Running monitors from FOH? Here’s some tips.

Running monitors from FOH? Here’s some tips.

Never optimal to run monitors from FOH, but here’s my workflow to get the best results possible.

  • I start by spraying all the wedges with pink noise, one at a time. If they all sound the same, we can move forward with the tuning. If not, we go find the blown up driver, misconfigured crossover, attenuated amp, incorrect preset, etc.

  • I play my reference track through a wedge and tweak the EQ in broad terms until it sounds correct, and roll up a HPF if there isn’t one in a DSP somewhere. Just think about your car stereo – too much bass? too much treble? too much mid? and go after it that way with wide, gentle filters. Here’s the tuning I had for a powered monitor wedge rig last week:Nothing crazy, just get the playback to sound like it should.

  • When it comes to ringing out, I use narrow PEQ filters (Q=8 or higher) rather than graphics, which are pretty wide and remove a pretty audible amount of energy from the spectrum (Q=4.3).

  • How far to go is a spectrum. On the one hand, you have a lot of jazz artists who are very sensitive to having a flat response, and rather than ring it out, they’ll just ask for it to be turned back down until it stops ringing. On the other hand, you have a lot of hip hop and metal artists who need as much gain as possible and prefer SPL over tonal accuracy. So you ring out more or less based on the considerations of the show. In all cases though I’d say a minimum of 6 dB headroom at the very least.

  • Start with less in the wedges than they want, because you’ll be asked to turn it up either way.

  • If you have the resources, double patching a few key channels is a big help. If you have a single money channel that needs to be LOUD on stage, patch it to a second channel that only goes to the wedges and you can really work on it without screwing things up out front. By the same token, try to keep compression out of the wedges.

I used the loudspeaker processor in place of a system DSP for the wedges in this case because there wasn’t one. Here’s my philosophy: There’s an imaginary line at the console outputs. Everything after that line has the sole purpose of accurately relaying the mix coming out of the console to the ears of the listener. (Audience members, or artist on stage, whatever that may be.) So any EQ required to get the monitor to accurately reproduce the mix is part of the system DSP EQ and as such should be invisible to the console operator. It’s just part of the rig working properly. So with a rig that has a system DSP, that tuning is in there. In this case since the house rig had no DSP I just used the Midas loudspeaker processor in the console. I could have brought in a hardware DSP unit but why? Costs more, adds more time to setup, adds more cable, adds more latency, etc.

Now my mix bus EQ is still flat, and I can use that for tonal changes desired by the artist, or for ringing out – both things that are likely to change from gig to gig or minute to minute, and both things that the console operator should have access to as part of their job. It’s sort of a division of labor for the EQ. They’re doing different jobs. Using one EQ instance for ringing out, tonal control of the mix, and getting the wedge to sound right is far too cluttered for me. 

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