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Dealing With Reverb Horror Shows


cphollis

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There's this one venue in town that's a full-on brewery with a small area for bands, patrons, etc. It's a huge, echo-y warehouse with a bad reputation with local musos, as in "never again".

 

A year ago I played there with this band. We brought all this equipment, turned up and ended up sounding like Angry Mud all night long. I had a headache for days afterward. A complete sonic disaster.

 

Well, tonight I had a successful gig with a different band in the same venue. We sounded really good. The trick? Keep the volume way down, I had all of them swear to it, even the lead guitarist and the drummer.

 

I brought a very modest FOH, a pair of RCF TT08as and a small 12" RCF sub. I played through my CPS SSv3. Nice, balanced and even sound. The crowd loved it, and the recordings came out pretty good, Less is more.

 

Here's what I learned. When faced with a reverb nightmare, play at modest volumes and cleanly. Let the building be your "amplifier". If you try to overpower the reverb, you will lose and it won't be pretty.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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I've played rooms like this... the trouble in my experience has been getting the drummer to control his volume. If the rest of the band and the FOH volumes are controlled, all you'd hear is drums. So, up goes the rest of the band, and now we're back to a muddy wall of headache-inducing sound.

 

YMMV.

Stuff and things.
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Damn, you bring up painful memories.

 

The absolute worst gig of my life was in a club where ALL the walls were either windows, posters framed in glass, or mirrors. Even the columns were covered in glass/mirror panels.

The visual effect was nice (a bit trashy maybe, but not terrible), but the sound was a nightmare.

Any note, played on any instrument, at any volume, instantly hit us back with a wall of muddy reverb. We tried anything and everything, no way.

And of course, the guitarist's reaction was to turn up because he couldn't hear himself.

 

I played the whole gig without the slightest clue of the notes I was producing, drowned in a pit of toneless tar.

 

I may as well have been deaf. Actually, it would have been better.

:facepalm::D

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If possible, bring lots of rugs, banners, backdrops, curtains, etc. if you at least cover the stage area in sound damping materials, it will help with the stage sound.

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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There are, of course some rooms you can't win in. I live near Akron Ohio. One of the more famous buildings there is the blimp hangar where airships like the Akron and Macon were built. It is huge...having indoor clouds and rain sometimes huge. Played a company party for Lockheed Martin there once. We were aimed across the SHORT axis of the building. Never ran across reverb like that. The gig was more than 10 years ago and I am convinced we are still bouncing around in there to this day.
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Years ago I played this club that sounded like a huge bathroom. The owner had a great house PA installed but had built stone floor and tiled walls in the place. Muddy wash of reverb everywhere, worse room I ever played. Singers had no clarity in their monitors and couldn't hear themselves. I confronted the guy at the mixing board who was using headphones the entire night "but it sounds great in the headphones". I had to take a break for a half hour to calm myself as it was one of the few times I felt like taking a swing at somebody (anyone who has gone through a divorce would understand). No sound system would save that room.
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Yeah some places are just bad acoustically. I agree that keeping the volume down never hurts and my help. (Actually, that is such a trend with our gigs now that we just set things as low as possible from the start no matter where we play, unless it is huge or outdoors).

 

I turn down verb on my keys and our guitarist does the same if we have a really live room. I don't use much to begin with, because most places have their own ambience. Again, outdoors is an exception usually.

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When Kawai opened their Piano Gallery here in Houston, the place was previously a tile store. The floor in the main room was cool-looking, but I think you can guess the rest.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Similar problem here last week. Got our stage volume down a bit (still too

Loud IMO) but also hung a flag upstage and spread out a thick 9x11 Persian-style rug. I suspect that rug make a huge difference -- lots of music in the crowd and observation that that was the clearest that room had ever sounded.

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When Kawai opened their Piano Gallery here in Houston, the place was previously a tile store. The floor in the main room was cool-looking, but I think you can guess the rest.

Funny, but the first time I heard/played the Kawai electric grand - or whatever it was called - was in a small enclosed plexiglass booth at NAMM and even though it should have been sonic hell, it sounded glorious.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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