Performing in an environment that’s too loud can prevent you from delivering a great show. Learn the benefits of lower stage volumes and how IEMs can help.
Your most important job as a musician is to perform your best—to really bring down the house, give it your all, and leave everything you’ve got right there on the stage after the encore. While there’s a lot to be said for feeling the music, overly loud stage environments can keep you from delivering a great show.
Lower stage volumes mean better concerts for everyone, including the FOH engineer and the audience. Here is an overview of some of the benefits of lower stage volumes and ways IEMs can help.
Easier FOH Mixing
Engineers are your allies. They’re paid to put on the best show for the ticket holders and to do that, they need to be able to have some range and dynamics to work within. They also have a maximum dB level that they cannot exceed, either due to the venue management or the abilities of the PA System they’re working with. The closer your stage volume comes to their thresholds, the less room they have to work with.
To get a balanced mix through the PA system, engineers need to mix with plenty of headroom. Headroom refers to the distance between your nominal level and the loudness threshold the system can handle without distortion. When your band’s levels are too hot, it limits the range engineers have for mixing.
A balanced mix is better than a distorted mix. Cranking up your levels won’t get you any closer to sounding like the album. By taming your volume, the stage mix will sound great, and distortion won’t be a concern.
Safer Listening for the Audience
We all know that a live show is a lot of fun for your fans, but playing too loud ruins the experience for the people who came to see you. These are the people who will buy your records and your merch. There are a ton of things to be aware of when you’re performing, but to ensure your audience enjoys the show, you need to be mindful of your volume levels too.
Music venues can get dangerously loud for people in the crowd, and many concert-goers don’t wear any ear protection. Anything over 80dB is considered unsafe over long periods of time, which is roughly the level of regular street traffic. Concerts reach noise levels as high as 130dB. Any prolonged time under these conditions can cause hearing damage.
We totally get it—you want a big sound. But the truth is, you don’t need to blast your volume to sound better.
When you’re performing with traditional wedge stage monitors, feedback problems are more likely, especially if the band is in the middle of a volume war.
The ringing sound known as feedback is caused by an audio loop that travels through the PA system continuously—in other words, the sound from the wedge gets picked up by the microphones, which is sent to the wedge, which gets picked up by the microphone, and so on.
Dealing with feedback throughout the show is exhausting for you and your audience. It interferes with the accuracy of your performance and the progression of the music, pulling your attention away from the music when you least expect it.
From the audience’s perspective, stage noise is a huge annoyance, especially if it keeps happening all night. When stage noise isn’t controlled, fans hear a combination of monitor mixes clashing with the room mix. After factoring in time delays and room dynamics, the audience is left listening to chaotic, muddy sound.
Use IEMs for Lower Stage Volume
It’s hard to follow the band and play your best if you're drowning in noise, and overly loud stage monitors can make the problem worse. Lower stage volumes will give you the foundation for a tight, dynamic sound.
It’s common for vocalists to strain their voices to hear themselves over the band. Stage monitors aren’t a very inspiring solution to combat this issue, and they usually do more harm than good. Straining your vocal cords to the point of exhaustion every night will negatively affect the sound and quality of your voice. With IEMs and a personal mix, vocalists can hear themselves clearly without screaming into the microphone to compete with everyone else.
Lower volumes are key to a dynamic performance. If everything is blasting out of the PA system too loudly, the subtle variations between notes will be unnoticeable. By using IEMs and playing at a lower volume, you can focus on your mix and deliver a dynamic performance. IEMs have tuned drivers with incredible sonic accuracy, so you won’t miss a single note.
Monitoring your performance through IEMs is the best way to keep your stage volume low. Using stage monitors can force musicians to play louder than they need to, which increases the likelihood of feedback, volume wars and hearing damage. Keep your volume low to lock in a tight, punchy sound that your fans will love.
Ready to try IEMs? Shop UE PRO, and discover why they’re the industry standard.