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Live onstage mix? Are bands really not listening to each other?

wiscojay

Member
Messages
116
I;ve been noticing more and more that sound guys are surprised when my band asks to have the sound in our monitors as close to the mains as possible.
We improvise alot so its very important to get the sound from each member. (although there are only three of us)

It seems like the sound guys we've worked with recently have been really wierd about that request. They've even said some bands dont even have other band members coming throught their monitors?

Is this typical? how could you play without hearing the other members clearly? Seems crazy to me. Especially for things like dynamics.

I just wondered what you guys think?

PS, I know this coul of been in the live sound category, but its more of a question of peoples performance style and if they are listening to the band or more focusing on themselves?
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,312
In a perfect world, you shouldn't need anything other than vocals in your monitor mix.

The bands that can get their stages set up so that everyone can hear each other well, solos come up and down, etc. are always going to sound good out front, and make it easy for the sound man to get a great mix.

This is fast becoming a lost art and IMHO, is the main reason for the preponderance of "hate the sound man" threads here.

IEMs are a whole different thing, however...
 

english_bob

Member
Messages
306
I don't think it's because people aren't listening to each other, I think it's because they can already hear each other on stage without the foldback. I think you'd have to be on a pretty big stage, or have a whole lot of your own backline blasting out at you (in which case, ditch some of the backline) before you'd need drums in your monitors. Bass maybe...

I'm not a sound engineer, but I'd have thought that having everything from the mains coming through the foldback as well at a high-ish volume would cause as many problems for the sound guy as it solved for the band. Anyone?



This thread got me thinking- it would probably be very beneficial to lots of bands if it were possible to work with a live sound engineer (a really good one, not some barroom clown) in an environment that simulated a gig, just experimenting and getting advice on different factors that affect live sound- gear and personnel placement on stage, what goes in monitor mixes, EQ on amps/pedals etc. I imagine it would be a real eye-opener, even for bands who have worked out a decent stage sound by trial and error.
 

buzzp

Supporting Member
Messages
7,100
Yeah I don't need drums in my monitors at all, maybe some bass. I just need vocals in my monitor and sometimes can't get enough in there.
 

Bob Womack

Member
Messages
2,682
I'm both a guitarist and a recording engineer who has does some monitor engineering as well as FOH. I'm going to assume you are referring to monitor speaker mixes. I'll can tell you that monitors aren't meant to be mixed like FOH. The should be mixed in a very spare way. The ideal is to get as good an ensemble thing going on stage as is possible and then supplement that with the monitors. If you've a player blowing the rest of the band off the stage you probably won't be able to fix that with the monitors. Here's what I say on my webpage:

"What is the best monitor mix for a live performance?"

I've been mulling that question for a while. While looking at it from the perspective of a musician, a monitor engineer, and a front-of-house mixer, I've reached some conclusions. First off, I've decided what it isn't: It isn't a mix which sounds like a CD on the stereo at home. It isn't necessarily very pretty. It isn't necessarily in propoprtion. And it isn't very complex.

Well, then, what the heck is it?

Well, it's a tool to help you make good music, created within the confines of also avoiding feedback and controlling the quality and loudness of the mix being sent to the front-of-house. Ooooo... Technical. What does that mean? The idea is to give you the things in your monitor which you need to perform, while keeping the stage level low enough to neither blow everyone off the stage nor fight with the main house mix. Ahhh... That makes more sense!

So, how do we keep the level down? By keeping the monitor mixes as spare and quiet as possible. Don't put anything in you don't absolutely need to hear to play, and don't jack things up too far. Remember also that much of what you might want to put in the mix is already spilling onto the stage. If there is an instrument you need to play off and you can't get it from the stage spill, put it in. If you need to harmonize with other vocalists, put them in. But remember, as the mixes become more and more complex and the levels go up, intelligibility, the ability to discern any particular component of the mix, goes down. If you can't hear an item, don't just crank up that item. First try removing whatever is in the way. This is truly a case of less is more.

In fact, having mxed monitors for some fairly big acts, I can say that you might be more impressed to find out what isn't in their monitors than what is.
Bob
 

guitarz1972

Member
Messages
4,775
IEMs are a whole different thing, however...
+1. We use in-ears at church so each musician gets a custom mix basically. I'd say it's rarely ever the same mix that the mains put out.

A lot of times if I'm playing, I'll want to hear what the other guitarist is doing so I can play off that a little better; so I'll ask the sound person to bring that level up in my mix. Same if I'm trying to do something counter to the keyboard player, etc. And then pan one instrument into one ear, another instrument into the other...

Throw in a "click track" too, and there's no way it's ever going to be precisely the same as the mains.

Depends on the circumstances and the stage for the particular band and musician, I'm sure.
 

27sauce

Senior Member
Messages
37,204
I have my guitar/vocals, lead vocal, snare, high hat, and talk back mic.

No keys, bass, drums, acoustic guitar, other electric guitar. I use IEM's, with one bare ear.
I can't stand having my guitar in there, but my amp is far from me, and behind some front fill.
 

sacakl

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,290
In a perfect world, you shouldn't need anything other than vocals in your monitor mix.

The bands that can get their stages set up so that everyone can hear each other well, solos come up and down, etc. are always going to sound good out front, and make it easy for the sound man to get a great mix.

This is fast becoming a lost art and IMHO, is the main reason for the preponderance of "hate the sound man" threads
So true. There's also a growing philosophy of having everyone running their amps below 1 on the volume and using the PA/monitors do all the work. Although some would only throw vocals in the mons. Only way to hear our instruments was through the mains usually.
 

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
14,136
I'm both a guitarist and a recording engineer who has does some monitor engineering as well as FOH. I'm going to assume you are referring to monitor speaker mixes. I'll can tell you that monitors aren't meant to be mixed like FOH. The should be mixed in a very spare way. The ideal is to get as good an ensemble thing going on stage as is possible and then supplement that with the monitors. If you've a player blowing the rest of the band off the stage you probably won't be able to fix that with the monitors. Here's what I say on my webpage:...

Bob
Yes. I like to do whatever I can to keep stage volume down. Sometimes that means, for example, that I can't hear the keys very well; and I keep the other vocalists levels down as low as possible in my monitor. The net result of this, is that, often, what I'm hearing on stage sounds pretty terrible (lots of guitar, from the amp, not the monitor), lots of my vocals and usually too much drums because of how close I am to them (never in my monitor). But as long as my sound company guy and the client or others in the audience tell me it sounds good out front, I don't worry about it.

Joe
 

Tony

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,965
If I'm on wedges (as opposed to in-ears), in a perfect world I would like to have kick, vocals and nothing else in the wedge. My preference is to keep the monitor mix as clean as possible, which requires playing with a band that knows how to mix itself onstage (not always a reality).
 

billm408

Member
Messages
3,015
The only thing I want in my monitor mix is vocals and just a little bit of the other guitarist. Everything else I get easily from stage volume. I see no value in having monitors and FOH the same. YMMV.
 

BadAssBill

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,546
I disagree with a lot of what's been said here for stage monitors, some of that may be becasue of our two guitar format. The other guitarist is on the opposite side of the stage from me and most of the stages we play, I won't hear him unless I get some of him in my monitor. The key IMHO is to have at least two monitor mixes.

The last festival we played....there was a 10k sound system on stage. 3 up front monitors and 2 large side fills....it was glorious. I would play my acoustic and it was like being in the sound hole, the whole stage was just filled with sound, but not in an overpowering way. Everyone could hear great.....ironically...we had a bunch of folks out front complain about the FOH sound....ugh.
 
Messages
1,681
In a perfect world, you shouldn't need anything other than vocals in your monitor mix.

The bands that can get their stages set up so that everyone can hear each other well, solos come up and down, etc. are always going to sound good out front, and make it easy for the sound man to get a great mix.

This is fast becoming a lost art and IMHO, is the main reason for the preponderance of "hate the sound man" threads here.

IEMs are a whole different thing, however...
This...x 100

My Recipe:

With monitors and FOH completely off...

Guitar amp volume = Snare, hihat volume
Keyboard amp volume = Snare, hihat volume
Bass Amp volume = Kick volume

If there is solo, use a 3 db boost, no more should be needed.

Turn monitors on, vocals should sit over everything comfortably without any screaming.
If it's still too loud, work with the drummer and repeat.

If you cant hear anything clearly after this, there is a good chance your doing something wrong.
 

Snap

Member
Messages
390
Having spent time on stage, as well as behind the sound board, I can see the arguments on both sides.

Most musicians feel more comfortable and play better when they can hear everything, but you have to think about the end goal. Your top priority should be that the audience gets a good performance from the band and a can hear a good consistent mix everywhere in the room.

Granted, the bands I play with normally play more rehearsed parts rather than improvised ones, but I normally start out with nothing in my monitor and then add any rhythm or pitch reference I may need (i.e. rhythm guitar or vocals). Normally the drummer plays loud enough and the bass amp is loud enough on stage that you don't need them in a wedge unless you're playing on a huge stage.

Unless you're on an amphitheater stage, then a three piece band should definitely not need everyone or everything in their mix. The more control the FOH engineer has of every element coming through the speakers, then he can get a (ideally) more balanced and consistent mix for the entire room.

This is why many FOH engineers prefer in-ear monitors, drum shields and amps in a closet or direct guitar rigs. When you have live sounds coming off the stage and then coming out of the speakers it produces an unwanted effect called comb-filtering where certain frequencies can become out-of-phase and cancel out.
 

clintb

Member
Messages
1,037
I don't need drums or bass in the monitors, I can always hear those just fine.

For guitars and keyboard, instead of pointing our amps out at the audience we'd put them on the sides and aim them across the stage.

So we never had trouble hearing each other. Usually our problem was each player could hear everyone else just fine but couldn't hear themselves very well.
 

JoeB63

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
14,136
What's interesting here is that we're caught in this transition moment -- between the 1950s-1960s era where you had to cover every and any size venue with your stage volume, and a coming era (2030s?) when everyone will always use in-ears and some advanced amp modeling and electronic drums, and ambient stage volume will essentially always be zero, other than unamplified vocals.

Today, most of us don't want to give up the best parts of the past (the sound and feel of acoustic drums and amps), in part because existing technolgies (in-ears, amp modelers) aren't good enough to replicate that experience yet. But those technologies are improving and getting cheaper over time.

I imagine a future where I can get great tone and feel, and a great personalize mix, in my ears at completely comfortable, non-ear-damaging volumes every night -- and at a price all musicians can afford.

Joe
 

gtnoise

Member
Messages
415
In a perfect world, you shouldn't need anything other than vocals in your monitor mix.

The bands that can get their stages set up so that everyone can hear each other well, solos come up and down, etc. are always going to sound good out front, and make it easy for the sound man to get a great mix.

This is fast becoming a lost art and IMHO, is the main reason for the preponderance of "hate the sound man" threads here.

IEMs are a whole different thing, however...
I defy anyone to set up without band in the monitors on a stage where you ate more than 30ft from another player. Side fills are nice sometimes but good monitor wedges handle it fine.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,312
I defy anyone to set up without band in the monitors on a stage where you ate more than 30ft from another player. Side fills are nice sometimes but good monitor wedges handle it fine.
Huge stages aren't typical gigging venues on TGP.

I'm talking mainly about small to medium clubs, w/traditional wedges.
 

GtrWiz

Member
Messages
3,994
I subbed for a band that used in-ears, I started with the regular guys mix which consisted of click and his guitar. :messedup
 






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