatively. I’m not comfortable with this approach, but I understand the necessity. I think some speak poorly of this approach because there are many features on a desk like the QU series you just need to ignore because of the possible issues that would arise. Seems wasteful to some…but there are still quite a few benefits to using a QU as a musician-mixer (app control, built in processing, scenes, etc).

    Hope you can find someone with similar experience who has success mixing from stage. It’s not my area of expertise (and probably the same for many opinionated members on this forum). Good luck!

    #46666
    Profile photo of Dick Rees
    Dick Rees
    Participant

    I’m currently depressed with my very basic skills as a sound engineer and after one too many gigs with ridiculous feedback coming through vocal mics the second the drummer plays anything

    As has been said, you don’t have to use all the processing just because it’s there.
    The highlighted section in the quote is what sets off an alarm in my head.

    If your system loses stability and exceeds the GBF threshold when the drummer starts playing, you have to ask yourself why. I suspect you’ve applied some processing such as compression which may be causing a problem. And if you’re gating the mics, don’t.

    Less is more.

    Don’t use it unless you need it.

    Understand the drawbacks attendant to the benefits of any processing. Every coin has two sides, every yin a yang.

    #46668
    Profile photo of AlainBASS
    AlainBASS
    Participant

    I understand your situation: I was in the same position. I did two things:
    1- took online training (free on youtube) on ringing out systems (how to EQ out the feedback frequencies)
    2- I bought a DBX AFS2 for my monitors, and a DBX driverack PA2 (auto-EQ and anti-feedback) for front of house. Both do realtime feedback suppression !!! It’s easy magic.

    #46670
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    excellent response Dick R,
    so many people have screwed up EQ settings on stage monitors,
    I suggest setting the EQ on all the stage monitors to completely flat,
    then try setting levels,

    Most stage monitor speakers sound halfway decent without a major amount of EQ. but not all of them. πŸ™‚

    Always start with your monitors and microphones’ EQ set flat. It is the best place to start,
    if you have the time during a “sound check” and you have some feedback, it is most likely a single pitch that is just too efficient in the system. The objective in this case is to find that exact frequency, then cut that frequency with a very narrow bandwidth. I always use the saying.. pardon me but.. “poop or get off the pot” cutting a little tiny bit isn’t going to fix it, slam that frequency all the way down as low as it will go, if the frequency that you are cutting is correct, then that feedback pitch will go away, and you may need to leave it completely cut.
    How do we find the offending frequency???

    With a QU mixer, you can use the very convenient RTA (real time analyzer) but if you don’t have that option, like using a different mixer, use the following method…
    Warn the people in the room to watch their ears because it’s gonna get loud and ugly.

    Make sure ALL the other monitor mixes are completely muted. Raise the level of the monitor master to make it just start to feedback “just barely hovering” then raise each one of the 31 bands “on the graphic EQ one at a time” slowly until suddenly the feedback goes nuts. Even if the feedback goes nuts, it doesn’t mean we found the bad frequency,,,it might actually be the next band that is the culprit. So be methodical about it, start with lower frequncies (usually above 100 hertz,) and go higher…. NOW, we know what the exact offending frequency is. So, slam that band all the way down. I suggest after lowering the first most obnoxious frequency that you raise the volume of that monitor again even more now, until it feeds back again, but this time it will be a different frequency, again, find the frequency and notch it out. I suggest doing this no more than three times, any more than this the monitor is going to sound horrible.

    Do this same process for all the other monitor mixes, of course you will need to have mics turned up in those monitor mixes so that the monitor gets to feedback with the mics it is going to have to reproduce.

    Even after this has been done, feedback can still occur and I suggest assigning all the monitor mix masters to a singe DCA. That way you can have a single master fader (only on the custom layer) for ALL MONITORS.

    Some other very basic, but very good things to remember,,, if something sounds shrill and hurts your ears it is between 2.5 khz. and 4Khz. Usually 3K. Sounds that can really get on your nerves in this area are some female vocals, violin, trumpets, guitars and guitar amps especially.

    That’s a good start πŸ™‚

    #46671
    Profile photo of Dick Rees
    Dick Rees
    Participant

    I understand your situation: I was in the same position. I did two things:
    1- took online training (free on youtube) on ringing out systems (how to EQ out the feedback frequencies)
    2- I bought a DBX AFS2 for my monitors, and a DBX driverack PA2 (auto-EQ and anti-feedback) for front of house. Both do realtime feedback suppression !!! It’s easy magic.

    It’s good to know the process and techniques for “ringing out”, but it’s more important to know what can and cannot be effectively addressed with such a procedure. I won’t go further with this particular issue right now, but suffice to say that “feedback frequencies” are not fixed as such and addressing them at one point in time will probably not hold over time. You CAN reduce the effect of room resonances/standing waves which ARE fixed phenomena, but you should only need to deal with 3 or 4 such.

    As to “easy magic” stuff…NO. There is no magic, just physics. To use such devices/programs effectively, you MUST know how they work and how to apply the same techniques without the machine.

    In addition, such things as “auto-EQ” and “anti-feedback” are like tourniquets, sutures and bandages. Better to prevent the problem in the first place with proper speaker selection/deployment and DSP. If your system is not optimized to begin with, applying EQ to it will be somewhat less than effective.

    A friend sent me a screen shot of the filters set by the DRack “auto-EQ”. An uglier set of filters I have seldom seen with overlapping boosts and cuts. But the bottom line is this:

    A machine does not know how it sounds..

    Edit:

    How many folks who report “I had a terrible problem at the gig last night” have ever taken time to set up their system and learn how to optimize it and experiment with what happens when you orient the speakers to focus on the listening area and minimize/eliminate reflections off the walls and ceiling? The same goes for monitors: placement in relation to the microphone polar patterns (nulls) and keeping spill off the back wall.

    Take care to learn HOW to set up your gear in a room, don’t just throw it up, power it up and try and fix it with EQ or “magic”.

    Buy and study the Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook. You won’t understand it in the beginning, but when you have a problem and you look up the associated applicable phenomena in the book, it will dawn on you. I’ve had mine forever and it’s still great reading every time I pick it up.

    #46672
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    Of course, getting the monitors to sound nice without any feedback is great, but those settings are only for the current set up.
    Another job in another venue will no doubt be different, but if the OP (original poster) is having unreasonable feedback, the process I described WILL get the monitors to a point that they can produce decent monitoring, instead of nothing but feedback.
    Any device that has feedback suppression is never capable of producing results equal to a human that is educated and has the experience of making things NOT feedback but still sound pleasing to the ears.

    When all else fails, turn the monitors down.

    #46673
    Profile photo of coffee_king
    coffee_king
    Participant

    Thanks for all the responses. Its worth pointing out before this goes any further that this is nothing to with monitoring as we all use IEMs.

    #46674
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    my fault for not interpreting your original post better.
    I wish you would have mentioned there are no monitors.

    ridiculous feedback coming through vocal mics the second the drummer plays anything

    if there is feedback, then what is feeding back?

    #46675
    Profile photo of robbocurry
    robbocurry
    Participant

    Tell the drummer not to play so loud!?
    Ask yourself:
    Would the whole band benefit from being a little quieter on stage?
    What type of mics are you using, are they appropriate?
    Can the band setup or PA be moved to a more favourable layout?

    If you’re using IEMs and are being killed with feedback FOH, you might all be a little on the loud side.
    It only takes one guy to have everyone playing “catch up”.
    Let the PA do the work, not the backline….
    Just my tuppence worth πŸ™‚

    #46676
    Profile photo of Dick Rees
    Dick Rees
    Participant

    If you’d like to try and figure out what’s going on, you should give more information…and not assume anything “has nothing to do with it” as this kind of thinking limits effective trouble-shooting.

    If you’re on IEM’s, are you also each controlling your own mix?

    You didn’t reply about what, if any, dynamic processing is being applied…especially gating.

    Please provide info on your methods for setting up your mixer channels and processing. The answer is in there and will be simpler than you think.

    #46690
    Profile photo of coffee_king
    coffee_king
    Participant

    If there is feedback, then what is feeding back?

    That certianly is the million pound question.

    I totally appreciate everyones responses and some interesting ideas have been knocked around which I will look into but this post was to help me find a tutor. That was why I didnt put much information in my initial post. We seem to be going off topic here.
    I am still looking for a tutor local to Staffordshire.
    Again, mnay thanks.

    #46691
    Profile photo of robbocurry
    robbocurry
    Participant

    CK, like you said in your first post, hang out/work with with other bands and try to pick up a few tips.
    A lot of people were enthusiastic free helpers back in the day – myself included!
    Hiring in an engineer for a few gigs might be beneficial and maybe easier to find than a dedicated tutor.
    You may have some inherent setup problem you’re unaware of that a fresh set of ears and eyes may pinpoint.
    I’d love to help out (FOC) but I’m on the wrong side of the Irish Sea.
    Planning any gigs in sunny Northern Ireland?
    πŸ™‚

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