Does your band go to 11?
Updated: Mar 4, 2020
What to write about for the first blog entry on our site. Hmmm…should I summarize 23 years of awesome shows, great musicians and fun times? Nah…that sounds more like a novel. So, lets discuss something on a micro level that relates to anyone considering hiring a cover band for a wedding reception, fundraiser, corporate party, city fair or other event. VOLUME! How does a bands setup and configuration affect volume in a room? Sounds like a minor deal and when you are in the clubs, the louder the band…the better right? Not so in a ballroom where some people might want to talk and people of all ages and musical interests are visiting and trying to enjoy time together. An overly loud band or overly loud instruments can dominate everything else in a room and make it impossible for a sound engineer to manage a pristine mix. Ideally, the sound engineer should be able to deliver a punchy full volume level on the dance floor that really encourages dancing while further back in the room or on the sides, the sound volume falls away and allows for easy conversation. This is managed most easily by utilizing electronic drums, direct to board instrumentation and in-ear monitors.
The Newsboyz take advantage of each of these technologies while performing live. This allows our sound engineer complete control of the sound volume. He can make it sound great at “clock-radio” levels or turn it up to 11 and really push the PA system. Most of our performances call for volume levels that fall in-between those extremes and while we have the PA system that can break glass, we typically run it at comfortable levels that keep the party hopping without running guests out the door. So, if you are hiring a band, these are some details that you might ask the agent or band manager regarding their sound.
Newsboyz employs these key components in their setup:
Drums: Roland V-drums are state of the art electric drums. Jimmy can play as hard or soft as he likes, and the sound engineer controls the volume coming out of the PA. The only stage volume that is heard is the sound of drumsticks on mesh heads. Kinda like someone tapping a pencil on a desk.
Guitar: Ryan uses a Kemper Guitar Profiler. This processor simulates any guitar amp that Ryan can imagine and that signal goes direct to the mixing board, bypassing an amplifier and adding zero stage volume.
Bass: Geoff plays a bass guitar with active pickups and runs a custom processor to get his favorite sound without using an amplifier. Again, no added stage volume.
Horns and vocals: these are the only acoustic instruments that create stage volume
In-ear monitors: A typical band setup requires wedge monitors which are speakers on the stage floor that aim back up at the players so they can hear themselves. This creates a large amount of volume on stage which can greatly affect the sound engineer’s ability to cleanly mix the sound and as you can guess, the sound bleeds into every open microphone on the stage which further clutters the mix.
The Newsboyz utilize in-ear monitors which are essentially ear-bud style headphones. No speaker monitors are needed and everyone hears exactly the mix of instruments they prefer.
The takeaway for this blog is that not every band has a setup that is ideally configured for performance in a controlled environment. Ballrooms of all sizes will benefit when the band is optimized to get the best sound possible with the most control.
Call or email if you have questions regarding our setup and how your event could benefit.
Jimmy Russell – 2-26-2020