In the early days of playing I had to remind myself of things like "let the amp do the heavy lifting" (instead of my fingers), so over the past little while I've come up with a few points that seem to be helping with the System. I'd really appreciate your comments on these little maxims I try to remember when setting up and playing.
Perception of volume and hearing yourself.
- Let nothing (human or otherwise) come between you and your System***.
- Let no sound source be closer to you than your System (e.g. drum kit or anybody's backline amp). That is, to you, the closest or loudest sounding thing in the mix should be your System. Preferably have the System centred behind you so you are hearing it well with both ears.
- Let nothing be in the direct line of sight/sound come between you and anybody else's System. (e.g. a drum kit, somebody standing within 2-3 feet of a System - directly in your line of sight).
- ***I have taken to reminding the other guys in the band of the "hot" zones into which they should not tread while we are playing.
I'm sure that they are thinking that I have turned into some horrible control-freak jerk over this, but ...
[soapbox mount]when players who are not singing at the moment start wandering around the stage
o- they leave open mics behind (feedback hazard, and sound leaking),
o- and if they get too close to anybody's System, they cast a sound "shadow". This seems to be critical if they are within a couple of feet of a System.
A consequence of our new setup - without stage monitors, is that it is now possible to inadvertently cut-someone-off from their personal sound source in the mix.
Peripatetic players with loud instruments (violin, squeezebox, tambourine) who want to add drama with choreography can temporarily render others unable to hear themselves if they become a closer, louder sound source than the other player's System.
About Volume, Ear-Fatigue & Volume Rising as the gig wears on.
- Have an understanding that whoever is soloing (in the moment) is setting the dynamics for the band at that point.
Everyone needs to agree that if s/he can't hear the soloist, then s/he is too loud and needs to exercise their musicianship and come down (volume) in the mix.
- In a more general sense, if things are balanced, then everyone should be able to hear themselves AND everyone else. If that isn't happening, then s/he (who cannot hear the others) should turn down.
- A huddle before beginning each set can help with the sense that the show, the sound, the music is more important than a single player. (some exceptions may apply if there is clearly someone who is the Talent) but it is the thought that counts.
- A Sound pressure level meter can settle occasional disagreements about band volume.
- The propensity to develop ear fatigue should overall be lower with the System because we don't have to be playing as loud to begin with. So if we haven't been playing overly loud all night, our hearing at the end of the gig should be as good as when we started.
Over the top? Do I need help?
Thanks for reading.
replaced references to PAS with System (observing trademarks)