Use of stage monitor for solo gigs

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silvercn
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2016/05/21 17:36:29 (permalink)

Use of stage monitor for solo gigs

Hi - I am doing gigs again after a long time off from it (solo, with acoustic guitar). Gathering up new gear and wanted to poll people about their use or not, of a stage monitor. I have borrowed one (Small Kustom wedge) for a couple of venues - which for acoustic solo are generally smaller and quieter cafe settings. If you use one - how in the signal chain is it set up.? I like minimal verb on my voice and guitar, and apparently this can cause a feedback issue if sent to the monitor...I did have some issues with feedback - and had to turn it down lower than I wanted.. 
 
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    Guitarhacker
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/22 09:57:25 (permalink)
    In a band I played in, we did a combination of large and small clubs.  With a 2000w PA, generally, it would not even fit on the smaller places and was massively overkill.
     
    So in the smaller clubs and most especially on the military base enlisted clubs, we would simply load in our stage gear (small amps) and use our monitors as the PA.  We would connect everything as we did normally, but turn some of the stage monitors toward the audience, mike only the vocals, and keep the stage volume low. It worked well.  We had some Kustom PA cabs (15" & horn) from a former band that we used as side fills on the bigger club stages that we used as PA for the small clubs. Each person (3 piece band) had one stage wedge monitor to hear vocals. We simply turned off the amps in the rack that drove the main PA and used only the monitor amps.  Those cabinets were part of what was called the Kustom briefcase PA. IN fact, the bass player started bringing the briefcase PA rather than unloading the big mixer and amp rack.  Some of the clubs were so small, we used the stage as the drum riser. 
     
    We had the load in down to 20 minutes from arrival to ready to play. Load out was 12 to 15 minutes. We had a game going to see how fast we could set up and tear down in those small places.  No lights. No big PA. No big amps. Partial drum kit.
     
    It worked well.  
     
     
    Later, after the band, I continued to do a solo act. I spun a few records.... not exactly a DJ kind of thing... took requests on some hard rock records... Molly Hatchet, Skynard, AC/DC... etc.... and also played acoustic guitar and sang. Most of the Marines preferred the acoustic guitar stuff I was doing. With this gig.... I used the PA I had kept when the band flamed out.... a pair of folded "W" bass bins, and a pair of JBL horns, and at the volume I played, I could hear everything just fine without monitors. 
    post edited by Guitarhacker - 2016/05/22 10:19:35

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    bitflipper
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/22 11:17:42 (permalink)
    I'm a fan of small powered monitors that mount on a mic stand, like this one. They're cheap, easy to transport and set up, since all you need is a line out from your mixer. If you have a second bus on the mixer you can customize the monitor mix, e.g. keep it dry or roll off lows for clarity. Because they can be positioned close to your ear, you usually won't have feedback issues.
     

     


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    tlw
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/22 11:30:47 (permalink)
    I've a 2KW PA that easily fits in the back of a medium sized hatchback.... (2 powered cabs, one powered sub, mixer, in ear rig for three people).

    Avoiding feedback in stage monitors can be a real pain.

    The first question is whether you even need monotoring for a small, solo gig. If you can't hear yourself well enough, you do, and if the room reverb/echo makes it hard to stay in time you do.

    For a solo guitar plus voice I'd be inclined to go down the in-ear route rather than use "traditional" monitors. Proper in-ear phones that fill the ear canal knock 40dB or more off the background noise that you hear and unless handled very badly indeed are pretty feedback-proof at less than deafening levels. Even the least expensive Shure earphones work pretty well.

    They will however need a different eq to the PA mix to sound right, but unless you monitor is a duplicate of the PA speakers that's true of any monitoring system.

    I suggest, assuming you're using a mixer, you take the monitor feed from a pre-fader aux if possible, post fader if necessary. Auxes on most mixers are pre-eq, so set up the eq to sound right out front. Put a simple inexpensive eq (graphic or parametric) between the aux output and monitor input and after that an inexpensive digital fx unit for reverb. Some mixers can send their built-in reverb through the aux outputs, in which case use that rather than an external fx unit unless you need different settings.

    For in-ear systems follow that with a headphone amplifier (the little Samson ones are inexpensive and decent quality). You may need the eq after the amp rather than before, a bit of experimentation is required there.

    For a powered monitor wedge I'd seriously consider putting an automatic feedback killer in the chain before it, or a 33 band graphic as a minimum. Use the killer/graphic to "ring out" the monitor before you start to idontify and neutralise the dominant feedback frequencies - just keep turning the foldback up until feedback starts, identify the frequency and eq it out, repeat a few times. After that an automatic killer should be able to nail any new feedback as it arises pretty well.

    As I said, I'd go down the in-ear route. It gives good monitoring at lower volumes and once set up to your liking will work pretty much wherever you are with minimal or no changes to the original setup. If lack of audible audience response is a problem just point a mic into the audience and blend it in with the foldback (but not the PA, obviously).

    To finish, I'd add that in-ear without at leat a bit of ambient reverb can sound very dry. And always, always have it fed from a mono source, or at least whatvyou hear of you should be in mono. Knowing you are standing "here" but your ears telling you e.g. your guitar is off to your left and your voice coming through your skull while your ears also hear it somewhere to the right can be very confusing. And stereo is even worse if you move around - people, especially physically active and mobile singers, have been known to fall over before now.

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    tlw
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/22 11:33:07 (permalink)
    bitflipper
    I'm a fan of small powered monitors that mount on a mic stand, like this one. They're cheap, easy to transport and set up, since all you need is a line out from your mixer. If you have a second bus on the mixer you can customize the monitor mix, e.g. keep it dry or roll off lows for clarity. Because they can be positioned close to your ear, you usually won't have feedback issues.


    I know a keyboard player who's used one of those as personal foldback and backline for small gigs for years. Works very well indeed. Still subject to feedback issues if used for microphones though...

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    bitflipper
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/22 11:58:03 (permalink)
    For the past two years I've been playing in a duo where my partner uses a Bose L-1 mini line array, which he also does solo gigs with.
     
    I couldn't use it for keyboards because it's lacking in the upper and lower frequency extremes, but for vocals and acoustic guitar it works remarkably well. We set it up behind us and there's NEVER any feedback. We hear vocals quite clearly without any stage monitors at all.
     
    At a grand a pop, it's not a cheap solution, but eliminates the need for monitors for low-volume gigs. And it's highly portable because it comes apart in 4 pieces, and that's a huge consideration for a solo act who'd rather not suffer a back injury.
     
     


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    TheMaartian
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/22 12:23:43 (permalink)
    I've pretty much come to consider Bose to be overpriced for what you get, but this little unit looks really good.
     
    Added to my Wish List at Sweetwater.
     
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    EDIT: But I am gonna pop for the $70 as soon as they get the Blackstar Fly 3 Bass amp in!

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    tlw
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/22 19:18:57 (permalink)
    Interesting to hear of someone using one of the Bose arrays. I've considered them in the past, but the price and not being certain of their sound and feedback resistance has put me off so far. The Bose 802s and similar have always struck me as a bit like a Yamaha NS10, all mids, unless the expensive Bose eqing speaker controller is used with them (and most users seem not to buy the controller and never notice their sound is almost entirely mids. Not too bad if used just for vocals, but as a substitute for full range or even 12"+horn powered cabs they've never struck me as particularly good. Though their lack of weight is a stong point.

    Out of interest, do you know if the array you've heard was using an eq to correct poor treble and bass?

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    silvercn
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/23 00:43:36 (permalink)
    I appreciate the posts on this - thanks.  I should mention the set up I use now which is done without a mixer; and to me is pretty good. So my guitar first goes into a Fishman Platinum preamp. Guitar and vocal mic are going into their own channels on my  Fishman Loudbox mini (sweet sounding for acoustic) - which I place on a high amp stand for audience level. The line out from the Fishman feeds into one of 3 channels in my powered Alto speaker tower that is on a tripod speaker stand. My slight verb settings on the amp are of course going to this PA. Then I run the wedge monitor (powered) from the linking / line out on the Alto. Each input channel of the Alto includes volume, bass and treble controls... It could link another Alto cab via blue tooth - but that's maybe in the future. I am situated between the Fishman amp and Alto speakers. So all said and done, not a bad setup - but after reading posts I may just put that monitor on a stand and use as additional room coverage if needed at the venue. I kind of like the idea of the ear monitor and need to give that a try. Another good aspect to this set up is that within easy reach I can control and adjust the guitar preamp, and all controls on the Loudbox... 
    post edited by silvercn - 2016/05/23 02:19:31
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    Guitarhacker
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/23 09:04:20 (permalink)
    Back in the day, they had not yet come out with the smaller compact self powered speakers you could throw in the trunk of a car.  So we had to lug around big, heavy cabinets and huge bass bins and  impressive looking horns sitting on top of a tri-amped speaker stack that could shatter glass and cause seismic events. It took a truck to get the gear to the gig, but that was the style and that's how we rolled back then.

    I see bands now who have 2 small speakers and a sub and sound good.... so times change.

    If you go to look at 100 bands, you will find 100 ways of doing something.    Find the way that works best for you and do it and have fun.  If you can hear yourself, the crowd can hear you and the music sounds good, that's really all that matters... oh yeah, one more thing.... and, you're having fun and enjoying what you're doing.

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    tlw
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/23 12:54:27 (permalink)
    I'd be wary of bluetooth for audio. The latency involved can be spectacularly bad. 40ms plus bad.

    In your mixerless setup, to use the monitor wedge as a monitor I'd just put an eq/feedback destroyer in the line between the Alto and the wedge.

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    tlw
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/23 12:59:40 (permalink)
    Guitarhacker
    Back in the day, they had not yet come out with the smaller compact self powered speakers you could throw in the trunk of a car.  So we had to lug around big, heavy cabinets and huge bass bins and  impressive looking horns sitting on top of a tri-amped speaker stack that could shatter glass and cause seismic events. It took a truck to get the gear to the gig, but that was the style and that's how we rolled back then.

    I see bands now who have 2 small speakers and a sub and sound good.... so times change.


    Yes, PA design has improved massively over the last 30 years. I remember the "old style" PAs built of stacks of black-painted 18-ply cabs, huge bass horns, hf drivers with lenses stacked on top of the mid range bins, the whole thing six or more feet high. They may have been huge, ridiculously heavy and have poor sound performance compared to the modern setups, but didn't they look impressive compared to the now ubiquitous cloth-fronted plastic boxes?

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    silvercn
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/23 19:23:43 (permalink)
    Nice idea (duh on my part) for a feedback buster in the line - now I will have to go find one... BTW this Alto Pro-Trouper is great for a soloist in a small / medium venue... Looks nice, solid and good sounding...Price was right too
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    bitflipper
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    Re: Use of stage monitor for solo gigs 2016/05/24 09:38:05 (permalink)
    tlw
    Interesting to hear of someone using one of the Bose arrays. I've considered them in the past, but the price and not being certain of their sound and feedback resistance has put me off so far. The Bose 802s and similar have always struck me as a bit like a Yamaha NS10, all mids, unless the expensive Bose eqing speaker controller is used with them (and most users seem not to buy the controller and never notice their sound is almost entirely mids. Not too bad if used just for vocals, but as a substitute for full range or even 12"+horn powered cabs they've never struck me as particularly good. Though their lack of weight is a stong point.

    Out of interest, do you know if the array you've heard was using an eq to correct poor treble and bass?

    I have a similarly low opinion of Bose stuff, and in fact tried to talk my friend out of buying it at the time. But he was tired of schlepping heavy speakers (JBLs), liked the portability factor and ignored my advice.
     
    The first time I did a gig with him using the new L-1, I was quite surprised at how well it performed. Adequate volume for a 200-seat room, excellent clarity on vocals, and zero feedback even though it was set up between and behind us. There is no EQ on them. Of course there is EQ on the mixer channels, but if we use it at all it's to roll some bottom off to offset our microphones' proximity effect, never to mitigate feedback.
     
    I can't argue against the practicality of the Bose. It breaks down into components that even I can carry without fear of back injury. No need for speaker stands, so that's two more items that can be left at home. No need for monitors. No need for the mini-van anymore, either. If not for the bulky Anvil case that holds the mixer, effects, wireless receiver, tuner, etc., his whole rig would fit into the trunk of a passenger car.
     
    I have just one complaint, and that is its weakness at the frequency extremes. The low end could be beefed up with the addition of a larger and/or second woofer. The amp will handle two subs, and Bose makes two sizes of them. The lack of high end, though, seems baked in. Given that they are 3" speakers you'd expect them to be brighter. Maybe they do have a hard-wired LPF built in, I don't know.
     
    In any case, I didn't like the sound of keyboards through it and continue to use a pair of 12" keyboard amps for myself. He may have a supremely portable rig, but I'm still using a hand truck for mine.
     


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