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  1. #1

    Default OT: monitoring mystery

    I'm in a four-piece cover band. We've been having a hell of a time getting good monitoring set up. The P.A. we're using has a single aux bus dedicated to monitors. The theory has been to put just vocals in the monitors, and have each of our three vocal mics mixed equally, so that we can all hear the same mix and can lean in for leads and back off for backgrounds and harmonies, mixing by ear on the fly. We each have our own wedge. And, of course, no mix engineer.

    It hasn't worked.

    To me, it sounds like our lead gal is way too loud most of the time -- to the point of hurting my ears. In order to not be buried by her, I lean into the mic and sing louder. She says I'm way too loud and to back off. We're obviously hearing different things, so our mixing theory is not holding up at all. My first thought, as an ego-centric sound guy, is that I hear everything accurately, and she's full of sh*t. But I'm trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    I'm going to try to talk them into going back to my system, which has plenty of dedicated monitor mix buses to go around. But, meantime, I'd love to get some kind of handle on what the heck is going on.

    Seasoned live sound guys -- what am I not understanding about how this all works? What are we doing wrong? How would you approach a situation with these limitations?
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Portland, Maine U.S.A.
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    2,197

    Default Re: OT: monitoring mystery

    Individual monitor mixes were invented for these problems.

    I believe part of the issue is that there is some sound cancellation happening from the phase differences of the sound coming through the singers body to their ears and the sound coming from the monitors. Horn players tend to have it even rougher as the backwards air pressure from blowing diminishes the ability of the eardrums to vibrate fully, effectively turning down the volume. I threatened to leave a band unless I could be put on the other side of the stage from one particularly loud trumpet player’s monitor many years ago.

    Then there is always the “more me” issue.
    Michael McInnis Productions

  3. #3

    Default Re: OT: monitoring mystery

    +1 one the "more me" thing. Each performer needs "more me" so they can hear to control their own performance, especially in a mono mix where you ONLY have level to separate things from each other. I'm not sure the phase cancellation thing is important when using monitor wedges. The distance from wedge to ear generally makes of a delay of at least 6 ms, which reduces the cancellation a bit. In-ear mixes would be another matter.
    Cary B. Cornett
    aka "Puzzler"
    www.chinesepuzzlerecording.com

  4. #4

    Default Re: OT: monitoring mystery

    It wouldn't solve the problem, but why not record what's going on in the room... if only for your own edification and (hopefully) satisfaction? And if you prove to be correct, maybe the female singer will stop arguing with you. Nah, that won't happen. I think your only real option is getting individual mixes for the singers. And then you'll spend your time changing THAT mix at every gig. <LOL>
    Richard
    Green Valley Recording
    My cats have nine lives; my life has nine cats.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Portland, Maine U.S.A.
    Posts
    2,197

    Default Re: OT: monitoring mystery

    Cary, I suppose you’re right about the monitors being too time delayed to make phase an issue, though I don’t know if the speed of sound is different between bone & air. Though, I do think hearing yourself through your body and electronics at the same time does affect your perception of loudness even if phase is not involved.
    Michael McInnis Productions

  6. #6

    Default Re: OT: monitoring mystery

    Horn players tend to have it even rougher as the backwards air pressure from blowing diminishes the ability of the eardrums to vibrate fully, effectively turning down the volume.
    It may be that some of this also happens to singers. I always run separate mixes and even when the band tells me to make them all the same level because they do a lot of harmonies I run a little more of the singers vocal in their wedge. I don't recall ever getting a complaint about the vocal balance once set up.

  7. #7

  8. Default Re: OT: monitoring mystery

    I think I have your answer. Go to one microphone!



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  9. #9

    Default Re: OT: monitoring mystery

    Thanks, everyone, for your input. Never occurred to me about physical differences between haring oneself and hearing others in a monitor. They are obviously real, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're playing a role, here. As a result it seems that the idea of equally-mixed-is-best breaking down -- that "more me" is actually better for a singer to judge his/her participation in the vocal blend -- may be true, and something I hadn't considered.

    I think I have some good ammunition, here, for talking the others into discrete mixes, again.
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

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