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PA advice for grunge/90s cover band

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by gypsyblues73, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. gypsyblues73

    gypsyblues73 TDPRI Member

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    Hi guys, like the title says, we are a grunge/90s alternative cover band, so we do anything from heavier stuff like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden to lighter stuff like Alanis Morrisette, Blind Melon, etc. We're a 5-piece (drums, bass, vox, rhythm guitar and me on lead guitar), and once we start playing out in this area it will probably be anything from small to medium-sized bars to outdoor gigs (lots of outdoor venues like festivals and things like that to play around here). I'm pretty ignorant on sound equipment since in every band I've ever been in I've never been the "sound guy" or learned much about PAs but I'm kinda in that role now by default. So what do we need for a pretty loud, heavy-ish band with two guitars and an amazing (but quiet) female vocalist playing gigs like described? At least 1,000 watts for the mains? Looking for at least one monitor for the vocals to start off with, but what wattage compared to the mains? I'd rather go ahead and spend more money now for more than we need than to find out too late at a gig that our system isn't loud enough.
     
  2. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Find a used PA for a few hundred bucks on your local Craigslist. If you wait long enough you can find real deals - I got mine for $150 (Yamaha mixer, two homemade 15" PA speakers) from a church who had picked up a new one. Back when I was gigging we found that most decent sized venues already had their own PA. We only needed ours for rehearsal, bars and brew pubs, and backyard parties. My amp is 450 watts; it's plenty loud for any place I've ever played, and we did some loud outdoor gigs. My main criteria is getting one with enough inputs - mine has 12 channels. Lots of older ones only have 6 or 8, which may end up not being enough if you're miking instruments.

    Also, as PA guy, you'll probably be rewarded with hauling it and being the one setting it up, so make sure to add 20 minutes or so to your prep time if you end up being the one forking out the cash.
     
  3. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    What is your budget? Young blokes, strong backs? +1 on picking up older units. To start with old cheap gear that's a bit heavy and bulky works until you work out what's what. Separate power amps and speakers are fine.

    Get some lessons from the seller on basic setup and setting up the channels and monitors.

    Good luck getting gigs if you're loud.....
     
  4. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    Don't be too loud or your audience will spend the night outside smoking.
    A 1k rig with a vocal monitor is plenty for most rooms, anywhere bigger should have it's own PA. It's worth you while to have your own sound tech. Otherwise look for gigs in venues with an in house sound system and tech
     
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  5. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    I like the Yamaha DSR12 powered speaker, just buy as many of them as your budget allows. It's a box that can be used for mains or monitors. Sounds good, and it holds together when you go loud. Beats the crap out of the QSC K powered speakers.

    I think the DSR may be discontinued, but there may still be plenty in the supply chain. The replacement is the DZR12, which sounds even better and goes even louder, but also costs more - street price for the DSR12 is $899.99 ea, $1249.99 ea for the DZR12. Add a couple of subs like JBL PRX818XLFW or Yamaha DXS sub, a mixer, microphones, stands and cables and you've got a whole PA system.

    So a pair of DSR12 or DZR12 powered boxes, plus a pair of subs, should be good for rooms up to 300-500 people.

    For a mixer I'd go with something like the Behringer X Air XR18. It's controlled from a tablet or laptop, you can even use your phone.
     
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  6. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    Forgot to mention - with powered speakers and a digital mixer, you don't need any amp racks, effects, equalizers, compressors, or any other outboard gear. Mixer --> wires --> speakers and you've got a whole system. The amps are built into the speakers, and the mixer has all the compression, EQ and effects built in.
     
  7. ferdtuff

    ferdtuff TDPRI Member

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    GREAT advice!
     
  8. gypsyblues73

    gypsyblues73 TDPRI Member

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    Funny you mention those, I had put together a list earlier today for a cheaper option package (compared to RCF, QSC, JBL, etc.):
    2 Yamaha DXR10mkII mains $1400
    2 Yamaha DSX12MKII subs $1600
    1 Yamaha DBR-10 monitor $400
     
  9. gypsyblues73

    gypsyblues73 TDPRI Member

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    $5000 absolute tops, but trying to keep it as low as possible. I'll be scouring Craigslist here, and ebay, Reverb, etc., so maybe I can hook up a deal. We're middle-age guys (and female singer) but I'm plenty strong enough for most gear, the rhythm guitarist and I are both ex-military, so I'm not worried so much about the weight of any gear as the size...I drive a Jeep! :)
     
  10. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Friend of Leo's

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    I recommend something like two powered speakers and a two or four (or however many singers) channel mixer. Just run the vocals through the mixer and let the guitars and bass be responsible for their own amplification. 500 watt speakers should be MORE than enough and add some 100 watt powered monitors as needed.

    I’ve got to think the outdoor festival gigs you mentioned will hire out sound/stage/lights, so I would not factor those gigs in when purchasing a system.
     
  11. Mikecito

    Mikecito Tele-Meister

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    Your band sounds like one I'd like to see, so to pile on the volume advice...

    The 90's target audience is getting older and grumpy.
    You have a female singer, so get a couple good powered speakers and the best monitors you can afford, and a decent mixer with some effects. Keep it simple. Priority one is her vocals are clear and above the band.
    IMO Your real battle ahead lies with the band gear and drummer volume. I'd limit the bass player to a Max of 2x10's cab and limit guitars to 10- 15watt max on the amps and use stands.
    Get yourself a wireless to check out the room while playing. Rule the volume escalation wars with an iron fist.

    A reasonable volume 90s band with good vocals is a winner if done right. I have yet to see it done around here without being too loud...

    The bigger rooms and festivals should have sound in place or you'll need to budget for pro sound every so often. If you're a good cover band, that's just par for the course. Good luck!!
     
  12. gypsyblues73

    gypsyblues73 TDPRI Member

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    Our drummer isn't too heavy-handed, he's got a great swing to his playing and a good feel for changing up the dynamics according to the song. Our rhythm guitarist is playing through a Bogner (Alchemist, I think?) that sounds pretty good for a grungy sound the way he has it dialed in (although a LOT of low end). I'm trying out various amps and thinking I'm just going to go with either my Fender Supersonic at 22 watts or Peavey Delta Blues at 30 watts (on my amp stand) and just use pedals for my overdrive/distortion: a ProCo RAT for Nirvana, an Earthquaker Devices Gray Channel for Soundgarden, Mudhoney, etc., and an Omp-Amp Big Muff for Smashing Pumpkins and the like.
     
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  13. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here's my band at a recent pub gig.

    Unmiccd guitars, bass. For bigger gigs I add a sub for kick. We mainly use to get singer's voice over the band. I use a 17 watt 83 Superchamp, bandmate a 50 watt Katana, bass a 1000w DV Mark and 410 box.

    Our drummer does subtle but mostly hits like Mike Tyson and his 80s Premier kit is like the Marshall full stack of kits....

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1537666583042915&id=556505227825727

    Our PA is:
    Yamaha MG124CX board - compression on 4 channels, 8 inputs and 2 stereo/line.
    2 Alto TS210 1100w peak powered boxes
    1 Alto CMX112 floor monitor for singer
    1 Alto TS110 on side for rythym section
    1 Yorkville LSP200 600w 10" sub

    All the above with my amp and 2 guitars plus leads fits in my wife's BMW 118 hatch - just.

    For small venues 10" or max 12" are superior to 15s for vocals. My friend has the same gen Altos TS215 as mine but with 15" drivers and vox gets .... lost. He prefers mine. Don't put drums through without subs IME. Engage rumble filters on channels, push highs, pull back lows. We use a NuX wireless adaptor for singer.

    The Altos if run properly have proven indestructible at 35+ C/100 F deg run hours on end. Learning to set gain structure for mics is vital to getting clear vox without clipping your speakers. If the red lights do more than flicker your audience is getting distortion.

    I A/B'd them with QSC, JBL, Yamaha's and they are nigh-on for quality at 60% of price.

    The Altos are 22lb each and tiny. The TS110 is the older gen and bigger/heavier but still works good on it's side for monitor.

    If you can spring for them Yamaha DSR12s are great FOH. The China-made DBR110 and 112 are also really good speakers in a plainer enclosure.

    You need monitors for the band. Otherwise esp with grunge they'll lose the plot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
  14. gypsyblues73

    gypsyblues73 TDPRI Member

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    I was leaning toward some Yamahas due to their lower price but good rep. The Altos I've been kinda wary of since they're so cheap, even moreso than Yamaha, but you've had nothing but good experiences with them?
     
  15. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    When I bought mine the shop said the only brand they never get back failed are MIJ Yamahas. The only Altos they saw were abused - usually set on 'mic' level then run off a much hotter line level signal. My friend's DJ son blew one of his that way playing doof-doof - the volume dial has two graduations, up to half is line level - that's where you set them to drive off a board.

    A lot of speakers have a 'line/mic' toggle so if you plug a mic straight in it dials up extra gain. My Altos have the two-stage volume instead.

    You don't want to set a speaker on 'mic' when you have a mixer connected. They all have clip limiters, but there's some things you can't protect against.
     
  16. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    3x Yamaha DSR12 @$899.99 ea. (two for mains and one for a floor wedge)

    Behringer X Air XR12 Tablet-controlled Digital Mixer $398

    Spend the rest on microphones, stands, and cables, and you'll need a tablet to control the mixer if you don't already have one.

    In time you can grow by adding more of the Yamaha powered speakers as needed, and maybe some powered subs for bigger rooms.

    If you can't find the DSR12, 3x Yamaha DZR12 @$1249.99 ea and you're still barely in budget.
     
  17. gypsyblues73

    gypsyblues73 TDPRI Member

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    What about the DXRs? Are they too cheap?
     
  18. joe_cpwe

    joe_cpwe Tele-Holic

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    Whatever you do, don't short change the board and follow the advice on not miking instruments, unless you want to play for 25 people the rest of your life. Putting guitars, bass, and at least the kick drum is mandatory in most bars for me. Yes, keep the stage volume in check, but be professional enough to have the whole band in the mains so the band is clearly heard to the back of the room.

    Large/outdoor events - if not provided, rent a system and charge enough to recover the expense

    I think you should look at least 12 XLR inputs, even if you aren't using all of them now.

    3 vocal
    2 elec guitar
    1 acoustic guitar/keyboard
    1 bass
    1-4 drums. (always mic the kick)
    + 2 /stereo in for aux/music

    In a bigger room and going cheap, you could sub mix the drums with another small board but that's an un-needed hassel. Powered mains and a sub or two is the way to go. I've been thinking about the EV ZLX2P powered speakers + subs

    BTW, I have a 90's alt-rock band too. Good luck & have fun.
     
  19. gypsyblues73

    gypsyblues73 TDPRI Member

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    Yeah I want to run everyone through the system for a nice easily adjustable level sound. I've got a Presonus Live 16.0.2 I got as part of a deal a couple of years ago, and several mics/stands for vocals and miking the amps, just need the mains, subs, and at least one monitor (for now anyway).
     
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  20. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have no experience with them, so can't comment.
     
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