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Author Topic: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing  (Read 5019 times)

Bob Leonard

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The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« on: December 23, 2007, 08:40:42 am »

I recently found a great 70 page guide describing most of the aspects of mixing monitors. I know fairly well that this is an often overlooked part of sound reinforcement, often resulting in a lot of frustration when approached by a novice. The guide is  great for beginners and journeymen alike. Print it out and give it a read. Have fun!

http://www.sae.edu/media/251/a_handbook_for_monitor_engineer s_.pdf
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Mac Kerr

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2007, 11:45:09 am »

Nice link. Lots of good basic info, although some of the gear references are a little dated. Methodology is still valid and would be a good read for anyone who doesn't already do this every day. It was interesting to note that some of his research was right here at PSW:

http://www.prosoundweb.com/live/articles/chrisk/diary2/diary 2.shtml

http://www.prosoundweb.com/live/articles/davidweiss/davetobi as.shtml

http://www.prosoundweb.com/studyhall/psw_studyhall/stage_ter ms.shtml

http://www.prosoundweb.com/live/articles/danlaveglia/xl32.sh tml

http://www.prosoundweb.com/live/news_04/bkirk.shtml

http://www.prosoundweb.com/studyhall/lastudyhall/iem.html

http://www.prosoundweb.com/webexpo/namm02/senn/b_beck.shtml

Mac
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Eric Simna

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2007, 12:05:04 pm »

Bob,  thanks for the link to this.  As a regular theatre guy trying to build up and get to the concert scene this was a very nice read.  Even if some of it is dated, that dated equipment is whats in my price range right now. (College student paying his own way through school, oww.)

Eric
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Bob Leonard

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2007, 03:31:08 pm »

Thanks guys. Mac your seal of approval has meaning to me. Thanks. Maybe a sticky might help with some of the monitor questions people seem to always ask.
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Tony "T" Tissot

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2007, 03:39:09 pm »

Nice find.

The only caution I would offer is to think through carefully the compression of vocal mixes on monitors! (i.e. - use sparingly - if at all, and only with the singers consent.)

(Having learned the hard way, in the most embarrassing way Embarassed )
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RYAN LOUDMUSIC JENKINS

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2007, 04:44:08 pm »

Speaking of monitors....  We got to work a gig with Maxie Williams a couple weeks ago.  We knew he was a very well respected monitor engineer so both myself and my monitor engineer tried our best to learn as much as we could from him.  He was VERY cool and we picked up a lot of hints that will make us better at what we do.  So thanks very much to Maxie and if anyone ever gets to work with him pay attention because I think we could all learn a bit from people like him.
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Geri O'Neil

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2007, 04:46:15 pm »

Maxie's a good friend to us around here. Talk about a no-muss, no-fuss kind of guy. Quite a gig he's got, eh? We don't get to work with him near as much as we'd like to.

Geri O
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Dick Rees

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2007, 09:29:14 pm »

Bob Leonard wrote on Sun, 23 December 2007 07:40

I recently found a great 70 page guide describing most of the aspects of mixing monitors. I know fairly well that this is an often overlooked part of sound reinforcement, often resulting in a lot of frustration when approached by a novice. The guide is  great for beginners and journeymen alike. Print it out and give it a read. Have fun!

 http://www.sae.edu/media/251/a_handbook_for_monitor_engineer s_.pdf


Thanks for the link.  It's good to have this info available to refer people to when I don't have time to give them the short course.  

One aspect of the outboard processing always puzzles me a little, though.  I understand the function of a limiter on a particular mix to lessen the occurence of feedback.  I'm just not as comfortable with compression on monitor mixes.  I understand the objective of obtaining a more workable dynamic range, but I've found that it's a little touchy balancing the amount of compression with what I perceive as a tendency for compressed signals to be more prone to feeding back.  Is this the way it works or am I missing something here?

I await the wisdom of the community.

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Tony "T" Tissot

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2007, 01:33:40 am »

Vocal compression in monitors - usually "bad" - particularly for a singer with chops.

They tend to fight the dynamics of the compressor in a losing battle. The compressor always wins. The singer's throat usually suffers.

(But I do admit using them for hardcore screamers Twisted Evil )

Limiters - I believe they are already in commercial IEM setups. I know they are in the ones I've used.

As far as wedges - I don't really know - I have never felt the need to use limiters.
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Art Welter

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2007, 04:45:28 am »

Dick,

Compression or limiting should not normally make a system more prone to feedback unless the unit is changing the frequency response as it goes over threshold.  

Monitors are a gain before feedback game. If you set compressor thresholds too low, gain will be reduced, so the system will feed back at a lower output level.


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Tony "T" Tissot

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2007, 04:48:04 am »

Art Welter wrote on Mon, 24 December 2007 01:45

...If you set compressor thresholds too low, gain will be reduced, so the system will feed back at a lower output level.



'splain please?
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Geri O'Neil

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2007, 08:03:57 am »

What usually happens is a chain of events...

You set a compressor on the singer's input channel to take care of the peaks. Singer asks for more level in the monitors, so you give him more of his channel in the mix, but then you hit the threshold sooner. Eventually, the overall send is increased in an effort to make the singer happy, usually forgetting that the singer's own voice has been compressed. Now, when the singer is, well, singing, and his voice level is being compressed, it's only the frequencies of his voice that suffer from reduced gain before feedback and this usually isn't a problem at this point. But when he stops singing, the level of of the entire mix rises due to not being compressed. This is where one gets into trouble using compressors on monitors. It's entirely possible for this to occur with the house PA as well. Take a singer with a very low singing level and an un-even level at that, compress his vocal (usually too much by the mixer in an attempt to make the singer at least presentable), bring it up in the PA and let the low howls from the house PA begin. I've seen lots of apparently-inexperienced guys get into trouble this way and even occasionally have to step in and fix the problem for them.

Using comps on monitor mixing can be effective, but as Art mentioned, it's like walking a very fine line and can turn into a battle between the singer and the compressor very quickly. I would NEVER try to use a comp on a singer's monitor channel on any kind of one-off or a show where the band relied on us for a monitor mixer, unless their house guy requested it and had some guidelines as to where to start. We DO make use of the limiters in the monitor speaker processors for protection, but by the time they kick in, things are already waaay out of hand.

I've re-read this twice for clarity, so I hope that the point comes across as intended.

Geri O
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Mark Meagher

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2007, 12:12:33 pm »

Geri O'Neil wrote on Mon, 24 December 2007 08:03

 I would NEVER try to use a comp on a singer's monitor channel on any kind of one-off or a show where the band relied on us for a monitor mixer, unless their house guy requested it and had some guidelines as to where to start.
Geri O


Absolutely 100% agreement and a very smart approach IMO. Also a ask me how I know approach.

OTOH, I always make sure the keys are patched to squash, just to make sure the rest of the performers don't get their head torn off because maestro didn't normalize his patches. Twisted Evil


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Tim McCulloch

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2007, 12:22:05 pm »

Geri O'Neil wrote on Mon, 24 December 2007 07:03


Using comps on monitor mixing can be effective, but as Art mentioned, it's like walking a very fine line and can turn into a battle between the singer and the compressor very quickly. I would NEVER try to use a comp on a singer's monitor channel on any kind of one-off or a show where the band relied on us for a monitor mixer, unless their house guy requested it and had some guidelines as to where to start. We DO make use of the limiters in the monitor speaker processors for protection, but by the time they kick in, things are already waaay out of hand.

Geri O


You hit it square on, particularly dealing with *wedge and sidefill* monitors.  Interestingly, some artists carry a nice Money Channel comp for the star's vox input to IEM.

When I see something like that, I ask for a split of it to FOH.  Nothing in my rack is going to sound like what the artist is hearing, and I like having the option of using it.  It's also a clue to me that the singer is probably a 'mic-wanderer' and I can't count on any lips to mic consistency.

So... Crane Song or BSS404?  Hmmm I want both!

Tim "greedy kinda mixer guy" Mc
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Art Welter

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Re: The other side of the stage - Monitor world and mixing
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2007, 07:15:03 pm »

I actually should have said:

If you set compressor thresholds too low, gain is still the same, but ultimate level will be reduced, so the system will feed back at a lower output level when gain is increased.

Geri O'Neil explained a typical compressed monitor mix problem already, before I checked back, but as an extreme example, try, or think of the following:

With limiter post graphic, threshold set at a level that will not cause any gain reduction, ring out the monitor with a vocal mic, get as much gain before feedback as possible  without butchering the sound. Whisper into the monitor, it should sound like a whisper. Yell, it should sound like a yell. Increase the gain by 3 dB, it will feed back, bring it back to the stable EQ/gain setting.

Now set the limiter to 10/1 ratio (or greater)fast attack & release, and the threshold to -60 or whatever the minimum. A whisper will still sound normal. A yell will result in little more level output than a whisper.

Now, if you were to increase the gain by 3 dB to "compensate", the system would start feeding back, but the limiter will squash it to a whisper level. More gain, but no more level.

Obviously, this won't work for the performers! I do employ heavy limiting when ringing out unknown microphones, saves the ears and  HF drivers while you learn how the new mic behaves.

Art
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