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Engaging Worship Mix? Or Not So Much!


Veteran Technical Director and CCI Solutions Church Relations Director, Duke DeJong starts a series of articles on using personal monitors in live sound for worship. Join Duke on Facebook at &

Close up view of PreSonus digital mixing board"Can you turn the guitar and drums down a bit? I think it's just a little much", I heard behind me. I turned around and there was my Pastor. "I'd love to Pastor, but I haven't actually turned the speakers on yet. That's all monitors and the instruments themselves", I replied. "That's not good", was all he said as he walked down towards his seat, knowing we were about to address the topic of stage volume in staff meeting that week

Church Sound Technician working in front of a large audio mixing consoleFamiliar Story!

This story has played out numerous times for me over the years in multiple churches, and it's a familiar story for many sound guys, doing their best to mix the house around the stage volume instead of simply mixing the house. In fact one of the biggest challenges I see in worship spaces with 500 seats or less, and often in spaces with 1000 seats or less, is that there is simply too much sound coming from too many locations going in too many directions. My sound system philosophy is simple, put sound where people are and keep it away from where they aren't. In smaller rooms this is challenging as the volume of the musicians and monitors on the stage comes out into the house, reflecting off of the ceilings and walls and often creating more acoustic energy in the house than the main speakers themselves.

Worship Leader singing to microphone while wearing in-ear monitors

How It Started!

For years touring musicians have used in ear monitors in order to hear better and to decrease the audio clutter and volume on stage. While there are some drawbacks, being able to clearly hear what you are doing and minimize the impact of stage volume on the house became standard on high dollar tours. Tours would have monitor engineers on stage running their in ear mixes, or have huge consoles at FOH to run them from there. This simply wasn't practical for most venues, so churches continued to struggle with stage volume. Nearly a decade ago it all changed with the introduction of personal monitor mixers.

Early Objections to In Ear Monitors!

They're too expensive, it takes another person to run them, the monitor engineer doesn't get what I want in my mix and it's hard to make changes mid song set and with in-ears in there's no forgiveness in what I hear. They were all legitimate barriers, but along came the advent of the personal mixer, a box of a limited amount of channels that was right next to the musician, producing an in-ear mix that she could control. No monitor engineer, the musician could make changes how and when they wanted and no costly wireless gear or monitor console was needed making it suddenly affordable.

Free To Mix Again!

As more control of the monitors was given to the musicians, the audio guy responsible for the house mix began to get more control of the room back as monitor wedges went away, guitar cabinets went into isolation boxes and drum sets became isolated.

Church sund technicians sitting at the back of large worship space in front of large audio mixing boards

A Fix For the Frustration!

Are you struggling with overall volume in your venue? Do you have times where the instrument mics are turned off but the instruments are still too loud in the house? As a musician, is the sound on your stage simply so chaotic and loud that it's hard to hear anything? Are your ears ringing after you're done with the worship set? Has your sound guy said the stage volume is too loud? If you answered yes to any of these, you are a candidate to discuss getting a personal monitor system. We're going to talk more about them in upcoming issues of our award-winning Worship Tools Newsletter.

We'll discuss what options there are, tips to maximize effectiveness, as well as tips on implementing systems and helping musicians make the adjustment. What's for certain is that if you are fighting any of the above there are affordable, powerful tools available to help you create an engaging worship mix instead of a decidedly un-joyful noise.



Church Relations Director
CCI Solutions



Duke has over 14 years of experience as a technical artist, trainer and collaborator for ministries. Duke travels around the country for CCI Solutions and is available to help your ministry. Join Duke on Facebook at