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Happy Time In Monitorland? Getting Your Stage Together

It's a much lighter load with homework and good work habits

Microphone cables
While there may be the occasional exception, never make a cable run across the stage surface if at all possible. Musicians have enough cable of their own on the deck without having to contend with (and step all over) yours.

With respect to mic cables, always first plug them the stage box (a.k.a. “split”) or the subsnake, and then feed them to the mics. Leave slack coiled neatly at the base of the mic stand. 

Go around the perimeter of the stage to get there, even if this means using a longer cable. Leaving the slack at the mic allows easy moving of the stand when required (more often than not), instead of having to trace the cable back and unplugging and pulling to free up more length. 

Also, no one wants 20 mic cables piled up around the split. If a problem is later discovered with a specific mic line, it’s a whole lot easier to trace it and replace it when you’re not dealing with a jumbled cable pile.

When running mic cables to the instrument mics (i.e., guitar amp, bass amp, etc.), always approach the mic from the rear of the amp, placing cables behind the amps and out of the way of guitar cords and other musician “paraphernalia.”

Subsnakes
Invaluable tools for any stage larger than about 15 feet by 15 feet, subsnakes eliminate the need to run every mic line on stage all the way to the stage box (split). And with the cost of mic cables being proportionate to length, it’s better to have 25-foot cables rather than 50-foot cables.

Position subsnakes in areas where the most mics need to be terminated. If there’s only one subsnake available, position one is generally at the drum riser, where there’s often seven or more mics in use. Once all drum channels are terminated, the bass amp cable can usually be plugged in here as well.

Opinions vary, but my own choice as position two is the side of the stage opposite the stage box, to cover the instruments on the far side.  Position three is downstage (center, if possible), to handle vocal and front-line mics as well acoustic DI boxes.

Drums are usually the first place to start with a split snake, but choosing locations requires careful planning.

By placing this subsnake in the center, it gives the vocalist more range to move around. But if the placement is aesthetically unattractive, it can be placed at the far left or far right side of downstage (whichever is nearest the split). Other subsnakes can be positioned in areas of high mic concentration, as needed.

Always be sure to drop the “fan-out” or XLR ends of the subsnake at the stage box, with a little extra slack, and then run the box around the perimeter of the stage to the desired location you desire.

If the subsnake isn’t quite long enough to get to the far side of the stage, it can be run to the front of the drum riser on the far side to accomplish the same task.

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