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Gig report
Tue Aug 8, 2017 16:24

A bit of a belated gear report here. Last Wednesday was the "end of summer concert" for our town's "Why-Fi" Christian youth series. Most churches experience a huge drop in youth attendance during the summer, so all the town's churches got together and in doing so was able to post a group of about 50 kids every week.

Anyway, we were contacted to do the gig and gladly accepted. Our bassist brought in a borrowed flatbed the morning of the gig. He owns two flatbeds himself, but his friend's sat higher, and thus worked better as a stage. Unfortunately, it had some rotten wood, which made for an interesting stage setup.

This was our first gig with our new Behringer XR18 mixer, AND our first gig running a wired IEM system. We had run rehearsal with the IEMs the night before, and it worked with everyone except our bassist, who was getting a great deal of distortion in his ears.

First, the PA: A couple of JBL 12" mains, sitting on the flatbed in lieu of stands. A pair of Eliminator 18" subs, sitting on the ground on either side. I suggested pairing the subs in front of center stage, but the idea didn't gain any traction from my bandmates, so we left it. This setup worked great a couple weeks ago for an outdoor park gig, so we didn't think much of it.

We did have to set up the drums all the way to the left, which meant 5 live microphones sitting incredibly close to the mains. This was a problem with a lot of low feedback, particularly with the kick and low tom. I was able to fix a lot of it with gating, but it was still a problem.

In the middle of the stage were the two guitarists (including me on vocals) with the bassist on the right. The two guitar amps got set on the ground behind the stage, pointing away from the audience (we parked the truck and band trailer behind the stage to block sound as much as possible). Bassist's amp was on stage to help him hear since the bass was distorting in his ears at rehearsal (I think I decided the problem was a low gain passive instrument requiring so much gain to get signal when running direct, but now that I type that, it doesn't make much sense).

In rehearsal, I had zero problems with the XR18's onboard wifi, so I figured we could get away without an external router at the gig. I was wrong. Even standing on the stage, I experienced lag of several seconds, which is incredibly embarrassing when the speaker is waiting for you to unmute the microphone or the audience is waiting for you to address low feedback. My plan originally was to hand off the iPad to one of the band wives to make adjustments on the fly while we played, but the wifi distance was reduced to about ten feet, making this impossible. We had to revert to the same wife shouting adjustments at us during sound check, which was frustrating. More on frustrations in a moment.

Our wired IEMs are set up as follows: For the other three guys, one aux is sent via XLR to a Behringer headphone amplifier, then sent to a TRS > XLR cable which clips into an Elite Core belt clip. The only purpose of the Elite Core is to give you something solid to plug headphones into, rather than the female end of an extension cable. Instead of the headphone amp, I just plugged directly into the headphone jack of the XR18 and ran into my body pack, assigning two auxes to the headphone jack and thus running in stereo.

Problem one: Two of the guys use iPhones, and the XR18 doesn't have an iPhone app (why?????). So where I originally intended to have each of us mixing our own ears with our phones with an iPad running FOH, we now had our drummer mixing his own ears and I was mixing the other three in ear mixes plus FOH from my iPad on stage. Turns out the other guys do have Android tablets, so this problem should be rectified... don't know why it didn't come up in rehearsal, though... lol...

Problem two: We tried to dial in a respectable in ear mix at rehearsal, but everything changed between rehearsal and performance - our drummer played a different kit, I used my pedalboard and had to turn up the amp, our other guitarist used a different amp altogether, and our bassist actually used his bass rig instead of running direct. As a result, ALL of our gain staging was wrong. All of it. And of course, as soon as I started adjusting gain settings for FOH, it screwed up everyone's in ear mix. After sound check, I absolutely refused to readjust the gain settings, so after the first song when the drummer's wife told me to turn up my vocal, I maxed out the fader but had nothing else I could do, short of turning everything else down and turning up the master (which there was no time to do). Thus, the balance - particularly lead vocal - was definitely an issue, and it was a constant issue to get a good mix in our ears. In the future, I'll reset all the IEM mixes to zero, gain stage properly with even more overhead, and THEN mix the ears. Hopefully, once I get it all set correctly, we shouldn't need to adjust much.

Problem three: Two cables (guitar and IEM) ended up being exactly the kind of nuisance I feared. The bassist complained of getting tripped up by it more than once, and I know my cables at the end of the night were completely twisted together. I'm in talks with Covenant Cables (our first and only current band sponsorship) to build us custom dual cables, but that's still a few gigs down the road.

I think a big part of this will just be the learning curve. The XR18 behaves slightly differently than the analog boards I'm used to, and I'm still getting used to the eccentricities of my bassist's PA.

Next time will be better. And most importantly, I walked away from the gig NOT hoarse from oversinging (as I have had to do for the last several gigs) and my ears weren't hurting from poorly EQ'd monitors and loud guitars.

    • Two new pieces of equipment, first time out...Tony Wright, Wed Aug 9 21:16
      In retrospect, that was probably something you would have done differently. The first time we took our XR18Air out for a concert, we made sure we also took one of the Presonus 16.2.4 that we had used ... more
      • Well, like I said, we had used the gear in rehearsal with only a few issues. And I had used *A* XR18 for our last show... just not *THIS* XR18. To be honest, there's really no way we could have done... more
        • One more thing...MusicManD, Wed Aug 9 21:33
          Oh, and those monitor wedges? Totally brought them with us, just in case. Plus the old mixer.
          • Sounds like you did all you could...Tony Wright, Thu Aug 10 07:28
            I don't think I meant that previous post to come across as "critical", just commenting to let you know I read it I guess. Easy to read my post now and see it sounded critical. Sorry about that. Your... more
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