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budget monitoring for drummers


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in connection with soul/funk/rock bands - specifically on small medium size bar/function room stages.

I don't have any issues with in ear monitors or wedge monitors on theatre stages but occasionally and repeatedly we get asked to work with pop/rock/function cover bands in bars and function rooms that are at at best close quarters on stage. On many of these occasions we will work out a monitoring arrangement in advance with the band and some drummers prefer their own 'in ears'.

However, some bands regularly ask for a wedge monitor and the drummer isn't interested in working with IEMs. the results have been more miss than hit.

we have a range of passive and active wedge monitors, which we have variously positioned at floor level, on a flight case to come close to ear level or on a speaker pole again as close to ear level as possible. usually 12" plus tweeter rated around 100 to 150w.

I haven't wanted to exceed this capacity because I don't want massive spill through other mics, including drum mics or to overwhelm other stage guitar amps etc.

invariably the drummer asks for lead vocals and perhaps a little of something else or other.

often I get the complaint that they can't here the monitor, it's too quiet - this despite amps on passives being set to max and amps on actives set to a little less than max - to avoid clipping.

last night I got complaints of actual clipping - the lead singers voice was very variable in range and I didn't have the facility to compress it.

now obviously with this band I can think about using a digital desk with compressors or loading a compressor in the rack (not necessary for most bar bands I work with).

So leaving compression aside, my questions for consideration are:

1. am I missing something I should or could be doing?

2. should I be looking at an even more powerful amp/active monitor for drummers (bearing in mind the tight stages) - my preference is for active monitors at the moment.

3. do others experience dissatisfied drummers?

I want to crack this nut if I can, in the future but it's not an urgent problem, some drummers I work with are using in ears, in some other work, it's not relevant - the rest of the band last night loved the sound on stage and I was happy with the FOH mix.

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I've used for a couple of years now, both my own and hired in for shows I've done off my own back, HK Audio PR:O 12 MA wedges on a variety of stage sizes and I've yet to have a complaint from a Drummer about not being able to hear their mix. The wedges are coaxial, and are on the floor, but I've found are shaped in such a way that you can get them pretty close to the drummer, tucked in next to the snare. They're rated to 600 W RMS, but I've never run them that hot in the time I've been using them.

 

From what you've described, the 100-150 W cab isn't cutting the mustard and my suggestion would be to go for a higher rated replacement, especially if you're clipping the speaker. In this situation I'd avoid compressing the signal.

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+1

 

I did a fairly big gig in August, (Bootleg Beatles headlining) and the drummer in one of the '60s bands wanted drums in his monitor and nothing else!!! The monitor was a JBL PRX725, rated at 1500 watts and 136dB. I had it on the edge of clipping and he said it wasn't loud enough (he was absolutely fine when I called "enough, edge of feedback" mind you). Stage levels were loud but not sillyhttp://www.blue-room.org.uk/public/style_emoticons/default/blink.gif

 

On pub/bar gigs I use Yamaha DXR10s for monitors, 1100 watts 131dB, they are small and loud, if the drummer want's more he's probably out of luck as feedback becomes the limiting factor.

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You cant force someone into in-ears, they have to make that choice themselves.

 

If they want kick in the wedge then a 12" wont cut it, the low end just wont be there- options include a bigger 15" wedge, or the existing 12" on a compact sub (saves finding an apropriatly sized box to put it on)

 

If your consistently just wanting vocal/guitar/keys then low end isnt the issue. you just need more volume.

A few years back I read somthing (it may have been an article aimed at selling ear plugs to drummers) cant for the life of me find it now, but it had a list of how loud each drum was, measured at the drummers ear - if I remember rightly snare was listed something in the region of 130dB(a) with a hard hitting drummer. Maybe that was a particually enthusiastic punk drummer, but even so where the drummer is its loud, and he needs to hear his mix over that. Sat down with nothing happening on stage it may seem to be obscenely loud - but when the drummer gets going (and bare in mind his loudest things are closer to his head than your wedge most the time) he needs them to be. The size sams talking about I think will do the vast majority of gigs that size and only fail when the drummers wanting levels that are not practical on these scales, at which point you just need to tell the drummer to stop being so spinal tap.

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100W monitors are very unlikely to be enough on any stage where there's a proper drummer. This is not helped by the fact that 100W monitors, especially passive ones are usually not very high quality. A local pub to me has got some of those enormous 15" Thomann powered wedges. The very cheap ones that are only 100W or so. They may as well not have them for all you can hear when a drummer does his thing. Especially a loud drummer.
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Put one either side, at low frequencies there will be 6dB extra through summation and at higher frequencies the fact that each ear is being subjected to the monitors will mean the drummer thinks its 6dB louder with no increase in actual level.

 

That latter effect is why its always better to run IEMs with both ears in.

 

Josh

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thanks guys, although you have some interesting ideas as to what counts of budget (I maybe should have specified), the general consensus seems to be more power/volume even on a tight stage.

I'm tempted to pick up something 10" 300w program or higher based on the above.

I like the idea of cutting down a stand. I had one mounted on a stand at the weekend and even on minimum height it would have helped to be lower.

as I said earlier this isn't an urgent issue as when working larger stages/theatres etc the monitors and FOH rig come with the hire inventory or with the band - hopefully thst will give me enough time to come across a bargain.

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thanks guys, although you have some interesting ideas as to what counts of budget (I maybe should have specified), the general consensus seems to be more power/volume even on a tight stage.

I'm tempted to pick up something 10" 300w program or higher based on the above.

I like the idea of cutting down a stand. I had one mounted on a stand at the weekend and even on minimum height it would have helped to be lower.

as I said earlier this isn't an urgent issue as when working larger stages/theatres etc the monitors and FOH rig come with the hire inventory or with the band - hopefully thst will give me enough time to come across a bargain.

 

The cheapest reasonably decent active boxes I'm aware of are the Alto Truesonics, I have a TS110A in addition to my Yamaha DXR10s and have used TS112As on an installation I did. Both fantastic value for money at £225 and £250 street price. The TS112A would probably do the job for you, 400watts RMS (800 watts continuous) and 125dB.

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Drummers tend to like to hear bass and kick drum. So a 10" box is unlikely to cut the mustard either. But you needn't spend much. There are always bargains to be found on gumtree/ebay if you're not in a rush. If you want powered and cheap, look at the Thomann PA202 or something like that. They don't sound half bad and are quite loud.
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Drummers tend to like to hear bass and kick drum. So a 10" box is unlikely to cut the mustard either.

 

..umm not so much in a bar, they are usually sat almost on top of the bass cab. NEVER had a request to put the bass drum in the monitor in a bar. a different story on big theatre stages.

 

re the thomann, I really do rate even their budget gear for the money so shall give this some thought since it ticks the budget box - anb active solution would be neater here - though I am not averse to passives, every second counts and space is at a premium so not having another amp to cable up is helpful - but the active version of the PA202 seems to little in power considering what has been said above.

 

I have seen a fair bit on blue room that is complimentary to the alto gear and though it's at the top of my budget, it may just be the answer.

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If the drummer only wants vocals in mix I use Galaxy Hotspots (very old but still perfect) .In a pit situation also used Db Technology L160 active monitor for drums and keys, good volume and great feedback rejection.Both keep overall band level under control.
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