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Audio equipment becomes dated over time, just like anything else. The Walkman and boom box used to be the pinnacle of technology; everyone wanted one, but few people still have theirs.
Another item not seen much these days is the floor wedge monitor. Since technology has advanced, they aren't as popular as they once were because there are other preferred options.
So, does anyone even use floor wedge monitors anymore? Do you still use them, or have you moved on to something else altogether?
What Happened to Floor Wedges?
Some types of audio equipment have advanced so much that they are basically obsolete now, but newer technology hasn't completely replaced floor wedges yet.
There are more floor wedge monitors to choose from now than ever before, offering several options. There are more compact, lower-profile floor wedges with improved audio processing, amplifier technologies and drivers.
With these improvements, why don't we see them as often as we used to?
Many shows prefer to use in-ear monitors rather than floor wedges because stage design has evolved. Over the past few decades, many shows that had previously prioritized TV performances or streaming services are now moving online.
Modern stage design is more streamlined. Musicians and presenters have swapped bulky floor wedges for in-ear monitors. As a result, there’s less to move when changing the stage plot.
The floor wedge ends up being an unnecessary item that staff must pick up and move for every show.
Not every venue allows for perfect acoustics. Combining floor wedges with a dubious acoustic environment can result in competing energies that can make a mix environment challenging and compromise intelligibility.
If you can't hear yourself unless you crank the floor wedge right up, you're well on the way to damaging your ears. Using in-ear monitors instead of floor wedges allows you to limit the stage volume, which results in a superior mix even when dealing with less-than-ideal acoustics.
Floor wedge monitors have competition. Over the past three decades, in-ear technology has developed, and although it hasn't been popular with all, it has some distinct advantages.
Loud floor wedges that must compete with all other sounds in a room can damage musicians' ears. This makes it more difficult for the mix engineer to do their job. Also, there’s the issue of feedback from floor wedges that you don't experience with in-ears.
In-ear monitoring systems allow performers to listen in stereo, which sounds more natural and means they can listen at a lower volume. Moreover, musicians can go anywhere on stage and enjoy the same high-quality result. Floor wedges are directional, so the sound can be compromised if they're not standing directly in front of it.
In-ear monitors are neat and compact rather than clunky and bulky like floor wedges, which often end up in the sight of the camera or audience.
With dedicated monitor mixes, presenters and musicians can move freely on stage without losing their sound, unlike floor wedges.
When Are Floor Wedges the Better Choice?
Though in-ear monitors are popular these days, not everyone prefers them over floor wedges. Often, performers or speakers dislike wearing earbuds because they can be distracting or discomforting.
Fortunately, if some people on the stage prefer in-ear over floor wedge monitors, the two technologies can be combined. You could have a couple of wedges on the stage for the singer and then in-ear monitors for the musicians or vice versa. That way, everyone is happy with their chosen equipment. The monitors can be mixed and matched any way they like, so nobody has to settle.
Additionally, sometimes in-ear monitors can block out sounds performers actually do want to hear, such as responses from the crowd.
Though you don't see as many floor wedges around lately, some still prefer them. Deciding between in-ear or floor wedge monitors depends largely on the specific situation of the show as well as other factors like stage volume, acoustic environment and technician experience. So choose whichever suits your needs the best, bearing in mind floor wedge monitor technology has come a long way in recent years.