A local venue has live music for rock bands, but the sound is very muddy and unclear.

I think a lot of the sound problems are due to the position of the stage, which is push back into the wall, like so:

Obviously, the monitor speakers exacerbate the problem by directing sound directly back into the "hole" causing a lot of bouncing sound off a lot of walls.

If the venue can't change where the stage is located, what could they do to improve the sound?

  • I didn't have enough permission to add the image to the question itself, so I had to link to it via a URL. If someone can edit the question to add the image back in, I would appreciate that.
    – Turgs
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 14:20
  • added the image, and I think the word you were looking for was exacerbate, not exasperate ;)
    – Travis Dtfsu Crum
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


You should have a good listen to the stage when it's quiet and see if there are any strange echos or booms etc

I would guess that bass trapping would help fix your problem, seeing as you say the sound is muddy and unclear. From the little I know about it muddiness tends to come from excessive bass reverb in the room ( often masked by mid/top reverb ) .... the vast majority of concert halls and recording studios pay great attention to bass trapping as it's one of the single most dominant causes of bad sound. This is probably all over the larger room not just on the stage but it depends and there are others far more expert than me in this field.

The good thing is that its fairly easy to diagnose, but you need some materials, which are by definition bulky. Just get lots of sound deadening material and put it in and around the stage ( corners are best ) and see if it improves things, if it does you can do the same thing except on a more permanent basis. I say around the stage as you probably have no option on the rest of the room but really it's probably a room problem not a stage problem though I think any dense absorption in any part of the room will absorb the bass reverb even if it's in another part ( but I could be wrong on this )

Sound deadening material ( for bass ) must me very heavy, dense and thick. A big couch for example, or a stack of mattresses or something. The more you have the better ... in fact it might take a lot more than you realise to get an effect, ( and if there are hard walls and floor you need a heap) which is why you can get strategic with it by placing your bass traps at node points ( which I'm sorry to say I don't know how to calculate but if you google johnlslayer or ethanwiter then you will find lots more ) .... the no 1 strategy thought is to trap the corners ( remembering corners in the roof and floor lines if you can use them )

for instance a nice ad hoc bass trap would be to stack several rolls of rockwool ( which is perfect for this ) on top of one another in each corner right up to the ceiling, making them safe of course. You can drape fabic over them if you want but that's it you don't unroll them or take them out of the plastic or anything.

It's a job you get done by degrees and try to spend as little as possible as much of the materials will be available from non pro sources - of course you can get professional treatment kits and ethan winner actually sells several pro bass traps too.

Check also for any strange flutter reverbs or anything else that you can reduce with strategically placing sound deadening material around ( remember you need depth of material to get low frequencies which are normally the issue; and thin materials will get the top and mids which you normally want to leave present unless they're part of a flutter or something or unless you want a totally dead room, which isn't ideal. You can google RT60 time for your particular type of music to find more on that one.


Refer to attached pngenter image description here Mount PA speakers on outside of hole, on sides as per black rectangles in picture. Place guitar and bass amps/speakers (in red) in rear of hole, also center trap set (drum kit in blue). Do not use floor monitors, instead have every amp mic'ed including PA, and mix with output into "In-Ear" system. Everyone wears an ear piece.

UPDATE: Can't afford an "In-Ear" system. Ok, let's explore what you can do with just the gear you normally might expect to bring to a gig. Simply a PA system for the singer(s) and amps for guitars, bass, and keys, and likely nothing for the drum kit which is usually the loudest acoustic thing you have anyways.

enter image description here The basic idea here is to have your instrument amps in the rear as well as the drums to use the 'hole' as a band shell that acoustically acts as mixer and resonator. Mics up front will pick some of this up, but keep the PA system in front of the mics and to the side as to reduce feedback. You might experiment with skewing the PA speakers slightly toward the stage, tweak until it starts to feedback then back off. Once you think you have it, get your friend that has the best ears and knows your band's sound to step in front, and walk around the room and give you some input about adding or subtracting volume on each instrument amp etc. Bottom line you won't have much of a monitor but you have a good chance of making a good mix for the audience.

If you do have some extra monitors and a spare mixer, you might put two mics on stage, one 1/3 from left side, the other 1/3 from right side. Use the extra speakers to face sideways so the 'hole' isn't reflecting it. This way you have a bit of a slice of the total sound to help you hear yourselves.

  • 2
    That's nice and fine if you can afford in-ear monitoring for everyone (including the not-neglectable maintainance). For a venue that often has a lot of different bands, possibly festivals with multiple on a single evening, quite unlikely – at least risky. Without in-ear monitoring, you will hardly get away with only sidefills; wedges are unabstainable for reasonably loud monitoring of singers' microphones (though you can possibly turn them quite a bit down). Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 21:59
  • Ok, good points, so I have appended this to address a more basic set up.
    – filzilla
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 23:20

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