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looking for guidance on stage monitoring

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by pfschim, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Hey all,
    I am looking for input on simple approaches to on stage monitoring in a primarily instrumental music set-up.

    I play in a 5 pc jazz/world music/funk band, typically with no vocals (although we do sometimes have a "guest" vocalist for a handful of tunes). We generally play at winery events here in beautiful N. California with an audience size of between 100 and 500+. It's a 70/30 split between indoor and outdoor venues. On the largest gigs (maybe 6 per year) there is a house provided PA for everything but bass and drums. We don't typically mike anything other than when we have a guest vocalist.

    Lately, particularly on the medium to larger outdoor gigs without PA, we have been having issues hearing each other clearly across the stage setup. At our last rehearsal we decided to look into a minimum stage monitoring set-up so those on stage left could hear those on stage right and visa versa.

    I'm thinking that we could get away with a small stereo mixer and two decent powered monitors; Run a DI from each amp to the mixer and do a stage left heavy mix for those on the right, and a stage right heavy mix for those on the left.

    The key will be a simple, straight forward approach that is easy to set up (as we have no soundman), and fairly cheap .. but basically effective for the needs. Also would like to keep it highly transportable as there is no band vehicle, just individual rides. We do know how to set up gear, we've all been playing for decades, it's just that I'd like to keep this as simple as possible.

    Anyone want to chime in and offer guidance.

    Thanks in advance for the consideration.
  2. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    What you're proposing will work. However, I'm a little concerned by the lack of a FOH PA to compliment the monitors. I realise you probably don't need FOH, but if you've ever stood in front of a stage where the FOH is turned off and only the monitors are running, you'll know why I'm worried. The monitors spill into the crowd, despite being angled away from them, and the sound is very muffled and counter-productive to clarity. If a worst case scenario, It can even ruin a FOH mix if the monitors are loud enough.

    You say you often don't have vocals. If there were NEVER any vocals, I'd suggest placing the monitors on stands and positioning them behind the band, facing the crowd. That way they could double as monitors and Quasi FOH, more so to eliminate the reduced clarity I mentioned earlier.

    The introduction of the guest singer complicates this a little because it introduced feedback into the equation. With the speakers behind the band, it will be difficult to get hefty SPL without the mic feeding back. If however the volume is expected to be kept fairly low, this could still work.

    Otherwise, you could look at products like the Bose personal monitoring system which is designed to be used in this way. Nexo is another option but they're not cheap.

    And lets not forget that In-Ear monitoring could also be an option.

    That's my 2c.
  3. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Thanks for the well considered reply PeteBass. I think we'll go ahead and try the original idea. We have determined that we have access (as in free) to a Hafler power amp, 2 Mackie monitors and a Yamaha mixer. So, we'll give it a shot on our next gig (next Sat) and see how it works out.

    There are other potential problems with this approach. Like what do we do when we do have FOH ?, usually stage monitors are an AUX out from the primary. If we put together a monitor only set-up, how will we connect it to the main PA set up.

    Thanks again
  4. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    Make sure you make enough time do a full sound check with FOH and stage monitors to address possible feedback issues.
  5. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Does your yamaha mixer have "inserts" on each channel?

    If so, they are TRS jacks which are supposed to be used with a stereo jack to act as a send AND returns for effects, compressors, etc. They can however be tricked into being sends only by using standard mono jacks. So you can use them to feed the signal of each instrument to the FOH desk while maintaining control of your own monitor mix.

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