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My monitor mix (a perspective)...

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Tricaptain, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    Say, you guys! Simply sharing an opinion and my own personal viewpoint on how I approach monitor mixes (more so 'in-ear' mixes, but wedge, as well...

    TLDR: ***IMHO***, the band is best served when every musician hears each other.

    Long(er) version: Like everything, it's ALL personal preference. For me, I really prefer to be able to hear a little bit of 'everybody' in the band. I stay keenly aware of what the other musicians are doing, possibly credit in part to my general approach as a musician.

    I've worked with tons of musicians; many of which often pretty much tune out other instruments and only care to hear themselves. While that works well, I struggle with the thought that maybe it could serve the band (and overall sound) better if every musician actually heard every other musician...

    I liken it to a conversation. We could all be in a room together, and a conversation could be occurring. If I tune everyone else out, and just spoke where I felt I needed to, am I really contributing to the conversation? Also, am I really understanding the conversation to be, in turn, an effective contributor, knowing that I'm likely removing myself from any pertinent conversational context?

    Additionally, the more I know about what everyone else is doing, the more comfortable I feel about the show we're putting on as a collective. I a just as happy playing an active groove for an entire song as I am standing there with a long rest. My thought is... if the sound is coming from the stage (regardless of which instrument), it's still coming from every musician on the stage. So, while I'm at rest, I'm still 'performing'. It's as if the sound is all a part of the entire band, even if only one instrument is playing, and it's not bass (or me singing).

    All that said, I keep as much of the entire band in my monitor mix as I can, with minimal bass, since I usually have an amp moving a little bit of air with the cab(s) nearby/behind me... and the less bass I have in my monitor (*if I can't EQ the in-ear mix to remove some very greedy low-end*), the less likely that the sound will get squashed and/or distorted (resulting in me struggling to hear things). It's hard for me to really get into a 'zone' by just hearing myself knowing that I'm only a part of the overall sound. It also helps to be aware of what the audience is hearing. If I hear what they're hearing and can offer energy to put out there, there's an opportunity for a really cool stage-to-house synergy.

    A big part of my approach, too, is my vocal involvement. I need to be sure I can hear pitches/tones to sing along with.

    Question to the masses here: What are your preferences, and why (curious to hear the different opinions, and even stories!)?

    Disclaimer: I'm a multi-instrumentalist, but PRIMARILY a bassist. Started in the very early 90s, I like (and play) multiple genres. Active cover band musician with some vocal ability. You mileage WILL always vary - speaking solely from my personal experiences. I'm NOT an electronics wiz, by ANY stretch - I'm just a player/user! However, I'm also not afraid to 'look under the hood' and experiment. Conversation is ENCOURAGED! Please share thoughts/ideas, and please correct me on anything I may be erroneous on. Most of all, be excellent to each other, and HAVE FUN! Cheers, you guys!
    two fingers and WayneP like this.
  2. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I start with nothing & add only what's needed. Some instruments may not need to be in monitors at all. For instance, all 7 or 8 mic-ed drums probably don't need to be in the monitors, just 1 or 2. Likewise amplified instruments may cover at least some of the stage, so don't need to be full up everywhere.
    lat and Zbysek like this.
  3. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    I think it entirely depends on one's situation.. after all, you are not listening to a CD and should [generally] listen to what you need to do your job.
    If you put EVERYTHING in a wedge.. you'll not be able to distinguish your own voice by the end of the set and potentially blow it out! Only put the bare minimum in a wedge!

    For IEM's, it's not just about what you have in the mix, but WHERE in the [stereo] mix it is placed that can REALLY help with separation and make ones life easier. MONO is also pretty easy. Like wedges remove the clutter. Keep it simple.

    In my case - I do the following for my band.
    Drums - kick centered, hat centered, maybe snare. NO OH's, or toms.
    Bass - centered, prevalent.
    Guitars - elec 1 10am, elec 2 2pm and acoustic 2pm.
    Vox - lead centered, me at 1pm slightly lower in the mix, Dave at 11am lower than me (so I can hear him talk when nothing else is going on, but not hear him when singing).
    Pedal steel/Fiddle - 10am + 2pm.
    All leveled to insure I can hear them all.

    At church with [often] multiple electric and acoustic guitars and sometimes multiple keys... I remove the fillers and adjust the levels of those I need to hear (or trigger off).
    As with all things... YMMV
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
    Zbysek, Wasnex and musicman7722 like this.
  4. JPaulGeddy


    Sep 19, 2007
    South Carolina
    Like most things, it depends. But for me, generally, I have bass at a pretty good level (especially since I try not to use an amp) - so that's obviously my #1 focus.

    #2 is vocals, but I'll tend to blend it a skosh quieter than the rest of the singers. Rarely am I the lead, so it just works better for me that way.

    Guitar and drums are almost non-existent, depending on their stage volume. I'll hear them overall, but not very much directly in the ears.

    My overall in-ear volume is very, very low, which I feel is key. The room din will literally be louder than my in-ears when I remove them.
    JKos and s0c9 like this.
  5. I need to hear a little of everything with vox, kick & snare boosted a bit. Our band uses a digital mixer so everyone can control their own mix.
  6. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    As a side guy, I want to hear a bit of everything with kick prominent - my monitor should only support vocals, acoustic guitar and kick if necessary. All my other cues I should be able to get from the stage.

    In my band we are tight, well rehearsed.. our monitor mixes are vocals and acoustic guitar. Lady lead slacker has her piano and harp in her mix as well. Guitarist and I will take some kick in small places where we are right on top of each other just enough to keep is together.

    As a sound guy I see quite a few guitarist/lead vocalist guys that want themselves, maybe a bit of snare and thats it in their monitor. The side players get whatever they want but have to hang onto the lead guy and if they don't there are shoes to fill... Lead guy doesn't want the distraction. More about fulfilling a role than improvising, call and response kinda playing.
  7. This conversation really depends on the type of monitor one uses. A wedge will be totally difference from IEM and IEM mono vs stereo will be different as well.

    It would help to understand the type of monitor the OP used?
    steveksux and s0c9 like this.
  8. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2006
    Austin, TX
    The only time I'll put anything in a monitor, be it a wedge or in-ears, is if I absolutely cannot hear it across the band stand. About 99% of the time, this means I have only my vocal mic in the monitors, my bass rig behind me, and I'm good to go. There's generally enough in everyone else's monitor mixes to have enough air moving on stage for me to hear and feel what I need to.

    I personally hate the situations when I need to ask for kick drum in a wedge. Often, this is because the subs are under the stage which completely pulverize the stage sound and I need to be able to hear the attack of the drum without any of the "beef" attached to it.
  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    in your IEM mix?

    that doesn't sound right, you should be able to run them totally flat, have plenty of beefy bass with no clipping or any of that, and all at a safe low level. what kind of IEM rig are you using?

    for me it's stereo in-ears, my own voice and instrument centered (along with kick drum if needed) and everybody else panned over to the sides a little, like "11:00/1:00", just enough to get them out of the way while still hearing everything clearly. drumwise it'll be a bit of kick and hi-hat usually.

    i insist on my IEM mix being set "pre-everything", no EQ and especially no compression, and it works great.
    s0c9 likes this.
  10. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    It depends on whether the band uses wedges or IEM.

    For wedges: trying to hear everybody sounds perfect in theory...but, IME, doesn't work in practice. I WANT to hear only what I NEED to hear to be able to perform. In my case, it's usually snare drum, kick drum and high-hat. I only put anything in my monitor if I don't hear it acoustically-that's why I usually don't put snare drum in my monitor on small/medium stages indoors. I don't put bass in monitor as I usually have my bass cab behind me.

    TBH, I quite dislike when (some of) my bandmates put everything in their monitors (especially for indoors gigs). First: it usually ruins the sound on stage raising the volume level unnecessarily. My motto is: if you don't hear something, don't turn it up-turn other things down instead! Second, those who put everything in their monitors usually drown the drums...and they tend to play out-of-rhythm as a result... IME, YMMV

    For IEM: my general approach described above still applies...but if the stage is really silent (no guitar combos, no wedges for vocals) I might add a little bit of guitars and vocals to help me orient in the song structure...
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  11. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    ^^^ THIS ^^^
    My band opened for a national Country touring act 2 weekends ago. Great band... but VERY young. Early 20's.
    Using wedges. They saw we were using IEM's and are moving in that direction so we had a lengthy discussion after their set on IEM use.
    Lead vocalist commented on how he puts everything in his wedge mix and was having issues with blowing out his voice because "he" was getting lost in that mix. [Editorial: NO KIDDING!! bound to happen]
    This is PURE live-stage INEXPERIENCE!
    For both wedges and IEM's (get STEREO mixes) I recommended cutting out everything of his mix that he did not need. Start with having only his vocals in the wedge then add in stuff that he absolutely needs to hear. The ambient stage noise on the average wedge-only stage allows one to hear most things. And build from there.

    Since y'all know how much I love IEM's... I also recommended (as I would anyone) to take the time to get the band used to IEM's before using them on stage. Plenty of practice up front. Don't install the system and get on stage an use it. You'll hate it and blame to tools. Start building the IEM mix the same way as wedges above and during those early rehearsals figure out what it is you want hear as the 2 types of mix are very different. We also talked about keeping IEM volumes low.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  12. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    That's good advice!

    I might add: don't start adding stuff by default.

    The whole band should play a song (or part of a song) during soundcheck. Only after that he will be able to find out whether there is stuff missing in his wedge which he absolutely needs to hear.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
    steveksux and s0c9 like this.
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Before you start asking for stuff in the monitors try and get a decent balance on stage with the amps and drums. Then you only need to add those few things to the monitors that you can't balance acoustically. This gives you a sense of being surrounded by the sound, which feels natural and makes it easier to differentiate between all of the sounds on stage.

    I used to work with an audio tech that always wanted to spread the musicians out as far as possible. On big stages we were really too far apart to get any sort of acoustic balance, so everyone pretty much had to run everything they wanted to hear in their monitor mix. Unfortunately we were running mono mixes so all of the sounds would bunch together making it hard to differentiate one instrument or voice from the others. We didn't have enough manpower or time to run stereo wedges for everyone.

    The two advantage I can think of for this approach are: 1. It's very easy to get as much "more me" as you want. 2. Spreading everyone out on a big stage usually increases gain before feedback. This guy could get the monitors and FOH mix louder than anyone I have ever worked with. Unfortunately, you really couldn't talk him into running the show at what I would consider a reasonable volume; it was often painfully loud for the audience.

    The biggest downside to me was the loss of intimacy. It really felt like we were all playing in different time zones.
  14. biguglyman


    Jul 27, 2017
    Rochester, NY
    We use IE's for a 60's - 70's cover band, lots of Beatles, everybody sings. The most important thing to me is hearing my vocals. Here's how I usually balance things:

    my vocals (on Top) then other singers (about half mine) then guitar on opposite stage side and keys (about half of the previous).

    My bass amp provides enough for me to hear and the drums bleed through the drummers mic enough for me to hear. Occasionally in bigger or outdoor venues, I'll add a little kick drum. The guitarist on my side of the stage is usually loud enough to hear. We don't play very loud and this seems to work well. We usually mix ourselves and get good feedback on our FOH sound.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
  15. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i have never even experienced stereo wedges, how are they typically run?

    is it the same idea as stereo IEMs (which i use all the time), yourself centered and the others panned offside a little?

    as i understand it straight-up mono wedges side by side have a problem with phasing between the two horns, you get smearing and weirdness. i've certainly experienced that with two wedges jumped off the same mix for one player, it's louder but somehow harder to EQ and hear.

    i've even heard of a luxury setup with three wedges per person arranged in a half-circle, one centered with yourself only in it and the two outer ones with the other players panned to various points, all to avoid two horns spaced apart hitting your ears at the same time with the same signal.
    Wasnex and s0c9 like this.
  16. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Wedges mean I'm on stage with an amp and so is everybody else (except for the drummer). Since all amps are facing the crowd, the wedge is there help me hear all I need to hear. The dominant things are me (when my amp is not enough), kick+snare+hh, lead singer.

    With IEM, that's a totally different story. Everything from outside is -30dB through my molds, so pretty much non-existent when I play. I have the whole band in a pleasant mix with the drums and the bass a little elevated over the rest.

    I agree with the OP that as the bass player, It is quite important to be able to hear all the instruments playing. Some don't need to be too loud, just loud enough so you get them when you concentrate. It sorta helps knowing what is going on outside the pocket when you and the drummer are firmly locked in but maybe the keys are led astray . . .
  17. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    I'VE never heard of "stereo" wedges.. bi-amped, yes! Stereo no!
    I'm going to assume stereo wedges means 2 wedges with one each side of the listener angled at 11am and 1pm (or similar orientation) with a possible separate mix for each wedge, or single mix with 2 sources.
    Now those I have done, but to get true stereo (like IEM's) one would need 2 mixes with appropriate instrument placement in each mix.
    Assuming mix-1 is Left and mix-2 is right wedge, if one wanted guitar panned right, it would be in mix-2 and not in mix-1!
  18. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I setup some a crazy monitor array for a big holiday extravaganza years ago, with full concert band and rhythm section. I think I used five or six speakers on five separate mixes in a convex arc that spread out around the singers. I think my idea was to consider the mixes LL,L,C,R,RR. I had to tilt some of the monitors forward to modify their dispersion angle, since they were further from the vocalists than normal.

    There were five or six vocalists and the mics were set up in a straight line. I used delay and a bit of volume shading, so all of the vocalists heard the same SPL, and there was a strong ghost image between the speakers. The idea was to create a nice stereo mix for each vocalist, so they could pick their voices out of the mix easier, and also hear each of the other singers.

    Unfortunately, the singers had some choreography that involved repeatedly marching around and coming back to different mics, so I wound up abandoning the multi-channel mix.

    The arc array and time delay seemed to do a good job focusing the sound where it needed to be, so the experiment wasn't a total loss.
    s0c9 likes this.
  19. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Tight packing monitors or PA cabs does typically result in some nasty phasing. I have often run two monitors but they are spaced out at about 30 degree and toed in to aim at me. In my experience, you have to experiment with each cab type to find the ideal spacing where the horns integrate relatively well. If you get the spacing right and have nice cabs, there is no phasing and you get a nice strong ghost image between the cabs.

    If three wedges are spaced in a half circle, you can do an LCR mix. This is only effective if the artist is stationary.

    About 15 years ago the band I was in transitioned from Apogee AE5 to Meyer UPA-1P. These are very comparable boxes and I argued against investing in the Meyer rig as it cost a bunch of cash. The decision was made and the Meyer's came in. My observation is I preferred the sound of a single AE5 to a single UPA. But we typically used a pair of boxes on each side of the stage, and the UPAs worked a bit better in arrays.

    I personally own a bunch of Electro Voice SX300s. The sound decent is decent in singles, but they are horrible in arrays. Keep in mind an SX300 cost less than 25% than the price of an AE5 or UPA.
    s0c9 likes this.
  20. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    (...this is actually *exactly* what I do in practice... so... CONCUR! ;) Hopefully, I wasn't misleading - I definitely make sure I can hear everything, but *after I play the balancing act* of what I can hear in the monitors, as well as ambient/what bleeds through in my ears... I don't have it blaring - and it depends on the gig, between tiny clubs and large stages. End state, I feel best when my ears are receiving the entire band. ...and by ears, I mean my actual ears, not necessarily my "in-ear monitors"... it's a balance between it all. Cheers! :D )
    Wasnex and Zbysek like this.
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