Monitor Mix Concepts: Why Producers Need Them and the Signal Flow Involved; or Everybody Needs To Hear The Drummer

I’m Peyton Haynie from Bay City, Tx. This is for week four of Introduction to Music Production at Coursera.org. I will be talking about monitor mixes and the signal flow involved.

What Is a Monitor Mix and Why Do We Need Them?

Monitors allow performers to hear themselves onstage. A monitor mix is the sound that comes out of each monitor. Each performer needs a different mix. For example, singers need to be able to hear themselves to make sure they are on key and the drums to make sure they are on beat. Likewise, a guitarist would need to hear themselves and the drummer, but wouldn’t necessarily need to hear the singer. In short, monitor mixes are used to ensure the performers know what they are doing.

Signal Flow

The signal flow to a monitor is much like the signal flow to a front of house speaker. The signal starts at the input of the mixing board. From there it goes to the trim where the noise is covered and then to the EQ. It then goes to the auxiliary sends which take it to the monitors.

Creating the Monitor Mix

The first step is to ask each of the performers what they want to hear. Then start with the drums. Have the drummer go through each piece of the kit and adjust the volume in each monitor according to what the performers want to hear. Then repeat with the bass, then vocals, then guitars and keyboard. Vocals and acoustic instruments tend to use the most gain, so make sure to keep that in mind while mixing.

To summarize: A monitor mix allows each performer to hear the rest clearly and keep on beat and in key.

The signal flow starts at the input of the mixing board, goes through the trim, the EQ, and the auxiliary send to the monitor.

Always ask the performers what they want to hear, have each of them play their instruments in turn and adjust the volume of that instrument in each monitor according to what the performers want.

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