Guitars micing or going DI? pro's and cons please

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by 11miles, Feb 10, 2006.

  1. 11miles

    11miles Guest

    I want to start a discussion about the ways to taking the electric guitars in a live show to the PA?

    Do you mice them or DI them?
    And why?

    Perosnaly, i am not a PA man, but a guitarist!

    And am starting to think about the sound, that my band can produce an really try to optimize it!

    What i am saying is, that (depending on the size of the venue) you are not always able to mic the guitar cabinet!

    Now, i am a guitarist, had the chance to play through a lot of different amps.
    And i liek to hear the raw power of every one of them!
    THere are a coupel of them i reall liked an enjoyed playing, Mesa's Recto head, marshall 6100 i own, Soldano, Engl, Peavey 5150

    All of them thorugh different cabs and the bottom line is they sound good.
    When turned up loud!
    The other common thing is that when played at nromal volume (that is the volume you can practice with the band iand still hear them) it gets to sound pussy!
    And i am sure we all heard that sound!
    Now i knwo there are some things ac hotplates to make it low volume at high gain, but still.....

    I am thinking of taking my guitar primarly to DI to the Desk. first of all, because i am unaware about what i lose compared to micing it.
    I knwo what i gain!
    I am sure about the sound i get to the PA, because i dotn have to think about
    how the characteristic of the mic,
    the position of hte mic infornt of the cab,
    the distance from it,
    the possible intereference along the route to the PA desk,
    the desks pre-amp characteristic!

    I agree that the cabinet does get you some extra fat and stuff it gathers along the way. but what i am asking is, is this what we really want?
    Also, i would liek to know, if there is a real guitar freak reading this that spend much time tweaking the sound of it live or you jsu tthrow them left/right and do some book EQ's?
    No offence, but are guitar soundn important to you?

    Also maybe i am more relaxed talking about it, because i have this vision of going in-ear with the band, and we can really afford DI'ing the instruments, specialy for IEM purposes!

    Also, if there would be possible i coudl mic my cab somewhere offstage?

    Anyway i would jsut like to hear you opinions?

    ANd also i would liek to make it straight that normal DI soundn sound crappy to me!

    But using a good speaker simulator, or really good tweaking on Pod pro' or similar digi stuff, can sound really good!
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Having made plenty of live recordings, I can safely say, you should mic the cabinet with an SM57 (you don't need a microphone stand, you can simply drape it over the box, so space shouldn't be an issue).

    I also recommend that you use an FET direct box, DI, on the guitarist. The FET won't load down the guitar pickups like a transformer type will. This will provide you with virtually transparent sound to the amplifier and onto a track directly. You can then use that DI track and later feed through another amplifier and re-mic that! If you had a feedback effect through your original cabinet, that too will be reproduced on the DI. You can't do that with just a DI.

    Directly addressable
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    I with Remy

    and keep things simple
    simplicity does help to solve many troubles before they happen

    An all in one solution like the POD can work well live. Sure it can be a compromise but with IEM and simplified band system it can be a treat for doing both the Large Gig and the very, very small gig like in those in retail shops for the signings etc.

    This set-up can be also be the rehearsal set-up and so can be very familiar to the band as it is always the same config
  4. 11miles

    11miles Guest

    KEv and remy, thanks a lot!

    I agree!

    the system would be offcourse rehearsed as we play at pratice we also do some tweaking of the console!

    I have this dream i would really liek to make come true taking everythign to the desk, and bring it with us to the shows!
    IT would have to be a pretty decent board, with direct otus, offcourse but i really see a lot of advanateges here!

    I am only asking this for live shows, playing not recording!

    I use rocktron Voodu Valve, and the other guitarist uses POd XT.
    The bassist has balanced output also, the keyboards are line out!
    So the plan is to take everythign to the desk and from there to the IEM systems!

    From th desk each signal goes to the snake and to FOh table also!

    But i coudl not agree with you more, as far as wanting to be simple!

    I mean at first there is trouble, settign everything, the cables are a must, so you can realy on them to take it with oyu to the gig!
    But once all is sorted out, i think that can be a pretty good setup!


    I have really startign to toy with the idea of running the guitars straight to the foh! no cabinets!

    Jsut bare with me for a sec!

    I took my VV and my guitar!
    Plugged it in the RME FF800 so i can hear it on myTannoy reveal actives!

    Soon i have recorded some riffs, and played them in a loop, through the VV!
    And in the mean while i did the tweaking!

    My plan was to make a sound that would be great on PA systems!
    I took it to rehearsals and i plugged it in!
    I am really satisfied! I can get better, but for the first step that is a lot!

    And then i started to really think about all the good thigns that can bring me!
    And what that means for our soundn in general!
    I mean every guitarist woudl want to have the same sound on PA as he has coming out form his cabinet!

    BUT, we all know that does nto happen always!

    The guitarsist in order to hear himself must be loud! IF he is loud others can hear it, and maybe some of them too much!
    So they are instantly loud themselves!
    I dont think that helpes the overall mix, ha?
    Also, the sound he has setu in his rehearsals room with the band or even when he was alone! The soundn changes when putting the amp and the cab to anothr environment, true?
    I knwo not drasticly, but i think it does, but maybe if you put the mic really close to the cone, its OK!
    THen the mic....

    shure 57? senn 441?i heard a lto of FOH engineers saying that putting a certain mike, they erally love infront of the cab, becuase of its characteristic.....(FUC+ that) the poor man spent 30.000$ changing the amps, guitars, cables, pre-amps, to finnaly got the setup he wants!

    Now a FOH engineer, with a compelte different picture of guitar sound come and brings this fancy mike and wants to experiment!
    Is that the right thing to do?
    And lets not even discuss the things he does on the FOH table with the guitars.....

    And that all can be all easily avoided i think with going DI.
    And with good speaker simulators or -modelers, liek you mentioned kev, i think you get great results!

    Also, let us not forget that bends usually have 2 guitars, so that means more different sounds on stage, the bass, gets loud also...
    And let us think about the singr for a minute here
    (me being one aswell :D )

    He gets all these volumes up his ass, and everybody expect him to sing good even without a good and proper soundcheck!
    Now imagine he is a guitarist also(me being one aswell)
    He has to get really loud, so he can hear himself, and maybe high volumes on stage really is nto somethign a FOH engineer woudl really want?

    Or am i worng?

    KEv, scan you please suggest me some things, i should look out, do, becasue i really am just starting out here, and if you have some ideas, and suggestions on how to do it simple, that is really what i woudl like to hear/do!

    10x in advance everyone!
  5. twon

    twon Guest

    personally i would never only use di.... can you mic the cab offstage?
    is it possible for you to back off the whole stage level? that would make it easier to hear and much easier and better sounding for the FOH operator. in other words, instead of turning up your cab when you cant hear yourself, get bass, drums, and other guitars to turn down, etc. i know you can only do this so much but it can really help... you also seem to really distrust FOH engineers? or am i reading this wrong? and i def agree with remy, go the 57
  6. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    I can see where twon is coming from.

    when in doubt a good sounding small amp and an SM57
    and then get the band to sound right as a band by adjusting relative volumes at the guitar amps

    this is the standard way to get a good live sound
    and will end up giving you a good stage and good FOH sound

    Also your trust in the FOH and Monitor eng is important and is critical in any advice we can give that might be different to the above standard set-up.

    If we do give new and un-usual set-ups, everyone involved needs to be on the same page.

    I know of one band that is getting consistant work at all levels have chosen to set themselves up with POD style units and and a complete IEM system with NO stage monitors.

    I'm not completely sure how they handle the drum kit BUT I suspect there is a great deal of sample trigger that is either total or an enhancement to the Drum Kit sound ... there is a seat shacker ... it looks like a seat shaker at least.

    The same Fold-back mixer set-up is used for ALL shows and includes the rehearsals.
    The mixer is digital and has multiple set-ups to deal with the subtle changes for the various show styles they do.
    Everything from the small short form acoustic to the large scale big stage full band with extra players and extra vocalists.
    I think this mixer contains much of the outboard gear that would normally be use ... comps gate and even a little reverb in the IEM sends

    I don't know if they have a specialist processor on the individual outputs.
    I personally feel that one of the very tricky modern units on each output could be a real benefit.
    This bit could be the most expensive part ... things like TC-Max or one of the other realtime level control units.

    My dream would be to have the facility to control that mixer via a radio ... BlueTooth type of communication link. This added to a belt pack with all frequencies means the Monitor Eng could make changes on the fly from anywhere in the venue.
  7. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2003
    Kansas City, KS
    Home Page:
    Use both. I would never ever tell a guitarist to load his pickups, jack his tone, etc. I use a countryman FET85 DI. I split the guitar to the stomp boxes and amp and then to a Line6 or whatever the guy brings that day. I then often mix the two. If the arrangement of the music and chosen tone creates a mush in the house mix, then I can easily boost the stereo Line6 (etc) signal and cut the muddy mic'd sound. It is damage control.
  8. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    Yep the countryman is great ... nice and high input imp and a has good transient ability
    On one of my sites there is a few clues as to what is inside one of these babies
    Everyone should try to find an opportunity to try one of these Very Good quality DI units and do some experiments ... especially if your guitarist does handle standard Strat type guitars

    I should have pointed out that the band is completely on radio in both directions

    This allows then to do a last minute sound check from the Green Room or back stage just before going on.
    One needs to remember to have ALL speakers on stage or FOH muted.

    otherwise it ends in one of those d'oh moments
  9. 11miles

    11miles Guest

    Hey KEv, i did not see your post here!

    that are some fine suggestions!

    what i was thinking of is grabbing a palmer pga-04 and plug my marshall into it!
    Form there to the FOH.
    FOr bigger stuff i woudl use the other output of the 6100 to load the box, no harm done!
    But where i woudl get my 5cents worth is going IEM all the way!

    What i was inerested in, can you suggest me some more ways on doing these?

    My setup is:
    1 vocal, no backing
    2 guitars, 1 podx, other one is tryign to get a speker simulator
    1 bass, with balanced output
    2 synths!
    Drums are the real deal, no triggers!

    Where the things start to get complicated is we all need sort of IEM because we play on the click track!
    No way that playing o nthe wedges...

    So i was thinking, for the type of shows we have our own backline and our soundman brings his own desk no porb! That is only for plaing hoem!
    When going abroad, that is not a question and we have torely on the hosting FOH!

    Even then if we can afford havign the soundcheck as normal people no problem for any IEM setup!
    As far as the really nervous and quick soundchecks is concerned!

    Our drummer controls his mix. The ref track, the click track, and the kick OH he has to hear is there on the little behringer desk!

    What i was thinking is getting a desk he woudl still operate with at least 1 prefader aux, which he would sent the click track to us!
    I use db Technologies 2200, and the rest of the band are wired on the headphone pre-amp!
    Not a pretty site, now able to move plenty, but they dont tend to move at all, so that is a pretty good solution!
    NAd that way we woudl all get what we would need!

    I am jsut thinking if there is something i am forgetting????

    More about the guitar sound if it is DI-ed?
    Since i hate POD and all the other DIGI crap, how is my idea about using the palmeror anything similar?
  10. twon

    twon Guest


    the problem i see here is that everyone in your band will need a slightly different IEM mix. if you are running everyone on the same mix, you will end up not happy with it because it will need to have everyone relatively equally. this will cause issues with everyone needing a bit more of themself to stand out. this could easily muddy up your IEM mix.
    what desks are you looking at? you would need to feed everything into it (obviously), as IEM blocks out outside sound (thats the whole purpose of it). from there everything would be run to FOH. Your desk will also need more that one prefader aux send (imo) for the reasons i mentioned above. i think something around 4....
    Aux1 - Vox
    Aux2 - Guitars
    Aux3 - Synths
    Aux4 - Drums and Bass

    as you can see, this only gets more complex.... also does it really need to be with the drummer. imho you would set the levels and keep them, and keep the desk out of anybody´s way.

    btw are you playing to clicktrack only to keep your drummer in time or is there stuff on there for everyone? in other words, do you really need iem for everyone? you could still go direct with guitars if you want.
    IEM is very easy to make very complicated. if You manage it, you will need to ensure the settings are exactly the same every time.

    hope that helps


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