Monday, April 7, 2008

Live Sound, Monitors and Pepper Spray

This one's more suited to those of you who do live sound mixing. When mixing a live band , the monitors on stage are often blasting louder than the actual speakers. This can make mixing the sound a hellish experience, especially if you're mixing a church or similar event where the audience is likely to form an angry mob.

If you've ever had that experience, then here are some tips to keep you from further mobbings:

  • Use enough monitors

    The fewer monitors there are, the louder they'll be. The musicians on stage will be so desperate to hear themselves that the monitors might even be distorting. In big stage concerts each musician can have two or more monitors each.

  • Place the monitors correctly

    Placement of monitors can make a huge difference. Make sure that each musician can at least see the monitor they are listening to. Move them so that there is nothings obscuring the sound. A monitor behind the piano is useless to piano player.

    Try changing the angle of the monitor. If possible, face the monitor directly at the musician. Also, the closer the monitor is to the musician, clearer it will be.

  • Stand on the stage

    This is something I do a lot. Go and stand by each musician. Listen to what they can hear, and also what's missing.


casadocaralho said...

Hi dudes, great work!

Brian said...

Thanks very much man - we aim to please.


Jon Fox said...

All good points.
I worked for years as an engineer. Mostly monitors. I think being a player helps when putting oneself in the player's headspace.

I think one thing we engineers can do to help the too loud stage is to teach performers about production. Suggest bringing the whole stage volume down to gain a better mix out front. Show them the benefits of control.

One thing I used to do often, where the low end from the front of house was felt on stage, pulling some of the low end out of Bass guitars and drums on stage, working more on bringing the attack through without adding more BOOM for the FOH to fight.

Another handy trick to help clarity is to play with Phase. Open your lead vocal only. With monitors and FOH open. flip polarity on the ch at FOH. See if there is a sense of improvement. If so, flip all your vocals, or even the whole monitor rig 180Deg out of phase with FOH or vise versa.

First time on this blog. Nice work. We only help ourselves by sharing.

Mike the Tike said...

Thanks Jon, those are some great tips. I'm going to try them out.

Brian said...

Great stuff, Jon. Bringing the bass/punch forward to the house mix is a great idea - it will make the monitors clearer (therefore players can put them lower) and the house mix better.


Mike the Tike said...

Thanks Jon, I turned the polarity over and it worked like a charm...