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Stage Monitors - why are they so bad?

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Hi all, hope everyone is well.

Does anyone have a great stage monitor for listening to everyone else (not bass) ?

Everyone I've ever used (apart from the astronomically priced ones) have been rubbish.

Most seem to be passive, which is no use for adjusting on the fly. The pa speakers that I am now using are a slightly better bet, but all the eq and volume / gain are on the back of the unit, so useless again for adjusting during a gig.

And the designated active monitors all seem to be about 100w max with one input, so underpowered and no real eq options.

Has anyone any ideas for a good monitor?

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We use behringer ones, I'm not sure which ones they are as they're our soundmans, but it's all I use (no amp) and I can clearly hear myself and everyone else that I need to. We do our own mixes on a tablet using the Behringer X Air app and then just reach down and adjust the volume as needed. 

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I can find out what model they are but not until next Saturday, no gig tonight, they are plenty loud enough though. Our drummer is a very heavy hitter so you need the monitor loud enough to balance with him and in smaller pubs our soundman has told me he has taken me out of the PA as the monitor was enough. Since then I try to keep the volume down and do a less bassy mix so it's clear without swamping the sound, else the soundman has no control. I'm rambling now but the point is that there's plenty of volume on tap. 

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We use yamaha DBR12 active speakers for stage monitoring. Those little 100w powered wedges have never cut it in our experience. I think there's a bit of a gap in the market between them and a full pro setup with dedicated monitor mixer etc.

The yamahas have all the power and clarity you could possibly want as they're actually designed for use as FOH speakers rather than monitors. 

We're lucky though to have our own FOH sound engineer who also looks after the monitors so the lack of controls (other than volume) at the stage end isn't so much of an issue for us.

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I bought a second hand powered Laney 10" monitor and we also have a larger Bheringer extension speaker. Its not that powerful but does the job fine with vocals and guitar going through and we can all hear them fine. If I can I will raise up the Laney as I use that one.

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Best value dedicated stage monitor around for £400 is the Turbosound TFX112M-AN

 

Active, built in feedback control.  Can be used as a FOH speaker if needed.... and has a 10 year warranty.

 

 

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Do you want full-range monitors for large, loud stages or smaller vocal only monitors? If the latter, look at the TC Helicon FX150 or Mackie SRM150 (both around £200). For larger, high volume situations, many of the compact powered wedge shaped PA cabs will work (I have 4 HK Premium Pro 10s that do a good job for me). Anything decent won't be cheap, though. You get what you pay for as always.

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Downsized last year to FOH = Yamaha EMX2/EMX5 into CBR10s. Feedback suppression = 1 button.

For pubs and small clubs I rarely use monitors. I don't think it's needed when the FOH can be heard well enough. On a bigger stage in a bigger venue if someone wants a floor monitor then I use a DBR10.

If someone just wants a vocal monitor mix I can give them a Behringer B205D, (super little vocal monitor).

The drummer, if he's acoustic can have either of the above. If he is electronic then I use a Roland KC150. This allows the drummer to hear himself and any of the monitor mixes and feed himself to the main mixer all separately controlled.

So nowadays I don't feel the need to overdo everything, I try to keep it as simple as possible and ask folk what they want.

As you can see I'm still using old fashioned cables on stage. I'm sure all the younger BCers will have everything wifi and all individual IEMs. I have been overtaken by technology.

 

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Any decent active pa speaker will do a good job of a monitor provided you are feeding it with the right mix from the desk. I would never worry too much about having controls on the speaker because all your tinkering can be done either at the desk if it's an analogue mixer or via app if you have a digital mixer.

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Unless you have a big big stage and you have the luxury of everyone having their own monitor mix then it doesn't really make sense to give everyone their own controls, does it?  One might turn up one's own mix which has your own instrument to the fore, but that then bugger's up everyone else.

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We use old fashioned passive wedges powered by a stereo power amp sitting under the XR18 (foh is active). The gitwrist can control his from aux 1 on his ipad and the rest of us use aux 2 via the keyboard player's tablet. Has worked fine so far, even with an old analogue desk when we didn't have the XR (fortunately it had 3 auxes).  The old drummer used in-ears, new drummer seems happy as long as he can hear bass and vox.

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Most monitors aren't designed to be adjusted during a gig by the person stood in front of them. They're, generally speaking, controlled from the mixing desk. 

The only type I've seen with EQ controls accessible on the front are of the extremely cheap and cheerful variety. 

What are you struggling to hear on stage? There's usually a better solution than just making your wedge louder, because that'll just contribute to other issues with overall stage volume. 

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EV did a nice light weight 2 x 10 powered monitor a few years back, it was not overly expensive (£350 ish from memory) A drummer I was working with used one, stunning sounding bit of kit for the money.

I have a Proel 1x 12 powered monitor (very much a copy of the Turbosound mentioned above) I brought that new for about £350 and have been really pleased with it, it has no on board EQ but sounds fine out of the box, so as long as what you send to it sounds good it will happily replicate that sound for you

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We use one of the old model Alto TS110 PA speakers. Singer and guitarist have that. Drummer and I use in ears. They seem pretty happy with it. Extra bonus is that it can double as an emergency top if one of our main speakers breaks.

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On 29/02/2020 at 12:30, la bam said:

Hi all, hope everyone is well.

Does anyone have a great stage monitor for listening to everyone else (not bass) ?

Everyone I've ever used (apart from the astronomically priced ones) have been rubbish.

Most seem to be passive, which is no use for adjusting on the fly. The pa speakers that I am now using are a slightly better bet, but all the eq and volume / gain are on the back of the unit, so useless again for adjusting during a gig.

And the designated active monitors all seem to be about 100w max with one input, so underpowered and no real eq options.

Has anyone any ideas for a good monitor?

Most are rubbish because it's the first bit of the PA that people choose to save money on thinking that the cabs aren't as important as FoH. To produce a great sound, like front of house, they need good quality drivers and horns - and these come at a cost. Manufacturers realise there is a market for cheap speakers to use for monitors... and hence, they produce them - and people half expect monitors to be kinda rubbish but good enough to get through the gig.

As for adjusting on the gig - they shouldn't be adjusted on the gig... and no sound guy would thank you for doing so. You run the risk of boosting overall volume or troublesome volumes that can cause the setup to start running into feedback.

Good monitor? Yeah, one which is as good as something that you would use for front of house. There's no getting around it! (or go IEM)

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3 hours ago, EBS_freak said:

Most are rubbish because it's the first bit of the PA that people choose to save money on thinking that the cabs aren't as important as FoH. To produce a great sound, like front of house, they need good quality drivers and horns - and these come at a cost. Manufacturers realise there is a market for cheap speakers to use for monitors... and hence, they produce them - and people half expect monitors to be kinda rubbish but good enough to get through the gig.

The truth in a nutshell. You get what you pay for, as always. Given that so many use plastic box FoH speakers (which aren't exactly the last word), they really cheap out when it comes to monitors.

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I think eventually I'm gonna have to go a decent 12 pa cab (qsc k12 etc) and hopefully tablet controlled levels.

Our band has loud drums, x2 guitars (at times), piano (sometimes synth) effects, bass, lead vocal and 3 backing vocals.

To top it off every song is different in style and just what is going on. It's not a set your sound and you're good to go type of band.

I've recently switched to a cheap (and I admit it) second hand alto ts110a, which is ok and has 2 channels, so I take a feed from the desk for my monitor mix and have the second channel as a direct feed from the guitar box in case i need to boost that.

The set up works ok. Not great by any means but ok. However, the fact it has the gains for the channels on the back so it makes it hard to adjust on the fly.

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On 29/02/2020 at 12:45, la bam said:

Yep. I think doing your own mixes on phone / tablet etc is def the way forward.

In my experience, letting band members control their own monitor mix during a gig via phone or tablet is asking for problems. What most people do is turn channels up to hear them better, they don't think about turning other channels down. Invariably, the monitor mix gets louder & louder and you get into feedback territory. When the wedge starts to squeel they'll look at whoever owns the PA and give the 'it wasn't me, I didn't do anything' look. Monitor mixes should really be sorted out in sound check, with only some minor adjustments made as the gig starts. I would suggest that unless you really trust musicians to be sensible with adjusting monitor mixes, then only one person in the band is responsible for monitors & mixes to keep things under control.

Of course, if they're using in-ears, let them loose on their own mix every time as it doesn't have any bearing on stage volume.

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If you're also running on stage amps then it could just be a simple case of stage volume being too loud and the monitors are just struggling to keep up. 

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8 hours ago, Dan Dare said:

The truth in a nutshell. You get what you pay for, as always. Given that so many use plastic box FoH speakers (which aren't exactly the last word), they really cheap out when it comes to monitors.

Theres plenty of capable plastic boxes out there... a lot that are better than poorly specced wooden boxes. Trouble is, a lot of people view and experience of monitors are budget, budget!

Even when it comes to IEMs - the whole "I've tried IEMs and they are rubbish" - usually means they have plugged in the earphones that they got with their phone (but they sound really good!) into some cobbled together mcgyver setup.

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2 hours ago, Elfrasho said:

If you're also running on stage amps then it could just be a simple case of stage volume being too loud and the monitors are just struggling to keep up. 

More often than not this is the case.

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We use The Box Pro A12 Monitors which are either a clone of or the same as the Proel WA12 wedges - Not all bad - compact, portable, wooden enclosure, 12" co-ax speaker and plenty loud enough for pub gigs.  I've tried to wean my band onto IEMs - vocalist said "it was like having aliens in her head!", guitarist A hated them, guitarist B likes them and wants to try them in rehearsals. Our drummer would prefer to stick to his HK Audio Power Works top as a monitor.  As EBS_Freak has said - most musicians they expect miracle results with budget earphones why trying and rejecting an IEM solution.  Quality in this market definitely comes at a price and it's a lot of cash for someone to take a risk on unless they're already convinced that IEMs are the way to go.

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Adjusting the EQ? On the monitor? Whilst performing? You guys are crazy!

I play in an acoustic trio but we use about 12 instruments between us, including a mandolin with the dreaded DPA4099! As such I'm definitely an advocate of subtractive EQing simply to get rid of problematic frequencies (usually feeding back, but also artefacts of amplification like piezo quacks etc). 

A 3-band EQ on the back of a monitor is a waste of time and resources in my experience. If you're lucky enough that one of your problems is at an EQ centre, and the Q/Width of that band perfectly matches your requirements then excellent, but otherwise those EQs get put flat and left flat. All of the EQing is done at the monitor graphic EQ (thank you XR18) which allows far more accurate isolation of problem frequencies. With so many mics on stage (the guy playing Dobro won't use a pickup, we all sing, etc) there are so many risks and possible sources of feedback that I use the monitor to reinforce the live sound and run it as low as possible. Of course, that's still often close to feeding back, especially when the dobro player leans down for a beer and presses his chest into the mic!

TL;DR: Its probably too loud on stage, and you need a proper multiband EQ to use on your monitor but that isn't to make it more bassy!

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