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Thread: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

  1. #1

    Default Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Hello!
    First time poster here...I play mando (old Stradolin) in a duo with my buddy on acoustic guitar and I've never really been satisfied with our live sound (to my ears anyway). We mostly play gigs in bars, breweries, restaurants, small venues etc ..all places that are pretty chatty and loud (before Covid obviously).

    The setup I use for sound is a Shure Beta 57A on the mandolin, playing through our PA with a wedge monitor for both of us. I've been told it sounds pretty good from the audience perspective, but to me I can never hear myself as clearly or as loudly as I'd like.

    I'm always wanting the monitor to be as loud as possible but even when it's turned up, I'm still not a fan of how it sounds to me. When I can't hear myself clearly in a loud chatty place, it changes my playing style by making me really dig in with my attack which makes my speed go down. I end up playing sloppy because I'm going for too much volume to be able to hear myself.

    So my question is, do I change my playing style/mindset or am I looking for a different equipment setup?

    Would a clip on mic be the way to go in this situation? I've been looking into the AT Pro 35 condenser (my price range on everything is low to mid-range). BUT I'm worried about feedback if I want the monitor so loud. What about a personal monitor for myself like the Mackie SRM150? Not really interested in playing the in-ear monitor game.


    Basically to sum it all up: how the hell do I hear myself clearly in a loud place without feedback?

    Maybe that's too much to ask in the world of mandolins?

    Thanks ya'll sorry for the novel!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    I've given up on mics in loud chatty places. I'd get a K&K pickup installed, a decent preamp, and you'll be able get a lot more volume in your monitors without feedback.
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    I know nothing about amplification other than a good mic or maybe a wireless monitor earbud if that exist if you wanting to hear yourself over boisterous crowd noise... it is a good feeling musically working venues where the people come to enjoy the music and musicians playing but those places are few and far between...

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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    I've given up on mics in loud chatty places. I'd get a K&K pickup installed, a decent preamp, and you'll be able get a lot more volume in your monitors without feedback.
    I totally agree with Don

    It is a bit of a trade-off, a piezo pickup is not as good as a mic, but it’s the only way I have found to make noisy bars work. Even my Schertler contact mic didn’t cut it with talking patrons. I have had great results with the K and K, I have them in 4 mandolins, though there are cheaper ones available. The preamp can range from a reasonably priced Radial Stage-bug (if your system has phantom power) to a totally redic Grace Designs Felix if you want to blend the piezo and the mic signal.

    Another option might be to find one of those Behringer P2 in ear monitor pieces and run a line into just one ear so you can hear yourself
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    If you want a mic’d sound, without feedback, at high spl, get a piezo pickup and The ToneDexter. You’ll never look back!
    I’ve been playing professionally for +1600 gigs, and have used lots of gear over the years. This is the best loud environment amping system for plucked acoustic instruments, it’s also great for detailed intimate settings, and recordings. Really, it’s the game changer. NFI.
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    Registered User gspiess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    I play live a good bit with a Tonedexter and still have the same problem. There seems to be a sweet spot where I can't hear myself v. times when I'll hit certain notes and it sounds overwhelming. And if I can't hear myself I too tend to play more aggressively and my technique suffers.
    Usually the problem is that I'm competing with the other band members in the mix. As a result I tend to be very picky during sound checks. I try to find the right volume for playing with good technique, and then I leave myself some "padding" where I can turn up my signal on the Tonedexter if I have to. In really loud venues I've used my own amp as a powered monitor. I've thought about an in ear solution but haven't tried it yet.
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    dang what a good memory... well there you go darkstar!

    i tried to play solo mic acoustic 30 years ago in a bar once...didn't take long to figure out that the crowd and i were there for two different reasons. I couldn't bang loud enough.






    ...always been crazy, it kept me from going insane---

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    I use a K&K and a RedEye preamp. It is easy to be too loud in the monitor. I am not sure what you are using for monitors, but I like an 8" speaker for acoustic instruments. I also do not want a horn. Horn is a long throw device and you are only 6' away. I don't know who thought of that, but it doesn't work for me. They are harsh to boot. The easiest powered monitor I have used is a Fishman guitar amp with an 8" speaker. Plug the monitor send into the back and only the volume control works, and it sounds great.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    If you don't like your sound in the monitor but you like it through the mains then you need a new monitor or monitor EQ. A front floor monitor can't help but have your instrument and it's mic/pickup between your ear and the monitor, so a smaller, focused stand monitor might do it. Or you just might not like the sound of that monitor. Try some others. To get allot of gain out of a monitor a third octave EQ is the best tool. Parametric EQs are pretty good too. You have to learn how to use them though. For the most gain turn it up till it starts to squeal, then notch that frequency back, then do it again. Takes practice.

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    I agree with Joed, the problem is your monitor setup. You could elevate the monitor and see if that helps. An in ear monitor would eliminate any feedback from the monitors but can be pricey.

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    I should have qualified my comments with the fact that I use an in ear monitor system. They are expensive, I have custom headphones and a Sennheiser iem , so the cost of an ok mando...
    Good things cost, dang!
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Codger chiming in with some codgerly perspective:

    Just keep in mind that there was a (not-too distant IMHO) time before stage monitors existed, where folks had to know what their bandmates were playing while not necessarily hearing them. Didn't seem to slow down, say, the Grand Ol' Opry, or Bill Monroe, or the Beatles ...
    - Ed

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    I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you."
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    The Beatles stopped playing live because they couldn't hear each other. There may have been other issues, but this was a big one for them.

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Great user name.

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Lots of good solutions offered here. The unfortunate truth is that all of them require way more money than you're going to make playing bars and restaurants.

    I'm getting ready to install a 2nd K&K in a nice Collings mando for friend/client. They require either a quality mixer with a Hi-Z input or a good preamp designed for them (or both). It's quite common to spend $600 on preamps/signal processors to get a pickup sounding good. I've always preferred the sound of a good mic over a pickup, they just sound more natural.

    The SM-57 your using is actually a pretty good option, it rejects off-axis sound pretty well. I have an AT Pro-37 (the mic stand version of what you're considering) and it sounds great! Being a small diaphram condenser with phantom power makes it really sensitive, it sounds great from 6-8 inches away and has a more flat response curve, more high frequency air. The caveat is that "it's really sensitive" meaning you'll be fighting feedback more than you would with the SM-57.

    The ideal solution is to go in-ears monitors and ditch the wedges. This means ear monitors for you and anyone else playing, and a mix console that takes the feed from your PA (again more $$, more wires). A more reasonable ($) solution is to reposition the monitors you have. Try stool height and angled up at your head coming from the side or even a little bit behind you. When you get the monitors up closer to your head, you should need way less volume to hear them clearly.

    Good luck, playing acoustics in noisy rooms is a big challenge (for not much money)!

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    Registered User pit lenz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    I've given up on mics in loud chatty places.....
    I‘d rather give up playing in loud chatty places... Don‘t waste your valuable time and energy on people who don‘t give a <Moderator Edit. Implied profanity characters removed as per Forum Guidelines.>
    Last edited by Ted Eschliman; Mar-22-2021 at 9:41pm.

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Wow thank you everyone for the awesome advice! Lots to consider....I think what I'll try first is just simply re-positioning the monitor stool height and seeing how I like it. Has anyone had luck with the Mackie SRM150 as a personal monitor? Or have recommendations for others in that price range or lower? (Yes the bar scene gigs are not raking in the cash by any means!)

    Definitely considering all the recommendations for a K&K pickup and preamp as well..

  19. #18

    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    I hear you but I say playing music live even to an apathetic audience is better than sitting at home watching re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond...

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Pre Covid, I gigged 100+ shows a year, for 16 years. Some gigs, everyone listens on the edge of their seat and gave the music their full attention. Some gigs, few treated it seriously. Some gigs are making lifetime memories playing at weddings, anniversary parties, graduations, birthdays... I was at every gig, and I really enjoy hearing good music while I play, so I fully support spending the $$$ to have the best mando, pickup, di, mixer, monitor system, and speakers. That’s how to get the best bang for your buck!
    Practice more, get better at marketing, make more $$ and take all your tax write offs.

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Quote Originally Posted by pit lenz View Post
    Id rather give up playing in loud chatty places... Dont waste your valuable time and energy on people who dont give a (you know what)
    I started playing out when I was 16, spent over 40 years playing juke joints and honky tonks. It was a lot of fun in the early years but progressively got unbearable playing for people who came mostly to get drunk, party, talk loud and make ridiculous song request.

    Did very little acoustic music, mostly old blues, r&b and old country with a band. I did one solo acoustic job doing what I thought was a good song list with just a mic on my acoustic and omg the drunken noise was unbearable, I couldn't hear my guitar and what I was doing didn't involve beating the hell out of my guitar and request were even worse. I'm doing a Taj Mahal or Ray Price or Dan Hicks tune etc etc and here's come the request...Hey man you know any Skynyrd "uh no" well what about Mustang Sally "no I haven't done that one in 20 years" well how bout Brown Eyed Girl? It was trying even playing genre specific clubs...Playing blues clubs the people only knew and requested SRV and Clapton and here we are doing T-Bone Walker, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Jimmy Reed etc ...rock blues was all they knew

    One reason I quit playing out and don't miss the bar insanity. Now I wouldn't mind doing a House Party where a small group get together to listen and appreciate what you do and are musically knowledgeable but that'll never happen so I had rather sit home and play for myself and my pups

    Enjoy while you can

  23. #21

    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Last gig I played, the house music was coming from a speaker right above us while we were sound checking on a small outdoor stage. Eventually, we got dialed in.

    Be ready for anything, no matter how ridiculous.

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    I used to do around 180 gigs a year, I don't anymore. I still gig, but only one bar that I like, that has no jute box. They play background music thru the P.A. It always seems the loudest folks seem to want to be the closest to the band. I know there are people in the audience that are there to listen, I focus on them. If I can find one person liking the music I play to that person and it is worth it for me. Mostly I play a summer boat cruise and square dances, farmers markets, town concerts, special events, and quieter, earlier gigs. Being old has it's advantages. I play for myself, but it's nice to have an audience.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Quote Originally Posted by darkstar21370 View Post
    I hear you but I say playing music live even to an apathetic audience is better than sitting at home watching re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond...
    I share Pit Lenz's view, but if you enjoy playing what I refer to as "Wallpaper Music" in loud environments (and I mean enjoy, not just that it's better than sitting at home watching reruns on the TV, there's got to be something else you could do), then as others have said, a piezo pickup and a good quality preamp is an option; will probably set you back 200 - 400 Dollars. An alternative would be the AKG c411 PP - from around 170 Dollars. It is in effect a condenser mic that uses the soundboard of your instrument as the diaphragm (that's what a piezo does too, only less well, thus the need for a preamp to bend your sound back to something acceptable). You can plug the AKG directly into your PA, which saves one component in the sound chain (most important, it is one less item to malfunction or get broken, always a consideration in a bar environment. One proviso, though, the cable connecting the XLR adaptor to the pickup is fairly thin and can easily get broken - it's best to use a normal mic cable to connect the sound board to the adaptor and stick it in your pocket, hang it on your belt or whatever.
    Good Luck
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

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    Default Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Isn't there a book on stage craft sound reinforcement guide ?

    Yes looks like there are several..

    https://www.bing.com/search?FORM=SLB...cement%20guide
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Question Re: Dialing in live sound-monitors, mics etc

    Consider in-ear monitors ?, maybe custom molded ear canal fitting,
    to seal out any other sounds ..

    I think that is how the Pro's Roll ..


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