Communication Between The Stage And Sound Booth

When mixing audio at church, there are many issues that may arise to slow down the practice, sound check or even the service. Communication between the soundboard and the stage is really important for optimum sound quality and enjoyment. There are different ways to communicate from the soundboard and this article will cover the main basic ones…

Physical Signs

Using body language, hands, pointing fingers and other forms is probably the most distracting and less effective (unless specific signs are worked out between the musicians and sound technicians). So many times the sound tech is trying to let a musician know that his guitar isn’t plugged in, or that a vocalist has the incorrect microphone and they are trying everything possible to get attention from the stage. In most cases, as a sound technician, all you can do is wait it out; even wait till the performer notices a problem and then they fix it.

Talk Back

Some soundboards have built in microphones right on the mixer. These microphones are typically called ‘talk backs’, are used for communicating to the stage monitors or in ear monitors. The use of these is best for obtaining the best communication between the mixer and the stage. There are however, disadvantages in using talk backs on stage wedge monitors. Monitors give off a lot of sound and if the sound tech were to be speaking to the musicians, there is a large chance that people in the congregation would hear as well. Talk back microphones are best used during practices and sound checks and shouldn’t be used during a service. If running in ear monitors, the sound tech can now have a one way conversation with the musician(s) of his choice and no one will be able to hear.

If your soundboard doesn’t have a built in talk back function, the next best way to serve the same purpose would be to connect a microphone through a XRL cable directly into a channel on the board (if there is an availability of channels). From here changing the auxiliaries/monitor channels will help deliver the amount of sound needed for talk back to the stage. Make sure however, that the volume slider is off, so that the sound tech’s voice doesn’t go through the mains.


In almost all situations, having the ability to speak to the stage without yelling or getting their attention is through talk backing. Some soundboards will not have this feature, so it is best to connect a spare microphone to a spare channel. Remember that talk back is for the sound engineer to speak to the musicians and not the other way around. Get used to speaking through a microphone to your musicians. Not only will this help improve the quality of the mix but also help limit the amount of time wasted trying to get attention.

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