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Using powered speakers for reinforcement

GUEST,Dave 22 Oct 14 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 22 Oct 14 - 01:18 PM
Steve Shaw 22 Oct 14 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,Ted Crum (Steamchicken) 22 Oct 14 - 03:10 PM
Richard Bridge 22 Oct 14 - 04:32 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 14 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 22 Oct 14 - 06:36 PM
Steve Shaw 22 Oct 14 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,Stim 22 Oct 14 - 10:24 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 23 Oct 14 - 07:42 AM
Stanron 23 Oct 14 - 08:08 AM
GUEST,Mark Bluemel 23 Oct 14 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 23 Oct 14 - 09:31 AM
GUEST 23 Oct 14 - 09:55 AM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Oct 14 - 10:03 AM
Steve Shaw 23 Oct 14 - 10:33 AM
GUEST 23 Oct 14 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 23 Oct 14 - 11:03 AM
Steve Shaw 23 Oct 14 - 11:08 AM
Noreen 23 Oct 14 - 03:17 PM
Steve Shaw 24 Oct 14 - 10:41 AM
Leadfingers 24 Oct 14 - 07:16 PM
Steve Shaw 24 Oct 14 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 24 Oct 14 - 08:13 PM
GUEST,FloraG 25 Oct 14 - 03:59 AM
Will Fly 25 Oct 14 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Ted Crum (Steamchicken) 25 Oct 14 - 10:04 AM
Steve Shaw 25 Oct 14 - 07:18 PM
Don Firth 25 Oct 14 - 08:32 PM
GUEST,FloraG 26 Oct 14 - 03:14 AM
GUEST,matt milton 26 Nov 14 - 04:59 AM
Musket 26 Nov 14 - 05:46 AM
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Subject: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 12:40 PM

Some sessions seem to be full of box players who believe they have to play everything as loud as possible (waits for incoming), which doesn't give mandolinists and guitarists much of a chance to contribute (or even to hear themselves). Because of this I'm thinking of using a small portable powered speaker to reinforce my instruments - but there's a huge range from dirt cheap to Bose prices so it would be good to have a recommendation or two from people who've already tried it.

The ideal speaker would have an analogue* input, sound "good", be reasonably loud, small and light enough to fit in a pocket or small bag, have 6+ hour battery life and (of course) not cost too much. The Bose Soundlink Mini sounds great but £155 is more than I want to pay.

Dave

* I don't think I can use Bluetooth because of the delay, hence the need for an analogue input.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 01:18 PM

Maybe take a look on the Vox website for a start..

eg..http://voxamps.com/mini


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 02:23 PM

I sometimes use a Roland Mobile Cube for harmonica and it gives me excellent clean sound. I use six rechargeable AA batteries and they give me a good six hours. It's very portable and, volume-wise, punches way above its weight. It has standard jack-plug inputs (you could play a backing track through it to accompany your amplified self!) and a good range of adjustments. The standard advice always applies: try it out in the shop with your intended mic/pickup. If they won't let you try it, walk away.

It's probably worth saying that most sessions wouldn't welcome you with an amp in a month of Sundays. I understand your issue apropos of mandolins (I can NEVER hear the damn things!!), but no session I've ever experienced would have needed an amplified guitar. The decibel levels at your session must be close to danger point!


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,Ted Crum (Steamchicken)
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 03:10 PM

I have found an astonishing piece of kit which I use in sessions to lift the harmonica to box level. It it called a Pasce Minirig. You need to use some sort of pre-amp to lift the microphone output to line level (I use a Boss bass effects pedal) and the results are just wonderful. It should work on any instrument so long as it isn't too bassy. 50 hours battery life, size of one of those round tins of motoring sweets you find in garages, and light as a feather. Have a look on line.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 04:32 PM

Stanley knife?


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 05:37 PM

Thanks for suggestions so far.
As Steve says, amps are not welcome so this needs to be small enough to fit in the pocket or gig bag - the Rolands and Voxamps are too big.
The Pasce looks very interesting but £95 is more than I really wanted to pay ... any other recommendations?


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 06:36 PM

..going smaller and you are entering wasp fart in a tin can sound quality...

There are plenty of cheap n cheerful plastic micro amps..

there's this on Amazon for 15 quid
GuitarAC Portable Battery Powered Mini Amp for Electric Guitar

The better known 'quality' brands are around £30 - £40

maybe google youtube demos to check if any can manage clear clean sound at a reasonable sound level..

With luck one of them might not sound too farty..

eg: Vox AC1RV Rhythm Vox Miniature Battery Amp / Fender Mini Twin / Orange Micro crush CR3 /
Marshall Amp MS2 Mini Amp


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 07:14 PM

You'll still be sussed even if you use a mini-amp. Unfortunately, they tend to sound more like amps (and tinny with it) than the bigger jobs!

If I remember rightly, there's a piece of kit that you can attach to the back of a mandolin that makes it project its sound far better. I don't know one end of a mando from another and I'm damned if I can remember what it's called. Perhaps someone else can help...


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 10:24 PM

One thing that you have to do, whatever amp you choose, is learn how to use it before you take it out to a session.

For one thing, your instrument will sound and respond differently when amplified(it worries me a bit that you don't call it an amp). You will likely need to make changes in your playing technique.

For another, your set up, no matter how simple it is (instrument/pick-up/and amp is the basic) is a creature of its own, and can get out of control if not carefully managed. This is especially true when playing with un-amplified instruments, no matter how loud they may seem to you.

Also, at least as important, and probably more important than the amp will be the pickups that you use. Unless your instruments have built in pickups, getting pickups that work well with your instruments and playing style usually requires a bit of effort and experimentation.

And then there are effects.

Managing the bass, treble, and midrange to get a balanced sound requires a bit of practice, and you must also learn to adjust both these and your volume for each room you're playing in. There are other effects, such as compression, chorus, flanging, and delay that often come built in to even small units, and, perhaps paradoxically, can be used to create a smoother, more natural sound, or can wreak havoc.

Most important, you should heed Punkfolkrocker and Steve Shaw's warnings about small amps!


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 07:42 AM

I think it would be unusual for a mandolin to need an amp in order to be heard, even amongst a throng of squeezeboxes. The sound is at a higher pitch and usually cuts through.

Whether you can hear yourself is another matter. The sound projects away from you so in a noisy environment it can be difficult to hear yourself (even concertinas can have this problem). You might just get away with it if it is used solely as a foldback monitor (although your immediate neighbours may not be be very happy) but generally amps are unwelcome at sessions unless used for entirely electronic instruments (eg keyboards and basses) and turned down to match acoustic levels.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Stanron
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 08:08 AM

A point to remember about mandolins, and also guitars, is that the sound goes away from the player. Even if the player can't hear it there is a very good chance that everyone else can. Positioning a micro amp on the table in front of you and pointing at you might work if you can get agreement from your neighbours. On some amps headphones can cut out the speaker and judicious use of these can ameliorate the problems that come from sitting on the wrong side of an accordion player.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 09:00 AM

"On some amps headphones can cut out the speaker and judicious use of these can ameliorate the problems that come from sitting on the wrong side of an accordion player."

Is there a right side on which to sit?


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 09:31 AM

ok... if mainly required for monitoring, guitar pocket headphone amps...
a pair of discrete ear bud headphones and off you go...

fair few available, maybe start off looking at these..

Vox amPlug Headphone Guitar Amplifier - AC30

29 quid at Amazon

Very popular - these plug direct into the instrument jack socket,
so a male to female converter lead would be required if you need to hide it away in a pocket.

More Headphone amps ..

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dmi&field-keywords=guitar%20headphone


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 09:55 AM

I sometimes use resonator or banjo mandolins but prefer the sound (when I can hear it) of the regular one. (I was once asked, by a melodeon player some distance away, to play the resonator a little quieter - very pleasing!)

I'm just about to fit some pickups (from JJB electronics) so I'll heed the advice and experiment with an earpiece before risking one of the mini-amps.

Steve Shaw: banjos can be retrofitted with a resonator/reflector but not mandolins, I guess that's what you're thinking of.

Stim: these things don't have any adjustment except volume and, as an example, the minirig claims to have an essentially flat response between 100Hz and 20kHz.
I'm only calling them "speakers" because that's how they're marketed.

Mark: the top side?


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 10:03 AM

"size of one of those round tins of motoring sweets you find in garages,"

??????????


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 10:33 AM

No, it isn't a resonator. It's a gizmo that fits on the back of the mando holding it away from your body. I'll try to remember what it is and report back (unless, hopefully, someone beats me to it!) Apropos of headphones, surely the point of a session is to interact with the other musicians. I can't see headphones exactly assisting with that.

As others have said, be aware that the presence of any amp for any reason in a session is almost certain to be unwelcome, very likely expressed vociferously. You may be able to carefully nurture its acceptance in your own local session with your mates over time. That's what I did for my poor little harmonicas, but I still wouldn't dream of showing up at someone else's session with my amp. Recently, I've discovered harmonicas (and techniques) that are much better at cutting through and I always prefer to ditch the amp if I can. I don't agree that mandolins are that good at cutting through, though they do sort of add to the mix (isn't that what you want?), but you'll never convince me that a guitar ever needs boosting, unless your session is the size of the London Symphony Orchestra.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 10:52 AM

punkfolkrocker: thanks for that, I didn't know such things existed so was planning to build a FET buffer and headphone amp in a tin box. If they're available cheaply it may not be worthwhile building - more research needed!


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 11:03 AM

" surely the point of a session is to interact with the other musicians. I can't see headphones exactly assisting with that."

Steve - thet's why I specifically mentioned ear bud headphones.

Being 'in ear' they are very discrete, and do not need to isolate the wearer from the ambient room sound and other musicians.

Depends how loud you drive them, and if they are inefficient at sealing out external noise.

Anyway, it's easy enough to just pop one in for monitoring your instrument,
and keep the other ear 'naked' exposed to everything else going on in the room.

For a while I gigged in an electric band playing an electro acoustic
mando plugged straight to the mixer desk.
Our PA and monitors were usually crap, so I could rarely hear what I was playing.
Just had to trust I was hitting the right chords in the right place for each song.

That's why I went back to lugging combo amps around on trains and buses..


Btw.. it should be no surprise I am very keen on Vox products..

One of my latest toys is this VOX SL1G 1G Amplifier Multi Effect Stomplab Pedal

£44 from Amazon. [plus £7 ish for a decent 500 mA 9 volt adaper]

I've owned & used a lot of Digital amp emulation multi FX
since the very first Line 6 Pod back in the late 90s.

This very affordable Vox is astonishing value for money.
It's the first time I've encountered one
where some of the presets are totally useable straight out the box,
and the valve amp simulations are now more convincing than ever
played through a solid state combo amp / power amp.

It's very compact, can run off batteries, and is probably what I'd now use
for headphone monitoring in loud sessions.

[I'd presume electro acoustic pickups piezo pickups might not be perfectly impedence compatible,
but would probably still work fairly ok as a compromise...???
dunno - not needed to try it yet]]


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 11:08 AM

Point taken!


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Noreen
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 03:17 PM

For Uncle Dave O:

The following link is for a newspaper article about these ubiquitous (in the UK) travel sweets:

Travel sweet producer AL Simpkin seeks new route


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 10:41 AM

The thing you can put on the back of your mando to make it louder is called a tone gard. Google it. It sounds plausible to me. Caveat emptor.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 07:16 PM

Personally , any 'session' that accepted individual amplification is a session I would not attend .


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 07:54 PM

That's a bit final then. Blues harp versus piano accordion and you wouldn't come if the harp man had a little amp? Well maybe we wouldn't have you anyway.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 24 Oct 14 - 08:13 PM

"Personally , any 'session' that accepted individual amplification is a session I would not attend ."

... that's a bit of harsh judgement on Hearing Aid wearers, aint it !!!???

.. we're none of us getting any younger.....


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 03:59 AM

Perhaps this is a reminder for those of us who have louder instruments to play them quitely and with more variation. I found this hard to do when first playing the melodeon but can manage it now.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 04:19 AM

The problem with amplification at a session is that, to start with, A brings amplification. Then B brings some, and then C.

B feels that A and C are louder than him/her, so turns up the sound. C responds by topping B - and A chips in by turning up even more. And the devil take the acoustic instruments.

That's why, at the session I've run for the last 6 years, and for any others that I've attended over the years, acoustic is the buzzword, and amps aren't allowed. Flora hits the nail on the head.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,Ted Crum (Steamchicken)
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 10:04 AM

I've used my Minirig in the bluegrass session at the Somerville Arms in Leamington two or three times now. By it's nature, this session requires solos from participants. Without the amp, any solo I play is almost inaudible halfway down the room. By using the amp, what I play becomes a proper solo, and I've received nothing but positive feedback from fellow musicians and non-participating audience alike. The trick is of course to BACK OFF when others are playing so as not to drown everyone else. I'd recommend this approach to melodeon/piano accordion/guitar/banjo/bodhran players who don't actually need to use amps in sessions but play as if they'd love to.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 07:18 PM

The last three posts are spot-on. The lack of sensitivity towards quieter instruments displayed by supposedly-good musicians can be amazing. Strummers and thumpers are usually the worst offenders (though I've never classed thumpers as musicians, as it happens), though banjoists and box-players can similarly offend. Sessions should be about sensitive interaction, not testosterone-fests. Any sense of the musicians vying with each other to be heard also has the unfortunate knock-on effect of making the pub denizens ever louder and louder. it becomes a hellish contest of loudness between not only the musicians but also between the musicians and the pub customers. On my one and only visit to Dublin a few years ago I played in sessions in The Cobblestone and in another pub whose name escapes me. The area around the session in both pubs was designated as a quiet zone and the whole point was the tunes, not the instruments, not the big egos - and I could play a blues harp with eight or nine other instruments and I could hear all of them and I could hear myself. It can be done, and, if it isn't done, it's probably a rotten session.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Oct 14 - 08:32 PM

Spot on, Steve.

The only amplification I ever use is a house microphone if the proprietor deems it necessary, but I find that even that tends to distort the sound.

When playing with other musicians and singers, I prefer to support and enhance, rather than try to overwhelm.

My voice is acoustic, my guitar is acoustic, and that's that!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 26 Oct 14 - 03:14 AM

When in Ireland a few years ago a few of the pubs had a hanging mike ( very small )on a mobile arm. It could be pointed towards the lead instrument or voice.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 04:59 AM

I use the Danelectro Honeytone battery powered, belt-clip mic for my banjo at one noisy session.


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Subject: RE: Using powered speakers for reinforcement
From: Musket
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 05:46 AM

Just one word of warning from experience. Many manufacturers, including Alto, whose speakers I use for my main PA, also make bluetooth jobbies.

If you see the two terms "bluetooth" and "zero latency" in the same sentence, smile and look for something else. You will always get a small delay.


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