Setting active speaker levels

Forums Forums Qu Forums Qu general discussions Setting active speaker levels

This topic contains 17 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of [XAP]Bob [XAP]Bob 5 years, 5 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #51900
    Profile photo of Keef
    Keef
    Participant

    We are a live touring band and have invested in a QU 24 – great desk and excellent sound quality compared to some of the poor quality kit we’ve used in the past. We have now also acquired some RCF D Line active speakers and ART subs (which also set the crossover).

    Assuming we are setting the correct gain structure on the desk, I was wondering on the best way to set the correct levels on the speakers and how to make that consistent from gig to gig? I’d be interested in the views of some of you more experienced guys, as there seem to be a lot of conflicting views out there.

    Thanks.

    #51901
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    I run mine at line level and vary the main desk output…

    #51908
    Profile photo of JD
    JD
    Participant

    My understanding is the best way in general, you want as strong a level as you can get – without clipping which is killer (bad way) in a digital system – then set your FINAL output based on the venue … said another way: For a given “band”, you will be pretty consistent night after night except at the final knob – the power amp(s), which will be at 4 in a small place and 10 in a huge place (as examples).

    The reason – perhaps more analog – is to assure a strung signal through the processing stream, with a minimal power-amp setting – power amps being a major source of noise.

    subscribed for more opinions.

    #51911
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    Hi Keef,
    Most” name brand active speakers these days are pretty darn clean (noise wise).
    Unless you are doing jazz in a very small intimate club, I suggest running the input levels on the speakers
    all the way up (full). This will allow you to use a much lower master volume setting and your
    audience members up close will enjoy significantly less “HISS” coming from the speakers during soft passages of music and talking. Also, you will not likely ever push the mixer’s output level into clipping. If you do, then you need a much larger, more powerful speaker system 🙂

    If the gain position on your active speakers is let’s say Twelve O’Clock, you are going to have to push the master fader on the QU much harder in order to obtain the desired volume from your system. Starting out with the master fader at “0” Db. is going to make your system far more noisey than having the master fader set to around -10 Db. and the input gain on the speakers set to full. This is pretty common experiencer with an analog sound console, so even though we are using a “digital” board, it’s outputs are still analog, and anything that is analog is going to produce some noise.

    To each his own, but if you suddenly need more volume, and your speakers are only half way up, you will likely get distortion from the mixer’s output being driven too hard.

    So many claimed “experienced professional” audio engineers will tell you that the first thing you do is set your master fader to zero Db, HOLY CRAP! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? If I did that with any of my systems, heads would blow off. If these guys get away with that, and their input faders are hovering anywhere near zero Db, this tells me at least one thing… the gain on the individual inputs of the console are set far too low and or the decibel level in the room is approaching 120 plus DB.

    Now I’m rambling 🙂
    Sorry some of that was redundant.

    #51912
    Profile photo of Andreas
    Andreas
    Moderator

    I recently had one of these Master-fader-need-to-be-set-at-0db-Guy behind a desk. Several people complained it was way too loud (which I totally agree, even for a Queen cover). He continued to state: “Sorry, the PA was setup that loud and there’s nothing I could do right now.” No way to convince him to just lower the master fader…

    #51914
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    OH MY WORD!

    🙂

    Yep I’ve seen them all well maybe not all of them

    #51916
    Profile photo of Oracle/Steve
    Oracle/Steve
    Participant

    Even with powered mixers I recommend a Speaker Processor like the DBX DriveRack PX. I run the board right around unity and adjust overall volume at the processor. This also allows me to set my powered speaker volume controls (I’m using QSC KW153s on top and KW181s for subs) at a consistent setting. I use the processor’s recommended curve for the QSC speakers, then use the board EQ to adjust for the vagarities of different rooms.

    #51921
    Profile photo of Keef
    Keef
    Participant

    Thanks for all the very useful advice – this is a great forum for getting straight to the heart of the matter!

    Couple of questions:

    1. ‘Blowing peoples heads off’ is always a concern as we don’t normally have a full time sound engineer to monitor what is going on FOH – the audience can be very subjective – for some it can be too loud and some not loud enough. Does anyone use a sound level meter to check max volume or is it just done by experience? If so, any suggestions on the best type to try/buy?

    2. Oracle/Steve – I’ve seen a DBX Driverack in action and was tempted but it seemed a bit of overkill for an active speaker set-up. I can see the advantage of just having one dial to control overall speaker volume but can’t you do that with the L/R main fader on the board, or am I missing something? Do you use any of the auto wizard settings for eq’ing the room, feedback, etc.? Any other comments on speaker processors from anyone?

    Thanks again.

    #51922
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    As a sound man I do it by ear mostly, but use a (non calibrated) sound meter for larger gigs.

    #51942
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    As a sound man I do it by ear…

    ultimately, that’s what matters,,
    what does it sound like?
    Even if we think everybody’s ears are different, YOU have to trust YOUR ears in making all these thousands of decisions mixing the show. If you get complaints instead of tremendous praise for the incredible sound, then maybe you should be running lights 🙂

    That was a little harsh sorry 🙂

    #51961
    Profile photo of airickess
    airickess
    Participant

    YOU have to trust YOUR ears in making all these thousands of decisions mixing the show.

    This coming from the person who ranted about where someone sets the Master fader.

    #51962
    Profile photo of GCumbee
    GCumbee
    Participant

    Most all consoles from old analog to modern digital are designed to run the master in the shaded area which is usually 0. Some are designed to be 0 at the top of the fader. This is for maximum signal to noise and gain ratio. How many times have you seen a master down at -20-30 and channel faders way up. That is a sure fired case to cause distortion and amplify preamp noise. The idea is to set the master and input faders roughly in the shaded areas then set trims to make that work to an output level that’s suitable. Then set your speaker processor, amps or powered speakers accordingly.

    I see systems all the time that don’t do this. I have to go in and re balance them out to clean up noise and distortion. These principals have been around for decades. That’s how I learned it back in 60-70’s.

    #51963
    Profile photo of dpdan
    dpdan
    Participant

    whatever airickess…

    a soft answer turneth away rath

    #51964
    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob
    [XAP]Bob
    Participant

    GCumbee – yes, but in the modern era there is a much lower noise floor than there used to be. And the consequences of peaks over 0dbFS are much worse….

    I run digital desks much less hot that I used to run analogue kit, and I think it still sounds better…

    #51965
    Profile photo of GCumbee
    GCumbee
    Participant

    Bob. I am not advocating slamming a console. Just saying that is how they are meant to be ran. Also in digital world it’s all about bits. In recording we always tried staying as hot as we could to get every bit. Same on live consoles. Besides. You have plenty of compression and limiting on there to take care of that. I would guess there is a healthy headroom. I have yet to hear any distortion due to hot levels on a QU or GLD.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.