getting a good live sound


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hello, :) this is my first post hope someone can help.

i play in a band and we have our first gig coming up, thing is when practising with a full band sometimes my keyboard seems to get lost in the mix and seems to sound "muddy"?

i also often notice this when i watch other live bands, the keyboards just seem to get lost in the sound and are difficult to hear or are unclear.

i hope some of the people hear can kinda understand what im talking about, ive tried to explain best i can... i guese im just trying to find ways to make the keyboard stand out in the mix a bit more without turning volumes up and drowning everyone else out, maybe can be sorted with proper EQ?? anyone with any ideas?

thanks.
 
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for practise i just use a 40w roland keyboard amp but im going through the pa when it comes to our gig.
 
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for practise i just use a 40w roland keyboard amp but im going through the pa when it comes to our gig.

Well, well . . . that renders some of this post I was drafting useless. But I'll post it anywho . . . still might be helpful.

Unless you have someone out front while you're all playing to help adjust, or good monitoring arrangements, you may be fine and not know it. Or not.

Remember, the sad fact is that a lot of guitar players feel they have to be the dominant sound in the house, and just when you think you've got your sound right they'll "go Emeril" on you ("crank it up a notch" LOL). . . especially in guitar-centric bands in which keyboards are an afterthought - THEY mostly want to hear three Hammond chords while they solo out on Freebird or something.

But enough venting . . . what to do?

I've recently learned that a lot of that muddiness can come from a few things:

1) The nature of keyboard amps, most of which have a 12" or 15" woofer and a small tweeter. This covers bass and highs, but essentially leaves the midrange, where we keyboardists spend most of our time, neglected. You're basically pushing the mids thru the bass end. Make sense?

2) Often exacerbating the problem are the issues inherent in "summing" or "compressing" modern stereo-sampled digital boards to a basically mono setup.

3) Also, if your boards have balanced outputs and you don't use balanced cabling you could be sacrificing signal strength.

EQ is important to get right as well, but it can only do so much.


My case in point . . .

I use two boards - a Roland RD700SX and a JUNO Stage. I've played them thru a KC-500 and a Behringer K3000FX. Surprisingly, the Behringer actually sounded better.

But I still couldn't shake the muddiness, and when I turned up to get the midrange out, it only got worse. Even when I EQ'd all my acoustic and electric piano sounds heavily slanted toward the highs. After all, both amps are constructed as in (1) above.

I spent two years of jumping around between perfect, lost in the mix, or muddy and too loud; then I got tired of it.

Going thru the PA (which you do) or using your own powered speakers are supposed to be the ideal situations, but were not an option for me - footprint, hauling, or cash-wise.

After doing my homework, I reluctantly decided a new amp and cabling were the way to go for me.

I got a good price on a refurbished Traynor K4, one of the few combo amps out there with a stereo setup. It has a summed 12" woofer and (most importantly) left and right channels driving high AND MIDRANGE horns. (And with two balanced line-outs, if I ever do have to go thru a PA I can feed the PA from the amp, spin it around, plug in a monitor feed, and I'm good to go)

Then I had a balanced snake made up to replace the unbalanced cabling I'd been using.

It was as if I were hearing my boards for the first time.

I've gigged twice with the new setup and the whole band digs the difference. Mids are now "clear as a bell" to quote my drummer.

Only problem to my ears is that now I think my pianos are too bright, and I'm tweaking the EQ settings to compensate.

I hope you get something out of all this - you may find some, all, or none of it useful.

If your board(s) is/are stereo-sampled with balanced outs, using two balanced cables (L and R) into two PA channels (if the band can spare you two channels) may be the best option.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong . . .
 
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Basically, what he said!

It helps if you can get a friend along for the soundcheck who knows roughly how you should sound. You'll never be able to tell how things sound on stage and he can tell you who needs to turn up or down. 9 times out of 10, the guitarist will need to turn down.

I'll also put my vote in for the Yamaha StagePAS 150 - the smaller sub is really great! (And when are Traynor going to market anything outside the States? I want to give them my money!))
 
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thanks guys... ive always been turning up the highs on the EQ instead of staying in the mids and i think thats where ive been going wrong a lot. ive been going through the PA at practice a lot lately and the sounds a LOT better.

the gig went fine by the way. we had a sound engineer so we didnt have to worry.
 
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Yea... most of the stuff has already been said.

Basically, without a sound engineer at the main mixer you can't get the idea
of how you sound out in front when the overall sound widens up.

If the sound engineer is good, you don't need to tweak anything on your part.
It's him that does all the on-the-fly tweaking.

Especially throuought the song where you change dynamic levels.
Soft on verse, a bit louder/wider on the chorus and the "My turn now!" sound when you do the solo.

To be honest, i never did any EQ tweaking when it comes to live gigs.
All the EQ I do is to set the overall sound good... when i have a solo part, i just
boost the volume up a bit so i stand out - after i'm done - i lower it back again.

If i'm too loud or too quiet there's the sound engineer at the main mixer that helps me out.

If you don't have a real sound engineer - at least get a friend out there that can handle volume pots. It makes a big difference
 
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(PS Hello EJFan from another Juno Stage user).

Hello Ryan

(1) Are you sure it sounds bad out front? It may be ok mixed out front, just that the other stuff on stage is too loud where you are standing.

(2) Unless you are providing the bass for the band you should roll off the bass on the keyboard channel - if you don't you run the risk of sounding like there are two bass players fighting for space.

(3) Set the Treble and Mid flat for your keyboards (at the desk)

(4) Use a DI so you can send a signal to the desk and one to a keyboard combo or powered monitor at your head height. Angle it across the stage. If the band tell you they can't hear the keyboards - time to have a chat about monitoring solutions or them turning down.
 
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I've played over 3000 gigs during the last 36 years (I'm 53). I've actually coined a word that addresses this issue- I call it "sonic clarity". Certain brands of keyboards have zero sonic clarity. They sound good at home in your living room, but when you've got Marshall stacks, Ampeg SVT's, and double kicks going on stage with you, no amount of volume is going to make your Casio (for example) come through the mix clearly.

That's one of the things I love about my Vintage Keys modules - they reproduce well in a high DB live situation. So do Korgs and Alesis. I don't always travel with my own gear - occasionaly the local makes it impractical to ship my gear via air. Normally you have a rider that specifies backline requirements etc. I'll specify a B3 and get a Casio. No joke. Casio and Yamaha are right on the bottom of my sonic clarity list. I don't care what kind of amplification you have - you're gonna get buried in the mix, and sound like your playing through 10 gallons of mud to boot.

Keyboardists need to travel with your own PA. Get a mixer and 2 cabs w/ 15's and a horns with at least a 1" throat. Crown amps are the clearest sounding you can buy - Hafler is great too. Mackie powered mixers are terrible unless you want to sound like you're playing inside a giant cardboard box. Always run in stereo, and send the house your monitor mix via direct boxes. If you make your own cables pay close attention to polarity.

It's not unusual to have the production company use their own man out front running the mix. When that's the case I have the bands sound engineer give me hand signals if I'm getting buried - then I just crank up my stage volume so I can be heard out front.

Nothing worse than rippin a hot solo only to be told later you might just have well had your gear turned off.

I have had many keyboard players over the years approach me after a gig and ask me how the hell I get such a great sound, and well, now you know. Sonic clarity. Some brands have it - some don't, amplification is just part of the issue.
 
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I really think it comes down to having a great sound man. In the monitors you may not sound the way you want to but at some level you have to trust your sound man. I am blessed to have an amazing sound man (one of the best in cleveland) and i play with him pretty much exclusively. and i trust him (trust is a big deal because you will never know if your sound man is doing a good job because you will always sound different in the monitors.)
 
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I did a show once in Cleveland at a place called the Agora Ballroom. The Beatles had autographed the wall of my dressing room! Actually, a lot of bands had monikered the walls - left mine too.
 
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It would have been after 1984.
Here's a promo shot from the band I was in from that era -
bandpic.jpg


That's me in the middle.
 
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well then it must not have been the beatles that signed that cause the original agora burned down in 1984 and reopened in its new location where it is today. but i have played at the agora too its a pretty decent venue, one of the better ones in cleveland.
 
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Ryan

You've got a lot of advice and opioions there (and there's some of it I don't agree with). Just wanted to say good luck with your band's first gig and be sure to post back and let us know how it went. Hope you can arrange to have a friend out front (who you can trust to be honest) to let you know how it sounded to the audience.
 
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Hello jmemcse

"...Nothing worse than rippin a hot solo only to be told later you might just have well had your gear turned off."

Was it you? Was it your smouldering solo that torched that venue in Ohio in 1984?

Maybe Frank Zappa and the Mothers have been getting blamed in the wrong for that place in "Montreux, by the Lake Geneva shore line ..."

All that smoke ... not enough water

Maybe you should stick to string pads and leave a few venues intact for the next generation to gig in. I could lend you a Casio.
 
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well then it must not have been the beatles that signed that cause the original agora burned down in 1984 and reopened in its new location where it is today. but i have played at the agora too its a pretty decent venue, one of the better ones in cleveland.
I knew that was a loaded question. Way to burst my bubble! All these years....
Well, I'll stop telling THAT story - I couldn't even find anything online that the Beatles EVER played at the Agora. Oh well. I guess anyone can buy a Sharpie...

lol @goz211! Loved your post!
 
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they actually did play the agora.... or ive heard the story that they did and that was one of the cool things about playing there (there was 14 agoras at one point) and they probably did sign at least one of the walls and someone probably just forged the rest.

sorry :(
 
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hello, :) this is my first post hope someone can help.

i play in a band and we have our first gig coming up, thing is when practising with a full band sometimes my keyboard seems to get lost in the mix and seems to sound "muddy"?

i also often notice this when i watch other live bands, the keyboards just seem to get lost in the sound and are difficult to hear or are unclear.

i hope some of the people hear can kinda understand what im talking about, ive tried to explain best i can... i guese im just trying to find ways to make the keyboard stand out in the mix a bit more without turning volumes up and drowning everyone else out, maybe can be sorted with proper EQ?? anyone with any ideas?

thanks.
 
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Reply 9 is your best start. I'm also in my 50's and have been playing for 30 years plus. Problem for starting bands is, you just don't know. But I recommend having an amp or powered speaker with you ALWAYS! Don't expect that amp to fill a stadium. Just use it and place it so you can hear your own playing. The comment on using signals with the soundman is the absolute BEST advice.

You can use a microphone at the speaker or a DI to send your sound to FOH. I would say the most important thing when going through the main PA, is the correlation between the volume you hear at your amp and the FOH.

If the band is at the mercy of the venue,... then the best thing is for the band to cool their jets and try and maintain their volumes and let the sound guy keep a reasonable mix. Or if loud and crazy works for your band, just make sure you have an amp.
 

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