The short definition of a monitor engineer is that he or she is the person who adjusts the sound in a band’s monitors during live performances. The main job of the monitor engineer is to craft the band’s monitor mix. Musicians depend on stage speakers and in-ear monitors to hear a specifically crafted mix of the vocals and instruments on stage. That is how they are kept on the beat and how singers are able to stay on key.
The monitor engineer is responsible to the band for the operation of the monitor mixing console, as well as for the maintenance and repair of the band’s in-ear, onstage, and backline gear. They also maintain and repair microphones, wedges, XLR cables, and any other audio gear. It is their job to supervise the installation of the monitor system, the mixing desk, and the signal inputs. During sound check, the monitor engineer works with the musicians to adjust levels to individual monitors. Specific tasks include isolating each signal to give band members just the right amount of snare, kick drum, lead vocals, or rhythm guitar. Each musician has his or her preferences when it comes to ear monitors for their instruments.
During a performance, monitor engineers stay on the stage in the wings. They pay attention to the movements of the musicians to prevent feedback through the monitors and make adjustments to sound levels as needed. The engineer must maintain good communication with the band (often with hand signals) to ensure that the musicians are getting the appropriate sound.
A good monitor engineer has a firm grasp of the technology used to control and manipulate sound. Also, he or she must be educated in the use and maintenance of analog and digital consoles, speakers, amplifiers, hardware and software effects, microphones, and audio measurement systems.
Learn more about becoming a monitor engineer by taking the online audio engineering classes provided by Apprentice Academy. Call (615) 570-3030 for more information.