encouraging a unified worship experience

Hear No Evil; Stage Monitors in Church

I Giovani e la Musica
Photo Credit: superUbO via Compfight

Unless you attend church on a creek bank, you have heard the effects of stage monitors. From an audience perspective, the squeals and roars caused by these beasts can be unbearable and distract from the very essence of worship. From the perspective of those on stage, these items either make our lives easier or insanely more difficult. From the perspective of a sound operator, these 'boxes of doom' can be a nightmare to deal with. So if one box can cause so much grief then why do we have them? Simple, people on stage must hear!

I have seen many sound techs cringe upon hearing "I need more 'me' in the floors", or "could you give me less drums", or "you fixed it for her now I can't hear". Having run many sound systems in my lifetime, I can empathize with the techs. However, from someone on stage I also empathize and understand the need to hear the perfect mix.

Ultimately the issues arise from microphones and speakers pointed directly at the microphones. Anytime you have this there is an inevitable problem just waiting to arise. Another issue is that the mix on stage becomes so loud that it actually bleeds over into the house. Warning: if you are able to pull down the house speakers and not notice, the stage monitors are too loud!

At the church I currently serve, several methods have been used in an attempt to fix this issue. Some instruments have had dedicated guitar amps on stage. Once we put our band on stage right and gave them a powered amp with two 12 inch monitors so they could mix their own sound. We have tried using an overhead downward facing monitor to cover the stage. Ultimately all of these failed. The only solution we arrived at was a little device called Aviom. This box takes the i/o mix from the board and feeds it into a digitizer which transmits each channel (up to 16) separately through cat 5 cable. At the stage, each musician gets his or her own stand mounted mixer to adjust individual sound via earphones. So if the bass player needs more 'me', he can turn himself up quickly and easily. I also placed one of these mixers on stage for my praise team and soloists. This mixer feeds into a wireless distributor allowing each member to have their own in ear monitors. This has reduced our onstage decibel level massively. Now the only stage monitors we have are two wedges for choir and an overhead wash. While this system is grteat for the performers, it is also great for the sound tech. His life is now much simpler as most of his time and effort can be focused on the house mix.

There are two major players in this game and they can be found at www.aviom.com and www.heartechnologies.com. I have no vested interest in either of these companies and I am sure that both are quality systems. One word of caution, this type of monitor system is not cheap. We had to add mixers as our budget would allow but I would say it is well worth the price for the benefits reaped.

These are my thoughts, what are yours?