So you find yourself in an intimate moment during worship, where song preferences, lighting effects, and out-of-tune vocals all seem to disappear, when all of a sudden, feedback (a.k.a ‘ringing mics’) comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
Why does this happen, and how do you fix it? Let me share three techniques to help you get rid of feedback once and for all.
1. Cure Shy Vocalists
A confident, well-trained vocalist is usually not the source of feedback issues. It is the shy, unsure vocalists that require over-amplification, which results in feedback. This is where vocal training comes in handy. Vocalists should learn to breath correctly and project their voice. If they are using the mic as a crutch, you will always have problems.
A good rule-of-thumb is to never let the mic get more than one inch from your mouth.
Another problem that is common amongst vocalists is holding the mic too far away from their mouth. The further away the mic gets, the more sound that is lost before it reaches the mic, which means the sound guy will have to turn you up louder and louder. You know where it goes from there. A good rule-of-thumb is to never let the mic get more than one inch from your mouth.
2. Lower Monitor Volumes
You probably hear this phrase every Sunday, “Can I get more of myself in the monitors?”. A worship team must be taught to stop listening so much for themselves and start listing to the band as a whole. The goal should always be to hear a good mix of everyone, not just your microphone.
When mixing monitors, its is easier to mix at a higher volume. After you achieve a good mix, reduce the overall volume down as low as you can stand it. The lower your monitor levels, the better the house mix and the less chance there is for feedback. Its a win-win situation!
3. Cut Common Feedback Frequencies
Finding frequency problems can be a trip, but it is one of the most important problems to fix if you want to have good sound. Every room has its frequency issues. There are usually 2-3 frequency areas that need to be cut. If there are more problems than that, you may want a new room.
There are a few tools that can help you find these frequencies: Real Time Analyzers (RTA), DBX DriveRack, and Behringer Feedback Destroyer. This post will also help: How to Set EQ with iPhone Sound Frequency Analyzer.
If you are on a tight budget, you can always find them the hard knocks way: turn up a mic till it rings, turn it down, cut an EQ band, turn up the mic again until it rings. If you have more headroom (you can turn it up louder) then you found the frequency. If not, level out the frequency that you cut and try another. Once you find a bad frequency, a different frequency might ring (it would have a different pitch), which you would want to find as well.
To effectively cut frequencies, you should have a ⅓ octave graphic EQ (31-band). Parametric EQ would work even better, although more expensive. But, if you have a digital mixer, parametric EQ is right at your fingertips.
Feedback really does suck, and so do frequency problems. However, it is definitely worth your time to get his resolved as it provides a much better experience for those who are listening.