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Old 02-08-2010, 12:12 PM
LiveMusic LiveMusic is offline
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Default How to enhance solo live sound

I am wanting to enhance my live sound for a tour of listening houses. Folk, Americana, singer-songwriter type thing. Small crowds, generally less than 100 people. (Sometimes only a few, haha.) Me and acoustic guitar, solo, usually. I might sometimes have sidemen… acoustic instruments, perhaps a bass player (either electric or upright). I have done many shows as a trio. But again, we are talking about listening venues. Primarily, I am concerned about solo sound. If it's just me and a guitar and I, especially, need the best sound I can get, whatever that is. I play everything from Johnny Cash type stuff to James Taylor-ish to Steve Earle-ish.

How should I go about this? I am at a point in my life where I have some money and the best sound I can get is what I want. Within reason. I'm no great guitarist, not a great singer, I just get by and hope my songs are exceptional. And... I love hearing good sound! Do people hire sound experts to help them sound their best? So many variables! Where would I find such an expert?

Type of mics, type of mixer, sheesh. What types of effects? Is there no other way other than years of trial and error?

vocal mics
pre
guitar pickup/mic
pre / DI
mixer
speakers
effects units

I have learned alot about favored systems through forums. But then I gotta know how to dial it in once I buy something. And I don't have that expertise, I'm a songwriter.

So, we're talking about quite a few variables. If you're wanting to sound decent, I got decent already. I don't want to sound decent, I want to sound as good as I can.

For instance, I have a baritone voice. Think Johnny Cash (on some songs). You need to enhance your strong points. And as I said, I am not a great singer, neither was Johnny Cash, but it's unique. So, on those types of songs, enhancing the deepness, making it richer, fatter... better... and I suppose only trial and error can identify "better."

And then there is my guitar(s). How do artists figure this out?

I thought... if I can find this expert, wherever he is, I could buy a bunch of used stuff (or even new, depending on return policy), try it out with his guidance and whatever I don't end up using, sell it.

EDIT: Gear I have:
Martin D35, no pickup (yet)
Taylor Baritone 8-string, Taylor expression pickup sys
Bose L1/sub (sounds good!)
PA, two cheap 10" powered spearks (sound good!)
Behringer Eurorack 1222FX mixer
ART tube pre-amp
Mics: Audix OM5, Shure 57, Samson Q7 (all sound good to me)
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Last edited by LiveMusic; 02-08-2010 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:27 PM
Perfessor Perfessor is offline
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This is where a GOOD music store comes in handy.

We have several around here, with people on staff who have played out for many years and who know their way around equipment. I've found one store to be a great resource for sound set-up.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:47 PM
Aaron Smith Aaron Smith is offline
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There are a lot of great tips over in the Electrified forum. One thing I would suggest is to build your gear arsenal gradually. Start with a good quality pickup (several are recommended, I like the K&K Pure Western Mini) and as good a pre-amp as you can afford.
I would be cogniscent of your goals from the beginning. A modest investment in good gear and some patience can get you 90% of the way to nirvana; but going after the last 10% takes a lot of gear and a lot of patience. One of my main goals was to have good sound as simply as possible; I hate twiddling knobs when I'm performing. Your goals may be different.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:52 PM
Huckleberry Huckleberry is offline
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Well here's a vote for the K&K Pure Western Mini pickup coupled with the K&K Pure XLR preamp. Sounds great without another Mic on the guitar and you can run it from the phantom power from the mixer.

I usually play with no effects but have a Lexicon LXP1 reverb for when I need it. It's overkill for acoustic live but sounds lushious.

My amp of choice would be the Bose L1, but I don't own one, normally just plug into the house system.

There's a lot of choice of mixers that sound and perform quite similarly. Look for switchable phantom on all channels. The Bose can come with the ToneMatch system for mixing too, it's neat but expensive.

Good old Shure SM57 makes a great live vocal Mic, but in the studio I like the ADK large diaphragm condensers.
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:00 PM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
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.....spend as much as you can afford to....do your homework(which is what you are now doing).......and try before you buy...you've got a baritone..(i'm jealous as all get out)...so your voice is gonna be easy to get big...any good system that has respectable low end will make you sound like James Earl Jones...so too vocal mics are easy for you...personally i like a detailed mic for baris because it enhances the inherent richness and catches the sibilance of the diction...love that sound....a quality condenser does that.....your guitar sound is hard to pin down because we don't know enough about it....light medium or heavy handed?...fingers or picks?...what kind of picks?....percussive?...strummy?...thrasher?....yo u get the idea.....then theres technical prefs...liteweight...powered board...or speakers.....big or small speakers...how much power range....a bigger system is generally gonna give bigger sound assuming its top notch gear and set up correctly....and within reason there is nothing inherently wrong with having something a bit bigger than you need...headroom is always a plus...for live sound gear you just gotta go out and hear the stuff....i've gone in to buy gear with a specific product in mind and walked out with something different and better for my needs after doing some comparative listening....its just like trying out guitars...some systems will appeal to you...others not so much....when i listen to systems and their components at a retail outlet i don't play through them...i'm rarely comfortable enough to do so...i just listen to some familiar recording and a/b stuff with that....you can really hear big differences....no reason you can't have the sound you want....life is too short for decent sound....

Last edited by J Patrick; 02-08-2010 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:03 PM
chitz chitz is offline
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I have several different pickups. Soundhole, SBT's UST's. As SBT's go... I prefer the JJB Prestiege 330 over the K&K. It is less mid/bass heavy and gives a more natural tone IMO. And it cost less too.
Link that with the best pre/DI (mentioned) (LR Baggs is the staple) and you can really tweak your sound.
System effects like Reverb and lil chorus are a must too.

http://www.jjb-electronics.com/
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:34 PM
Aaron Smith Aaron Smith is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chitz creek View Post
Link that with the best pre/DI (mentioned) (LR Baggs is the staple) and you can really tweak your sound.
At a similar price level, I prefer the Fishman ProEQ Platinum to the Baggs PADI. I've owned both, and they both work well- but I found the Fishman to have more flexible EQ, better sounding EQ, and a more transparent sound overall.
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  #8  
Old 02-08-2010, 01:34 PM
LiveMusic LiveMusic is offline
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I have Bose L1/sub. Thinking of going with two Bose compacts. I wonder if two Compacts sound as good / better than an L1/sub? I don't know if stereo sound from two compacts helps guitar/vocal overall sound, that would be a plus. One reason... if one compact goes out, you have a backup that can pull off the show. And they are small to cart around.
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