Get your monitoring right and make sure you can hear yourself on stage -says Chris Kennedy
1. Wedge Monitors
Wedge monitors are the most common monitors you are likely to find on a stage. They are available in both active and passive versions (having their own amplifer vs. needing an external amplifer) and are generally angled towards the performer. When performing behind your main PA system (as is typical), they are very useful in allowing the musicians on stage to hear what they are performing and to get an idea of how they sound from the audience’s perspective.
2. In-Ear Monitors Eliminate Feedback
In-ear monitors are sound-isolating earphones that are generally attached to a wireless receiver to enable the performer to move around freely. They can be specially molded to your ears or generic versions are available with a range of different sized buds to help fit to your ear. In-ears can be particularly useful on loud stages where you are struggling to hear your voice over the rest of the band; some also offer a degree of ear protection as well. They also have the advantage over wedge monitors in that they do not suffer problems with feedback; however using in-ear monitors make you feel a little isolated from the band as they attenuate the level everything out that is around you.
3. Near-Field Monitors Can Help the Individual Singer
Another option is a near-field monitor. This is, usually, a small monitor that is placed close to the singer – often mounted on a microphone stand. They generally have a smaller dispersion than a wedge monitor, making them more useful to the individual singer than to the entire band; however this can make it easier for the singer to get a clear and loud monitor mix on a busy stage.
4. Positioning Your Monitor(s) is Critical
It is important to make sure you place your monitor in the correct position. Ideally you want to place your monitor facing the direction where your microphone is least sensitive. On cardioid microphones such as the Shure 58 this will be facing directly in front of you, whereas with super-cardioid microphones such as the Shure Beta 58, you are better placing your monitors at around 30-45 degrees from the back of the mic. If you are unsure about placement, you can usually find out in the instructions for your microphone.
5. You May be Able to Create Your Own Monitor Mix
This is often achieved using a mixing desk – for example you could use an aux send channel to feed your monitor and dial in the amount of each instrument you want going down that send channel to get the mix you want – however some active monitors also have the ability to take multiple signals and allow you to find your own mix on stage. The TC-Helicon FX-150, for example, has multiple inputs that can be balanced on the monitor by the singer for their own stage mix, however it also features on-board effects and EQ – meaning you could potentially use it as your mixing desk and send your mix straight from your monitor to your front-of-house PA system.