3.5 Ways to Mix Monitors, Pt. 4

Today we wrap up or series of how to mix monitors. We have previously considered a dedicated monitor console, personal mixers and mixing from FOH. Today, we’ll look at what is the .5 of the 3.5 ways of this series. I chose not to call it a fourth way because it’s really a hybrid approach. Or hybrid approaches. 

FOH + Personal Mixers

You see, you don’t have to commit 100% to any one method. You can combine them. For example, when we made the transition to personal mixers at Coast Hills, I put the band on Roland M-48s but mixed the wedges—yes, wedges for a while—for vocalists from FOH. We then moved the vocals to ears, still mixed from FOH. Finally, we bought some more M-48s and everyone on stage was mixing themselves. Except for big events, when I again mixed vocals from FOH as we needed all the M-48s for the larger band. 

Monitor Console + Personal Mixers

Sometimes, you can combine a monitor console and personal mixers. I know several churches that do this. They use the monitor console to create stems for the personal mixers. Chances are, there are a few direct channels in there, but mostly, there are sub-mixes. Moving these mixes to another console means you can customize EQ, effects and other processing in a way that works great for IEMs without effecting the house. You can even create multiple universes of personal mixes and send different stem mixes to them. Being able to do this from a monitor console makes life much less complicated. 

FOH + Monitor Console

I also know some bands who will put the band on personal mixers and mix the lead or leads from the monitor desk. Or, for really large events, when you’ve filled up the monitor console, you can always mix some from FOH. Routing can get tricky, and the musicians need to know who to contact for changes, but it can be done (I’ve done it, in fact). 

The overall point is, you don’t have to do just one. We have reached a great point in mixing technology where we have multiple, good choices on how to do the same thing. And with those many, viable methods, we can come up with the combination that serves our band, our budget, our congregation and ourselves the best. Mixing mixing systems (see what I did there?) gives us the best of all worlds. You don’t even have to commit to one configuration exclusively. Let’s say you normally have everyone on personal mixers, but you have a new vocalist this week. You might want to mix their monitors for a few weeks (or months) to help them get comfortable with how a good . I always held 2-4 aux mixes open on my console for the occasional mix or three that I might have to do for a new player or vocalist. 

Also, don’t assume that the way the big church down the street (or across the country) is doing it is the way you should do it. Carefully consider your needs and come up with the best solution for your church. Just because a lot of churches are going to personal mixers doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do it. It also doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Weight the options and come up with the best solution. Hopefully, this series has helped.

Roland

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