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Monitor Volume
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Whiskey Alibi
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Joined: 09/06/2014 18:40:19
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I have a recurrent problem and I'm sure it's at least partially operator error, but I still need to figure out a way to eliminate this issue: inevitably, whenever I'm doing sound for someone (my own band or someone else's) we start off at soundcheck with everyone happy with their monitor and within a song or two, "something" has happened, no one is happy, and yesterday, 2 people claimed they didn't actually have a monitor for the duration. (They didn't take a break so I couldn't fix it then).

In addition, if I try to boost their volume I start getting feedback all over the place, so I'm stuck with monitors that simply aren't loud enough and mics (mostly) that I can't boost any more without feedback.

Here's what "I" think is wrong:

a) when I ask "how's your monitor" they don't factor in that we're doing soundcheck in a quiet room with no crowd and no one else playing. Hearing "something" out of it isn't the equivalent of "it's at a proper volume". That has less to do with equipment and more to do with human error (mine and their's).

b) do most people crank up their monitor volume way more than they expect to need, for the simple reason that after they start playing, it's way easier to adjust down with one knob, than to have to start fiddling around with gain and everything else because it starts squealing when you start turning it up? Factor in about 30% or so more volume than you think will be necessary, in other words?

Thanks for the help in advance. I'm baffled.
mwright137
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Joined: 28/10/2011 17:57:00
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FIrst, are you recalling scenes at all? There's a setting in there to recall the Auxes and I've had times where I checked that setting and it recalled my Aux master volumne at 0, then as soon as I touched the knob it shot up to where the knob actually is. So I turned recall of Auxes off.

To answer your general question about "most people", it is in fact my experience that people are "timid" during soundcheck, but then kcik it up when the set starts due to adrenaline. Drummers play louder, so everyone else can no longer hear what they heard during monitor check.

If you know the band well enough, pick a song you know that they do and has the most "different" things going on in it. For example, with my band, we do one song in particular for sound check that starts with drum and bass, brings in vocals, harmony vocals, then keys, then guitars. If by the end of this song, everyone can still hear themselves, we're good. If not, we adjust and repeat - although maybe with a different song so as to not annoy the people in the bar.

Another problem I have with a few singers is when they sound check they whisper, but when they actually sing it's like thunder. Again, some people are a bit timid to sound check when all you're hearing is them. This is another case where I get to know what songs the singer has no choice but to belt out and get them to sing that for sound check.

Bottom line - get to know the songs the band does and help them to pick a better sound check song or three. If there are multiple lead instruments, a song where they all play lead is also a good one to have ready. They don't have to play the whole song - just enough to verify their monitors are good with the entire band playing at their loudest they're going to be.
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mwright137
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Also, if you're using the iPad, walk around to them while they're playing for sound check to make sure it sounds good to YOU as well.

And if you have Capture availble, you can capture their sound check and play it back for them to see what they think while they're not playing. This is more for the mains than monitors though...
I am Sir Melvis Bacon, Knight of BaconHam Palace.

MacBook Pro 13. OS X Mavericks - version 10.9.3
StudioLive 16.4.2; StudioLive 328AI (x2)
AudioBox 22 VSL; BlueTube DP V2; FaderPort; Monitor Station; FireStudio Project (x2)
Studio One 2 Pro 2.6.2 (64 bit)
I use Gobbler to back up my projects.
[WWW]
Whiskey Alibi
Prenoob

Joined: 09/06/2014 18:40:19
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I've tried most of your suggestions at one point or another, but yesterday I did sound for a friend's band, all of whom are terrific musicians with lots of experience, and they had the same monitor issues, which makes me think that it's "me" at soundcheck, although I can't figure out what could possibly be wrong.

I do use the scene recall for my band, but we always check stuff like that regardless, so I don't think that's a factor.
I do like your idea of walking around with the iPad, so I can actually see/hear what they're doing, in fact, I've had everyone in my band download the app for their phones, though I haven't tested that yet to see if it will help. I've even used a decibel meter; seriously...

Our "soundcheck song" doesn't seem to be a solution. I've asked "how's the monitors" after they played it, they said "good" and I got on stage to find that no one, including me, can hear a thing. That's why I'm wondering if the solution, or at least a "workaround" might be to simply do soundcheck with them jacked up way louder than they think is necessary, because if they're not loud enough and I have to start screwing around with monitor volumes after we've technically begun the set, feedback breaks out everywhere...

Much easier to turn 'em down if it's too loud...? What do you think of that solution?
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After the sound check ring out the monitors with the stage looking as close as possible to what it will look like during the gig. So have people in front of the mics (not necessary the talent) holding instruments where these could be reflective. And ringing out monitors means getting them as loud as possible, using the smaart tools for finding and taming feedback frequencies. Make a note of the 'as loud as possible' level. Then return the levels to soudcheck level.
 
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