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I am involved in a band with six members, one of which plays several instruments. In an effort to improve our chances of getting a good sound check by relieving the FOH sound engineer of the monitor mix burden, we have decided to move the monitor mix (and in some cases, the main mix) to the stage.

After giving Mr. Several Instruments his own portable mixer, we are now down to eight signals. We intend to provide the FOH engineer with either our eight signals, or a two-channel main mix out. The mixer we have chosen for this purpose is a Mackie 1642VLZ4 (user guide), which will provide four monitor mix sends, eight balanced line-level direct outs, and two main outs. This Hosa snake will convert the eight direct outs into the usual male XLR connectors that the FOH engineer expects.

My concerns are:

  1. Mixing engineers usually expect mic level inputs. Are the line-level direct outs generally compatible with the FOH mixer's mic inputs? Yes, I know about DI boxes and the like, but can I expect everyone to have the usual 20db pads and gain controls in their desk, and know how to use them?

  2. How well will the typical FOH sound engineer adapt to this arrangement? Are they likely to be receptive to this arrangement, or will they balk?

  3. Have I overlooked anything?

Note that this is a small (by economic standards) band; we won't have Tom Lord Alge mixing for us (quite the contrary, if you get my meaning).

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It depends on how decent the gear is where you are playing. If they have cheap stuff, it might be a problem, but from the medium end on up, they should either be able to use channel line inputs that go after the pre-amp on their board or they should be able to bring it back in along an insert signal path with the output from the insert discarded.

That said, if you want to maximize quality and compatibility, what you should really get is a microphone splitter. Example. This allows you to get isolated feeds from each mic to both boards and prevents phantom power and other impedance issues. This is the standard way that most FoH and Monitor board setups are done. Both boards get the full set of inputs and each makes whatever adjustments they need to.

  • Thanks for the microphone splitter suggestion, I hadn't thought of that before (even though I've seen them in many venues). Note that the direct outs on the mixer are balanced and do not have phantom power; my main concern is that they are line level. – Robert Harvey Sep 1 '14 at 18:41
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Ill answer your concerns in order

1) This depends on what you have but most if not all the mixers I have ever encountered have both line an mic level inputs. Some of the new digital stuff has a single socket can be set to what you need (usually XLR style). You should not have an issue here unless they have some very strange console. Chances are if they have such a console they will have a DI box lying around.

2) This will change with every person. Some engineers (like my self) like a feed from each instrument. The fact is the musician can not hear the house mix from the stage. What they hear is the stage mix, if they drive their gain up so they sound better in their own monitor they may not know what that is doing to the house mix. That being said some engineers may be receptive since its less that they have to deal with. What I will say is be prepared for them to balk at you and take anything better as a gift.

3) Bring lots of adapters. I have found over the years that there are quirky consoles/snakes installed in some venues. If you plan to send a feed some times you need to do it over channels that you may not have expected and its always best to be prepared to plug into everything.

---- Quirky Snakes Elaboration -----

Although these are far and few between I have seen some crazy stuff out there.

One of the most common issues is people who have, say 6 in 6 out snake (6 male, 6 female) on either end and they need 10 in and 2 out thus you need barrels to flip the outputs to an input XLR (female) jack.

I have seen snakes that have BNC channels, for what I don't know (video maybe) but people had XLR to BNC adapters hanging off them.

I have seen lots of 1/4 inch to XLR conversions, especially when people use powered speaker channels to send other signals

If you are working with some really old stuff you may even encounter RCA jacks out there. Some of the cheaper stuff in the 80's had it. I have even seen really old equipment (keyboards etc) that has RCA out but most people that have this stuff are smart enough to have a DI box with them.

  • I plan to use different buses for the monitor mixes and the house mix. I've gotten pretty good at getting a decent mix in a pair of studio headphones, but I do understand the limitations. The house mix on stage is considered a last resort option. – Robert Harvey Sep 1 '14 at 18:37
  • Can you elaborate a bit on "quirky consoles/snakes?" – Robert Harvey Sep 1 '14 at 18:38

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