Controling What You Hear and How
I’m sure you’ve noticed in the studio that the engineer sits in the sweet spot which is centered between the monitors. Whether it a stereo or surround mix, there will only be one point in the room that is ideal for listening in the most balanced and clear manner. In a live situation, the only spot that might be considered ideal is the front-of-house mixer’s position, since it is usually centered between the two speaker arrays. As musicians on stage, unless we’re wearing in-ear monitors, we find that there are certain areas on stage where we can hear some things better than others.
So what can we do to make bigger sweet spots on stage and for the audience in a live setting? The first thing to do is agree on some established basics, then build from there.
Try this interactive demonstration: take one hand and move your fingers together as if you were going to snap them – do it just hard enough to hear your fingers rubbing against each other, but not hard enough to snap. Then close your eyes and put your hand out in front of your face at eye level and begin moving your fingers in that almost-snapping motion. Assuming you have balanced hearing, you should perceive the sound as coming from directly in front of you. Continue to rub you fingers together, again with your eyes closed, and slowly bring your hand around to one side of your head, then return to the center, and over to the other side. Then try it behind your head, above your head, down in front of you, and finally down beside you. Do you notice how the clarity of the sound changes in relation to the location of your hand? It won’t take much to realize that the sound is clearest when your fingers are directly to the side of either ear. The least amount of perception, or greatest rejection of sound, is directly behind and below you. This would be a good time to think about where your amp is located while playing.
Take a minute and think about how this hearing pattern might have an impact in different musical situations, such as amp and monitor placement. Now make note of the following information, and later we’ll work on putting it all together to begin solving problems.
It takes the least amount of energy for a sound to be heard when it can enter directly into your ear canal from its source. When somebody tells you a secret, they whisper in your ear, not to your forehead. Think of it like the warning sign on the back a semi that says, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” A speaker’s warning sign should say, “If your ear drum can’t see my cone directly, you aren’t hearing me ideally.” Lower frequencies need more energy to be heard than higher frequencies, and from about 125 Hz down, sound is considered omni-directional, making the location of the source less critical. This is why subs can be put out of sight and not lose any effectiveness. Low frequencies also need more distance to develop and be heard because their wave lengths are longer, which allows the sound to literally bend in direction without losing it’s quality as quickly as high end frequencies. Midrange frequencies, located from 1.2 kHz - 1.4 kHz, are in the same range as the human voice. They are perceived easily and need less volume than bass frequencies to be heard clearly. However, as those midrange and high frequencies get further off axis in relation to your ear, they become less clear.
It is generally accepted that the human ear hears the best balance of frequencies at about 85dB. Our ability to distinguish sound clearly is affected by both the volume of sound entering our ear as well as the actual frequencies of the different notes. Another factor in hearing clearly is Frequency Masking, which is when a sound covers up – or masks – another sound because it’s either louder, closer, or covers more frequencies than the original. For example, studios have a flashing light attached to their telephone for when the music from the monitors masks the ringing of the phone. We’ll cover this in more depth in next month.
Until next time, your mission – if you choose to accept it – is to draw a stage plot of the last time you played showing the location of all of the amps, monitors, etc. Then, using the information above, draw another stage plot showing a layout that you think would help everyone hear better. Don’t forget to take the audience and location of the P.A. speakers into consideration. Everyone wants to be heard, and everyone can be, if we all play by the rules of sound and the laws of physics.
Creation Audio Labs, Inc.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
Mojotone will manufacture and market over 60 of their speaker cabinets and amp kits as “Licensed by Fender.”
This partnership marks Fender's recognition of Mojotone’s dedication to its craft, quality of products, and dependability of knowledge. Beginning November 29th and ranging from $327 - $1,016.
Amplifiers were among the first products to wear the official Fender seal. A qualified electronics technician by trade, Leo Fender developed his iconic amplifiers during the mid-1940s putting innovation at the forefront. To this day, Leo’s influence and innovative spirit can still be heard in today’s amps, as that same iconic, clean Fender tone continues to color new music around the world. As a result, the process for completing the exclusive licensing deal required Fender to carefully audit Mojotone’s amplifier kits, wiring diagrams, electronics, hardware, construction methods, and more to ensure this innovation carried on through the partnership. Mojotone’s many years of intense research, quality production, and favorable reputation solidified the deal.
Mojotone has always been determined to provide its customer base with the most sought-after parts with their insider industry-knowledge. They have spent the last 25 years helping musicians recreate what they deem to be the most famous and easily-recognized tones and aesthetics in the music industry. When purchasing Mojotone products, like Fender products, customers can be assured of unmatched quality and craftsmanship.
For more information, please visit mojotone.com.