Tech Center

General:     Ask Delta Audio    FCC Notice    White Spaces Primer   

Wireless:    Wireless Introduction    Personal Monitor Systems    Wireless Frequency Finder

Churches:   Personal Monitoring for Your Church

Personal Monitor Systems

Learning about personal monitor systems begins with understanding what monitoring is and why it’s necessary. Monitoring boils down to being able to hear (monitor) your performance as you perform, so you know exactly what you and the other musicians are doing onstage.

Stage monitoring got its start in the 1960s, as progressively louder rock bands started to discover that if everyone in a group can hear each other, they can perform better. This was accomplished by sending specific sound mixes to onstage floor-resting loudspeaker monitors (“floor wedges”). They ushered in the age of monitoring, but were noisy, bulky and centered their sound in one place.

Today, Personal Monitors enable you to personally hear just what you want without affecting what others hear. These systems are comfortable, wearable amplification devices designed to replace floor wedges with earphones worn “In Ear.” With them, you can stay in one place onstage or roam freely and not lose sound quality. They provide a more comfortable, more accurate way to monitor and they eliminate the feedback and loud stage noise that often result from booming floor wedges.

Big advantages. Small packages.
Sound Quality When you’re In Ear, you enjoy a clear mix at lower volume levels, high-fidelity sound and less interruption from outside noise.

Mobility With PSM, the speakers are in your ears, so you can expand your range onstage and hear yourself perfectly anywhere you go.

Control Adjust what you hear while you perform. Create your own monitor mix.

Portability An entire PSM system fits in a briefcase that goes where you go. Not only are floor wedges noisy, they’re also bulky onstage and heavy to load out.

Ideal Applications
Personal monitors provide clear, comfortable sound and multiple advantages in any application where users must monitor themselves in order to perform better.

Live on stage This includes situations where sound equipment and playing locations change often for performers (e.g., touring groups or wedding bands) or music venues that host a wide array of live performance acts. For these applications, PSM systems offer the ability to control your mix wherever you perform, as well as freedom of movement and easy portability.

Rehearsal rooms Personal monitors turn the worst rooms into good rehearsal spaces. You can save time too often spent fixing feedback and poor sound. You not only get more practice in, you also reduce vocal strain and ringing ears.

The studio In both multiroom and project studios, In Ear performers can control volume levels and adjust the click track volumes themselves. They also enjoy the comfort of small PSM earphones versus bulky traditional headphones. Isolating earphones also reduce outside noise and mic bleed during vocal overdubs.

Churches and religious facilities These environments are often reverberant, which creates the common problem of feedback for presenters, choral groups and musicians. PSM systems provide these performers with reduced feedback, personalized mix control and freedom of movement. They also increase intelligibility, which benefits any audience.

Classical music performances Classical music hall and orchestra pit acoustics are extremely sensitive and susceptible to disruption, especially from floor wedge systems. Onstage or in the pit, PSM systems provide discrete monitoring for performers without sacrificing the quality of sound the audience enjoys.

Theater and stage performances These performers appreciate the cleaner, less–cluttered stage, thanks to the absence of floor wedge monitors. But the greatest PSM advantage in these situations is the ability for actors, actresses and crew to monitor director instructions In Ear without the knowledge of the audience.

Broadcast environments Besides the sound advantages listed above, PSM systems help reporters and broadcast personalities isolate outside noise so they no longer have to cover their ears with their hands. They also enable cueing of events via a satellite link and can be used as a wireless interruptible foldback (IFB) system for camera operators, stage managers and on-camera talent.

Two ways to get In Ear: Wired and Wireless
Both of these Personal Monitor systems are made up of complementary components that enable you to hear your monitor mix In Ear. These include:

• Earphones – compact, high-fidelity stereo In Ear monitors
• Bodypack Receivers – sleek, wearable units that receive sound and give you control
• Transmitters – modules that send sound for wireless systems
• Personal Mixers – modules that allow for advanced levels of control

Wired Signal Path
Wired components receive sound via a cable that connects the Bodypack directly to the mixing console. Systems typically include an input cable, a Wired Bodypack and a set of Earphones.

wired signal path including bodypack receiver and earphone monitor

Wireless Signal Path
A wireless bodypack receives sound without a cable from a Transmitter. These systems typically include a Transmitter, Bodypack Receiver and a set of Earphones. wireless signal path transmitter or transmixer

wireless signal path including bodypack receiver and earphone monitor

shared components including a personal monitor mixer and hybrid bodypack receiver

Needs Analysis
  Are you a stationary or mobile onstage performer?

Stationary performers If you’re in one place the majority of the time, like a drummer, keyboardist or backup singer, wired systems are an easy choice and a lower-cost alternative.

Mobile performers If you need to move when you perform, go wireless and leave the cables behind. You’ll hear a great mix no matter where you are onstage. Wireless systems are more complex than wired, but offer greater flexibility.

Are you in a traveling band? If so, PSM systems can provide a consistent mix every night no matter where you are. Where you travel will help determine the best PSM system for you. Wireless PSM systems transmit over unused television frequencies. If you play primarily in one metropolitan area or at a permanent location, you can find one frequency and stick with it. Traveling to multiple areas or countries means finding open frequencies to use in each location. Each PSM system offers varying degrees of available frequencies and frequency agility.

  Can you share a monitor mix with others or do you require a personal monitor mix?

Personal mix In a band or ensemble situation, performers often want to receive a monitor mix tailored to their preferences (some singers who like to hear vocals and guitar at a louder volume than bass and drums). Both wired and wireless systems provide this capability. You can also gain further control of the mix you hear by adding a Personal Monitor Mixer.

Shared mix With a shared wireless mix, everyone in your group with a Wireless Bodypack receiver can hear the same monitor mix from a single transmitter. It’s a cost-effective way for a band to monitor In Ear.

Do you require a stereo-quality monitor mix or is a mono mix OK?
Stereo mix A stereo mix means you’re listening to the fullest, most accurate monitor sound possible through your earphones. Nearly every PSM system features this option (and other listening modes), all of which can be controlled from your Bodypack.

Mono mix In mono, both earphones reproduce the same audio. More advanced PSM systems offer the ability to send and receive mixes in mono as well as other modes. However, many performers, such as vocalists, do not benefit from stereo imaging. Mono-only systems are a cost-effective way for these performers to go In Ear and enjoy many of the same benefits of other personal monitor systems.

Can you share a monitor mix with other wireless system users or do you require a personal mix?
Shared wireless mix Multiple users can easily share the same mono or stereo mix simply by tuning into the same channel.

Personal wireless mix You may want to transmit separate mixes to individual performers or groups of performers. If so, you will need to determine the number of mono and stereo signals you would like to transmit, and then ensure you select a system that offers sufficient multichannel capabilities.

Advanced Concepts
Operating modes Each PSM system offers the flexibility of different listening modes, which you can control from each individual Bodypack. These include Mono, Stereo and a proprietary Shure feature called MixMode™. All PSM systems can operate in Mono. Most also offer Stereo and MixMode.

operating modes including mono, stereo and mix mode

Wireless operation Once you’ve decided on the number of mixes you’ll need for your wireless application, there are still additional factors to consider when choosing, setting up and utilizing your system to avoid outside interference, as well as interaction between systems.

Frequency compatibility Wireless system frequencies cannot be chosen at random; they are preset. They are also pre-coordinated, which means they are all compatible to work with one another and avoid conflicts with other devices sharing nearby frequencies. Each PSM system offers different numbers of compatible frequencies. Where you play and how many mixes you require greatly impacts the number of compatible frequencies available to you and how many your system should support.

Antenna combining More advanced PSM wireless systems offer the ability to combine multiple transmitter antennas (eg., connecting up to four PSM wireless transmitters to one antenna). In these systems, reducing the number of transmitter antennas in close proximity to one another reduces the chance of experiencing sound drop-outs and is crucial to obtaining the best possible performance. A variety of accessories are available, including different antennas and combiners. Directional antennas can also be used to increase range and reduce the chances of drop-outs due to multi-path interference.

Learn More
A comprehensive, in-depth guide from Shue.     Pdf file