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Monitors Underneath the Stage

Discussion in 'Monitoring / Headphones' started by BrianAltenhofel, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. Our church has a small stage - so small that floor wedges are impossible in practical terms. We don't have the budget for IEM's, and I don't like the sight of "hot spot" monitors mounted on mic stands. What I've been thinking about is placing the monitors underneath the stage. Would that be a possibility I should even think about, or do I need to just throw the idea away?
  2. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    FWIW hotspots can also be mounted overhead... Another thing you could do is flushmount hotspots into the front of the stage. Some decent Hotspots are only 8" deep, so they're easy to flush mount.

    Putting them under the stage would probably mean you'd require so much volume that the audience would hear the monitors, which is usually not favorable.

    As a performer, the best case scenario is when the monitors are forward of my ears and either on the floor or overhead. Hotspots are fine. I'll take a good hotspot over a cheap wedge anyday. When I was younger I played in a duo where I used a hotspot mounted to the light truss to monitor my vocals and it worked great. Two cents anyhow.

  3. I know it's too high to mount at the ceiling (35 feet). So are you saying basically do what I was thinking about with wedges, only with the hot spots? I mean, I was thinking about having wedges that we have available from a donor flush mounted to the floor under the stage, with a modified cab so that the sound would be directed toward the stage. (Basically, instead of shooting 90 degrees straight up, shooting at an angle closer to 75-80 degrees or 10-15 degrees, depending on which way you look at it.) Obviously, this can't be done until we move the mains to a more ideal location (whole other story), but this is something I was planning on bringing up today in a meeting with our pastor.
  4. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    No, no no. Ceiling mounted monitors are EVIL! You are going to create a "voice of God" effect.

    1. Hotspots suck!
    2. Monitors do not have the throw and hi-q horns required to be mounted in the air. Monitors are just the opposite. They use lo-q horns for wider dispersion. IF you do consider ceiling mounted monitors, you should consider this.
    3. Floor mounting allows your performers to keep the monitored music/vocals on the side of the mic with the most rejection. Ceiling mounting blows it right in.

    I have installed and worked at churches that installed wedges in/under the stage. I have engineered tours with them as well. It is a good option.
  5. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    That's not true. I've done many gigs with an overhead hotspot and I've done many gigs with floor wedges. Just curious, how many gigs have you actually done with an overhead hotspot before forming that opinion? Because speaking firsthand I can say that you are incorrect. Some overhead hotspots sound very good, some floor wedges are ridiculously bad.

    The comment about the mic rejection is completely wrong. It all depends on what type of mic you use and how it's angled, not on the monitors being on the floor. That's the first time I've ever heard someone suggest that. I found that I was able to use less volume when using the overhead hotspot so it actually had the direct opposite effect for us.

    That all being said, I'm talking 7 feet off the ground, not 35. So it's completely inappropriate here anyhow. :D

    Anyhow this is just my opinion. If you have an opportunity to flush mount full sized wedges into the stage then by all means do that, that's a great solution. I misunderstood the depth of the stage originally. Anyhow that's a fantastic option and it will work fine. I worked with flush mounted floor wedges on a Wedding Hall gig once and they worked great. The angle is going to be important for legibility, try and stay as close to what the manufacturer had intended if possible. But this can also be made to be adjustable too if you have a carpenter who can donate a few hours.

    On one Hall gig I did with flush mount floor wedges they had the wedges flush mounted to a wooden plate which could be rotated left/right and up/down by simply loosening a screw and then shifting it, then re-tightening the screw. Not sure how they pull that off, it appears that they:

    1. Cut a hole in the stage for the monitor assembly.
    2. Mounted the monitor (12" wedge) to a rotating stand (like a lazy susan) then mounted that to a board which had a rod through it horizontally.
    3. Installed boards on either side of the monitor hole to accept the monitor assembly rod.
    4. Lowered the assembly into place and added a screw clamp along the side to hold the monitor in place.

    It seemed to be all cutom made but it was rather simple and very effective. Amongst my favorite venues ever. Perhaps beyond what you need but nonetheless it's a great system which can easily adapt itself optimally to any solo/duo/choir performances. Two cents anyhow. :cool:

    Here's a nice article on getting the most out of floor wedges:
    Probably more info than you want, but not necessarily more than you need :shock:
  6. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    I know they're a bad example, but I remember reading an interview with Limp Bizkit. The guitarist had JC-120's under the stage for monitors, I don't remember if it was just the guitar coming out of them or a full monitor mix.

    In your situation, you don't want to forget the value of good side-fills. They can really help out.

    On the ceiling/arial mounted monitors, you need to get ones that are designed for the job. They have a much narrower dispersion field than regular monitors, but project farther. They don't work well for larger venues, but for small-medium clubs they can be a Godsend, especially if stage real estate is at a premium. The whole "Voice of God" thing is a matter of shitty acoustics, not a problem with the setup. Like any monitor setup, you need to do what you can with the room as well.
  7. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    Exactly. :cool:
  8. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    I am not wrong about rejection. Come to my church and I will demonstrate that with a 35' plus distance, I am correct.

    To answer your question, I would never think of using crap Hotspots for ANY application. There are much better sounding alternatives. They are noisy, limited bandwidth and nearfield. None of those things appeal to me for monitors.

    My room has an RTC60 of 3.5, a Dc of 36". We have EAW AS series boxes for our ceiling mounted stage fills. Since nobody has figured out how to keep bass from bleeding into mics yet, and since the highs and mids are spraying all over the place in this ultra live environment, it is much easier to use multiple monitors, closer to the performers, at a lower volume. There is less VOG happening. I have great Shoeps CM64s. Rejection is above par.

    Since this guy is going to have to buy some hi-q boxes to throw that 35', and since this guy is likely going to have to fire these at a steep angle, I would stand behind the rejection thing.

    You also have to remember that the average church is under 300 people, operates on very limited funds, with the average PA costing under $25k. These are national averages in the US for 85% of the churches. So, they aren't going to have experienced engineers design, build and install their systems, much less operate them. Think Peavey here.
  9. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    Yeah, he said nothing about 35' prior to my post, he only said, "Our church has a small stage ". Then I specifically qualified the statement by adding that I was talking about 7'. :cool:

    Onstage mic rejection is not a quotient of whether the monitors are on the floor or not, it's dependent on what which mic(s) you are using, how they are setup, stage volume, etc. There are definitely good ways to setup hotspots onstage which don't cause problems with the mics, I know this for certain because I have firsthand experience which supports that. My ears are slightly above average and I can tell you they sounded great every single time without any hassles once we ironed the initial bugs out. And they were very convenient. :cool:

    Anyhow I wouldn't take a close minded approach, hotspots definitely have applications. I've seen them onstage with some superb musicians with top notch soundmen... Regardless this is definitely not an appropriate application for hotspots so it's moot.

  10. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member


    I have fallen in love with the idea.

    even on a tight budget wired IEM does have some possibilities. The volume levels in Church may be lower than a rock stage and this does open the door to cheaper Ear Phones. Perhaps not so cheap that they are disposable but there may be an options here none the less.
  11. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    There's just so many challenges with IEM though right now in any type of general public sound reinforcement application, especially if you need to provide (sanitary) monitoring to a largenumber of people in a short amount of time as one typically might in a church.
  12. I would LOVE in-ear monitors. In fact, I would probably make a mess on the console...

    However, we only have a few performers who are comfortable with IEM's. I've taken my personal one (I play guitar in a band, also) to rehearsals and asked nearly all of them to try it during the rehearsal. Unless I could force them to use them, then they are pretty much out of the question.

    And I've never like wired IEM's. I like a clean stage; the only wires I want to see are the ones coming from the microphones.
  13. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    To what do you attribute the resistance Brian?
  14. The performers don't like to adapt very well, I guess. Their biggest complaint is "how different it sounds" on the in-ears. To me, its clearer. Of course, when you're singing, and you're used to singing with something a certain way, you tend to not want to change. Budget is also an issue of resistance.

    If you meant my resistance to wired IEM's, then its the excessive wires on the stage. I feel like it would be a distraction to see a person (or people) with tails on the stage.
  15. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    No I meant the people. Cost is definitely an issue for a lot of people when considering IEMs but I know there are other issues such as fear of change or the fact that IEMs tend to be much more accurate and therefore less forgiving, etc. Also the sharing of the ear buds is an issue.

    No question that IEMs are superior in terms of reference. I like them personally.
  16. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    I can understand some of the people being resistant to IEM's. I had a hard time getting used to them. I loved the idea, and really wanted to use them instead of wedges, but it took me a while to get used to the way they sounded and all that. Very akward at first. If I hadn't understood all the benefits and whatnot, I may not have given them long enough to get used to them.
  17. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    Musicians who have done a lot of studio work seem to take to them quicker than musicians who only play live.
  18. Studio work == more experience with headphones

    So it looks like when we recarpet the auditorium I'll get to drop the monitors under the stage.
  19. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    It alienates the players. Also, on the low end, sound quality is a big issue. After a while you will have to break into ambient mic'ing, limiters for protection, etc. Depending on what system you are using, you can have up to 8 ms of delay from A/D and D/A latency. That is an issue.

    IEMs should not be done unless they can be done correctly. They should also be implemented only after all possible players have consulted an audiologist/physician, had their hearing tested, and custom molds made. Then the players should be educated in hearnig health, proper bud cleaning, ear cleaning, etc.
  20. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Sheet (and this pains me to no end because he has flamed me more than once before!) is 110% correct in his assessment of HotSpots (which,BTW, is a trademarked brand of very specific "little-$*^t" speakers for lounge lizards and the likes), and the CRAZY idea that you ""fly" them overhead!! Whoever recommended you do THAT ( :cool: did NOT take into account that a typical vocal mic is aimed UPWARD approx 45 degrees, putting the "null" spot of the mic 180 degrees opposite that! This means that an overhead speaker (of any size) firing down on the mic (OK, the performers' head) at the mic's "hotspot", NOT at the NULL point(which is aimed more towards the floor)!!! This is simple geometry, not brain surgery( :cool:. I have seen venues such as coffee houses mount monitors up in the ceiling, but in EVERY case, they sounded like crap. The whole system, not just the monitors. When was the last time you saw ANY professional soundstage use monitors that way?
    Very few productions WANT wedges on the floor (for sightline reasons, usually).But that is how they work best, and they concede that issue every time..
    As far as putting them into/under the stage, I have worked many productions that did exactly that. BUT you better be prepared to structurally reinforce the stage where you've cut the openings for them or else there is a very real liability issue if the stage gives way and that 250-pound tenor drops like a sack of concrete. A professional touring stage is made of steel, and those "monitor holes" are actually steel grating to accomodate that: one wrong step and....! I'm surprised that nobody pointed that out, especially given the small size of the stage where that will be a lot more likely...
    IEMs can be a nightmare! Our church tried them (2500-seat auditorium, big-assed soundstage), but we didn't do the thorough prepping that Sheet made clear would be required. Number one, we didn't get the performers tested and fitted as he suggested, and didn't invest in the suggestion (by many others) that we get an Aphex Dominator for each mix. Instead, I was given a PreSonus ACP88, which was lying around (not the same animal), and the results were...And because our sound system management is in the hands of a BASS player and a DRUMMER (!), all they did was bitch that the IEMs had "no bass". I even put a couple of butt-shakers under the bass player and the drummer's throne...not enough.Their attitude was,"We have this $80K+ Midas board, and we still can't hear the bass enough!" Go figure. It was back to the Nexos (which I like).
    Anyway, Brian, I have a pair of these cheesey, gold-metal-flake-naugahyde Kustom 6x8" columns from the 60's. You can place them carefully at each corner of the stage, aim them at the performers, and...!

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