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There is a band on stage and they want to sing everyone a song. Most likely they will be using some sort of microphone to sing into right? Maybe not, but who knows. In this section I’m going to cover basic monitor placement in reference to the microphone. This may seem silly, but I’ve seen many great engineers over look these small details.
In order to truly understand where a monitor is going to be placed, first depends on the microphone. There are many different brands,types, and styles of microphones. I like the refer to these as “spices”, because every performer has their own preference, and they all sound different. We need to start with the microphone, because we need to set the microphone up to where it is going to best capture the audio source, in this case, our singer. Lets look at well known microphone, the Shure SM58. This is a standard vocal microphone that most people are familiar with (if this is Greek to you, email me). Looking at this microphone more closely, we notice it has a “cardioid” pick up pattern. That “cardioid” pick up pattern tells the user that the microphone will pick up sounds in the front, and reject sounds coming from behind the microphone. Now that we have that information, we can best determine where the monitor should be placed in relationship to the microphone. If you guessed directly behind the microphone, you are correct!
Setting up one microphone with one monitor is pretty easy. The challenge comes when we have multiple microphones and monitors on stage. Every microphone might not have the same pick up pattern, so when placing monitors we need to account for the other microphones as well. Lets say we have a three piece band, guitar, bass, and drums. Now lets say they are on a small stage, and all have full stack guitar amps. Normally the guitarist and bass players will probably stand in front of the drummer, but on this stage they can’t, it is just too small. So they set up next to the drummer, one person per side. If the drummers monitor is laying to his/hers left, we might have an issue with which ever vocal microphone it is facing towards. We need to be cautious to help prevent feed back. Placing the monitor so it is angled slightly back, just so the outer edge of the speaker polar pattern hits the drummers ear. This way the we can help reduce bleed from the drummers monitor into the vocal microphone. Now it is possible to wrangle feed back with a graphic EQ, but why use processing to fix a problem that can be solved by simply looking at the monitor placement?
The best way to learn about proper monitor placement is practice, practice, PRACTICE.