To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
2handband

Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by 2handband » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:12 pm

Look, I think ANY event with more than like ten people at it ought to have sound reinforcement. I want to HEAR what the performer is doing... really hear it. Even if I'm in the back of the room.

You know what the big problem is? CG tours are running on a ridiculously tight budget and are using crap equipment and worse engineers. I saw Ana Vidovic last year and she was using one of those godawful tower arrays to begin with and it was badly EQed as well. There was this dreadful boominess to the sound that any competent engineer could have taken out in 30 seconds flat.

ben etow
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Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by ben etow » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:00 pm

2handband wrote: it was badly EQed as well. There was this dreadful boominess to the sound that any competent engineer could have taken out in 30 seconds flat.
I doubt it is so easy and quick to have a decent sound from a guitar + amp. In 30 sec, you just might try to cut the freqwuencies which cause feedback... And you'd end up with a very poor sound.
Only real expert sound engineers can do the job with really good gear.

Luthier Jean-Luc Joie goes much further as he provides for an all in Wireless solution.

2handband

Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by 2handband » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:19 pm

ben etow wrote:
2handband wrote: it was badly EQed as well. There was this dreadful boominess to the sound that any competent engineer could have taken out in 30 seconds flat.
I doubt it is so easy and quick to have a decent sound from a guitar + amp. In 30 sec, you just might try to cut the freqwuencies which cause feedback... And you'd end up with a very poor sound.
Only real expert sound engineers can do the job with really good gear.

Luthier Jean-Luc Joie goes much further as he provides for an all in Wireless solution.
Not a guitar plus amp... a guitar plus proper PA. And yes, the boominess problem is easy to solve. Yes, it would involve cutting some frequencies, but given that the mic is picking up the room as well as the guitar sometimes that's really all you can do (and classical musicians insist on holding shows in these boomy, reverberant halls). I've rarely miced an acoustic guitar where I didn't have to notch out a little around 250hz or so, and yes I do know what I am doing thanks.

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markodarko
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Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by markodarko » Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:25 pm

2handband wrote:I've rarely miced an acoustic guitar
Is that when you put a little mouse in the sound hole to actively control the feedback? :mrgreen:
Negative, I am a meat popsicle.

2handband

Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by 2handband » Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:02 am

markodarko wrote:
2handband wrote:I've rarely miced an acoustic guitar
Is that when you put a little mouse in the sound hole to actively control the feedback? :mrgreen:

Hehe no. Miced, as in put a mic on it. Look, I'm a minimal EQ kind of soundman. I try to mess with stuff as little as possible and I don't try to polish turds... if your tone sucks I'm not going to bend over backwards to fix it on my end. But I've never put a mic on an acoustic guitar without having to do SOMETHING with it. Mostly it's a matter of taking out just a smidge of lower mids to avoid boominess, and a touch of compression so it doesn't sound like an explosion every time somebody strums a heavy chord.

As for feedback, that you take out post-console using a graphic EQ between the board and the amp. Each PA speaker should have it's own graphic, as should each monitor. If your soundman takes any time at all to punch out feedback, fire him. If he has to refer to the frequency analyzer on his phone to know what frequency is feeding back, fire him. If he brings one of those automatic feedback suppressors, fire him.

ben etow
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Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by ben etow » Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:55 pm

2handband wrote:
ben etow wrote:
2handband wrote: it was badly EQed as well. There was this dreadful boominess to the sound that any competent engineer could have taken out in 30 seconds flat.
I doubt it is so easy and quick to have a decent sound from a guitar + amp. In 30 sec, you just might try to cut the freqwuencies which cause feedback... And you'd end up with a very poor sound.
Only real expert sound engineers can do the job with really good gear.

Luthier Jean-Luc Joie goes much further as he provides for an all in Wireless solution.
Not a guitar plus amp... a guitar plus proper PA. And yes, the boominess problem is easy to solve. Yes, it would involve cutting some frequencies, but given that the mic is picking up the room as well as the guitar sometimes that's really all you can do (and classical musicians insist on holding shows in these boomy, reverberant halls). I've rarely miced an acoustic guitar where I didn't have to notch out a little around 250hz or so, and yes I do know what I am doing thanks.
Well, our competent engineers might just be less competent than you because they don't just cut at 250Hz I'm afraid... Most Amped/miked guitars I hear in Europe do sound awful.

And sorry, I didn't intend to lower your abilities in any way.

2handband

Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by 2handband » Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:09 pm

ben etow wrote:
2handband wrote:
ben etow wrote: I doubt it is so easy and quick to have a decent sound from a guitar + amp. In 30 sec, you just might try to cut the freqwuencies which cause feedback... And you'd end up with a very poor sound.
Only real expert sound engineers can do the job with really good gear.

Luthier Jean-Luc Joie goes much further as he provides for an all in Wireless solution.
Not a guitar plus amp... a guitar plus proper PA. And yes, the boominess problem is easy to solve. Yes, it would involve cutting some frequencies, but given that the mic is picking up the room as well as the guitar sometimes that's really all you can do (and classical musicians insist on holding shows in these boomy, reverberant halls). I've rarely miced an acoustic guitar where I didn't have to notch out a little around 250hz or so, and yes I do know what I am doing thanks.
Well, our competent engineers might just be less competent than you because they don't just cut at 250Hz I'm afraid... Most Amped/miked guitars I hear in Europe do sound awful.
I think the problem is budget. I've seen two guitar concerts with sound reinforcement here in the states and in both cases the sound was bad. I think they're using cut rate production. Both times I was just c'mon lemme at that board... I could fix this.

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Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by Bill B » Thu Dec 08, 2016 2:04 pm

so i would say that this page perfectly illustrates the things i most dislike about using amplification. (and yes i do use it when i have to.) even under the best circumstances, it will alter your tone. add to that the likelihood that you will have a sound engineer who will start cutting frequencies and adding compression, and then when he's made you sound like expletive, he starts talking about polishing turds. Who needs this kind of headache?
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markodarko
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Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by markodarko » Thu Dec 08, 2016 2:18 pm

To play devils advocate... What about such situations where it's a really "dead" sounding room. No reverb or ambience whatsoever. Amplification could help a lot there even if the signal is 1:1 amplification. Putting a very "wet" reverb mix through the speakers could enhance the sound no end.
Negative, I am a meat popsicle.

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lagartija
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Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by lagartija » Thu Dec 08, 2016 2:50 pm

I am not a fan of amplified sound for the guitar or other musical instruments. Perhaps it is just that there are few competent sound engineers in our area. Although I listen to recordings, rarely am I moved by the music as much as I am at a live performance. Something goes missing for me in anything but a live performance. When amplified, the tonal quality of the guitar was disappointing, even though the phrasing and musicality was there in spades. Perhaps the sound system settings cancel out or overpower something that I get from the room. Also, I have been to ensemble concerts where the volume is so loud it is physically painful. These are not ROCK concerts either! I swear all the sound engineers in our area are deaf. :-( I always seem to forget to bring ear plugs with me. And it isn't just me...at one concert a young girl of about 11 sat in the row in front of me and had her hands over her ears. It was obviously painfully loud to her as well.
Ok, now that I've had my rant, :mrgreen: here is my question: how does one choose a sound engineer who knows what they are doing?? Recently I learned of a production at one of the well known venues here where the sound was so bad, that there were many audience complaints from different areas of the house about the sound. This is supposed to be a professional venue that knows how to get the best from the hall. They are not low budget. Still, they have a sound guy who doesn't know what he is doing.
If I interview a sound engineer, what do I ask to find out if he or she knows how to get the best sound?
When the sun shines, bask.
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Classical Guitar forever!

2handband

Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by 2handband » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:34 pm

Bill B wrote:so i would say that this page perfectly illustrates the things i most dislike about using amplification. (and yes i do use it when i have to.) even under the best circumstances, it will alter your tone. add to that the likelihood that you will have a sound engineer who will start cutting frequencies and adding compression, and then when he's made you sound like expletive, he starts talking about polishing turds. Who needs this kind of headache?
As I said... minimal EQ is my motto. But I don't care who's doing the sound, he/she is going to have to mess with SOMETHING. Micing an acoustic instrument in a reverberant room always means a spike in the low mids; that's going to have to get cut. Also the apparent dynamic range is generally enhanced a little, so a touch of compression is necessary to keep heavy strums from taking your head off. I do mean a touch... you set your threshold so that the compression doesn't kick in until a very heavy transient happens. High threshold, fast attack. As for feedback... setup helps (so does a nice dead room which is the exact opposite of what classical concerts get held in) but at the end of the day once you bring the levels up you're going to have to pull back a few frequencies. This is why it's absolutely critical to have a 31 band graphic for every speaker in the house, so you can notch out the narrowest possible range for every frequency that is feeding back. If done right it'll have a minimal effect on the overall sound.
lagartija wrote:I am not a fan of amplified sound for the guitar or other musical instruments. Perhaps it is just that there are few competent sound engineers in our area. Although I listen to recordings, rarely am I moved by the music as much as I am at a live performance. Something goes missing for me in anything but a live performance. When amplified, the tonal quality of the guitar was disappointing, even though the phrasing and musicality was there in spades. Perhaps the sound system settings cancel out or overpower something that I get from the room. Also, I have been to ensemble concerts where the volume is so loud it is physically painful. These are not ROCK concerts either! I swear all the sound engineers in our area are deaf. :-( I always seem to forget to bring ear plugs with me. And it isn't just me...at one concert a young girl of about 11 sat in the row in front of me and had her hands over her ears. It was obviously painfully loud to her as well.
Ok, now that I've had my rant, :mrgreen: here is my question: how does one choose a sound engineer who knows what they are doing?? Recently I learned of a production at one of the well known venues here where the sound was so bad, that there were many audience complaints from different areas of the house about the sound. This is supposed to be a professional venue that knows how to get the best from the hall. They are not low budget. Still, they have a sound guy who doesn't know what he is doing.
If I interview a sound engineer, what do I ask to find out if he or she knows how to get the best sound?
It's tough to interview an engineer, because there are a depressing number of them who have lots of knowledge but not such a great ear. They could give you all the right answers and still not be able to EQ a good mix. One thing you could do I suppose... put him in a room with a sound system and a hot mic, and see how long it takes him to pull out the frequencies that are feeding back. If it takes him more than a few seconds, or if he has to refer to a frequency analyzer, that means he has a lousy ear for frequencies in general so you don't want him. More seriously, find a local production company with a good reputation that has experience with a variety of scenarios and not just rock gigs. You may have to try two or three before settling on one.

Question: is the show you're referring to a classical concert? From what I've seen they are generally hiring cut-rate engineers or worse just renting a PA with no engineer at all.

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lagartija
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Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by lagartija » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:43 pm

The show I am referring to was a musical. You would think that most engineers could get good sound for vocalists. :roll:
This is the house sound and they did have a (supposed) sound engineer.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

2handband

Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by 2handband » Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:31 pm

lagartija wrote:The show I am referring to was a musical. You would think that most engineers could get good sound for vocalists. :roll:
This is the house sound and they did have a (supposed) sound engineer.
Interesting... the few professional musicals I've attended (Chanhassen theater) had excellent sound. And yes... vocals aren't that hard although you'd be surprised how many guys make a hash job of it. More often than not I can slap a high-pass filter on a voice and not have to EQ it at all. As I said upthread... minimal EQ.

2handband

Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by 2handband » Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:56 pm

I'm going to add as an addendum: putting a mic on ANYTHING is going to be a compromise. Even micing my electric guitar cabinet makes me bleed a little; as a soundman I know better then most that my tone isn't going through those miles of cable, a mixing console, auxiliary equipment, high-powered PA amps, etc and getting out through the speakers unscathed (not to mention do I actually trust the damn soundman?). But the real question is do you wanna be heard or not? To realistically resolve this without using PA equipment classical guitarists would have to resign themselves to 500 seats and below.

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Re: To mic or not to mic, that is the question

Post by Bill B » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:11 pm

2handband wrote:I'm going to add as an addendum: putting a mic on ANYTHING is going to be a compromise. Even micing my electric guitar cabinet makes me bleed a little; as a soundman I know better then most that my tone isn't going through those miles of cable, a mixing console, auxiliary equipment, high-powered PA amps, etc and getting out through the speakers unscathed (not to mention do I actually trust the damn soundman?). But the real question is do you wanna be heard or not? To realistically resolve this without using PA equipment classical guitarists would have to resign themselves to 500 seats and below.
I'm not certain about the number of seats, but i agree with the concept, that going without amplification will limit the size of the venue. but i would argue that this is better in many ways anyway, so there it is then.

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