Once you’ve used BandMix to get your band together, where do you start setting up a rehearsal space? You might have previously used some rehearsal rooms that don’t have a perfect sound setup or aren’t suitable for your band. So whether you’re trying to rectify an existing rehearsal room or you’re starting with a blank canvas, here’s our guide on making your space work for your sound.
Choosing A Room
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll want to consider these points when you’re choosing a rehearsal space:
- Size – has the room got suitable dimensions for the size of your band?
- Facilities – does the room have air conditioning, heating, running water, and enough electricity supply, for example?
- Location – is it local to all band members, and is there parking nearby?
- Sound treatment – has the room been treated for acoustics, and is there soundproofing? (More on this below)
- Cost – you may have found the perfect room, but it could be entirely out of your price range. Also, consider monthly rent contracts versus pay per hour.
If a room isn’t sound-treated properly, it can lead to some very muddy-sounding rehearsals! The room frequencies can build up and accumulate in corners, which can be damaging for your hearing. Getting the room acoustically treated with foam pads will deaden the sound and prevent sound reflections, although too much absorption can make your rehearsal setup sound awful also. Some bands prefer to rehearse in ‘live’ rooms instead of ‘dead’ ones, so consider what’s suitable for your band’s sound. It could also be worth assessing the soundproofing of your rehearsal room if you’re playing particularly loudly so that you prevent getting complaints from people in your local neighborhood. Muting the drums or having a drum screen could also be an option, as many musicians moan about the drum volume overriding everything else in rehearsals!
Once you’ve found a room with the proper acoustics, assess the equipment you have available to you. Some rehearsal studios come with some essential gear, so it’s worth finding out what equipment they provide. Otherwise, examine the gear you have as a band and bring everything that you think is suitable. It may take some trial and error to figure out what equipment works best for your sound – it’s a bit of a learning curve! Perhaps think about:
- PA system – make sure you have a decent set of speakers with a good mixer that allows for the size of the band. If you’re a 10-piece band and you all want to plug into a mixer with four channels, it’s not going to work!
- Amps – particularly for guitarists and bass players, an amp is usually standard practice. Some get by with DI boxes, but a good amp will ramp up your sound quality.
- Drums – if your band has a drummer, what kit(s) do they own? Some drummers only use an electronic kit, so you’d have to evaluate if this is right for your band.
- Monitors/wedges – depending on your band setup, some rehearsal arrangements will require extra speakers so that everyone can hear certain sound elements. You could also think about investing in in-ear monitoring so that each band member can listen to their mix.
- Stands and cables seem simple, but having decent mic stands and instrument cables can improve your setup. So many musicians will have shared the pain of trying to make do with broken mic stands, and it’s, simply put, annoying.
Layout & Levels
Many musos will know all about volume battles during rehearsals, so here are a few pointers on how you can use your layout and mixing skills to keep the peace:
- Start with drums and bass – you’ll never have a problem hearing the drums, but it’ll always be a problem trying to listen to yourself over them! Drummers will work closely with bassists as the rhythm section, so it’s vital that they hear each other well, and it makes sense to position the bass amp reasonably close to the drummer.
- Guitars – guitarists will need to be able to hear the bass and a balanced mix of everything else. You’ll probably need to play around with amp positioning and levels until you get it right for your sound and make sure your players aren’t standing right in front of their amp.
- Mic positioning – vocalists should be set up facing the PA speakers unless they have a wedge monitor to hear themselves through. Ensure the mics aren’t facing directly into the PA speakers to prevent feedback.
- Layout – many bands set up in a circular fashion facing inwards towards each other. This is quite an excellent formation to start with, as you’ll be able to pick up cues from each other and communicate easier. As bands progress, though, they tend to set up as they would on stage. This means you’ll be able to replicate a live gig experience and the sound conditions that come with it.
Hopefully, our guide to setting up a rehearsal space was helpful for your band practice. If you’re still looking for musicians to fill a slot in your band, head on over to BandMix.com to join the largest musicians classifieds site.