Be still my bleeding ears…

by vernsanders on June 4, 2009

Show of hands…how many people have trouble with their monitor mixes?

Another show of hands…how many people are exasperated in trying to fix the problem?

Consider this, written by Michael Hill, from

Setting up a Worship Band Monitor Mix

Ever have problems with stage volume that’s just too loud? Combating sound issues from performers who can’t hear themselves play—much less think—can be tough.

How many times have you pulled down the master faders to (–)infinity at FOH, and the sound coming off the stage was still so loud you knew you were going to get a visit from the head deacon or usher before the first chorus?

Or how about the worship leader who leads from the piano? His complaint is he can’t hear himself, but he has the high freq section of the monitor aimed at the piano, and the woofer is the only thing aimed at his ears.

The monitor gets turned up and blasts the soundboard of the piano, which is picked up by the piano mic, which gives you a nice 55-gallon drum sound (true story). The piano has a muddy sound in the monitor, no definition, gets turned up (because they can’t hear) and drowns out the worship leader’s voice. Now the vocal needs to be turned up, resulting in a mix that no one is happy with. Not to mention the sound tech must mix over this roar.

The sound mixer has a few options:

1. Raise the overall house volume level to get on top of the stage noise 2. Don’t put any piano in the house mix because there is enough piano volume coming off the stage 3. Touch the knob and smile

Not very good options.

You can read the whole blog post, include the solutions, by clicking here.

But let me raise one more issue. Running a soundboard has become a “young man’s game.” (That’s not an old guy rant but a figure of speech, and not a sexist comment, which is why I put it in quotes…get over it…)

But not for the reasons you might imagine. It is not that old people can’t run sound, or don’t know what a good mix might be. It is that too much volume in any space, let alone the confined volume (measure of quantity of space…my attempt at a pun) of the typical sanctuary, will slowly de-sensitize anyone’s ears, and eventually completely blow them out.

That high pitched ringing you’re hearing? Even when you are alone in a room with no electronic devices turned on? That’s the sound of hearing loss, and, depending upon how young you are, it is the sound of a long-term handicap.

As Michael points out, it is often the band that cranks it up, or wants it cranked up even further. But, sad to say, it is, in my experience, just as often true that it is that sound guy, who has incipient (or significant) hearing loss, that is the problem.

Worship leaders…do everyone a favor. Insist that your audio engineers get a hearing test from an audiologist on a regular basis. The ears you save just might be your engineer’s.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

David McLain June 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Hi Vern,

Good addition. I like it! And thanks for the re-post.


vernsanders June 8, 2009 at 9:21 am

keep writing good stuff…I’m a fan already…

Bob June 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

AND please add for the hearing test, the regular worship team members – especially drummers. They are sometimes the ones asking for more in their monitor mix due to hearing loss and the less experienced audio person may give them what they asked for….

vernsanders June 9, 2009 at 10:12 am


Absolutely…I’ve never used in-ear monitors, but I know that when you are dealing with floor monitors, it is generally the person who has the most hearing issues that gets the say as to how loud it is. One other thing? I try to avoid being right next to the drummer if I can… :)

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