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Mixing Live Bands


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Hi there ,


Could anyone point me in the right direction on how to mix live bands please.


Situation is The venue where I am working are runnning a live & local Band night for local amateur bands .


I DJ on the evening and am also interested in learning how to mix the bands.


Equipment we have is


Mackie mixer


Powered wedge (stage is very small)


and a 5K inhouse pa system.


Can you tell me how many Microphones we would need to purchase and what types please (Budget very very tight so consider that and suggest decent budget models if poss)


Do I need any type of compressor gates on drum mics etc ???? (totally confused about micing drums)


Also Miking guitar amps & instruments ( any tips or golden rules apply)


I am experienced in mixing simple acts , ie 4 radiomics and Backing tracks etc. But Live Instruments I have never mixed ??



Any advice , tips and help would be great ..


Also could you direct me towards any past topics on this forum that may of be interest.


Thanks all ,



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Hi Matt,


Just a few points from me, I'm sure others will add to this in time.


The number of mic's really depends on what sort of bands are playing. All the vocalists in the band are probably going to want a mic and three dynamic vocal mic's would usually be enough. I'm not sure how tight your budget is but the Shure SM58 is a popular choice for this application, it really is down to personal preference.


Miking drums depends on how big your venue is, you might not need to mic the full kit if the venue is pretty small and often a pair of overheads positioned about a metre above the kit pointing downwards toward the cymbals with the addition of a mic on the bass drum can provide all the reinforcement necessary. Some small diaphragm condenser mics such as the AKG C1000 (I'm sure someone will have a better recommendation for this!!) would be suitable for overheads and for the bass drum I like the AKG D112. If you think you might need to mic up the full kit it might be a good idea to buy a decent drum mic set, but if that fails the Shure SM57 normally has pretty reasonable results for snare and rack toms. If your just starting of mixing live I would keep off the compressors and gates for now.


Miking amps- Microphone selection is just down to personal choice here again but the SM57 is normally a pretty safe choice, aim the mic right up close to the amp at the speaker cone. At the centre of the speaker cone you will get a sharp sound and as you move out to the edge you will get a warmer less sharp sound.


Its normally a good idea to DI the bass guitar through an amp for the performers monitoring and into the desk for foh.


The keyboards, synths etc should be DI'd too.


Whilst mixing its a good idea to be as close to the audience as possible, at audience height in the middle, and then what sounds good too you should hopefully sound good to the audience as well!!


Watch for feedback from the monitor and mics.


Best of luck


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I can't disagree in the whole but once you have bought those c1000's I'm sure Rob will be hounding you to have them off you so he can throw them out the van window on the M1.


As far as instruments and vocals go, can't go far wrong with the above recommendations.


However for kit, I would select Audix D6 for kick, Over heads (and hats); have had good results with the T Bone EM 800 (a surprising choice maybe but at £24 a mic they sound nice) then should you require the rest, SM57 on snare, Audix D2 on toms (unless budget is really tight then it is a £30 saving for a sennheiser e604).


Good luck.


Prices based on thomann at time of going to print.

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Good advice there, as usual.


However when micing up drums (in small venues), overheads are the last mics I put up. Don't no one need to make cymbals louder! I start with the bass drum, then add toms, snare, hats, in that order of importance, as required for the size of the room.

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With the risk of turning this into another what drum mics to use topic (of which plenty can be found) Sometimes, kick and 2 OH is a better choice when not micing everything. They are not just for cymbals, you can attenuate some HF just to dampen it a little and they often pick up the sound of the whole kit which can work quite well. It all depends on the drums/cymbals, and the person hitting them. if (s)he taps the toms and thrashes the cymbals then its a different story.


Also, EM800's sound much nicer than C1000's* you don't ALWAYS get what you pay for.


*As does cat in an oven



<please note, no cats were harmed in the making of this reply>




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The best advice that I can give is to keep things as simple as you can. Forget about compressors at this stage - get the basics sorted out first. I would also suggest that you don't do any drastic eq and avoid any eq boosts. When I was starting out doing live sound I'm sure that part of the reason people used me was that I didn't spend hours tweaking stuff. I just made sure that I knew how not to mess things up.


One other thing - from a musician's point of view the monitors are the most important thing. If you want to make the gig to go well you need to keep the musicians happy and this means decent monitoring. Even on a small stage, 4 decent monitors across the front and a couple more for the drummer and any other non-frontline player are essential to keep the musicians happy.





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Th OP did say the stage was small - so loads of monitors may not be an option - also more monitors normally means more mixes, and on a small stage everyone hears everybodies mix - making it a very loud place. If the stage is truly small, all they may need are vocals in the monitors.
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They do, but that's cheating. Learning is learning, use http://sft.sourceforge.net/ 's simple feedback trainer to train your ears to the frequencies so when you are faced with a graphic without this facility (which has every chance of being a better graphic) you'll not be stuck.


I use that package as a trainer for crew, but anything for an easy life.....


The Behringer FBQ's are useful, and they do help cutting feedback quickly if you know how to use them.


If you are new to all this ( which you seem to be from you're OP), this is a good solution, as it's easy to kill a horn in your PA due to unwanted feedback. (Expensive replacement).


Feedback will probably be your biggest enemy, so learn how to sort it out, weather it's in mons, or FOH.

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I can't disagree in the whole but once you have bought those c1000's I'm sure Rob will be hounding you to have them off you so he can throw them out the van window on the M1.


A bit OT but,

They are however good for recording the 'snap' on the underside of a snare drum .

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big thanks to everyone for the advice.


Just to clarify the stage is about 8mtr x 3.5mtr in size , long and narrow. We can just about fit a 5 piece band on there at a push.


Ideally Id like to try and get away with just miking up vocals and as suggested the overhead drums. But my only problem is the speakers in the venue are installed all over the venue.


The stage is at the back of the room which is about 50mtrs x 80 mtrs and about 200mtrs high. My worry is customers at the front of the building or on the above balcony would hear just vocals and not the backline etc.


There sound system was installed for playback and not live sound and whilst being very loud and good quality speakers are installed in the ceiling all over the venue.?


Nightmare .



Would bands object if we asked them to D.I. all the guitars etc ????? thus avoiding mics on cabs

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Yes, the band will object to DIing the guitars. The sound of the cabinet is integral to the overall sound the guitarist is trying to achieve. You might get away with a DI on the bass and/or keyboards but, as you describe the speaker arrangement in the venue, that's probably the last thing you want to do anyway. You want to keep at least some element of directional cues so the punters know where the music is coming from. The arrangement you describe would have musicians (except the drummer) playing in apparent silence at the end of the room, while the sound comes from somewhere up towards heaven.


I'd probably go with your original plan of only putting the vocals through the PA and letting the instruments take care of themselves. If at all possible, I'd try to rent in a relatively small PA for the vocals to get those coming from the stage as well, though I understand how the venue owner might be reluctant to spring the cash if he has spent money on a system, albeit one unsuitable for live work.



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