Singing with Monitors – Top Tip | Sound System Basics

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Published: March 9, 2021

Singing with Monitors – Top Tip

When you are performing or streaming with amplification, using monitors is not always necessary, but is the norm. Singers new to using monitors – especially when feeling a little nervous about performing – tend to want their monitors turned up so loud, their sound bashing them over the head. The problem is, however, that if the monitors are turned up too loud, then the audience will hear that monitor mix, which will lower the quality and clarity of the sound for them. In terms of singing at your best, an overly loud monitor mix isn’t the best.

I spent many years being a band leader and soloist at church every Sunday morning. This was the perfect training for learning to hear my monitor mix skillfully, because I was rehearsing twice a week with a sound system – as well as performing with a sound system. That’s a lot of sound-system hours! Because of the size and shape of our church, it was very easy for the monitor mix to bleed out to the audience. We therefore had to keep it extremely quiet. I learned not only how to hear the mix, but to discern my voice from the other voices at low volume, while I was singing at full volume. 

One way to develop this skill, is to rehearse and perform a sound system as much as possible – even in your own house – always aiming to have your sound turned up just loud enough so that you have to “work” a little to hear it. Another way to practice this skill is to simply sing along with a recording – any recording. Sing full out, and see how far you can turn down the level of the recording while still perfectly matching it in time and pitch.

Kathy  Alexander
VP Curriculum, Singdaptive

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