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Etiquette for in-ears, processors, backing tracks, et al

Let's face it, as noble as your intentions may be, if you need to run anything beyond, guitars, bass, drums, vocals, and keys, you are initially going to be perceived as a pain in the ass. So you had better come prepared. If you do come prepared, and you manage to make the Front of House mixer's job easier, you will have won his/her respect, the respect of your peers, give off the appearance of being a professional outfit, but most importantly, you're more likely to have a good show.

Make sure that for all the bells and whistles you need to add to the mix in order to sound the way you want to sound, BRING EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO MAKE THINGS AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE or you could be unwittingly sabotaging your own set.


Bring your own DI's and all the necessary cables and adapters you need for each item. And be well schooled in exactly how they need to be connected to the house board. Do your research, and know your shit.

It's not a bad idea to scout a venue you've never played, or haven't played in a while, a week or two beforehand and see what kind of board they have, what the sound situation is all around, and then go home and gameplan. Even if the venue says in advance that they have 5 DI's on hand, they probably don't, and it's always easier for everyone involved if you can just plug in your stuff and go.


If your tracks don't have a DI with an XLR output to hand the sound mixer, so they can just plug in an XLR cable and go... You're an asshole. No one else will tell you this, but you're an asshole. Also, its a good idea to keep your tracks mono, nobody wants to deal with stereo. The PA configurations in most clubs are not equipped to deliver your mix through the mains along with the rest of your live instruments and voices with any kind of fidelity. So keep it simple. Create a mono mix of your tracks, and bring that. If you absolutely must have your tracks come through in stereo make sure you have anything and everything on hand that FOH needs to make it happen. But it's better to keep them mono.


If you have a vocal processor, it had better be plug and play on the FOH's end, or again, you're an asshole. It should go between your mic and the XLR leading to their board, and you need to be able to kill it quickly via footswitch or by hand in the case of swelling feedback, because you are increasing your chances of getting feedback with all those FX, so just keep that in mind.

(FOH peeps, please stop adding those massive tailed delays to singers to make their sustained notes carry. Good singers just need some reverb and a touch of delay with a decent tail. And the delay should be mixed lower than the verb just to give the end of notes and phrases a touch of sustain. BTW a 3 second decay is wayyyyyyyyy too fucking long -- UNLESS its pushed down under the verb level, in which case it can work really well. But don't let that delay sit on top.)


A lot of bigger venues have passive wedges so getting a monitor feed that will work with in-ears is a challenge. If they have to make an exception for you regarding how their hard-wired setup is configured. Then automatically, you're a pain in the ass.

Sometimes the bigger venues run a separate board just for the monitor mix. In the event they've made provisions for in-ears, or if the venue uses powered wedges, then the onus is all on you. If you're in-ear rig is not ready and prepped for your sound person to just hand you an XLR cable that would normally feed any other powered floor wedge... once again, you're an asshole.

If, in addition, you need to be able to actively control your personal volume separate from the monitor feed you're getting, I get it. I really do. But make sure FOH doesn't need to do anything except hand you an XLR feed from their board, and dial in a headphone mix for you. If you need to bypass a channel using a turnaround, and everything that doing so entails, then I hope you have a sound tech with you who also has all the necessary cabling, and who can run a patch in seconds flat. And even then, you risk pissing off your sound mixer.

Try not to piss off the sound's a really bad idea.


If you need all this gear to deliver your show your way, then you need to be on it, 1000%, so that you know your rig, and are prepared for any eventuality in terms of what gear they may or may not have on hand. Or; have your own sound tech to bring to every show that has all the gear and can prep and run it all so it's not on the house sound personnel. Trust me they have enough to deal with as it is. Their job is to make you sound good, and get you the best onstage mix they can, not be your entire tech crew.

So do your research. Know your shit. Come prepared. Don't be an asshole. And try to have fun!

It's supposed to be fun.

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