Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stage Monitoring for House of Worship

This "Application Series" article gives advice toward the specific areas of business serviced by Guitar Center Professional, including studio recording/film sound, live sound, house of worship, clubs/restaurants, business sound/lighting systems, and more.

Unless you’ve spent some time onstage playing in bands of the spiritual or secular variety, the whole concept of stage monitoring might be hard to understand. The most simple way to get it is that if a musician or speaker can’t hear themselves (or other members of their band or choir) while onstage, it’s terribly difficult to put on a top-notch presentation or performance. Therefore, you need a solution in your house of worship that allows musical performances or spoken word presentations to be heard onstage as well as in the audience.

There are two general categories of stage monitoring systems: speaker monitors (also known as floor wedges) and in-ear monitors (IEMs, sometimes called personal monitors). Traditional stage monitors are wedge-shaped speakers that are placed toward the front of the stage, facing back toward the performers. In-ear monitors are exactly as the name implies: like the ear buds in an iPod, they fit into the external ear canals of the person addressing or performing for the audience.

gc pro, house of worship, st. andrews presbyterian, stage monitoring
Some worship facilities use a combination of traditional floor wedge stage monitors along with in-ear monitors for the best of both worlds. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (Newport Beach, CA).

gc pro, house of worship, grace family church, stage monitoring
Houses of worship that opt for in-ear monitors (IEMs) over stage wedges enjoy a clear, uncluttered stage that can be an advantage for both performers and audiences. Grace Family Church (Lutz, FL).

Wedges vs IEMs
Floor wedges have been around for decades and are very simple in design; they are merely speakers that connect via audio cables to a mixing surface. There is an inherent level of reliability with this low-tech (but time-proven) solution. In choosing between floor wedges and IEMs, be aware that some performers simply don’t like the aspect of having things tucked into their ears while they play. They might find it too isolating from the natural acoustics of the stage and the room as a whole.

But in today’s world, it’s hard to pose an argument against in-ear monitoring. Using them, the performer gets a level of control of volume, panning, and other elements that is simply not possible in wedge monitors. In-ear monitors will never be a cause of feedback, which is always a danger when you have live speakers on stage that can direct sound back into open microphones. Finally, since most IEM systems are wireless, those performers can move about the stage more freely, since their mix is always right there with them. This can be especially good for dramatic performances.

Guitar Center Professional’s account representatives are experts at specifying monitoring systems for houses of worship. In many cases, they can even visit your place of worship to determine what will work best for you.

How many floor wedges or IEM systems will our house of worship need?
The answer is dependent on several factors, including the size of the stage and the number of performers/presenters that will using them at once. With wedge monitors, each monitor will disperse sound over a certain area of the stage. In a typical worship band-type music event, it’s a good idea to have at least three wedges at the front of the stage for singers and instrumentalists, and more near the back for drummers, keyboardists, backing vocalists and the like. With in-ear monitors, the answer is more simple: each performer will require his or her own set of IEMs.

Is it complicated to set up and use a wireless IEM system?
No. It can be set up quickly and easily. However, making the most of an IEM system’s advantages (like setting up personalized levels and other settings for each performer) requires a level of aquired skill. In the professional live sound world, there’s a role called a “monitor mixer” whose sole job is to do just this. Your GC Pro rep can assist you in getting your IEM system set up and ready for use.

If we’re building a new facility from the ground up, is it important to take stage monitoring into consideration?
Stage monitoring is of vital importance to the quality of the performance or presentation, and therefore impacts the experience of the audience as well. It should be thought of on an equal degree of importance as your facility’s main PA system, lighting, and more.

What if we can’t afford our stage monitoring system all at once?
First, Guitar Center Professional has excellent financing programs tailor-made for houses of worship. Second, with both wedge speakers and IEMs, your monitoring system can be built and then added to as your budget permits.

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About Guitar Center Professional/Guitar Center
Guitar Center Professional is the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users. Its clientele includes recording studios, audio engineers, producers, recording and touring musicians, live sound venues, post production facilities and more. Emphasizing extraordinary individualized service via local account managers, GC Pro offers expert consultation and a comprehensive selection of the world’s finest equipment for music and audio professionals. More information on GC Pro can be found by visiting

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