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Behringer Micromon MA400 Monitor Mixer

Monitoring. The need to be able to hear yourself becomes more apparent the more you develop as a musician, and particularly the more you play with other people. The better you can hear yourself and everyone else, the better you play.

While big touring bands will have a full monitor rig with a specialist engineer and individual mixes for everyone, if you’re playing in pubs and clubs you’re unlikely to get that sort of luxury. However, the need to be able to hear yourself and/or the rest of the band doesn’t go away just because of the size of the venue you’re playing.

Many of us playing pubs, clubs and larger rooms use personal mixers to monitor ourselves and the band. This usually involves a few channels of drums with some sort of feed with other channels for the rest of the band coming back from the main mixer or PA system.

However, for smaller gigs like in a pub, it’s not always practical due to space constraints – or even necessary – to carry a mixer set up.

What I had previously been using in those situations when needed is a direct feed out from the PA into a hard wired in-ear monitor pack. This was fine for the most part in giving a slightly enhanced overall audio picture in conjunction with the floor monitors the rest of the band were using but due to the constraints of the mixer itself, the mix I got didn’t really highlight what I wanted to hear, namely the kick drum.

Enter the Behringer Micromon MA400 Headphone Amp.

This cheap little device (currently under £20 on Amazon) has a microphone input – which can be used for a kick drum or overhead – and a [jack] line in for a feed from the rest of the band. It also has a mic through (output) so the bass drum/overhead can then be sent to the main mixer and out through the PA.

Just as important as the inputs though, is the two separate volume controls for the two channels – one for the mic in and one for the line in. This lets you blend what you want to hear from your drums and what you want to hear from the rest of the band (provided whatever you are using can provide this.) You could also conceivably use a splitter cable to have a kick drum and overhead feed going into the unit, as well as the line in, but this may cause issues if you’re going to send the output to a main mixer or PA. I haven’t tried that, at least yet.

In practice, the unit is very easy to use.

It runs on the mains, it won’t run on batteries, and has headphone outputs for both quarter inch and mini jack so you can choose what you want in that respect. The device is also small enough to sit conveniently around your kit without being in the way.

When I play, the thing I want to hear the most to help me play my best is the kick drum. On top of that, I’m not overly fussy, so a mixture of things is fine for me. That said, my band all go through the PA and the mixer we have allows me to use aux sends channels to pick and choose what I want to hear.

Overall, for the price, I think this is a great little device. It’s made from metal and not plastic, so it feels pretty sturdy. The sound is good and clear, and I found I had plenty of headroom in terms of volume.

If you want an affordable and simple way to hear yourself and your band, this might be an option for you. You do obviously need the cables and mics etc as well if you’re starting from scratch, so that would be extra cost, but the device itself is cheap.

For more, check out this official video

Dave Batemen

February 2016

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