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Cheap Advice On Live Sound
48 Tips To Make Your Band Sound Better
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Mini-Tip: Use Your PA’s EQ For Vocal Clarity

6:00 am Live Sound

Whether your band uses a standard mixer feeding a power amp or an “all in one” powered mixer as your PA system, you have a fair amount of control over the sound that emerges from the unit. The most powerful of the mixer controls (besides the gain!) are undoubtedly the EQ knobs. Every PA system has at least “bass” and “treble” controls, and many add a third “mid-range” knob. In a few cases, the frequency that the mid-range control boosts or cuts is even settable!

In my work with Rusty Strings, I use the mixer EQ knobs for two main purposes. The first is to compensate for the bass boost that occurs due to the “proximity effect” when a singer gets very close to the microphone. When I see that this is about to happen, I drop the bass EQ for the appropriate channel, and the vocal sounds normal. Later, when the singer backs off, I restore the flat bass setting.

The second, and perhaps more important, purpose for my use of EQ is to make sure that the lyrics are clearly intelligible. Depending on the microphone and the singer’s distance or angle, the resulting vocals sometimes become a bit “muddy,” making the lyrics difficult to pick out. In this case, a slight boost in the treble EQ, or at the high end of the mid-range control, puts that “snap” back into the sound - and I can hear all the words!

[An expanded version of this Mini-Tip appears in my eBook Cheap Advice On Live Sound.]

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