6 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

Can’t Hear Yourself Sing Live? Try These Tips

Singers in bands of all styles tend to face a very familiar problem: the inability to hear themselves when singing along with the band. This frustrating problem can cause vocalists to strain their voice trying to over project and have problems with pitch ultimately giving less than their best performance. The human voice has its own distinct limitations- unlike an electric guitar or bass, a singer cannot simply turn up the volume on his or her amp if they are not cutting through. However, taking advantage of technology can help vocalists hear themselves over the din of a loud band.

Evaluate the Stage vs. House Mix

When singing live onstage, keep in mind that what you hear onstage and what the audience hears can be completely different. If you feel like your vocals are getting lost in the mix, try to step off the stage if possible (a good time to get crowd interaction points!), and see how it sounds out front. Of course, this isn’t possible on big arena and festival stages, but it works fine at small venues, especially if you have a wireless microphone system (check out Carvin Audio’s UX1200 wireless system). If you have problems hearing yourself while the front row is getting blasted with vocals, signal to the soundman that you would like more of your vocals in your monitor. Also, if you want less of the other instruments in your monitor mix, as they will interfere with how clearly you hear your vocals, specify what you need changed during a break between songs. Ultimately, the house mix is the job of the soundman, but you do have control over what you want to hear onstage. The soundman only knows you want something changed if you tell him.

Make Sure Your Monitors are Working with You

While guitarists and bassists may be able to get away with not being able to hear themselves optimally, due to muscle memory and the ability to adjust EQ settings on their amps on the fly, singers are often a different story as hearing the pitch and nuance of one’s voice are essential to be able to sing accurately. When choosing a spot to stand onstage, make sure that the monitoring system is adequate and that you stand close enough to the monitors. Vocalists usually need more monitor wedges than other members of the band, so ask if you can move them, if they are part of a house system, where you need them.  Of course, the quality of the monitoring system matters, as with any other pro audio equipment, and if a venue has a sub-par monitoring situation you will have to adapt to it.

TRx12N 12 Inch 2-Way 300W Monitor

Carvin Audio’s TRX12N is an ideal solution for vocals with its compact size and high power handling. Its thirty degree tilt design and minimal stage footprint projects your vocals even in tight spaces onstage.

Consider In-Ear Monitors

In-ear monitors can be a dream come true for vocalists. While useful for all band members, as they reduce the need to be tethered to one spot onstage, vocalists especially benefit from the crystal-clear, high fidelity monitoring of their voice, unhindered by onstage monitors or excessive clashing with other instruments, working as ear plugs letting you set your volume. It’s no wonder that in-ear monitors are the go-to system for seasoned professionals. They may look a little pricey, but not so pricey when compared to a power amp and a floor monitor. It’s an investment that will ensure a new level of vocal performance.

EM900 Wireless In-Ear Personal Monitor System

EM900 Wireless In-Ear Personal Monitor System

If you can’t hear yourself sing live, do not alter your vocal technique or overcompensate by shouting and letting your dynamics suffer. As an acoustic instrument, the human voice naturally cannot compete on its own with loud guitars, bass, and drums, so it’s essential to use the pro audio tools at your disposal to your benefit.

Comments

  • Posted On March 10, 2017 by Rick Erdman

    I started out way back in the 70’s with NO monitors, eventually floor wedges became the nor.m and in the early 2000’s I moved on to spot monitors.

    I had tried in ear monitors but in the early days they were A: not perfected and thus not so great and B: cost prohibitive. 3 or so years ago I purchased a Carvin EM 900 in ear monitor system and with today’s vast improvements in wireless technology I was greatly impressed! A member of a band local to me had sumbitted a review on the EM 900 and that’s what convinced me that it was the one I should go with.

    I must say, now that I am used to it I will NEVER go back to wedges and spots! I have convinced the other members of my band to go in ear as well and it has been a huge benefit in that none of us “overdrive” vocals now and feedback is a thing of the past.

    If you can’t go in ear then sometimes simply adding more wedges and placing them where you will be “roaming” is a big help. If there are multiple channels of monitoring, as a vocalist, see if you can get the tech to run a channel with just vocals. Place 2 wedges where you can hear them and then run vocals to one and the rest of the mix to the other. This will make the vocals stand out more than if you simply raise their level along with a full mix in the same cabinet.

    A spot monitor dedicated to just vocals may be another answer. One of the payoffs here is that you can get an amplified spot cab and then YOU can control volume without having to ask the tech.

    BUT……no matter how you solve your vocal monitoring needs be mindful that unless you are using in ear monitoring the chance for feedback increases with volume.

  • Posted On March 09, 2017 by Uncle Ralph

    Or . . . just have your material down so stone cold that you can perform it in your sleep, whether you can hear it or not.

    Every working musician needs to see the movie, “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years.” In the mid-1960s the Beatles were performing for crowds numbering in the tens of thousands before there was any such thing as “concert sound.” They often sang through the existing PA system at a baseball stadium. Monitors ranged from totally inadequate to completely nonexistent. The theater I saw the film at showed the film of the Beatles entire concert at Shea Stadium following the documentary film. I don’t know if that was offered at all showings in all venues or not. The point is, that the Beatles did a great job of singing and playing their tunes despite the crappy sound system. John Lennon later said he couldn’t hear a thing and that he couldn’t imagine what the audience was listening to, but that didn’t keep him from delivering a performance that would put many modern live performances to shame.

    Yeah, use all the modern technology you can get your hands on, but knowing your material dead-to-rights is ingredient 1.

  • Posted On March 08, 2017 by Bernie Hynson Jr.

    The Carvin TRX series IS THE BEST ON STAGE SPEAKERS for FOH and for personal monitoring. I have been a Carvin user for over 17+yrs.! There is just NO OTHER GEAR that sounds or durable as CARVIN folks!!! (PERIOD) Stop waisting your money….pay a ’lil shipping to get the BEST!!!

  • Posted On March 08, 2017 by David Gilman

    I just received the MB10 small bass combo amp I ordered last week which I fully expected to be just OK, as I was looking for a light weight amp I can use for practice sessions with our group.

    Well it wasn’t OK…It’s great! WAY beyond what I was expecting…..has much bigger resonance than it’s small size would imply….and much more power. I plugged in the larger speaker cabinet, and got pretty close to power I get from the larger Carvin amp I use for gigs…

    Quite a surprise and at less than $300….quite a bargain, and packaged so nothing could damage it….

    Good Going Carvin!

    David

  • Posted On March 08, 2017 by Jeff

    I am a keyboard player, bar and wedding party band. I mostly sing high harmonies, a couple of lead vocals. What has saved me the last 10 years or so is using a spot monitor on a mic stand, elevated so it is right above my upper keyboard, slightly to the right. Note: Our monitors are used only for vocals, so I don’t have to adjust the instruments in the monitor mix.

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