PA Training Monitoring/Foldback
Ian Winter 2009
Whilst we’ve covered the front of house amplification and front of house speakers (sometimes referred to collectively as F.O.H.), most performers will want to hear themselves. Whether it is because they need a monitor for an audio reference to timing or pitch, or they like the sound of their own voice or playing style… there are a lot of monitoring (sometimes termed as foldback) options on the current market ranging from under £100 to well over £1000 and they include a multitude of shapes and sizes. These options could range from; 10”, 12”, 15” Powered (Active) Wedge Monitor 10”, 12”, 15” Passive Wedge Monitor Personal Monitoring (used on microphone stand) In Ear Monitoring (IEM) Stage Fill (Side Fill) Monitoring Drum Stool Monitoring Instrument Backline Whichever option you choose there are a few rules to adhere to if you want to succeed in getting the optimum sound… The main rule is that you choose the correct option for the application you need! As with any PA product whether it be a microphone, amplifier, signal processor, or speaker, if you buy the wrong product, you will deteriorate the sound more than improve it, but more so in the case of the monitor, as if the performer selects the incorrect product, the sound will not be easily heard, and therefore they will change the way to which they perform, either in level or in tone which will also alter the output from the FOH.
Before I discuss the different types of monitoring products there are, it would be a good idea to tell you how to plug them in… because whichever type you use, it’s the same method. As with front of house speakers, you need three components to get a sound out at the end of the process…mixer, amplifier and speaker. Without one of these items in the signal path, you simply won’t hear anything. You may ask how IEM’s (in ear monitors) work when they haven’t got speakers or an amplifier??? Well, in fact they do! The earphone is the speaker as it has a diaphragm that moves to create sound (in exactly the same way as a speaker, only smaller). As for the amplifier, all headphones or earphones require an amplifier to power them, this is normally in the way of a preamp in the circuitry just before the headphone output jack on the unit. In the case of the IEM system, the preamp is in the receiver pack just before the earphone output. For the following information regarding where to connect the monitor to the mixing desk, I will assume the user is using a powered stage monitor for ease of describing as everything is in one box. This information is correct for which ever type of monitor you will use, although the connections between the mixing desk and speaker will increase or decrease depending upon the type of monitor. When connecting your monitor to your mixing desk, you should always use the Aux (auxiliary) output. The reason for this is so that you can have whatever mix you want from the instruments that are being input into the mixing desk… this mix may be completely different to the signal that is being sent to the front of house speakers. For example, for the front of house mix you want all instruments pretty much equal with the vocals higher in the mix, whereas the keyboard player may want to hear all of the instruments and other vocals at a low level, and his keyboards and his vocals much higher in the mix. By mixing from an auxiliary the user can select this mix by way of increasing the aux control on the channels he wishes to listen to. By using an auxiliary output and because you have the ability to mix exactly what you want through it and nothing more, then you also reduce the risk of feedback through your monitor.
Feedback is common when you link your monitor to the front of house speakers, as you will reduce the headroom you have on the instruments or microphones you wish to hear, and therefore induce feedback. You can have as many people listening to the same aux mix if you wish, as long as you are able to link the monitors together (see monitor breakdowns below), however the number of separate mixes available will be limited to the number of auxiliaries the mixer can provide. For example, a mixer may have 4 auxiliaries, so you could, if you weren’t using any external effects processors (which also require an auxiliary) have four separate mix outputs for monitors. Please note, some mixing desks have a set number of auxiliaries but also have internal effects which will require the use one auxiliary. The following illustration (fig.1) shows four channels of a mixing desk with a typical monitor setup (the inputs and EQ sections have been omitted so not to confuse image). There are three auxiliaries available on this mixing desk, however one is labeled ‘FX’ as this auxiliary is used purely for the internal effects unit. Fig.1: Auxiliary Setup Note the mix from ‘Aux1’ has much more Vox 1 and Guitar than Vox 2 and keyboard, whilst ‘Aux2’ is the opposite, having much more Keyboards and Vox 2 than the other instruments. This shows how using multiple auxiliaries for multiple monitor feeds works.
On some mixing desks you will see a button near the auxiliary controls that states ‘pre/post’. This is an abbreviation of pre‐fade, or post‐fade. This literally selects whether the signal that is being sent from the auxiliary is sent pre‐fade (before the fader), or post‐fade (after the fader). It is useful, when using an auxiliary for an effects processor, to select post‐fade so that the signal sent to the effects processor will increase or decrease when you turn the fader up on that particular channel. This would be in‐effective when using foldback monitors as you could get everything set as you like it, and then have to turn up one channel in the front of house mix (on the fader), this would also increase the volume on the monitor thus wasting all the time you’ve spent setting it up to your liking! So for monitors (whatever the type), you should always use pre‐fade. On some mixing desks, the auxiliaries are preset, on some you have a global button which will set pre/post fade on all channels on that particular auxiliary, and finally on some mixers (normally the higher end of the market) you can make the selection per auxiliary per channel. In larger venues you may often see a second mixing desk at the side of the stage… this isn’t because the band have so much money they can afford two, or indeed because they use so many channels they have to use two mixers! The reason for this second mixer at the side of the stage is so that the band can have an engineer purely dedicated to mixing the monitors, leaving the front of house engineer to deal with the front of house sound instead of keeping his eyes on the performers incase they want their monitor mix changed. It is also a lot more conspicuous to signal to an engineer at the side of the stage, who is paid to watch out for these signals, rather than attempt to catch the attention of the front of house engineer, who by that point will most likely be onto his fourteenth pint of lager so he cannot see you anyway! It is worth knowing how this monitor fits into the signal path. There are two main ways of setting up this system… the first method requires a stage box with link outputs on it, or a Direct Injection (D.I.) box for each input. The main front of house mixer would take the direct balanced feed from the Direct injection box, and the monitor mixer would get a link from the D.I. box. When using this method the user is able to use any mixing desk, i.e. no special form of mixing desk is required, as long as the mixing desk has enough inputs to take all on the input signals, and enough auxiliaries to provide the amount of monitor mixes required Fig.2: On Stage Monitor Mix, Method 1 * For ease of illustration I have described a single channel DI box. Although this method is straight forward to undertake, if you use 24‐channels on a mixing desk you aren’t going to the best friend of the guy who has to pack up twenty‐four DI boxes, and three times that amount of cables… which by the end of the night are guaranteed to have formed what’s termed in the trade as a ‘Rat’s Nest’!
The second method, which is much more roadie friendly, requires buying a mixing desk that is designed for the job, such as the Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ3:12M. By using this method, you can throw away the twenty‐four direct injection boxes and twenty‐four of the cables that go with them! This specially designed monitor mixer has more auxiliary outputs, for more monitor channels, and balanced D.I. outputs for each input channel. Fig. 3 shown below, is a simplified illustration of what a purpose built monitor mixer offers in the way of inputs and outputs, and it also illustrated the signal path from source to Front of House mixing console. Fig.3: On Stage Monitor Mix, Method 2 As you can see this is a much neater way of creating the signal path from Source > Monitor Mixer > Front of House Mixer. One of the negative issues with this type of setup is that every signal, although not affected in anyway by the monitor mixer, is routed through inputs and outputs attached to the monitor mixer, therefore if the engineer was to have any problems with this mixer, it could cause interference, noise, or loss of signal to the Front of House mixing console, which wouldn’t look good half way through a performance. If you were to re‐look at method one, and look at the signal path, even if something went wrong, mid performance, with the monitor mixing desk, then the signal to the front of house mixing desk wouldn’t be affected either in interference, noise, or loss of signal. It is more common to see engineers using the second method illustrated, as the equipment is in most cases more reliable than the roadie that plugged the DI boxes in. * A quick note on specific monitor mixing consoles Effectively Monitor mixing consoles do the same job as front of house mixing consoles… they take a source signal and process it though an output. However, on first glance a monitor mixer may confuse you a little, especially if you are used to the layout of a front of house mixing desks. If you were to look quickly at the back of the mixer, where all of the inputs and outputs are located, you would think it is the same as every other mixer… and it almost is! If you look a little closer, you will see that there are a lot more outputs on the fascia than on a normal mixing desk… this is to accommodate more auxiliary outputs for multiple monitor mixes. You also have more direct outputs, sometimes termed ‘split’ outputs because
of their process on the signal path, which allow a direct feed to be taken to the front of house mixing console, as earlier described. There are a few other differences you will note, however these two are the most important differences, and other dissimilarities between monitor mixers and front of house mixers differ from model to model depending on the extra functionality required. As an example, the below image is the rear of the Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ3:12M. This shows the extra outputs for the monitor mixes and the split (D.I.) outputs to link to the FOH mixer. The following is the top view of the Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ3:12M which shows the extent of rotary controllers versus lack of fader controllers. Note the groups of two colored rotary controls as you look down the mixer from top to bottom… these are simply color coded in stereo pairs for ease of navigation.
So, now we know where to plug the monitor into, and we know how to get the sound we want, we’ll talk about the options available! 10”, 12”, 15” Powered (Active) Wedge Monitor Because most performers have to start somewhere, powered wedge monitors, named ‘wedge’ monitors due to the shape and angle that they project the sound, are the most popular. As already established in the PA speaker training section, a powered speaker is a speaker which has the power amplifier built in and therefore no requirement for an external amplifier. Powered monitors are exactly the same in design, however there are generally a few differences which stand them apart. The difference is the most obvious one, the shape (although some manufacturers are now designing powered FOH speakers to have an angled back so that they can double up as stage monitors). Wedge, or stage, monitors are designed to be similar to a door wedge in shape… this is so that they sit on the floor in front of the performer and direct the sound diagonally upwards as opposed to straight out like a conventional speaker. Fig.4: Dispersion of sound from wedge monitor By having this upward diagonal projection, it enables the user to hear the sound without it coloring the front of house sound, and by limiting spill to other performers in the same area. The down side to this is that if you have a performer who is liable to move around the stage, he/she will often walk out of the projected sound from the monitor giving ‘dead spots’ on the stage. To get around this, the performer has a few options… the easiest of which would be In Ear Monitoring which I’ll go into later in this document, or they could add more monitors. By adding more monitors, you then have choices… if things weren’t getting complicated enough! If the problem is the level isn’t high enough (i.e. not loud enough), the performer could add more powered monitors, thus increasing the power or doubling the output if a duplicate monitor was used (providing the monitor in question had the relevant output to link). If the issue was not the output power, but more the direction and coverage of the monitor, the user could add a passive monitor (see next section for more information). Adding a passive monitor wouldn’t double the power but would increase the total output due to impedances (as discussed in the speaker and amplifier training). This would be providing the powered monitor had the correct output to power an external monitor. By doing this the amplifier in the powered monitor would see both internal and external speakers and lower the impedance therefore give more total power when added. For example the
Carlsbro PM10 (powered monitor) alone will give 100watts output, at 8ohms, however when attached to the Carlsbro EM10 (passive monitor), the amplifier will lower the impedance to 4ohms and provide a total power output of 150watts, giving 75watts per speaker. Powered wedge monitors come with differing sized speakers inside, and each one sounds better for different jobs. As a rule of thumb; 8” monitors work well for close monitoring of vocals or acoustic instruments. 10” monitors are great for vocals, acoustic instruments and compressed sound (i.e. keyboards, backing tracks etc) 12” monitors will give more depth than a 10”, so electric guitars could be added. 15” monitors are better when including heavier bass frequencies such as bass guitar or kick drum. Most drummers would prefer a 15” speaker for monitoring their drums. 10”, 12”, 15” Passive Wedge Monitor
Passive wedge monitors are manufactured in exactly the same way as their powered relations, however they don’t include the power amp. Much in the same way as you need an external power amplifier to use along side a passive pa speaker, you also require an external amplification source when using along side a passive stage monitor. As mentioned above, passive stage monitors can be linked to powered monitors to form a greater field of sound and a higher output. The benefit of using a passive monitor is that it is lighter than a powered one, so as long as you have the amplification source to power, either by powered monitor or power amplifier, then you can save your (or your roadies!) back. For instance, if the ‘front‐man’ of the band jumps about all over the place, and he requires a large area covered by his monitors (see following Fig.5), by using one stereo power amplifier and eight monitors (at 8ohms each), you could run your amplifier at 2ohms, therefore you, or your roadie, would be carrying one power amplifier with eight lighter, passive monitors… as opposed to eight heavier powered monitors. The majority of larger venues and sound tour/hire companies will prefer this method, as they will always be able to rig another monitor line up from available stock. Fig.5: Multiple monitor setup
Personal Monitoring (used on microphone stand)
Personal monitoring can be found in many applications, and can consist of a powered, passive monitor, or earphone/headphone preamp. A personal monitor is, in most instances, just a smaller unit or a unit with a smaller sound projection field which can be mounted on a microphone or music stand. There are a few manufacturers now designing this type of monitor for a wider consumer audience, including manufacturers such as Mackie, TC Electronic, Shure etc. In essence the personal monitor is a unit which takes up less room and gives less (or a more personal) output, therefore they are generally found in higher numbers on stage, such as an orchestra or on a stage where there is one monitor per performer. The advantage of using a personal monitor, as well as size and weight, is that the sound on stage is quieter and therefore much more accessible to an individuals ear. Most monitor systems of this type will simply deal with a single signal from the auxiliary on the mixing desk as previously explained and in the same way as the powered wedge monitor, and there are passive personal monitors that are available to run from a power amplifier or powered version. The below shows how the sound is dispersed from the monitor. Fig.6: Personal Monitoring sound dispersion * Note how the monitor can be angled upwards if you are standing and singing, or angled at a 90° angle if the performer is sitting and not singing. In both cases there is mounting points to fit a microphone stand.
In some cases, such as an orchestra, it is best to keep the stage sound as acoustic as possible, in which case you could get a personal monitor mixer such as the Stage Buddy system or the Shure P4m. This type of system comprises of a box with a pre‐amp inside, so that earphones can be used instead of a speaker to protect from sound spillage onto the microphones or pickups (in the case of an orchestra). Some systems allow the user to have a control over the mix in their earphones, whilst other systems allow the user to mix their own sound.
In Ear Monitoring (IEM)
In ear monitoring systems are fast becoming the most popular form of stage monitoring. There are a lot of reasons for the IEM system being the more popular route to take, and most of these reasons are on a personal level for the particular performer, however the main advantages would be: portability, weight, the ability to listen at lower levels, clarity of sound. There are some disadvantages of an In Ear Monitoring System which include, needing an endless supply of batteries (depending upon usage), isolation on stage, and discomfort of earphones. The latter two disadvantages can be remedied by either simply getting used to the system, buying higher quality (and more comfortable) earphones, or including a FOH mix in the final monitor mix through the earphones. You will see a lot of performers using only one earphone, the reason for this is so they still get that ‘live’ feel and sound from the ambient stage sound… this can help a performer play and perform better as a result. In Ear Monitoring works in the same was as a powered monitor however there is no cable to stretch across the stage. The transmitter is normally located next to or near to the mixing desk that is providing the monitor feed. From there the signal is sent across the stage via radio to the receiver which is normally in the form of a beltpack unit. The performer’s earphones are plugged into the receiver beltpack, and are powered by the earphone pre‐amp inside the receiver. The output volume can normally be set on the receiver pack by the user, and therefore turned up or down throughout the performance with little effort. Using an In Ear Monitoring system also allows the performer to move about, within the constraints of the system’s range, without dropout. It also means the performer will have more space on stage due to the lack of on stage wedge monitors. It is also useful to know that one transmitter can be used with multiple receivers (as long as they’re on the same frequency), so that more than one user can listen to the same mix. Some systems can be split from one stereo signal, to two mono signals, meaning two people can listen to different mixes whilst transmitting on the same frequency. Please note, all transmitters used must be done so on different radio frequencies (or channels) otherwise dropout, distortion or other problems could occur. Another addition to certain IEM systems such as the Sennheiser IEM300 G2, is output limiter. This function will protect the users ears from ‘spikes’ of sound which would normally cause damage to the ear. The limiter works in the same way as an outboard limiter, however the level at which the output is limited to is usually preset in the pack to a level which will not allow any excessive and damaging decibel levels through to the earphones. All In Ear Monitoring systems offer the same basic function, and that is to have a personal and portable wireless, monitoring system, however the more you pay for the system (in most cases!) the more you get. Things to look out for when buying a system would be: build quality, range, battery life, earphone quality and comfort, additional features such as frequency agile, number of systems simultaneously available, limiting, digital signal lock etc. Some of the systems that are currently on the market (in rough order of price, build quality and functionality) are; dB Technologies IEM600 dB Technologies IEM1100N Shure PSM200 Audio Technica M2 Shure PSM400 Audio Technica M3 AKG IVM4 Sennheiser IEM300 G2 Shure PSM700
Stage Fill (Side Fill)
On larger stages and more professional events you will often find a full pa system on the stage with one stack at each side of the stage pointing in… this isn’t to give an individual monitor mix, as individual monitors will also be used, more so it is used to give the performer an idea of the overall mix so that they don’t feel isolated. This type of monitoring system is often termed as a ‘Stage Fill’ or ‘Side Fill’. Stage fills are extremely effective when they are being used on a large or open stage where the sound cannot just bounce around and cause feedback etc. Despite many users believing the opposite… the quieter the stage is the easier it is to hear yourself… simply because your ears and brain can only determine so much sound before it just sounds like a mess! The common misconception of a side fill is that it is purely a copy of the front of house mix pumped through some speakers to make the stage sound fuller. The resulting factor is just more onstage volume, more bleed through the microphones, and the performers playing louder as they can’t hear themselves! Essentially a side fill system is there to achieve a fuller on stage sound, but it is important to understand how to effectively get this sound so that the above problems aren’t introduced. There are various names for this type of system, including Stage Fill, Side Fill, Cross Stage Monitoring, but the one which “does what it says on the tin” is Reverse Stereo Cross Stage Mix (or REV X‐Stage Mix). This name when broken down begins to make more sense. ‘Mix’ describes a stage sound mix, ‘Cross Stage’ describes where the output signal is being dispersed to, ‘Stereo’ describes the mix as a L+R (left + right) stereo mix as opposed to a dual mono mix, and finally ‘Reverse’ described the signal which is to be sent to which channel (Left or Right). It would make sense that a guitarist can hear their own guitar, and a bass played can hear his own bass etc, so why would they want to hear more of it?? OK, in the case of the guitarist, it’s because this is the way they are bred and if their ears aren’t bleeding then something is definitely wrong!! But In reality they wouldn’t want to hear more, because they’ve most likely spent a lifetime creating their perfect sound through their own backline. If this is true, it would make sense that the performers at stage left would only need to hear more of the instruments from stage right and vise versa. By sending the signal from the instruments between Stage Centre and Stage Left to the right channel fill, and vise versa, there should be a better onstage mix achieved without increasing the whole onstage volume level. The following diagram visually shows what the mix should be and where the name REV X‐Stage Mix is derived from. Fig.7: Reverse Stereo Cross Stage Mix
Drum Stool Monitoring Drum stool monitoring designed as a sensory monitor for the drummer to feel. When playing the drums, as most musicians will tell you, the drums are very much audible on stage (until the guitarist arrives that is!), but from the drummer’s point of view, not all parts of the drum kit are audible from his seating position. Due to the nature of the kick drum the sound is produced from the front of the drum, the opposite site to which the beater hits (fig.8). Fig.8: Kick Drum Projection As this is the only drum that is not easily audible to the drummer, it would help him to keep time if he could at least feel this kick drum when he hits it. There are a few differing designs of the following unit, but the most popular of them is called the ‘ButtKicker’. This unit is a low frequency transducer which fixes onto the underside of the drum stool. It is designed primarily to move ‘structure’ as opposed to moving ‘air’, giving a much more direct perception of sound. As in the case of the other monitors we have already covered, an audio feed is taken from the drummer’s monitor channel and the low frequencies can be felt through the drum stool when he uses his kick drum. Earlier in the PA training, when discussing speakers, we covered the reasons why you wouldn’t want to put a kick drum or too much low signal though a small speaker as the speaker isn’t designed for these low frequencies. Because the ButtKicker (other similar products will produce similar signals) produces a frequency range of 5Hz‐200Hz, it can take the strain of the bottom end from the stage monitor. The advantage of this, if used correctly, is that you can get away with using a smaller stage monitor or in ear monitoring system without risk of producing distortion or damaging the unit. Because of the design of the Drum Stool monitoring system, it can be used in a variety of locations, as long as it is fixed to a stool or seat, for example a keyboard player, sitting bass player, standing musician (although a slightly different fixture is required), DJ, or even in the home as part of your home Hi‐fi system… although a slightly smaller less powerful model is manufactured and recommended! The below images show the design of the Drum Stool monitor (fig.9), and how it is fixed to the stool (fig.10) Fig. 9: Drum Stool Monitor Fig. 10: Fixed Monitor
Instrument Backline is simply the term used for an instrument’s amplifier, and one that is specifically selected to provide the sound of a particular instrument, for example, a guitarist could have a ‘backline’ of Marshall cabs and heads, whilst the bass player’s backline may consist of a Hartke bass combo. Back line is more so associated with bass and guitar than brass, strings, keyboards, drums or vocals, as the sound created by the backline used colors the sound of the instrument to the user’s preference. It is a common complaint when backline is being used that the on stage sound is too loud… this is generally down to one thing… competition! What tends to happen is that the bass played will turn up so that he can hear his bass guitar over the acoustic drum sound (which is approximately 200‐250watts), this then leads the guitarist to turn up a little louder so that he can hear himself over the bass guitar and drums. The bass player will then turn up again and so‐forth… The correct way to use and design a backline setup is to use less volume and more directivity. In the below illustration (fig.11), the bass sound and guitar sound will overlap, meaning you will end up with a battle of volumes. To resolve this, you simply need to place the backline in the correct place facing in the correct direction (as shown in fig.12). Fig. 11: Problematic Backline Setup Fig. 12: Correct Backline Setup
Another way to achieve a better balance is to place the backline amplifier nearer to the musician and therefore use a lower volume. Remember, as in the above images, the performers are using vocal microphones, so any backline amplifier that is pointing directly at the microphone will be picked up and therefore will only cause more problems down the signal path. The easiest and best way to get around this is to angle the speaker cabinet upwards and point behind the singer’s head… this way it will still be heard however the signal is not being introduced directly into the vocal microphone. Another way to prevent this ‘overspill’ is to have the speaker pointing directly out at 90°, however making sure the cabinet is at a lower level (in height) to the microphone, this way the majority of the sound will pass under the vocal microphone.
Common Problems & Troubleshooting As with any type of stage monitor whether 10”, 12”, 15” Powered (Active) Wedge Monitor, Passive Wedge Monitor, Personal Monitoring, In Ear Monitoring system, or Stage Fill, the only thing you can guarantee is that you will come across an issue at some point in its use. This is to be expected, but the way to which you deal with it can make all of the difference. I listed below some of the more typical comments made regarding problems of monitoring systems, and I’ve also listed ways to alleviate these issues. All I get through the monitors is feedback! Remember, as discussed in the speaker section of the PA training manual, feedback is something that the user creates, not something that the system creates. There are a few solutions to this scenario, but always try to start at the easiest solution first. Headroom is something that you need for any amplified speaker, if you don’t have headroom then you will be pushing the monitor too hard and thus creating feedback. This is the same for the microphone input on the mixer… make sure you have headroom on the gain control, and that you’re not pushing this initial signal input too hard. You could introduce a graphic equalizer to the signal path, to which you could filter out the frequency which is feeding back, however although this is an effective solution, you would still be advised to kill the feedback at source. If you are going to use a graphic equalizer I would advise using one of two products. Firstly a graphic equalizer with as many increments you can get, for example a 31‐band graphic EQ, as this will give you a narrower frequency band to pull out. If you were to use a 9‐band graphic EQ, the frequency range you would pull out with one fader would be too big, making your monitor sounding weak, therefore you’d most likely up the volume more and increase the level of the problem. Some graphic equalizers, such as the Behringer FBQ range, indicate which frequency is more liable to feedback by way of LED lights. This can be extremely useful when you need to find the frequency in a hurry. The second processor I would recommend would be a Parametric EQ. This type of equalizer allows you to select the frequency to kill the feedback, and then narrow the size of the filter you are applying. The following is a chart which shows which frequency corresponds with which key on a keyboard. Being a keyboard player this chart has saved my fee a lot of times when the front of house system produces a resonant frequency part way through a performance. This frequency could be caused simply by a larger audience being in the venue whilst performing which weren’t there during the sound‐check. By finding which note of the keyboard produces the problematic resonant frequency, and referencing to the following chart, you can quickly find and eliminate the problematic frequency. Fig. 13: Frequency Vs Keyboard Chart
I get other sounds from the stage coming through my monitor! As mentioned earlier in this manual, positioning of backline on stage is very important as this will cut down on the amount of spill you get through your monitor via your microphone. This becomes a problem when you come to drum kits – you will generally want your drum kit in the middle of the stage (at the back), and in some cases you may have your drums on a drum riser (stage specifically to raise drums for better stage design) which can cause more problems with spill. In this instance, there are a couple of solutions you can use. The first would be to surround your drums with a clear Perspex wall, so that the sound doesn’t project past… the down side to this is that the drums then become isolated and the on stage sound may deteriorate. The second, and in my opinion best solution, would be to introduce a gate to the microphone that is picking up the drums. If you set the gate to a level at which it allows the singing voice through, then it will cut out and close the circuit when this level is not met. This will also help reduce feedback. I get ‘dropout’ when using my In Ear Monitoring system! Depending upon the in ear monitoring system you are using, the range will be approximately 25‐30m, so if your front of house mixer is at the back of the room, then try to position the transmitter pack at the stage end of the multi‐core. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see the transmitter from where you stand, then you may get dropout. Check that there is no‐one else in the immediate vicinity using the same frequency, as this would also cause a problem, although this would generally add to a problem, not cause dropouts. Of course all of the above information is useless if all you want to do is play as loudly as you can without caring about your voice, your ears, or the audience that is listening to the out of tune singing and playing!