Monitor Pain

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Robert F Jarvis, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. Robert F Jarvis

    Robert F Jarvis Active Member

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    We have a large stage in our community theater with monitor outlets at three places along the apron. Also two high up on pillars either side and a 'spare' backstage for an offstage singers monitor etc. I've worked several shows and ALWAYS get hassled about monitors when we have group of singers on stage. The apron situation gets complaints from audience members sitting near them because they hear a lot of background music and not the singers (coming out of the main speakers high above them).
    We hung some monitors from a bar to point down at the singers and it sounded good to us but now they complain of 'lag' (?) fuzziness and so on. I know other techs on other shows get the same complaints and we're always trying to find a solution to keep the BG music from the audience but ensuring all singer in the pack get the sound they need.
    Phew. Do other folks have these problems.
     
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  2. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Sounds like you need front fills to boost vocal clarity in the front rows.

    Not sure hanging the speakers will net you any significant improvements since you’ll still get off-axis bleed into the front rows and you probably need to turn the speakers up 6-10dB louder to compensate for them being farther from your performers.

    Remember sound is slow in air, much much slower than light. ~1160 ft/sec depending on temperature. If you have those monitors ~20’ up/away, that’s essentially sticking 20ms of latency between the output of the speaker and the performers’ ears, which is definitely perceptible.
     
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  3. DrewE

    DrewE Active Member

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    Perhaps getting some monitor speakers with better directivity would also help. Many smaller and/or lower end speakers aren't all that directional but bleed sound in all directions--particularly at the lower frequencies.

    Keeping stage volume as low as practically possible helps a whole lot with monitor annoyances in general. Particularly with music groups there's a natural tendency for the requests to be nearly all along the lines of "a little more x, please" and when those get piled on top of each other the overall volume keeps creeping up. It certainly doesn't help that not a few musicians have some degree of hearing loss.
     
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  4. Robert F Jarvis

    Robert F Jarvis Active Member

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    Very interesting. The apron placement seems most acceptable but for drowning out the singers in the front rows. The 'filler' speakers FOH make tremendous sense. I didn't think the people who designed and installed the system were too savvy anyway. They hung both UHF antenna paddles vertically and could not/would not understand the need to place them at 90 degrees. Thank you for the input. I'm thinking of using the apron but placing some speakers in opposite (to audience) direction with singers for this show
    Don't have time ability to hang any big stuff permanently.
     
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  5. Robert F Jarvis

    Robert F Jarvis Active Member

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    Amen to bands being deaf. Fortunately we have mainly a young cast prancing around. I can't buy more directive speaker at this stage but see my earlier reply. I'll put those monitors up close to close the air gap (latency) your describe but try to fill in the front few rows with a temporary solution. These forums are totally magnificent.
     
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  6. BCAP

    BCAP Active Member

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    I've seen a number of new theater installations with "lip fill" front fill PA speakers that address the front couple rows of audience members but they are low, like stage floor height or lower.

    Doesn't address all of your concerns but it might at least address the audience comments, especially if you can put the lip fills on a matrix out or something that only gets sung and spoken dialogue.

    The ones I saw most recently were EAW UB82e's mounted horizontally. They didn't sound too bad. Many folks on this board have vastly more experience than I do with speaker installation and could probably recommend some really excellent models to look at.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  7. BCAP

    BCAP Active Member

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    ^^ yes ^^

    When I am using a digital mixer with tablet remote during tech week I'm up there at least once every rehearsal checking monitor levels for b/g music to make sure they aren't too loud. In a large theater I find it's sometimes hard to get a sense for the actual level on stage when I am 50-100-150 feet away at mix position. 9 times out of 10 actors seem to be happy with slightly lower levels than I thought they needed.

    Do you have an orchestra pit in front of / below the stage? I attended one show recently where the piano player's floor wedge was quite loud and you could hear it from onstage and the audience. I personally also find it challenging to reduce bleed in that situation. Sometimes the musicians in the pit don't want to dial their monitors down, and the sound from the actor's position is a combination of 2 signals, signals from the pit that are in the actor's floor wedge mix (which should be mostly instantaneous) and then the bleed from the pit which may be slightly delayed depending on the distance.
     
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  8. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    Biggest thing I've encountered with stage monitors on stage are people using standard wedges. They're designed to sit at an angle assuming a performer is standing 1 to a few feet away but not meant to cover a stage that's 20-50 feet deep. Also, monitors/ wedges commonly are a 12" or 15" with a horn, assuming you need to hear the full range of bass, drums, guitars, keyboards and vocals.
    In theatre, I commonly use smaller speakers. Meyer UPMs, JBL CBT50 LAs, even JBL Control 25s. You can easily rig them to be at a shallow angle and properly hit the performers on stage and not the 1st electric overhead.
     
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  9. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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    Ah, the big snip before hitting "post reply..."

    If the performer needs monitoring to get only pitch cues the speaker can be almost anywhere; if it's needed for timing and rhythm cues, distance between performer and loudspeaker become an issue as there is about 1ms of time delay for every foot of distance. Most of us can discern a <25ms delay as "sounding funny" and usually perceive a distinct secondary arrival at around 30ms. A local opera company has flown monitor loudspeakers roughly 30ft over mid stage, and considering the way the pit is mic'd up, introduces a total latency from mic to loudspeaker to singer's ear of 35ms-48ms. The singers want the monitors louder so they'll perceive the monitors being as loud as the orchestra in the pit. The unamplified orchestra sound is "closer" to the performer and they claim they can't hear the monitors (which I can plainly hear at FOH).

    The Haas Precedence Effect is not about sound localization (in spite of years of being misrepresented as doing so) but about the amount of SPL increase needed for a later-arriving (but equal loudness) sound to be perceived as being equal in loudness to an identical, but earlier-arriving, sound. It's a loosing battle with the opera folks (I don't tell them how to sing, in spite of being formally trained in such things but they've no problem telling me how to deploy and operate audio). It's easier on my constitution to let them screw up their own show, smile and cash the cheque.
     
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  10. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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    Now to the other point- front fills.

    Front fills do 2 things: they fill in the gap between the apron and where the main PA coverage begins, and they can be used to "pull down" the sonic image so there is less perception of the program audio coming from above the audience in the PA hangs. This is where we get to use the Haas Effect in a way Herr Doctor wasn't trying to prove...

    There should be plenty of WWW reading enjoyment on the use of front fills so I'll leave this for y'all to google up.
     
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