As a audio eng, I found really interesting (and revealing) Marcus views from a musician standpoint.
Regarding getting the “tone” and “how engineers” work (just ditch the marketing, the rest, i.e. frequency “layering” etc is spot on):
Regarding how to use the tone controls (specially the mids parametric EQ usage):
The thing is as an eng, you’ll soon learn to pay tons of attention to/fear the bass, as it can seriously wreak havoc on stage. We all have tattoed “Live performances: bass players via DI, always!” on our brains.
On studio with enough time, (multitrack), controlled environment, etc, we have no problem and love tinkering with this or that mike, this amp, tone controls, effects, sound textures, etc. On live acts you work around the clock, and have to fight tons of limitations, no time for that.
Dunno how is it today with all these wireless IEMs, etc… On live performances you actually fight in several areas: PA, Monitors, miking. Do wrong on any of them and it will affect the others, so you look for a balanced, compromise solution.
PA has a limited headroom for dynamics and frequency response. Gear and physics impose limits on that, Venue imposes limits on that, and that’s usually the first of many limiting factors.
Once you “nail” (or not depending budget for staggered PA Arrays, delays, etc the venue, so that those farer from stage still listen to something intelligible) it’s time to nail the monitoring and miking, then lay down as much safety nets as posible: eq, noise gates, limiters, compressors, etc.
If you go overboard with monitoring, you’ll harm miking, getting bleeds, feedback, howling, rumbling (basss!), squealling… and in the end a good sound starts with the best possible prime matter (miking), so… as long as you can play properly, monitoring, and any sound sources on stage (amps) will be the first ones getting the axe.
Will you control tone from your bass? Yes. How much? it depends:
- How much do the sound engineer trust you.
- Venue / conditions limitations (eq, limiters/gates/compressors)
- How much you rely on the amp to get your tone.
If the venue is suboptimal (low notes reverb mudding everything else) you’ll actually control very little, as you will be “cut” in the PA mix console, leaving just your assigned “room” with regards of frequencies and dynamics (what Marcus explains by the end on the amp video).
Funnily, is actually the bass tone dials the only ones that may allow you to tweak your tone, as the rest may not be used at all, or just a tiny bit for “texture” (miked/line out amp) .
If you’re picky with your tone on stage, the best approach from a bassist point of view: work on trust and coordination with the engineer if time and conditions allows i.e. not overwhelmed with something else (ahem, vocalists?).
A good thing is doing a quick rundown on your “tones” for the setlist, so that he can soundcheck and get “a grasp” on you. The more comfortable he feels around you, the less limits and more “creativity” he will allow. The more coordination, the more freedom you’ll get within certain limits.
In summary: if a bass player comes to me at souncheck, and I notice it’s an “old cat” that knows his thing (like Marcus) I’ll give the him the most “slack” for creativity. If I’m not sure, or time is not available… will be “caged” for sure for the performance, and for the own bassist sake!