Personal Monitors Vs. Stage Wedges: A Cost Analyst

When it comes to budgeting for audio gear, stage monitors are generally overlooked. Let’s face it: we all love mixing front of house. It is the obvious place to spend the money, but when the stage does not sound right or the band and singers cannot hear, things start to fall apart.

It is true that building a good monitor system can be costly. Let’s take a look at a typical monitor mix using floor wedges as an example. I am going to use what I will call a professional-grade system using recognized pro audio manufacturers.

Monitor Mixing System Costs

WorxAudio

2 WorxAudio M8 400 Watt Passive Stage Monitors, $850 x2, $1700
1 Electro Voice Q99 2-Channel 900 Watt Amplifier, $849
1 Square One SQ1G Stereo Graphic Equalizer, $549
Assorted cables, $100

Total cost for two mixes, one wedge on each mix, $3098

Electro Voice Powered Speaker System

2 Electro Voice ZLX-12P 12″ 1000W Powered Speakers, $700 x2, $1400
1 dbx 231s – Dual (stereo) 31 Band Graphic Equalizer, $199
Assorted cables, $100
Cost for two mixes, one wedge on each mix, $1699

Phonic

2 Phonic iSK12 700 Watt Stage Monitors $190 x2, $380
1 Alto MAC2.32 2-Channel 2200 Watt Power Amplifier, $299
1 Alto AEQ231Stereo 31 Band Graphic EQ, $149
Assorted cables, $100

Cost for two mixes, one wedge on each mix, $928

For my money, I would go with the first package, or at least try to build a monitor system that has all high quality components that I know would perform in any situation. The one fundamental issue with this monitor solution is that it gets expensive any time one or two mixes need to be added to the system. In my case, picking the first system, if I needed six mixes with only one floor monitor per mix, my initial cost is $9000. If I would like to add a floor wedge to a mix, just add $850 per mix. You get the idea.

There are live environments that call for stage monitors, and spending money on quality components pays off in the form of great stage sound and reliability. But when it comes to long-term investment on a monitor system that is flexible and affordable, personal monitor systems are the way to go. Personal monitor systems put features that are generally available only on digital mixing consoles into the hands of the band. Channel equalization, compression, pan, mute groups, and many more features make personal monitor mixers a powerful stage tool.

Features aside, one of the most overlooked reasons to consider a personal monitor mixing system, besides reducing stage volume, is the cost per mix. At first look, the initial cost to build a personal monitor system seems high, but when a system is broken down on a per-mix basis, everything changes. Let’s take a look.

Aviom-Basic System

2 Aviom A320 Personal Monitor Mixers $399.99 x2, $798
1 Aviom AN-16/i v.2 Input Module, $1195
1 Aviom A-16D: A-Net Distributor, $399

Total cost for two mixes, $2392.00
Cost per additional mix, $399.99

LiveMix CS-Duo System

1 LiveMix CS-Duo Personal Monitor Mixer (2 stereo mixers each), $524.99
1 LiveMIx Livemix MIX-16 Central Mixer and Distributor, $999.99
1 LiveMix AD-24 Analog Input Module, $899.99

Total cost for two mixes, $2423.98
Cost per two additional mixes, $524.99

LiveMix CS-Duo Personal Mixer

LiveMix CS-DUO Personal Monitor Mixer

Elite Core

2 Elite Core PM-16 16 Channel Personal Monitor Mixers, $479.99 x2, $959.98
1 Elite Core IM-16 16 Channel A/D Input Module, $699.99
1 Elite Core DM-8-SF302-08MP 8 Channel Distributor, $499.99

Total cost for two mixes, $2159.96
Cost per additional mix, $479.99

Aviom System with microphone preamp module

2 Aviom A360 Personal Monitor Mixers $799 x2, $1598
1 Aviom AN-16/i-M Microphone Input Module: Mic-Pre and Mic Splitter, $2250
1 Aviom D800 A-Net Distributors, $1599

Total cost for two mixes, $5447
Cost per two additional mixes, $799

 

Personal Monitor Mixing

Aviom A360 Persoanal Monitor Mixer

So, by looking at the price breakdown for personal monitor mixing systems, there is a wide variety of systems to fill many price points. There are a few things to keep in mind. Adding a mix is low cost and most personal monitor systems have few limits on how many mixes can be added. Personal monitor mixes give control to the musicians or singers, freeing up the sound engineers so that they can focus on the house mix, and most importantly, allow for the opportunity to lower stage volume. Keep in mind that the Aviom Basic system, the LiveMix Personal Monitor Mixing Systems and the Elite Core system all need a gain stage before hitting the input module. In layman’s terms, this means each input going to the personal monitor system will need to pass through a microphone input first. The Aviom System with Microphone Preamp and Microphone Splitter has a gain stage built into the system and a microphone split for convenience.

So what does this all mean? When it comes down to it, pound for pound, you get what you pay for. There is no way that the Phonic system will sound as good as the WorxAudio system, but when operated right, the Phonic system will do it’s job. The personal monitor mixing systems all have features that will appeal to different types of users. For example, the Elite Core PM-16 Personal Mixer is a bulletproof mixer with old school knobs and a massive headphone output. The Aviom A360 personal monitor system is built for speed with amazing features and the ability to send digital signal in both directions over the CAT5 cable, allowing for the system to expand, including wireless in-ear monitor systems.

Although price is always a factor, it is best to start with a look at how many mixes will be needed now and how many mixes might be needed in the future. Consideration should also be given to what features will suit the needs of the band. This way, it becomes easier to figure out what system will fill your needs and fit your budget.

If you have any questions or would like help designing a personal monitor system, please give us a call at 1-888-252-2942, and we will be more that happy to help.