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While it's not yet proven to be the holy grail, this below is nevertheless the closest that I've personally - after years of trying different things - found to something that:
Yes - I know, being Behringer, this is probably a copy of someone elses concept (Mackie, etc, etc), but personally I'm a fan of Behringer products. Their products have never yet let me down and pretty much everyone elses have.
And this is it (the Xbox controller is just for scale! :
It cost me £130 new and it weighs just 7lb. It comes with a mic stand adapter and comfortably sits on that at just the right angle for its intended use as personal monitor.
I won't go through all the features - there are plenty of ads and clips around - but will show these two shots to refer to in terms of the configurations we've been able to successfully use in our particular live scenarios, and thoughts for more in the future.
Before I cover the scenarios tried so far, the key aspects that have given us the flexibility are:
There is one more factor that has been used in some of the scenarios we've tried. For some of the scenarios, basically those where we are creating an individual 'more me and less of him, him and her!' mix, we have used various send feeds from the mixer. Some of those, because one of our mixers is small basic, have needed a bit of thinking and ingenuity.
The dreaded 'Open Mic Night'
OK - maybe all your venues are well equipped with someone who cares about the challenges of the performers as well as the audience, providing balanced monitors and tweaking the mix during the performance. Yeah, right
Tried solution 1: Vocalist, Electric Guitarist - mic into the B205; electric guitar into B205; B205 on stand between vocalist and guitarist with mix and master volume fully audible to, in control of, performers. Resulting mix sent from Thru at back to venue's PA
Tried solution 2: Vocalist, Electric Guitarist, Backing track on Jamman pedal - mic into B205; Jamman output into phono input on B205, guitar into B205; B205 on stand between vocalist and guitarist with mix and master volume fully audible to, in control of, performers. Resulting mix sent from Thru at back to venue's PA.
Both duo bands I am in had given up doing open mic nights. We now do them again - and enjoy them!
Oh...and isn't it a lot of extra gear to take?
Other than the optional mic stand (a cupboard, bar counter or bar stool would do), it all fits into this - including cables, power leads, extension cable, Jamman and mic! :
Small Band; small to large venue
Equipment: band's mixer; own or venue's FOH PA
When Pete and I play or blues electric / sax stuff, we use this cheapo mixer (below) and send it to a small but adequate band PA, good enough for medium venues:
The mixer above is cheapo but carefully chosen because, unusually for a cheapo mixer, it has a couple of 'Send' channels as well as Mon Send and FX Send adjustment on each channel.
First time round, we tried my B205 instead of our normal wired in-ear buds. Just sent the 'Phones' output from the mixer to the B205 and it worked a treat. MUCH better than the poor-man's earphone set up we had been using. So much so that Pete went out and immediately bought his own B205D.
And that gave us HUGE opportunities. Because:
So, set up was:
Pete Guitar to mixer; my Mic to mixer; my sax condenser mic to mixer; Jamman backing track to mixer - all panned central
From Mixer - Main Out Right - to my B205, giving me full mix personal monitor; Main Out Left to FOH PA. Additionally, I made up a small three cable snake - two of them with the 'stereo jack shorted across ring and tip' mod to allow me to use the Send/IO as outputs without cutting the signal to the main mix.
So into Pete's B205 is: Mic send (jack); Electric send (jack); mon send turned on at the mixer for the Jamman channel and Mon Send output to a couple of phono plugs and into Pete's B205
Result: My 205 gives me the full FOH mix at any volume I need to hear myself and other inputs; Pete has individual volume control of the backing track, his guitar and my vocals, also with full master volume of that mix. Trust me - he can hear the sax without a channel feed needed!
So - for us - live playing has been transformed.
Further thoughts - we are going to try it with the full 5 piece band next time we practice. Every channel we use on the big mixer has a send / IO on it, plus two Mon Send outputs - and with a bit of ingenuity.......