Loudspeakers Backing tracks only to monitor?


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Hello- I apologize is this isn't in the correct forum or has otherwise not been posted properly. I've been searching for a few days now and can't find the answer to my question. I am a middle school theatre teacher with very little tech experience. The program is 3 years old and has peanuts for a "budget". Shows are in the cafetorium. Our combined sound equipment is worth less than $1000.00.. Despite this, there have been complaints and pressure because the music for our shows has been too loud and at times drowned out the vocals. At the same time, my cast complains that they can't hear the performance tracks (we don't have live music), and indeed they do get behind in both vocals and choreography from time to time. Speakers are next to the "stage." We are using GTD wireless mics. I have a little more money to spend this year, so I wanted to get a stage monitor; however, I have read that you should have music only (no mics) sent to the stage monitor, and my question is: how? The source of the performance tracks is my Mac, and I have been using a 1/4 to XLR from the mac to the 4 channel mixer. So, do I use a 1/4 inch to 2 XLR splitter? I have been approved to purchase a new mixer (Rockville RMP1870) but I am such a novice that I don't know if mixers can actually perform the function I'm looking for. I noticed some more expensive mixers- like the Yamaha MG20- have specific monitor outputs, but I'm not sure that would work. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Most mixers can perform what you're looking for. I just watched the video for the RMP1870 on Rockville's website and while it does have an output to setup stage monitors it doesn't look like you can do a special mix for it. You are just sending the main mix to another set of speakers, which will potentially give you feedback issues. On the Yamaha MG20 you have 4 Aux channels that you can use as separate monitor mixes. The blue aux knobs on the channel strips will send specific channels to each aux. So say you have your mics plugged into channels 1-10, and your back tracks are in channels 15/16. If you turn up the aux 1 knob under only channels15/16 then just the back tracks are sent to your stage monitors.
Everything needs to work as a system, so we need more information. What are the current mixer, main speakers, other components, and what is your maximum expenditure?
The Rockville, being a powered mixer, would generally need to be relatively close to the stage, otherwise you will have signal loss. That may or may not be an issue for you, but it doesn't have a Monitor Out.

The Yamaha MG20 has a dedicated Monitor Out, which would be needed for the scenario you outlined, but it is not a powered mixer, meaning you would amplifiers to power your Main and Monitor Speakers, or you would need Powered Speakers.
What is your budget for the stage monitors?

Yes, you do want to avoid sending mics back to the stage monitors. In most cases its a recipe for feedback if that happens. So, for your setup without replacing your current mixer here is what I'd do....

Buy powered monitors... or actually just powered regular 12" speakers. Put them on the floor in the DS corners of your stage, probably near your current speakers just pointed towards the stage instead of the audience. Buy a PCDI to split the signal from your mac to both the mixer and direct to the stage monitors. (On the PCDI all the inputs are splits, so you can use the 3.5mm input for you laptop and the 1/4" outputs to your mixer). The XLR outputs would run to your stage monitors. One thing to keep in mind with this setup is you won't have control of your stage monitors at the mixer unless you lower the output on your mac, you'll have to use the controls on the stage monitors. This is a downside to this setup, but for straight playback on tracks you know and will run for rehearsals it should not be a deal breaker. After you get the volume set on the monitors you should not have touch it again.

PCDI: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002OKGNK/?tag=controlbooth-20

Monitor speaker: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002OKGNK/?tag=controlbooth-20

Ideally you would replace your mixer. If you did that you would not need the PCDI.

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