Here are some things I've heard from performers.

I have to be inspired by my sound before I can give an inspired show to the audience.

Most of the time the audience will not hear the difference between a $300 guitar and a $3000 guitar.  So why spend the money?

It's good enough for live.




I regularly play at a venue with a mediocre sound system. The monitors are ugly, and the sound in the house is muddy. Whenever I play there, I bring my Bose gear even though I know the regulars are happy (enough) with the house system.

I dropped in there to catch the last set of an up and coming band. I've heard them there before, and the sound was typical for that room. On this night the band was on fire and so was the audience.

The sound was atrocious, much worse than usual. Everything was distorted; vocals, keys, e-drums.

I waited until the show was over and went to visit my buddies on stage. Here's what had happened.  The band was uninspired by the house system on previous occasions, so they brought their own board and monitors. They ran two lines to the house mixer plugged into XLR inputs. They didn't set the inputs to Line Level.

Okay - so you have figured out what was wrong.

Here's what was right. The band had a ball. The audience had a ball.

What's more important; what you hear or what the audience hears?

Original Post

I don't have to be "inspired by the sound" of the house system but I HAVE noticed that the audience finds it harder to pay attention to a sh*tty sound system and that along with the lousy sound bums me out enough to cause more mistakes in my performances...

Good sound can't fix lousy performances but bad sound can sure degrade good ones.

Hi ST, 

Good question, I just finished a gig at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission a few hours ago. Used my personal Bose S1 Pro to stage monitor in conjunction with the house system. I normally use my Bose L1 Compacts slightly behind me at this venue, I was not able to do that today.

IMG_0240[1)

My setup as follows (hope to answer your question)...

Stage monitor Bose S1 Pro,

Vocal Mic  > vocal processor > to channel 1 of S1 Pro

Guitar > pedal board > to channel 2 of S1 Pro

Balanced line out of S1 Pro > DI box > to snake-FOH > mixer Allen Heath, EAW mains (professionally installed system)

All this to say that I'm pretty picky about my mix and what I hear on stage (the S1 Pro was amazing). With this set up I use my own reverb, delays, processing, guitar/vocal balance, etc. 

The FOH engineer gets a single channel sent to FOH. This gives me some comfort that my audience is hearing a fair representation of my monitor mix. He basically kept things flat on his board and simply controlled volume. It's certainly not ideal, but it works in a pinch.

Your Question... "What's more important; what you hear or what the audience hears?" I really strive to make sure what I hear is about the same thing the audience does, thats why I really like the Bose L1 concept of speakers behind the performers, or my setup I used today.

Attachments

Photos (1)
Harry posted:

Hi ST, 

Good question, I just finished a gig at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission a few hours ago. Used my personal Bose S1 Pro to stage monitor in conjunction with the house system. I normally use my Bose L1 Compacts slightly behind me at this venue, I was not able to do that today.

IMG_0240[1)

My setup as follows (hope to answer your question)...

Stage monitor Bose S1 Pro,

Vocal Mic  > vocal processor > to channel 1 of S1 Pro

Guitar > pedal board > to channel 2 of S1 Pro

Balanced line out of S1 Pro > DI box > to snake-FOH > mixer Allen Heath, EAW mains (professionally installed system)

All this to say that I'm pretty picky about my mix and what I hear on stage (the S1 Pro was amazing). With this set up I use my own reverb, delays, processing, guitar/vocal balance, etc. 

The FOH engineer gets a single channel sent to FOH. This gives me some comfort that my audience is hearing a fair representation of my monitor mix. He basically kept things flat on his board and simply controlled volume. It's certainly not ideal, but it works in a pinch.

Your Question... "What's more important; what you hear or what the audience hears?" I really strive to make sure what I hear is about the same thing the audience does, thats why I really like the Bose L1 concept of speakers behind the performers, or my setup I used today.

That’s a great way to communicate with yourself and the audience hearing virtually the same makes a great platform for confidence and gig satisfaction for yourself and the Audience. 

Im a solo performer using 1 L1 Compact and 1 S1 Pro with the T4S Mixer.

great to be confident you will get a fab sound and mix for yourself and the audience whatever the venue throws at you.

regards

John 

I agree with Chet. I find with our L1/S1 when we hear what the audience hears we can adjust our playing when we can really hear what’s going on to maximize as best a sound we can deliver. To that point, we tend to play in more intimate acoustic venues so people are more than likely really listening making the quality of sound more important.

In a noisy bar atmosphere, where the audience may not be all that attentive, then the sound probably doesn’t matter as much. 

Oh, believe me, it matters in a noisy bar atmosphere as well!

The venue I was talking about was a restaurant/bar during Happy Hour and the subsequent (pretty talented musicians playing in the) Open Mic.  A potential good listening environment was turned into a "noisy bar" by muddy sound.  ;-)

I've emailed the owner (a friend of mine) to ask if I could bring my Bose S1s and Behringer subs some night and see if that would make the kind of big change in the environment that I think they would make.  He hasn't answered yet.  ;-)

In the absence of a (bonafide) sound guy, it is very nice to know what the audience is hearing. It not only benefits the listener by the performer being able to reliably adjust the mix as needed, it boosts the confidence of the performer by freeing them up from worrying about a bad house mix. 

We're an acoustic act and went from a typical powered mixer with 2 on a stick + monitor setup to a pair of L1 Compacts behind us with a small analog mixer and we'll never go back. And honestly, even when we've had to use a house system, we've usually gotten better results from plugging our own mixer in on stage and sending a stereo mix to the house mixer/monitors and mixing it ourselves. I'm a sound tech myself and it's kinda embarrassing how blase some of the techs I've run across are towards bands...

Jeff

What's more important; what you hear or what the audience hears?

I've heard lots of people (not just here), say they have to be inspired to do a great show. If you don't like what you hear, how can you do that?

I love playing in new collaborations with relative strangers. A great way to do that is to drop in and play at a jam session. There are lots to choose from around here.

I can check out new venues, play different styles of music, hear and play with musicians I wouldn't meet otherwise.  It's a terrific way to keep my chops up, get inspiration to develop in different directions, and make new collaborations. 

This also means playing in situations I can't control.

  • Music I don't know
  • People I don't know
  • Other peoples' gear
  • New stage layouts
  • New venues
  • New Audiences
  • New house rules

All of these things are exciting and fun and fraught with terror.

When I'm not in control, the most I can hope for is decent sound through someone else's guitar rig on stage, and the board supports phantom power.  I can't expect to use my Kemper Profiling Amp or my ToneMatch mixer at a jam. There's precious little time in a jam situation to set up, and I spend most of it showing the guys in the band what I want to do (I play originals and somewhat eclectic tunes).

My jam gig bag has a Boss GT-1, Neumann KMS 105 (requires phantom power), EV N/D767A (dynamic mic), and some cables.  Most of the time I just run through whatever guitar rig is on the stage (often straight into the amp).  That's part of the fun on the tightrope.

And this is why I asked the question: What's more important; what you hear or what the audience hears?

At my gigs, I don't have to choose one over the other.

When I play in other settings, I have to do without my carefully designed signal chain, live with what I hear on the stage, make the best of it, and hope things sound okay out front. 

It's interesting to be reminded:

  • An entertaining performer can get it done with a $100 microphone. Do I really need that high-end condenser?
  • A $300 guitar can be as entertaining as one that costs 30 times as much
  • A great band can engage and entertain a crowd with mediocre (even terrible) sound

Can you achieve musical nirvana when what you hear on stage in less than ideal?

ST

If the audience likes what they hear, regardless of what you’re playing through, I guess that’s one measure of success and could perhaps be one view of a musical nirvana. 

But it might not be all that satisfying to the performing musician. I tend to agree with @Jeff K where he states “(hearing a good mix) boosts the confidence of the performer by freeing them up from worrying about a bad house mix”. If we can’t hear what we sound like in any reasonable fashion, we have to power through the gig and “hope” that we sound ok. It’s hard to adjust your playing to better address your audience if you don’t know what your sound is like. Can they hear the vocals, are the vocals in balance, is the guitar too loud etc.

We have some gigs like that, which we enjoy for the most part, but have to rely on the venue staff running the in-house system that we sound ok as we rarely can hear ourselves well through the on stage monitors. If the audience is being positive, then it’s a good night, but not one where we, as the musicians, find musically satisfying. No nirvana there from our perspective. It’s just a good paying gig in a nice place where we can at the least play music. It sure is a quick and easy setup for us though.

In contrast, we play at active adult/over 55 retirement communities using our L1 and can control our sound in a somewhat intimate setting and can really reach the audience. Or, we play at facilities for the memory impaired just acoustically with no system at all. Seeing those folks react positively to music is very gratifying as well. Both of those situations we would define as musical nirvana for us. 

Hi ST (and of course anyone else reading this thread),

"What's more important; what you hear or what the audience hears?"

Interesting question, and not one that I can answer in a couple of sentences. This could take some time so I'll start by commenting on your original post.

ST posted:

Here are some things I've heard from performers.

I have to be inspired by my sound before I can give an inspired show to the audience.

I don't see it quite this way. Having started performing live at the end of the 60's (that's 50 years now), there was really no good live sound to be had anywhere. This would mean that I myself and everyone else (including top professional musicians) could never give an inspired performance in the early days of PA development. There were some really good performances at this time which have inspired (and continue to inspire)  musicians for 50 and more years.

To hear oneself well when performing is definitely a bonus and can maybe help to lift the performance to a higher level. Vocal intonation for example is easier when the vocalist can hear his/her voice well and not have to put a finger/hand over one ear to hear the voice through the bones of the head. Most of us have seen vocalists doing this on really loud stages (especially before the use of in-ear monitoring).

Most of the time the audience will not hear the difference between a $300 guitar and a $3000 guitar.  So why spend the money?

It's good enough for live

This is probably very true. Most of them won't. If we look at acoustic guitars at this point the pick-up system sounds anything but like the guitar it's amplifying.

Why spend the money? 

I can only speak for myself here, but this is how I see it, and it's also how I came to buy my main live acoustic guitar.

If I go on stage playing a guitar that I only play on stage, this instrument is going to feel at the very least a little strange. What I really needed was an instrument that wasn't going to break the bank but also one that I play in my living room. 

I kept away from the Gibsons/Martins/Taylors etc. as I would also be paying for the name to some extent. Instead I looked at the top range of less high-end manufacturers and ended up buying the top of the range Seagull Artist Studio CW (cutaway) and had the newly released LR-Baggs Anthem installed. The guitar is so good that it soon became my go to guitar at home and also live. The anthem gives it a really good live sound, and purely acoustically it sounds really good and has "aged" well through being played very often. On stage I have a guitar that is really familiar in my hands because I play it a lot at home. 

I would say that this instrument inspires me to play well, and has no hidden pitfalls when I use it live.



I regularly play at a venue with a mediocre sound system. The monitors are ugly, and the sound in the house is muddy. Whenever I play there, I bring my Bose gear even though I know the regulars are happy (enough) with the house system.

I know the feeling. Especially in loud locations (pubs, bars etc.) where people are there to have a good time and the overall sound isn't too important. I would also probably take a compact for my own back-line. It does make me feel better if I have a good sound myself. I suppose that I could say I'm spoiled nowadays in comparison to the early days of my musical "career".

I dropped in there to catch the last set of an up and coming band. I've heard them there before, and the sound was typical for that room. On this night the band was on fire and so was the audience.

The sound was atrocious, much worse than usual. Everything was distorted; vocals, keys, e-drums.

I know this feeling too. Generally there's a fair amount of help coming from the alcohol being consumed. A certain amount of inebriation can go a long way to "improving" one's perception of sound. If it's loud as well, the ears aren't as sensitive as they would be by less volume.

I waited until the show was over and went to visit my buddies on stage. Here's what had happened.  The band was uninspired by the house system on previous occasions, so they brought their own board and monitors. They ran two lines to the house mixer plugged into XLR inputs. They didn't set the inputs to Line Level.

Okay - so you have figured out what was wrong.

I guess the inputs were overloaded and distorting pretty heavily. The band probably had OK sound as they were using the monitors they're used to.

Here's what was right. The band had a ball. The audience had a ball.

That's the main thing at such gigs. Not my cup of tea, and probably not a gig that I'd really want to spend a long time at. I can remember seeing the group YES when they were doing the "Fragile" tour 1971/72. The one thing I really remember about that gig (apart from the fact that the band was awesome) was that I'd never heard such a good sound before. It was in a completely different galaxy to everything I'd heard up to then.

What's more important; what you hear or what the audience hears?

I would say that both are important. I know from experience that you'll generally find musicians in the audience at a lot of gigs. They'll be happier if your sound is good.

Also, having a good sound is really good advertising for musicians/bands. If your sound is good in a small (loud) location and you happen to have someone in the audience who promotes gigs, he/she is more likely to be impressed and want to hire you than if your sound is really bad.

So now down to my own thoughts for my own gigs.

I prefer to play more intimate locations if I'm doing solo gigs. they fit my repertoire and performance better. Solo I try not to do open air any more. This means that the audience generally aren't as loud because they're there to listen to my performance. Also, using L1's they don't have to shout if they want to say something to the people next to them as the volume of the system doesn't need to be deafening to reach the people at the back of the room.

If my sound wasn't important to me I wouldn't be spending my money on Bose gear, but would be using some of the cheaper stuff which is on offer.

Using L1 systems means that I more or less get to hear what my audience hears. If a compromise has to be made sound wise (because there's maybe hardly any room for me to set up and I have to stand really near to the system) I'll always try to make the compromise affect what I hear more than it does to what my audience hears. I'm there for them and not the other way round. 

For example, I've even been slightly behind and very close to my Compact when playing. It meant that my own sound wasn't as "pristine" as it could normally be. My audience however had good sound.

I think that I've probably written enough now for you to get the gist of my views on the points you raised in your question. I hope it's been of some help and maybe even of some interest.

Tony

 

I think you are asking what venues you play, does quality mean anything to those audiences and can you tell the difference yourself from the sound coming from your speakers. If your crowd is a bar crowd volume may be your major criteria. Some reasonable big __s kicking coned speakers that can rise above the ever escalating hooting and shrieking from your "good time charlies" is probably much more important. If you play in venues where people listen to the music then you will want to spend the money on more quality sounding equipment. The smaller the venue the assumption can be they are there to listen to the music, then the betterment of your sound will determine your next quality gig. These assumptions or formulas goes without too much thought. What are your goals and can you hear the difference? Many have to learn to hear, that means hear the difference from equipment based gigs. Go out test drive and listen to people who use different rigs. When you can hear the difference then you can compose your rig accordingly. Many hear a specific sound and say, "I like and want that sound," then begins the quest to achieve that sound and the learning curve begins. This is equipment listening and has little to do with music preferences or skills. It is learning to listen to music through electronics not  music through tastes, like rock verses country. On the other hand the equipment you choose may relate directly to your music style, hopes and goals.

The feedback from the crowds at the bar gigs we've played (and call backs from the venues) where the norm is relatively lousy sound telling us how much BETTER we sound than anyone else (with Bose L1M2 and an F1) would tell me that even at a venue that's mainly a support group for alcoholics, great sound matters!

The first time we played there, we used the house system and had a horrible time.  Semi-listless response to our bummed out, brute force performance. 

I also recently played at a big hotel up north and our set was a total BUST thanks to terrible stage sound from distorted monitors that the sound guy never bothered to come back and listen to and adjust! 

The human brain can only juggle so much...terrible distorted sound takes millions of 'little gray cells' away that should otherwise be used to focus on the performance!

I want to control the both the monitors and the sound coming off stage. I try to bring my gear to compensate for **** out sound systems. I listen to the monitor and then go to the back and listen and then confer with the sound guy.  Trying situation but above all I want all to sound as close to my head as possible. For me the name of the game is the sound quality both front and back.

There's a Farmer's Market I play almost every week.  They own a Bose L1S system that has had a consistent problem that may be caused by flaky power and/or a defect in the system.  The day usually starts out with the system sounding "muddy" and after a period of time from an hour to 2 or 3 it suddenly "kicks in" with normal eq and sound at a higher volume and a mad dive for the master fader on the mixer.  After dealing with it for nearly 3 years, we mainly ignore it.

Yesterday was a little different.  I'm working with a new partner and along with working in the new act, I'm working on getting her to listen to the vocal blend and the mix instead of fixating on just her voice.  Our last practice was delightful, she was really GETTING IT! 

Alas, yesterday the Bose sound system was especially muddy - I didn't know how bad it was until I watched the video I shot, very bad on stage and as a result our set was a disaster.  Too bad we can't get the Bose fixed here in the middle of the Pacific.

I wish I'd brought one of my S1 Pros to use as a monitor - and will in the future with this partner!  Although most future gigs will be with MY system - 2 S1s and one or two Behringer 1200s..

But again, through no real fault of ours -- bad sound equaled very rough performance.

Thanks for letting me vent...  :-)

 

This post was forked into a new topic here: Product support and repair in Hawaii

However, one learns to do the best one can even if lousy sound makes it impossible to perform at the highest level one is capable of performing.

I talked with my partner afterward and she said she literally could not hear herself or our mix due to our (also lousy) location on the stage + the 'muffled' sound from the system.

Chet,

Something you might "keep in your back pocket" for just such an occasion; pick up a headphone distribution amp (DA) with enough outputs for all band members, some battery powered beltpack headphone amps, earbuds/headphones, and cables of sufficient length to reach the performers. Feed the headphone DA from the venue PA's unused main output, headphone output, aux out, control out,etc. This will get you a clean mix before the speaker outputs, assuming the issue is not with the mixer output itself. Rolls has a number of inexpensive personal monitoring products that would work well without breaking the bank. 

My acoustic trio has two L1 Compacts that our percussionist sits somewhat between. If the stage is not deep enough to put the L1's behind us enough, she ends up being between them and out of the mid/high speaker path. As I use a looper that she has to stay in time with when I use it, we have a pair of headphones and a 10' or so headphone cable so she can listen to the headphone output of our Mackie ProFX8 mixer (copy of the main mix). Works pretty darn well.

Hope this helps,

Jeff

Seriously we all for the most part want to sound good, that is why I stopped depending on the house for sound. I bring my sound system whenever possible that way I have more equipment to problem solve. My effects, amp, pre, ... ... are always mine never having to depend on those from the house. Yes I carry a case with all in pedal format that is the beauty of building a pedal board. Your sound - you can make any speaker sound good unless the speakers are blown.

CCC, so true. Besides my trio, I run sound for a local Southern Gospel vocal group and the first thing I had them do was save up for their own portable sound system for exactly that reason. As the group mostly plays small to medium sized churches, the house PA's are generally horrid...and the churches we play at generally see our little Presonus Studiolive / QSC K-series system as light shining from Heaven. (Btw, I used my dual L1 Compact setup for some small gigs we did recently, and guess what's next on the purchase list? Yesssss).

Somewhere along the line churches (and many small venues) started interpreting "being a good steward" as "always go with the lowest bidder" and either try to do it themselves from Radio Shack or get taken for a ride by some Trunk Slammer "AV guy". I'm also my church's tech director so I can say this with confidence, lol, although I do actually know better as AV Integration is my day job.

Jeff

Add Reply

Likes (0)
Post
Having trouble signing in?

We recently updated our sign-in procedure and if you have old sign-in data cached, this can create a problem. Please:

  1. Clear your browser cache and cookies
  2. Then close the browser (not just the window)
  3. Open the browser and try again
Thank you

Please make sure that your profile is up to date
×
×
×
×