3 Tricks the Pro's Use for Great Monitor Mixes

Want your in ear mixes to sound amazing? It’s not always easy, but these 3 tricks will have you on the road to better mixes instantly! 

1. LISTEN ON STAGE AND MIX WITH THE STAGE NOISE.

This one is great because all it requires is you to walk on the stage and listen while the band is playing. A great in-ear mix is all about balancing what’s coming through the musician’s in ears (or even floor wedges) with what’s already making noise on stage. A lot of times, we sound guys are isolated off stage or even at front of house out in the auditorium/sanctuary, and because of that, we have NO idea what’s going on for the musicians on stage. Are the drums loud on stage? Maybe don’t mix in more overheads. Is there a guitar amp on stage? Think about the poor keys player who has to stand right next to it. His mix will sound awful if there’s more guitar added in. How about those vocalists at the front of the stage? If you don’t remember that they’re already hearing a lot of sound from the speakers on either side of the stage you’ll never be able to give them a great mix. Sometimes it’s tough for musicians to really know what they want in their ears. They think “well I guess a little of everything is good” when in fact they’re already got a little of everything just by being on the stage and that drastically changes what they need in their ears.

 

2. LISTEN TO THE MUSICIAN’S MIXES

That “solo aux” button is there for a reason! Use it to listen in on what the musicians are hearing and help their mix be the best that it can be. Remember, musicians aren’t pro monitor mixers. They may have an idea of what they want, but they need your help to get there. Listen in, make some notes, and then ask them “Hey, I noticed you’ve got the (whatever) really loud in your ears. Do you want me to bring that down for you?” You’ll be amazed at how often they had no idea how crazy their mix was! Trust me, they’ll thank you when their ears start sounding great!

 

3. DIAL IN DRUMS WITH SOME EQ AND PUNCHY COMPRESSION

Everybody loves a nice punchy mix! The best way to get it? Make sure you have some slamming drums. Here’s how I get them: first, listen to the midrange of each close mic (kick, snare, and toms) because there are usually some unpleasant things happening in the mid range that make the kit sound muddy instead of punchy. Things like 250-300 hZ muddiness in the kick and floor tom and 500-800 hZ boxiness in the snare and high toms. Just scooping that out can really open up the drums and make them hit harder and sound more three dimensional. Next, follow it up with some compression. I like a slow-ish attack and a fast release. For me, the magic number on attack time seems to be around 20-25 ms (yeah, that counts as slow on a compressor). That allows the initial bust of punchy energy to get through and then compression kicks in to beef up the tail of the signal. Usually I’ll use a 3.5 or 4:1 ratio on kick and snare. 

There you have it! 3 easy tricks that will instantly improve your mixes! Comment with any questions below.