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Stage Monitor Clarity


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Hey folks,

Did the sound for a gig where the set up was as follows. Live drums (miked up), Bass gtr., elec gtr., Acoustic Gtr., & Keyboards all thru DIs and a backing vocal section of about 8 singers. All had indivigual mics, all 58's. Style of music was pre dominanatly Praise & Worship.

Was handling both Monitors and FOH from my console @ FOH. And it was a 4 aux send configuration for monitors.

The backing vocals were positioned to one corner of the stage and they had a pair of wedges for them routed through one of the four auxes. There was a drummer that was hammering away at his kit and so cause of that there were fairly loud stage volumes. The backing vocalists were complaining that they couldnt hear themselves clearly on their monitors. Tried explaining that the overall stage volume was loud, but they couldnt seem to understand. On the slower/ ballad like tracks, they said the monitor mix was clear, but that was lost the minute the band started out on a louder/ fast track.

 

In the above scenario, there any way of improving the quality of the monitor sound? Was a fairly small stage.

Vinay Vincent,

BASE Studios

 

"Live Jazz friday nights at The Zodiac Bar"

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Well obviously the drummer is a major offender here. He needs to play as part of the team and do his part dynamically to make it work.

 

On the subject of stage monitor clarity, that's almost a contradiction in terms. Most stage monitors are designed to really squawk at the singer, to cut through all the stage racket. I've had a hell of a time finding ones that were actually clear and natural.

 

One major reason why- when things are clean and clear the singer can't tell the monitor sound from their own voice. When the monitor sound is distorted and unnatural, it's easy to tell you're hearing the monitor and not just your own voice. One reason why singers eat mics- the extreme proximity effect, even the plosives and silibance, makes it easy to tell the monitor sound apart from their own voice, so they feel they are hearing the monitors.

A WOP BOP A LU BOP, A LOP BAM BOOM!

 

"There is nothing I regret so much as my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?" -Henry David Thoreau

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You don't say what the monitors were nor how much power you were giving them. The best monitors (and mix) in the world with too little power will still suck.

 

--

Rob

I have the mind of a criminal genius.....I keep it in the freezer next to mother.
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Originally posted by Quarryking:

...In the above scenario, there any way of improving the quality of the monitor sound? Was a fairly small stage.

  1. Shoot the drummer. Find a musician who plays drums. The first knows how to hit drums musically. The latter knows everything the former knows, but also knows he's part of a unit that is more than the sum of its' parts. He understands that drums do not live in their own little world (unless you isolate them with plexi, etc.) and impact everyone else onstage.
     
    And this isn't a rant on overly loud drummers. It's a rant on overly loud players.
     
  2. Buy the best gear available. At about $2,000 per monitor, you can find several that will completely drown out the drum kit. Unfortunately, even if you have the money (and that doesn't include other equipment to biamp them, etc.) this is a piss poor way of achieving success on stage.
  3. Separate the drummer from the backup singers. You couldn't pay me enough to be a singer right next to a drum kit, without custom molded IEM's to greatly diminish the level of the kit. In addition to not hearing themselves clearly, the background singers are going to eat their voices alive trying to overcompensate.

Of course, the first course of action is to get the leader of the group to tell the drummer to play to the room, which in your case means quieter. No amount of extra power will fix a mediocre to good monitor system placed directly next to a loud drummer.

 

Good luck.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Originally posted by fantasticsound:

No amount of extra power will fix a mediocre to good monitor system placed directly next to a loud drummer.

True, but I've noticed over the years that to some people, any sound from the drums is "too loud". Whenever someone says "oh the drums are too loud and we can't hear the monitors" I always like to go give a listen myself. Oftentimes the person saying this is a guitarist with a cranked Marshall. Or it's someone who doesn't understand music and can't figure out why the drums on the CDs they listen to are so perfectly balanced at low volumes and they expect a live drummer to rock out at 65db onstage. I've done gigs where I was playing brushes so quietly that the rest of the jazz combo couldn't hear me and still I was too loud according to the event organizer. The only thing I could do was go for a piss and grab a drink at the bar. Apparently I was still too loud but there was nothing else I could do at that point :)

 

Getting back to the point, this person said several things which are all trigger points for me: "Praise & worship", "8 singers", "4 mixes from FOH". There are a lot of churches that spend the money to do it the right way and get great results. However, most churches don't want to spend the money -- maybe they're expecting god to make things sound good -- and they're using older and/or donated equipment that just isn't up to the task. So even though the equipment isn't up to the task they turn and blame it on the usual scapegoat, the drummer. Maybe they're using 200 watt amps for the monitors - "Hey, 200 watts is really loud, they should be able to hear themselves" - not realising that 200W on stage is just going to distort before you get any good volume out of it.

 

Plus, 2 mixes for eight singers - usually amateurs at this level. Can an amateur properly tell you that they can't hear themself because there's already 7 other vocals in the mix? Or will they just say that they can't hear the monitor?

 

It is possible that the drums are really too loud, and I've met many a drummer who's dymanics went from "really fucking loud" to "really too fucking loud", but I've also met a lot of drummers who play at an appropriate volume for the gig and still get shit on for volume. Drums are a loud instrument but they're not always too loud. Kinda like driving a red Mazerati - you're going to get a speeding ticket even if you're going under the limit because a)the car looks like it's going fast and b)no cop is going to believe that you're really driving a Mazerati slowly.

 

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

 

--

Rob

I have the mind of a criminal genius.....I keep it in the freezer next to mother.
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Originally posted by Quarryking:

On the slower/ ballad like tracks, they said the monitor mix was clear, but that was lost the minute the band started out on a louder/ fast track.

Too

Much

Drummer. :D

 

Given the scenario, it would seem that there is probably a lack of power (& wedges, IMO) for the monitors. But, I would try first to attack this from the other angle: can the singers move? Can they be placed away from the combo, so that the band's stage level won't overwhelm their mix?

 

If they're good with lower-level tunes, then you just need to figure out how not to step on that. If you move them, try to give them an instrument to key off of (like piano or something) & try NOT to load up the wedges even further with everything else. Talk to the drummer, too - maybe he can pull back a bit & make it easier on everyone.

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Thanks all for the posts.Yeah,the drummer had he played more controlled and more in sync with the rest of the band, it would have made things a whole lot easier.

Plexi Glass round the kit would definitely be an option next time around.

There was enough power in terms of monitors/wedges & amps.

Vinay Vincent,

BASE Studios

 

"Live Jazz friday nights at The Zodiac Bar"

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Floor Monitors that were used for that gig included 4 rather large monitors from JBL and a pair of Martin Audio monitors. There was enoguh power available to drive these monitors.

Didn't want to add to the already loud stage by cranking up the floor monitors

Vinay Vincent,

BASE Studios

 

"Live Jazz friday nights at The Zodiac Bar"

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Originally posted by Quarryking:

Floor Monitors that were used for that gig included 4 rather large monitors from JBL and a pair of Martin Audio monitors. There was enoguh power available to drive these monitors.

Didn't want to add to the already loud stage by cranking up the floor monitors

Wise move. The Martin audio speakers should be clear as a bell, even at high volume. The JBL's should be adequate, unless we're talking about JBL Pro, which should rival the Martins. Not MR or SR-x, which are good, but nowhere near the quality of the Martinsound monitors. Now... are any of them biamp'd? That would've provided better control over cleaner sound.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

Soundclick

fntstcsnd

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Originally posted by fantastic-hound of the Baskervilles:

Originally posted by Quarryking:

Floor Monitors that were used for that gig included 4 rather large monitors from JBL and a pair of Martin Audio monitors. There was enoguh power available to drive these monitors.

Didn't want to add to the already loud stage by cranking up the floor monitors

Wise move. The Martin audio speakers should be clear as a bell, even at high volume. The JBL's should be adequate, unless we're talking about JBL Pro, which should rival the Martins. Not MR or SR-x, which are good, but nowhere near the quality of the Martinsound monitors. Now... are any of them biamp'd? That would've provided better control over cleaner sound.
None of them were bi-amped and all were running full range. Like you mentioned, might have been clearer had we bi amped them.

Had the stage been slightly bigger & deeper, could have given them a FOH mix through an active rig positioned to the corners of the stage, just for band and singers to get a feel of what's happening outside & for a balanced mix. Many a time there's such a drastic difference between what's happening @ FOH and the Monitor mix. Especially in sitautions when both FOH and Monitors are being run from FOH and there's no dedicated Monitor console and processing etc..etc..

Vinay Vincent,

BASE Studios

 

"Live Jazz friday nights at The Zodiac Bar"

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