Why lower stage volume is key to a better performance.
Lower stage volumes mean better shows for everyone.
Your most important job as a musician is to deliver the best performance possible – to really bring down the house, to give it your all, to leave everything you’ve got right there on the stage after the last encore.
But you can’t do that if you can’t hear yourself playing.
While stage monitors were designed to help solve this problem, if you don’t watch out, the decibel levels can quickly become unmanageable – even leading to the dreaded feedback. Stage monitors have to compete with everything else onstage so if one musician in your band keeps asking to crank it up, everyone has to crank it up. It starts off good but a few songs into it, you’re involved in a never-ending escalation of volume wars. But I don’t need to tell you that. You’re already the coming off stage with ringing ears. You know.
Now, let’s talk about stage noise from the audience’s perspective and from the house engineer’s vantage. Their job is to mix your sounds for the audience. They’re paid to put on the best show for the paying ticket holders and to do that, they need to be able to have some range and dynamics to work within. They will also probably have have a maximum Db level that they can not exceed (either due to the bar management or the abilities of the PA System they are working with.) The closer your stage volume comes to their thresholds, the less room they have to work with.
A standard snare drum can easily hit 100db or more. A guitar amp can run at 115db or more. So an average PA system can never produce a clean mix and keep up with that kind of stage volume.
The audio engineer is trying to mix the best combination of the entire band mix for the audience’s enjoyment. When the stage noise is not controlled, the fans hear a combination of monitor mixes along with the room mix. Factor in time delays and room dynamics and fans hear muddy sound.
We all know that a live show is a lot of fun and that the music is meant to be shared with your fans. But playing too loud and creating so much stage volume that your mix is jeopardized just bums out the people who came to see you. These are the people who will buy your records and your merch.
The way to solve this and to play your best is to use in-ear monitors. By using a personal monitoring system, every member of the band can play at the volume they prefer – independently of the other band members. This is a win-win for everybody and it is the only way to lower your stage volume. It also lets the front of house control how you should sound to your fans.