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Stage Monitors - Musical Theatre

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by jamesmiller, May 20, 2009.

  1. jamesmiller

    jamesmiller Member

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    In the community theater where I came from, we did'nt really use microphones for any of the cast or orchestra, so no monitors were required.

    Now that I'm doing the tour for A Little Princess, which will make use of 18 wireless mics and all of the 5 piece orchestra mic'ed, how should I go about stage monitors?

    Are there any placement tips? What should and should not be in the monitor mix, should monitors even be used?

    Thanks,
    James
     
  2. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I have always taken the approach of less is more in theatrical monitors. As a whole, I have found most people use smaller monitors in general for musicals. Monitors on stage for actors regularly only have piano and just a bit of snare or hi hat to help keep time; no vocals at all. Putting vocals in stage monitors while using lav mics creates a situation that is difficult to win.

    As for the pit, often times it is just the conductor who needs a bit of vocals in a small monitor so they can hear the actors. Of course, you should approach every show differently, as no two shows and no two venues are the same. Shows with more electronic instruments may need more monitors. Shows that have the pit in a remote location will certainly need additional monitors.

    I have had great success placing 4 smaller monitors from side boom positions on stage, 2 stage left (one upstage and one downstage) and 2 mirrored stage right. I have also had success using personal monitoring systems, like the Aviom or similar headphone based systems in pits that require a lot of monitors. Again, every show and every venue is different. Less is more though, since the board op has so much else going on.

    Some nice small monitors are the Galaxy hotspots (see link below). They are great for the pit in many applications

    ~Dave

    Galaxy Audio
     
    jamesmiller and (deleted member) like this.
  3. gpforet

    gpforet Active Member

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    Something to keep in mind is latency in your signal chain. If I running through lots of a/d-d/a and in-line processing, the latency is often too much to get a usable monitor send. I have at time resorted to splitting the piano and drum signals and sending a tap straight to an analog monitor send.

    I typical monitor the stage based on the arrangement of the orchestra and the blocking. The last several shows have had the orchestra far, far, upstage (essentially backstage), and the actors had no problem hearing the piano/kick when they were upstage, so I only needed to give them some piano/kick monitors downstage. I do provide the musical director with a separate mix from all the wireless, but this is usually turned way down just so she can hear cues. I also provide the musical director with an infrared camera feed so she can see the actors move to position when the stage is in black.
     
  4. jamesmiller

    jamesmiller Member

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    The musical director has demanded that he receive a wireless ear-in monitor... so that's taken care of :rolleyes:

    I'm very strict on my pit placement... Front of stage. As for music, the score calls for (1) Flute, (1) Bass (1) Percussion and (1) Piano. So its a very basic orchestra.

    That's what I was thinking... Running a monitor or two on each wing of the stage.

    Our staging is pretty standard... No "unit" sets, all backdrops hung horizontal to the stage by battens.

    I was thinking about running a separate monitor mix board SL or SR, which can be mixed separate from FOH via our backstage audio engineer (audio assistant), who will backstage by the wireless mic system anyway and offer assistance with belt-packs, etc.
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Where does he think he's going that he needs wireless ears?

    (Sorry for the hijack!) I don't recall seeing a house piano specified on any of your riders in this thread: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/11290-lighting-tour-2.html, so you must be bringing it and arranging for tuning yourself?
     
  6. jamesmiller

    jamesmiller Member

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    I'm actually updating the rider to be more specific. We will be traveling with our own Keyboard I / Piano. Digital all the way man ;)

    As to the musical director, I don't know. That was his demand to me. Personally, I'd say find someone who does not demand things... But I don't hire the chief crew :rolleyes: I was told to accommodate him, so...
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2009
  7. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    Is there a possibility of convincing the conductor to wear wired in-ears? I don't see the need to add another channel of wireless on top of your lavs. Just a thought. And I'd be leary of having the A2 mixing monitor sends. They shouldn't have to change at all during the performance, and if it's a complex show, he/she might have enough on their plate keeping the wireless up and running, etc.

    Food for thought (I'm hungry).
     
  8. jamesmiller

    jamesmiller Member

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    He may be getting this anyway :lol:
    The wireless in-ear system seems to be a waste of money for a conductor. He is not moving during the show, therefore, being wired should NOT be a problem.

    I'll run the option by him at the next rehearsal, and see if I can convince him of this. If not, then I'm going to corporate and have them give me either a "Yes, accommodate him" or "No, just give him wired. He'll have to like it".
     
  9. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    For the stage monitors, if you have your own trusses to hang lights & mains, I've just seen the stage monitors hung from the same trusses, 1 or 2 on each side. For a travelling show I imagine you want consistency.

    For conductor and other monitors, I've seen the Anchor AN-1000x used consistently. Great little monitor ... like a Galaxy but maybe louder/clearer, and therefore the professionals' choice? Anyway, giving the conductor his/her own monitor and bass/treble volume controls is probably very useful. I own three of these and I've used them for smaller bands (pianist, harpist, bassist) and the musicians loved it. And, if you don't have trussses to hang the stage monitors, you could pretty much place the Anchor's on the downstage floor and it won't obstruct audience view much at all.
     
  10. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Not trying to start a debate as both are good products, but the Hot Spot HSVC is rated at 200 watts, and the Anchor you mention is only rated at 50. So louder? I do not know about that. Plus Abe Jacobs (one of the fathers of sound design in theatre) uses the Hot Spots regularly (including his most recent design of Hair). To say they are not "the professionals' choice" is interesting.

    ~Dave
     
  11. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    That's why I put a question mark on that statement ... wasn't sure. The only two large houses where I saw conductor monitors used, had the Anchors. Yes I imagine the Galaxy, or TC Helicon VSM300 would work just as well ...

    The point was, as you suggested also, that a personal monitor is often preferred over in-ear monitors ... probably depends on the person ...
     
  12. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    [QUOTE=jkowtko;132858 The point was, as you suggested also, that a personal monitor is often preferred over in-ear monitors.[/QUOTE]

    That I would agree with 100%. I would find it odd that a conductor would not want to be able to hear the natural sound of the pit / show. I would think IEM's would limit a conductor in general since they are not hearing the true balance of the music.

    ~Dave
     

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