Monitors are the speakers or headphones that allow your worship team to hear themselves and each other while playing. Needless to say, they are critical in helping a worship team play and sing well.
There are two different methods that can be used for monitoring:
- Monitor speakers or “wedge” monitors are speakers that are designed to sit on the floor in front of the singer or musician and are angled up towards the person.
- In-Ear monitors are specially designed headphones that block out ambient noise on stage and provide a volume adjustable mix directly to each individual.
The problem with Churches using monitor speakers are various. For portable churches they add significant bulk and weight to their equipment. But the biggest problems they create is stage noise and feedback. Listen to some music from a speaker from across the room. Now turn the speaker around and listen to the same music. Notice how it doesn’t sound as clear and has more of a muffled sound?
The same thing happens for the congregation because of monitor speakers. Some of the sound coming from the monitor speakers bounces back towards the congregation. In many churches I find that so much sound is coming from the monitors that the main speakers that are actually facing the congregation are hardly being used. Because of this the sound for the congregation is often muddy and lacking clarity. Feedback is the other issue. Church microphones pick up feedback by being placed near speakers. Monitor speakers are the most common culprit of producing feedback. Now I should mention that monitor speakers do have the benefit of lower cost. Since multiple people can share one monitor speaker monitor speakers are a good choice in situations where you can’t afford anything else for your church sound system.
In-ear monitors were created in direct response to the problems presented by monitor speakers. By feeding the sound to each person using specially designed headphones they eliminate all of the stage noise produced by monitor speakers. They also allow each person to have their own individual monitor mix. Some systems even allow each musician in your worship band to control their own mix using a personal monitor mixer like the myMix system by Movek or by directly controlling the mixer with an iPad or iPhone like you can do with the Presonus StudioLive mixers. This allows the sound tech to focus on mixing for the congregation and not have to worry about creating separate mixes for the worship team. This saves a ton of time and hassle.
The biggest concern I have heard about in-ear monitor systems is people complaining that they had tried one couldn’t hear the congregation. If that was the case they don’t have a properly designed church sound system. In a properly designed system you set up a stereo pair of microphones that are placed on the front of the platform on each side facing the congregation. Each musician is then able to turn up or down how much of the congregation they want in their mix.
There are many more benefits and reasons to use in-ear monitors vs monitor speakers, but these are some of the major ones. If you would like to learn more and talk about your specific system give me a call and I will be happy to answer your questions and help you make an informed decision about what is the best choice for your church based on your needs and budget. I look forward to speaking with you.