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I have a PA Mixer (Yamaha emx512) that has channels 1-4 with XLR or mono 1/4 Line. Channels 5/6 and 7/8 are in pairs where the controls of 5/6 are shared and 7/8 shared where the inputs are 1 XLR and 1 set of stereo 1/4 lines each. Channels 9/10 and 11/12 share controls operate the same way as 5/6 and 7/8 except the inputs are 1 XLR or stereo RCA jacks.

The band I'm in has 2 guitars, 1 bass, 1 keyboard, drums and 3 vocalists. I can isolate my powered monitors from the PA speakers so it would be awesome if I could run everything into the PA Mixer.

1 guitar amp has to be mic'd, and all other instruments have DI options. How would you guys approach things in order to maximize the number of mics I can put on the drum kit? Thanks!

Edit: Small venues around 100 - 150 people and we do a variety of high energy rock. Wattage of the PA speakers I have is enough to hold PA at max levels (don't have details). I'm mainly looking for the best way to optimize my inputs and which channels to put them on.

I was intending on the guitar amps holding their own and leveraging the PA Mixer just to include guitars in the monitors. So assume no headroom needed for guitars. We use powered monitors so that also doesn't require anything from the PA, just the mixer.

Bass player has their own speaker and power amp, but sometimes the space of the stage just forces us to DI into the PA.

Keyboard player doesn't have their own amp so she is DI.

Currently we have two Samson R15s which are 225 watts at 8 ohms.

Likely for drums we'd shoot for bass drum, snare, and maybe an overhead for the cymbals. Sort of trying to figure out what is economical

Edit 2: Thanks this is incredibly helpful and am tracking on the drums.

So when you were talking about the guitars taking up some of the wattage, does that apply even if we are adding them just for the purpose of monitors? Each player has a 40-50 watt high end combo amp so volume of guitars is not an issue. We just wanted to have them in the monitors as the placement of the amps isn't always good for hearing ourselves. Fully intend on zeroing the guitars out in the PA when we play the smaller rooms.

Thanks again, I'm a complete newby when it comes to this.

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  • Assuming you have multiple mics for drums and cymbals, it's worth getting a mixer just for the drumkit - if drummers need amplifying! That way, you need only take up one (or two for stereo) inputs on the Yamaha. Price of a small mixer is hardly worth talking about in comparison to the rest of or gear.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 15:03
  • My answer focuses on the front of house mix, so if want guitars in the monitors and the don’t drown out the vocals or keys in the monitors, then there’s no reason not to do it. But the monitors are kinda like another PA just for the band, so all the same rules apply. Like FOH, vocals are usually the most important thing in monitors because most singers really can’t hit notes if they can’t hear themselves. You may very well find that squeezing the keys into the monitors while keeping the singers happy is hard enough without putting guitars in. Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 0:49
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    One more comment about guitars in monitors: it’s really a luxury that your band should probably learn to live without. I’ve mixed over 100 small venue shows and played guitar in maybe half as many, including many gigs with another guitarist on the other side of the stage. My amp was my monitor and for most shows I couldn’t always hear the other guitar but I only needed to keep time with drums, lock in with the bass, and not step on the vocals, so you just trust the other guitarist to do their job. The show is for the audience, so if not hearing the other guitar makes a better show, I’m ok. Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 0:52
  • @ToddWilcox - I agree about the other guitar , but it's often not difficult to turn both amps inwards so both can hear. Sometimes it's a luxury to have another guitarist, sometimes, what's the opposite of luxury?
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 10:57

2 Answers 2

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For a venue and audience that size, the most important thing will be making the vocals audible. You should run mono. If you don’t have even small subs then bass and kick drum might not make sense to run through the PA at all.

  • Vocal mikes up on channels 1-3
  • Channel 4 mono keyboards channel (a passive DI with ground lift would be ideal for this)
  • Kick drum mic on channel 5/6
  • bass DI (ideally a DI out from a bass amp) on 7/8
  • guitar 1 miked on channels 9/10,
  • guitar 2 miked on channels 11/12

How I would mix it:

Being the vocals up to unity on their channels, maybe drop BG vox a little - 3-6 dB. Bring the main fader up until the vox are clearly audible over the band. If you can’t get them audible you PA is too small or you have something configured wrong with the front of house rig.

Once that’s done, you have the minimum requirements for a show met. Likely the keyboards might be hard to hear. If so, bring them up, starting about halfway up until they sit under the vocals and maybe just slightly quieter than the stage sound from the bass amp. EQ the keys to sit as best you can.

Once that’s done, you might want to do something similar with the guitars. Their stage sound will probably be louder than the key stage sound so they need less in the PA. I’d bring them up slowly from nothing until I can just barely tell they are in the PA. Cut the lows pretty hard on these channels and maybe roll the highs off a little since a mic right on a speaker cone can be harsh.

Now, if you have subs for FOH, I’d bring the kick drum in just a little and boost the low EQ on that channel just a little. This is another case of bring it up until you can just barely tell. Kick drum similar but only if it sounds quieter than the snare and just bring it up to match the snare and give it thump.

If you have no subs at FOH, then the most you can add for kick and bass is some articulation. Without subs if you try to boost lows on kick and bass into the PA you will easily take up all the power bandwidth for vocals and the singers will be lost. Unless you have some mixing experience - enough so that you probably wouldn’t need to ask this question, I would resist the urge to put any kick or bass in the PA if you have no subs. Having the bass DI in the PA is good if there’s a problem with the bass amp but again you gotta be very careful not to bury everything else and make the PA into a huge bass amp.

Overall, if the keyboard and bass players have decent amps, you often don’t need a PA for anything but vocals under 200 audience members. I suggest keeping that in mind as you do this. The PA is for the vocals because they have no other way to get heard. If if you have a lot of watts and headroom out front (maybe 1500 - 2000+), then you have more leeway to augment the other instruments. Otherwise, whatever you do with non-vox is going to take some away from the vox, so only if you need it and as little as necessary.


Regarding your continued desire to put drums besides kick in the PA:

A) You don't need to. Unless you're outdoors in an open field and even then you probably don't need to.

B) At 225 Watts per, for a total of 450 Watts, you're definitely in "vocals only" territory.

Aside from maybe the kick drum, indoors in front of <200 people you do not need drums in the PA. If people can't hear the drums either you have accidentally gotten a jazz drummer in your high energy rock band or your guitar and/or bass amps are way too loud. And if those amps are too loud, people are going to more likely complain about not hearing the vocals.

Let's look at your actual biggest problem, which has nothing to do with drums:

Suppose you have two guitar amps that are rated at 30-50 Watts and a bass amp rated at 100 watts (those are conservative numbers). The guitar amps will probably have distortion for at least some parts of the show and otherwise do not need or use headroom so when comparing with a PA and vocals they kind of "count" for double, so that's effectively 100 watts for each guitar. The bass might play compressed and/or with a little distortion so they are maybe comparable at 1.5 times the rated output so lets call that 150 Watts.

So you're looking at a phantom "350 Watt PA" for guitars and bass and only a real 450 Watt PA for three singers and keyboards. Add in the acoustic Watts of the drum kit and you're in for a rough ride.

Ideally the keyboard player would get an amp and leave you maximum wattage for vocals, because you're going to need them.

If you're doing band practices you should set some of this up at band practice. If you can get the monitors working for vocals and keys at band practice and hear them over drums, guitars, and bass, then you'll have clues about how to do FOH also.

If you try to put overheads through the PA, crash cymbals and open high hat will make everything completely inaudible unless you have a huge stage, a huge venue, and a professional mix engineer. Keep in mind that all of your vocal mikes are also mid-field drum room mikes. Making the snare and cymbals audible is absolutely your lowest, lowest concern here. With three open vocal mikes on stage and some stages being so small there's no room for a bass amp, you're already miking the drum kit more than anything else.

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  • Could you justify why do you propose to mike the kick drum only, especially given OP says they play energetic rock, and this is a style where the snare drum is probably more important than the kick drum. Why do you believe it's the lowest concern? Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 18:42
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    @user1079505 First, I recommend the asker not even mike the kick in this situation. Second, the kick is definitely the quietest part of the drum kit, except possibly the floor toms, but the kick is about 20 times more important than toms. The snare is potentially the loudest part of the kit but it has no sustain, so when mixing the cymbals are a bigger problem. But the snare generally doesn’t need a mike until the show gets bigger. One reason to mike a snare on a mid size show is to add reverb without even putting any direct snare through the mains, but asker isn’t in that situation. Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 18:45
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The objective of a p.a. is to give the audience a good mix of the music being played. An audience of <200 means a fairly small venue, so even a rock band doesn't have to be deafening - particularly for those closest to the p.a. speakers, often at the front of the stage, either side. And certainly not for the players on stage. My loss of hearing in my 70s is testament to that!

Drums will generally find their own way through the sound, which is good, as the rest of the band needs the, to keep in time. The usual drum that's put through the p.a. is the kick, to give a better sound for the audience. So one mic there.

Guitarists seem to often have a battle of volume with each other, a shame really, as that fills the stage with noise. It can be solved using D.I., as then their amps should work as monitors, given they're angled up and not blowing through the players' legs. Mics will capture a better sound, which obviously then goes through that p.a.

Bass is usually better self-contained (I find it so, as the speaker can be close to the drummer, making a tighter rhythm section), and leaving it out of the p.a. means the vocals aren't muddied in any way.

Vox. They're the weak link as they must rely on the p.a. for enough volume to be heard by the audience - and by themselves. So paramount is the mics get preference, and if at all possible, foldback in such a small venue can be provided by judicious placing of the p.a.speakers. At least that way, everyone gets to hear pretty well what the audience is hearing. So long as feedback isn't a problem. Some rooms/stages make that almost impossible.

Keys can go quite happily in p.a. (although I prefer to have my own mini p.a. when I'm out on keys) but in the absence of an amp, reliance on hearing the p.a., or using monitors, will help a lot. Main reason being when I change from, say, pno to organ to vibes to strings to e.p., etc., the resulting volume fluctuates quite a bit. Being able to hear better what I'm producing (volume wise) means I can balance keys better that way. If it's all out front, it's difficult, and depending what else is sent through foldback, not easy either.

Monitors. Ah, used properly these do a great job, especially for vox, and those at the back of the stage. But often they're abused, and just add to the sound pressure on stage. And with only one mix, and maybe several monitor speakers, things are less than ideal. Everyone wants more me.

Then there's the setting up and breaking down of all the gear. The more, not the merrier. And controlling it during the gig. Those on stage, unless very experienced, won't be able to hear properly what's going out f.o.h. And micing as many up as possible probably exacerbates this. And vocal mics left open while no-one is singing through them produces a different mix.

So, in summary. Obviously 3 vox mics have priority. next (in your case) are keys. Kick drum might come next - not necessarily to amplify it, more to give the audience a good sound from it. And if the snare is mic'd it may encourage the drummer to not hit it so hard! For smaller gigs, guitars should be fine on their own, provided the amps are well placed. Bass on its own, as its sound isn't directional, but it needs to be heard on stage, too.

I don't think there is one ideal set-up. Stage (or lack of) and proportions of room as well as acoustics therein will affect set up too, and lack of a good sound guy (preferably a muso) will jeopardise settings. Which, if done in a sound check in an empty room won't do much either.

I was hoping to cover this in a couple of paragraphs, but it seems that isn't possible! The only other alternative would be to have everything going through the p.a., with monitors for everyone, but that would necessitate electronic drums instead of an acoustic set.

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  • I go to a lot of trouble providing answers. Please go to a little bit of trouble explaining the dv. Thank you. In fact, I consider it rude not to.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 14:27

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