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Urgently Need Advice On Severe In-Ear Monitor Problem

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Urgently Need Advice On Severe In-Ear Monitor Problem

Postby pandaking » Tue May 21, 2019 1:24 am

Hi everybody, I hope you are all well!

I’m having some severe issues with sound on live gigs and would hugely appreciate some advice/help with this:
The lead vocalist in a band I play in weekly (and sometimes help do the sound in along with another band member), is having a severe problem with her in ear monitor mix - there is a crazy amount of unwanted room noise coming into her in ear mix. For example, when we are doing gigs in any room size (big or small, all kinds of sizes/venues/acoustics/line-ups/crowds), she can hear people having a very quiet conversation over the far side of the room before the gig, and during the gig she can hear a huge amount of noise from the band playing (an abnormal amount) and the audience is very loud in her in ears to the point that it’s loud OVER her vocal so she can’t hear herself sing in her in ears. This is not just normal bleed coming into the mic - it is as if she is singing into a condenser microphone. The problem started in November 2017. Prior to this, her in ears used to work in a way that blocked out all room noise and she would have crystal clear vocals coming into her ears at any volume that she adjusted the level to - she would turn her monitor pack up or down and only her vocal would go up or down, no room/excess noise would turn up and down with it - she used this set up for two years with lots of different bands/different PA systems/different environments/different line-ups/different sound engineers and her sound was always perfect, she brought her wireless box and in ears to every gig she did and it worked brilliantly. The issue has started to affect her health as she is pushing to hear herself and is suffering with a sore throat after every gig, and tinnitus in her ears. She is having to turn down work because the problem is affecting her voice and she will eventually have to give up the gigs (her income) if she can’t find a way to fix it where she can hear herself as she normally should again.

Furthermore, I have tried many different gain staging options with no success. We have also tried several different desks, different wireless transmiters/receivers , different leads and different mics and the problem seems to be the same every time. In addition to this we have had several sound engineers look at the issue (they all agreed the issue was severe and strange) but no one has been able to fix it. It seems to be some kind of random/obscure setting (somewhere between the gear) that is complicated and just hasn’t been pinpointed yet during our efforts.

The signal chain is: SM58 -> Berhinger x32 Producer -> Shure PSM300 with Shure SE535 in ears. We are coming out of AUX out 1 with a balanced lead. All XLR leads are Pro Neutrik with Sommer cable.

Has anyone had these sort of issues? Does anyone have any idea what this could be?! Does anyone have any tips? Any help would be greatly appreciated beyond words!!!!!
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Re: Urgently Need Advice On Severe In-Ear Monitor Problem

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 21, 2019 10:11 am

This shouldn't be hard to sort out with some calm, logical testing. And if the system used to work properly then someone has changed the setup somewhere along the line...

If the singer is hearing things they don't want to hear, that can only because they are being sent to their receiver in one way or another.

The most likely scenario is that open stage mics are being added to the IEM mix at a relatively high level, or something very roomy is being sent on the second audio channel and the balance control on the receiver is favouring that.

Or there is a compressor with lots of make-up gain dialled in acting on some open mics somewhere that is boosting the level dramatically during the quieter sections.

Or the transmitter is being overdriven into its own internal limiter.

I guess it's also vaguely possible that the IEM receiver is picking up another transmission channel carrying a more roomy balance.

All of these things are pretty straightforward to work through and rule in or out.

So... I'd start by checking that the receiver is properly synced to the right transmitter, and then that the receiver balance control is turned all the way to channel 1 (Assuming you're using it in a two-channel mode).

Next send a single sound source -- a commercial music track, say -- to the in-ears and check that there's nothing else in the mix -- no ambience.

Then send the vocal mic with nothing else... and finally add in sufficient supporting source channels to enable the performance, paying careful attention to the level of ambience/spill that comes along with them, removing any that are too open.

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Re: Urgently Need Advice On Severe In-Ear Monitor Problem

Postby pandaking » Wed May 22, 2019 3:44 pm

Hi Hugh,

Many thanks for taking the time on this detailed response.

unfortunately, I have tried many of the suggestions you are making - because the problem is so bad, there is only her vocals being sent to her pack. nothing else. if you have nothing plugged into the board except her mic. the problem is still there.

I think my knowledge on gain staging is very patchy and limited - I have a feeling the problem might be here!

Your point about the transmitter being overdriven by its internal limiter is interesting and ill definitely investigate this.

All the best Hugh, Warm Regards!
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Re: Urgently Need Advice On Severe In-Ear Monitor Problem

Postby CS70 » Wed May 22, 2019 11:20 pm

pandaking wrote:The problem started in November 2017. .. The issue has started to affect her health as she is pushing to hear herself and is suffering with a sore throat after every gig, and tinnitus in her ears. She is having to turn down work because the problem is affecting her voice and she will eventually have to give up the gigs (her income) if she can’t find a way to fix it where she can hear herself as she normally should again.

Are you kidding?

You really mean that this is a professional adult female singer who's been gigging weekly with an impossible and damaging setup for one and a half year (give or take 70 times), to the point of permanently ruining her hearing, health and sole source of income present and future, and nobody's had the simple thought of getting rid of the in-ears and use, say, a cheap stand-mounted personal monitor? Or borrow and try a different in-ear system or mixer?

Even if it was the case that the in-ears are damaged or set up in this very odd way, it would be a three minute problem to solve by changing monitoring system.

I apologize in advance if I'm not getting something, but I truly hope you're trolling, because if it were true it would border on insanity.
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Re: Urgently Need Advice On Severe In-Ear Monitor Problem

Postby AlecSp » Thu May 23, 2019 12:08 am

pandaking wrote:if you have nothing plugged into the board except her mic. the problem is still there.
So, you're getting close - but there's still work to do!

If you turn down the send from her mic, what happens to the "room" she hears? Is it coming from the mic input (and gets quieter if you turn down the mic) or is it elsehere in the desk or in the RX system (stays at the same level when you turn down the mic).

What happens if you replace the mic?

What happens if you bypass the radio IEMs, i.e., plug the earbuds direct into the mixer's headphone socket.

Keep doing what is no more than simple signal tracing and elimination. As you methodically eliminate components, you should end up closing in on the root cause.
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Re: Urgently Need Advice On Severe In-Ear Monitor Problem

Postby Dave B » Thu May 23, 2019 8:32 am

One more thing - are you sending effects to the Aux? If you are sending an effect, then it may have other mics routed to it which are gained wrong and this could account for the extra level.

When tracing a problem such as this, I'd be very strict and very methodical. I would :

1. Use a new aux send
2. Have nothing plugged in
3. Make sure NOTHING is routed to the send (really - double and triple check)
4. Get a headphone amp and use that + cable rather than the transmitter - turn volume to 0
5. plug in vocalist, gain up and then send to aux
6. raise volume level of headphone amp

At this point, if you still hear external noise, then either your gain structure is wrong, you have something else routed to the aux, or there is an issue with the transmitter/receiver. If the problem isn't here, then one by one, add in any other channels that are needed and then finally introduce the transmitter/receiver. Either a) it's all good in which case you had something routed to the old Aux1 or b) you've found either the offending channel, or determined that the issue is with the IEM set.
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Re: Urgently Need Advice On Severe In-Ear Monitor Problem

Postby Carl L » Thu May 23, 2019 9:50 pm

Is there any chance the talkback mic on the x32 is routed to the aux?
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