Live Music

When Only Live Music Will Do

Live music is a tricky subject because it's like life. There are so many factors involved that you can't write a guide, you can only write guidelines. Being able to generate good live music quality (in terms of sound quality) takes either a professional technician or loads of trial and error.

When playing live it is crucial to have your gear set up well. Many people think that if they have the most powerful equipment on the market they will rule the stage. This is of course not even slightly right. If you've ever been to a proper band practice you'll know that there are certain conditions where you are standing right in front of your amp and you don't hear yourself playing at all. You step a foot right and you can hear everything. Amps, mic's, speakers have to be set up so that they don't interfere with each other and so that volume can be controlled optimally. In smaller venues you're probably OK with a descent amp and a set of good speakers for the mic, but don't count on this if you're playing outside.

In an ideal world you play with either amps or speakers, but you have monitors that face you, so you hear yourself. This is not an option for many bands as this costs a fortune to set up, and you probably should get a music technician to do it. In a non ideal world, definitely take time to set up your gear before you play. Try an initial set up, and have a band member walk around and see if you can hear well everywhere. Tweak positions until you feel like it's right.

Another important factor is mixing. The trick in it, is that you have to listen to your setup from the audience's side. You may think that you are too quiet, while the audience can hear you perfectly. It is quite hard to play without hearing yourself though, so you should try to set up your stuff so you can also hear yourself. If you are a good player then if you have to choose, have the audience hear, that's what counts in the end. Mixing is a factor even if you are just playing on amps. A mixer is really just a "remote control" for the bands amps and speakers, so you can achieve the same quality in theory with adjusting the amps separately. It's tricky, and takes a lot of practice, but it can be done. The important thing to keep in mind is that you don't count, the band as a whole counts. If your guitar sounds great, but everything else is bad, the audience will not be happy.

If you use your head, and think of the band as a whole when tweaking your settings you will get results. Maybe not the optimal setup at first, but you definitely won't ruin your show, maybe just make some room for improvements. Remember, no one starts out perfect, you have to work for it, but you'll get there.

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