Crackling/Clipping issues on Monitors

Andrew St. George

New member
Sep 21, 2022
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Hey,

My band uses harbinger speakers across the board. 2 15" mains, 2 8" and 2 10" monitors (we don't always use all the monitors, just depends on the venue). The issue I'm having is that I'm getting crackling and clipping issues on the monitors. I recently got our bass player to play through the PA since he was using a huge bass cab that was massively overpowering on stage but also never sat in the mix well. The bass seems to be where most of the crackling is coming from. If I play bass heavy music from my computer, I can make it significantly louder than his bass with no issues. My first though is that I have some sort of a gain issue, but I'm just trying to figure out the best way to fix this because he's talking about bringing his cab back. The mains are fine. Any advice on troubleshooting this would be greatly appreciated. I have all the gear at my studio, so I can try to fix it before our next practice/gig. I'm using an analog board (mackie 1604vlz3) and all the speakers are powered speakers (harbinger v2300 series). Thanks!

Andrew
 

Jeff Babcock

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Jan 11, 2011
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jeffbabcock.org
Hi
Recorded music is not comparable to a live bass. Recorded music is heavily compressed.
A live bass on the other hand has significant transient peaks and if it is driving the speakers to crackle you may risk damaging them.
Some things to try:

1) Make sure you have applied a HPF on your main speakers, especially since you don't have subs. Harbinger v2300 are not very high quality speakers so I would suggest a HPF of 60Hz at the very least, maybe even as high as 80Hz. This will take a lot of stress off of the 15" speakers in the cabinet. As your speakers don't have any built in HPF capabilities ;( , you can either find an analog EQ to do this with, or alternatively maybe you should sell the Mackie board and get a digital board.

2) Your monitors are way too small to handle much bass guitar in them. Use a HPF as in step 1, but starting at at least 80Hz for the monitors. Not only will this help reduce cracking, it will reduce intermodulation distortion (google that if not familiar with the term, it's a big deal re sound quality)

3) Apply some compression to the Bass guitar. I would suggest you start with a 4:1 ratio, attack around 20ms and adjust the threshold as needed to pull a few DB off of the peaks. You can do this either with a bass compression pedal or with compression at the mixer. Since you are using an analog board, see if you can pick up an inexpensive rack compressor, such as a DBX 262 or 266, Behringer Composer or similar. They tend to go cheaply these days. Or as per above, digital boards all have this built in.

4) Apply a HPF to the bass channel in the mixer then add back a little extra low end with EQ if needed.

5) Keep in mind your speakers are pretty inexpensive, so don't expect miracles. Adjust expectations accordingly.

6) Maybe convince the bass player to bring a smaller cabinet rather than relying on your too-small monitors.

Most of the suggestions above would be a whole lot less difficult for you if you get a digital board instead of staying analog, unless you plan to buy a bunch of outboard gear (3 dual channel EQs and a compressor just to do what I said above in the analog world). Something like Behringer XR18 or one of the smaller models is one of the best bangs for the buck in the entry level digital space.


I hope that helps,
Best wishes
 
Last edited:

Andrew St. George

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Sep 21, 2022
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Thanks for the advice! I have the Midas MR18 on order (got it for only $100 more then the Behringer XR18), so hopefully that can help a lot. My wife played bass for a while and we have a compressor for her, so I'll experiment with using that to help. The mains handle the sound just fine, so it's really the monitors, but as I said, when he brings his bass cab with him the "appropriate" volume level for him to hear himself makes it so nobody else can hear anything, so all the other stuff gets cranked in the monitors and then our stage volume becomes ridiculous for small venues. We had one outdoor gig where the vocalists started singing and i thought they were just a little quiet, and when I went to turn them up, realized they were muted through the mains and it was their monitor volume being so loud. they still had issues hearing themselves over the bass. Once I get the digital board in, i'll see what I can get to happen with that, and then from there, I can always look at a better quality monitor, even if it's just for the bass player. everyone else is fine with way less bass in the monitors,
 
Note that compressing dynamics when you don't have enough rig for the gig can make it easier to blow things up due to greater average power (a lower peak to average ratio).

But it also sounds to me that unless your bass player can get his stage volume under control, you're going to be fighting a losing battle.
 

Rob Aylestone

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Jan 30, 2020
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First step is getting the bass player on your side. Why does he use the big cab? If it’s because he can feel the bass rather than hear it, the loss of it on stage will help you out front, but is the bass important for the music? For some styles, and this means event bands too where they might play dolly parton followed by eye of the tiger - your system will be pushed. Your PA speakers are not designed to replicate what a bass cab does. Many players use 10” drivers, after all. It’s about sharing bass. The bass guitar plays a note, so does the guitarist and so maybe does the keys player. One driver just cannot do that properly, and the sum and difference of all those notes can easily pop a coil out of the former, and before the damage, just sound horrible. It can work, but only with a PA with subs to take the load off the bass driver and a system with lots of headroom. I used to play in a band and we all used in ears. I had an 8x10” bass cab I used for bigger stages. The sound guy never had my DI bass fader off the stop. He explained I was just too loud, so we turned me down each gig until it was off on stage. Nobody noticed through their in ears. After three gigs off, I didn’t bring it. They noticed second gig and were certain they noticed. Then we told them we’d not had it even on for ten gigs. The PA has plenty of bass ability so everyone benefits. The only downside is that if my IEMs pack up, I’m stuffed, so I had a wedge I could turn up if something happened. If the PA makes fatty spikes pops on the bass, you don’t have enough bass spare capacity. A shared 15” driver really can’t replace a bass cab on stage AND do it’s proper job.
 

Roy Andrews

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Nov 20, 2021
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The crackling noise is the sound of the voice coil jumping out of the magnetic gap due to excessive excursion / cone movement. Keep that up, those speakers won't be long for this world. Indeed, they may already be toast.

You don't mention what size of rooms you play in... I mostly do medium sized (by Latin American standards) restaurants & bars, typically 50-200 people. I use a pair of QSC K12.2 tops & a Peavey Dark Matter 15" sub + a EV ELX 12" sub stacked on the same side & driven by a Behringer X32 Rack (all of this fit's in my friend's little MG car, which is my only transport & why those specific subs). I do not allow the musicians I work with to use stage amps & everybody uses in ears monitors (wired Behringer P2s for the stationary musicians & a UHF wireless box for the lead vocals to roam the stage). Bass, kick drum & vocals always get compression to tame the dynamics.... people absolutely love the sound of this system, musicians & audiences alike. In my opinion, the secret sauce is to be able to have everything going through the PA, and if the person doing sound knows what he's doing, he then has full control, and can make magic happen.

I'd say you are on the right path with the MR18, lots of instructional videos out there on how to set up the compressors, and probably enough AUXs for a full band in ears monitors solution. At some point you need to retire the Harbingers, they are basically the lowest end powered PA boxes money can buy, then along with the likes of Gemini & other department store powered speakers.

Remember, it's not the quantity of sound (aka volume) you produce that impresses audiences & club owners, it's the QUALITY of sound you produce...

PS - almost every effects pedal these days has amp modeling in it, I've never met a guitarist that doesn't have that ability. Since most bass players here are clueless about pedals, I bring along a $100 Zoom B1 Four with a bunch of different amp models I've built to handle different types of basses & players. I use this in place of a DI box... The Midas preamps do NOT need DI boxes when used with guitar / bass pedals... this has been tested out scientifically, but that is a whole 'notha discussion.
 

Paul Johnson

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Oct 27, 2012
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I'm not clueless about pedals, I really just don't wish to use them on my normal music. I did have a time when I played 5 string fretless and did use a chorus as an effect. Normally I just want the sound the bass has. If that isn't right I swap basses. After a recording session, they can do things with my sound if they wish, but they get the pickups, nothing else added.
 

Roy Andrews

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Nov 20, 2021
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I'm not clueless about pedals, I really just don't wish to use them on my normal music. I did have a time when I played 5 string fretless and did use a chorus as an effect. Normally I just want the sound the bass has. If that isn't right I swap basses. After a recording session, they can do things with my sound if they wish, but they get the pickups, nothing else added.
When I say "here", I mean Latin America, not "SoundForums". Sorry if that was not clear or obvious, English is my 2nd language, so mistakes can & will be made.

Also, I'm discussing LIVE sound, not recording studio sound. For live sound, you really want a more nasal bass sound to cut through the mix, especially on smaller systems like the one I use. A surprising number of bass players are clueless about what I need to get good live sound, so for that reason, I bring my own pedal with models I've created & tested on my specific system that will help them sound their best & give everyone a pleasurable listening experience. The Zoom B1 Four is inexpensive, about 1000x more versatile than any DI box, and the only thing needed to interface with the Midas preamps in the Behringer X-Air & X32 family, including the Midas branded units. I've also used it with the Yamaha TF family, no issues either. As with anything in life, you should use what works for YOU. All of us responding to threads here are offering our OPINIONS and our EXPERIENCES. The OP and anyone reading this thread or any other thread may get different results, or not like the results that I or someone else got. Sorry I didn't offer everyone a "your mileage may vary" disclaimer... I will endeavor to do better in the future.
 

Brian English

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Jul 30, 2021
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Paul , you said the issue is not there when you play a recorded bass track but only when you are live with your bassist ? Is it possible the crackling noise is actually originating in his bass head ? It could even be in the DI of his head if there is no crackling when he is just live off stage. Just throwing that out there .
 

Paul Edwards

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Jul 19, 2021
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If the issue is him hearing himself then whatever speakers you use, his bass cab or monitors, the stage will always be loud for him to be happy.
You would probably be better trying in ear monitors. We had some people in our church band that had to have their sound so loud in stage monitors it was driving the stage sound louder than the main speaker sound as you described. Giving those people in ear monitors solved the problem instantly.
You don't need expensive wireless units as you can get wired units fairly cheaply. The main issue will be getting a headset that can give him a good enough bass sound for him as the cheap ones are not so good at bass.
 
Ok not trying to be harsh but just stating the facts.... Your speakers are not the greatist and on top of that expecting an 8 or 10 monitor to attempt to do what it sounds like your expectations are is going to give your the results your getting.
High passing the monitor mix outputs upwards to 100hz may help get a little more out of them.

Over all you need to get your stage volume under control, at this point I'm going to guess that if you actually had monitors that could keep up they would still be pushed to the limit increasing your stage volume even more.
As for the bass adding some mids at the source will help it stay defined in the mix.
 
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