Sound System Engineering: Monitors Still Need the Audio Tech

The obvious, open warfare of speaker wedge volume has shifted to be guerrilla warfare, and the audio engineer still has an imperative role to play.

Sound System Engineering: Monitors Still Need the Audio Tech
Personal in-ear monitors still need the audio tech.
Sound System Engineering: Monitors Still Need the Audio Tech
Personal in-ear monitors still need the audio tech.

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Sound System Engineering: Monitors Still Need the Audio Tech

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You’ve arrived!

You’ve upgraded your old open speaker wedge monitor system, for an in-ear system with personal digital mixing console for each band member. Or maybe you did that a long time ago. No more monitor problems, right?

Wrong.

You should not hear just yourself. You should just hear yourself.

The problems might not be so obvious anymore, but they’ve just gone “underground.” The obvious, open warfare of speaker wedge volume has shifted to be guerrilla warfare, and the audio engineer still has an imperative role to play.

Sure, now that each instrumentalist and singer on the platform is in control of their own monitor, it’s no longer your job to make them happy with their mix. That’s their job now! True.

But an audio engineer who considers their job is done once the signal reaches the monitor consoles, is falling short of the service they should provide for the team on the platform. I would suggest that audio engineers need to step back into “monitor world,” because of several problems that are being repeated over and over again.

PROBLEM 1: Channel confusion

I’ve heard it time and time again from an audio engineer: “Yeah, the channel labeled ‘electric guitar’ is nothing. Electric guitar is labeled ‘lectern’” - or something like that. (Insert the sound of musicians’ brain cells dying).

SOLUTION: Channel labeling must be correct and musical

Whether digital (on a screen) or “analog” (written on a piece of tape), the channel labeling must be as musician-proof as possible. (I did not say “idiot-proof,” because that would suggest that musicians are idiots … but some of us are when it comes to tech).

And while you’re at it, arrange the channel order in a way that makes musical sense: drums and bass next to each other, all vocals in a series, following as much as possible the position of the people on the platform and so on.

PROBLEM 2: Musicians are not technicians

Most likely your team of instrumentalists and singers are volunteer amateurs. Now we’re asking - no, insisting - that they also be mix engineers. They may already be sweating bullets, feeling underprepared, insecure and nervous with what they have to play and sing. Adding an extra layer of technical gobbledygook to their job description could tip them over the edge.

SOLUTION: You must teach (and reteach) how to use the console

And by “teach” I don’t mean the one-minute version.  Any new person must also receive the training. And remember, teaching has not happened unless learning occurs. The only way to be sure that learning has occurred is if it is demonstrated.


More About Grant Norsworthy
A Grammy-nominated, Dove Award-winning musician, Grant Norsworthy is also the founder, owner, content developer and principal instructor of More Than Music Mentor, helping to equip church singers, instrumentalists and technicians for artistic excellence and authentic worship.
Get in Touch: me@grantnorsworthy.com    More by Grant Norsworthy

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.


Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Team Management · Leadership · Spiritual Health · Team Development · Audio Engineers · Audio Mixing Consoles · In-Ear Monitors · Personal Monitors · Rehearsals · Sound Check · All Topics

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