Musicianship vs. Sound Reinforcement
Many bands experience problems that they believe to be caused by, or correctable by, proper application of amplification or sound reinforcement technology. The problems include:
- The vocalist can't be heard over the instruments.
- The balance among the instruments is not right.
- The dynamics are limited; everyone seems to be playing as loud as possible most of the time.
- The musicians cannot hear each other's subtle cues.
- The entire performance occurs at an extreme volume.
Some of these problems can be attributed to a lack of understanding of acoustics. But the underlying problem is usually due to the lack of cooperation among the musicians -- the "more me" syndrome.
When musicians play with no dynamics (due to a combination of poor technique, no work on song arrangement, and the use of too much distortion) and they all play in the same frequency ranges (pretty much the same set of causes), then of course they're not going to be able to "hear themselves". They're not contributing anything unique to the mix.
Throwing more complexity at the problem (PA, monitors, sound guys) does nothing to address the underlying problem. In fact, assuming that the band members still can't identify themselves "in the mix" they're going to continue to turn themselves up and make life a living hell for the sound guy (who can't get enough gain on the vocal mics) and for the audience (who must now wear extra-heavy earplugs because the the PA is struggling to drown out the stage volume).
Quieter amps and digital modellers can work wonders if the band has the discipline necessary to work with sound reinforcement, but they're not a panacea. One of the loudest, most clueless guitarists I know runs a modelling rig...
I'm not saying that PAs are bad for all bands or all venues. All I'm saying is that a band that can't offer some dynamic and tonal variety and control their own instrumental blend on stage should keep the instruments out of the PA.