Upside Down Stage Monitors?

Schniapereli

Active Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Location
Provo, Utah, United States
At our local theatre, I noticed that all the stage monitors are upside down. I asked the other techs, and they said they didn't know. They had also asked the techs before them, and those techs didn't know.

I did some searching on google, and found sources saying that the high frequency driver should be closer to the level of your ears, so if the speakers are above you, it is better to turn them upside down.

If this is true, then why only do it to the monitors?
Is this even the reason why this should be done?
Should this even be done?

Thanks
 

Footer

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Nov 24, 2005
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
At our local theatre, I noticed that all the stage monitors are upside down. I asked the other techs, and they said they didn't know. They had also asked the techs before them, and those techs didn't know.
I did some searching on google, and found sources saying that the high frequency driver should be closer to the level of your ears, so if the speakers are above you, it is better to turn them upside down.
If this is true, then why only do it to the monitors?
Is this even the reason why this should be done?
Should this even be done?
Thanks
Well, your best off if the horns of any speaker are pointed more directional. Higher frequency's travel straiter the low frequencies. this is the reason that the horns are usually on top of speakers so if you stack them your better off getting a better dispersion. Also, you never want your horns to be near the ground because you will get some really odd reflections.
 

gafftaper

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Not a big audio pro here... but I've seen main speakers installed upside down in several churchs and theaters. When you think about it, it makes sense because bass is pretty much omnidirectional and can't be aimed very well. While the cone you want pointed at the audience as much as possible as Footer said. Never seen it done with monitors as you are so close I'm not sure why it matters, but in a house install yeah.
 

Peter

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Oct 2, 2004
Location
MA, USA
Yep to everything that's already been said. The monitors (wedges) that I use most often (EAW SM200i) come in a "Right" and "Left" configuration so you can pair two of them with the high drivers centered infront of the performer. (the high driver is beside the low driver in most monitor wedges). This configuration noticably minimizes phasing issues as opposed to having the high drivers opposet eachother. The sound reaches your ears at the same time from both instead of having one more delayed then the other.
 

Eboy87

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May 3, 2004
Location
Chicago, IL
How high up are the wedges? You can help your low frequency response by letting those frequencies couple with a surface. Usually it's the floor, but you can also have them couple with the walls or ceiling (ceiling is very rare, i've never seen it, but it should work in theory).

Now, when you say upside down, do you actually mean the horns were on the bottom and the cones on top? At my theater, we have our side fills that technically are upside down; the RAMSA logo is upside down, yet the 12" driver is on the bottom.
 

TimmyP1955

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Oct 29, 2006
Location
Indianapolis
It all depends on how the phase cancellations are in the crossover region. Turn a speaker sideways, and play music through it. Now slowly walk back and forth, so you transition from "above" the box to "below" the box. You will likely notice that the midrange does not sound equally good everywhere you walk. Often there is a "hole" in the midrange when the woofer is closer to your ears than the horn. This is one of the reasons that speakers might be turned upside down when they are placed high above the listeners' ears.
 

museav

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What speakers were they and what do you mean by "upside down"? Were they single monitors or used in pairs? Floor monitors or flown, such as for side fill?

There are sometimes reasons to hang speakers upside down in sound systems, although there is apparently a lot of confusion as to why this is done. Some of the comments regarding mirror imaging and the relative location of the HF driver probably relate more to stereo near field monitoring applications in studios than they do to live performance systems. Unless the drivers are configured to have the same acoustic center (e.g. a coax design with aligned drivers) then a speaker or array can only be "time aligned" at one point in space and relative timing between drivers will differ if you are not directly on whatever the manufacturer considers to be both the vertical and horizontal axis of the speaker. This is relevant to most studio environments with a defined listener position and nearfield monitors, but I doubt that the slight differences in the 'sweet spot' or imaging that would result from flipping the speakers are really that much of an issue in many stage monitor applications, especially if mono monitors.

On the simplest level, some floor monitors have different slopes on each side of the box to allow for it to provide different angles, so it may simply have been done to get the desired up angle. There are also speakers with asymmetrical patterns where some specific applications work better with the speakers flipped.

For theater and stage systems a speaker may be mounted upside down in order to get the LF driver closer to the ceiling to prevent combfiltering from undesired reflections off the ceiling. In other situations it can be just getting the HF coverage to clear a physical obstacle (light, duct, sprinkler head, etc.) that would interfere if the speaker were hung in the 'standard' orientation.

Some manufacturers also use inverted speakers to address arrays. I know of at least one manufacturer that recommends turning the center box upside down in a three wide array of some of their speakers in order to obtain the smoothest response as an array.
 

Schniapereli

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Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Location
Provo, Utah, United States
They are these speakers, or some speakers like them. They have them set up like this in both an inside and outside theatre.

On the inside theatre, the speakers are on little shelves about 8 feet up the proscenium walls, and in the outdoor theatre, they are on towers. (both pairs are upside down)

Here is a picture of the outside theatre, but I have none for the inside.


The house speakers here are JBL SR700 series, and are not upside down.

So, in both cases, the speakers are not close to any ceilings or floors.
 

museav

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Those actually look a lot more like delayed fills than they do stage monitors. In that case, there's no inherently obvious reason for them being upside down, but it may be to get better HF (the horn pattern falls apart below around 1,500Hz) coverage of specific audience areas or to try to compensate for having limited down angle adjustment. If they work well with them upside down, then there's no reason to do differently, but there may also not be much real logic behind their being mounted upside down beyond simply that was how it was done.
 

Schniapereli

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Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Location
Provo, Utah, United States
sorry, the picture was just meant to show you the towers, not the actual stage monitor speakers. The little EV speakers are hidden in the picture from our JBL SR4732 speakers that you see there.
I didn't know if that picture would help at all, if it gave you the idea of maybe some other reason.

Oh well...

I guess the speakers are just like that, and there is no reason to change them.
 

Schniapereli

Active Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Location
Provo, Utah, United States
I did, but he didn't know, and he asked the tech before him, and she didn't know. At that place, techs aren't too good at passing down information. Nobody can tell what's broken, and what's not because everything is unmarked. (and almost everything is broken) It's typical there for techs to do things, and not explain why, and just leave it there for people to wonder about 10 years later.
(I'm trying to change that, now that I just started working there)