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Hearing Your Congregation While Wearing In-Ear Monitors

As more and more churches move to in-ears more and more questions pop-up about the one curse of in-ear monitors – the disconnect they bring from the congregation. In a worship setting, knowing and hearing how a congregation is responding to songs is important. Wearing in-ears often leaves you feeling as if you are in your own world – and everything not miced or plugged in is shut outside of that world. So how do you overcome that?

You use ambient microphones, of course! The trick is – where and what kind? That’s the question our new friend Dan asked us today in our “Answer Bag” after watching one of our videos on in-ear monitoring systems from Aviom.

Hi,
I watched your video and had a question. How can you get a good audience feed into Aviom mix? I am a vocalist/musician and balancing all the sound is a challenge I have not mastered in about 7 months now.
I request an audience feed but I think the location of the mic is creating lots of reverb. Where should the mic be located? What type of mic is best for audience feed?
Any other hints for better sound is greatly appreciated.
Dan

Dan,

Great solid question. You know, the biggest leap I see people making with the whole “I need to hear what is going on in the congregation” saga is to simply leave one in-ear out. I’m glad that you are not going that route. While it is the cheapest short-term…it is costly long-term as you force your in-ear system to work twice has hard to get you the mix you need since you only have one ear in use. Using ambient mics are always, in my opinion, the best option.
Each of us audiophiles will debate which mic is best for the trick – but I’m a Sure guy myself. A couple of Sure SM81 should do the trick (or PG81’s if you are on a tighter budget.) Audio-Technica makes a good mic for ambient use called a PRO37. Whichever you decide – the placement is what will help you overcome that feedback. The normal tendancy when we think audio is to space everything out like speakers, right? We tend to do the same thing when we place mics in a room to hear a large group. We spread them out left and right to get a wide spread. The problem this creates is that we are mirroring speaker-theory by wide left-right placement. Most of the time, we end up putting the mics right in the path of a main – giving you instant reverb in your ears as it picks up just enough of the main mix to feedback.

Try this instead – place the mics you chose (use my suggestions if you’d like – if you have other mics available, make sure they are small diaphram condensers) more toward the center of the stage. Set your ambient mics up so that they are in a nice X-Y pattern (criss-crossing rather than pointing straight out.)
One more quick tip. Encourage ALL of your team to leave BOTH ears in. Song changes and turns can still be communicated easily without being able to hear everything on stage by one simple trick: Rig your band leader with a mic that is never included in the house mix…but only goes to your ears. He/she can make all the changes needed “and bridge 2 – 3 – 4...” simply by speaking into the mic.
Hope this helps! Let me know if we can ever help you out in other areas!
Serving with you,
Jason

Jason Whitehorn

Owner, Chief Visionary at got worship? Media
Jason Whitehorn is a worship leader/pastor, Christian songwriter, mentor, public speaker and Christian music promoter/publicist. Jason's articles have been published in both online and National publications and has broadcast in both radio and television - reporting and anchoring for affiliates such as ABC, CNN, and CNN Headline News. Jason is the Redemptive Arts Pastor at Grace Church in the Indianapolis-Metro area.

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One thought on “Hearing Your Congregation While Wearing In-Ear Monitors”

  1. The Mix Doctor says:

    For me, ambient mics mixed to the ears can be useful IF there are less than 4 vocal mics open in everyone’s mixes.

    Also, finding a “time-zero” placement over the stage is important to avoid latency to the ears.

    Finally, after trying a dozen or so mics of all brands and types, the Rode NT4 is my personal choice for favorite. Not crazy money, dual condenser on a single mount. The sound is all there.

    Great info on here and I really appreciate hearing your wisdom!

    Thanks so much!

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