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View Full Version : How Important is Reverb When Performing Live?



SweetWaterBlue
01-30-2012, 08:03 PM
I've only performed at a couple of open mics, and would like to get better at it by practicing at home. It seems a lot different performing with a mic stuck in front of you and/or your uke plugged in that just doing it without electronics.

When I first started recording myself at home, I was using a Zoom H4 and too much reverb. As I got a little better in singing and playing, I got less and less dependent on effects to cover up a bad sound.

I have a little practice guitar amp that has reverb and some nasty guitar distortion which I seldom use. I have read a lot of things about acoustic musician eschewing most a effects and how artists like Jake eventually did too. A lot of them just seem to bring their uke or guitar and voice to a performance and rely on the house PA.

I have been looking at an inexpensive PA, such as the Kustom PW50 that was reviewed favorably here. its got enough XLR and 1/4" inputs for a duo of ukulele or guitar players to either practice with or even perform at a small coffee house type gig. Its got a minimal EQ adjustment (high and low bands), but no reverb. So my understanding is you bascially just get a clean sound with it.

More expensive PA's often have at least 3 band EQ knobs and reverb for each channel. I am wondering if you would really miss the reverb that much if you didn't have it at a live performance.

itsscottwilder
01-30-2012, 08:18 PM
I've only performed at a couple of open mics, and would like to get better at it by practicing at home. It seems a lot different performing with a mic stuck in front of you and/or your uke plugged in that just doing it without electronics.

When I first started recording myself at home, I was using a Zoom H4 and too much reverb. As I got a little better in singing and playing, I got less and less dependent on effects to cover up a bad sound.

I have a little practice guitar amp that has reverb and some nasty guitar distortion which I seldom use. I have read a lot of things about acoustic musician eschewing most a effects and how artists like Jake eventually did too. A lot of them just seem to bring their uke or guitar and voice to a performance and rely on the house PA.

I have been looking at an inexpensive PA, such as the Kustom PW50 that was reviewed favorably here. its got enough XLR and 1/4" inputs for a duo of ukulele or guitar players to either practice with or even perform at a small coffee house type gig. Its got a minimal EQ adjustment (high and low bands), but no reverb. So my understanding is you bascially just get a clean sound with it.

More expensive PA's often have at least 3 band EQ knobs and reverb for each channel. I am wondering if you would really miss the reverb that much if you didn't have it at a live performance.

IMO the thing you need to get right is EQ. And a lo/hi eq just doesn't cut it. A three band EQ is really barely sufficient. What you really want to get the sound right is an EQ that has a sweepable mid. That allows you to hone in on offending frequencies with precision to cut out the offending sounds.

In most live situations, you'll find that cutting a little somewhere between 400 and 800 Hz will make a big difference between an okay sound and a really clear and natural sound.

I would say to ditch the reverb in these all in one head units. Once again the issue is EQ, few of these head units allow you to control the eq going in to or coming out of the reverb. And if you don't the reverb EQ right it just sounds plain awful.

So in summation. Good EQ = yes. reverb = no.

SweetWaterBlue
01-30-2012, 08:28 PM
Thanks Scott. It sounds a lot like it might be best to just invest in a good no FX mixer (one with a sweepable mid-band and a five or more band EQ) and just a clean PA or powered speakers without all the knobs then.

itsscottwilder
01-30-2012, 08:43 PM
Thanks Scott. It sounds a lot like it might be best to just invest in a good no FX mixer (one with a sweepable mid-band and a five or more band EQ) and just a clean PA or powered speakers without all the knobs then.

That's the route I would go. The all in ones just are layers upon layers of compromise.

If I was going to buy a system today, I would be looking hard at the presonus studio live mixers.

Magoosan
01-31-2012, 07:07 AM
Reverb is a funtion of the room you're playing. If rooms are very "dead" a little reverb can make a big difference. In big rooms with lots of "natural" reverb, it's not so important. Since we often don't know the characteristics of the room until you're there and doing a sound check, I would highly recommend having at least basic reverb.

itsscottwilder
01-31-2012, 07:09 AM
Reverb is a funtion of the room you're playing. If rooms are very "dead" a little reverb can make a big difference. In big rooms with lots of "natural" reverb, it's not so important. Since we often don't know the characteristics of the room until you're there and doing a sound check, I would highly recommend having at least basic reverb.

Agreed. Just remember a little reverb goes a long way.

In the words of Master Yoda: "Control!!! You must learn control!!!"