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Building a Better Monitor Mix, Part 1

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We have several talented musicians on staff at Church Audio Video and ProAudio.com. In the hopes that our readers could benefit from their advice, we asked a few of them to share their thoughts on the topic of monitoring.

The following comes from Kevin Lorensen, ProAudio.com Account Manager. Kevin plays bass guitar and sings harmony vocals for Brandon Steadman Band, and is an A1 FOH Engineer for various bands and churches in North Texas.

Kevin LorensenAs a bass player and singer, I always find myself wrestling with conflicting monitoring needs. I want the powerful lows on the bass, but I also need to hear the highs in my voice to make sure all my harmonies are in order. The quality of my performance depends directly on the quality of my monitor mix.

I tend to choose my monitoring setup based on the size of the venue. In smaller venues, I like to use Electo-Voice’s ELX112P powered monitor for its compact size and high output, making minor adjustments with a 31-band EQ. In larger venues, I find IEMs to be a better choice due to the physical separation between me and my other band members. I prefer to use a Sennheiser EW300IEMG3 wireless in-ear monitor system with Westone UM2 dual driver earphones.

Westone UM2

 

Before I move forward I will always ring out my monitor. Normally, I will roll off 50 – 80 Hz and below to remove some of the unnecessary low end, but I try not to roll off too many lows so that my bass still has some power. I find that boosting 2.5 – 3.15 kHz gives me a little cut through on my strings as well. I would undoubtedly say that my vocals are the most important thing in my mix. Usually, with vocals, I find that cuts in the 800 – 1kHz area allow me more headroom. As with the bass, I still roll off the low end because it is simply not needed or even audible. One of the biggest tricks I have learned when running a vocal mix is that the monitor level should reflect the volume at which the performer sings.

Electo-Voice ELX112P

If your volume is too high, you will sing at a lower volume and sound unnatural with a tendency to get too hot on the mic (and you should NEVER be louder than the mains). On the other hand, if your monitor volume is too low, you will overcompensate by singing louder, making you more likely to be ‘off’. When your mix allows you to sing naturally, you have won.In closing, you have to be comfortable with your monitor mix in order to perform at your best. I would suggest that you add only what you need – not what you’re used to.”

Stay tuned! Building a Better Monitor Mix, Part 2 will be posted soon…

Photo of Kevin Lorensen © Dustin Doskocil

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