By: David Jordan
Mixing monitors can be frustrating for the person mixing and also the people on the stage. A lot of the time you are dealing with non-professionals, from the musicians to the person mixing. With some communication this can become easier for you to achieve the monitor mix needed.
Most medium to small churches mix the monitors from the front of house (FOH) console. One thing you want to do is mix the monitor’s Pre-Fader if at all possible. With the smaller consoles that are limited to 4 to 6 aux sends, you have to combine several people on one aux send. When combining the monitor sends (aux), combine similar things together. Bass & Drums can share a monitor feed, as well as the back ground vocals, can share a monitor feed. I all ways put the worship leader on their own monitor feed. This seems to work out the best.
“More of Me” Effect
When having musicians or vocalist share monitor feeds, there can be a learning curve. Some people will always ask for them to be turned up in their monitor, the “More Of Me” effect, as I like to call it. You will need to explain to them that you have to use what you have, and they will need to all compromise and know it’s not all about them. They will hear each other and not just themselves in the mix since they have to share the monitor feed. There are ways to get around the “More Of Me” effect that does not cost a fortune. I talked about this in an earlier article, In-Ear Monitors on a Small Budget. That can be found here on CMM.
IEM or Wedges and What to Send to Them
A lot of churches are changing to In Ear Monitors or IEM. The main reason for this is to lower stage volumes. And to give some control of the mix to the people that are using the mix, so they can hear what they want to hear. It is hard to know what they are hearing when mixing from the front of house console. Even using headphones at the FOH, you only here what is coming through the board, and no stage noise.
If you are using monitor speakers (wedges) on your stage, the main thing that needs to happen is to keep the volume lower than the main speakers. If not it will affect the sound the congregation is hearing, it will muddy up the sound and you will not get a clean sound for the congregation. Make sure the monitor is pointed at the person’s ears not their knees.
You do not need to send everything to the monitors. I suggest sending only the things needed. This will help to keep the volume level down. When mixing monitors, especially IEM, there are many different approaches how the mix is built. From only sending what they need to hear to sending a full mix with them a little more predominate in the mix.
What way is the best way?
It all depends on the system you are using and if people are sharing a monitor feed. If the person is using an IEM and they are on their own monitor feed, it really is up to them as to how their mix sounds, since it will not affect anyone else or affect the sound going to the FOH. When people are sharing a monitor feed is when it can be more complicated to achieve what everyone needs. That is where combining similar things together helps to make everyone happy. Usually similar things will need to hear the same things in their monitor.
Make it Personal
A great way to know what the monitor sounds like is to go down on the stage during practice and stand or sit by the people using the monitor so you can tell firsthand what it sounds like to them. This also builds a relationship between the tech and the worship team. And gives the tech a better insight to what they need and what they are hearing through the monitor. If everyone is working together to better the mix it all will work out in the end.
Digital soundboards and personal monitor mixers are making this easer for all involved. It is giving control to the person using the monitor, so then can mix their own monitor. Some people will need help in how to achieve the mix they need. They are not use to mixing. Many people will just turn up what they what to hear. This will cause the mix to become loud and muddy, if they keep turning things up and never turning things down in the mix. It’s good to set up a basic mix for them to start with. Some will even not want to mix their own monitor and leave it up to you.
It might take you some time to get the monitor mix where everyone is happy. But it will pay off in the end for everyone. The main thing is to communicate with the worship team and build a relationship with them so the mix that is needed can be achieved. So the main focus can be on worshiping God.