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Equipment recommendations (small acoustic concert series)

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Anonymous
September 8, 2005 3:12:04 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

I am in the process of starting a small acoustic concert series. I will need
to purchase some sound system equipment and thought I would poll the group
for recommendations. This is going to be a non profit venture, so I need to
keep the budget as small as possible (but I don't necessarily want to buy
the cheapest of everything because I don't want to waste my time with a
bunch of junk that doesn't work). I'm trying to stay under $5K for the
entire system.

Performers will be mainly solo or duo acoustic acts with a small number of
instruments. Performances will be held in a room with very high ceilings
(actually an old church sanctuary that isn't being used for church services
anymore). I don't know the dimensions of the room, but let's say it is
small for a church sanctuary but not tiny.

I did some research and have more or less settled on the following
equipment:

* Mackie Onyx 1640 mixer
* Behringer FBQ6200 EQ
* A number of Behringer XM8500 mics

I will also need, of course, speakers and monitors (see my earlier post on
where to by used equipment); amplifier(s); a few DI boxes; and assorted
accessories such as mic stands, speaker stands etc.

The Onyx mixer might be slightly overkill for this application, but I want
to run an opening act and the main act on separate channels and I don't
want to run out of inputs. The 1640 should have everything I will ever need
for this application. I also want to eventually record the shows live, and
the Mackie FireWire card will make that a relative piece of cake.

Is there a rule of thumb as to how big the mains and monitors should be? I
don't want them to be too small, but I don't want to overpower the room
either. Also, how much amplifier power should I be thinking about?
Depending on what I can find on the used market locally I may go with
powered mains and/or monitors. I am looking at the Behringer EP1500 or
EP2500 amplifiers if I go with passive speakers.

Would I also be wise to pick up a few condenser mics for situations where I
need to mic an instrument such as a guitar or piano? What are some good
value DI boxes for acoustic guitars? Is there any other equipment I should
consider (an effects processor, for example)?

Thanks in advance.

Monty
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 3:12:05 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

I would look to another brand than Behringer for mics. $5k is actually
a good budget for your purposes.

Look into Samson Q7 for vocal mics. They are seriously good (even
though Samson is a completely cheezy brand otherwise). They are like
Shure SM58's only a bit more robust. My understanding is Shure is now
making the insides of the SM-57 and the 58 as unbalanced. They have
the three prong XLR, but when you open it up, they are only using two
of the three pins. Also, I believe these are now being made in Mexico.
Why Shure would do anything to taint the reputation of their two most
popular products is completely beyond my comprehension.

In any event, SamAsh sells the Samson Q7. It would be worth your time
to bug the sales guy to hook one up to a PA rig in the store and then
spend a few minutes singing and talking.

A completely important thing you want is compressors. If I were you,
I would pick up three RNC compressors from FMR audio (4 if you can
squeeze it into the budget). Use two of them as channel inserts, then
put a third on the master outputs of the Onyx. Compressors keep
dynamics under control... if there is a loud outburst from a vocalist
or an instrument, the compressor clamps down on the sound and makes the
spike not nearly as dramatic. This is a main ingredient in the
"smooth" sound of professional recordings and professional live sound.
Believe it or not, these compressors are even more important than a
reverb unit.

But you still should probably get one of the $200 entry level Lexicon
reverb rackmount units. You can put that on the "sends" on the Onyx,
and then several channels can share the same reverb, each with their
own percentage of how much reverb you want affecting the channel.


Consider getting two power amps rather than one giant one. That way if
one dies, you can get by on the one for the night. If you're running
one power amp and it blows, the show's over for that night.

Also consider getting two smaller Onyx mixers rather than one larger
one. You can then put all the drums into one mixer, put a compressor
on its output, and then run that mixer into the larger one. It's
called "sub-mixing", and it's done all the time. Remember, if your
mixer dies, it's also lights out for the night (in a live venue, you
should always think "what happens if this one thing dies... is the show
over for the night?").

You should have 15" speakers in the woofers, unless you plan on getting
subwoofers. It's always good to have lots of power (more than you
think you need). Crown is a very good and dependable power amp
company.
September 8, 2005 3:12:05 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

A few thoughts...

- Faced with the choice, I'd go with a less expensive [whatever], and get
the best speakers I could afford. The difference between a $1000 and a
$2000 mixer will be relatively small in terms of sound quality. The same
price difference in speakers will be remarkable.

- Don't buy budget DI boxes. A lot of people skimp on these for lack of
understanding about what they do. How could a $25 box be so different than
a $65 box? They are. Transformers that won't degrade your signal don't
come cheap.

- Even less expensive condenser mics can give good sound in a live
situation. I have a Shure PG81 that I use as a single overhead for our
church drum kit. When we started recording our sets, I was pleasantly
surprised at the sound it captured. Not studio quality of course, but
listenable just the same.

- The little stuff (cords, mic stands, rack cases, etc.) adds up at an
astounding rate. If you use a 'rough guess' for that sort of thing when
figuring your budget, you'll somehow manage to guess low every time. I
blame this phenomenon on mischievous pixies. To avoid getting bit, price
your system to the last patchcord and mic clip.


Christmas is coming for you. Happy new gear!

Cheers,
Walt
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Anonymous
September 8, 2005 3:12:05 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

If you want to save money, you can get three (3) Nady SP-5 mics for $24.99
from Musician's Friend. See how you like them before you invest in more
expensive mics. The ridiculous price implies that they are not worth the
time to go get them even if they were free, but they have the solid feel of
Shure SM58s and might work just fine for some of your purposes. I think
they have a pretty good sound. I borrowed three from a friend to listen to
them on my top-of-the-line Sennheiser headphones through a Mackie 8-bus
preamp, and I was impressed enough to buy 9 for myself when they were
selling at 3 for $19.99, so I spent a grand total of less than $60 for a
stage full of mics.

I threw a couple of them into the lineup for a gig recently--on vocal and
Bulgarian tambura (a stringed instrument with lots of high end)--and they
did the job just fine. It was a dance and not a concert, so I wasn't able
to do critical comparisons in a quiet house, but I think it's worth $25 to
check them out. I know nothing yet about their durability, but gee, at that
price you could buy five times the number you need and throw them away as
they break. Does anyone else have any experience using Nady SP-5s in
concert venues?

Bruce Cooley


"Monty H. Brekke" <monty@montyandkatherine.com> wrote in message
news:8XNTe.4931$Du3.1260@bignews1.bellsouth.net...
:I am in the process of starting a small acoustic concert series. I will
need
: to purchase some sound system equipment and thought I would poll the group
: for recommendations. This is going to be a non profit venture, so I need
to
: keep the budget as small as possible (but I don't necessarily want to buy
: the cheapest of everything because I don't want to waste my time with a
: bunch of junk that doesn't work). I'm trying to stay under $5K for the
: entire system.
:
: Performers will be mainly solo or duo acoustic acts with a small number of
: instruments. Performances will be held in a room with very high ceilings
: (actually an old church sanctuary that isn't being used for church
services
: anymore). I don't know the dimensions of the room, but let's say it is
: small for a church sanctuary but not tiny.
:
: I did some research and have more or less settled on the following
: equipment:
:
: * Mackie Onyx 1640 mixer
: * Behringer FBQ6200 EQ
: * A number of Behringer XM8500 mics
:
: I will also need, of course, speakers and monitors (see my earlier post on
: where to by used equipment); amplifier(s); a few DI boxes; and assorted
: accessories such as mic stands, speaker stands etc.
:
: The Onyx mixer might be slightly overkill for this application, but I want
: to run an opening act and the main act on separate channels and I don't
: want to run out of inputs. The 1640 should have everything I will ever
need
: for this application. I also want to eventually record the shows live, and
: the Mackie FireWire card will make that a relative piece of cake.
:
: Is there a rule of thumb as to how big the mains and monitors should be? I
: don't want them to be too small, but I don't want to overpower the room
: either. Also, how much amplifier power should I be thinking about?
: Depending on what I can find on the used market locally I may go with
: powered mains and/or monitors. I am looking at the Behringer EP1500 or
: EP2500 amplifiers if I go with passive speakers.
:
: Would I also be wise to pick up a few condenser mics for situations where
I
: need to mic an instrument such as a guitar or piano? What are some good
: value DI boxes for acoustic guitars? Is there any other equipment I should
: consider (an effects processor, for example)?
:
: Thanks in advance.
:
: Monty
:
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 8:29:42 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

On 7 Sep 2005 20:31:40 -0700, genericaudioperson@hotmail.com wrote:

> My understanding is Shure is now
>making the insides of the SM-57 and the 58 as unbalanced. They have
>the three prong XLR, but when you open it up, they are only using two
>of the three pins.

Obviously, it's late. Night all.

Chris Hornbeck
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 11:56:29 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

> Is there a rule of thumb as to how big the mains and monitors should be?

Big enough to sound good at the volume you need, small enough that you
can put them where you need them. Walkabout's mains a pair of old
voice-of-the-theater cabinets that took two men to move on and off stage
and significantly reduced the available performance space, but that was
largely because that's what happened to be available when we started.

Note that in some situations, monitors may actually be more important
than mains. A chorus, for example, may be able to fill the area
perfectly well without reinforcement but may need help hearing themselves.

> Would I also be wise to pick up a few condenser mics for situations where I
> need to mic an instrument such as a guitar or piano?

You can manage that just fine with dynamics, y'know. If you're on a
budget, go for a set of mikes that sound acceptable for many uses.

Depending on what you're doing, a few far-field condenser mikes can be
really useful for picking up the overall sound of a larger area such as
a chorus. Definitely beats trying to put a microphone in front of every
singer. (Unless there's someone you're trying to leave out of the mix.)

> value DI boxes for acoustic guitars?

> consider (an effects processor, for example)?

A digital reverb, set at a low level where the audience doesn't
conciously notice it, can "fill out" the sound of some instruments...
including voice. ("Electronic talent enhancer"). If you're alert, you'd
want to turn it down between numbers to help keep the audience from
noticing.
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 1:38:45 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Monty H. Brekke" <monty@montyandkatherine.com> wrote in message
news:8XNTe.4931$Du3.1260@bignews1.bellsouth.net...

> Performers will be mainly solo or duo acoustic acts with a small number of
> instruments. Performances will be held in a room with very high ceilings
> (actually an old church sanctuary that isn't being used for church
services
> anymore). I don't know the dimensions of the room, but let's say it is
> small for a church sanctuary but not tiny.

An alternative (and cheaper!) view:

Before you do anything else, get some performers in the room to play
rogether and see if they can hear each other properly. If it's a large
room, then you may find they are not used to the reverb delay, and find it
hard to play together, and the best thing you can do is install some
unobtrusive monitoring equipment for the performers.

If it's a small room, you don't need any sound reinforcing equipment, and
you're far better off without it. Low-end PA systems simply cannot
reproduce acoustic instruments properly. In my experience, acoustic
instruments are perfectly fine in rooms for up to about 200 people ... and
I've listened to *lots* of different performances of different acoustic
unstruments.

Only the other day, I was at the sound check in a smallish venue with a
better sound system than most; a saxophonist started to play with no PA
reinforcement, the engineer adjusted the mike level, and then brought up the
sax in the mix. The sound quality of the saxophone deteriorated markedly.

PA speakers simply do not sound as good as live acoustic instruments. The
only reason for using them is to make the sound louder - and you don't need
that except in large venues (one exception would be the double bass in folk
and jazz music, where people like it to sound louder than the player can
achieve.)

As for recording - I've used a computer and a dedicated music hard disk
recorder. The hard disk recorder is sufficiently easy to use that other
people can use it. You don't need a mixing desk with it. I have a
Behringer XM8500 and it's OK, but I have an AKG C1000 and it's far better.
Just use two mikes for recording, set 10 feet or so from the performers.

So - get yourself a pair of AKG C1000S mikes or similar, two mike stands,
two mike leads, a hard disk recording system incorporating CD writer that
can provide phantom power, a couple of low-end active monitors for the
performers (eg Behrnger Truth), and some leads to connect them to the hard
disk recorder. Total under $2000.

Tim
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 1:43:29 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

WJ wrote:

> A few thoughts...
>
> - Faced with the choice, I'd go with a less expensive [whatever], and get
> the best speakers I could afford. The difference between a $1000 and a
> $2000 mixer will be relatively small in terms of sound quality. The same
> price difference in speakers will be remarkable.

Yeah, I started pricing new speakers and determined that I could blow more
than half my budget real fast and still not have any monitors! I'm looking
to the used market for mains and monitors, I think. A pair of Peaveys or
EVs that have a few years' wear on them should still be perfectly fine
without breaking the budget.

Thanks for the advice.

Monty
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 2:47:19 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Tim Martin wrote:

> PA speakers simply do not sound as good as live acoustic instruments. The
> only reason for using them is to make the sound louder - and you don't
> need that except in large venues (one exception would be the double bass
> in folk and jazz music, where people like it to sound louder than the
> player can achieve.)

I do agree with you that even the best PA system can't reproduce anything
perfectly. I have been to literally hundreds of concerts of a similar style
to what we are attempting to create here (I used to call it "folk" in Texas
but that seems to imply something different here in NC). Except for house
concerts, which are generally truly unplugged, all of these concerts
employed a PA system. Every once in a while, for one reason or another the
performer would do a song or two with the PA turned off and it sometimes
became difficult to hear (not to mention that the performer was obviously
pushing his voice beyond its normal limits). Most of the performers that
will be playing are accustomed to having a full PA system in a venue of
this size.

Monty
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 2:50:54 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Monty H. Brekke" <monty@montyandkatherine.com> wrote in
message news:8XNTe.4931$Du3.1260@bignews1.bellsouth.net

> I am in the process of starting a small acoustic concert
> series. I will need to purchase some sound system
> equipment and thought I would poll the group for
> recommendations. This is going to be a non profit
> venture, so I need to keep the budget as small as
> possible (but I don't necessarily want to buy the
> cheapest of everything because I don't want to waste my
> time with a bunch of junk that doesn't work). I'm trying
> to stay under $5K for the entire system.
>
> Performers will be mainly solo or duo acoustic acts with
> a small number of instruments. Performances will be held
> in a room with very high ceilings (actually an old church
> sanctuary that isn't being used for church services
> anymore). I don't know the dimensions of the room, but
> let's say it is small for a church sanctuary but not
> tiny.

> I did some research and have more or less settled on the
> following equipment:

> * Mackie Onyx 1640 mixer
> * Behringer FBQ6200 EQ
> * A number of Behringer XM8500 mics

I think that spending 25% of your budget on the console is
questionable.

Since cost is of the essence - how about the all-time "How
do they do it for that price" king, the Behringer DDX3216?

The DDX3216 zeroes out your eq budget because there are tons
of them inside the box, most right where you probably need
them most - on inputs and outputs.

In your situation, I would favor blowing most of your wad on
speakers and microphones, since that is where the sound
quality rubber mostly hits the road.

I don't know the shape of the seating area that you are
targeting, so I don't know enough to recommend speakers.

But, just for a starting point, when the ball was last in my
court for SR speakers, I picked up a bunch of EV ZX-5s, and
I'm totally pleased. EV says that they are the most
universal speakers around, and I have no experiences that go
against that idea. You might be able to save some bucks by
going with ZX4s since dynamic range is probably not going to
be a problem.

If I was picking mics for instruments, I'd look at MXL 603s
and Kel HM-1s, only because they do yoeman duty for me.

For vocal mics I'm really happy with Audix OM5s and OM6s,
mostly found on eBay to get the prices down. They are robust
enough to take a chance on used, other than the body paint.
Rat Sound often has them for close-to-used prices.

You don't say how many channels you plan to record, so its
darn hard to sepcifically budget that. However, the low-buck
high quality tool to beat in computer interfaces is the
M-Audio 1010LT with 8 analog and 2 digital channels in and
out.

I can tell you a little about audio in an old church since
that is what I do a lot of. But you don't say how big of an
old church, or what shape of the room. I'm guessing long and
skinny with a high ceiling.

Bottom line, some of your singers and instruments will
probably cover the room on their own acoustic nickel - with
minimal to no electronic support. Piano, organ, and
classically-trained vocalists can do that. Ever a 4-man
violin section can get to the back rows in some old churches
like mine. So, some of your mics are going to be more for
recording than SR.

In reverberent rooms, sound quality, particularly
intelligibility and detail, are all about controlled
directivity. Gain before feedback can be surprisingly tough
because the stage area can be very reflective and do a nice
job of routing the output of the stage monitors back into
the mics.

Therefore, you will probably find that more
narrow-directivity mains pointed at just the listeners works
out better than fewer wider-coverage speakers.
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 5:07:56 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

On Thu, 08 Sep 2005 09:38:45 +0000, Tim Martin wrote:

> Low-end PA systems simply cannot reproduce acoustic instruments
> properly.

Which is largely true.

Later in the same message he wrote:

> So - get yourself a pair of AKG C1000S mikes or similar,

What's wrong with this picture?
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 6:24:40 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Monty H. Brekke wrote:

> WJ wrote:

> > A few thoughts...
>
> > - Faced with the choice, I'd go with a less expensive [whatever], and get
> > the best speakers I could afford. The difference between a $1000 and a
> > $2000 mixer will be relatively small in terms of sound quality. The same
> > price difference in speakers will be remarkable.

> Yeah, I started pricing new speakers and determined that I could blow more
> than half my budget real fast and still not have any monitors! I'm looking
> to the used market for mains and monitors, I think. A pair of Peaveys or
> EVs that have a few years' wear on them should still be perfectly fine

You do not want "a pair of Peaveys" for an acoustic music series. And
don't buy speakers you have not heard, including EV's.

--
ha
Anonymous
September 8, 2005 6:24:41 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Tim Martin wrote:

> get yourself a pair of AKG C1000S mikes or similar

Please do not do that. There are so many better sounding mics at the
same price level. Those things qualify as _bad_ mics.

A pair o' Peaveys and some C1000's, a recipe for acoustic music
disaster.

--
ha
Anonymous
September 9, 2005 9:29:48 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

For an acoustic concert series, small room, a couple of performers with
voice and guitar, I've found E-V Sx100 speakers do a good job and don't blow
up. A moderately priced powered mixer will do the job; don't go for the
newer ones from E-V, though, as they're badly designed in many ways. (Harsh
sound, gain structure more appropriate for rock bands, and bizarre choice of
frequencies on the graphics.)

For mics, try E-V RE11s or PL11s; on a slightly higher budget, try E-V
RE16s. Better still, pick up some RE15s on ebay -- they usually go for very
reasonable prices, they sound decent, they're unusually immune to feedback,
and they're almost impossible to break. A couple of E-V's 100S speakers for
monitors -- again, from ebay -- will round out the big purchases, but don't
forget to add 80 bucks to the cost of the 100S's for reconing woofers (they
usually need it in e-bay speakers).

Blow the rest on cables, mike stands, a snake, a good-quality DI, etc.

Peace,
Paul
Anonymous
September 9, 2005 1:24:08 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

(2 ) EV SX300/
Spirit Powerstaion 600
Mics of choice (I use 58s & 8500s) borrow some others

Ive done hundreds of acoustic shows with compliments on sound

Kevin T
!