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Author Topic: Getting the bass sound right  (Read 5940 times)
DAGRev
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« on: November 06, 2008, 06:40:16 PM »

I know there's no definite answer to this given no one can hear what I'm talking about, but here goes anyway.   Maybe I just want to share my frustration!  I use an Sansamp PBDDI and various basses and go directly to the board.  I use an amp and cab as a monitor.  The sound from the amp sounds good, but what comes our of the mains is not so great.  We have a new and good sound system and everything else sounds great.  We have great speakers and a sub.

Part of the problem is I can only hear the bass when nothing else is happening and I know that's not the best way to get a good sound and having another play really isn't  an option.  The bass either sounds deep but hollow when not EQed at the board or less than deep and full when EQed (more mids).  I don't want to sound like a bassey guitar or trebely, but a deep fullness to surround the sound and not compete with others.  I've boosted and cut various frequencies myself and still it seems lacking (I can plug in back in the sound booth and tweak some things).  Our sound guy tries but I don't think he understands what a bear it is to get a good live bass sound.  It's important for me to sound because my theory is if you can't play great and least sound good! Wink

I realize there may be no way to offer an "answer," but I'm open to suggestions or hear from others who are suffering as well!
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Versatek6
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2008, 09:25:55 PM »

Have you tried setting your channel on the board flat and tailoring the sound from the Sansamp?

When I am setting up through any new piece of equipment, I cut all the tone circuits to zero and start raising the bass frequencies until I get an acceptable sound playing the lowest notes. I do the same with the midrange next, playing in the midrange of the instrument; finally the treble playing in the normal high range. That always gives ma a good benchmark from which to fine tune.

Remember that when there are people in the house, the sound changes a lot due to absorption; all those "human baffles" are now in place.

I hope this is helpful. It may take a while to tweak, but you know it is worth the effort!
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1954bassman
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2008, 09:48:36 PM »

Age old question here.

I will share a little.

When I run sound at our church (which is quite often these days), the regular bassist runs his Ric 4003 direct through a Radial DI. He's a great (yet humble) player, and all I do is add a little bottom (80hz, I think). We run an EAW speaker system with a center cluster with one sub, and two powered QSC 18 subs on the floor. His sound is very good, and room filling.

When I play bass, I run my G&L's and Laklands through a Sansamp RBI, set flat, except 'presence' cut and I run the blend about 11 o'clock. I also use a Symetrix 501 compressor, set to hit fast, medium release, at about 4:1. I disable the board eq, so our other sound guy won't mess up my sound. This set-up wakes up our subs, and pushes the entire room. We use Aviom IEMs, so all my sound is coming through the PA. I stand on the flatform between the drummer and the floor subs, and the floor quakes under my feet. I run the IEMs fairly loud, and use FutureSonics.

Also, remember: you really need to try to set you sound to set in the mix. A good bass sound while no one is playing seldom translates into a great bass sound within the context of actually playing in the band.

I have a Sansamp PBDDI also, and I have trouble getting a good clean sound with my G&L's, and it is useless for my G&L L2500 fretless. I have a Eden Navigator that sounds better than either of my Sansamps. I am toying with getting another Avalon U5 to use at church, and selling my Sansamp. Or maybe an Eden WTX260.

Anyway, if the PA is really good like you say, you should be able to run your Sansamp basically flat, and let the sound guy add some bottom, or run the board eq flat, and add a little bottom with the PBDDI. If your bass is active, be easy on the on-board eq.

Mark
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fretlessguy
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2008, 01:42:31 PM »

One of the things I have learned is that what I think is a great sound and what is required to heard out in the audience is often two different things. I learned that by becoming a soundman. It gave me a new perspective.
Work with your engineer to arrive at a tone both of you are satisfied with, and be sure it works for the particular room you are in.

Wish you well and hope it is straightened out soon.

Doug
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2bhumble (Dave)
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2008, 09:13:50 PM »

In my opinion fretlessguy offered a valueable piece of advice when he said,
"Work with your engineer (soundguy) to arrive at a tone that both of you are satisfied with, and be sure it works for the particular room you are in."

It is always a good thing to establish the sound you want before hand, and then working with your sound guy make the necessary ajustments to fit the acoustic's of the room.

Another way is to use your amp strickly as a personal monitor. This way you can set it to whatever sounds good to you and this allows the soundguy to blend you into the mix at his own discretion.


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What a mess
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2008, 08:07:34 AM »

Correct term is: MABU mobile accoustic baffle units (made up by me)

aka: sound suckers ..... they eat bass and treble.

Get it right on stage 1st it is possible but often you can't fix out front what is broke on stage.

Try a good kick drum or floor tom mic.
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Wayne A. Pflughaupt
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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2009, 01:39:05 PM »



Part of the problem is I can only hear the bass when nothing else is happening and I know that's not the best way to get a good sound and having another play really isn't an option.


If you can’t hear yourself the problem is simple:  There is too much low frequency information emanating from other sources.  The solution is simple in theory:  Roll out the bass of all channels except the bass guitar and perhaps the kick drum.  Once you are the only thing carrying the bottom end, you’ll come through loud and clear.

Notice I said “simple in theory.”  In practice this can be difficult to achieve.  You can expect the other musicians to start howling in protest if you limit their bottom end.  Keyboard players, guitar players and drummers all seem to like that full, rich sound, and excessive low end helps achieve it. 

However, they have to realize that you don’t EQ a full band the same way you would if they were the only instrument on the stage.  For instance, with a solo singer playing a guitar or piano, you’d need a nice full low end to balance out the sound.  But when a bass guitar is added, the piano or guitar no longer needs to carry the bottom end, so the lows need to be EQ’d out.  If not, it just muddies up the sound.

Good audio professionals know these things, and it shows up in their work.  Next time you hear a well-produced CD where the bass comes through clear and clean, pay attention to the other instruments and vocals when they are solo’d all alone – like in the intro of a song, for instance.  Notice that they will sound fairly “thin,” with virtually no lows at all!  Same thing with a recording where the bass sounds muddy and indistinct.  When other instruments are solo’d, you’ll probably they find they’re bottom heavy.  Multiply that by every other instrument, and you have sonic mush, plain and simple.

Keep in mind the ultimate goal and purpose of a high-fidelity audio reproduction system:  It should sound natural, only louder.  To that end, listen to say, the acoustic guitar totally unamplified, then through the PA.  Does it sound deeper through the PA?  Well, that’s not the way an acoustic guitar sounds naturally. Reduce the bass. 

Same thing with vocals:  Do they sound deeper through the PA than without it?  That’s not the way voices sounds naturally. Reduce the bass.

Same with the drums, too.  Listen to them unamplified, then through the system.  Unlike most other instruments on stage, drum's natural response does reach down in to the “bass guitar zone.”  However, there’s not a kick drum in the world with 40 or even 60 Hz fundamentals!

If you manage to get the other instruments under control, you still have the problem of lows generated from the stage, via the monitors or backline amplifiers.  Lows from these sources needs to be limited as well.


Quote
The bass either sounds deep but hollow when not EQed at the board or less than deep and full when EQed (more mids).

Don’t waste your time trying to EQ a bass guitar from a mixing console. It’ll never happen.  They only have two or maybe three controls at best, which are limited in capability.  The bass knob, even if it has an adjustable frequency setting, is merely a shelving filter that generally raises or lowers the bass level below the frequency setting.  The mid- or low-mid control may also have a frequency adjustment, but they cut a very wide path since there is typically no bandwidth control. 

Instead, get a parametric EQ and either insert it across the bass channel, or connect it to your on-stage rig as part of your house send.  This will give you between 3-5 filters that will allow you to fine-tune bass with surgical precision.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt



« Last Edit: February 24, 2009, 09:08:31 AM by Wayne A. Pflughaupt » Logged

1954bassman
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2009, 05:45:14 AM »

Wow Wayne,

Great advice. I cut and pasted it to my soundtech notebook.

Welcome to the forum.

Mark
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DAGRev
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2009, 06:55:42 PM »

Thanks for the good responses guys.  And Wayne thanks for the great perspective on the big picture.  I never really thought of that.  Great advice and welcome.  Keep posting great stuff like this!!
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SavnBass
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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2009, 05:30:13 PM »

In my opinion fretlessguy offered a valueable piece of advice when he said,
"Work with your engineer (soundguy) to arrive at a tone that both of you are satisfied with, and be sure it works for the particular room you are in."

It is always a good thing to establish the sound you want before hand, and then working with your sound guy make the necessary ajustments to fit the acoustic's of the room.

Another way is to use your amp strickly as a personal monitor. This way you can set it to whatever sounds good to you and this allows the soundguy to blend you into the mix at his own discretion.

Yeah that's what I do... We use Avioms but .. I just don't really like them... they are great for being able to mix up the other instruments.. but I found out that I prefer to feel my bass when I play.. sort of like Redford in Butch & Sundance.. Remember..? "Can I move....? I like to move when I shoot.. "

The church has an Ampeg Ba-115. I go through a DI and run the output of the DI into the amp.. and it sits in front of me as a monitor. My amp that I use at home and on most of our band's gigs when I cant get the church'es amp is an SWR La-15.. Not a very good amp.. but when I bought it in 2003 it was all I could really afford.. I am in the market for a better amp now... that's one reason I want to sell my Tacoma.
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Xiolo
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2009, 10:30:14 AM »

I know I'm bringing up a slightly older topic here, but I took Wayne's advice and cut the lows out of the other instruments, and whoa! What a HUGE difference it made. Everyone was setting their own EQ for what sounded best when played alone, and it became total mush when we played together. Cutting out the guitar, drum and hammond b3 lows and suddenly I'm cutting through and really filling out the sound without all the mud.

The great advice on these forums is awesome!  Grin
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