This is one of those things that hopefully only happens to you once in your audio lifetime, and if it does happen, you hope that it does so during a soundcheck and not during the show.
To communicate to the stage throughout the day, and to speak to the artist during soundcheck, we set up a ‘talkback’ mic that is routed through the snake to the monitor board so that the Front of House guy can have his voice magically appear in the monitors on stage. This useful process can considerably extend the life of a Front of House mixer’s vocal cords, as he or she doesn’t have to yell 100 feet to the stage all day long. The danger of having this mic is that if you happen to leave it on while you have the PA roaring away, there will be a ton of bleed back to the monitors and the monitor guy will begin pulling his hair out trying to find the root of the problem. This really is more of a warning to the monitor engineers out there, but the fault lies with the Front of House mixer. We all hate having our talkback mics shut off by the monitor guy because we are then forced to scream loud enough for someone to turn it back on. Therefore, we must be responsible enough to turn our talkback mics off out front so that the monitor guy can safely leave it turned on up there on stage.
The simplest solution is to get a mic with an on/off switch and always have it in the off position when you aren’t speaking to the stage. One simple rule of thumb that ensures that the show will not have this problem is unplugging the talkback completely from the mic cable before the show starts. The monitor guy should always have the talkback channel muted once the show begins, but this is an extra safety measure to ensure the front-of-house mix does not find its way back on stage.
This article is excerpted from Jim Yakabuski’s book entitled Professional Sound Reinforcement Techniques. The book is published by MixBooks, an imprint of artistpro.com. You can also find the book online at www.mixbooks.com and www.musicbooksplus.com.