In Your Inner Ear! A Personal Monitoring Systems Primer

Personal monitoring preference is well, a personal issue. When you ask artists or performers you might get one answer, and sound technicians might give you a very different one. So what is the right way? Let’s break down personal monitoring so you can form your own opinion.

The biggest problem with personal monitoring is allowing the artist to hear what they need to hear, while preventing the monitors from interfering with the sounds going into the space. It takes a good engineer to pull this off correctly. In many cases, the sound is muddy, unbalanced, and distracting.  So the only way to reduce this is to lower stage noise to only the noise that should be projected, and nothing more.  So how do you do that?

The solution is personal monitoring systems. In contrast to the big floor monitors from rock n’ roll eras past, these are individual monitors that bring the sound right to the artist’s ear. This means that everyone is working from some sort of earpiece or headset, which come in a variety of choices.  You can go with in-ear, or over the ear monitors. Even headphones could be used in some cases. The choices really are broad and it’s best to have a wide array on hand since the choice might depend on what is happening on stage. But the personal monitors remove the monitor noise from the staging, bringing a clearer sound to the audience.

Another choice you have in personal monitors is the mix. In smaller venues, the monitor mix would be one mix sent to all artists or presenters. This single mix is pumped into every ear and the artist controls the volume.  This is typically what you find with wireless solutions. You might have a monitor mix technician who creates the mix and sends it out to the artists. And for most cases this is a perfectly fine way of doing the mix.  Another popular method is to use personal monitor mixers. These small boxes are placed near the artist and have hardwired Cat5 connections back to the console. These wonderful little machines allow each artist to do a custom monitor mix to their own desires.  This is the highest level of performance of personal mixing and is what is most desired by performers. It lets them control their mix allowing them to focus on what they want to hear to do their best.

So personal monitors really do increase control and sound quality in a few different ways. But some of your performers might not like the closed in feeling of ear monitors. Well, we’ve got a solution for you. Add an ambient microphone to your monitor mix. If you’ve ever had a monitor mix, you know at times it feel like you are playing in a tunnel. Adding an ambient mic that gathers noise from the room will be that added touch that allows your artists to really feel the room, and minimize the feel of isolation. It’s really the best of both worlds.

Are you ready to upgrade your personal monitoring system and increase the quality of your live sound? Contact us today at 301.668.4448 or on our website, for more information on how a personal monitoring system can increase your sound quality.

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