Mainstage Sound

August 6-9, Catton Park, Walton on Trent, Derbyshire
mathewxentrix88
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Mainstage Sound

Postby mathewxentrix88 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:06 am

A lot of people have said they thought the sound on mainstage was better this year than previously.I definitely don't agree.Potentially amazing sets by Nuclear Assault,Dark Angel,Death(D.T.A) and Ensiferum were ruined by a poor mix but other bands (Savage Messiah,Opeth for example) sounded great so why is the sound quality so random?
Now i tend to stand somewhere down the middle where the cables are housed under the plastic "tramlines" so maybe i should be standing elsewhere?.I would have thought in the middle would be perfect but maybe not?
I'm not moaning for the sake of it but poor sound blighted most of the bands i was really looking forward to,to the point where me and the missus both crossed our fingers by the time Ensiferum came on hoping for the best.It was shit.
So guys-any thoughts? Am i standing in the wrong place?Why does it vary so much from band to band? Is there something wrong with my ears?
Anyway-to balance that i thought that Sophie and New Blood sound was great for the majority of bands in the tents-to the point that i spent a lot more time in those than in previous years-mainstage was just too frustrating for me-and it must be said-the other people i was with.

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bloodblind
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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby bloodblind » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:25 am

I thought the sound was pretty dam good all weekend and I have a good ear and play in bands like yourself. If I find the mix is weak where I'm standing I'll move until it comes into phase with how I like it and get that peak sound if you know what I mean, although sometimes that's just not possible. Nuclear assault being one example. I reckon that a lot of it is actually down to the bands themselves and their gear, guitar sounds etc, you can't polish a turd as they say but for example I've never once had trouble hearing andreas kissers guitar, why? Because he has such a dialled in tone and doesn't use any shitty effects that it's easy to mix. Same for Opeth and a few others. Death sounded great I thought and very authentic to the classic sound on their records from Human through to Sound of Persevearance. A few bands did have a bit of sound issue but I think it wasn't so bad as to spoil my enjoyment of them
Last edited by bloodblind on Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby Haldamir319 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:25 am

I always stand to the left of the mainstage. The sound was generally very good all weekend. The only issue with Ensiferum's I could tell was that the vocals were mixed a little quietly.
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beenabadbunny
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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby beenabadbunny » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:37 am

(Just to be clear, I wasn't involved in any way with this year's festival so this is all conjecture. I'm happy to be corrected/contradicted by anyone more in-the-know than me! :) )

I would say there's no single answer to this as there's umpteen factors that all fit together to make or break live sound.

The quality of the system is a massive factor but I think that's not in question this time - you noted yourself that you thought certain bands sounded excellent.

The sound crew themselves will also be important. I think the ideal combination would be a sound engineer who is both familiar with the system, and with the material. I suspect that a lot of the time, you can have one or the other but not both.

If a band uses their own sound crew then the mixing engineer will know what the band is supposed to sound like, but with limited time on an unfamiliar sound desk, they may not be able to achieve it.

Or on the flipside, if it's the festival's own sound engineer then they will know the system but may not know the music - which parts are important, when to boost for a solo, how loud the backing vocals need to be, and so on.

Some bands write instructions for the sound crew (for example I saw a picture of Wolf's setlist which must have been obtained from the sound desk as it had directions on it) and others probably just show up and hope for the best.

The bands themselves might not be using their own gear - particularly at a festival they are likely to be travelling light and using backline equipment. That actually makes getting a consistent drum sound somewhat easier for the crew, but things like guitar amps are a bit more complicated. If the amp settings aren't dialled in properly and the tone on stage is weak, then the guitar will probably sound weak in front of house, because you can't polish a turd.

Individual instruments can also go wrong in unexpected ways that the sound crew can't control. Let's say someone's keyboard isn't loud enough. It could be that the volume control on the actual keyboard has been knocked down and the keyboardist hasn't noticed. Or maybe the pad switch on the onstage DI box has got switched on during the changeover - so the desk could be getting 20 or even 40dB less signal from the keys than they should be, and without getting to the DI box to disengage the pad, they literally can't turn it up any higher.

The weather makes a big difference. Hot air transmits sound differently than cold air, so the sound will change throughout the whole day. The wind also blows it around. (As I recall there wasn't much wind on Friday and Saturday morning, but it picked up a bit on Saturday evening and Sunday). All of these things will affect high frequencies in different ways than low frequencies as well, which can muck around with the perceived mix even more.

Listener location - you mention that you were usually standing over the cable snakes. How close were you to the front? Because the speaker arrays are off to the side there will tend to be a bit of a dead spot front and centre.

I spent most of the weekend right by the sound desk (either just to the side of it, or immediately in front of it under the camera tower) and with a few exceptions the sound was consistently good.

Were you wearing any ear protection? If not, hearing fatigue will affect how you perceived the sound.

I've probably not even scratched the surface but these are the initial things I would be thinking about.

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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby bloodblind » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:43 am

I totally agree with this post

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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby mathewxentrix88 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 11:01 am

beenabadbunny wrote:(Just to be clear, I wasn't involved in any way with this year's festival so this is all conjecture. I'm happy to be corrected/contradicted by anyone more in-the-know than me! :) )

I would say there's no single answer to this as there's umpteen factors that all fit together to make or break live sound.

The quality of the system is a massive factor but I think that's not in question this time - you noted yourself that you thought certain bands sounded excellent.

The sound crew themselves will also be important. I think the ideal combination would be a sound engineer who is both familiar with the system, and with the material. I suspect that a lot of the time, you can have one or the other but not both.

If a band uses their own sound crew then the mixing engineer will know what the band is supposed to sound like, but with limited time on an unfamiliar sound desk, they may not be able to achieve it.

Or on the flipside, if it's the festival's own sound engineer then they will know the system but may not know the music - which parts are important, when to boost for a solo, how loud the backing vocals need to be, and so on.

Some bands write instructions for the sound crew (for example I saw a picture of Wolf's setlist which must have been obtained from the sound desk as it had directions on it) and others probably just show up and hope for the best.

The bands themselves might not be using their own gear - particularly at a festival they are likely to be travelling light and using backline equipment. That actually makes getting a consistent drum sound somewhat easier for the crew, but things like guitar amps are a bit more complicated. If the amp settings aren't dialled in properly and the tone on stage is weak, then the guitar will probably sound weak in front of house, because you can't polish a turd.

Individual instruments can also go wrong in unexpected ways that the sound crew can't control. Let's say someone's keyboard isn't loud enough. It could be that the volume control on the actual keyboard has been knocked down and the keyboardist hasn't noticed. Or maybe the pad switch on the onstage DI box has got switched on during the changeover - so the desk could be getting 20 or even 40dB less signal from the keys than they should be, and without getting to the DI box to disengage the pad, they literally can't turn it up any higher.

The weather makes a big difference. Hot air transmits sound differently than cold air, so the sound will change throughout the whole day. The wind also blows it around. (As I recall there wasn't much wind on Friday and Saturday morning, but it picked up a bit on Saturday evening and Sunday). All of these things will affect high frequencies in different ways than low frequencies as well, which can muck around with the perceived mix even more.

Listener location - you mention that you were usually standing over the cable snakes. How close were you to the front? Because the speaker arrays are off to the side there will tend to be a bit of a dead spot front and centre.

I spent most of the weekend right by the sound desk (either just to the side of it, or immediately in front of it under the camera tower) and with a few exceptions the sound was consistently good.

Were you wearing any ear protection? If not, hearing fatigue will affect how you perceived the sound.

I've probably not even scratched the surface but these are the initial things I would be thinking about.

Good post mate,i understand most of this.
I completely understand that it's never gonna be perfect at a festival-in the open air,but i honestly can't get my head round how people think it was better this year.I always stand pretty much in the same place,close to the plastic cable runners down the centre,probably about a third of the way from the front and it seemed as hit and miss as previous years.There was less wind than most other times i've been so maybe i should give ear plugs a go?

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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby i0th » Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:03 pm

I thought the mix was generally better this year but there were worse problems when they happened. Crackling during Sabaton, complete silance for Within Temptation & Xerath, I had walk past Pro-Pain to get from New Blood to Sophie & the popping was horrendous. I'm sure there were other examples too that've slipped my mind.
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bloodblind
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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby bloodblind » Thu Aug 13, 2015 2:32 pm

Very true that there were more technical issues this year but the main ones I saw when they happened.. Isahn and Xerath I think were down to the bands own equipment failures so nothing to do with the bloodstock sound crew. thats the way I percieved it anyway

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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby thehairyone » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:33 pm

beenabadbunny wrote:A very well written and thought out post


Basically all this. Certainly I could see steps had been taken to reduce the movement of the speakers from the wind. Apart from what looked like some backline issues I thought the sound was pretty good all weekend.
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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby Jim » Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:47 pm

There is one thing that stood out this year - I could hear the bass in the mix on the RJD stage in most bands in the afternoon. Normally that didn't happen until around the 6pm mark last year.
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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby Virtue » Thu Aug 13, 2015 5:02 pm

one band in particular had an atrocious sound mix: Dark Angel. Everything was turned up waaaaay to much, the bass was booming over everything, the guitars where muddy, the drums crashy and the vocals, well they where the only parts I could hear relatively clearly (although drenched in reverb). Was really gutted tbh as there one of the bands I really wanted to see all weekend and although their setlist was good (no Slaughterhouse though) their sound was absolute bollocks :(

EDIT: Also did anyone notice Korpiklaani's violin and accordion didnt work for half the set?
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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby mathewxentrix88 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 5:21 pm

Virtue wrote:one band in particular had an atrocious sound mix: Dark Angel. Everything was turned up waaaaay to much, the bass was booming over everything, the guitars where muddy, the drums crashy and the vocals, well they where the only parts I could hear relatively clearly (although drenched in reverb). Was really gutted tbh as there one of the bands I really wanted to see all weekend and although their setlist was good (no Slaughterhouse though) their sound was absolute bollocks :(

EDIT: Also did anyone notice Korpiklaani's violin and accordion didnt work for half the set?

The poor sound on Dark Angel and Death(D.T.A) was the reason i started this thread.Both bands seem to be getting high marks on the "rate the bands" thread but for me the poor sound-(lack of guitars for Dark Angel and lack of vocals/guitars for Death) really spoilt both performances-which was a shame as those two bands(plus Nuclear Assault-who also suffered from poor sound) were my must-see bands of the weekend.

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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby Virtue » Thu Aug 13, 2015 5:33 pm

I actually found Nuclear Assaults sound to be pretty good, guitars where a bit thin but their sound on their classic albums is no better, I guess they were going for an 80s sound setup?
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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby DOUGAL » Thu Aug 13, 2015 5:38 pm

I thought that the main stage sound was much better this year:

It was clearer
The muddy booming from previous years had gone
The speaker rig looked different this year

When Opeth were playng the sound quality was superb.

I would have liked some real low end welly though, but you only seem to get ultra low end with larger spkr cabs / subwoofers.

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Re: Mainstage Sound

Postby Jim » Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:00 pm

DOUGAL wrote:I would have liked some real low end welly though, but you only seem to get ultra low end with larger spkr cabs / subwoofers.


I fucking love a bass heavy mix (when the rest is clear and well mixed) - WT and Rob Zombie's sets were perfectly mixed from where we were sat (in the Ocean of Seats to the left of the sound tent).
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