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Distinguished Member, Forum Contributor 2015-2016
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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’ve tried everything to be able to hear myself clearly when playing with loud type r/b bands and wedding bands etc. I’ve tried soundback mirrors, wedge monitors, Jbl speakers on a stand ,hotspots you name it they all help but this is what I use and you guys might want to try it. Mic I use is a sennheiser 421 but if you got a Shure 57 that’s fine too . Run it into a personal small mixer like a mackie or Yamaha that has effects. Use wraparound headphones but not the expensive kind . I use Sony mdr g45 costing about 15-20 bucks. Eq it and add maybe a bit of verb to taste and go xlr out to main board the main board controls the volume out of main speakers.the reason the Sony’s work is I can hear the sax crystal clear and they are not in ear so I can hear the band fine too. This gives you the control of your monitoring and takes the well meaning hack sound man out of the equation. This has made my gigs fun for 25 years . I used to practice that way at home and one night I took it to a gig to test it out and never went back. Hope this helps any of you guys that struggle to hear yourself clearly on gigs.
 

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What I use is a similar approach. I play through a Shure PGX wireless mic and run the mic into my Shure PMS 200 IEM unit and run an XLR from the PMS to the soundboard. Most gigs I play with one earbud in and leave the other one out so I've got my sax in one ear and can hear the rest of the band with the other ear. If it's a loud gig I sometimes will isolate by using both earbuds and I can pick up the rest of the band off of my mic.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
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The sound man could still destroy you out front in the end. But yeah, I've considered this option as well.

I've got all the pieces to do it. I just haven't had as much trouble with this. Usually a wedge monitor with a good amount of my signal coming through has been fine. It's just those occasional gigs where the PA sucks or doesn't have enough speakers where I would benefit from this.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes some creative options . Mark sounds like you pretty much figured out a good option. Yes little wailer the sound man can still screw up your main mix but you will still be digging your little mix . I always hated wedge floor monitors! They are down by your feet when you need something by your ears lol how did they ever catch on? Little wailer I would be curious to hear what you thought of my method after 1 gig. I just let a 70 year old sax player use my setup and he raves about it said that was the best he ever heard himself and he played with James brown and backed up Elvis in vegas
 

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Yup, being surrounded by Marshall towers can be really annoying, even some of the smaller P.As can be annoying when you stand right in front of the speaker - because the guitar (self-appointed) gods need to stand in front of their amps ... I ended up with a Shure BLX1 /4 wireless system that I am running into a TC Helicon Hall of Fame Reverb and from there into a OneForStrings5 amp that I place somewhere next to or behind the drums. Everything other than the amp fits into a little handbag with only the power chord and the 1/4" cable to the amp coming out (like the magic black box) and it is a killer setup. Usually, the P.A. still picks up at bit. There are probably many ways to do this but at least I am not stuck with a crappy mic and totally at the mercy of the sound man (if there is one).
 

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Forum Contributor 2013-2019
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I play in a R&B band, a jam band, and a couple of jazz bands, and I do something similar, but will usually just stand in front of my monitor (I use a QSC K10) as I'm never that comfortable with phones or buds. But no matter what, if there is a sound man involved, the mix will probably suck. My jam band played a concert at a baseball stadium last week with a "top pro" sound man and the mix was probably the worst we've had in a long time. We used to have a regular gig at a club in Boston where we had to use (and pay for) their sound man. I would give him a wet XLR signal with reverb/effects to my liking, and he would always lay on some slap back delay and other crap to where the sax sounded awful. And he was ornery, so discussion went nowhere. Hated that gig. The only time I know that the sound is going to be good is when my jazz groups play acoustically (well, as long as we can keep the electric guitar player under control) - no mics, no PA, no fuss, no muss. I love those gigs.
 

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This is why I'm so glad the wedding/commercial band I play in uses all in-ear-monitors. I can adjust all 10 of us individually in my ears from my phone, and when using good headphones (we all do) it's really quiet when playing! Can hear exactly who I want to hear and exactly how much of each, and don't need to worry about the sound guy adjusting it for me- he just takes care of FOH.
 

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A few times a year, I sit in with an 80's dance band at a bar on a very small stage. I usually play a half dozen tunes dispersed over both sets, so am never on stage for very long. It leaves me just a few seconds in-between songs to get onto stage and no time to plug in, so I always end up sharing the singer's Shure instead of using my clip-on mic. Two guitars, a bass, and loud drums up close mean I can never hear myself, no matter how loud I play.

So I jury-rigged a self-contained personal monitoring system. My ATM-350 clip mic plugs into a PSC 48V battery-powered phantom power supply clipped to my belt, which goes out into a Behringer PowerPlay P2 clip-on personal monitor, and finally into a pair of Westone AM PRO 10 ambient earbuds. It's a lightweight closed loop, and though the sound is wet and not completely clean, I can at least play in tune. And while it has no XLR out to the FOH, I don't need one because of the stand mic. The ambient earbuds let me hear myself and the band (albeit both a bit muted) without that underwater feeling, and I can adjust the gain on the P2 as needed. Plus I don't get distracted by whatever the sound man may be doing.

I was all ready the last time the band asked me to sit in--when they went ahead and gave me my own mic and stand where I could safely clip my ATM-350 between songs, a proper sound check before the show to make sure I could hear myself through the wedge, and a few extra seconds to get ready when returning to stage. It was still a challenging quick-change act, but was my best performance to date.

My personal monitoring system remains untested.
 

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My personal monitor preference would be to hear what the audience is hearing. so ones volume can be adjusted appropriately. There are times when the guitar amps aren’t mic’d and are over on the other side of the drums facing outward, a wedge monitor is giving me the vocals, my keyboard and maybe a bass feed and my mic, but there is lots of other stuff that is going out into the audience that I’m not hearing. Therefore, adjusting volume for backup soloing on sax, and quite a bit of volume adjustments are needed in the course of most sings on the keyboard. Sometimes I’m trading licks with the guitar player and can’t hear him well either. Rather than going through the extra trouble and expense of micing the guitar cabs (please, not the drums) and having a sound guy try to duplicate what the audience is hearing into a monitor feed, it seems to me it would be nice to have a mic out front and center and have that going back to some IEMs. Maybe when we hit the big time venues with real live competent sound guys will happen.
 

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We use two wedges and always put the mains out front.
The monitors have 12's and a horn so the frequency response is good.
Only the bass player doesn't go through the PA but he's back so i can hear the bass.
I play flute/sax/keys and some hand percussion
I use 2 Sennheiser 441s for the horns and percussion.
I like having monitors better than listening to the mains.
Less chance for feed and not blaring in my ears.
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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I got so sick of dealing with sound men that I did something similar. Got a mixer with multiple inputs and volume controls. Ran a line to the board but then ran a line to a speaker on the floor in front of me. After that, if I couldn't hear myself I would just turn up the speaker a little bit..........
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So lots of creative attempts to hear yourselves. Out of all the “solutions “I’ve read hear I think Dave is the only one doing it state of the art but Bluetooth inear monitors and mixers with the the software is expensive . Anyone actually try my solution?Requires cheap wraparound phones inexpensive small mixer and a microphone.and a xlr cable out You guys will be amazed at the clarity. Why would you even need guitars and drums coming through your personal mix? That’s the point they are freakin loud enough!why schlep speakers?? I’d be curious to hear if anyone tried it and what they think of it.
 

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So lots of creative attempts to hear yourselves. Out of all the “solutions “I’ve read hear I think Dave is the only one doing it state of the art but Bluetooth inear monitors and mixers with the the software is expensive . Anyone actually try my solution?Requires cheap wraparound phones inexpensive small mixer and a microphone.and a xlr cable out You guys will be amazed at the clarity. Why would you even need guitars and drums coming through your personal mix? That’s the point they are freakin loud enough!why schlep speakers?? I’d be curious to hear if anyone tried it and what they think of it.
I like the idea, and the wrap style is reasonably presentable. My only issue, is hearing damage. I have the same fear of in ear monitoring. Maybe over-ear phones help cut some of the stage levels that are too loud (and dangerous), which prevents headphone levels that are at dangerous levels. Otherwise, if you are using phones to hear over levels that are already too loud, you are subjecting even higher levels to your ears? I'm just not comfortable with stage levels that require any compensation. It sends up the flag that stage levels are just too loud to be safe.
 

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Ear plugs work for me in all situations...The FOH sound is someone elses problem. No amount of worrying about will help. You are rarely in the position to hear the FOH mix and also (usually) powerless to change it. Telling the engineer how to do his job is rarely effective, and you may well be wrong about it too. Strive for a good stage mix and let the FOH guy do his job. The band I play most with has a guy for club and corporate work. We bring him along even when its a concert venue to help the FOH guy make sure the solos are up front...they usually end up working together.
 

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I like the idea, and the wrap style is reasonably presentable. My only issue, is hearing damage. I have the same fear of in ear monitoring. Maybe over-ear phones help cut some of the stage levels that are too loud (and dangerous), which prevents headphone levels that are at dangerous levels. Otherwise, if you are using phones to hear over levels that are already too loud, you are subjecting even higher levels to your ears? I'm just not comfortable with stage levels that require any compensation. It sends up the flag that stage levels are just too loud to be safe.
I would agree with both your concerns here Jim. Most audiences (and club owners) listen with their eyes more than their ears these days so I'm not sure how well a horn line wearing headphones would be received. We've lost gigs because the club owners don't want us reading charts off tablets. Unfortunately being just "weekend warriors" we don't have the time to memorize 150+ charts. Likewise, I'm not sure about headphones. I had a discussion many years ago with a physicist who suspected that the sound pressure or energy your eardrums are subjected to coming from earphones or earbuds would be significantly higher than that of the same perceived loudness coming through the air from speakers in a room. Like Fader I just wear earplugs when necessary. The most I ever make on a single gig is about $300 - not enough to loose my hearing over. If I was a pro musician I could easily see justifying a nice set of IEMs and custom earplugs but for now I'm fine with a pair of foamies.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ear plugs work for me in all situations...The FOH sound is someone elses problem. No amount of worrying about will help. You are rarely in the position to hear the FOH mix and also (usually) powerless to change it. Telling the engineer how to do his job is rarely effective, and you may well be wrong about it too. Strive for a good stage mix and let the FOH guy do his job. The band I play most with has a guy for club and corporate work. We bring him along even when its a concert venue to help the FOH guy make sure the solos are up front...they usually end up working together.
the wrap around headphones actually protect your ears. thats one of the benefits...
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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What I use is a similar approach. I play through a Shure PGX wireless mic and run the mic into my Shure PMS 200 IEM unit and run an XLR from the PMS to the soundboard. Most gigs I play with one earbud in and leave the other one out so I've got my sax in one ear and can hear the rest of the band with the other ear. If it's a loud gig I sometimes will isolate by using both earbuds and I can pick up the rest of the band off of my mic.
Hey Mark I use a shure 98 wireless, would I run that into the same shure interface you have? K
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
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I would agree with both your concerns here Jim. Most audiences (and club owners) listen with their eyes more than their ears these days so I'm not sure how well a horn line wearing headphones would be received. We've lost gigs because the club owners don't want us reading charts off tablets. Unfortunately being just "weekend warriors" we don't have the time to memorize 150+ charts. Likewise, I'm not sure about headphones. I had a discussion many years ago with a physicist who suspected that the sound pressure or energy your eardrums are subjected to coming from earphones or earbuds would be significantly higher than that of the same perceived loudness coming through the air from speakers in a room. Like Fader I just wear earplugs when necessary. The most I ever make on a single gig is about $300 - not enough to loose my hearing over. If I was a pro musician I could easily see justifying a nice set of IEMs and custom earplugs but for now I'm fine with a pair of foamies.
Yes - It would be kind of odd to see a band wearing cans...I guess if you dressed them up it could be an interesting gimmick...MAke them look like princess Leia's hair in Star Wars or something equally silly :) As for the charts on-stage - People do it, but usually when the horns are back-line, and hired guns. My classic R&B show band forbids them - I write notes in the margin of my set list if I need a helping hand. Once I get through the intro of most songs, I'm good to go.

In-ear monitors are nice, but there are some drawbacks beyond price. It is amazing how well ear plugs work when trying to hear yourself on crowded stages. I often only use one on the drum facing ear...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I have been wearing wraparound headphones at weddings and clubs for 20 years and no one has ever said one word to me about it. dude you didn't get fired for reading charts lol the club owners only care about 1 thing and we all know what that is ....
I would agree with both your concerns here Jim. Most audiences (and club owners) listen with their eyes more than their ears these days so I'm not sure how well a horn line wearing headphones would be received. We've lost gigs because the club owners don't want us reading charts off tablets. Unfortunately being just "weekend warriors" we don't have the time to memorize 150+ charts. Likewise, I'm not sure about headphones. I had a discussion many years ago with a physicist who suspected that the sound pressure or energy your eardrums are subjected to coming from earphones or earbuds would be significantly higher than that of the same perceived loudness coming through the air from speakers in a room. Like Fader I just wear earplugs when necessary. The most I ever make on a single gig is about $300 - not enough to loose my hearing over. If I was a pro musician I could easily see justifying a nice set of IEMs and custom earplugs but for now I'm fine with a pair of foamies.
 
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