Mids for cutting through live

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by JediMasterThrash, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    I've been reading a lot of amp/cab/guitar etc comparison talking about how bad one is at cutting through live vs. another.

    The generic answer of course crank the mids, but that does not work equally. Some seem to cut without mids cranked, others barely cut with the mids cranked.

    I'm look for a more signal processing perspective of what really makes a guitar cut through live.

    The first is where the "mids" in question are boosted. Is it before the gain, between gain stages, or after the gain? Post-EQ is the easiest, most bands probably have a post EQ, and the mixer board can help there as well. But it seems that that isn't the answer or anyone would be able to cut with just some post EQ adjustment.

    Between gain stages is the most difficult, that's controlled by the amp itself. But maybe that's really what makes one amp cut better than another, is how it's internally voices between gain stages. Maybe you boost the lows first to generate more mid harmonics, and then boost the mid harmonics more in the second stage to generate the higher end distortion.

    Before the amp seems like a more likely place to start. The gold standard of a tubescreamer into a tube amp is really just a pre-EQ, the tubescreamer tone knob is boosting some mids and cutting some highs prior to the gain stages, which is boosting the cutting mid distortion while preventing the highs from fizzing everything out.

    If you've got an amp and it isn't cutting through live, is it best to boost mids pre-amp, boost the mid knob on the amp, or bost mids in post EQ?

    Boosting the mids is also somewhat equivalent to cutting the highs and lows. I've read a lot that just turning down the lows will help cut, as the lows make you appear louder, and you can then turn the volume up for more mids after cutting. Reducing presence also will help accentuate the mids.

    And boosting the mids also is somewhat of a misnomer, as the mids cover a huge range, and even a non-scooped mid-boosted sound probably has a mid cut somewhere between 500 and 1.7k to remove the nasal and boxiness. The lower mids at 250-500 and the upper mids at 2k to 4k are really the mids to boost.

    Are there some amps or cabs or pickups etc that just aren't going to cut well live no matter what you do?

    Is everything I've just said completely wrong and off the mark?

    I don't get much opportunity to play live, so I'm mostly used to hearing the mix in non-live scenarios, so I'm hoping to learn how to identify if I'm not cutting as well as I should be and what should be done to fix it.

    I usually do fake live mix practicing by just playing against recorded bass/drum/vocal tracks and trying to determine how well I cut through those.

    But I've been reading that proximity to the amp can affect that dramatically. But at the same time, most live gigs mic the amp though the PA, so if i run my mic'd amp against a pre-recorded backing mix, shouldn't that give me a good idea of how the live mix will sound?
     
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  2. Screamingdaisy

    Screamingdaisy SS.org Regular

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    When my amp doesn't cut I reach for the bass knob instead of the mid knob. If that doesn't work I try reducing the amount of distortion I'm using so that I get more clarity.

    IMO, boosting the mids was originally directed at noobs that tried to run the mids on zero. If you're being reasonable there's no real need to boost the mids unless that's the specific sound you're going for.

    Cutting for a solo is a little different since the idea is to stand out in the mix rather than sitting in the mix, but I prefer a volume boost to a mid boost since it works better for me.

    You're banging through a lot of "what if" scenarios, but the reality is that the answer is "it depends". IMO, if there's two guitarists in the band they should EQ themselves into separate parts of the spectrum so they aren't fighting for the same sonic space. If they don't, it'll be nothing but volume wars and "boosting mids" until they figure it out.

    The truth is that you can run a fairly dark and/or scooped tone provided your band is EQ'd around it (helps if you're the only guitar player). This includes the bassist since the bass also outputs a lot of midrange and needs to occupy a different sonic space than the guitars.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  3. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    this is why I like EMG's especially for live. They just seem to slice through a live mix brilliantly.
     
  4. lurè

    lurè SS.org Regular

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    I usually boost the mids with a tubescreamer/ overdrive instead of cranking the mid knob on my amp. Bass knob is usually at 12 o'clock and I rarely touch it; I prefer to tweak the presence knob in case I find myself having hard time cutting through live.
    It also depends on your amp/cab/pickups.
     
  5. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    having some mids to add body and cut doesn't mean you need to crank the mids .there's a whole bunch of settings between scooping and cranking.I usually run mine about 11 o clock on high gain stuff .just to where I can here them but it doesn't feel boxy

    every player, band and room is different. I set my tone how I like it and if I feel I need to cut more the presence knob is my first stop

    to me a boost in front of the amp , 808 or otherwise , is there to tighten and cut some flub going into the preamp . its not used as an EQ to cut through more .so much goes on after the boost I feel like your chasing your own tail trying to eq there , but again every players is different
     
  6. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    Boosting around 1000-1500hz, that's what tubescreamers do. Live sound can sometimes be somewhat ear piercing and dry sounding in front of the amp, but high end gets tamed when you move to another place, and it doesn't tell whole story about what mic is picking up. Presence around 5000hz is another funny thing, if it's boosted too much, tone gets thin, but if there's healthy amount of it that can help getting more cutting "air". Picking hand has also a huge impact what transients can cut through in different kind of situations so, pick tight.
     
  7. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    If you're talking about band mix, post-eq is always the place to start.

    Pre-eq is largely only going to change the character of your distortion, since all the bands get over driven anyway AND the overdrive itself adds a whole bunch of harmonics. Post EQ is is where you choose what frequencies actually go out to the house.

    Make sure each instrument occupies a different frequency space and you're golden.
     
  8. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    Use a Fender Bassman. I hear people hear them very well.
     
  9. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    It depends on what the rest of the band sounds like and what everyone is playing, what octave everyone is in etc. Cutting through in Metallica would be quite easy, cutting through in a modern djent band is pretty hard because there's far more stuff going on, the tunings are lower etc. Cutting through in a 30-piece jazz band can be nearly impossible. So it all depends on how many other instruments there are and what they're playing, personally I'd say cutting through is more about writing and arrangement, band dynamics and finding your spot than it is about EQ. If you rely on EQ to hear an instrument in the song then it's arranged badly, or the instrument is redundant. If you start cranking frequencies at that point to make stuff cut anyway you just end up with an unnatural, harsh, unbalanced mix... well you end up with the sound of most djent bands, basically :lol:
     
  10. IGC

    IGC OCDG

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    Didn't catch if someone allready suggested this. In my former live band we each had our own side of the stage. So in sound check I allways made sure to get on the sound guy about MORE of my guitar in my stage monitor...more please, turn it up, thank you:yesway: that helped with hearing my playing. Drummer / bassist were allways loud as shit, stage and practise.
    We also used DAT with mixed click track going DI, to allways deliver a quality show, if your concern is what the crowd is hearing. :yesway:
    Another live mixing trick a sound engineer friend of the band who was mixing for us at a club in Clevo did...was mic my cab and plugged my heads line out DI, then mixed them together with everything. That was the best:yesway:
     
  11. xAGx

    xAGx SS.org Regular

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    My recommendation would be

    Snag an MXR ten band eq or something of similar nature if you're really struggling on getting through or even getting the EXACT tone you want live. Its easy to get "close" but with this EQ you can literally get the exact tone you desire. For me I run a Laney IRT 60 watt and its a bit lacking in the mids so i just pushed me low and high mids one notch and both mid mids 2 notchs and cut off the highest highs in order to reduce some of that grainy crackly gain sound and it works WONDERS for your sound. I can apply a little more gain now without that shrill sound that clashes everytime my drummer hits a cymbal.

    That pedal is seriously the best $120 i've ever spent on guitar equipment
     

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