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Ringing out monitors


Ok -Willy T feel free to jump in on this you were alot of help on the last issue and this picks up right where the other left off. I just EQ'd the monitors and i am trying to find sources of feedback. When ringing out the monitors do you face the mic at them until they develop a slight feedback and then hunt down that frequency? Or do you have them facing the normal direction and turn them up until you start to hear a ring and you know that is your limit?
September 24, 2003 @07:19am

There's really no benefit to facing the mics at the monitors unless that's how they will be used during the performance. Mics have different frequency response characteristics at different angles so you're generally better off to have them positioned how they will be used.
September 24, 2003 @12:49pm

The first thing I do when ringing out monitors, is bring some signal up in them. I usually start with the lead vocal mic since this is usually the biggest culprit. Graphic EQ's are a tool, not a must do. I start by bringing the vocal up to the level necessary to do the show, or if it is already ringing, bringing it up as loud as I can with out feeding back. If you already have enough volume without feeding back, thats a good thing. If you start to get a ring, then you back the fader off till you are just barely ringing. If you know your frequencies well, you can just gently pull the offending frequencies out until they aren't ringing, and then check your volume again. If you are not sure, take a guess at a frequency and quickly run that frequency up and down. The point is to make it ring just loud enough so that you can tell if that was the right frequency, or based on the pitch of the feedback you just created, whether or not you need to go up or down with it. On vocal mics, typically your feedback is most likely in the 600 to 6 K range. When you find the frequency, figure out how far you need to cut it to go away. Ringing monitors is tough, because you can't just blindly EQ the frequencies. If you start cutiing a bunch of frequencies, you will have 2 new problems. First, you will lose volume, and the singer will tell you to turn the mic up in the monitors more, likely leading to feedback again. Second, the tone of the monitor will change and often times not sound very good. Same result, the singer will think he is not hearing himself and ask for more, leading to problems again. One trick I use is lower harmonic EQ'ing. If you find that 1.6 k is ringing, don't just cut 1.6 k, unless the cut you need to make is 3 db or less. Start by making a small trim at 800 hz, and at 400 hz, and maybe even 200 hz, and then a small cut at 1.6k. These frequencies are all the original frequency cut in half, and half again etc... The result is often that the feedback goes away, but the monitor still sounds louder and has a better tone for themusician on stage. Often times feedback actually starts at these lower frequencies anyways, but we don't really notice them until they have harmonically stacked. Once you have the lead vocal mic rung in his wedge, it is important to bring his mic up in other mixes at the same time at appropriate show levels. These other mixes running may also have an affect on feedback een in the first wedge you just rang out. If you only go one mix at a time, and then bring them up during the show, you could be asking for problems. When you are running a show, keep track of how loud the mixes are. Loud mixes are a fact of life when dealing with most bands. If you know the mixes are loud, and the singer is complaining that he can't hear anything, don't turn it up yet. First, look at his monitor mix and drop everything in it by about 15 % except for his vocal. Often times when a musician says he/she can't hear anything, it really means they just can't tell whats what because it is so loud. Often times even just turning down the master to his mix is all it takes to make him happy, and then FOH will be happier as well:) 31 band graphic EQ's are an extremely valuable tool, but can create just as many problems as they solve. I always do a mic ring with the mains off so I know for sure what is going on, but I find it is very important to keep the mains on, and at approximate volume whenever possible when doing monitor levels with the band (unless you are on a large stage with a well focused flown line array). Stage bleed from the mains can radically change what a musician wants to hear in their mix. If you get a mix just right and then the band doesn't hear the mains until showtime, there is a good chance that as soon as they start they will ask you "what happened to the monitor mix we had during soundcheck?" Theres a good chance that if the mains have any decent power behind them they are hearing a lot of subs, and maybe even high frequency slap back from the back of the venue. They will probably ask for a lot more vocals and to turn the highs up on all the instruments on stage. This is why i let them hear the mains during soundcheck, so that what they ask for you can give them in the monitors while taking mains into consideration. Monitors are very tricky, it is not uncommon to do sound check and have it all be great, and then come showtime, you hear feedback every time the drummer hits his kick drum, and you are like, that wasn't there. Then no matter how much you EQ the kick, it never gets rdi of it untilk the kick sounds so wussy that you decide the feedback sounded better. The kick drum feedback could very well be the vocal mic though. Drummer hits the kick, and then the acoustic sound hits the vocal mic, then the drum fill sub mioght hit the vocal mic, then the mains rumble hits the vocal mic etc... You hear that its the kick, but never give thought that it may not actually be the kick feeding back.
Sorry for the extremely long winded post, but I have done both FOH and monitors and system teching for 100's of touring bands in the last few years. In my opinion, monitors is the most underrated and most difficult job out there. I agree that FOH is also quite a chore as it involves a lot more patching and the way you hear things needs to be at a certain ability level. However, the monitor guy may have to make 10 mixes, for 10 of the pickiest sets of ears, in an acoustically volatile situation. FOH guy usually has a little more optimized rig, and is mixing for a crowd that really might not know anybetter. Not to mention, a bad monitor engineer can really make a FOH guys night awful, and a great one cn make it very easy. There should be books out there just on mixing monitors since there are soooo many things to consider. Good luck:)
September 24, 2003 @02:13pm

Xstatic--you very nearly wrote the book just now! :)
September 24, 2003 @09:17pm

I know, sorry
September 24, 2003 @09:51pm

Man! That is some info! Thanks for taking the time Xstatic. Also thanks to you DAS. Man I just spent an hour and a half trying to do this and well I must say I am frustrated but at least a bit smarter. Something strange to me in the logic of the whole thing is I assumed you would have to bring a specific freq DOWN to get rid of feedback but according to what you wrote you may have to bring a freq UP!? Right? How in the world do you know wether it should go up or down?I am fighting this constant battle between ringing and bad tone. I got it sounding good on my SM58 so then I went to my lead gals cordless. AAARGH! It seems I can't get the same volume out of that so then I turn up the aux1 pot and wham! there I am again going down the line of the EQ trying to find the culprit and losing my tone. Also I didn't think that the trim (Mackie 1604 vlzpro) would effect the volume in the monitors but it sure does. Why? Shouldnt that only affect your main outs? Also is it best to start flatline on the EQ then go from there? Oh and one more thing:D I am experimenting on all of this in my basement and I would like to add the mains (FOH) in for practices just so I can try my hand at handling issues before we are out and it's too late. Can I add in the mains without causing a severe feedback in a small area and should I face them away and in front of the band? Thanks for letting me use your experience.
September 25, 2003 @01:57am

I EQ monitors a bit different with suprising results.
I find a .pdf sheet or other documentation for the model monitor I'm using. Using a 31 band, sometimes also a parametric, I'll invert the response curve of the monitors to attempt to get them flat. I then place a notch at either around 4k or 8k depending on the mic I'm using, and also roll off between 3 and 6dB at 250Hz 1/2 to 1/3 octave wide. I also place a low cut filter at 150 to keep the monitor wash from muddying up the house.
Now that you've said you've got this set up in the basement, it sheds light on your other two posts from this evening.
Small rooms have nodes that reinforce certain wavelengths (frequencies) allowing them to sound boomy. Having your mains, subs and monitors all in your basement would definately cause your feedback issues. A garage where you can open the overhead door and point your mains outside would be a better option. The ideal option would be to get into a venue really early, or pay someone to come set it up for you and give you some pointers.
September 25, 2003 @03:10am

Ok getting to the venue early will be a must. I have had people come help setup that run their own sound but it seems knowing my system I can still do better. Regarding the way you ring out your monitors. I uhh I uhh uhh.... Man I dont know what the heck you are saying. I am (as I am sure you guessed) pretty much a newbie with an appetite for knowledge.
September 25, 2003 @03:16am

The trim will definately affect your monitors. The trim is the first gain stage and is the first thing the mic hits. This amplifies the mic to the proper (or improper) level so that the EQ, aux sends, and fader can all work at an optimal level. With all speakers off, solo your lead singers vocal mic and set the gain so the signal averages around 0db on the meters. On a mackie, I would recommend setting it at -3 though. I always start with EQ flat. I see the logic behind Cory's method of flatten teh monitors response, but I personally don't do that because noone seems to like the sound of a flat system. People tend to like to hear things accented at 160 and below, with a little presence boost between 3 and 8k. When setting a monitor, I usually see how the mic sounds tone wise when flat. If it just doesn;t sound right, often I will use the channel strip to get the mic sounding good to my ears first. If I have to boost or cut any frequencies on the channel strip more than about 3db at any frequencies, then that is a sign that there is a larger system problem, or a bad mic diaphragm. I am not sure why you would have to boost any frequencies. The only time I ever boost frequencies is to temporarily hear that frequency above the rest so that I can decide if it is a problem frequency or not. What kind of monitors are you using? Knowing what kind of monitor and mic, I may be able to give you a starting point for EQ'ing based on my previous experiences with systems. Almost every system I have worked on has never needed more than 5 db of cut on the EQ to control feedback. If it did, it was because something else in the system was not properly setup. Many of the bands I work for tease me and tell me that when they pay me, half the money is for mixing, and the other half is to rewire and tune the Clubs PA:D
September 25, 2003 @05:18am

Well your explaining things great so thanks for that. I think I am gaining a few years worth of experience being a newbie. The channel strip isn't affecting the tone through the monitors. Is that normal? When I solo my lead's mic (wireless) it takes A LOT of trim gain to get it to 0db. My SM58 takes way less gain and if I have it average 0db I can barely move the aux1 at all til I am blasting. I have the least feedback when the Graphic EQ is a "smile". I have 250 through 5K ALL the way down. It is an AudioCentron EQ. I have also a 2ch dbx 2231and an Ashly 2ch 15 band, but I was going to use the dbx for FOH figuring it to be a bit queiter and the Ashly for Bass Drum. My monitors are wedge PSS 12's. You probabaly have not heard of them. Pro Sound Store is a local sound shop. They seem to be very good and other local musicians have good things to say about them. So whadda ya think Doc is it bad?
September 25, 2003 @05:45am

You are right, I have no heard of them. I would put the DBX EQ on monitors, and the AShly EQ on mains. The wireless mic should have some sort of internal gain on it. Set the gain on your Mackie at the same level you have your 58, and then adjust the gain pot inside your singers wireless mic until it reads around 0. If you just barely touch the aux send and you are getting a lt of volume, then you need to turn the aux master down , or the amp gain. If possible, i would avoid using the Audio Centron EQ. As far as the monitor EQ goes, if you have everything from 250 through 5k down, that is a HUGE problem. Thats a lot of cutting and will seriously affect the tone and volume of the monitor. Start flat, slowly bring the mic up. When it just barely starts to ring, go through your EQ frequency by frequency until you find one that makes a difference. Then slowly lower it till the feedback is gone. Make a mental note what that frequncy sounded like. After a while, you will recognize all the freq's and it will get easier:)
September 25, 2003 @01:53pm

Oh, I forgot to mention, 90% of the work I do is for Southern Gospel quartets and similar groups. Once in a while, a Christian Rock Festival or something similar. I roll off the bottom of the monitors due to the proximity of my subs to the stage. Keeps things from getting too muddy.
September 25, 2003 @09:53pm

That makes a little more sense now Cory. Many of the bands I work with could be sitting on the subs and they would still want more. Its what you call a "Volatile" stage. Really helps you cut your chops at monitor engineering though:D I have had the low end so loud on stage from monitors before that occasionally a kick drum shot will trigger a drum pad.
September 25, 2003 @10:12pm

OK even though the ashly is a 15band still use that for FOH? You know sometimes the obvoius escapes me. Of course I should have checked the volume knob o the receiver of the wireless and adjusted that to compensate for the db reduction The aux main send makes sense too. I'll switch out the monitor EQ to the dbx and hopefully that will change the issue of having the frequencies almost all downt to nothing. I'll let you know.
September 26, 2003 @09:28am

Keep listening to xstatic and cory. They know their stuff.
I think you may have over EQ'd the monitors. You can only go so far then every thing you do is up aginst the brick wall. After you have killed 5 or 6 feedbacks you get to the point where the feedback seems to be 3 or four different freq's at once. Just stop there. Back off the gain a little. You probably can't get the monitors any louder.
So the next step is get the stage volume down. Make sure none of the instrument amps are blasting into the vocalist ears.
Make sure the guitar speakers are blasting into the guitar players ears. By that I don't mean loud, just that the amp should be set up so the guitar player will hear it better than ANYONE else. This may take putting the guitar speakers in the monitor position at stage front and angleing it up. The guitar speaker should not point at the guitar players knees, then it would be loud for EVERYONE else.
Getting the stage volume down will take LOTS of diplomacy. Professional musicians already know this needs to be done. Beginners and egomaniacs need to be taught gently.
Musical energy comes from timing and finesse not raw volume.
September 30, 2003 @02:33am