Monitors: Finding the Balance


This month I’d like to discuss stage monitoring systems. There are many products available to you and your congregation, so which is best?

Stage monitors are any type of device used to send the sound from your PA system back to the performers and speakers in your service. The benefit is that individuals can hear a direct representation of everything onstage at an equal volume. This is particularly beneficial to musicians, but speakers sometimes enjoy being able to use monitors as well. Today, we’ll discuss three different types of stage monitors: no monitors, floor monitors and in-ear monitors.

For some church services, monitors are not necessary. If your service is held in a small room, and your music team only involves a few members with acoustic instruments, you may only need speakers directed at the congregation for minimal sound reinforcement. This option is best if musicians are already hearing each other well enough in the current performance situation. Adding monitors in this instance is simply going to clutter the sound in your room and possibly make the service too loud. Example ensembles would be choir accompanied by piano, vocal soloist accompanied by guitar or piano, and other small acoustic ensembles.
In other instances, floor monitors may be the best option. If your team or stage is slightly larger, you may need monitors so that the ensemble can hear one another. Additionally, you may want to investigate this option if your musicians are not highly trained or have little experience with in-ear monitors. These can also be handy if you are on a budget. Floor monitors can often be fairly inexpensive and quite durable.

The final option worth considering would be in-ear monitors. There are many reasons that this could be best for you, each of which is valuable. In-ear monitors offer you the option of sending the “mixed” sound directly to each musician’s headphones. Given that each musician would be monitoring via headphones, your service eliminates the necessity of more speakers on stage. 

This can make your service sound quieter and less cluttered. Some products in this category also allow musicians to mix their own levels for each instrument and voice via personal device. This eliminates time from your sound check and minimizes complaints from performers to your sound engineer.

By: Ryan McClouth, Assistant Professor of Music, Music Ministry Program Coordinator