I have to admit, I have more money than brains at times. I purchased a PreSonus RM32ai for my blues band, because I am a tech junkie and I wanted the latest and greatest. I also purchased a very nice 24" touch screen computer to go with the RM. I have a router set up, and I have my iPad and iPhone set up to run the system remotely, and set each musicians individual monitors. I also have all the channels set up for each of the instruments, with presets for each of those from the internal selections in UC Surface. Now comes the real problem!! I really don't know the first thing about how to use all the possible EQ settings to get my forward PA tuned, and sounding good!!! Are there any tutorials that will explain how to use this unbelievable system the way it should be used? I have actually considered just hiring an experienced sound guy to run it at a gig, then just save the scene to use as a starting point for when we gig. Looking for other learnings! .... HELP!
Right, do not think that adding presets automatically leads to a good sound. Presets might give some ideas, but they are never "the" solution. Do you know, what an experienced sound engineer will do first? He will reset all channel strips - and listen to your music! He will also listen to your PA and monitors to check, what has to be adjusted. After that he will work on the instruments and voices and do what IS NEEDED.
I can only recommend to hire an experienced sound guy and work with him for a longer time (at least one year). Somebody has to care for your sound continously! You will never get the same results by mixing from stage. A "good sound" is always a technical and a musical matter. Nothing is a miracle or a secret, but there is definitely a lot to learn over many years. A scene that works today, does not necessarily work tomorrow.
Your part as musicians should be to learn how to deal with audio equipment like monitors on stage or in-ear systems. But also there you will need some advice and help. A good sound engineer will also care for the sound on stage and/or in-ear monitoring, because you can not separate monitoring from PA sound.
Give your sound into good hands!
You are playing Blues, so I would look around in the Blues scene. What bands are there, who is doing sound, light...? What companies are around, are there freelancer working for them? Also your musicians might know somebody, who knows somebody...
Look for a person who is available, maybe living in your area or not too far away. Don't look for the "stars", but look for solid competence. Maybe you have been to a concert and enjoyed the mix of a band. Try to talk to the sound engineer. Make contacts wherever possible, make your search known and get people interested in your band.
When you have found somebody, things will come together - or not. Taking care of the sound of a band is not done by words, but by knowledge and experience, which you literally can hear. As a band you will know immediately, if the guy (or girl) is "right" for your band. You want to work together in a positive way and with good results (concerts), so the sound engineer needs to be an "insider".
The best way to learn is to start using it! Though I will admit, I'm a great sound guy, bands love to have me running their sound, but when doing sound for my own band it is absolutely one of the hardest things to do ever, I really can't get it to sound as good as I can get other bands to sound like, but I can get close-ish.
There are two major things to learn, system tuning and mixing. I'll describe these in a very quick way right now as I don't have all day to type, but I could type about it all day!
System tuning is best done using the Smart Wizard on a PC or MAC with FireWire. Run the wizard with a measurement mic on every monitor and the left stack of the Mains and adjust the PEQs to flatten. Once that's done then I ring out the monitors and mains one at a time and using the SpectroGraph (or RTA) over the GEQs cut out the first 3 or 4 rings of the monitor, then I may make some more broad strokes on the GEQs too to make a Steely Dan CD sound good through the monitor. Then go to the next speaker and do the same thing. I'll add that when it comes to floor monitors, the high pass filter can be extremely helpful!
Then there is mixing. I have come up with a great way to practice that. (Actually Presonus did) It's called the virtual sound check. Record all channels of the Band playing a rehearsal. Then play each channel back through the mixer and start tweaking setting to your hearts desire. This could be done on a set of headphones at first just to give you some time to figure out where all of the buttons and faders are at and just figure out how it all works through trial, error, reading the software manual, asking questions on the forum, ect. Then at some point you probably want to set up the actual PA and try mixing it there too. Now you could save those settings at that point and start there for when you bring the band back in, but beware that it probably won't really work as well as you think, especially in a different room with live guitar amps and bass amps and drums, but that doesn't mean you can't use it as a starting point. The good thing about this idea is that you can record the whole band once, then practice mixing them for weeks if you need to, but you no longer need the band!
Last edited by sjc193 on Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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If you log in to your presonus account, and go to the product page for your mixer, at the bottom of that page you will see a bunch of product specific videos to help get you started.
I would recommend starting there to get the basic hookups and whatnot down. Then come back here to fill in the knowledge. As you can imagine, doing live sound is very involved, with many facets, and many different techniques to get to the end goal. Much more than can be covered in a single post. Once you have the basics down from the videos, come back and start a post with the specific item that is hanging you up. There are plenty of people here that are helpful and can get you through most anything. Its also a good idea to add your equipment, including computer platform and os, as well as hardware. It helps those trying to assist to know the system you are on, as some things may be done differently. It also saves you from having to type it constantly as the questions will get asked when troubleshooting.
The first thing to know about running sound is not to do anything other than levels... If you have a decent mixer (you have), decent speakers and even half decent mics then with no eq, compression or tuning things should sound just fine.
I was once given a training session by an old school BBC engineer who used to train folk in "sound balancing". First thing he would do with any mix is turn off all the EQ and dynamics... then make people get it sounding good through correct mic placement and levels. His students always could.
If you hook up a computer with firewire to your RM you can use Capture, or another DAW, to record a set. You've then got something you can play back through your RM to play with. Spend time playing with EQ, learning what it does. Same with dynamics (gate and compressor). Only experience and ears get this right. Often times presets are a cheat to get you started but you really need to understand what you're actually applying first.
A final note on tuning the PA. Opinions differ wildly on this. My own view is that if you have good quality equipment there's very little you will need to do here. All PA speakers have their quirks and audible features you might not like and want to minimize with some system EQ. That's fine, but again you need to know what you're doing. Do this wrong, or even worse use Smaart badly while thinking it's somehow magic, and you'll end up with a bad sound that you're forever fighting.
Bottom line, keep it simple, do it and learn...
Regarding finding an engineer, go to gigs and find someone who gets a sound you like.
Great advice from the guys above. Rather than boost highs, tame down some of the bottom end.
Amazing how things start to clean up
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