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Thread: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

  1. #1
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    Default HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Just to get this out of the way, I have run sound before. My band has done our own sound for most gigs for years. I can set-up and break down a PA, monitors, mixers, mics, and DI connections in my sleep. Our board is an ancient analog thing with limited EQ controls, so I can also operate a really basic board. However, in a little over a week I'll be running sound for an all-day thing at a bar with about a half dozen acts. Some will be full bands, some will be solo acts, some will be duos, and the whole gamut of bluegrass instruments will be present.

    Also, instead of the basic board I'm most familiar with, I'll be using a SoundCraft UI16, which I've used a little bit and have taken a few tutorials on via YouTube, but still feel a bit shaky on. Plus, I've never been the designated sound guy for any other band than my own, much less a half dozen acts over the course of 8 hours. Everyone there will likely have some experience running sound before, so that will help, but I have no idea if they are familiar with the UI16.

    Any advice is appreciated. In particular, I'm really worried about how to deal with feedback should it occur. Our band rarely has a problem with it, so I just don't know what to do if it happens and I'm the sound guy that everyone is looking to to fix it. I'm also a bit unsure about setting the EQ on the UI16. The thing has got WAAAAY more EQ capability than I'm used to or even entirely understand. Are there some general guidelines for EQ'ing various instruments? Certain frequency settings that are just a good universal idea? For example, with my mando, I've been using the following. (Any advice on that would also be more than welcome since it's a work in progress)

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    Thoughts on configurations for fiddles and other instruments?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    It is difficult to be learning in a live show. It would be good to have
    someone to help with setup and sound check.

    Here are my suggestions.

    Get everything set up and checked before the first musicians show up.

    Only equalize to fix problems. Let the instruments speak for themselves.
    It safer to turn down the gain at certain frequencies rather than use boost.
    Vocals and most instruments are not contributing at less than 80 Hz. Use
    the high pass filter for those.

    Encourage musicians to plug in their instruments. It is popular to prefer
    the "sound" using the mic, but that doesn't matter if it can't be heard.
    Using the pick up and DI give you more volume before feedback.

    Avoid the use of large diaphragm condenser mics with stage monitors.
    That is asking for feed back.

    If you get ringing or feedback, turn it down. You can only do what you
    can do. Often it is a stage monitor or someone standing in front of a
    house speaker.

    Just give it your best effort and try to have fun. In some future show
    you can think about "enhancements" like equalizing the mandolin.
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

  3. #3
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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Have a look at section 5:3 in the manual & try to get a feel for the automatic feedback suppression functions & also the 'ringing out' of your system when you first set up on site.

    in terms of EQ the following are from a Presonus manual.
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    However I'd avoid boosting anything until you know it better. Just use some cuts to give you more acoustic space & headroom.

    As there'll be several acts, you should come up with a pretty simple routine for what goes where & get your stage helpers to be familiar with that & avoid moving anything far off it spot when accommodating the next act. Keep it simple & pretty much as locked down as you can.

    Good luck
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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  5. #4

    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    I hope you have a helper on stage that will control things there when you change bands. The helper needs to be firm with the performers. Have all the mics labeled. Different colored windscreens or tape on the connectors that can be seen from the board come in handy on vocal mics. You will probably have to adjust monitors on the fly and giving everyone the same mix may work better than trying to individualize it. Once you go down the road with one picky monitor user it becomes a flood. Good luck.

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    I try to keep the main EQ flat except for problems. Only thing I do faithfully is lower the 250 hz. I have found most all rooms resonate at that frequency and lowering it keeps the sound cleaner. Don't bottom it out, but lower it some. If you can go into the space before hand turn the PA up until it starts to feed back, then find which slider on the EQ takes care of it. Keep doing that and try to memorize the sound of the the feed back with the slider that fixes it. If you can do it ahead of the gig you will know which frequencies are problematic in that room. Remember as the room fills those problematic frequencies will change, but it will give you a place to start adjusting. Have fun, if you are used to doing sound for your band you will be fine, just treat every band as yours, and try to get each instrument out there. I would rather have a good sound at a quieter volume, than a fair sound loud.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  7. #6

    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    I've used a Ui16 for a few years. May be handy to have a lap top connected directly. Since you will be presumably doing many changes to the set up it may be nice to have a track pad or mouse. But the ipad is sufficient. You can change the names to the channels on the app as you go which will be handy in this scenario. So it could be like "mandolin" "mandolin vocals" etc. There is a feedback buster but I haven't taken the time to learn how to properly use it, but once you have the sound set you can check the levels on the little chart button in the upper left. If something is feeding back you should be able to identify the channel from there and try to fix it. There are also some easy EQ change functions so if you want to scoop the mids or roll the highs off the bass should be fairly easy. Theres all sorts of effects and what not but I keep it simple. I'd practice with the software if you haven't already: https://www.soundcraft.com/ui-demo/mixer.html. Also if you are using phantom power on the channels there tends to be a hiss. I think if you are using it on channel 1 or 2 there is less hiss. So if they are using a condenscer or something consider that. I'm sure someone can hit you with some technical jargon about all this but it is not me. Sounds like fun. I'd love to run sound for some other folks. I am the de-facto "sound man" for our band-- while we play to. Not ideal but good for learning. When we hit the big time we will get our own soundman like Billy Strings...

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    The Ui16 has built in feed back suppression that is pretty bulletproof. The YouTube tutorial will show you how to set it up. There is also a feature that lets you copy the main mix to the monitors, which is a great starting point. In these rotating stage situations, the safest bet seems to be to let the stage act hear what's going out the mains. The Ui's can seem intimidating if you're unaccustomed to digital mixers, but they're really pretty logical and intuitive once you get settled in. I can't imagine going back to analog.
    Mitch Russell

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    If you are going to scoop the mids don't do it on the main EQ, but on the channel you want less mids. If you scoop the mids on the main EQ it hurts the instruments and everything else you don't want less mids on.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  10. #9

    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    I was referring to specific channels and was just saying that as an example.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    I've provided sound system support for many gigs over the years, though only on "ancient" equipment (that I own). Don't even own a laptop, shows you what a geezer I am.

    I just want to reassure you: you're a musician, and that gives you an advantage. You know how things are supposed to sound, and you can basically set up the board "flat," then make careful small adjustments to get the sound you want to get. The fewer adjustments you feel you need to make, the better.

    If you can get a practice session on the unfamiliar board, that could surely help. But your own ears are your biggest asset. And keeping "tweaks" as few and small as you can.

    Get there early, if possible, and check out mic and speaker locations, crucial in minimizing feedback problems. Talk to the musicians before their sets, see what they like and what issues they've experienced. With a succession of acts, you're probably not going to be able to do real sound checks, and you'll be adjusting on the fly. Not ideal, but rely on your ears, smile and agree with each act and then set the board the way you like it, and keep it as simple as possible.

    Years ago, I went to a city-sponsored concert by Walt Michael's band -- hammered dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, string bass mostly. I knew Walt slightly; before the show started he came over and said to me, "You know what we sound like, and the kind of music we do. Let's have you sit next to the sound man and make suggestions during the show." The sound guy was OK with that, and after starting out all guitar-and-bass as if it were a rock band, we soon had the mix changed to one that was good for the group.

    Musicians make good sound persons, even if they're less than fluent with the newest technology. IMHO, anyway.
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  13. #11
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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    I use the ui-16. Lots of pluses and minuses but I feel for you trying to figure it out all at once. It is more complicated than analogue but so fast once you're used to it.

    1. Dont allow anything that requires you to engage the phantom power button. The pres are too noisy and will feed back before you get much volume.

    2. Engage the low pass filter on every channel. Even extend it any time you can (like on mando and on many instrument mics and even many vocals). It will reduce the mud and your feed back risk. Our bass player brings his own amp. I also use the de-esser button (on eq screen) on every vocal channel. Its not always in the exact right place for every vocal but with a bunch of different singers changing around its still better using it than not.

    3. The AFS is poorly explained in the manual. I still struggle with setting up the active live one but at least you can engage the passive one. Good luck on that. Too bad because on the few times I figured it out, it has worked well.

    4. its so much easier without monitors if you can get away with it. We tilt the speakers in a little and get enough dispersion from the K10s to be able to hear w/o monitors. Really cuts down on set up time.

    5. These ui 16 are known to loose connectivity. Dont panick. It will continue to run but you cant change settings when its lost connectivity. Sometimes it will reconnect. Sometimes you have to turn it off and reboot. The mains have a volume knob so worse case you can cut the volume manually with the knobs on the unit between bands if it looses connectivity as a band finishes and they need to unplug.

    6. The all mute button is hidden under the master button upper right corner. Its very useful.

    7. If you have enough of them, its always best to use your own instrument and mic chords. That way your channels are already set for that instrument/vocal of the different bands and if one person brings a faulty chord you wont spend time trying to figure it out.
    Last edited by Astro; Jun-20-2022 at 6:43am.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    All of the above is filled with good technical advice. Now here is something else to consider. Upon specific EQ request from pickers, don't be afraid to bend over, pretend you are adjusting something while not touching any knobs, and ask "is this better?". You would be amazed by how many times this works. Not everyone, but a good number of musicians come to a gig with a preconceived idea of what they are going to need without listening to the PA or the room. I am not saying work against the musicians but sometimes you have to let your own ears be the guide.
    I first discovered this technique when my wife asked me to turn down when everyone else in the room was happy or wanted more volume.

  15. #13

    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Just remember: the sound guy is the first to arrive, last to leave, lowest paid, blamed if it sounds bad, ignored it if sounds good, and heads home alone. Other than that, it's a great gig!

    Sound is like plumbing: nobody notices it unless it stinks.

    Have fun!

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Astro View Post
    I use the ui-16. Lots of pluses and minuses but I feel for you trying to figure it out all at once. It is more complicated than analogue but so fast once you're used to it.

    1. Dont allow anything that requires you to engage the phantom power button. The pres are too noisy and will feed back before you get much volume.

    2. Engage the low pass filter on every channel. Even extend it any time you can (like on mando and on many instrument mics and even many vocals). It will reduce the mud and your feed back risk. Our bass player brings his own amp. I also use the de-esser button (on eq screen) on every vocal channel. Its not always in the exact right place for every vocal but with a bunch of different singers changing around its still better using it than not.

    3. The AFS is poorly explained in the manual. I still struggle with setting up the active live one but at least you can engage the passive one. Good luck on that. Too bad because on the few times I figured it out, it has worked well.

    4. its so much easier without monitors if you can get away with it. We tilt the speakers in a little and get enough dispersion from the K10s to be able to hear w/o monitors. Really cuts down on set up time.

    5. These ui 16 are known to loose connectivity. Dont panick. It will continue to run but you cant change settings when its lost connectivity. Sometimes it will reconnect. Sometimes you have to turn it off and reboot. The mains have a volume knob so worse case you can cut the volume manually with the knobs on the unit between bands if it looses connectivity as a band finishes and they need to unplug.

    6. The all mute button is hidden under the master button upper right corner. Its very useful.

    7. If you have enough of them, its always best to use your own instrument and mic chords. That way your channels are already set for that instrument/vocal of the different bands and if one person brings a faulty chord you wont spend time trying to figure it out.
    To avoid confusion you mean this: High Pass Filter 80 Hz /‾ ‾
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Quote Originally Posted by sounds_good View Post
    To avoid confusion you mean this: High Pass Filter 80 Hz /‾ ‾
    Yes, thanks. Low cut/high pass. If you just hit the button it will cut everything below 80 in a sloped fashion so its not abrupt. Then I will move the first "High Pass" little ball thingy to the right even more to cut out up to 100 or even more of the low end on any channel where it wont matter. On the EQ page the real time view is usefull on each channel while playing individually insound check to see what frequencies are used or not used by that channel and I'll try to cut out more lows on any channel where the instrument or vocals isnt using those frequencies to reduce mud and feedback. I do the same on the high frequency end by dragging the last ball down and then widening the q (on the graph bars to the right) if the channel doesnt need it. Just less unwanted stuff bleeding into the mix.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Thanks everyone! Gig's tomorrow. Looking like it will fairly low-pressure, plus it's a charity event and I'm volunteering to run sound for 8 hours...and everyone knows this is my first time running sound outside of my own band...and most folks are friends. So hgopefully I won't get too much anger thrown my way if it isn't the most glorious sound south of heaven Everyone's plugging in except for one band that is using a condenser, but they also usually run their own sound, so I think they'll have a good idea as to what needs to be done to manage feedback issues.

    One thing that drives me nuts with the UI16 is the color they use for the gain. I'm used to green-yellow-red. You push the gain 'til the loudest noises are in the yellow. Easy to see. On the UI16 gain starts at yellow and goes to read, with most of the colors being barely differentiated shades of orange. Am I just missing something there? How could anyone have thought that was a good idea?

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    I try to keep the main EQ flat except for problems. Only thing I do faithfully is lower the 250 hz. I have found most all rooms resonate at that frequency and lowering it keeps the sound cleaner. Don't bottom it out, but lower it some. If you can go into the space before hand turn the PA up until it starts to feed back, then find which slider on the EQ takes care of it. Keep doing that and try to memorize the sound of the the feed back with the slider that fixes it. If you can do it ahead of the gig you will know which frequencies are problematic in that room. Remember as the room fills those problematic frequencies will change, but it will give you a place to start adjusting. Have fun, if you are used to doing sound for your band you will be fine, just treat every band as yours, and try to get each instrument out there. I would rather have a good sound at a quieter volume, than a fair sound loud.
    Admittedly, I'm not sure that advice applies here - the room is a bar room, so I'm not sure how much the resonance applies to a loud room. I am curious about the main EQ you mention. I don't think the UI16 has such an option. As best as I can tell, I can EQ the individual channels, but there doesn't appear to be a master EQ.

  21. #18

    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Orr View Post
    Thanks everyone! Gig's tomorrow. Looking like it will fairly low-pressure, plus it's a charity event and I'm volunteering to run sound for 8 hours...and everyone knows this is my first time running sound outside of my own band...and most folks are friends. So hgopefully I won't get too much anger thrown my way if it isn't the most glorious sound south of heaven Everyone's plugging in except for one band that is using a condenser, but they also usually run their own sound, so I think they'll have a good idea as to what needs to be done to manage feedback issues.

    One thing that drives me nuts with the UI16 is the color they use for the gain. I'm used to green-yellow-red. You push the gain 'til the loudest noises are in the yellow. Easy to see. On the UI16 gain starts at yellow and goes to read, with most of the colors being barely differentiated shades of orange. Am I just missing something there? How could anyone have thought that was a good idea?
    You don't need to optimize signal to noise ratio and distortion is audible.
    So, my advice is keep it in the green. Occasional loud peaks in the yellow
    are all right, but there is no need to push it.

    I think that is close to what you wrote. If the UI16 has no green, then
    see if you get enough signal with no lights on the input. If that is not
    enough then I suggest trying just two bars of yellow. There can be a
    large level difference between "check, check, check" and belting it out
    there with feeling. It is best to avoid getting caught by that.

    I hope you have a good time.
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

  22. #19
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    So how'd it go?

    Any disasters? Any triumphs? Any lessons learned?
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

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    Default Re: HELP! I'm Running Sound For the (sort've) First Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Orr View Post
    Admittedly, I'm not sure that advice applies here - the room is a bar room, so I'm not sure how much the resonance applies to a loud room. I am curious about the main EQ you mention. I don't think the UI16 has such an option. As best as I can tell, I can EQ the individual channels, but there doesn't appear to be a master EQ.
    The UI16 does have the master eq. First click on the Master button(far bottom right) . Then click on the eq button (the usual eq button upper left ish margin)
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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