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#2245655 - 11/15/10 10:58 AM playing through the PA
Richard W Offline
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Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1314
Loc: near Philly
At the risk of displaying my general technical ignorance, I'd like some advice on plugging my bass directly into our PA system. It's been recommended to me that at our upcoming gig I should plug into the PA and not just through my amp (an SWR Workingman 2x10C). I've never played through a PA before. Any thoughts, advice, things I should do differently?
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#2245665 - 11/15/10 11:18 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Richard W]
Eric VB Offline
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Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 5522
1. Use the balanced XLR output and the appropriate cable to connect to the PA.

2. Use your rig for stage volume only and let the PA fill the room.

This assumes that the PA in question is capable of supporting your bass signal.

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#2245675 - 11/15/10 11:45 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Eric VB]
jcadmus Offline
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Registered: 11/22/05
Posts: 4310
Loc: Connecticut
Originally Posted By: Eric VB

This assumes that the PA in question is capable of supporting your bass signal.


And that the sound guy knows what he is doing.
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#2245872 - 11/16/10 07:02 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: jcadmus]
5 string Mike Offline
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Registered: 08/23/07
Posts: 1285
Loc: Southwestern Michigan USA
Originally Posted By: jcadmus
Originally Posted By: Eric VB

This assumes that the PA in question is capable of supporting your bass signal.


And that the sound guy knows what he is doing.


This.

The standard EQ for bass running through the PA if it has subs is pretty much all mud/boom along with the kick drum. So be prepared that you probably won't get 'your' tone.

by the manual for your rig, the XLR jack comes right off the input jack so it bypasses any internal EQ or effect. So if you use the DI out, there won't be any tone shaping from your amp. If you have a pedal or something like the SansAmp DI with EQ capabilities, you might want to consider using it especially if you use any compression or certain EQ settings. Even then, you will probably have to make adjustments. Try to get out and listen to how it sounds if you can.

Don't crank your amp too loud on stage. Let the PA do it's thing. If your amp is too hot, the sound guy will have fits blending you in with everyone else. It would also help to face it towards the side or another direction where your bandmates could hear it but not directed out towards the audience.

Depending on the room, you might hear the acoustics from your bass echoing back. This will likely be out of phase with what you are playing, so be aware not to let it throw you off.

Playing through a PA isn't that different, you just have to make sure you communicate with the sound guy and give him something to work with.
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#2245929 - 11/16/10 09:24 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: 5 string Mike]
WCriley Offline
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Registered: 08/17/07
Posts: 612
Loc: Pennsylvania
I'll second what 5 String Mike wrote about the "standard" being all mush and boom through the PA these days. I always send a post EQ line to the board. (But then, I'm usually the guy running the board.)

Be prepared to hear a lot of boom and mush coming off the back of the subs. Even with a good sound out front, the subs will mess with the sound onstage.

In addition to keeping your stage volume down, try not to mess the soundman up by making sudden or radical changes to your onboard volume and EQ.

Unless the monitors are REALLY good, the other band members will likely have trouble hearing you. I sometimes turn my cab sideways so they can hear it without my stage sound interfering with the FOH sound. (Oops, 5 string Mike already said that!)

If something isn't right with the FOH or stage sound, politely talk it over with the soundman. Try to work with him. He can be your friend or your enemy.

Good luck with the gig.
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#2245930 - 11/16/10 09:28 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: 5 string Mike]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 600
Loc: So Cal
I've recently transitioned from bringing my rig to every church service to using a direct box and PA/monitor only. If you can continue to use your amp as others have mentioned, that's the best option. It becomes your monitor and you can at least have control over volume and what you're hearing, to some extent.

Because our building and stage are so small, using my amp is not an option and I have to rely on the sound person to set the volume in my monitor. Not fun. My two cents is to continue having your amp up there with you if you can.
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#2245931 - 11/16/10 09:40 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Russkull]
J. Dan Online   content
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Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 6914
Loc: St. Louis, MO
Consider using something like the SansAmp Bass DI for FOH, and then chain it to your amp. You can dial in a pretty good tone for FOH separate from your onstage sound (for monitoring).
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Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2245983 - 11/16/10 11:38 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: J. Dan]
Richard W Offline
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Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1314
Loc: near Philly
this is helpful input. We are rehearsing this Sunday with our PA and I'll have a chance to try all this out before the gig.
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#2245988 - 11/16/10 12:04 PM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Richard W]
Bottom End Offline
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Registered: 05/27/08
Posts: 1943
Loc: VA
+1 for the Sansamp Tech 21 DI. I used it for the last 10 months where I had to play solely through the PA, before I bought it, I was lost in the mix, after I got it I was able to hear myself, but because I could get a good tone, not because I had played any louder. It's the best, most used, and most useful piece of gear I've purchased in the last 5 years.
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#2246008 - 11/16/10 01:09 PM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Bottom End]
jcadmus Offline
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Registered: 11/22/05
Posts: 4310
Loc: Connecticut
Where are you playing that you need PA support for the backline? The Enormodome?
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#2246064 - 11/16/10 04:24 PM Re: playing through the PA [Re: jcadmus]
b5pilot Offline
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Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 3806
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Originally Posted By: jcadmus
Where are you playing that you need PA support for the backline? The Enormodome?


I always go through the PA along with the drums (which are triggered - acoustic/electric) and guitar. Even in really small rooms. It adds a fullnes to the sound and keeps the stage volume down. Practically no volume wars.
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#2246148 - 11/17/10 05:21 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: b5pilot]
jcadmus Offline
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Registered: 11/22/05
Posts: 4310
Loc: Connecticut
Originally Posted By: b5pilot
Originally Posted By: jcadmus
Where are you playing that you need PA support for the backline? The Enormodome?


I always go through the PA along with the drums (which are triggered - acoustic/electric) and guitar. Even in really small rooms. It adds a fullnes to the sound and keeps the stage volume down. Practically no volume wars.


All good, if you have a PA that can support it and a sound guy who knows what he's doing.

But we haven't established those conditions exist with this inquiry.
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#2246159 - 11/17/10 06:26 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: jcadmus]
Eric VB Offline
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Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 5522
Originally Posted By: jcadmus
Originally Posted By: b5pilot
Originally Posted By: jcadmus
Where are you playing that you need PA support for the backline? The Enormodome?


I always go through the PA along with the drums (which are triggered - acoustic/electric) and guitar. Even in really small rooms. It adds a fullnes to the sound and keeps the stage volume down. Practically no volume wars.


All good, if you have a PA that can support it and a sound guy who knows what he's doing.

But we haven't established those conditions exist with this inquiry.
Agreed.

Sometimes putting a little guitar in the floor monitors helps, especially when the guitarists insist on pointing their cabs at their knees instead of their ears.

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#2246163 - 11/17/10 06:32 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: b5pilot]
Eric VB Offline
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Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 5522
Originally Posted By: b5pilot
I always go through the PA along with the drums (which are triggered - acoustic/electric) and guitar. Even in really small rooms. It adds a fullnes to the sound and keeps the stage volume down. Practically no volume wars.
As I mentioned in another thread, one of the biggest draws in town basically sets up as a mobile studio. Everything goes through a giant 40+ channel mixing board, IEMs for monitors and a killer PA for FOH. We're talking some serious coin. They are able to get that "in the studio" sound in any room they play and I believe that has a lot to do with their popularity.

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#2246167 - 11/17/10 06:35 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: jcadmus]
b5pilot Offline
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Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 3806
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Originally Posted By: jcadmus
Originally Posted By: b5pilot
Originally Posted By: jcadmus
Where are you playing that you need PA support for the backline? The Enormodome?


I always go through the PA along with the drums (which are triggered - acoustic/electric) and guitar. Even in really small rooms. It adds a fullnes to the sound and keeps the stage volume down. Practically no volume wars.


All good, if you have a PA that can support it and a sound guy who knows what he's doing.

But we haven't established those conditions exist with this inquiry.


Fair enough. I was just commenting on the question you posed.
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#2246379 - 11/17/10 07:45 PM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Eric VB]
J. Dan Online   content
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Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 6914
Loc: St. Louis, MO
Originally Posted By: Eric VB
Originally Posted By: b5pilot
I always go through the PA along with the drums (which are triggered - acoustic/electric) and guitar. Even in really small rooms. It adds a fullnes to the sound and keeps the stage volume down. Practically no volume wars.
As I mentioned in another thread, one of the biggest draws in town basically sets up as a mobile studio. Everything goes through a giant 40+ channel mixing board, IEMs for monitors and a killer PA for FOH. We're talking some serious coin. They are able to get that "in the studio" sound in any room they play and I believe that has a lot to do with their popularity.


Yep - we don't own PA. We own a splitter snake, monitor mixer, and IEM's. Everything's direct (electric drums, btw), except a small guitar combo that's fired sideways at relatively low volume. Each person's in charge of their own IEM mix, and being direct, there's very little bleed, so you can get whatever you want in your ears. If the club doesn't have house sound or we have a private party or festival, we just hire out production. Drop them the snake from our splitter and they handle FOH. We have guys that we've worked with enough that they know all the songs, know what they should sound like, know where to put the vocal effects, and it sounds great. We hire them enough that we get preferential treatment. If you can, that's the way to go, but you have to make enough to support it. We just add production cost on top of our price if it's required. But all of the regular bars we play have house sound.
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J. Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2246430 - 11/18/10 03:56 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: J. Dan]
picker Offline
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Registered: 06/13/04
Posts: 13106
Loc: Near 12th Street and Vine...
Originally Posted By: 80s-LZ
...Everything's direct (electric drums, btw)...


Wow, how did you get your drummer to go for that? Every drummer I've ever worked with hated electronic drums.
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#2246482 - 11/18/10 08:23 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: picker]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 600
Loc: So Cal
Originally Posted By: picker
Originally Posted By: 80s-LZ
...Everything's direct (electric drums, btw)...


Wow, how did you get your drummer to go for that? Every drummer I've ever worked with hated electronic drums.


Yeah no kidding!! I can't wait to hear how that happened. Also curious what kind of electronic kit it is.
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#2246504 - 11/18/10 09:32 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Russkull]
J. Dan Online   content
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Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 6914
Loc: St. Louis, MO
Well, we're kind of a special case - "That 80s Band". So we have a set of the old Simmons octagon pads (which are absolutely horrible to play - basically rubber coated plywood in plastic shells), triggering a modern Roland Module. He does have a mesh snare, and acoustic cymbals - that's the key. But basically it's part of the show - we also have giant Rubics cubes (perfect to stand on during guitar solos) and Swatch watches. Incidentally, the band had to buy the set, because "what the hell am I ever going to do with that if I left the band?". We've had a number of fill-in drummers who have done just fine with the electrics as well. I guess if the gig pays well enough, you can get a drummer to do just about anything.
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J. Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2246689 - 11/19/10 07:45 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: J. Dan]
Big Daddy from Motown Offline
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Registered: 06/17/04
Posts: 1350
Loc: Detroit, Mi.
Eric VB who are you talking about?

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#2247342 - 11/22/10 09:10 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Big Daddy from Motown]
Richard W Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1314
Loc: near Philly
Just to close the loop on this. Had rehearsal yesterday, playing through the PA, along with the kick drum. Wow! What a difference. Could really hear and feel the bass in the mix. It worked great.

Of course, every time I screw something up, it becomes a lot more obvious...
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#2248392 - 11/26/10 10:29 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Richard W]
RocketRobinson Offline
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Registered: 11/25/10
Posts: 23
Loc: Olympia, WA
Running all sound thru the PA can give you a much better overall mix and is easier to control, but only if your PA has the ability to handle it. Of course it depends some on the type of music you do (metal/grunge/classic rock/jazz) and the size and room accoustics. I would agree with the above posts in that you should still use your bass amp for your on-stage monitor, and keep the bass out of your floor monitors, they will get muddy.

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#2248964 - 11/29/10 07:10 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: RocketRobinson]
Eric Iverson Offline
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Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 4795
Loc: Jackson Heights, NY
In my experience as a guitarist playing onstage with bassists, hearing the BASS is the least of our problems.. or the drums.. it's the singers we can't hear, LOL!
I agree about keeping the stage volume to where we can all hear each other, but not super-loud, if you're playing through a good PA with a good sound crew. And good monitors are nice, of course.
These days I'd rather play in a small room with good acoustics than in a large room that is great for basketball games or cattle shows, but sucks for music! (Fond memories of the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa, growing up.)

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#2248967 - 11/29/10 07:18 AM Re: playing through the PA [Re: Eric Iverson]
Richard W Offline
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Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1314
Loc: near Philly
Originally Posted By: Eric Iverson
These days I'd rather play in a small room with good acoustics than in a large room that is great for basketball games or cattle shows, but sucks for music! (Fond memories of the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa, growing up.)


Slightly OT, but here in Philly they are tearing down the old Spectrum, which in addition to being home for the professional hockey and basketball teams, served as a concert location for many years. There's been a lot of nostalgia about all the concerts there--Springsteen, Yes, Billy Joel, etc, etc--which I've never really understood. The place was probably the worst place to listen to music--big cement bowl with plastic seats and a roof. The acoustics always felt to me like one was listening to loud music in a trash can.
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