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geoham

Dealing with digital mixer / IEM objections

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I’ve been on a quest to reduce the amount of heavy equipment used in my band, and generally take a more modern approach to things. 

The bass and keyboard amps have gone, with the guitar player promising to ditch the Marshall 4x12 once he gets his head round his new modelling unit.

With this going on, we need better monitoring - the current desk only has two aux channels, and is also a bulky flight-cased affair. I’ve suggested we buy a Behringer XR18 or similar and going down the IEM route - but I’m getting a bit of resistance! Any advice on dealing with these objections:

- I want to hear everything including the punters, IEMs will be too isolating.

- What do we do if the iPad crashes or WiFi stops working?

- On having an app to control a personal monitor mix: I’ll never be able to do it, too complicated. (From the singer, who has the biggest objections to IEMs, but constantly wanting ‘more me’ and causing feedback with his mic antics)

We play pubs, do rock/pop covers and use our own PA, operated by yours truly.

Presumably others have had similar conversations in the past?

Cheers,

George

Edited by geoham

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I use the Soundcraft ui24r and have tried the Behringer ... all units have a few things in common.

Firstly the wifi in all of them isnt as reliable as it should be. You will need an external router. Also a laptop connected via ethernet cable as back up. You wont loose connection this way. 

 

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Are they happy to try things in the rehearsal room?

Try your singer with some closed back headphones and an ambient monitoring system. I used a Zoom H4N recorder taped to my mic stand but all you need is a mic and something which will take the signal to headphone level.

Using an ambient system was revelation, I was in the room but the sound was hyper real. When we weren't playing I could hear everything everyone was saying, no sense of isolation at all. When we were playing I could hear every instrument clearly in the mix and by sliding the Zoom closer to me I could put my vocals exactly where I wanted them in the mix. Best of all I had a volume control so I could simply turn the whole band up and down as I wanted. You can also tune out the drums by simply pointing the mic's away from the drums.

The thing is this shows people what they have to gain. No amount of talking will do that. 30 secs of singing and hearing your voice over the rest of the band will show how it works. Moving the ambient mic/recorder towards the singers mouth to make him louder will make sense in a way that telling him you are going to buy a mysterious box even more complex than your current mixer won't work.

OK you'll have to swap in ears for the 'phones and the mixer for moving the mic around but they'll understand the goal. Stop talking about saying they can do their own mix, start talking about giving them their own volume control.

 

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14 minutes ago, Phil Starr said:

Are they happy to try things in the rehearsal room?

Try your singer with some closed back headphones and an ambient monitoring system. I used a Zoom H4N recorder taped to my mic stand but all you need is a mic and something which will take the signal to headphone level.

Using an ambient system was revelation, I was in the room but the sound was hyper real. When we weren't playing I could hear everything everyone was saying, no sense of isolation at all. When we were playing I could hear every instrument clearly in the mix and by sliding the Zoom closer to me I could put my vocals exactly where I wanted them in the mix. Best of all I had a volume control so I could simply turn the whole band up and down as I wanted. You can also tune out the drums by simply pointing the mic's away from the drums.

The thing is this shows people what they have to gain. No amount of talking will do that. 30 secs of singing and hearing your voice over the rest of the band will show how it works. Moving the ambient mic/recorder towards the singers mouth to make him louder will make sense in a way that telling him you are going to buy a mysterious box even more complex than your current mixer won't work.

OK you'll have to swap in ears for the 'phones and the mixer for moving the mic around but they'll understand the goal. Stop talking about saying they can do their own mix, start talking about giving them their own volume control.

 

This is quite an interesting idea. I’ve got a Zoom H1, so can probably do something similar to prove the concept. Also some good advice on messaging!

The ambient ‘punter’ noise thing seems a big deal for two members of the band. I’m thinking about pointing a mic at the crowd and mixing to their in-ears. Alternatively suggesting just going with an IEM in one ear only.

George

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Re the monitor mixes via the app. We use the xr18 and I've found that if the band are reasonably disciplined then the monitors are all but set and forget. I'm no tech geek but the app is so basic to use, if they can use a slider on a desk then they can use the app. 

I don't use an amp or IEM's, just and decent wedge, loads more space an the sound coming straight at your face rather than trying to dry your socks from behind. 

 

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Anyone who doesn't see the benefit to IEMs is a fool, get a new band :)

Seriously though, best change I've ever made.  I'd be lost without mine, particularly for vocals.

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42 minutes ago, geoham said:

This is quite an interesting idea. I’ve got a Zoom H1, so can probably do something similar to prove the concept. Also some good advice on messaging!

The ambient ‘punter’ noise thing seems a big deal for two members of the band. I’m thinking about pointing a mic at the crowd and mixing to their in-ears. Alternatively suggesting just going with an IEM in one ear only.

George

Don't go with a single IEM or you'll end up damaging the plugged ear through cranking your mix to get over the ambient noise in the other ear. 

Honestly, the isolation isn't nearly as bad as people make out, but singers do go on about it if they haven't used them before - right up until they can finally hear themselves on a good IEM mix and then you can't separate them with a big stick! I think the ambient mic route is a solid call.

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1 hour ago, geoham said:

This is quite an interesting idea. I’ve got a Zoom H1, so can probably do something similar to prove the concept. Also some good advice on messaging!

The ambient ‘punter’ noise thing seems a big deal for two members of the band. I’m thinking about pointing a mic at the crowd and mixing to their in-ears. Alternatively suggesting just going with an IEM in one ear only.

George

Ha ha let me know how you get on, The H4N is a bit big so I was thinking of the H1 as a lighter, less obtrusive solution for when I'm playing with someone else's PA and had no control over monitors. The crucial thing is the mics and the mics in the H4 are brilliant for the money.

As said the in ears only work if you have isolation so one ear doesn't work. It will also fail to protect that ear and they will end up with hearing loss, as I have. An audience mic is a good call

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3 hours ago, geoham said:

- What do we do if the iPad crashes or WiFi stops working?

I play in a trio and nearly every song requires some channels muting and unmuting (new instruments). My ancient iPad crashes at least once a gig but we just handle it. If you're not messing with the desk between every tune then you'll probably be alright. If you're using a relatively decent tablet, then you'll definitely be fine.

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It's hard getting people to change, particularly if they've been doing things a certain way for years/decades.  Push for the digital mixer, but remind them that in-ears don't have to be "everyone or no one".  I use in-ears whenever I can - but not everyone in our band does; some still prefer floor monitors.  Getting the new mixer and getting at least some people on in-ears is a step in the right direction.

I sing the praises of in-ears whenever I can - it was others doing that which convinced me to give it a go in the first place.  Become familiar with the mixer/app, so that when a bandmate asks a question, you know the answer and can show them what to do and how easy it is.  This will give them confidence that it's all a good idea.

Or perhaps at first you can control the singer's mix for them; then over time, introduce them to the app.

Only once we've had a connection issue - everyone other than the bandleader was locked out of the app.  In such a scenario, the mixer (Mackie) continues to use its current settings, so we were stuck for a bit with the monitor mix from the previous gig.  The gig wasn't a disaster.

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4 hours ago, geoham said:

 

We use the X18 (also operated by yours truly) and only 2 of us on in-ears, My 2p:

- I want to hear everything including the punters, IEMs will be too isolating - Ambient Mic will work fine.  Although I don't find the isolation half as bad as some people imagine it'll be.

- What do we do if the iPad crashes or WiFi stops working? - I only use it with a wired connection to a laptop.  If you're dead set on wireless, then get an external router, the built in one isn't very good.

- On having an app to control a personal monitor mix: I’ll never be able to do it, too complicated. (From the singer, who has the biggest objections to IEMs, but constantly wanting ‘more me’ and causing feedback with his mic antics) - You can setup his mix for him initially.  A few minor tweaks later, you'll probably find he stops asking at all from gig to gig.

This can also be done these days on a relatively modest budget.  I'd suggest hard-wired IEM at first, as decent Wireless IEM units are not cheap.  We use the Behringer P1's, but the newer, smaller P2 units are also good and cost about 30-odd quid each.  As far as earphone themselves, the KZ ZS10's seem very much in favour for those wanting to dip a toe into IEM's and can also be got for 30-odd quid.

Edited by LewisK1975
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Our singer was resistant to IEM for a long time, but bought himself a set of KZ AS10s last week, I think almost on a whim.

Once at the gig last weekend he loved them - getting people to give them a go in the first place is the tricky bit

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I'm using a first gen iPad mini to control a Soundcraft UI12 using it's internal WiFi only and (I'm probably tempting fate here, but... ) I've never had any problems.  I take the the iPad out into the room when we soundcheck but after that it stays next to the mixer, so that might explain the WiFi stability.

An advantage of the Soundcraft mixers is that they have relatively sophisticated feedback suppression built in.  You can set it up before the gig (I think it has a limit of something like 7 notch filters) and leave it, or have it in a live mode where it will add filters on the fly.  The only thing with that is that it can occasionally see loud sustained notes as feedback, so I would only use the live mode on monitors and not mains.

 

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The Souncraft has a 'more me' feature on all the aux sends. Assign yourself an aux channel  , or 2 if you want stereo, and you can have a screen with one big fader that will adjust only you against everything else in the monitor mix..

 

 

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