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Author Topic: Choice of floor wedges for vocals - info regarding a special setup...  (Read 2459 times)

Radoslaw Andruszkiewicz

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I am a musician, I play guitar or bass and sing, and I wanted to know your opinion and information about a particular monitor setup.

I was doing research on the topic, and stumbled upon videos from Dave Rat, which led me to reading about EAW Microwedges, and when looking at various documents on the product website there was a list of possible monitor setups, and one of them got me really curious: using 3 wedges, with a central wedge for instruments and two wedges on either side for vocals only. There are two variants listed, one with equally sized wedges, and one with a 15" inch central and 12" side wedges.

I'm not looking at Microwedges specifically though, just in general terms. For example, one local PA company offers floor wedges with speaker sizes between 8" to 15" (8" and 10" are 250W / 94 db, 12" and 15" are 500W / 98 db), so there are obvious differences in specifications. From purely technical standpoint, by doubling the speaker coverage I get +3db, and if I understand correctly by running the pair from one channel on the amp (currently own an amp that does 270W@8 and 450W@4) I would get another +3db due to more power taken from the amp.

My question is this: if the side wedges are used for vocals only, what could be the smallest possible pair of wedges when combined with a 15" central monitor? Would a pair of 8" or 10" next to a 15" still fit? Anyone tried this setup and could say something from experience?
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Luke Geis

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Typically in a 3 wedge setup, the center wedge is for vocals and the outers are for instruments only. Going the other way can work if you are using a super-cardioid microphone. The major issue is the pattern of the mic. A typical cardioid mic has a pretty good pickup pattern off the backsides, whereas a super-cardioid has nulls that reject off the backsides.

This is where the audio engineers here will tell you that less is more. Objectively, fewer monitors and less volume is more ideal. Adding speakers adds volume, costs more, takes more time to set up, etc. etc. It can and likely will detract from your performance even though you may be happy with what you have going on.

The magic size for monitors these days is 12". The main reason that a 15" is used is either to deal with more full range instruments like bass, drums, and keys or in the case of vocals, to simply cave your head in. 12" monitors are perfect for vocals as they tend to sound better, clearer and more defined, but they are also smaller and can be placed more optimally on crowded stages.

Dave Rat has some very good stuff, but keep in mind he has a lot of money to play with. The Microwedge is one of his early babies and is a really good monitor. Most of his recent technology is based around reducing intermodulation and distortion. 12" monitors will exhibit less intermodulation than a 15" variant. Distortion is more SPL based and typically the better the speaker, the better its distortion characteristics will be. The concept behind using multiple wedges is to reduce the number of elements that reproduce the same exact signal. So a single speaker for vocals and a stereo mix of instruments can go a long way in making a clearer and cleaner monitor mix. This comes at a great cost though. You now need 3 mixes for that one location and you NEED someone to manage it. This is not something that is typically done at your local rock venue or even your local festival event. Doing it yourself will probably involve a lot of your time even if you do it with an app on the stage.

My vote if you are dead set on doing this would be to go with 12" monitors. If you are doing this because you need more volume and clarity then smaller is not going to get you any farther. You don't even have to have a 15" center wedge. You can do all 12" or if you wanted you could do 12' for the center and 10" for the sides. I would definitely make it so that your center wedge is for vocals only and the side wedges for a stereo ( MUST BE STEREO ) mix of instruments. If you don't mix the instruments in stereo in the outer wedges, then you have just wasted the money and time setting them up.
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Art Welter

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My question is this: if the side wedges are used for vocals only, what could be the smallest possible pair of wedges when combined with a 15" central monitor? Would a pair of 8" or 10" next to a 15" still fit? Anyone tried this setup and could say something from experience?
Radoslaw,

Your questions have both objective and subjective answers.
Objectively, displacement rules, displacement= cone area (Sd) multiplied by Xmax (linear displacement). Since a 8" Sd is around 220 square centimeters, and a 15" is around 855, you'd need about four 8" to "keep up" with a 15". The 8" Xmax is generally less than a 15", so you'd need even more to equal it's displacement.

That said, far more displacement is needed down low to achieve the same SPL as at higher frequencies, so a pair of 8" in the vocal range could equal the SPL of a 15", depending how much low vocal you want.

Subjectively, vocals usually need to be mixed at a higher SPL level than instruments, so if using a 15" for the center instrument mix, I'd probably still want at least a pair of 10" (320sq cm) or 12" (530 sq cm) for the vocals to keep up.
The usual problem with this type of set up ends up being the instrument mix is not limited by feedback, so when the performer is happy with the level of the instruments, (which are no longer driving the vocals into amplitude modulation from exceeding Xmax) there is not enough gain before feedback for the vocal level to "keep up".

Art
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Ivan Beaver

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From purely technical standpoint, by doubling the speaker coverage I get +3db,
From a "purely technical" standpoint, you will get a maximum of addition of 6dB (at some freq)when you double the cabinets and power

AND you will get complete cancellation at other freq (from the cabinets that are spaced apart and have different pathlengths to the ear.

More cabinets will be louder, but will never sound as good as a single cabinet (from any manufacturer)

So it depends on if you are looking for simple loudness (a piece of sheet metal through a table saw will give you lots of loudness) or sound quality.
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Steve Garris

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More cabinets will be louder, but will never sound as good as a single cabinet (from any manufacturer)


The above is what you will hear from most of us. I suggest you spend the money you were going to on a single wedge. It will likely blow away any other configuration. A lot of great monitors these days are coaxial, self-powered.
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jesseweiss

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From a "purely technical" standpoint, you will get a maximum of addition of 6dB (at some freq)when you double the cabinets and power

AND you will get complete cancellation at other freq (from the cabinets that are spaced apart and have different pathlengths to the ear.

More cabinets will be louder, but will never sound as good as a single cabinet (from any manufacturer)

So it depends on if you are looking for simple loudness (a piece of sheet metal through a table saw will give you lots of loudness) or sound quality.
So this caught my eye. We typically use two DBR10's for monitors (vocals and some guitars depending on gig) a few feet apart of course depending on stage size.

Should we be doing something differently? The 3 guitarists also all sing (cover band), so monitoring on both sides is kind of necessary.

Guitarists are all annoying about hearing themselves in monitors but won't use in-ears, so I was even considering doing separate instrument monitors when we are outdoors (like this coming weekend).
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Jay Barracato

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Going the other way can work if you are using a super-cardioid microphone. The major issue is the pattern of the mic. A typical cardioid mic has a pretty good pickup pattern off the backsides, whereas a super-cardioid has nulls that reject off the backsides.


Dave Rat has some very good stuff, but keep in mind he has a lot of money to play with. The Microwedge is one of his early babies and is a really good monitor. Most of his recent technology is based around reducing intermodulation and distortion. 12" monitors will exhibit less intermodulation than a 15" variant. Distortion is more SPL based and typically the better the speaker, the better its distortion characteristics will be. The concept behind using multiple wedges is to reduce the number of elements that reproduce the same exact signal. So a single speaker for vocals and a stereo mix of instruments can go a long way in making a clearer and cleaner monitor mix. This comes at a great cost though. You now need 3 mixes for that one location and you NEED someone to manage it. This is not something that is typically done at your local rock venue or even your local festival event. Doing it yourself will probably involve a lot of your time even if you do it with an app on the stage.


I would say in practical situations the pattern of the mic is NOT a major concern for the placement of monitors AS LONG AS you keep the mic roughly parallel to the floor.

The lobe of a hyper cardiod mic is three dimensional. A monitor with a 45-60 degree angle with the floor directly in front of a mic parallel to the floor is as much in the nose as a monitor 30-45 degrees to the side.

For the record, I commonly use monitor angle to control bleed from one zone to another even with plain cardiod mics.

A couple of final thoughts, a single higher prices wedge will give you better clarity including off axis (and clarity cannot be replaced effectively by volume) and a higher prices wedge will require less eq to make it loud and stable.

While a lot of Dave's ideas are neat, it helps to remember he is often dealing with the most extreme stage situations possible. I can see using a dual pa setup for monitors when you are 30 feet from the other band members and 30 feet from your amp.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk

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Luke Geis

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The whole doubling of wattage and doubling of piston area is a slippery slope. I am not a firm believer in the +6db gain idea. While it is technically possible at some frequencies, it is not broadband and the actual broadband gain is between 3-5db once you average it out.

If you have 1 speaker and you double the wattage, you gain +3db. If you place two speakers on one amp channel, the wattage will double ( because the load drops and the amp produces more wattage at lower loads ) but the dissipation across both devices is 1/2 of the available power, so a +3db gain should be perceived. If you double the piston area and power them with the same wattage as you did with one speaker, you dissipate the same energy as you did with one speaker across two speakers, so no gain will be perceived.

In the case of two speakers that are not coherently coupled but producing the same signal, you get comb filtering. You get some coupling and some nulling and while the peak gain can be as much as +6db, you stand to lose a significant level at many other frequencies too, thereby reducing overall SPL to some degree. This is why I say broadband gain will be between 3-5db. A net gain of +3db is not likely to make or break a show. A +6db is probably the very least needed to make an obvious and apparent difference that can bring you from not enough, to evidently enough. In the case of monitors, this is a very difficult task to achieve. A really good engineer can increase the GBF ( gain before feedback ) by around 10db!! This is really good, however, if the average Joe can eeek +6db out of that potential 10db, then you can see where the problem lies. That last 3db is very hard to get and doesn't really take you from here to there. The point being, that if you are already finding it hard to get any louder as it is, then getting that last 3db and even possibly 6db is going to be a really hard task. You may not be able to get much more regardless of what you do.

When I have musicians that rely heavily on monitors and leave me with no wiggle room to work with, I pull a reset. I ask them to re-assess what they have going on and have them ask for only what is needed to actually perform. The audience doesn't care that you want to have the guitar that loud on the stage, they only want to hear everything clearly and with quality. When you play on stage, the show IS NOT FOR YOU, it is for the audience. Anything you do that serves to satisfy your own ego is simply that. If what you do ruins the performance for the crowd, that is not a good thing. We see these monstrous monitor rigs on larger events because that is what is needed in order to cover that size of a stage and the people are far enough away that it doesn't affect the performance much. For a smaller show where you are close enough to your band-mates and the crowd, you only need enough volume to simply hear yourself. If you can't hear the vocals through a monitor wedge that is cranked and only 5' from your face, what chance do your vocals have in the PA? Something has to give and the engineer is going to rob from Peter to pay Paul. On larger stages, yes monitoring is important and needed, but only within reason. The tricks employed at the A & B national level are used because the talent can demand that expense and still make money for the event holders. I don't know where you sit on that totem pole, but it seems that you are self-financed? I am just trying to save you the money, time and energy.

When I was playing in bands many years ago, we were " those guys " who were WAY TOO LOUD. We did it because we believed it to be cool. Perhaps at the time it was, and we could care less about monitoring. But we had a couple of venues say in very clear terms that if we are that loud again, we won't be asked back. That changed our attitude real quick. We went from the loudest band on the block to the quietest one I have ever dealt with. We removed all monitoring from our rehearsals and if we couldn't hear our own vocals as we sang, we knew we were too loud. We turned it into a game to see just how quiet we could be and still have fun. Before long, all the people wanted was for us to be louder. We didn't even need monitors at all. The point being, if you are looking at spending more money, try going back to zero and see what you can do to change first.
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Radoslaw Andruszkiewicz

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Thanks you for your answers.

Yes, that sounds like sticking with one wedge will be easier and far more simple. I was going for 'clarity' portion of that setup, but I guess it wouldn't be any more practical if after all I'd have to have 3 fairly equally sized wedges anyway for an improvement that might not even be there.
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Scott Olewiler

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So this caught my eye. We typically use two DBR10's for monitors (vocals and some guitars depending on gig) a few feet apart of course depending on stage size.

Should we be doing something differently? The 3 guitarists also all sing (cover band), so monitoring on both sides is kind of necessary.

Guitarists are all annoying about hearing themselves in monitors but won't use in-ears, so I was even considering doing separate instrument monitors when we are outdoors (like this coming weekend).

Jesse,

You're only using 2 monitors for the entire band?

If both monitors contain the same mix, or even if they don't for that matter; the solution to your problem is most likely just adding more monitors, each having it's own mix tailored to just the person who is near it rather than adding more shared mixes and splitting up your vocals and instruments.

Each band member needs their own personal monitor with ONLY what they need in it. This should result in less stage volume, unless every monitor is fighting guitar amps that are too loud. 

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