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Thread: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

  1. #21
    Imperator of Indignation idsnowdog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    A few years ago I was watching VH1 Classic and they had Aerosmith in concert. Brad had an incredibly simple stage setup. He had two 4x12 cabs and a Marshall head. He played the same Fender Stratocaster with noiseless pickups and he had excellent tone and clarity. Joe Perry had dozens of guitars and dozens of amps on stage and his tone and clarity were very poor. After watching it I thought what a collosal waste for something which really isn't that complicated to begin with! This is an Aerosmith concert Joe not a Victoria's Secret fashion show!

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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by idsnowdog View Post
    A few years ago I was watching VH1 Classic and they had Aerosmith in concert. Brad had an incredibly simple stage setup. He had two 4x12 cabs and a Marshall head. He played the same Fender Stratocaster with noiseless pickups and he had excellent tone and clarity. Joe Perry had dozens of guitars and dozens of amps on stage and his tone and clarity were very poor. After watching it I thought what a collosal waste for something which really isn't that complicated to begin with! This is an Aerosmith concert Joe not a Victoria's Secret fashion show!
    They were never a band that used dozens of different sounds. I bet they would be fine with 2 guitars, 2 amps, and not sound like they are missing anything- at least 20 years ago. I don't know what they sound like now.
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    We work on making our tones compliment each other in the room first and bring our own sound guy who knows what we're supposed to sound like. Meshuggah use the drummer's bro for their sound and get consistent sound venue to venue. If it's good enough for them, it's worth looking into. If you can't mix us well in FOH, you can't mix. End of story.
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    OP: It is some religion-like thing. During touring I've seen/heard so many guitar rigs and it is always up to the combination of the player and the mixing engineer. I've heard boutique élite tube setups sounding horribly wrong and simple old Line6 kidneys sounding incredible through PA. There is nothing wrong with using tube or digital and it is possible to go wrong with both of them.

    Bringing a sound guy who knows the band is absolutely recommended. The resident sound guys in the clubs/festivals are absolute hit or miss. You'll need a serious research to find / get to know resident guys who are competent and are easy to work with and whom to banish from the mixing desk during your show.

    Also there is always a monitor issue. Relying on the in-house controls can be pretty risky so it is a good idea to bring your own control monitors. I use light, compact powerful wedges (I hate in-ears) where I run my guitar rig directly and also get a signal from the band mix, drums emphasized. I set the balance of the two on my monitor and I'm usually ready to go in 15 seconds.
    Last edited by NecroPolo; 08-18-2019 at 01:17 AM.

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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    I am perhaps on the other side of the fence, but I have also been on both sides of the fence. I am a guitarist of nearly 30 years and have played in many a band and at many venues. I was the Guitarist that at one point was too loud and even the guy that was too quiet. I have been there and done that. I have also been a professional sound engineer for about 17 years ( as in the only income I make is from doing sound and I make damn good money doing it ). I learned pretty quickly after starting as a sound guy the challenges that bands present to sound engineers. Two major things that tend to stand in the way is EGO and lack of any actual knowledge of engineering sound. let me provide a few examples.

    How many guitarists have you ever known to say that they sound like crap and they are not happy with their guitar sound? Not many, right. My guess is that most guitarists/bassists drummers et all, say that they are pretty happy with their sound to the degree where they will perform happily with what they have. The old saying " opinions are like *******s, everyone has one " comes to mind. Everyone's idea of what sounds good or bad is different. So we all have this notion in our head about what sounds good and we tend to project that opinion, or idea onto others, be it another guitarist or even a sound guy who is paid more than you to do the job of being a sound guy. Ego is the biggest crux I think. As musicians we are lucky that we get to dabble with sound gear, recording and many band-related scenario's that do help us get a ground floor introduction into sound engineering. Where the line never seems to be drawn is where your personal opinion about sound ends and how you project that opinion upon a guy who is paid to do a job. We all like to bash on the sound guy when things sound like **** because it can only be his fault right? It's never anyone else fault for a ****ty sounding show. In 17 years of doing sound, I have never heard the words " we are sorry that we made things sound ****ty tonight " EVER come from ANY band members mouth. If it sounds like crap, everyone looks at the sound guy like they are the one who got it there. Which brings me to my next revelation.

    Bands ( as a whole ) cause most of their own problems. I made the same mistakes and caused a lot of my own problems when I was playing on stages in bands too. I guess where I differ is that I never really looked at the sound guy as being the cause of those issues. If I was too loud and no one said anything, I was just too loud and the sound guy dealt with it or I just sounded like ass. If a band is overall just too loud, or the stage mix ( before any monitoring ) is just way off, there really isn't much a sound guy can do other than be a total dick and say turn down, turn up, reduce your bass frequencies, play the drums like your babies asleep next door, etc. etc. One thing you have to truly realize as a band playing at a venue is that if the PA was turned off completely and the show sounded like ****, who's fault is it? A sound guy worthy of calling himself one NEVER tries to produce ****ty sound, everyone doing that job understands that they are to make things better, not worse. If the band paints the sound guy into a corner, it takes much of their control or ability to fix things away. A great sound guy can make a ****ty band come a long way, but a ****ty sound guy won't really be able to make a great band sound bad. A great band practically mixes themselves making the task of doing sound for them a breeze. You can just focus on doing what you need to do as opposed to constantly putting out fires. A ****ty band will have a sound guy working so hard to fix problem after problem that he really never rests from trying to improve things. A good sound from a band starts with ZERO needed support from a PA. If you sound good without the PA ( barring vocals of course ), then you probably stand a good chance of sounding good regardless of anything. If the only thing a sound guy has to do is turn up the vocals and get a fine-tuned balance, your on your way to a great show.

    The biggest thing that ruins sound is having a bad sound at the source. You have probably heard the old studio term " get it right from the source ", right? If your guitar, drums, bass or whatever sounds crappy or isn't complementary to the rest of the band, the sound guy stands little chance of making it too much better. Bands tend to forget that in smaller venues, probably 75% of the sound people hear is coming from the stage. In perhaps a larger venue it's maybe 50/50 and outdoors on larger stages and bigger PA systems maybe 25% of the direct sound is heard along with the PA. So for most of us crammed into a small bar stage, almost all of the sound people hear is coming from the band. Not much for a sound guy to fix at that point. Don't even get me started with monitors. I have had more than a few bands that have had monitors so loud that I may as well turn the main PA off. Monitors do not sound good to the patrons in the dance area. If the monitors are so damn loud that you have to turn the main PA louder than desired to beat them, the sound again will be GREATLY affected. Again, this isn't a sound guys fault, if the band wants ridiculous amount of monitoring, the sound guy's hands start to get tied. It's a problem that band members create for themselves, not one that is anyone else's fault. I hate monitors with a passion for that reason alone. I have monitors that cost $1,800 each that I provide to my clients because I want to provide the best sound I can to bands and the patrons, but if the monitors are too loud ( which mine do get VERY loud ) it affects my FOH mix, no two ways around it. The long and short of it is, that a sound guy's ability to get a good sound at all starts with you not only having a good sound but giving the engineer some space to do something with what they got. If you sound good ( as in most anyone standing there would agree as such ) and your not obnoxiously loud it is really hard for a sound guy to mess that up.

    There are most certainly ****ty sound guys out there that have no business doing the job. I don't feel I am one of those and believe I am a cream that has risen near the top. I get paid really well to do sound entirely for a living and have provided sound services for names you know or have heard of. I tend to get more compliments than criticism and I realize that I can always be better and I work really hard to be certain I am giving you the best service you have ever had. That doesn't mean I am the best fit for every band I come across though, because as I mentioned, we all have opinions and some bands I can tell, just aren't that smitten with me. Again, my idea of what sounds good, or right is different than others. I believe, given my experience, that I have a better idea of what the objective is, but that doesn't mean I win every battle. I have a saying for that though. " A good sound engineer is one that can make 7 out of 10 people happy, the other three can go **** themselves "..... In light of that, I also have bad days at the office so to speak. You would think after doing sound for close to 1000 different bands, that your process would be nailed to a T, but there are just days where you drop the ball and you can't work out a problem, even as simple as it should seem. Another thing that throws curve balls or wrenches into your game is the tools you're working with. I am a hired gun and I get paid to set up other's million-dollar PA systems just as much as I get paid to set up and run others piece of **** PA systems. Some things like mic choice, speaker selection and deployment options ( where I get to put the PA ) are beyond my control and those are all things that affect the quality of my work. Most of doing sound is math believe it or not. Physics dictate a lot of the variables that can make things easy or more difficult for me. So don't ever assume that a sound guy is happy with what he has to work with, he may be just as frustrated as you about things, a bad day at the office is a real thing.

    Lastly is having your own BE ( band engineer ). I too believe it is a wise idea for a couple of reasons. You have someone who can be your direct liaison and knows your material. This person also probably has a good relationship with the band and can ask you to do things that you may not take seriously or to heart as another engineer. It is also nice that your engineer can be outside of the venue and walk in to do your sound with fresh ears that have not been blasted away all day/night by other bands. As a systems provider and often the one who is sitting there all day/night, is that I get to take a short break and get away from the noise for a minute myself! And perhaps most importantly is consistency. At the very least, your BE will have a pretty common result at any given venue. The way they work and interpret systems will be relative and that will translate to you as such. It makes it so that only one person can really be to blame for an obvious problem. If all the players in the game are the same and something goes wrong, it is pretty easy to know who dropped the ball be it the guitarist, drummer or the BE. So if you can afford to bring a BE with you everywhere you go, I highly support it.

    My final thought is this. Playing music, be it for fun or for money should not be such a serious task that all you care about is the particulars. It should entirely be for fun and getting paid to do it should be the icing on the cake. If you go into a venue with a positive, fun attitude, it will just uplift the rest of the crew, staff, and people who work directly with you. If you take away some of the stress of caring so much that you can just have fun and do what you know how to do, it trickles down and the engineer can do what they need to do, which is also enjoy their work, your band and making your band sound as good as they can in the process. Sound guys aren't *******s because it suits them, they are *******s because it's always their fault that you have a ****ty experience regardless of who's fault it is. As a sound engineer, you come into contact with MANY different attitudes, characters, personalities and people over the course of a day/night and it can drag on you when the people you want to be the happiest are just being difficult, or making your work hard to do. The quality of sound for your show starts and ends with your ability to give the sound guy a fighting chance. If you sound like ****, play like ****, have a ****ty attitude and give the sound guy nowhere to go with it, there isn't much that can be done. **** goes in and **** goes out. A great engineer can polish a turd but is still a stinky turd. At the very least make it fun, most patrons aren't too bothered by a subjectively ****ty overall sound, provided they can hear everything and they don't end up with permanent hearing damage. Just keep in mind that what you think sounds amazing, may sound like absolute crap to someone else. A good sound guy should have a pretty good idea realistically as to what the majority of people accept as good sound. If you want to feel good about yourself, just listen to Metallica's St. Anger, if your band can sound even half that good, you're in a good spot. The art of being a musician and a sound engineer is a team sport and EVERYONE has to carry their weight. To think for even a second that your prowess as a musician trumps the skill and art of even a mediocre sound engineer, is a HORRIBLE attitude to carry. I am a pretty darn good guitarist and a damn good sound engineer, it doesn't matter either way, I play to win and I want to be treated good and with respect by those I work with. I don't want to be treated like **** when a crappy musician thinks I am the cause of their problems. I know a good musician when I hear one and I don't treat them any differently than the worst musician you've ever heard. It all comes down to respect, attitude, playing as a team and having fun. If you can't have fun, then why even bother with it.

    Anyway, I wish you all the best and rock on!!!!

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    I care more about the sound of the amp in the room than the direct sound.

    Yesterday I compared iPhone Amplitube demo as preamp vs my AMT SS-20 (tube based preamp in small pedal size) into the same power amp and cab. Really nice sounds I would be willing to use live but I still prefer my tube based preamp because of its dynamics, maybe other amp models in the app can deliver that level of dynamics but I won't go that path, I just did some numbers and an iPhone based rig and getting a foot controller to change presets it is actually 15% more expensive just using demo, if I get into buying packs it becomes even more expensive but it is all because of iPhones are so expensive.

    A Helix Stom is actually more cost effective, it costs about 25% less than an equivalent tube preamp based rig (SS-20, Mooer Radar, ISP Decimator G String 2, Pedaltrain Nano with soft case). I really would like to try something like the Helix Stomp at some point if my tube preamp SS-20 ever breaks. If it can really deliver the kind of dynamics that I like then I would say I would not need a tube based preamp again.

    I have never had the chance to play live with an amp that is tubes both in preamp and power amp but honestly I don't think I will ever buy one, I have bad knees so lightweight is a must for me.

    The digital modelers are getting pretty close so I think new generations will care less and less about real tube amps over time.
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  7. #27
    I poop in my KISS diapers while I cry that they are mean to me Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    The volume is due to the PA/Sound guys period. I heard Van Helen sound like ^%$% because it was just too damned loud in an arena.

    That has NOTHING to do with tubes or modelers. I agree - tube vs modelers tend to have different kinds of bad sound, but they both sound good when used right. And they both sound bad when heard at volumes that make your ears bleed and disrupt your cells at a molecular level.
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Honestly we are comparing differences that mostly matter at home or especially recording. In live sound with a full band the differences between a good tube and a good Solid State amp are negligible with fundamental good tone/playing and a good sound guy.

    Sure many guitarists in the audience can hear the differences and be irritated or disappointed but when you play live your playing mostly to music enthusiasts and people out for a good time -neither usually know or hear anything related to subtle or even overt amp differences. -it's a hard lesson to learn, but most people care about a beat, a melody, and earworm phrase and booze -and thats the people that keep the doors open and the bands in business.
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    firstlessonologist guitfiddle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Ewizard View Post
    <Wall of text>

    You make some great points, that most sound guys don't see.

    1. The the stage sound must be great before the PA is turned on. Good tones, well mixed, and not too loud.

    2. The stage sound will end up being part of the FOH sound to some degree. Too many engineers think the PA should be the only source of sound the audience hears, and this leads to pissed off guitarists who have to run their amps so low that they now sound like ****, which brings us to the most important point you made...

    3. Sh!t in = sh!t out.

    Bravo, sir.
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Aceman View Post
    The volume is due to the PA/Sound guys period. I heard Van Helen sound like ^%$% because it was just too damned loud in an arena.

    That has NOTHING to do with tubes or modelers. I agree - tube vs modelers tend to have different kinds of bad sound, but they both sound good when used right. And they both sound bad when heard at volumes that make your ears bleed and disrupt your cells at a molecular level.
    Couple of years ago I was in a Peer Gunt show (great finnish 80's hard rock btw) which demonstrated this pretty well: They we're running 100w Marshalls in a small club, and honestly I could barely hear what songs they we're playing because guitar sound was so damn loud in that room. Just rattling and screeching in ears.
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    I poop in my KISS diapers while I cry that they are mean to me Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Most people have never stood in front of a 100 watt Marshall head on "10" with 2 4x12's.

    It is louder than &$%$ing God....
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    With my Hiwatt, I can make you step 6 feet back and with my Traynor I can make you have to leave the room with only one 4x12
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Aceman View Post
    Most people have never stood in front of a 100 watt Marshall head on "10" with 2 4x12's.

    It is louder than &$%$ing God....
    It sounds amazing, though. But I can't think of a single gig I've ever done where I would use that, or a single bandmember or soundperson that would think it was a good idea.
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    I guess to be on topic, I will provide more relevant information. I was an early adopter to digital anything. I had a Zoom 2020 shortly after it was released and had Yamaha digital amps, a POD HD and even a Digitech RP7, and that other Digitech one that was basically the first to call itself a modeler ( I can't remember its name ). In the end, I always went back to tube amps. The only reason why is that tube amps just have a touch, response, feel and connection that none of the digital units had for me. I have yet to try the more modern Kemper, Axe FX, and Helix lines yet, and I am sure that even the POD HD would have been fine, it's just that it took so much fiddling to get the sound where I feel it should just be from the get go.

    The upside I see to modern modeling amps is that you really have no excuse to make a bad sound. There are so many options and so much power and control that it should be nearly impossible to make a bad sound. You literally have as much if not more tone-shaping parameters than most sound guys do to make any sound you desire. If you have a decent ear, you can make an acceptable sound from a modeler. Now how it feels and reacts to your playing is a different story. That is the part I struggled with.

    I have been playing guitar for a VERY long time and 90% of everything I have actually played through has been an analog device. I had digital devices, but they were predominately used for FX, added grit or in some instances the sound you hear. Ultimately though, I have relied on a tube amp as my form of amplification. I have only ever played on stages with a tube amp. I couldn't deal with the way that the modelers worked when using a PA speaker to reproduce my guitar sound. The biggest deal-breaker for me was that I could tell it was a digital device because it didn't have the feel and touch I desired. Sounded just fine really, but the connection I desired was not there.

    As to how important a sound guy is to any given band, I would say that they are probably only about 10-25% of the equation at any given point in time. In a small bar case, they have very little to do with the actual sound that the patrons hear. If they can make it so there is a balance at all, you're already winning and the quality of the sound is likely not something they can greatly affect. If you are playing on a stage that is 100' wide for 26,000 people they are likely already far ahead of the curve and they can only give the people a level of quality that is on par to that of the performers. Crap in is likely crap out. Not playing to the venue doesn't help. Too loud is too loud and once you reach that threshold, it doesn't get any better. The larger the stage and lower the impact a band has on the sound people actually hear, the more importance a sound engineer plays, but going back to the main point, if you give them nothing but crap, it is hard to fix it. The big thing to keep in mind is that sound is SUBJECTIVE, while you may think it sounded bad, it is very likely many others thought it was just fine or at least ok. Most people are tolerant provided they can hear everything they want to.

    One thing I will note is that you probably shouldn't base your opinion based on what you hear from the monitors. Monitors are meant to be heard, not sound good, so they are not typically great sounding. A monitor that sounds good but feeds back easily is not a good monitor. A monitor that is stable and is louder than you need it to be is generally not a very good sounding one. Acceptable yes, but great sounding; not so much. If your monitors sound both good and are plenty loud, jump for joy, it isn't easy to get that. If the band before you sounded good, decent, or acceptable at FOH, it is quite likely you're going to sound about the same. If one band sounds great and another sound like ass, it was likely not the sound guy as much as the band giving him little or nothing to work with. Most sound guys are consistently bad or good, so if it sounds horrible for more than a few bands, it is likely the sound guy is just not that great. If it is hit or miss, the sound guy is probably decent enough but is being thrown challenges. If it sounds good for every other band and yours sounds like poop, well it is probably just you. It isn't easy to be a sound guy and what I can say from experience is that great sounding bands are generally great musicians, and they practically sound good regardless. A crappy band is a challenge to mix for not only sonically but mix wise too. It is very hard to manage both sonic and dynamic content that is bad. Why do you think sound guys rely on compression so much? It isn't because it's the glue that holds the mix together, it's because it makes dealing with a dynamic drummer, bassist or guitarist manageable. We don't use multi-thousand dollar mixers because it sounds good, we use them because the tools it provides makes things sound good. It all starts with the band and ends with how much control the sound guy can actually have. The shorter the leash you give them, the less they can do. Bad or good sound is a team effort, so play to win.

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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by beaubrummels View Post
    With my Hiwatt, I can make you step 6 feet back and with my Traynor I can make you have to leave the room with only one 4x12
    My Line 6 through a 4x12 will liquify your guts. And you will like it.

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    I poop in my KISS diapers while I cry that they are mean to me Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    It sounds amazing, though.
    Why yes, yes it does! When you listen from a safe distance. Like in a control room down the hall and around the corner with the soundproof door closed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bad City
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    It sounds amazing, though. But I can't think of a single gig I've ever done where I would use that, or a single bandmember or soundperson that would think it was a good idea.
    Not when you're directly in front of one

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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Aceman View Post
    Why yes, yes it does! When you listen from a safe distance. Like in a control room down the hall and around the corner with the soundproof door closed...

    That's the thing, though. I've yet to hear an engineer capture that sound like to sounds in the room. The recorded sound might be good, but it isn't the same.
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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    i think its those with the 'old school of rock ' mentality.young or old that ply too loud

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    Default Re: Tubes vs Digital vs Bad Sound

    I kept all this in mind for our show last Saturday. The band before us were running digital and their sound was harsh indistinct whereas we used mic'd tube halfstacks the old fashioned way. Our sound was much clearer and made for a beautiful FOH mix but I chalk it up to us working out our sounds for compatibility with each other and our compositions rather than the choice of technology. Even having a good crowd (which we did, place was nice and packed whereas they were opening and not everyone had showed up yet) and crowds can absorb treble.
    The opinions expressed above do not necessarily represent those of the poster and are to be considered suspect at best.

    Lead guitarist and vocalist of...



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