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Old 05-18-2018, 09:11 AM
Stevied63 Stevied63 is offline
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Default Jackson Browne at Beacon - Terrible sound mix

Went to see Jackson Browne last night at the Beacon Theater here in NYC. This is generally my favourite venue in NYC - and I usually try to sit dead center, first 2 rows of the Loge. Saw Jackson Browne last night, and for 2/3's of the show, the sound mix was just awful. He had a full band with him - this wasn't an unplugged, or acoustic show. That said, his guitarist (Val McCallum) was dialed up way too loud, with terrible tone to boot. The rest of the band was, even when Val wasn't soloing, muddy. I'm not sure the crowd realized all that much - it was definitely a fan show - but I found that it really decreased my enjoyment of the show. They must have made an adjustment partway into the second set, because his guitar was dialed back and the tone improved - but even then, the general mix was still muddy. First time I've been to a top tier act at the Beacon (a relatively small venue) that had such horrible sound mixing. I'm wondering if others have experienced this type of thing at top tier shows?
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:02 AM
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Honestly? I haven't experienced a decent live mix since I saw YES in 2001. These days, once they get a mix dialed in they push it up to about 110db and my plugs go in. Really? I could hear you fine at 95db and the music doesn't get any better above that.

Bob
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:23 AM
Tahitijack Tahitijack is offline
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Bob,
It this one of the difficulties of touring? Different venue every night with different acoustics. Some artists comment on this during the show with the sound sounds good to them. Never having the time to get it perfect between load in to load out schedule. For me, this is one of the reasons I enjoy a lesser known artist in a small, sever hundred seat, venue now. Arenas, large theaters are down my list of places I go. I wonder how often someone who has never seen a major artist attends a show with bad audio and leaves saying...wow he/she/they were awful in concert? I'll not be going to see that again.
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:47 AM
RagtopGT RagtopGT is offline
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Interestingly, the only show I ever walked out of was Jackson Browne at a NJ outdoor venue in 1978 due to the sound problems. The concert was unlistenable.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:02 AM
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Hey, Jack!

These days there's little excuse for a bad mix. For example: I work with an engineer who spends long weekends touring with a company that does those "A Night of" shows. You know, "A Night of Pink Floyd," "A Night of Queen," etc. They tour a ten--to-eleven piece rock ensemble that pairs with a fifty-piece ensemble from the local symphony at whatever city they land in all over this and other countries. He has his "show" entirely on a couple of thumb drives, including mixes and feeds. The company owns a sound system with a specific console or the venue supplies a choice of that particular console or one other. He carries a flypack with his laptop, calibrated mics, and a few other goodies. There's analysis software on the laptop. He does as many as four concerts in a long weekend. The band is entirely on in-ear monitors so the monitor mixes don't change. The road team does the setup. On a leisurely date he arrives the day before and has plenty of time to tune the system to the hall. On a tighter schedule he flies in on the day of. On those four-concert weekends he's likely to arrive an hour before the show, load his console and show, and do a quick room tweak. He's actually just before the show, loaded from the thumb drive, and tweaked on the first couple of numbers.

As he's worked with the company for years he's saved hundreds of hall tweaks and now needs less and less setup time. And he's a real pro. His mixes are GREAT and he works the 90-95db range, which the symphonies love. But I saw a show by that same company that was mixed by another guy and it was just as I described: the guy started at about 90db, got his feel going, and it hit 110db after the second song. My ears distorted, all clarity disappeared, and in went the plugs. Gotta save the money makers.

Did I tell you I did ONE rap recording session in my life? The producer/artist walked in, said, "I can't hear," yanked the monitor control up to about 115db, and said, "Keep it there." Done. I've lasted another twenty years by not exposing myself if I don't have to.

Bob
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:30 AM
Stevied63 Stevied63 is offline
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I just found it so odd that the sound guy didn't immediately (or at least within a few songs) adjust the mix. I'm not a sound guy, but I'm guessing that the performers can't really tell if the mix is off, right? It was a very hard core fan crowd, and so people weren't giving any negative vibe to the bad mix - but it was clearly off (I've got a lot of Beacon shows under my belt, so I do have some background for comparison). But something caused him to adjust it about 2/3's of the way through the show. It's a shame, because he's a great performer and guitarist, and his pedal/lap steel guitarist on this tour (Greg Leisz) is really fantastic - but you really couldn't hear them through the high decibel output of Val McCallum's electric guitar.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:31 AM
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The musicians are all comfortably tucked under their IEMs.

Bob
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:50 AM
Petty1818 Petty1818 is offline
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It's so crazy what they can do with live sound these days. I remember watching a behind the scenes video with Tom Petty's sound man. He went over how the band doesn't even need to soundcheck anymore because everything is programmed into the digital interface. He can do sound check without the band even being on stage.

With that said, despite the fact that sound is so incredible now, I actually dislike it on occasion. Sometimes I find that everything is just a bit too pristine and balanced. I listen to more recent Petty recordings and then stuff from the 80's and 90's and I prefer the older shows. The rawness is somewhat gone now.

The issue you experienced with Jacskon Browne is odd though. I wonder if they too had a programmed type of set up and just relied on that?
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:46 PM
Chriscom Chriscom is offline
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For me, this is one of the reasons I enjoy a lesser known artist in a small, several hundred seat, venue now.

100%. The last stadium concert I attended (a whole 'nother ball of wax I know) was Paul McCartney & Wings at RFK in Washington, and even then the only reason I went was to see a Beatle. The sound quality was about what I expected.

Venues near me like the Barns at Wolf Trap are right in the zone mentioned above. And to be fair, many of the acts I see are smaller--duos, singer-songwriter type stuff, where it's just plain easier to produce and control good sound.
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:57 PM
gfa gfa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevied63 View Post
I just found it so odd that the sound guy didn't immediately (or at least within a few songs) adjust the mix. I'm not a sound guy, but I'm guessing that the performers can't really tell if the mix is off, right? ...
Correct, what the performer hears through the monitors is an entirely different mix/feed from what the audience hears. On a big enough show, there are separate mixing boards and engineers for the two.
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:30 PM
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Same issue at a Hall and Oates show this week. Horrible, muddy, junky sound. They made a grand piano sound like a dimestore synth.


It didn't help that Daryl's voice was in poor form.
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Old 05-18-2018, 03:28 PM
Wyllys Wyllys is offline
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I've been a performing musician since 1968 and a sound guy for nearly as long. If I want good sound and good music, I go to the symphony or listen to CD's or vinyl.
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:19 PM
PeterM PeterM is offline
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Well, IMHO, sound is pretty easy to get right. Do I have good ears? Most of the time ( at least in the past 15 years or so) either STOP
MIC'ING THE DRUMS or turn them way down. Presto, muddiness gone in most cases.

Sometimes its the vocals that need to come down.
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Old 05-19-2018, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
I've been a performing musician since 1968 and a sound guy for nearly as long. If I want good sound and good music, I go to the symphony or listen to CD's or vinyl.


Not sure of your implication here. You donít try to get good sound at your shows?
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Old 05-21-2018, 07:03 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petty1818 View Post
It's so crazy what they can do with live sound these days. I remember watching a behind the scenes video with Tom Petty's sound man. He went over how the band doesn't even need to soundcheck anymore because everything is programmed into the digital interface. He can do sound check without the band even being on stage.
That's not quite true. The digital program is great for the monitors, and balance between all the inputs to FOH, but the ROOM SOUND still needs to be adjusted (as Bob indicated about that pro with the 'night of' shows).
And if its a hockey arena, or large open 'shed', then that sound adjustment is crucial.
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