I help with the sound at a local High School for their musicals. The actors are having trouble hearing themselves on stage, so we're trying to place monitors on stage so that they can hear what they're singing. However, when we do this, the sound gets fed back through their microphones, creating an annoying echo.

What can I do to help cut this out? Someone recommending using a feedback suppressor of some sort. Would that be applicable here? If so, what should I know when looking for one?


Some feedback prevention approaches:

Changing the aim of the monitor speakers or the microphones. If the microphones are headsets (I assume they are for the musical), you can try to make sure the choreography doesn't take them (the singers and their microphones) too close to the near on-axis sound field of the speakers. You should always evaluate your speaker/microphone placement first

Another popular prevention approach is to adjust a parametric or graphic EQ in the signal path of the monitor speakers that cuts problem frequencies (the pitches of the feedback). Artful EQ can go a long way. See what you can do to make the feedback go away and still leave the sound easily discernable to the performers.

Also, if you're not already doing this, you should really be sending a different mix to the monitor speakers than goes to the house speakers. This way you can give the performers only what they need to hear to perform and possibly cut down on feedback by sending, say, a higher ratio of background music to performers, as the backing music is probably mostly what they need to stay on pitch, and you're probably not getting the feedback from those microphones, so they are "safer" feedback-wise.

There are some feedback-suppression devices on the market, but I don't have any personal experience with them. The theory behind them sounds promising, but I can't really speak to the quality of the execution.

  • We had some old Behringer DSP8024 EQs w/Auto-Feedback destroyers and they worked like a charm. Until they died after about 6 years. – Corey Mar 23 '11 at 21:07
  • +1 for great advice. We've also started placing our actor monitors in the fly, facing downstage. This put the sound behind the actors and gave a bit more stage coverage per monitor. Added bonus of creating a "front fill" for the front row without having to put another speaker in the house on the lip of the passerrelle. – BlackGaff Apr 1 '11 at 16:21

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