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Am I Dreaming?


vonnor

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I recently saw a 5-piece cover band with keys/voc, bass, lead guitar/voc, acoustic guitar/lead-voc, and drums/voc. The cool thing was there were zero amps/cabs/wedges on stage. All of them wore in-ears, the drummer wore headphones. The FOH was loud as f**k but sounded super and the mix was well balanced. The lead player had a bigass pedalboard and the bass had a small one with a couple stomp-boxes on it. Keyboards were two controller-61's and a Macbook pro.

 

With today's technology, one would think that more bands would opt for this type of setup, especially in my local area where most stages are about the size of a postage stamp.

 

So why is it most of the guys I see still schlep around 500lbs of amps and stage monitors, which inevitably play havoc on stage volume, stage layout and FOH mix? Not only that, but trying to convince even your own band mates that there is a better way is like screaming at the wall. Granted, the musicians in my opening paragraph were all in their 20's, but if I (at almost 60) can see the benefit in this modern musical tech, why can't my contemporaries?

 

I would love to get in a project where the guitar player(s) and bassist got their 'sound' from their pedals, where everyone used in-ears on stage, and where the drummer had a midi platter to trigger samples and could play to a click.

 

Am I dreaming?

 

~ Bill C.

 

 

Gear:

Hardware: Kurzweil Forte7, Korg Kronos 2

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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Well, the first thing that comes to mind is a band needs a soundman out front which is a luxury many of us don't have. However, speaking of high tech, a band could have a wireless interface set up and the guitarist could also be wireless so he could go out front while they're playing, set the balance on his tablet and just leave it.

 

Hmmm, now that I wrote that I think I just supported your point. That could be a better way to go.

 

Now that I'm having a thought experiment here, part of the problem with me anyway is I'm not simply in one band where all of this can be coordinated. I get calls for many different gigs all using different people. I just show up with my stuff and that's it. I can't tell a bandleader who calls me for a gig to completely change his way of setting everything up. What you're suggesting only works when you're part of one main act.

 

Bob

Hammond SK1, Mojo 61, Kurzweil PC3, Korg Pa3x, Roland FA06, Band in a Box, Real Band, Studio One, too much stuff...
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I completely agree that IEMs are a bit of generational divide, and that for certain kinds of music, there is not much difference between the IEM experience (complete with sampled drums) and the sound-through-air experience. But I don't play any of those kinds of music. So for me, this is not a dream scenario, more of a nightmare.

 

The prospect of only being able to hear my keys through in-ears strikes me as cruel and unmusical punishment. I have a couple of groups who rehearse this way, and I find it endlessly annoying (again, as a keyboard player).

 

Not to mention, if anyone says anything to you, they have to say it into a mic or you can't hear it, so you have to keep taking the damned ear-piece out...which, if they are saying something or asking a question about a part, you then can't hear being played.

 

Feh. Not for me.

"
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I once worked for a technology visionary. He told me that the limiting factor in any technology upgrade project is the people. They are the slowest part of the system.

 

Applying this to your question, what do drummers, guitar players, and bassists grow up thinking? Most want to be the loudest and best player on stage. Their gear, like our gear, is an integral part of that thinking.

 

It will take another generation or two for this to change.

Casio PX-5S, Korg Kronos 61, Omnisphere 2, Ableton Live, LaunchKey 25, 2M cables
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Well we don't have to like in ears. My friend here locally owns a music store and he told us half if not more hate IEMS. It doesn't work in in a lot of Caribbean music because the music is "felt" as well as heard.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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If I can be a little dramatic for a second, this is just another nail in the coffin for live music and live performers IMO.

 

Of course the "kids today" don't blink an eye over this newer paradigm of live music listening. So, let me tell you a story of the days of yore. Back in my day, the stone ages of music-making, there was something about a live performance that involved a band projecting energy from a stage. Now of course the "band" is a group of humans on a stage, appearing to play musical instruments, but how can you tell? There's no sound coming from them: instead it's blasting from speakers above the stage and around the club. It's like listening to a DJ play music except there are people on a stage. Why have a band anyway?

 

OK so it's not exactly that stark, but seriously - there's such a different vibe to hearing a band playing where at least part of their sound is emanating from them instead of a bank of speakers! And this new amp-free, wedge-free band better have a great sound person and topflight PA system in place too because those two elements are now 100% responsible for the audio that the audience is gonna hear.

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I recently saw a 5-piece cover band with keys/voc, bass, lead guitar/voc, acoustic guitar/lead-voc, and drums/voc. The cool thing was there were zero amps/cabs/wedges on stage. All of them wore in-ears, the drummer wore headphones.

 

I recently played before a band with a similar setup. Main stream party rock cover band. They really had their setup time down to a minimum. Sounded loud and clean out front, but kind of sterile/compressed.

Nord Stage 3 88, Korg Kronos 2 61, Moog Sub 37, Yamaha U1 Upright, Casio CT-S1, Spacestation V.3, QSC K10.2

www.stickmanor.com

There's a thin white line between fear and fury - Stickman

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For all of the tech R & D in the music industry, I have found that musicians are the most resistant to change. A set up like you are describing requires a wholesale paradigm shift in monitoring, technique, and most of all, trust in others. It's a scary thing for a lot of people who play live.

 

I recently saw Die Antwoord play live. I know many of you would not consider that "playing", and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Anyway, they played a pretty energetic show, and the DJ had a MacBook as the center of his rig. I assume he had a backup, but I didn't see it (and I was on the side of the stage). My guess is that he probably had the show also pre-recorded as the contingency.

 

But they had an opener (Death Trap). They consisted of two women and a laptop. Now I KNOW that they had no backup system at all.

 

I don't know how performers do that these days, and I see it a lot. Even when they have backups, they don't have them running in parallel. Now that might not matter in a bar, but I've seen it in musical theater as well, which seems insane.

 

I see the monitor and amp-free stage as one of those things that only people who have never done it any other way are comfortable with. People with a little more experience with side fills and Ampeg fridges will need, as others have said in this thread, a little time and a little push.

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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People who don't like IEM's don't like them because they most likely didn't do it right.

 

There IS a case to be made for having a guitar amp with some volume though. The sound interacts with the strings and affects the way it plays. Try getting feedback with no amp an no monitor. The tone and sustain are definitely affected. Some can be simulated in a pedalboard, but it's not the same. So I get that. In my old band that was all IEM's, electric drums, etc., the guitar player still used an amp but he pointed it sideways so that there was no mic bleed.

 

As for sound coming from the stage and not sounding like a band if it's direct...that's just silly. You can't hear the sound coming directly from an electric guitar - it's plugged into a speaker. Who cares if that speaker is in one place or another. You don't hear it until the sound reaches you...you're not standing on the stage next to the musician. I suppose my viewpoint is from larger shows where people are only hearing what's coming out of the FOH anyway. I suppose a coffeehouse gig would be a different story.

 

Not so sure about the generational thing. We started doing this 15 years ago and are all in our mid 40s to early 50s now. I know lots of bands using IEM's that are in that age range and older.

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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Sounded loud and clean out front, but kind of sterile/compressed.

You mean like a recording? Thanks for reinforcing my point, and with far fewer words too! :)

 

:)

 

Just to be clear....they were playing their instruments and they were decent. And they had an attentive sound guy running the whole thing from an iPad out front. But I think the sterility was particularly apparent because when you are playing loud crunchy rock music (AC/DC, Foo Fighters, etc) with Line 6 guitars/effects and Roland electronic kits...it just sounds a little too polite.

 

 

Nord Stage 3 88, Korg Kronos 2 61, Moog Sub 37, Yamaha U1 Upright, Casio CT-S1, Spacestation V.3, QSC K10.2

www.stickmanor.com

There's a thin white line between fear and fury - Stickman

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People who don't like IEM's don't like them because they most likely didn't do it right.

 

This seems like an overstatement. As musicians, we each have our preferences, usually developed over decades of refinement. In some cases, we might avoid technology because we're scared or inept. But we also surely have a sense by now of works for us and what doesn't, even if "works" means, "is most like how we've done it for X number of decades."

 

I do want to quibble a little with "it's all waves." That's not quite true. We are born with a particular means of determining source and location of sound. We use inter-aural time and wave differentials to process not only a sound-source, but also the environment with which the sound interacts (dopplering and similar attenuation effects). To short-hand: we use both ears, including what's different from ear to ear, to make sense of sound.

 

When you use headphones or ear buds, you subvert this process. That's not inherently good or bad, but it is undisputedly different. That's why sound engineers tend to mix macro over studio monitors and micro over cans (although to be sure, this is changing as more sounds begin and end in the DAW, without environmental factors inherent in the sound).

 

For me, this is specifically why I like my sound to travel through air; I am used to hearing it "in the room," and not just "in the raw." True, it's a preference, but since it's my preference, I get to decide that I don't want to switch to IEMs just yet...

 

 

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As an old fart musician currently making the transition to in ears, I have a couple of comments.

 

Our motivation, as one of the few bands left working steadily in the area (6-8 gigs per month), is to keep working.

 

Venues are getting smaller, crowds are getting older, and people want to be able to talk without screaming. If they have to lean in to each other but don't have to scream, we know we have hit the max comfortable volume.

 

We have started having volume issues in small rooms (6 piece band), and the band leader has a son in the band who is enthusiastic about technology. I was motivated to join the other guys using in ears when they bought the X Air mixer and I knew I could have my own mix. The possibility to ditch a 30+ lb speaker was also attractive.

 

I loved moving air when playing live for over 40 years. For certain bands and gigs I will still be doing it. But the opportunity to save my ears a little bit and be able to keep small room gigs led me to this.

 

Now I am more versatile and can fit in either situation. I do love the clarity of sound of my keys in the buds, but the isolation is a problem for on stage communication.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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I hate to sound old enough to ask this question, but: can't you just play softer? The idea that a slider is the only way to control volume, rankles a bit.

 

Having said that--I am not lodging any protest votes against IEMs. Lots of contemporaries use them, and I use them too when the context requires it (usually rehearsals, though, not on stage). Just my own preference for hearing the room when I play.

 

For what it's worth--and maybe related--I also never walk around with ear buds in in daily life, either. I like to "hear," even if it's boring or annoying.

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I hate to sound old enough to ask this question, but: can't you just play softer? The idea that a slider is the only way to control volume, rankles a bit.

 

Drummers have a hard time with this. A softly struck drum sounds different than a smartly struck drum. Every stage monitor for hearing vocals and instruments adds to the din but doesn't directly benefit the audience.

 

I find that if I play softer than I am used to, I pound my keys harder and hurt myself.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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As for sound coming from the stage and not sounding like a band if it's direct...that's just silly. You can't hear the sound coming directly from an electric guitar - it's plugged into a speaker. Who cares if that speaker is in one place or another. You don't hear it until the sound reaches you...you're not standing on the stage next to the musician. I suppose my viewpoint is from larger shows where people are only hearing what's coming out of the FOH anyway. I suppose a coffeehouse gig would be a different story.

I think this is in reference to what I said in a post above. Yea a speaker is a speaker and I agree that in a larger venue everything is going through the PA - but I maintain that there's gonna be a fair number of people especially nearer the stage who will hear the drums and a guitar & bass amp acoustically too. It's the idea that the band is up there with no amps & monitors, producing virtually no acoustic energy, and having it come almost exclusively from a bank of PA speakers, that seems wrong to me.

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Drummers have a hard time with this. A softly struck drum sounds different than a smartly struck drum.

 

Although--just to be a pill--nothing is stopping that same drummer from using the same pads to trigger the same samples, running through the same monitor signal paths. It's your own set-up that would be in play; his (or hers) could work however he or she wanted it to.

 

 

"
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Why would IEMs make the sound out front more sterile? It's something to compensate for by soundmen, haven't ever heard that loud stage volume is a good thing. Chances are it was patch choices and compression etc making a more polished sound...

 

I have heard a couple mention the area right in front of a stage though as a problem spot. But even there you aren't going to hear everything in balance.

 

As far as a musician and IEMs, they've kept me playing full stop. I no longer have ringing ears after shows, and I hear myself way, way more clearly than I ever did with amps/wedges. You do lose some live energy but it's something to deal with. If I was using wedges I'd be dealing with notes I can "sort of" hear at twice the volume trying to compete with a Marshall, so everything has tradeoffs....

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Drummers have a hard time with this. A softly struck drum sounds different than a smartly struck drum.

 

Although--just to be a pill--nothing is stopping that same drummer from using the same pads to trigger the same samples, running through the same monitor signal paths.

 

No pads. Acoustic drums. He is tamping them down with bed sheets in the small rooms right now, not micing anything but kick, and we mix the band volume to his level.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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Re: sterile

 

One man's sterile is another mans "great mix, sounded like the record."

 

The audience doesn't really want to hear your amp blaring off stage, they want to hear a record mix. And they notice and compliment you when you sound like that.

 

Of course, certain genres like hard rock and metal want the blare. Good thing we are not doing an MC5 medley in my current band. ;)

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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I guess my emphasis wasn't on the main issues in the OP. I think maybe I was ranting about the band I was in last year and the band I'm going to join for next year. Both had(have) an ass-ton of amplification gear on stage, both have(had) guitar players that insist on overly high volume in order to get "their sound." The new band (1st rehearsal this Thursday) has to put their K12 vocal wedges up on 16" risers just so they can compete with the guitar amps behind them. The lead singer/lead-guitarist uses two such K12's. The rhythm player, besides his fender amp, also plays a MX49 and runs it through a Roland KC amp which is also behind him. The bass player has a 4x10 cab of some sort with a separate head.

 

And did I mention the postage-stamp sized stages we got around these parts?

Gear:

Hardware: Kurzweil Forte7, Korg Kronos 2

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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A few thoughts on this.

I don't own or work with IEMs and don't work with anyone that is using them at the moment.

 

A) Amplified players (guitars, keys, bass) have invested in nice amps/monitors and are used to working this way. Their amp may very well be part of their tone, and they enjoy control of the near field volume and direction of the speaker(s). Especially when working in close proximity of acoustic drums. Even if guitarists are using amp modeling hardware like the FRACTAL will run a line to a personal monitor.

 

 

B) Brass and Woodwind players I work with don't bring a monitor, they get mic'd, into PA and listen for themselves at the vocal monitors. I can't deal with whoever is running the PA taking care of my monitor level so, I bring my own monitor. What usually happens with keys is I can't hear what I want and I don't want to blow out the singers, who similarly are very picky about the balance they are getting.

 

 

C) Myself and many singers I know don't enjoy working with headphones on (especially not both ears). In studio we tend to work with one ear partially or fully off. It feels more natural to hear some aspect of our own voice coming from our body - which is how we practice. If the balance isn't right, it becomes very easy to overwork, strain, and just feel out of control of our physical instrument - which gets very un-enjoyable very quickly and can ruin a performance.

 

D)I haven't used IEMs live, but I do have to work with headphones in rehearsal or studio often and I don't love it. It's easy to run them too loud, and it's straight into the ear canal which can't be any better for avoiding tinnitus than pushing air on stage with amps. If you have any ear nose throat issues, a cold or whatever, closing up your ear tubes all evening doesn't feel great.

 

Admittedly in small clubs it's nice to work with V-Drums. Then everyone can play softer in general, although for drummers it usually feels better to have a nice big 15" speaker under their asses when playing pads, rather than headphones. Groove wise there is definitely something to be said about acoustic drums, although my ears can do without setting up right next to the kit, cymbals in particular.

 

Again I haven't used IEMs, but my desire isn't high. If those that do use a system are enjoying them. Can you share what the benefits are, why you prefer them, and how expensive do you have to go to get a setup that's decent?

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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They told me the only thing running through the wedges is vocals. So how the f**k will anybody hear keys? I refuse to bring my K10 and blast it on stage. The outgoing keyboard player had a KC like the rhythm player uses for his MX49.

 

Oh and the drums are acoustic.

Gear:

Hardware: Kurzweil Forte7, Korg Kronos 2

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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we use ears. Everyone can dial in their own mix.

 

We also have two ambient mics for overall sound, and venue sounds (audience, etc..)

 

The biggest thing for us is feeling the drums, which is no problem since our drummer uses his double bass kit

 

BY dialing everything in right, I feel just as "present" when I'm playing as I do if I wasn't using ears. It's nice that I can play and sing and it sounds like an awesome stereo mix in my ears, and volume levels I decide. No ringing ears or headaches after shows.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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Ive got a humorous story concerning in ears..

 

I play in a band doing new country and some classic rock. I do the vocals on Hands To Yourself (ugh) and I always let the audience finish the hook that starts with She said don't hand me no lines..

 

When we first started the band, our main vocalist (who uses in-ears) would always finish that line for me, drowning out the audience. After a few gigs, I asked him why he was doing that. He replied he was embarrassed for me because no one was singing along with me..hehe..

 

When I told him the opposite was true, and the audience would finish that line every time, he and I, realized that because of his custom-fit, sound blocking, mortgage financed in ear monitors, he wasnt hearing them!

 

We dont run a room mic, not sure why, although my church band uses in ears and we do run a room mic there.

 

For the record, I tried in ears in the country band-hated them-and currently do not use them there. Our guitar player also refuses to use them and he is super loud on stage. I started using an on stage monitor again when it became apparent he wasnt going to in ears and I couldnt use the one ear in/one ear outmethod because of his volume level

 

Guitar players-what are you going to do with them? .. but thats another story

 

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Not to mention, if anyone says anything to you, they have to say it into a mic or you can't hear it, so you have to keep taking the damned ear-piece out...which, if they are saying something or asking a question about a part, you then can't hear being played.

 

Exactly my experience in my social band. The sound quality was awesome but the entire experience was ruined. I can see them being great for established gigging bands who less frequently have to 'rehearse' in the usual group sense.

 

Feh. Not for me.

 

You are now the second person I know in history (after my late grandmother) to use that term.

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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In my experience, when you have zero stage volume and get your mix dialed in just right, you get plenty of bleed from the vocal mics to hear the crowd and some of the room. In fact, I could usually hear what effects the sound guy was putting on the vocals - like hearing echoes from the room. As for having to talk into the mic, that's what you should be doing anyway. On a loud stage, you can't hear without talking into the mic. In fact, we had our mix dialed in so clear that we could talk very quietly into the mics and hear each other but the crowd couldn't because it was below the noise level of the crowd. I stand by my previous conclusion that most of you who don't like them probably haven't experienced how good they can be. I will concede though that our drummer who played electrics still had some of his drums in a wedge monitor so he could feel it. As for people close to the stage, we often had the sound guy put some of the mix in the side fills so people right in front still got a good mix from stage.

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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I agree with J Dan and Escape Rocks.

We've been using them exclusively for a long time.

When someone subs in I hand them a pack and

get their idevice dialed in for their very own mix. They're a little shocked.

I show them how easy it is and let them do their thing.

Every person came away changed.

They couldn't believe they were hearing it all so well

and exactly how they wanted it.

 

And we're getting people that show up fully prepared with their own IEM rigs

and all the connectors needed. They even follow freq protocols and do scans.

" Just show me where I can get a mix. I know what to do."

Wow. That just is too cool.

 

John

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Can someone give the un-IEM'd crowd a clue on cost of a decent system and how the feeds and routing work with/apart from the FOH or PA?

 

Escape Rocks says he avoids tinnitus by using them - as in it's an improvement over traditional self monitoring causing ringing in the ears. Agreement on this?

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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