Monitor Mixing Setup
Pre-Fader vs. Post-Fader monitor mixing techniques
What if you mixed monitors with a FOH mindset? Hear me out.
There are two ways of mixing monitors as a monitor engineer and that is by using either Pre-Fader Sends or Post-Fader Sends.
Pre-Fader, is literally as its name implies, before the channel fader. Pre-Fader sends give you the ability to adjust the main LR Mix without adjusting the sends associated with that channel because they have a pre-fader output tap. This is especially beneficial when mixing FOH and monitors from the same soundboard as this would give you an independent mix for the PA and then all of the band’s monitors are isolated from that FOH mix.
Pre-fader is a good setup for a set-and-forget type monitor mix with an adjustment now and then when a band member asks for it.
Pre-Fader setups also give one more mix for your monitor console if desired. For instance, with the Behringer X32, there are 16 mono mixbusses, or 8 stereo mixbusses. But technically, we could have one more mix using the Main LR.
Post-Fader sends rely on the channel fader because the send is after the channel fader. In audio engineering, we will typically use this type of send for effects sends like reverbs or delays.
The post-fader send is relative to its channel fader. So, if you are sending -5dB on the send, and your channel fader is at -2dB, the overall signal of the send for that channel is -7 dB. Another example is, if you send -5dB on the send and your channel fader is at +0.0dB, the overall signal of the send for that channel is -5 dB.
One great benefit of a post-fader setup is that if a microphone starts feeding back, you can quickly take control of the situation by simply pulling down the channel fader.
Moving from show to show on a tour, if you notice a pad was accidentally switched on a DI box, or the gain of an instrument changes mid-show, you can make a single fader movement to fix that for all of the monitor mixes stage wide. Or if a gain pedal on a guitar solo was bummed mid-show, a single fader adjustment can bring the guitar volume back up to normal for the entire band.
However, the biggest benefit of the post-fader monitor setup is that you are able to MIX, and the mix that you create can translate directly to the musicians' ears.
A FOH Mix from the Monitor Console
Whenever I get the chance to mix monitors, I know the mix I create on the monitor console will never hit the PA, but I still mix as if it will. My audience is smaller, but the intentions are still the same. For this, I utilize a Post-Fader setup.
My goal is to first create that ‘album sound’ on my LR buss, and then I will think of my sends for each musician as a trim. I add to or subtract from my mix depending on what they want in their ears.
This creates a benefit for me as I can quickly tell while I’m mixing if there is an issue with a channel. For instance, if the bass guitar isn’t loud enough in my mix, I can quickly diagnose the problem. Or if the keys are way too loud all of a sudden, I can figure out what happened.
Playback/backing tracks are notorious for having gain all over the place and having my console set up as a post-fader setup can quickly solve a lot of the volume issues.
Practice Mixing Using Both Techniques
Having a firm grasp on pre-fader and post-fader mixing is something I recommend! Take some time (when not on a show) to practice both techniques and get comfortable with them. This way, no matter what situation you run into when mixing monitors, you are well prepared for it!
Until next time,
Whenever you're ready, there are three ways I can help you:
If you’re looking for a start-to-finish way to get mixing on the Behringer X32, join my X32 Fundamentals Course. In this 6 hour self-paced video course, I’ll guide you through the five fundamentals that will help you go from overwhelmed to confident when mixing on the X32.
Take a look at my digital preset store for the X32 & X-Air products. I created these effects and channel presets to help you get to mixing faster. Each product includes .pdfs with full documentation on how to use the preset and why each setting was made.
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