Evaluating your monitor settings is a crucial step during the sound check and during the church service.
Consider these three signs your monitor mix is bad or had gone bad.
1. A musician isn’t playing in time or looks lost.
This will happen if you didn’t get the right monitor mix during the sound check. It can also happen if they can’t hear the monitor due to the addition of the singing congregation.
Pro-actively, ask the musicians, at the end of the sound check, if they are OK with the monitor levels. During the service, if this happens, increase the overall volume of the musician’s monitor. As you reach the right volume, you’ll see the lost look go away and the house mix improve.
2. The house mix doesn’t sound right.
This will happen if the monitor volumes are too loud.
You can check this during the last part of the sound check. Walk to the third row from the stage and listen. You should hear the house loudspeakers and possibly a little monitor/stage volume. If the monitor volume is too great, then you need to cut the monitor volumes.
3. Musicians are bouncing up and down.
That is to say, they are signaling they need more volume or “more me” in their mix. This isn’t so much a sign the mix is bad as it’s a sign the addition of the singing congregation has made their monitors hard to hear.
In the case where you have multiple musicians signaling for more, increase the volume of your master monitor aux sends. This keeps the monitor mix consistent while increasing the overall volume. If it’s just one musician, go for a small bump in the monitor volume followed by a slight bump in their channel in the monitor.
A Tip Regarding Monitors & Guitar Amps
Consider guitar amp placement if you are having monitor problems. For example, if a singer keeps complaining they are hearing too much of the guitar, check where the guitar amp is placed. They might be on-axis with the guitar amp and so the monitor mix has nothing to do with it. Consider placing the guitar amp in a different direction or placing it on the opposite side of the guitarist so no one else is on-axis with it.
Check with musicians during and after the sound check regarding their monitor mixes and volume levels. When it comes time for the church service, expect to make a monitor volume increase.
Also, know that monitor mixes might have to change so keep your eyes on the musicians during the service, especially during the first song.
Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.