TWLL #44: Hearing Your Vocal As You Lead Worship

Feb 28, 2024


read time: 5 minutes




When you lead worship, being able to hear your voice well is huge.

When you're not hearing your voice clearly it's hard to sing as confidently.  Because essentially, when you can't hear yourself it's like you're singing blind.

I want touch on 3 things today, to help you hear your voice better when using your in-ear monitors.  And to those who are just using wedge monitors, the same principles apply.

Note: The points below will be points you want to ask your sound tech for, when they're mixing your worship set live.  Sound check (before your set) is definitely the time to go through these points!


A Flat EQ

I'm not a tech, so those who are more tech savvy- please bear with me :)

EQ basically has to do with the sound frequencies of your voice (or any instrument).  Think highs, mids, and lows here. 

High frequencies are going to be those brighter, airy, shimmery tones in your voice.  Low frequencies will be those warmer, more full, bass tones.  Mid frequencies will be somewhere in between the highs and lows.

From the sound board, your tech can control your high, mid, and low vocal frequencies to create the best sound for your voice.

In my opinion, you want ask your tech for a fairly flat EQ for your voice.  Flat just means the highs, mids, and low frequencies are all even- or the same.

The reason you want this for your voice, is that a flat EQ typically will give you the most natural or authentic sound- which is exactly what you want when you sing.  You want to hear your voice like it would sound if you were just at home singing without a mic and speakers.

There are exceptions and times when the tech may need to boost or lower certain vocal frequencies to compensate for other sound dynamics (the acoustics of the room, the kind of microphones and other sound gear being used, etc)-  but typically a fairly flat EQ is going to be what you want for your voice.


Minimal Reverb

I'll preface this section by saying I'm a fan of reverb, and when used tastefully it can really enhance a singer's vocal sound.

But as far as the sound I'm directly hearing through my in-ear monitors, I don't want much reverb added to my vocals.  

Why?  Because reverb can make your voice sound more distant and less clear.  Which, when I'm singing, is not what I'm needing.  I need to be able to hear my voice in a way that feels close-up and clear.

Again, reverb is a great tool and when it's added to your vocal coming through the FOH (front of house, or main room) speakers it can sound great.  

But for your vocal as it comes through your in-ears or wedges, I think it's going to be more helpful for you to have minimal reverb.


Light Compression

Compression is another great tool that can be used to create a vocal effect, or keep your vocal dynamics (louds and softs) in a helpful volume range.

When used well, it can really add to or enhance the sound of your voice.  With that said, I recommend using a very light amount (or setting) of compression on your vocal as it comes through your in-ears.

Here's why: a compressor basically puts a limit on how loud your voice is going to sound when you sing.  So you can be singing at a level 10, but if the compression is too heavy, the vocal sound you'll hear through your in-ears will come out to a lower level (like a level 6-7).  

Not only is this simply frustrating for you as a singer, in the sense that the volume you're singing at isn't accurately being translated through the sound system- but because of that your voice is naturally going to push harder and sing louder to try to compensate.

The net result is that your voice is going to get tired fast and potentially strained because you're pushing so hard.

The solution?  Ask your tech to use no compression on your vocal as it comes to your in-ear monitors (and frankly I would ask for as light as possible of a compression setting for your vocal as it comes through the FOH).

Again, compression is not a bad thing at all.  When used properly it's very helpful on multiple levels.  But specifically as it relates to your vocals, and how you're hearing your voice through the sound system, I think low to no compression is going to be most helpful to you as you sing.



The next time you’re doing soundcheck, remember these ideas and get your vocal sounding clear in your in-ear mix.

When you can hear your voice clearly, you'll sing with more confidence and more energy.  

And to zoom out to the bigger picture- when you're hearing your vocal clearly, it actually frees up internal space both mentally and emotionally for you to direct your attention to singing to Jesus and leading your room in worship.




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