A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of spending an incredible spring day in Niagara Falls, NY to getting to know Mike Babcock, Monitor Engineer for the Heavy Metal band Trivium (Orlando, FL). Mike lives on the road, traveling the country with various touring acts, making sure that what each audience hears is consistent and the best it can be, night after night after night.
As I was telling a few other musicians about my meeting with Mike, once asked, “So, what is a monitor engineer?” Oh yeah, I better back track.
As most any singer or musician will attest, the worst thing to have to deal with while performing is not being able to hear yourself. Elevate that to the SPL level that many of these bands reach and the fact that they can hear anything at all on stage becomes almost unfathomable. Now, not all touring bands have a monitor engineer. Often times, what’s being heard through the monitors on stage is being controlled by Front Of House. When a band does have a monitor engineer, you may not know it from your set in the audience.
The Monitor Engineer position is on stage, off to the right or left of the band. The signal coming to the Monitor Engineer’s mixer is the exact same feed that goes to Front of House. And, ME’s job is to make sure that each band member is hearing exactly what they need to hear, when they need to hear it. According to Mike, this involves a heightened sense of awareness, a good knowldege of the band members and their music, and most of all—good hand signals.
In this video Mike talks more about what he does and how he does it, and talks about one of his favorite tools of the trade, the QL5 mixer from Yamaha. (Read Mike’s post on SoundProLive)