man, i’ve been looking up tips on how to set up a PA in a small room because i’ve got a misfits cover band that has been rehearsing in my guest bedroom and we’ve been struggling with the vocals being too quiet and the microphones feeding back. i’ve finally found some good tips, like
- if you can’t get loud enough vocals, turn the guitar(s) down a bit.
- keep the mics away from hard walls that sound might be bouncing off of.
- put blankets on hard walls to absorb sound.
- position PA speakers and mics so the mics are picking up as little of their own coming out of the PA as possible.
with any luck, those simple adjustments might help us find a good sound balance in that tiny bedroom.
but it took a lot of digging to find even those few tips because the main advice i came across was simply “TURN IT DOWN.” i’ve met a lot of lame old musicians and sound guys over the years that have said that same thing to me and i think it’s the dumbest advice. why? because drums in rock and metal are fucking loud even if they are not being mic’d, so every other instrument needs to work around that volume. and you can’t just say, “don’t hit the drums so hard then,” because then your rock, punk, and/or metal band is going to sound fucking stupid. imagine the drummer in a death metal band playing with brushes instead of sticks. it’s like telling mazzy star or a classical pianist to crank their shit up 10 and melt some faces. it goes against the entire aesthetic that artist is trying to create. what a god damn stupid suggestion.
i remember standing by a sound guy once as a fantastic drummer was getting set up. he was testing his kit, just hammering on it in his usual fashion. it was a joy to watch that guy play because he hit so inhumanly hard. and i overheard the loser sound guy say to his assistant, “the worst drummers always hit the hardest, and this guy hits like a bastard.” that witless old sour grape simply didn’t understand the very nature of rock music, and was probably just bitter that his days of being on stage were long over and now he was just a fat, gross, old, washed up dude standing behind a sound board.
i’ve also had sound guys tell me to turn the our amps way down on stage so they can have more control of the volumes coming out of the PA. but whenever my bands did that, the sound guys totally fucked it up so we couldn’t hear each other on stage and the levels were all weird out front. i have consistently found that the best way to sound good live to is play at the same ridiculous volumes both at practice and at shows, and just have the sound guy deal with the bass drum and vocals at shows — ultimately, i think it’s important to practice loud.
that’s why i’m happy to have finally found some realistic and useful tips for making the sound work in our shoebox of a rehearsal space. in my opinion, if you’re playing inherently loud music, let it rip or don’t bother at all.