Stage noise. The ultimate enemy in small venues.
What can you do about it? Little, and everything – as always, it depends on your budget, and the amount of effort you want to put in.
I’m not any kind of expert in this area, but I can direct to several key resources which I have found useful for understanding how to reduce stage noise over the years.
Option 1: Get USED to playing quietly.
It might sound stupid – but one of the key things that any band can do, is to learn to play less loudly! This starts in the rehearsal room. Set yourself up quietly, and gently bring up your levels, until all the instruments are balanced – give your drummer a bench mark – you’ll be amazed how quickly the style of a drummer changes when the rest of the band is playing quietly!
Option 2: In-Ear Monitors
I’ve long been an advocate of using in-ear monitors. They have several advantages – not least the opportunity for each musician to be able to hear exactly what they want to hear, regardless of the sound balance that they can hear from the stage.
There are a number of resources available explaining the merits of systems like this, a lot better than I can.
When looking at resources for things like this, I always find the worship sites useful, as they tend to operate in constrained spaces, which are highly awkward sound wise – much like the common pub and functions band.
This page gives some great explanations of the various merits, uses and proper use of IEM systems.
Option 3: Get used to upsetting audience and playing bad gigs!
That’s the reality of it. If you fail to control your levels on stage, you will force the front of house to be pushed, will damage peoples hearing, and will ultimately get a bad reputation for blowing peoples ears out! Controlling everything from guitar amp levels, to monitor levels, is absolutely crucial to achieving the best live sound possible!
- Westone Announces Launch Of Newest Elite Series, The Ultimate Custom-Fit In-Ear Monitor For The Music Professional And Audiophile (sacbee.com)