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'Ringing out' monitors...is it necessary.
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Samc
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4th January 2013
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'Ringing out' monitors...is it necessary.

I understand why (some) people do it, I used to do it too but now I know it's not necessary and the alternative of only pulling troublesome frequencies during the sound check actually sounds better and takes less time.

So why do people still do it? Is it because sound guys haven't learned to identify frequencies on the fly?
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5th January 2013
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Ringing out the cue wedges was always a two-man operation - which didn't involve actually leting feedback happen. It was a quick check to find the freq's that rang a little before the band's sound check.

It was really just a starting point, as there were always adjustments once the band took the stage for their soundcheck.

WIth 4-5 monitor mixes plus sidefills (or more), getting the easy stuff when there was lots of time seemed like a no-brainer.

What's your prefered method for a starting point before soundcheck starts?



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5th January 2013
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What's your prefered method for a starting point before soundcheck starts?
Praying for a pre-tuned room? Just kidding!

RTA apps are helpful for getting a rough metering of possible troublesome frequencies. I'll probably get slapped around for saying that, but it's helpful in 11th hour situations.
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5th January 2013
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My starting point is to put the monitors in place.

I don't do anything before the soundcheck, I only touch the EQ if/when necessary. I therefore only affect the problem frequencies for that mix. all things being equal I'll have a better sounding mix because the monitors sounded more full...I didn't pull frequencies that didn't have to be pulled.

Obviously you need to be able to identify frequencies but I've been using this method for more than fifteen years and I'm systematically faster than guys using the 'ring out' method.
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5th January 2013
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RTA apps are helpful for getting a rough metering of possible troublesome frequencies. I'll probably get slapped around for saying that, but it's helpful in 11th hour situations.
Don't need them and don't use them.
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5th January 2013
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FWIW I think stage volume has a lot to do with weather or not it's necessary to ring out monitors. Marshalls sound good turned up, but they can make it kinda hard to hear your wedges.
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All you have to do is get a voice to sound natural in the monitors. Dial out the proximity effect on the channel eq, and then make it natural on the monitor eq. Simple in concept, but takes some real experience to get it right.

But no, I never actually make monitors ring. That squeal can hurt!
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Originally Posted by Samc View Post
My starting point is to put the monitors in place.

I don't do anything before the soundcheck, I only touch the EQ if/when necessary. I therefore only affect the problem frequencies for that mix. all things being equal I'll have a better sounding mix because the monitors sounded more full...I didn't pull frequencies that didn't have to be pulled.

Obviously you need to be able to identify frequencies but I've been using this method for more than fifteen years and I'm systematically faster than guys using the 'ring out' method.
So I'm reading that as you basically do tone shaping but don't try to go after feedback points?
But in your first post you mention 'pulling troublesome frequencies-?
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So I'm reading that as you basically do tone shaping but don't try to go after feedback points?
But in your first post you mention 'pulling troublesome frequencies-?
I took the statements to mean that he does target feedback points, but during the soundcheck with full band. He doesn't ring out the monitors in an empty room. I can understand the reasons for ringing out the monitors to basically tune to "the room", but I don't do it. I travel, and the settings are fairly consistent from venue to venue, with only a few minor tweaks that I do on the fly during soundcheck. It's easier to keep the settings and adjust as needed, rather than zero out the board and start from scratch every day (or making drastic changes just to ring out). I'm using an analog board, by the way, so there's no recall. That probably influences my decision.

I've also been in situations where someone else ran FOH, and I ran the band's in-ear monitors only. These are contracted sound companies making a lot more money than me, and they do the ringing out, etc, and end up with feedback throughout the show - something that doesn't normally happen to me. The only reason I can figure is that when they ring out the monitors, they leave almost no headroom so it's right on the edge of feedback from the start. When the band (and crowd) is added to the equation, it's a mess. Keep in mind - the band is running IEM, so no floor wedges. These guys are getting feedback from the FOH speakers alone. It messes up the monitor mix too, but the monitors aren't causing it. Surprisingly, it seems to take them 3/4 of a set to try turning down anything to reduce feedback. It's crazy, and we're getting more and more festival gigs where these companies are standard.

Last edited by character; 5th January 2013 at 05:19 AM.. Reason: sp
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on the monitor rig i used to run, (EV xw12s and xi1122s sitting on custom subs for sidefill/drum fill) we did all the problem frequencies (box resonances etc) in the processors. So when we got to a gig and set up the wedge sounded like my voice thru a beta 58. except a f load louder. efom there we only ever eq'd for tone. i think i might have pulled 3 or 4 frequencies for feedback in the last 6 years
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I ring out monitors to get extra headroom out of the box. Do it every show where it's under 200 cap.

If I don't, the vocals are never loud enough before feedback. My method is to turn up the mic until some frequency starts to creep in. Knock it out, turn it up.

Once I've got it to the point where it's too loud, I take it back a notch or two giving me some room for during the show.

If I didn't do it - there would only be feedback on stage and very little vocals.
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So I'm reading that as you basically do tone shaping but don't try to go after feedback points?
But in your first post you mention 'pulling troublesome frequencies-?
I try to get to where the musician want to go without feedback and also without pulling frequencies that are not a problem for that particular mix.

The post below yours spells it out clearly.
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5th January 2013
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Don't confuse 'Ringing Out' with EQing the wedges...

Of course we EQ the wedges so they sound good. Same way we do with FOH. You can be technical about this, or just listen to some playback, shout down a mic, etc... With a good system, this is probably done in the processors anyway, and of course we pick wedges (when we get the opportunity to spec) that sound the wway we (and the artist) like..

Ringing out wedges is much more about the mic that the wedge. We are 'buying headroom' by tailoring the response of the system to avoid feedback with a specific source. This is essential with most loud monitoring environments. Some people do it on the fly, most good engineers take a few minutes to go and stand in the artist's spot, and do it before soundcheck, so that they don't take up soundcheck time doing it then.

Putting a graphic on a mix output started when:
a) Parametric EQs with several bands were very expensive and hard to come by
b) We didn't have digital desks with lots of processing on each channel
c) Speaker systems / mics weren't as sophisticated so more 'work' was needed
A festival engineers best friend.

These days, when we are carrying show files, and have loads of processing, mics are better in the feedback respect, and wedges have improved significantly, this process can be done in a variety of ways.

But the principle remains the same:
1) Get enough headroom in the monitor system for the artist
2) Soundcheck time belongs to the artist. Anything you can do before they get there you should. Its just professional.
3) Speed is of the essence at lots of events, so sometimes a mic on a stand, and 'ringing' with a graphic is the quickest way.
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5th January 2013
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Originally Posted by Scooter Trash View Post
FWIW I think stage volume has a lot to do with weather or not it's necessary to ring out monitors. Marshalls sound good turned up, but they can make it kinda hard to hear your wedges.
There is no situation that makes it absolutely necessary to ring-out the wedges...in fact, if the stage volume is loud that is exactly when ringing-out hurts most.

The more you pull frequencies is the more you have to push the overall volume of the mix to be heard but with the other method you only pull what is absolutely necessary and by the amount that is necessary. Leaves you with more headroom and wiggle room frequency wise.
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There is no situation that makes it absolutely necessary to ring-out the wedges...in fact, if the stage volume is loud that is exactly when ringing-out hurts most.

The more you pull frequencies is the more you have to push the overall volume of the mix to be heard but with the other method you only pull what is absolutely necessary and by the amount that is necessary. Leaves you with more headroom and wiggle room frequency wise.
Thats just not true.

Wedges are such a compromised monitoring environment. Thats why we invented IEMs...

I have had lots of times where I've been brought in as an engineer, to an average venue, small stage, poor wedges, and an artist who insists on using his mic which is more prone to feedback, etc... And at that point, ringing out is completely necessary in order to achieve the volume they want, and have it not feedback.

Would I design the situation like that? Of course not. I'd use a more suitable mic and better quality wedges. Maybe even re-arrange the stage to improve the monitoring environment.

But often, we don't get the opportunity. The gig has to work. So off we go.

Maybe the issue here is semantics? What do you envisage by 'ringing out'? Doing it properly means:
1) Putting the mic in the 'in-use' position
2) Talking into it (or having someone talk into it - i'm looking at you backline tech...) and increasing the level in the wedge in order to reach the desired monitoring level
3) When it starts to feedback, leave it on the edge of ringing, and make the appropriate EQ change to remove the worst of the issue (don't cut a band by 12dB if you dont't have to!)
4) Keep increasing the level and repeating step 3, until you achieve the desired level.

Obviously if you can't get where you need to, then you have a mic/monitoring system design/setup fail. So i'm assuming you know what you are doing before you embark on this process.

The statement that the above process is never ever necessary, is clearly not true is it?
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It is impossible to argue either extreme of always and never. In some situations it is necessary and in others it is not. There are just too many “it depends”.

The actual term ringing out suggests that you need to operate the monitors close to their maximum gain before feedback to achieve the required levels. If this is a constant occurrence may be different monitors would be a better solution.

Turn the gain up sufficiently on any system and it will feedback. Using a graphic can end up in achieving very little increase in actual level as you turn up and chop a frequency, turn up and chop. This is why automatic feedback eliminators can suck the life out of a system.

Another factor is whether you work with the band regularly or you have never met them before. Musicians have differing ideas about what sounds good, so you can end up messing with the settings during soundcheck anyway. Knowing what the band wants helps.

With my own speakers I have them running through a digital LMS and they are set up outdoors using Smaart. This usually gives me a good starting set up which I can return to. For regular bands/venues I can save a specific setting so in those instances I turn up, set up, turn on and go.

A quick check of the mics prior to the artists arriving (when possible) gives me an idea of whether there may be any problems. If everything seems OK I leave it.

One thing that has not been mentioned, is ringing the system after sound check. There is no need to let the system squeal, but just lifting the levels until you get a rise at some frequency gives an idea of how much headroom is available and what frequency (ies) to pay attention to.

Whichever method you use the main thing, in my opinion, to be aware of is not over doing it. Whatever your method, if it works and the bands are happy you might as well stick with it.
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if you find it helps, do it, if you dont then use another method

everyone has their own way of working and even then not always using the same method at every gig. All that matters in the end is how it sounds to the people who can hear it, and that nothing gets broken and noone dies. I think the 3rd of those things is probably the most important
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Originally Posted by ChrisJohnsonUK View Post
We are 'buying headroom' by tailoring the response of the system to avoid feedback with a specific source.
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Originally Posted by ChrisJohnsonUK View Post
And at that point, ringing out is completely necessary in order to achieve the volume they want, and have it not feedback.
I have a lot of respect for the ringing out process in theory, but when I see most people do it, they don't avoid feedback. They get constant and/or recurring feedback throughout the show and most of them don't seem to know what to do about it. I think the problem most of these engineers have is with this step:

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Originally Posted by ChrisJohnsonUK View Post
3) When it starts to feedback, leave it on the edge of ringing, and make the appropriate EQ change to remove the worst of the issue (don't cut a band by 12dB if you dont't have to!)
From what I see, they don't cut the problem frequencies enough. And/or they aren't ringing out at full volume during or prior to soundcheck - so while they cut problem frequencies, they later boost the volume at the start of the show, and they haven't left enough headroom to do that. Keep in mind, these guys are getting feedback through the FOH speakers with IEM and not wedges, so they're seriously ringing out wrong. Obviously, there's a difference between those type of guys and those of you on here who are giving detailed and precise step-by-step instructions.

Last edited by character; 5th January 2013 at 04:45 PM.. Reason: sp
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Originally Posted by ChrisJohnsonUK View Post
Thats just not true.

Maybe the issue here is semantics? What do you envisage by 'ringing out'? Doing it properly means:
1) Putting the mic in the 'in-use' position
2) Talking into it (or having someone talk into it - i'm looking at you backline tech...) and increasing the level in the wedge in order to reach the desired monitoring level
3) When it starts to feedback, leave it on the edge of ringing, and make the appropriate EQ change to remove the worst of the issue (don't cut a band by 12dB if you dont't have to!)4) Keep increasing the level and repeating step 3, until you achieve the desired level.
This is also my definition of "ringing out"
There's a big difference between a "ring" and a "squeal" (but sometimes it's a fine line on the fader.)
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I have a lot of respect for the ringing out process in theory, but when I see most people do it, they don't avoid feedback. They get constant and/or recurring feedback throughout the show and most of them don't seem to know what to do about it. I think the problem most of these engineers have is with this step:

From what I see, they don't cut the problem frequencies enough. And/or they aren't ringing out at full volume during or prior to soundcheck - so while they cut problem frequencies, they later boost the volume at the start of the show, and they haven't left enough headroom to do that. Keep in mind, these guys are getting feedback through the FOH speakers with IEM and not wedges, so they're seriously ringing out wrong. Obviously, there's a difference between those type of guys and those of you on here who are giving detailed and precise step-by-step instructions.
IMO the whole point of ringing out monitors is to give yourself a bit of "headroom." You don't need to leave everything on the edge of feedback. After you ring them out, you should pull back the faders a bit.
If your guys are getting feedback in the mains during the show with in-ear monitors on-stage, it's time to find a new crew.
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If your guys are getting feedback in the mains during the show with in-ear monitors on-stage, it's time to find a new crew.
I'm the band's regular FOH engineer, but more and more often, we are at festivals where someone else (a "pro" company) is providing FOH. It's a different company every time, but I would say 50 percent of them run into similar issues like this. And they disregard any help I offer, so the suggestion of turning a fader back a bit is completely beneath them. It's rough sometimes. It's not an ego thing for me because I'm the road engineer for the band - I just think the audience deserves better, and the band too. But my ultimate concern is for the audience - they deserve the best performance and quality possible. These issues affect the band's ability to perform, and the quality of how the performance is presented to the audience. On the other hand, the other 50 percent are decent. Some better than others, but when we're working with that half, I don't complain either way.
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I'm the band's regular FOH engineer, but more and more often, we are at festivals where someone else (a "pro" company) is providing FOH. It's a different company every time, but I would say 50 percent of them run into similar issues like this. And they disregard any help I offer, so the suggestion of turning a fader back a bit is completely beneath them. It's rough sometimes. It's not an ego thing for me because I'm the road engineer for the band - I just think the audience deserves better, and the band too. But my ultimate concern is for the audience - they deserve the best performance and quality possible. These issues affect the band's ability to perform, and the quality of how the performance is presented to the audience. On the other hand, the other 50 percent are decent. Some better than others, but when we're working with that half, I don't complain either way.
If they get sound checks, there's really no excuse for getting feedback in the mains unless the house drastically changes when it fills up - and even then, they should hear the rings before they push a channel into feedback. If the feedback is constantly at the same frequency, you might consider notching out your house EQs just a bit.. I used to use an RTA to EQ the house and rarely had to touch the EQs after they were set.
Sometimes the guys that the bands use for FOH know what they're doing, and sometimes they're just posers. I had a guy mixing one of my house systems once. The first thing he wanted to do was change my house EQs - Later I watched him EQ a kick drum for about three minutes to get it "just right." After he had it "just right" I let him know that he had the kick channel muted
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Originally Posted by ChrisJohnsonUK View Post
Don't confuse 'Ringing Out' with EQing the wedges...

Of course we EQ the wedges so they sound good. Same way we do with FOH. You can be technical about this, or just listen to some playback, shout down a mic, etc... With a good system, thirs is probably done in the processors anyway, and of course we pick wedges (when we get the opportunity to spec) that sound the wway we (and the artist) like..

Ringing out wedges is much more about the mic that the wedge. We are 'buying headroom' by tailoring the response of the system to avoid feedback with a specific source. This is essential with most loud monitoring environments. Some people do it on the fly, most good engineers take a few minutes to go and stand in the artist's spot, and do it before soundcheck, so that they don't take up soundcheck time doing it then.

Putting a graphic on a mix output started when:
a) Parametric EQs with several bands were very expensive and hard to come by
b) We didn't have digital desks with lots of processing on each channel
c) Speaker systems / mics weren't as sophisticated so more 'work' was needed
A festival engineers best friend.

These days, when we are carrying show files, and have loads of processing, mics are better in the feedback respect, and wedges have improved significantly, this process can be done in a variety of ways.

But the principle remains the same:
1) Get enough headroom in the monitor system for the artist
2) Soundcheck time belongs to the artist. Anything you can do before they get there you should. Its just professional.
3) Speed is of the essence at lots of events, so sometimes a mic on a stand, and 'ringing' with a graphic is the quickest way.
I understand where you're coming from but there a couple of things I want to comment on.

I do not EQ monitors or the FOH to sound 'good' per say. I might use EQ on the FOH to make the system sound 'flat'...get rid of obvious peaks or holes in the spectrum. I use EQ on monitors mixes primarily to eliminate feedback, only the person who will stand in front of that wedge will decide when it sounds 'good'.

As far as I'm concerned ringing-out does not get you more headroom, generally speaking I think it reduces the potential of the system. I do lots of festivals, especially big festivals where time is critical even for headliners and I am systematically faster than guys who ring-out monitors. I have not found a situation where ringing-out was necessary or more efficient.
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The statement that the above process is never ever necessary, is clearly not true is it?
In my opinion it is true, I have not rung out a monitor in the 15 years since I've been using this method and I have found myself in probably every situation possible.
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I haven't worked with stage sound, but I would think microphone replacement might be an option? Like someone else said, there is only so much gain before feedback, but maybe substituting a 'lesser' mic will have a better result over using EQ.
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It is impossible to argue either extreme of always and never. In some situations it is necessary and in others it is not. There are just too many “it depends"
Steve, could you give an example of a situation that you think would absolutely require a ring-out?

I agree with you, turn up any system loud enough and there will be feedback...therefore I think it's an unnecessary exercise to go looking for it. What if the singer never goes near that feedback point? The engineer has just sucked some life out of the system for no good reason.

I am basically doing the the 'ring-out' with the band in place and I'm only going to pull what is absolutely necessary. I will admit that if the engineer can't identify frequencies hands down and knowing when he's on the edge of feedback this can be tricky...blowing out the talent's ear is never a good thing.
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I haven't worked with stage sound, but I would think microphone replacement might be an option? Like someone else said, there is only so much gain before feedback, but maybe substituting a 'lesser' mic will have a better result over using EQ.
Mic choice and placement are crucial and touching EQ is always a last resort for me, but there are times when EQ is the only option.
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Originally Posted by Scooter Trash View Post
If they get sound checks, there's really no excuse for getting feedback in the mains unless the house drastically changes when it fills up - and even then, they should hear the rings before they push a channel into feedback. If the feedback is constantly at the same frequency, you might consider notching out your house EQs just a bit.. I used to use an RTA to EQ the house and rarely had to touch the EQs after they were set.
Sometimes the guys that the bands use for FOH know what they're doing, and sometimes they're just posers. I had a guy mixing one of my house systems once. The first thing he wanted to do was change my house EQs - Later I watched him EQ a kick drum for about three minutes to get it "just right." After he had it "just right" I let him know that he had the kick channel muted
I've been traveling with the same band since 2009, and the last time I had feedback was in 2009 in a place that was all concrete - concrete stage, concrete walls, concrete stadium seats. I was new at the job, and it took a while to get anything happening. The band was using wedges back then too and kept asking for more. I think there are probably posers everything in live sound reinforcement. I don't even mind someone not knowing, because we've all been there and there is always room to move forward. But some of the promises people make when seeking a job and the resumes they claim to have - it's almost fraud. I care more about the music than the money, but when the music suffers and someone is throwing away a lot of money, it's just a bad situation. I think most of us here probably feel the same way - that's why we're here - we care about what we do. That's why I like hearing the tips about ringing out monitors, because I might learn something new, or how to avoid disaster in a situation that's out of my control when someone else is running it.
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If I'm mixing monitors, either from stage or FOH, after everything is set, the first thing I'll do, time permitting, is run some familiar program material through the wedges at a decent volume, and walk the stage listening to each box or zone, to confirm that everything is working properly and sounds as it should. Obviously, any problems should be tracked down, and any suspect wedges should be replaced at this point. This also gives me a good general impression of what the monitor system and the stage sounds like, since I use reference material that I know well.
Then, yes, I will do a basic ring out on all mics likely to be run hot during the show, e.g. vocals, piano mics, instrument mics, etc. By "basic" I mean I will only cut a few freqs, usually around three, along with any necessary hi-pass and low-pass shelves. Ideally, there is a 31 band GEQ inserted on each mon bus to accomplish this.
Then, I will put the main element of each mix in its wedge, and go out and talk or, if possible, play instruments at the performer position and confirm that it sounds good, can get reasonably loud, and doesn't feed back.
Then, I back everything down to about two-thirds of what I think they'll need, and use that as a starting point. During the show, I always try to cue each mix, especially when changes are asked for, to confirm the sound, and also to learn what kind of mix each performer is expecting, which can sometimes help you dial up just the right amount when they ask for changes, instead of just twiddling knobs and guessing. Just my way, not the only way, and YMMV.
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"Factory farming" is the worst and most horrible abuse of Animals on a massive scale ever devised by greedy humans. Please do what you can to help end it, and "laboratory testing" also. No living being should have to suffer like this. Thank you.
http://www.soundclick.com/edbilleaud
#30
5th January 2013
Old 5th January 2013
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post

What if the singer never goes near that feedback point? The engineer has just sucked some life out of the system for no good reason.
Then you have the option of adding some life back to it from the channel strip on the monitor desk. IMO, for stage monitors most musicians care more about volume than fidelity. It's easier to do a front of house mix around dull monitors than around monitors that have rings in them. It looks like there are definitely two schools of thought about weather or not to ring out monitors. I've always done it and have had good results and compliments from signed artists. If you get good results without ringing out monitors, stick with what works.

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