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How to set up a PA with monitors

Published: Wed April 23, 2008  News Feed
Rock Quartet With Monitors

OK, so you're tired of not being able to hear yourself sing and want to add monitors to your rock band's PA. This is a good idea, because you might actually be able to sing in tune if you can hear yourselves. And how about an effects unit, while we're at it?

In addition to the the monitor system, we are adding a microphone to the kick drum. Miking the drums can encourage more dancing, but it also makes things louder. Use your judgement. Kick drum mics can be be mounted on a short stand or placed inside the drum lying on a pillow, chunk of foam, or grandma's heirloom quilt. As a general rule, only mic the kick if you have a high-power amplifier and your main PA speakers have 15" woofers in them -- anything smaller will probably distort. And don't put the kick drum in the monitors! If you have an extra mic, you could also mic the snare drum and high-hat. Avoid the temptation to mic individual toms and cymbals, unless you have an excellent PA, a larger venue and a lot of time to twiddle knobs.

Equipment List:

• Two loudspeakers with tweeters and 15" woofers and speaker stands
• Two monitor wedges
• Four mics (of the highest possible quality!)
• One spare mic
• Five mic cables (one spare)
• Ten guitar cords
• Five speaker cords (one spare)
• Amplifier for wedges (about 150 watts)
• Graphic equalizer for wedges
• Effects unit
• Powered mixer or separate mixer and power amplifier (about 300 watts)
• 2 AC extension cords, 2 AC power strips and gaffer's or duct tape
• Disposable foam earplugs for band or audience members as needed

About the Monitor Amp:

Note that the monitor amp shown is stereo, with one wedge running off each channel. If the amp has front-panel volume controls, you may use these to adjust the overall volume of each wedge independently. However, the same vocal blend will appear in each wedge, because both amp channels are being fed from the same monitor mix on the board. While not shown, a graphic EQ is highly recommended for the wedges.

If There's Feedback...

• Make sure your mics aren't pointing at the wedges.
• Turn down the master volume or try to use EQ to stop the feedback.
• Get the entire band to play softer so you can reduce the overall level of the PA and stop the feedback.

If You Can't Hear Yourself...

• Turn the system up, but watch for feedback.
• Beg the guitarist to turn their amp down!

If the Audience Can't Hear the Vocals...

• Beg the whole band to turn down!
• Use less effects on the vocals.

You Want a "Bigger" Sound

• Tighten up your musical arrangements.

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