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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Ambient Harp Conflicting with Amplified Harp?
Ambient Harp Conflicting with Amplified Harp?
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Littoral
1716 posts
Dec 31, 2019
5:42 AM
When we play over a mic we get a significant sound directly to our ears and through our bodies that is always present. Since I started using wireless and regularly listening out front I've noticed that other people's comments about my mix aren't always what I hear. It's obvious to me now that my ambient sound conflicts with getting a representative mix. This is true on stage be it by monitor or amp. Does it matter? Maybe not much but it does say that we have a significant impediment to hearing our actual sound.
To address it? I could put on headphones to soundcheck, record briefly or trust someone who knows what their listening to. ?

Last Edited by Littoral on Dec 31, 2019 5:44 AM
jbone
3103 posts
Dec 31, 2019
5:58 AM
The sound dynamics in a given room will be different in different spots ie front, middle, back, sides. When possible a sound check in various spots by someone with decent ears is a good idea. For my part when using sound gear I always ask the audience if it's good after the first song.
There are so many variables! Especially with a full band, as the band warms up and the crowd gets a bit more animated and louder, and of course the human body absorbs sound waves so if there's a crowd that can be another factor.
Very good point, what I hear at the harp and what "they" hear 15 or 50 feet away, it's a very different animal. I heck as best I can and we go forward. Most times the result is pleasing at most points in a room.
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Littoral
1717 posts
Dec 31, 2019
7:09 AM
jbone ... we never hear the sound without it being significantly influenced by the ambient and resonance sound in our immediate space. We can't get away from it regardless of all of the other variables. I appreciate your reply but I'm not talking about any of that.
Other instruments that deal with it? Horns, drums, violin, accordion.

Last Edited by Littoral on Dec 31, 2019 7:10 AM
Spderyak
310 posts
Jan 06, 2020
4:12 AM
What is the question again ? Is it that your harp doesn't sound to you, like you think it should when it mixes with the bands sound system ?
And asking if that is unique to a wireless set up ?

Last Edited by Spderyak on Jan 06, 2020 4:15 AM
Littoral
1719 posts
Jan 07, 2020
8:38 AM
Yeah, it seems like the question shouldn't be so confusing. I'll try again.
I think playing the harp gets in the way of accurately hearing the mix. I can't separate what I hear directly from what's coming over the PA or an amp. What we hear is a lot different than what the audience hears. It never mattered to me until I started paying more attention playing out front with wireless.
barbequebob
3629 posts
Jan 07, 2020
8:58 AM
@Littoral -- Most harp players, ESPECIALLY if the only thing they do is troll open jams, too often think the sound they hear is the same as what the audience hears and I learned how that's often NEVER the case many years ago and if you use a wireless or an extremely long mic cable, I saw this many times over the years and as an example, there were times I felt drowned out on the bandstand and then when I walked into the crowd, I got quite the shock hearing that I was the one who was too loud by a freaking mile. Ambient really isn't a good description of what's happening because what it entials is acoustics, plain and simple and room acoustics and stage acoustics are often very different. Even amps sound different from one room to another, one venue to another, one stage to another and there are all sorts of factors, from stage layout, height, carpeting, ceiling height, and a helluva lot more, Jbone's answer is a lot closer to the truth and you just don't waste your time bitching and moaning about and just go on and deal with it, plain and simple. Hell, even stage monitors are going to be affected by acoustics as well and there is no bit of gear that can erase that fromm the equation.
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The Iceman
3995 posts
Jan 07, 2020
10:28 AM
If you are in a position to control that stage sound (it's your band, your jam, your PA, etc), I recommend the BOSE philosophy that what you hear on stage should be the exact same mix as the audience hears. That way, competent musicians on stage can self determine the overall balance.

Bose makes systems that set up behind the band and project out into the room, combining mains and monitors into one easy to understand concept.

When I had a working top-40 band (back in the day), I designed a custom PA situation in which the exact same mix was pushed through the monitors as was going out the mains. This works much better than that crappy philosophy that seems to be pervasive in which every member of the band wants a different monitor mix blowing back up at them.
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The Iceman
Littoral
1720 posts
Jan 07, 2020
12:50 PM
Yes, good points all around. Me even asking the question makes me sound like I don't know much about what I'm doing but I promise, I do. Point is, what we get directly from the harp to our ears can't be separated from the mix. It doesn't matter much until you're really particular with frequencies and optimizing sound. We play low volume and work hard to get high fidelity. There's nothing like being in tune, solid tone, in time and deliver it with good gear. Make live music sound like a really good stereo.
LSC
804 posts
Jan 20, 2020
7:59 PM
+1 with barbequebob. Trying to chase sound out front is a hiding to nothing. Ultimately you have zero control.

Sound check in an empty room changes continually as the place fills. Sound woman/man makes adjustments.

Sound woman/man hears balance or mix is not pleasing to them for anyone of a hundred different reasons. They make adjustments.

Other players on stage change what they're doing which affects the balance. They've made adjustments or the sound man/woman will make adjustments depending.

You might notice a pattern here. At no time does the harmonica player make an adjustment from the stage based on anything happening FOH.

Get your sound together to suit yourself and the volume to suit as well taking direction from the sound man/woman as to balance.

The last thing I'd do is ask the audience what they think. Vast majority will be laymen who really don't have a clue. Besides, they're paying on the assumption you know your job. If you got a fellow muso friend out front you might ask them to have a listen and come tell you after a couple of numbers if something is really out of whack.
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LSC
nacoran
10222 posts
Jan 21, 2020
10:54 AM
I think ultimately you just need to communicate with the sound person well. Give them a sample of a mix where you sound good and tell them that's what you are aiming for in the mix. Tell them you are going to be doing dynamics so they don't micro adjust you up when you are trying to be quiet or down when you are trying to crescendo. Get a trusty friend to stand in the audience who can maybe give the sound person a hand on getting your specific sound down if the sound engineer is willing to have the help, and maybe to record you from show to show so you get an idea of what you sounded like live in the room. (Getting the right recording device is important for that.)

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The Iceman
4004 posts
Jan 21, 2020
11:27 AM
Sound person running the board will have his own experience/philosophy in how it should sound....if that person is coming from rock and roll, he may think that you have to push the bass drum and the bass to extreme levels overall.

Personally, I feel it is proper to tell the sound person what YOU want - easier if it is your band and you are playing all night - harder if it is just for 3 songs during a jam.
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The Iceman
Littoral
1723 posts
Jan 21, 2020
12:32 PM
Interesting.
I tried to explain something and in spite of all well intended replies no one addressed what I was trying to get at. Certainly my fault. But because I'm obstinate enough to happily beat a dead horse into dog food I'll try again.
When we play harp, no mic etc., we hear it, a lot. It even resonates in our head, a lot. We cannot separate that (acoustic) sound from what we hear when we play through gear. I noticed this when I started playing out front wireless and mixing sound. It was hard to accurately hear the mains (or monitors). This is mostly irrelevant if I'm romping in a full band with a 4-10 but any scenario where I can hear MYSELF will be ... ah, more complicated.
ALPO can complete :)

Last Edited by Littoral on Jan 21, 2020 12:33 PM
jbone
3115 posts
Jan 21, 2020
7:28 PM
Simply put, for me, whether I'm in the duo or working with a band/big stage/big gear, I go into the moment and fly by the proverbial seat of the pants.
Not to beat the horse further but I just don't go that deep into the minutiae. Sound is very subjective.

Yesterday I was using a strange to me p.a. and the only mistake I know I made was I forgot to cut some bass off my vocal channel. Owner came over and asked me to cut it after 2 songs, I did, we were all happy. The folks right out front will hear differently than someone at the door or the bar or in back. 99.9% of the time I'm the sound guy. I do ask the crowd how we sound early on and if possible I don't change anything unless the place packs out. Even then volume increase is minimal.

We get good results judging by crowd enthusiasm and tips.
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Last Edited by jbone on Jan 22, 2020 4:11 AM
SuperBee
6438 posts
Jan 22, 2020
2:48 AM
Similar to when you hear your recorded voice. Who’s that?

I dunno, all you can do is trust the feedback you get, and record it. Maybe if you spend enough effort recording and playing back you start to connect what you hear with the sound others are getting.
LSC
806 posts
Jan 22, 2020
2:28 PM
Littoral - I don't know. I think you might be over thinking things. Even playing acoustically through the vocal mic I've never noticed the actual acoustic sound of the instrument coming directly from harp to ear. I'm hearing what's coming out of the monitors just like I'm hearing what's coming out of an amp. The only time I hear the harmonica isolated is if I'm putting a finger in one ear when, if I don't know it, trying to sort the key so I can hear the harmonica "privately".

When playing through an amp you have a large element of control. When playing through the PA your control is limited to your individual technique. As my grandma used to say, "Don't sweat what you can't control."

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LSC


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