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Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?

Posted by Jason 
Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 22, 2013 10:23PM
I didn't want to sidetrack the topic about the volume at the Valley stage, so I thought I'd ask in another thread. That topic really reminded me of a question that I've had for years.

Not talking about Sierra Nevada, but at a large portion of reggae shows that I've attended locally, the sound is turned up so loud that it is distorted. So much that if the artist sings a song that you don't know, you will struggle to hear the lyrics. I took a friend to a show recently and he said "That guy has amazing stage presence... I didn't understand a word he said." Disappointing because of the message a lof of these artists have.

Is that poor equipment, the arists' preference, or just what people prefer to hear?
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 22, 2013 11:04PM
In my experience what you describe can usually be attributed to over-worked soundysystems, vocalists who "eat" the mic (holding it right up to/ inside their mouth = distorting vocals at the source) and sometimes mixing choices, many people who are not familiar with patois are not able to understand many reggae vocals, even when the music is played back crystal clear at reasonable volumes.
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 23, 2013 05:40AM
A lot of it is the engineer. I don't know if anyone noticed on Saturday when the engineers changed and so did the sound. All day the sound was real nice with Loren working the sound then The Ghetto Youths engineer stepped up during there set and everything changed.
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 23, 2013 12:36PM
Quote
DubOrganic
vocalists who "eat" the mic (holding it right up to/ inside their mouth = distorting vocals at the source)

Actually most sound guys prefer when they "eat the mic", and if you're using a proper stage mic the sound should not be distorted from being too close (with proper gain setting). Too far is where you run into trouble - a guitar amp or stage monitor will create a feedback loop and that's where you get the ear-piercing screeches out of the PA, and nobody likes those! Singers who hold the mic in their hand and carelessly wave it around are a soundman's worst nightmare. If you're at a show and you can't hear the singer very well, there's a good chance he's being an idiot with the mic and sound took matters into their own hands.

Consistency is the key, which is why if your lips are touching/nearly touching the mic consistently, then your volume will be steady as a result and the engineer/audience will be happy

"I'm gonna put on a iron shirt, and chase the devil out of earth" - Max Romeo
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 23, 2013 01:30PM
Quote
Diesel
A lot of it is the engineer. I don't know if anyone noticed on Saturday when the engineers changed and so did the sound. All day the sound was real nice with Loren working the sound then The Ghetto Youths engineer stepped up during there set and everything changed.

Interesting, I did not know that bands came with their own engineer. I would imagine that is not the case for most but the bigger bands???
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 23, 2013 02:11PM
Some bands do come with engineer, but not most. The engineer at the venue can screw it up just fine all by himself though. I think bad sound usually comes from a philosophy that the louder the better.

Love that reggae!
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 23, 2013 05:01PM
Clarity is more important than volume but with a good system and a knowledgable engineer (or just a drive rack) you can easily have both...

Respect Same Way
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 23, 2013 09:01PM
Quote
rossta8888
Interesting, I did not know that bands came with their own engineer. I would imagine that is not the case for most but the bigger bands???

The bigger the band the greater chance they tour with an engineer. A good engineer can make the show. A touring engineer will know the set inside and out and be able to add effect and dub instruments and vocals out at the right time and on point.
We are very lucky here on the west coast to have Loren. He is one of the best sound men in the business that lives here in California and is the engineer at most big CA festivals and is Don Carlos's full time engineer.
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 08:44AM
one of my major issues with california venues was the rock-pop sound engineering....

i remember going to canes and some other outfits along the coast... nothing but treble and flat bass..

this is the main reason i stopped going to any event hosted at a beach spot.. or anywhere outside of more 'urban' dwellings..

these days i find the same BS flat bass sound even in the 'urban' spots.. so like someone said.. i just stay at home and run my tunes.. the way i want them run.

bless!
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 09:07AM
That is very cool to hear about Loren and us being fortunate to have him around. Don Carlos will always be one of my favorites! It was a real pleasure to meet him this year at SNWMF! I love being apart of this phorum and learning the little things that make festivals and shows go!!
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 09:17AM
Quote
Dubguy
Actually most sound guys prefer when they "eat the mic", and if you're using a proper stage mic the sound should not be distorted from being too close (with proper gain setting).

I disagree Dubguy. I think if you ask a bunch of live sound engineers, the majority don't want singers with mic too close/ inside mouth. I have never heard a sound engineer ask artists to eat the mic or state a preference for that, but have often witnessed pro engineers ask singers (especially hip hop, metal and dancehall vocalists with loud voices or a near shouting level delivery) to back off/ hold the mic a few inches away from their mouth which improved vocal sound coming from the mic (these were not preamp, etc gain issues, mics were SM58s and Audix, pretty typical stage mics.) Yes waving a microphone all over the place can cause feedback. Best is to hold mic consistently, directly in front of mouth but not right against lips. Regardless of mic being able to handle SPL, no mic is designed to go inside the singers mouth, have lips placed on it, even when not distorted it does not sound ideal.

Of course many factors come into play in these situations and sometimes eating a mic may be a compromise when dealing with bad feedback problems on stage. Usually there is a better way to solve those sound problems, in my opinion.
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 10:03AM
There are very few reggae artist that use the mic to it's full potential. If you would like to see proper mic technic look at people like Toot's and Pato Banton. DON"T look at Sizzla, Capleton or any other artists that CUP THE MIC.
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 10:27AM
The most important thing for the artist is to be consistent, so the sound guy isn't always trying to make it right. Artists who are quiet, then very loud, make it really hard. Perfect and Lutan Fyah come to mind.

Love that reggae!
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 11:16AM
Perfect is the most difficult artist Ive dealt with in regards to sound... he likes the mic set a very particular way (a way that IMO is completely wrong but what the artist wants the arist gets) that coupled with his low talking and high screaming make it very difficult to get a good mix between him and the music...

Respect Same Way
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 11:20AM
When I saw Luciano perform at The New Parish last fall, I was able to get right up front, and I came away impressed with the way he held the mic at just the right distance to get sweet, melodic vocals. I guess he is an example of a pro! He definitely wasn't "Eating the mic".
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 11:28AM
Quote
DubOrganic
I disagree Dubguy. I think if you ask a bunch of live sound engineers, the majority don't want singers with mic too close/ inside mouth. I have never heard a sound engineer ask artists to eat the mic or state a preference for that, but have often witnessed pro engineers ask singers (especially hip hop, metal and dancehall vocalists with loud voices or a near shouting level delivery) to back off/ hold the mic a few inches away from their mouth which improved vocal sound coming from the mic (these were not preamp, etc gain issues, mics were SM58s and Audix, pretty typical stage mics.) Yes waving a microphone all over the place can cause feedback. Best is to hold mic consistently, directly in front of mouth but not right against lips. Regardless of mic being able to handle SPL, no mic is designed to go inside the singers mouth, have lips placed on it, even when not distorted it does not sound ideal.

Of course many factors come into play in these situations and sometimes eating a mic may be a compromise when dealing with bad feedback problems on stage. Usually there is a better way to solve those sound problems, in my opinion.

Well - okay, swallowing the mic is not recommended (not sure how the hell one could even sing with a mic actually IN their mouth, nor have I ever seen anyone try) - but when an engineer says "eat the mic" he means get it REAL close, like 1-2 inches MAX from your mouth. If you're about to hit an operatic note with a lot of wind, then yes, you would back up from the mic a bit, but you learn to control it so the volume stays consistent with experience. I've never had to tell a singer to back off of a mic, but plenty are too far away. For problem singers I would tell them to brush the outer windscreen (not the one built into the mic) with their lips until they got more accustomed to getting personal with their mic.

And by the way - I did sound for a bunch of metal bands, so everyone was pretty much on "loud". smiling smiley With your average stage mic, holding it too far away will also drop out all the bass response. This is totally different than what you do with a studio condenser mic - just talking live.

"I'm gonna put on a iron shirt, and chase the devil out of earth" - Max Romeo



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/24/2013 11:46AM by Dubguy.
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 11:35AM
Dubguy sent you a private message.

Peace
Re: Sound levels in general... too loud or perfect?
July 24, 2013 11:51AM
Quote
Reggabe
When I saw Luciano perform at The New Parish last fall, I was able to get right up front, and I came away impressed with the way he held the mic at just the right distance to get sweet, melodic vocals. I guess he is an example of a pro! He definitely wasn't "Eating the mic".

Actually, this is a prime example of an artist "eating the mic" correctly.



And here is one of incorrect technique - LOL!



"I'm gonna put on a iron shirt, and chase the devil out of earth" - Max Romeo



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/24/2013 11:57AM by Dubguy.
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