Live_Stage_New2

Think of the stage as a speaker sitting in front of the audience….. sometimes the club or venue actually looks like a box where the performers are positioned. You have the low-end Bass Guitar, Kick Drum and Floor Tom and maybe keyboard sounds or textures. You have the Guitar and Vocals in a mid-rangy area and at the upper end you have symbols and higher range Guitar and Keyboard sounds. All inside the same box just a blasting away at different levels and pointed in all directions.

Now you have a better understanding of the challenge of making these various chunks into a tasty audio stew!

For the best way to present music to the savvy listeners of today, we do what has been done for decades. In the stereo image, you want to create a “room” or “place” for the listener. We have become comfortable with the very low end sounds coming from both speakers at about the same volume. This places the sound to the center of the listener’s field.

We like the vocals or in most cases the melody line to be in both sides equally, again placing the singer in the middle of the left-right field. We are fine if other instruments or singers are more to the left or right as long as the main sounds are where we expect them. We usually place big speakers on either side of the stage facing the audience…… usually in front of the stage and performers…. But as mentioned above this is not a finely tuned speaker cabinet by any means. The components are not necessarily proportionally balanced in volume or location. Setting up the Stage and PA system with this in mind can help reinforce the natural stereo image out in the audience.

Now that I have made a connection that is awkward if not confusing, even though the PA system in all likely hood is a Mono mix coming from both sides or columns of speakers, the listener still hears this as a stereo field. They want the low-end sounds or tones from the center of the stage. Typically the drum – the Kick Drum to be specific for this example – is the most used and most amplified instrument in band situations or where you have audio media. The Bass Guitar player is usually next to the drummer. This helps them keep tighter timing and solid beat, but also supports the stereo image of the listener.

Guitar and other amplified instruments on stage can be heard more from their side of the stage than from the other as an easy example, even if the volume through each side of the Main is sent the same level signal. If keyboards are on the opposite side of the stage from the guitar and also uses a monitor or amp, standing closer to them in front row can make it seem like the keyboards are too loud and those on the other side of the stage think the guitars are somewhat overbearing. It won’t stop them from standing there though! As you get further away from the front of the stage or if the venue is very large, this stereo effect has less and less meaning to the listener. Still, as a rule, most sound systems do not place low-end PA cabinets (or dumps) on one side of the stage and the mid or hi-end cabinets on the other side. It can be however, advantageous to place the low-end dumps in the center of the stage or along the front-center stage area. To make this more inclusive, it is also more comfortable to hear low-end tones coming from an elevation point lower (on the floor, for example) and the higher tones or frequencies coming from higher points (mounted above the stage or on tall poles).

If the volume on stage becomes to strong a level it will negatively affect all the above and more. To reinforce another post of mine, musicians just need to worry about performing great – we sound geeks will make them sound good and loud! I keep dreaming.

Comments
  1. tracihalpin says:

    I’m a concert girl. When I’m at a show nothing else matters. I sing my head off and scream and I get looks, it’s not a funeral people! How can you sit down at a concert?
    I was at U2 at msg and they did something different with the speakers. They put speakers above the audience facing down all around the arena. The edge said it’s hard for the sound to remain the same by time it reaches across the arena, so with this system the sound was the same no matter where you sat. It was awesome. The guy next to me was annoyed bc I was jumping up and down. He was eating dinner. Seriously who goes to a show and brings 2 beers a hot dog and nachos to their seat?
    Eat dinner at home weirdo! The beer I get…lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      I am still laughing! In fact, I thought I saw you Jumping up and down!! Just kidding. Technology and design are really helping sound engineers learn from what they do. Systems are able to do so much more with less space and weight. The next few years the changes in equipment and crowd-sensory systems will be truly amazing. They will even have a trap door for guys that want to eat and not get on their feet at a great concert!

      Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        A trap door, that’s funny! Yea I can tell you work hard and what you do is vital to the success of the show. Ok I will admit I have been a fan of the goo goo dolls since the 90s. I see them at least once a year, and went backstage in 2011.I freaked johnny out bc I was rambling and he was so gracious. There’s a pic of us backstage on my Instagram. Since he was being sober and his soon to be wife was there, it waa not crazy, but it was a dream come true. I recently met melissa etheridge after her show at the bus, and the same with billy idol. Next is bono, that’s a tough one!
        Ok now I’m rambling. I have a question, why do singers take out one in ear often? I see it hanging on johnny’s shirt.

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        I wish I had a camera when I was young. I can barely remember who I saw decades ago, let alone where they played. That is why I take so many pictures now….. it is the only way I will be able to remember LOL. Just kidding. Thank you for sharing some of your memories. As far as the in-ear monitor, there can be a few reasons, and performers have worked out signals to their sound guy/gal. It could be too loud. It could be the performer wants to “feel the room”, …..draw from the power of the audience, not just the mix. During singing it may help you hear other vocalists or instruments (depending on where you are standing on the stage). There are other reasons …they can be uncomfortable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        I love telling my stories. I bet you have a lot of great pictures! So there are all different reasons. I have seen Johnny trying to signal a sound guy and he wasn’t getting it, so john got angry and kept having to point at the bass and gesture to raise the sound and then 5 minutes later he’s looking up at sound guy, like what the hell dude? Then he’s gesturing turn it down . It was at The Troubadour. I wondered if he was angry at the sound guy when he got off the stage. Do you ever get flak from the artists?

        Like

      • midimike says:

        I do have a lot of pictures and a few stories to go with them. I have thought about releasing some as posts here.
        As stated on my other post, things happen. Sometimes the equipment fails. I’ve seen fans kick out cables and even power cords. If there was anything you could have done that you did not do……. You get the blame. I have had artists get angry at me and a few times I probably deserved it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        The stories…I can only imagine 😎

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        Lol!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. rubiredsaid says:

    This is again from the musicians’ point of view, valuable knowledge, experience, and information!
    I used to turn up at the sound check, get the P.A people to set the microphone how I wanted it, just sing the intro to my songs, making sure everyone knew when to come in, and then disappear till later!
    It worked everytime. I remember the first time I did it, there were whispers of “she can’t sing”!
    Hear what I came out with later and everyone had to keep up with me!
    Good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wade says:

    Thanks for stopping Mike! I appreciate your insights and comments here…I hope to have conversations in the future!…best regards….

    Liked by 1 person

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