Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Headphone Monitoring Solutions

Covenant Life Church is pretty spoiled. Our musicians have it better than they know. On a normal Sunday, each musician gets his own individual stereo headphone mix. No sharing. No arguments. No negotiation.

However, for the last six months, we've been battling some "issues" with our monitoring system. Patch bay connections are going flaky. Personal monitor amps wig out. One side of the headphones doesn't work. Safety compressors are overheating and causing distortion.

What I've realized is that our system is pretty complex. Here's the signal chain:
Mixer >> Patch Bay >> Safety Limiter >> Back Room Split >> Wall Panel >> Heaphone Snake >> Headphone Line >> Personal Monitor Amp (with wall wart power supply) >> Headphone Extension >> Headphones >> Musicians Ears
Now, while that isn't that complex as monitor systems go, it does have a ton of connections and other error-prone components.

As a result of the ongoing problems and the seeming overcomplexity, I've been exploring other options. To be honest, I'm not real thrilled with what I see.

Here are the three options I've seen so far:

Option 1: Live for the Present. Keep what we have, but do a real thorough double check of all the wiring and replace all the old personal monitor amps with newer and more reliable versions. Plus: our volunteers know how to run and set this up. Minus: replacing the headphone amps will cost about $4200.

Option 2: Go old school. Replace the personal monitor amps with two multi-channel headphone amplifiers and rewire the whole getup with lower-guage cable. Plus: the money required is less than $1200. Minus: Rewiring the whole getup.

Option 3: Launch into the future. Replace everything with Aviom. Plus: we will actually be entering this millenium. Minus: We'd eliminate about 14 volunteer slots and need to retrain another 14.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Experience from which we could benefit?


scoobarella said...

dude, go with the aviom if you can. i'm running it now and love it.

Anonymous said...

We use Aviom and love it. We're in an old sanctuary with 60' ceilings and a dome behind the choir. We couldn't fix the rolling around of the sound with monitors and when we switched to Aviom, a slight tweak on the delay system and lots of problems were solved.

But, it also revealed that our house speaker (yes, just one, that predates me) is absolutely horrible. My predecessors had been relying on the good monitor system to drive the house sound.

Anonymous said...

Don't even think about it. Order your Avioms before the aspirin's all gone.

W. Harris said...

Dave -

I'd go with the aviom system. This would be a nice first step in moving the whole sound rig into the digital realm. Also you mentioned 'headphones.' Not sure what you are using in this regard, but would highly recommend Shure's E-5s.

Anonymous said...

We use avioms, and it's worked pretty well for us.

Obed said...

Any update on the setup you chose?

Dave Wilcox said...

Obed, thanks for asking. We are in the process of finishing our "upgrade," and I'll probably post about it soon.