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Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:49 pm
by Erbacher
Any lone have any idea of the general process for how Healy and the rest of the crew did their main house eq and also how they were able to get such clean vocals over top of all the other sound?

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:33 pm
by PurpleTrails
Not exactly what you are looking for regarding vocals, but this is by far the best discussion I've seen on how Healy approached micing and mixing the dead:

http://www.rukind.com/viewtopic.php?f=4 ... 3f1774b62a

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:11 pm
by gratefulfork
Don't have any insider info, but drawing simply on my own experience as FOH I have two thoughts.
1) is that the mains eq was probably radically different every night depending on the space
2) because the dead were playing fairly large venues for the majority of their career it was probably quite a bit easier to mix than a small club. my reasoning is this: in a club setting, you're always fighting to lift the vocals above the volume of the drums in the room as well as the (probably excessive) guitar amps. This raises the floor considerably and your gain before feedback on the vocals does not go up accordingly- hence the fight for a clear vocal sound. In an arena setting (guessing here because i haven't done FOH for larger than clubs), especially with such superb musicians (most pros have extremely good control over their dynamics) i'd imagine that since almost nothing will carry past the stage without the mains, you wouldn't be fighting that same floor level and it would feel quite a bit more like studio mixing. I could be totally off the mark, but thats my 2 cents

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:08 am
by mikelawson
What he said...
gratefulfork wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:11 pm
Don't have any insider info, but drawing simply on my own experience as FOH I have two thoughts.
1) is that the mains eq was probably radically different every night depending on the space
2) because the dead were playing fairly large venues for the majority of their career it was probably quite a bit easier to mix than a small club. my reasoning is this: in a club setting, you're always fighting to lift the vocals above the volume of the drums in the room as well as the (probably excessive) guitar amps. This raises the floor considerably and your gain before feedback on the vocals does not go up accordingly- hence the fight for a clear vocal sound. In an arena setting (guessing here because i haven't done FOH for larger than clubs), especially with such superb musicians (most pros have extremely good control over their dynamics) i'd imagine that since almost nothing will carry past the stage without the mains, you wouldn't be fighting that same floor level and it would feel quite a bit more like studio mixing. I could be totally off the mark, but thats my 2 cents

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:59 pm
by Searing75
In reference to a board with a master eq. Start with the upside down smile, or frown. The peak, or mid frequencies of the smile are at zero. Zero being the midline between positive and negative. You would be cutting the furthest lows and furthest highs completely most likely. That’s a proper pa eq setting. All individual channels can be tweaked afterwards. A little will go a long way.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:15 pm
by zambiland
Searing75 wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:59 pm
In reference to a board with a master eq. Start with the upside down smile, or frown. The peak, or mid frequencies of the smile are at zero. Zero being the midline between positive and negative. You would be cutting the furthest lows and furthest highs completely most likely. That’s a proper pa eq setting. All individual channels can be tweaked afterwards. A little will go a long way.
I have to disagree with this. There is no one preconceived EQ curve that is correct. If you just lose the lows and highs, you end up with a midrange-y nasal sound that hurts more than it sounds good. No Phil bombs happening with that curve nor any clean, crisp cymbals or vocals.

By the mid to late 70s, they were getting really good at tuning the PA to the room using pink noise and measurement tools. In 1984, Meyer developed SIM (Source Independent Measurement) which compared the output of the desk to what was coming out of the speakers in real time so that they could make that as perfect as possible, using whatever EQ settings were necessary with their CP10 complementary phase EQ. By the 90s, the system was really tweaked nicely.

But throughout the years, they spent an immense amount of effort and money in making sure that every link the chain was just exactly perfect. By the mid 80s, the entire system was DC coupled, meaning that there were no capacitors in the signal path until it hit the power amps. No caps means minimal phase shift which means maximum intelligibility (again, see the CP10, which minimizes phase shift while providing very precise EQ).

Also, if you are referring to the 90s, putting the band on IEMs and having no speakers on stage allows for extremely clear vocals because there's no garbage from monitors or amps or other leakage coming through. That makes a huge difference.

Also, playing in a large room has challenges but it's nothing like the challenges in a small club with low ceilings and a loud band. Getting clear vocals in that scenario is a true battle. Theaters are a bit better, perhaps the sweet spot.

You can't really achieve what they did without putting in the time and money.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:53 am
by Rusty the Scoob
I have to agree with Zambiland's disagreement. Walking into a new room expecting to use some EQ curve that's in your head is handcuffing yourself, the goal should be to keep the FOH as flat and neutral as possible and only then use EQ to fix specific problems.

The few times a year I run sound, I use an app called AudioTools from Studio Six Digital as a very cheap and easy substitute for the real scientific stuff the GD did. It's just nice to see what DB level you're running at, which frequency is feeding back, if a specific frequency range is sticking out too much and making it sound muddy/woofy, etc.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:49 am
by zambiland
Rusty the Scoob wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:53 am

The few times a year I run sound, I use an app called AudioTools from Studio Six Digital as a very cheap and easy substitute for the real scientific stuff the GD did. It's just nice to see what DB level you're running at, which frequency is feeding back, if a specific frequency range is sticking out too much and making it sound muddy/woofy, etc.
Studio Six Digital's AudioTools are great! They even have a SMAART/Live option (the competition for SIM). I have the iPhone version (which is very reasonably priced) and it's very useful and sometimes just interesting to find out what's going on around you (what does the frequency distribution of the assault of noise while flying in an airplane look like?). Highly recommended!

For my studio work, I have Metric Halo's Spectrafoo, which does source independent measurement and so much more.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:50 am
by zambiland
I don't know how to do this, but I think this thread should be moved to the new live sound/studio subform.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:37 am
by strumminsix
Moved to appropriate forum.


Lots of good thoughts above. Adding a few points:
- the GD thought of separation of both instruments and frequencies.
- used arrays for vocals years before others
- each musician kept their instrument in their range

The entirety served the mix.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:28 am
by zambiland
strumminsix wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:37 am

Lots of good thoughts above. Adding a few points:
- the GD thought of separation of both instruments and frequencies.
- used arrays for vocals years before others
- each musician kept their instrument in their range

The entirety served the mix.
It's holistic! Classical and jazz musicians learn this stuff as a matter of course. Arrangement and dynamics are key. Thanks for bringing up possibly the most important component of all this.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:17 pm
by strumminsix
zambiland wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:28 am
strumminsix wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:37 am

Lots of good thoughts above. Adding a few points:
- the GD thought of separation of both instruments and frequencies.
- used arrays for vocals years before others
- each musician kept their instrument in their range

The entirety served the mix.
It's holistic! Classical and jazz musicians learn this stuff as a matter of course. Arrangement and dynamics are key. Thanks for bringing up possibly the most important component of all this.
You're welcome! It's a thing move rock musicians miss out on. Myself included especially when younger, better now. Best thing any band can do is pop up a recorder in the middle of the room and:
1) listen from the audience POV
2) is the mix balanced?
3) are instruments playing in their spectrum?
4) are instruments volumes balanced?
5) are vocals on top of the mix?
6) is each musicians contribution heard?
7) if that was an album would you buy it?

Shit, we all fall victim to this. The Dead fell victim to this too!!

Back to Healy, in the early 90s Healy fucked with Sting causing major concern. Then Jerry and Phil started listening to AUD recordings and hearing Weir being misrepresented, tone fucked with, and overprocessed.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:07 pm
by zambiland
As an engineer, I'll also chime in and say that all the technical stuff just doesn't matter (much), if the band has it together. I used to be the house guy for the Somerville Theater folk festivals and would spend a ton of time fighting the room and the somewhat cobbled together PA system and all of a sudden a band would get on stage who really knew what they were doing. All I had to do was bring up the faders. The first band that struck me that way was the Austin Lounge Lizards (not exactly folk, but you know). Also Tony Rice and Jerry Douglas. And John Hartford. Those guys all made it so easy.

I won't name names for the bands that made it hard....

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:59 pm
by mikelawson
I think it would be easy to get caught up in the idea that you can somehow reproduce that live dead PA sound the way you can build yourself a replica Garcia rig or reasonable facsimile thereof. You're not touring with Meyers PA systems, first of all, and that made a huge difference to their live show sound. You can't possibly assemble the touring PA and play in the kind of spaces that use that kind of gear, and a good sound engineer is going to reproduce what you are doing on the stage accurately and as flat as possible to make sure that the sound you make is what gets louder for the audience. Every room you play will be different, every stage, and an engineer works within those confines to reproduce your stage sounds, and EQ your vocals in response to the room you are in. It's just not the same thing as settings on a guitar amp or pedal.

Re: Board eq for mains/vocals

PostPosted:Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:31 pm
by Searing75
I’m curios as to how many who have disagreed with my upside down smile eq have run sound? Not trying to suggest anything here, just wondering. I have run sound for a handful of bands for a long time, and every room I have ever done always had the upside down smile going on. Now, I am speaking of the master eq. The overall eq for the whole pa. The extreme lows are cut as well as the extreme highs. I know other engineers who also run their PAs by this rule. I have never, in 25 years experiences a different eq pattern. Yes, some tweaking here and there occurred at different bands, but the upside down smile was always a constant. We are talking about frequencies that are below and above a humans ability to hear! Cut them out! Avoid sub sonic, and sibilant madness!