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Tips for better monitoring when gigging in tight spaces.

Q: “Do you have any advice on how I can hear better when my band is in a Club or Smaller environments? Currently we use stage wedges.”

A: Not everyone is performing music before 50,000 screaming people (yet). So, what do you do when you really need to hear yourselves in a smaller environment? Coffee houses, clubs, back yard parties, weddings, etc. are all very common arenas for performances. However, these scenarios pose potential problems when monitoring yourself and the rest of the band. These problems include space (or the lack of space), feedback, stage bleed (from your wedges and amps) and as your “stage” will tend to vary from night to night, a typical stage wedge might not be perfect in all situations and will at best need tweaking (the throw of a stage wedge is simply not intended for the acoustics of all rooms). I would suggest an in-ear monitor system – wired or wireless – which doesn’t take any space on stage, doesn’t add any stage noise and gives the user a more intimate listening experience which can help a vocalist’s ability to stay in tune and in time. This is also true for your drummer if he or she is used to playing to a click track of some sort. Another solution for vocalists, keyboardist and others is the use of smaller monitors such as Galaxy’s Hot Spots or Yamaha’s new MSR-100s. The Hot Spot is a self-powered monitor that takes up very little space, puts out a lot of sound and – best of all perhaps – you can mount one on a microphone stand such that the throw of the sound can be managed. The MSR-100 is a mid-sized self-powered speaker that you could use in a number of different situations. For the sake of this conversation, it would make an excellent stage monitor. It’s not as large a typical stage wedge but can set on its side at an angle, or you could mount it on a tripod for keyboardists, drummers, side fills and more. Don’t take effective monitoring for granted; it’s the best way to insure solid intonation and timing. Of course, in this context it must be mentioned that one of the more important aspects of stage monitoring comes from controlling the volume on stage. Loud amps combined with bombastic drumming are sure recipes for difficult monitoring, especially on small stages where everything is in real close proximity. Turn it down and you will immediately notice your monitor system get more effective and less prone to feedback.

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