In any live sound situation, the graphic equalizer will become one of your best friend as it will help you achieve clarity and as much volume as you can out of your stage monitors.
A graphic equalizer has certain frequencies that you can either cut or boost. Back in the day, Hi-Fi stereos had these, as did various music amplifiers and they were usually around 10 frequency bands, but the professional audio models used in live sound usually have 31 frequencies.
So as you can gather, when having 31 frequencies and sliders at your disposal this will allow you to tailor a certain degree of control over which frequencies are manipulated, and when working as a monitor mixer, these 31 sliders can be a life-saver.
The Perfect Monitor Mix
All monitors have a certain frequency curve that accentuate certain frequencies more than others. Due to this, these certain frequencies are more susceptible to feedback.
Imagine the frequency response of a dynamic microphone. Monitor speakers react the same way.
So what can be accomplished by knowing what are frequency response is for any microphone or loudspeakers and which frequencies are louder than others?
By being aware of these frequencies, a graphic EQ will allow you to lower the level of certain frequencies so you can effectively raise the overall volume of the monitor. So effectively you want to flatten the overall frequency response in order to make the monitor as loud as possible.
But sadly, you don’t get a manual with every monitor, so you will have to figure it out through deduction.
Find the Problematic Frequencies by Generating Feedback
First order of business is increasing the volume of the speaker and making the feedback frequencies pop out.
Step 1. Turn up the volume from the monitor send on the desk until the monitor starts making a little feedback noise. Be careful with the volume knob because you don’t want screeching feedback on stage, just a little noticeable feedback hum.
Step 2. When it starts to hum, fiddle around with the sliders on the graphic equalizer. Try boosting certain frequencies and see if they add to the feedback. If they do, cut them and raise the volume of the monitor.
Step 3. Repeat this exercise. Raise the volume until you get feedback, then find the offending frequencies and cut them. Some frequencies may generate more feedback than others, and usually the high-mids are the most problematic regions.
Step 4. When you end up with a monitor that can’t be raised any higher unless all the frequencies generate feedback then you know you have a flat frequency response.
After a while you get to recognize the frequencies and you instinctively cut the ones you know will be problematic.
A graphic equalizer is a great tool for better monitor mixing. By using it to its full potential, you can get a louder and better monitor sound at your gigs. It enables you to get more power out of your monitors and helps the band hear themselves better on stage.
Having a happy band is crucial to a good show so you should do whatever you can to make their stage sound good.
It must be said, that with the advance in technology and information that this method may seem a little dated, but not everyone will have access to parametric EQ’s or frequency analyzers so we find that the method described in this article is a tried and tested method that anyone can use.