02009-05-06 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

1. Victor Hornback Says:
I would love to hear what you guys hear during a performance. Is the in-ear-monitor exactly what the person in the mixing booth is hearing? Is it essentially what we would hear on a recording of a live performance?

Do you practice mostly without a microphone and monitors? If so does hearing your instrument this way cause a sense of disconnect the first time or two on stage?

No, what we hear is not what Alan hears, in fact we each hear something different. We use a monitor system that feeds the sound of each instrument via ethernet from Alan’s digital mixing console to little controllers next to each musician on stage. Those controllers have replaced the monitor engineer and allow us to taylor the sound to our liking. (((our monitor engineer Dan left in 2002 – after touring with us for eight years – to do a broadway play and his replacement partied too much and wasn’t there when we needed him, so we tried this new method of doing our own mixes and LOVE it))) For example, Jon might have more of his bass in his monitors that I do, and Steve might have his guitar louder. I have my guitar centered and Stephen’s guitar panned to the right. I also have the kick drum in the middle, but the rest of Mike’s drums half-left. Each of us has control over panning and volume for each instrument. Unfortunately we don’t get to hear stereo from all of the stereo instruments – electric guitars and keyboards – because we are using too many inputs (((meaning that the keyboards and electric guitars are mono for us))), but it sounds quite good. Much better than the old-fashioned wedges (((like this or this))) or other types of monitor speakers.

This is also not what you would hear on a recording of a live performance. Nobody else can hear our little personal mixes. It’s interesting to note that I have never listened to the monitor mixes the others are listening to. It’s a private monitor world, I guess.

No, I don’t set up a microphone and monitor to play guitar at home. I don’t use the system when I play solo, either, but it really takes no time to get used to it. We started using in-ear-monitors in 1994, just before we recorded ¬°Viva! – so that’s fifteen years of familiarity.

I may have told this story already, but when we opened for Santana in 1996, Carlos made fun of us and said that we were having phone-sex instead of the real thing because we didn’t use big and loud, loud, loud monitor speakers like his band. One of the times Carlos stood on stage, listening to our soundcheck, my monitor engineer handed him a set of headphones and told him that’s what I am hearing. After a few seconds he started to nod and smile and his eyes got big: “It’s in Stereo! he exclaimed.


  1. Luz

    Great question by Victor and loved reading your take on how you play and listen. Very interesting reading indeed, thanks for sharing.

  2. Adam

    Love the Santana story :)

  3. Victor Hornback

    That is quite fascinating to me – and it sounds like it was a surprise for Carlos Santana too. It’s just weird to think you are all in such close proximity and yet you could be a thousand miles apart having a jam session by conference call. Anyway, cool that it works so well!

  4. Ottmar

    Victor: Yes, but we have eye-contact and see the body language, also! And there is a vibe that one might not detect sitting in a booth, only connected via microphone and screen.

  5. Victor Hornback

    OK, I see. Maybe a better analogy would be like the people on the floor at the U.N. – they can see each other’s body language but are listening to a translator in their ear. No wait… pretend that everyone on the floor at the U.N. was there with a clear purpose and willing to put their own agendas aside… (whatever)

    You guys have an interesting way of working together!


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