How do you hear it all?

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Hey guys, I wanted to open a discussion about monitoring live sound for drummers. I have decided it's time that I bring some of my own equipment out to venues because of all the issues hearing what's going on.

I've played venues that spent tons and tons of dollars on their stage sound, as in I've got giant monitors taller than myself pointed towards the back of the stage, and I still lose the sound occasionally when things get cray-cray.

Other times there's this tiny little wedge behind me and I hear it all, all night long.

I have not tried in-ears or phones on stage, but I'm considering it.

So I'd like to hear some opinions. What do you feel is the best bet for hearing everything, and for that matter, do you hear everything? Do you get a select mix of sound or the whole shebang?

Thanks in advance, just wanted to talk with some folks before I start looking into buying stuff.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I don't understand the question. What are you plugging into? If you play in venues that have their own sound system, you don't need anything as they provide everything you need. Are you talking about plugging into your own bands' PA system? Or are you talking about amplifying yourself on your own?
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I have never had a problem monitoring. If the venue has a system with large monitors and a good sound tech then it all works.
If I use my small Nady Personal monitor on a stand just to monitor vocals in a small venue where we provide the PA then that works.
I also use Shure in-ear monitors sometimes and they work. I like the in-ear monitors best in my studio with everyone fully tracked.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I think most of us deal with what you are describing. Cymbals tend to fuzz out everything else when you lay into them, I think its just a proximity thing. We play in some really shitty little clubs where the monitor situation is less than optimal. I think its just something you learn to deal with, as I am sure you have. My bands stage volume is pretty loud anyway, so unless we are a big stage I really only need monitors for vocals most of the time anyway.
 

Naigewron

Platinum Member
As long as I get some kick drum, guitar and vocals I'm generally fine. The bass will rumble enough to be heard on stage, and the rest of the kit is plenty loud enough from where I sit.

Getting a nice, balanced mix in my monitors is very nice, but I never rely on it to play. I will generally struggle if I can't hear my kick (because there's no way I can hear it acoustically on a live stage), and I need the main guitar and lead vocal to get a feel for what we're playing, and for reference if I'm singing backup.

In-ears would be nice, but I've never bothered with them up until now. I have in-ears when I play live, but they're only for the click track and for general hearing protection.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I've played venues that spent tons and tons of dollars on their stage sound, as in I've got giant monitors taller than myself pointed towards the back of the stage, and I still lose the sound occasionally when things get cray-cray.

It sounds like many of the venues already have monitors, so you shouldn't need to bring anything. If things are getting so loud that you're losing sound, maybe the band should look into how they are controlling their dynamics... I don't mean that in an insulting way; I played with a rock group a few weeks back and the guitar player had his amp set to the same level that jet engines make when starting up. Granted I'm a jazz guy, so I might be used to a different dynamic range, but I just can't understand how anyone finds that enjoyable. The most interesting part was that everyone in the band wore ear plugs to protect against hearing loss, so they knew there was a problem, but they couldn't figure out that maybe the music doesn't have to be that loud...

If you're losing sound (and it's not due to crappy/lack of monitors) I'd say it might be worth getting one of those decibel readers and talking to the band about dynamic range.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I think I know where you're coming from. Some of those venues with huge monitoring systems have been the worst I've played for hearing what I NEED to hear. Everything just gets muddy. Loud as hell, but muddy.

Some time ago I went to in-ear monitors, and I strongly prefer them for their volume reduction and for the cleanliness of the monitor mix. Most venues haven't had a problem with me just plugging in my Shure rather than using the house wedge or stack. I have control of the volume on the fly without having to ask anyone, and it has worked really well.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I don't understand the question. What are you plugging into? If you play in venues that have their own sound system, you don't need anything as they provide everything you need. Are you talking about plugging into your own bands' PA system? Or are you talking about amplifying yourself on your own?

Almost never do we use our own PA, the house systems are always better than what we'd tend to carry around for front of house. I'm looking into maybe seeing about buying a personal wedge that I can get a feed for and put behind me to fill in stuff I'm not hearing from the aforementioned huge sand up side monitors. Either that, or in-ears or something. I worry a tad that an in ear setup might dislocate me from the stage and crowd, etc.

Just thought I'd see if everyone mostly goes with what's there, or if frequent gig-ers teng to bring their own solution so they don't worry about things like that.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I think most of us deal with what you are describing. Cymbals tend to fuzz out everything else when you lay into them, I think its just a proximity thing. We play in some really shitty little clubs where the monitor situation is less than optimal. I think its just something you learn to deal with, as I am sure you have. My bands stage volume is pretty loud anyway, so unless we are a big stage I really only need monitors for vocals most of the time anyway.

I can tell by this that you know what I mean. I play clubs/venues that range from shitty sound, to "bring your own sound" and then the next show there's a huge light show and 1/4 mill stage setup. Thing is, I've been just "dealing with it" for years, and after the umpteenth time missing a sound que that I didn't hear, I started thinking about always having some kind of control. Maybe take a feed from the house, into a small mixer or something then out to either my own "known quantity" wedge or alternately just to some in-ears for myself.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
It sounds like many of the venues already have monitors, so you shouldn't need to bring anything. If things are getting so loud that you're losing sound, maybe the band should look into how they are controlling their dynamics... I don't mean that in an insulting way; I played with a rock group a few weeks back and the guitar player had his amp set to the same level that jet engines make when starting up. Granted I'm a jazz guy, so I might be used to a different dynamic range, but I just can't understand how anyone finds that enjoyable. The most interesting part was that everyone in the band wore ear plugs to protect against hearing loss, so they knew there was a problem, but they couldn't figure out that maybe the music doesn't have to be that loud...

If you're losing sound (and it's not due to crappy/lack of monitors) I'd say it might be worth getting one of those decibel readers and talking to the band about dynamic range.

Actually, you're almost certainly right to a point, but there isn't much I can do about it. I'm mostly playing in a weird kinda surfy-punk-grunge (fan said we sound like a mash of nirvana and dead Kennedys recently) type outfit right now, and those (LOUD) fuzzy distorted guitars can just somehow blend together if the setup isn't just right for monitoring. It really seems to depend on the system and the room from what I can tell. Similar to how your kit can sound like gold in one room, and muddy shit in another room - with the same setup and tuning. As well, my kit is huge, with huge cymbals to cut through all this noise I play along to. My ride for example is a giant 24 inch 3800 gram monster that can get out of hand, but is one of the few I found where the ping will actually be heard over the rock, so to speak.

Hence why I'm looking into eliminating some variables if possible. Just wanted to see if I could get any advice from some who went that route already.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Almost never do we use our own PA, the house systems are always better than what we'd tend to carry around for front of house. I'm looking into maybe seeing about buying a personal wedge that I can get a feed for and put behind me to fill in stuff I'm not hearing from the aforementioned huge sand up side monitors. Either that, or in-ears or something. I worry a tad that an in ear setup might dislocate me from the stage and crowd, etc.

Just thought I'd see if everyone mostly goes with what's there, or if frequent gig-ers teng to bring their own solution so they don't worry about things like that.

Ah. Then you could get yourself powered stage wedge floor monitor, and ask the venue to give you an output so you can hear what's going on. A friend of mine bought one of those Roland Cube Street amplifiers - it's relatively small, it has two 5" speakers in it and runs off AA batteries for a good 12 hours. It's pretty loud. You could probably put that up on a small stool next to you. The cool thing about this little amp is it also has headphone outputs if you want to try in-ear monitors too.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I'm going to look into that, thanks, Matt.

I like the phone output idea too, leaves another option if I still can't hear. You think that little thing would handle the full mix or would you recommend a limited mix for it?
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I'm going to look into that, thanks, Matt.

I like the phone output idea too, leaves another option if I still can't hear. You think that little thing would handle the full mix or would you recommend a limited mix for it?

When I heard it, he wasp laying his iPod through it and it sounded pretty good, considering what it is, just two 5" speakers. The fidelity is really good.

Since you've brought this up, I'm considering this path as well since the band I play with carries their own PA, but they don't have monitors. I've been looking on eBay and Rockvilles and Pyle makes these theoretically cool powered speakers that you can use as a monitor, but they don't have headphone outputs, but they can be as cheap as $90 for one with an 8" speaker and a horn. Not bad for just a monitor. I'm really just interested in hearing the vocals clearly since I can hear everything else.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
I just play by radar now. After 30 years of subjective monitor mixes, sometimes the soundguy who seems to be on his menstrual cycle and the "throw and go" sets where you literally throw your gear onto a stage and go... It's my saving grace.
 

Mediocrefunkybeat

Platinum Member
If you're playing with fuzzy guitars, ask any monitor guy to cut the 250Hz from most of the instruments except the bass for your mix. It's a temporary solution and I think in-ears are the answer but give it a go. 250Hz is generally where most instruments merge and you lose definition. Fuzzy guitars will definitely make this issue worse.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
The Weck.

wecklel.jpg
 

GetAgrippa

Diamond Member
I solved that problem years ago with the most advanced technology. My new "souped up" hearing aids are the cat's pajamas.
 

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BradGunnerSGT

Silver Member
Hey guys, I wanted to open a discussion about monitoring live sound for drummers. I have decided it's time that I bring some of my own equipment out to venues because of all the issues hearing what's going on.

I've played venues that spent tons and tons of dollars on their stage sound, as in I've got giant monitors taller than myself pointed towards the back of the stage, and I still lose the sound occasionally when things get cray-cray.

Other times there's this tiny little wedge behind me and I hear it all, all night long.

I have not tried in-ears or phones on stage, but I'm considering it.

So I'd like to hear some opinions. What do you feel is the best bet for hearing everything, and for that matter, do you hear everything? Do you get a select mix of sound or the whole shebang?

Thanks in advance, just wanted to talk with some folks before I start looking into buying stuff.

Since you are playing at venues where you may not know what to expect, I would recommend something like the RockOn Audio products. I've used a Rockbox for years and it is a great little device. It accepts both line-level (coming from the mixer) and speaker-level (coming from a speaker amp) signals.

This give you the best of both worlds, since in venues where the sound guy can send an Aux Out to you, you can use the normal input. In other places where you can't get that, you can daisy chain off the existing monitor speakers and still have your in-ears protecting your hearing. You can also plug your metronome in and hear that as well.

They have a newer product called the Tasty Blender that has multiple inputs with independent volume controls on them, and a ton of other cool features (a bass boost/cut, stereo/mono modes, etc) but the Rockbox has served me well the last few years.
 
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