Public Addressing

Hello Compressorheads,

In this post we will talk about public addressing.
Have you ever wondered what the guy in the middle of a concert/festival is doing?
You’ll find out here!

There are 2 kinds of mixing tables present at concerts, one in the middle of the public, also called the front of house and one table at the side of the podium, this one is called the monitor-table.

Font of house mixing-table


Monitor mixing-table


The front of house provides the sound for the public and the monitor table provides sound back to the artists on stage, the public won’t hear this. Each band member can choose his own mix, e.g. the singer can decide to hear little or even no guitar through his monitor while his voice comes through loudest. The monitor table can also provide a recording of the performance.

Most of the time music is provided to the crowd through a line array of speakers while the music to the artists is provided by dedicated monitor speakers.

Line array


Monitor speaker


One of the things that have to be avoided while setting up a P.A. system is feedback, this is a very loud annoying sound that happens when sound coming out of a speaker is picked back up by a microphone that again amplifies this signal. Typically feedback happens at certain frequencies, feedback can be avoided with the help of graphical feedback destroyers.
Feedback can be a dangerous effect, if not stopped quickly enough eardrums can be damaged.

Here’s an example of feedback.

Here you can hear a live example of feedback, it can happen even in professional circumstances. (around 30sec)

Of course P.A. is not just selecting the right volume for each instrument, all kinds of effects have to be applied, room acoustics have to be modelled, sometimes some noise from the crowd has to be mixed in to give the sound a more pleased feeling, etc…

This video might give you a better idea.

Of course not every mixer is as good as the other one, have you ever been to a concert where you thought the music sounded really bad and you could mix it better yourself?


2 Reacties op “Public Addressing

  1. I remember a concert of My Bloody Valentine at Pukkelpop 2009, which literally hurt my ears. Afterwards I read some people had become deaf, which is not that hard to believe if you know an average sound pressure level of about 130dB was measured. It was so loud you could not distinguish the different instruments from each other, you only heard (and felt) very loud noise. I don’t know if you need to blame the mixer for this, or if the band specifically asked for it, but I do know I never want to hear something like that again. One question: do you think it is possible to make a system that automatically kills feedback when it happens (or does something like that already exist)?

    • Hey Michiel!

      The mixer indeed has control over this, but mostly the band specifically asks for this.
      There are some ‘feedback killers’ available, but we don’t have any expierience with this.
      We do question this because sometimes feedback is desired like in some delay applications.

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