The power of eq

During this year we have been having problems with the main front of house amp that runs our array loud speakers
, it would cut in and out intermittently. After getting it fixed a couple of times without avail, we asked for a replacement. When the replacement also had the same issues we did what any reputable venue would do- get a bigger amp. Not that the old one wasn’t big enough, it had plenty of power, we just figured it must have been a bad line of amps so our music director opted for the next size up, same as what the subs have been faithfully punished by the past couple of years. Besides, bigger IS better.

Then an interesting phenomena emerged, my mix didn’t sound as nice. I thought with more headroom and the same quality amp (JBL Crown) it would just magically sound better. Not only that, I had the sneaky suspicion that the dude who installed the new amp had done something to the subs amp and had made them quieter in the process. So I checked the settings on the subs amp and everything was normal.

After much deliberation of how the installer guy could have messed up my sound, it finally clicked and that dreaded feeling of “I’m a total noob and should be sent back in time as a chimney sweep to a land before live audio production was invented” came over me. Even though this new amp was using the same equalizer as the last, the fact that I’m putting more volume through the speakers meant that I needed to re-evaluate my eq settings. I hadn’t realised just how much more volume was coming out of this amp, which explains why the subs sounded quieter too.

So I spent some time with some of my favourite reference tunes re-eq’ing. In light of having much more disposable power I was able to take out more of the harsh sounding frequencies (around the 3k area) that were making the pa sound a little harsh and cold. Being able to pump more volume really exposed which frequencies needed to be dialed out.

Once done I was left with a much warmer and pleasant sounding house mix, representing Tool, Periphery, Jason Mraz, Skillet, and others in a more true and pleasing fashion. The mix that Sunday at church was the loudest I had ever run it, but without any “noise” complaints. It’s because there was actually less noise in there! Which in turn made the drum kit sound more pleasant because the other instruments were louder and gave the snare and cymbals more context.

So there you go, if it’s too loud you probably need bigger amps!!


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