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Getting a good bass sound from a PA

Discussion in 'Bass' started by clinton, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. clinton

    clinton Guest

    hI aLL

    I would like to know if anyone has any suggestions on geting a good electric bass sound from a PA sytem. Basically the signal chain goes like this:
    Bass -> DI Box(not bass DI) -> Desk -> speakers (2x15" and a sub).

    What we are finding is that the bass gets lost sometimes during loud songs but is there in the softer songs. Also the bas sound is very WASHY, it's not a tight and powerful sound. Now I realise the setup isnt ideal but it's all the band have. I'm looking to get a cheapish compressor pedal to try to sort out both problems but was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions.

    By the way the compressors I'm looking at need to be low cost so i'm gonna have to go with behringer (please dont hurt me!!) or Samson.

  2. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    it's di, acting more like amp

  3. clinton

    clinton Guest


    Sorry, I dont quite understand your answer. Are you saying that it is the DI BOX's fault.

    Also, I love the Tech21 unfortunatly it is too expensive.

    What bass and pickups do you have?
    What kind of cable and how long is it?
    What DI are you using?
    What is your console?
    What are the model numbers of your speakers?
    What processors are you using and where are you crossing over?
    Where do you place the subs?
    Dual 15s are hardly ever good for linear bass, unless the 15s are crossed over independently, and well below 250Hz, because ALL dual 15s comb filter.
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    To be truthful, getting a "tight, powerful sound" doesn't come cheap. You haven't really given us the details of your speakers and amplification. That is the area of concern to deliver the goods.
    What I believe that Groff was saying is that the DI like a Sansamp can deliver the tone of a good bass amp where a lot of DIs fail. That particular model imparts a bit of compression to the tone. as far as getting a "cheap" compressor, I would suggest a BlueMax (it is reasonably clean, and has an active preamp frontend) or, better yet, a FMR RNC. I have also seen a number of live bassists using the Aphex Punch Factory in their rigs. These seem to be popular with the Latin big band players I mix for, and these dudes have the chops! You can find used BlueMax's on e-Bay for under $100.00...is that cheap enough?
    Anyway, if your 2x15" cabs are "budget" boxes like the JBL JRX, some Peaveys, Beh$#$%, Samson, etc., you are really taxing them with pushing bass in them. Ditto with cheap subs. And how much/kind of power are you putting to them? Are you bi-amping the system (seperate amps for the mains and subs)? Anyway, enlighten us a bit on the rig...
  5. clinton

    clinton Guest

    Hi Moonbaby

    Thanks for that.

    The speakers are JBL'S as well as the sub(which is also a 15"). The desk is a yamaha (dont know model but it is a 21 channel). The power amps are also yamaha (there are 2 500w amps).

    I live in South Africa so it is really difficult to get hold of the smaller companies products like FMR.

    This setup is for church so the budget is unfortunatly limited. Also, music products in South Africa are quite expensive and that is why the only option for us is the "cheap" option.

    I realise that you pay for what you get but we dont really have a choice.

    Another question: if we purchase a small 30w bass amp and the Line it out to the PA, would this create a better sound than a DI.

    Thanks for the time.
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Hi, Clinton:
    I sympathesize with your situation. I believe that you would be better off with a "real" bass amp rather than trying to push the bass through the PA, but a small 30-watt bass amp will never be heard onstage if it's competing with drums and other instruments up there. You will end up cranking the volume up so much that the tone will be "farty" and unuseable. And, in all likelihood, you will still need the DI box hooked up to the Line Out because most small amps don't have a "real" XLR output, and if you are running a line to the desk and it's longer than, say, 6 meters (20 feet), you run into all sorts of nasty noise problems.
    So, you have a bass, but no amp? I'd say put up with your situation for the time being, save up a bit more cash and pop for a more powerful (say, 100 watts with a 15" speaker) dedicated bass amp. You might still have to run it out to the board, but not nearly as "hard", so you can spare the house speakers some pain. And you and the others onstage will be able to hear you clearly enough to keep the rhythm "tight". In addition, the tone controls on such an amp will help you get the sound control you want. Patience, mi amigo, patience.
    BTW, we had a president here in the States named Clinton...ever heard of him? :lol:
  7. clinton

    clinton Guest

    Hey Thanks Moonbaby.

    I will try to see if I can get a couple a guys together and put in for a bass amp.

    Maybe a Fender Rumble 100 or a Laney - what do u think.

    Also I have a question about bEHRINGER BASS AMPS: are their products hated because of the actual bass amp SOUND or is it more because they cant take the wear and tear of a gigging band. If it is more the wear and tear then should I maybe look at them as the amp will never be moved off the church stage.....again what do u think.

    Thanks again. Your input is appreciated.

    Yeah I have heard of pres Clinton....Your ex Pres and my ex Pres (Mandela) are currently on the road giving support to the aids fight.
  8. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Well, the B%$^$& amps are just...toys, but so are a LOT of amps like those. They are simply cheaply-built gear that does not gig well, and the sound quality, in many cases, leaves much to be desired. Other amps to avoid include the smaller Ashdowns that, like the B$%# are made in China. The Fender Rumble will probably be a good choice. So would most
    Ampegs, Hartke's, SWRs, and Peaveys. Peaveys are real big here in churches in the South. I don't care for their audio gear, but they have a good reputation for their guitar and bass amps. Their TKO is a popular model of bass amp. I have no idea as to pricing in your country, but Peavey strives to be the "best bang for the buck" here. Also, while I have no experience with Laney bass amps, I DO know that the reputation of their tube guitar amps here is horrible. Chances are, they are made by the same factory that the Beh%$^4 are made in...Unfortunately, many name brand British amps are now made in China to less stringent quality demands. This includes MARSHALL (some models), VOX, Laney,and Ashdown. Good Luck!
  9. anxious

    anxious Guest

    Affordable PA systems are designed to be loud, efficient and fairly bulletproof. The tradeoff is that they can't put out much bass in the deeper regions. At lower levels, things are fine, but the woofer excursion (and/or amplifier) runs out of gas.

    One thing to try is putting a filter in the PA signal path to aggressively rolloff the bass frequencies below 50 Hz. If the filter is sharp enough, and properly adjusted, you shouldn't lose too much of the bass you are hearing now, but much less power will be wasted at high levels.

    There are many ways to accomplish this kind of filtering without spending too much money, and a decent pro audio dealer can steer you in the right direction. Most garden-variety "equalizers" can't do this job, however, since their filters are not of the proper shape.
  10. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    I know many budget systems that are high power and have thunder bass. Too many variables in that one for me.

    Having a friend from the country of the OP, I know that AC power quality can be iffy. If the power is iffy, the power amp performance will be off as well.
  11. anxious

    anxious Guest

    Sheet, fair enough. But, don't you think a filter to cut out signals below the response of the speakers would help in that case, too?

    After all, pumping 20 or 30 Hz into a typical PA system is just going to tax the woofers, the power line, etc. The acoustical response will be almost nill for a vented system, and the speaker impedance will be very low, thus drawing extra current. 50 Hz is pretty low stuff for a basic live sound situation. For example, the JBL JRX125 is a decent dual 15" speaker, and is spec'd down to 45 Hz, (-3 dB).

    Anyway, I know it is a complex issue, with many variables.
  12. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I personally find the JRX to be a poor representation of the JBL brand name. In my speaker repair business, I have found them to certainly NOT be "bullet-proof". Inspecting the innards reveals stamped frame woofers and a non-serviceable horn driver.
    Anyway, there are other issues here. This bass player is trying to get his tone from the PA, not a stage amp. This not only taxes the house system (despite a subwoofer), but whatever stage monitors he has (if any) so that the band can "click". No bass on stage, no "click", and running bass through the typical monitors these rigs tend to have is gonna sound "mushy" and hinder the clarity of the vocal mix. I believe that Mr. Clinton needs to generate an appropriate level of bass onstage via an amp designed for that purpose. When the band can groove, so will the congregation! And the PA will be cleaner for it...
  13. anxious

    anxious Guest

    Moonbaby (is that legal?),

    Thanks for the very articulate post. While I won't comment on the JBL's in particular, after a few reads, I think you nailed the issue: get the bass guitar out of the PA mix.

    So where do you repair speakers, if you don't mind the question?
  14. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I have partial ownership in a repair/live sound business in NE Florida, north of Daytona Beach. I don't do too much of the speaker stuff, but handle the tube amp and live sound side of things. But I SEE what these companies are doing to put out cheap boxes, and am appalled. The JRX boxes are clearly using a stamped-frame Eminence woofer, plus the HF drivers are Chinese and have no way to replace the diaphragm! Now, I happen to think that Eminence makes a great product, and they keep getting better, but the models that JBL is using are not nearly as robust as the models that, say, Yamaha, is using in their Club Series. So I must be getting old and bitter. Sorry about the rant....Have a great weekend, guys!
  15. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    Oh my! JRX is JUNK! They were not intended to be used as FOH mains, They were the poor man's background music speaker. That's your problem right there.

    I guarantee the next problem is your bass. If you do not hahve the right wood, construction and pickups, you will never get real bass, no matter what you are playing through.

    The following problem would be your fingers. The player = tone. I can put Billy Sheehan on a Fender P Bass and get that fart-like, almost fretless tone. Hand that same bass to "what's his name
    in Tool, and hear it growl.
  16. anxious

    anxious Guest


    I hear you. I see a lot of speakers in the course of a week and, unfortunately, the JBL's are far from atypical. In fact, I would say that most bands would consider them positively aspirational.

    Yeah, it isn't the good old days. But, at least the JBL's are actually engineered, and QC'd. Some other PA company's are basically buying drivers on the spot market, by frame size, and dropping into their cabinets with little more than a 4 uF cap on the horn....

    BTW- are you sure those are Eminence woofers in there?
  17. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I have some things in common with your situation. I play in a church band (switched to keys in the last year, but did bass for the past five years.) I usually play through the PA with a Bass POD as a DI. I have a JBL Eon G2 that I use as part of a PA or as a standalone. One the other hand, I'm pretty much an old school R&B style player. I play a P-bass with flats. A nice thump in the low mids and enough volume to move people and I'm good to go. You don't say much about your style, but I know a lot of guys go for a piano like round wound sound for contemprary christian. If that's the case for you, my advice might not be much good.

    At any rate, I am pretty much in agreement that the PA is probably the biggest part of the problem. Fixing it is pretty dependent on what is available locally. If the PA is doing the job on other full range instruments (like electric keys) then I'd look at the DI next. There are lower cost alternative like the sans amp bass DI, but watch out. You can throw a lot of good money away on a chain of cheap equipment.

    As far as the bass itself, in my mind it's probably the least important part of the chain. I'm all for buying good instruments, but a cheap bass with a really good setup, good strings, and a decent set of pickups will sound good in the hands of a good player. Fancy wood is just guilding the lilly.
  18. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    If you want your bass to be tight, phat, clean and big, turn the bass down, had a limiter and add some upper midrange. People will hear the bass if you stop trying to amplify "the bass". You can't hear bass, only feel it. You can hear midrange, so accentuate that.

    I'm here at home bass
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  19. clinton

    clinton Guest

    Hi All

    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    I think the first thing we will try to do is get a Bass amp. We are probably gonna go for the fender rumble 100. and then if we need a bit more volume we will line out to PA and at least that will put the PA under a lot less stress.

    One question though: if the bass amp is on stage and is being used as the bass players moniter as well as the main sound source for the room, then wont the sound of the bass be too loud on the stage for the rest of the musicians.

    Thanks again
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You really shouldn't need to put the bass guitar through the floor monitors. It's not recommended. Tell the bass player to turn up his amplifier. You don't want to rely on the PA system to amplify the bass. Tell him to get a good amplifier with a good head that might feature a direct output to be used for " sound reinforcement" not amplification.

    Going the wrong direction in the right way
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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