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Help - First Time Lead Vocalist, I Need Advice

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cr0ft
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Hi all. I've come here from Google and am looking for some advice on something. Basically I've been in a lot of pub bands so far and have sung in most of them as a backing vocalist. I've formed a new band and am the lead vocalist for the band. This is the first time I've done this.

Basically we practise in a rehearsal studio, nothing fancy, just the sort pub bands use really. Concrete floors, solid walls. Our band setup is a drummer, bassist, lead guitarist and then me (I might be playing either keyboard or acoustic guitar depending on the song).

When I practise at home I run my keyboard and vocals through my 300W Roland keyboard amplifier. I use backing tracks and everything sounds nice. I don't have to strain at all and therefore my voice sounds good, or so I've been told.

When we are in the practise room its different altogether. My vocals and the keyboard go through a 900W PA and the guitarist and bassist go through their own amplifiers.

Basically I really struggle to hear myself, even when I'm directly in front of the PA speakers. I also notice that the keyboard is setup around 4 times louder than it is when I practise at home. I think this is down to the drummer being quite loud and all the other instruments adjusting to him.

The only way I can be heard is to sing louder than I am comfortable doing, resulting in straining etc. I know this can't go on, but the band don't seem to get the hint that we need to turn all the volumes down (I think) to let the vocals cut through.

Has anyone been in this situation before? If so how did you deal with it? I don't want to upset anyone else in the band but I can't keep straining my voice for 3 hours every week.

I'm presuming in a larger environment such as a decent sized pub or a club we would be able to turn everything up more and get away with it but it's just not working in a 5 metre by 4 metre practise room.

Thanks to all in advance for your replies.

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CrOft,

I have a couple of questions about your practice set up. You mention that you have monitors but do you also have mains and subs? Are the mains and subs pointing back at the band? The drummer always sets the level for the stage or practice room sound level. The guitarist, bass guitarist and keyboardist (you) should set you volumn levels so that you can hear yourself, along with the guitarist and bass with the drummer playing. Once everyone is happy with the levels for their insruments, you can dial in the vocals. Here is where you let the pa do the work. You should set the gain for your vocal channel so that you can hear yourself through the monitors while singing at a comfortable level, you should not have to sing louder, just turn up the gain. I hope this helps.

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Hi there and thanks a lot for your reply. We practise in a stage setup but with the PA speakers facing us. We run the keyboard and the vocals through the PA which has a set of full-range speakers (not separate tops/bottoms).

We don't have monitors but my position is right in front of one of the PA speakers pretty much.

Do you think this could be the problem? We are looking at buying an in-ear monitor system for our band fairly soon as we also play to click tracks and at the moment the drummer looks daft wearing headphones!

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crOft, If you intend to perform live, you really need some sort of monitor for yourself. You might be able to get through practice with the main acting as a monitor but in a live show, you are going to have to have some kind of monitor for yourself. If you step in front of your mains during a show and the mic picks it up, your not going to be happy :). If you have one powered monitor, all you need is a signal sent to it. If your mains have a (thru), you can run from that into your monitor but the mix will be what the audience hears, not something special for you. If it is not a powered monitor, you might want a seperate amp to power it. In ears are nice but are expensive. Depending on how large the venue is and if you are not micking any of the guitar cabs, the stage volumn is going to be loud. It really is important to hear yourself and any other vocals. You do have a few options, most of it depends on budget.

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I have been fronting my first band as lead singer as well. I am fortunate to have band mates that own a killer pa and it has helped me immensely having good monitors. That being said, unless you lug your own pa every where you will not always have monitors on stage. This is where the in-ear monitors are great. I have one little bag to haul around and I have monitors no matter how terrible the sound set up is. They also provide ear protection so the gig is only as loud as you want it. Even if the mix is off you can take one out as long as you can still hear yourself they are fantastic. I would suggest not going on the cheap (I did) and get good earbuds that are comfortable (I didn't):cool:

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Hi and thanks for the advice so far all. We're in a tribute band and pretty much all the places we play at will have in house PA systems but I am seriously considering a set of in-ear monitors. Our first big gig is in July and it's an outdoor event with around 40,000 people. Having no experience of in-ear monitors I would like to look at systems that both will allow all 4 band members to receive a mix (the same mix will be fine) on. Not looking to spend silly money but equally don't want to buy something that's rubbish. What system did you get onprcntr?

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Cr0ft - I used to have the same issue. I solved it by buying my own monitors and board. I run two Samson resound monitors with 15" speakers and horns. I drive them with a 1600 watt mixer. I also purchaced a set of used Sure in ear monitors. I prefer the floor monitors over the ears. The bottom line is this:If you can't hear yourself, for whatever reason. you are going to push hard and strain and possibly cause damage. The only cheap solutions that I can see are these: Have one speaker just for vocals, and the other for the keys - this will depend on weather the board and mixer you have is capable of stereo. The other method that sometimes help is putting a finger in one of your ears - you will be able to hear your voice resonate a little. Do not expect to fix this issue without spending some $$. I have spend $1500.00 on just the stuff that I mentioned earlier.

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Out of curiosity, why do you prefer the floor monitors over the in-ear ones? I'm erring towards an in-ear solution as we will be using backing tracks and clicks and I'm not sure the click through the floor monitors would be a good idea.

The drummer, me and the guitarist will all need to hear the click as we will all start off songs on our own to backing tracks at some point in our sets.

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CrOft, if you are playing an outside gig to 40,000 people, someone is going to have a very large professional setup and may very well have in ears for the band. They will defianatly have at least many large floor monitors. You can pick up the backing tracks in the floor monitors as well, the audience probably won't really notice. As far as getting in ears for you smaller venue shows, it really is a personal taste, in ears do offer some nice protections but so do musician earplugs such as Vaders. Make sure you have a fresh set of batteries in the in ears, you don't want them going down durring a show if you don't have some other type of stage floor monitor. I know my son likes to wear one in ear and one musicians plug on stage. He likes to hear the band sound not through the in ears alone. The musician earplugs are also great durring practice, or when you don't want to wear in ears and you are standing next to the crash symbol. :)

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I got a cheap one by Galaxy Audio. My only complaint is the power in the belt pack is low. I bought Shure earbuds to use with it because the reviews stated the ones that come with it suck. It still kind of sucks. You need super efficient earbuds to make a cheap system sound good. That being said I can hear myself fine but if I want a nice mix it sounds like doo doo. I have to keep myself way out front in my personal mix and sometimes take one ear out so can hear the band. Even still getting used to them and the issues it is still 1000 times better than what I have dealt with in the past. When I upgrade I will go with a Shure digital though. I want to add that having a wedge as well as the IEM is the cat's ass though you really feel surrounded by the music. Especially if you leave one earbud out. You get that visceral feeling of hearing what everyone hears but also having the accuracy and clarity right in your ear. It's a great comfort and that helps everything.

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Well I've decided to go down the road of getting a Shure PSM200 transmitter and receiver pack plus a set of custom in-ear monitors. I'm going to go for the triple driver set from alien ears which cost around £230 including shipping from america. £40 for the audiologist appointment for 2 sets of impressions so I have a spare.

Am really excited about the prospect of actually hearing my voice in practise!

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Out of curiosity, why do you prefer the floor monitors over the in-ear ones? I'm erring towards an in-ear solution as we will be using backing tracks and clicks and I'm not sure the click through the floor monitors would be a good idea.

The drummer, me and the guitarist will all need to hear the click as we will all start off songs on our own to backing tracks at some point in our sets.

I guess I just dont like the fact that I can't hear the crowd with in ear monitors. It kin of makes things a bit "steril" I think. I should use them because they isolate what I need to hear lol.

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I guess I just dont like the fact that I can't hear the crowd with in ear monitors. It kin of makes things a bit "steril" I think.

A true performer. You key into the crowd and sing to them. No wonder Drop Head is catching on fire. They've got a singer who "gets it."

Just remember the small guys like me when you get famous and stinkin' rich.

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