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Advice/Discussion Needed Re: In-Ear Monitor Systems

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by doc540, Apr 24, 2004.


  1. doc540

    doc540

    Jul 28, 2003
    Beaumont, Texas
    Friend of mine is hiring a band and investing in a PA system.

    He's looking to me for advice, but I don't know jack shlt about in-ear monitors.

    If money was no object and you were buying a system for a 5 piece, travelling, countryrock band with three vocalists, would you invest in an in-ear monitor system?

    Thanks
    :confused:
     
  2. Absolutley- The vocals will be improved by the IEMs, stage noise will be dramatically reduced and it will be easier for the band to communicate. I don't see any reason not to if you can' afford it.
     
  3. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    I'll second that!!!! I am a HUGE advocate of IEM's. The group I was in for the last six years used them exclusively. I have to be honest, they absolutely do take some time to get used to. But once the comitment is made, they become better and better over time. The benefits, in my opinion, FAR outweigh the downsides. For starters, use good systems. They cost a bit upfront, but once the investment is made, there is no added cost other than batteries. I would strongly recommend pretty much any of the Shure products. Personally I use the PSM 600 series. Most of the Shures come with either E1 or E2 earbuds. Tell your friend to do himself a favor and upgrade to the E5's. The other series are toys in comparison. Visit an audiologist or place that does wax molds for hearing aids, and have impressions made for custom covers. It is an added $100 expense, but a good seal is invaluable when it comes to isolation and low end response. I believe Westone makes the actual molds. Lastly bite the bullet and buy the very best rack mountable monitor board on the planet. The one and only Crest XRM. It not only has 20 inputs but is has the capability to do 12 mono or six stereo mixes. Trust me, there is nothing as good as a well balanced stereo mix! It also has a built in splitter which eliminates the need for a separate splitter snake. It retails for roughly $2000 or so. Pretty much every group around town here that uses IEM's has this board! Now that I've spewed out all this stuff, it sure sounds like a bunch of cash doesn't it? Well in retrospect not really. Consider the cost of GREAT monitors with separate power amps, eq's cables etc., not to mention the storage space and back strains. (ouch!!) On top of that add no throat strain, no noise hangover, no monitor feedback, virtually no set up time,(mixes of IEM's change very little from rooom to room) HIGH resale value etc., etc., etc..........
     
  4. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    Michigan
    Our band has the Shure E-1 IEMs. Personally, I haven't gotten used to them yet. Usually, I use only one on the side that my drummer is. This protects my right ear from crashing cymbals, etc. Using both IEMs, I feel too isolated from the rest of the band and audience. Plus, I can't hear my bass as well using both. This probably has more to do with not using all of the sophisticated gear that Jerry mentions above. YMMV. . .
     
  5. Davehenning

    Davehenning

    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Yes!

    If money is no object, by all means do it.

    One of the most frustrating things I have experienced in all of my years of touring experience is lack of good monitors. Unless you are carrying your own rig and engineer, it can be a nightmare.

    You will be cutting out having to worry about the next venue's monitor rig being up to snuff.

    IE monitors are not for everyone as not everyone likes them. But after years of dealing with crud-systems, drunk and disinterested monitor men, I wish I had switched to them years ago.

    Best of luck,
    ~Dave
     
  6. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Actually believe it or not, this is how a great deal of damage is done with IEM's. DO NOT wear only one. The brain cannot compensate for the difference in levels between the two sides. All manufacturers of IEM's strongly advise against this practice. Now to address your other concern, if you do have enough channels to dedicate for a complete mix, put up a pressure zone or plate type mic or two on either side of the stage. Or if you want to get real elaborate, a mic or two pointed out at the crowd for ambiance. Bleed a bit of that stuff into your mix, voila`! I will agree, not everyone likes or gets used to them, however, those who do, wonder how they ever did without them. And bringing your whole rig in your bass case doesn't suck either! LOL
     
  7. xush

    xush

    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    You've got my attention there- this is something I haven't heard before.
    I read through all the info Shure included with my E2's, but didn't see anything warning against only using one side. Have you got more info on this, or a link to their material?

    I've been popping one side out every now and then, and haven't noticed any adverse effects- what kind of problems do they say it could cause? Don't DJ's pretty much do the same thing all the time- they hardly ever use both cups of their headphones. Maybe it's different with cans?

    I'm very interested in more info here, hope you have some to refer me to.
    Thanks!
     
  8. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Well hear (bad pun intended) goes-Trying to sift through the myriad of information I have collected on the subject of IEM's is no easy feat. Basically because it's scattered all over the house. (lol) However I did find a couple of articles that made mention of using just one ear bud. An article in EQ mag. dated May 97 by JP Armstrong states it is extremely dagerous to use this practice. He also says he has clients that only use one, sign a release indemnifying him for their inevitable hearing loss. He has heard of rumous of lawsuits stemming from this practice. In his opinion, "the brain cannot process information so unnatural and abnormal as one PM will produce and hearing damage will result".
    In another article by Gordon Jennings (GIG JUly 98) he states, "some performers wil put a "bug" in one ear, and still use a floor monitor or side fills for the other. This is not recommended. I cannot stress this enough, as it defeates the purpose of having ear monitors".
    I remember when I had my impressions made, the audiologist warned me about this very practice. He said the level needed to get the IEM to equal or better the stage volume, could be at severe damaging levels without the wearer even noticing it. Remember, hearing damage is permanent!! Unfortunately I have first hand knowledge of this. If you are making the commitment to using IEM's, use them in the way were intended. I agree they can become expensive, especially when trying to gain the perfect mix.( wireless system, monitor board, transducers with custom fit molds, ambient mics, reverb units, limiters, etc, etc.) Let me ask you this question, if one day you were to wake up deaf, how much would you be willing to spend to regain your hearing? Kind of brings it into perspective, doesn't it? You may go through your whole career changing instruments, amps, effects, etc, and never give it a second thought. So in the grand scheme of things,once you make the initial investment,even if somewhat large, other than batteries you are pretty much set. Used correctly they can become not only a great protective device, but a whole new way to listen to the live music experience!
     
  9. xush

    xush

    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    Thanks very much to going to the trouble of compiling the info! I appreciate it very much.

    Maybe I haven't noticed any trouble because we basically have no stage volume. Guess that keeps me from ramping up the output to dangerous levels. Not quite sure I understand how hearing damage could result from the 'brain's inability to process' the signal from 1 bud, but...I ain't the scientist, he is. Well, actually, I don't know who he is, but I shall certainly take that opinion under advisement. I wonder if volume is the main concern being addressed.

    thanks again! Hope I can return the favor one day.
    Like progressive/ambient/art-rock? Want a free CD?
     
  10. Davehenning

    Davehenning

    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Stage volume is one of the biggest factors. You have already won half the battle by having low stage volume.The last few times I did concerts with in ears, we put all of the cabs, in a seperate room away from the stage. The only stage volume was from the drum kit and the symphony orchestra we were playing with. It helps alot if there is minimal volume on the stage it self. That being said, the quality of your ear-phones come into play. The more you separation you have with your actual earphones, the more leeway you have with regards to adjusting your volume.

    My favorite advantage of the IEs is the fact that you don't have to rely on finding "the sweet spot" on stage for your best monitor sound. Stage left, stage right, it does not matter, they sound the same. :)

    Yes, they can be dangerous to your hearing, but not much more than listening to a walkman at high volume for lengthy intervals can be. Just use caution and common sense. Start with a low volume at first and adjust accordingly.

    Hope this helps,
    ~Dave
     
  11. xush

    xush

    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    well, it definitely helps confirm my approach anyway...I haven't heard about the other factors Jerry Z mentioned, but it's sure got me curious.

    The volume aspect is something I realized from early studio days; I don't want Pete Townshend syndrome, that's for sure.

    That's one of things I love most about using E-drums... the only ringing in my ears is the phone calls for more gig dates!
     
  12. Davehenning

    Davehenning

    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles

    :D :D :D

    LOL! That was pretty funny.

    Best of luck!
    ~Dave
     
  13. xush

    xush

    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I got to thinking last night 'dang, I hope that doesn't sound too conceited...' but I went for the joke anyway.

    They really are a miracle on stage though. For some of the small places we play I'd have to use balsa sticks on acoustics!
     
  14. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Something to consider about in ears: If you don't have a dedicated monitor engineer, you could be in a lot of trouble. Unlike wedges, if something feeds back, you can't get away from in-ears. That spells hearing damage. Your FOH guy won't be able to effectively run your show, and your monitor rig at the same time. Also, in ears require a monitor console, unless everyone agrees on the in ear mix.

    In the AF, we've dealt with all these problems, and decided that in ears are NOT the way to go.
     
  15. kansas666

    kansas666

    Sep 20, 2004
    I have been using IEM for a couple of years now. I am the only person in our band that uses them. I am also the only one without tinnitus. One thing to consider-better IEM's have built in limiters. So feedback is not the killer that you might think it would be. We do it without a monitor or FOH engineer. I sometimes tweak a little between songs. But everything works fine.
     
  16. If everyone is using IEM's, where does the feedback come from? The FOH system ought to be out front far enough to prevent that. If you're mixing floor monitors and IEM's that's probably the worst of both worlds. Stick to one or the other, I'd say....

    Randy
     
  17. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I'm beginning to consider these for my Air Force group more and more these days....my opinions are sure changing on this....
     
  18. AJClone

    AJClone

    Mar 11, 2002
    Iowa
    The biggest problem I had prior to using IEM was being able to hear my bass over the drum, guitar, vocals, etc. Our stage noise had gotten too high (this was at church too) and people in the front row were complaining about the noise level. Once we went to IEMs, I could hear my bass perfectly (too well in fact...you can't hide from your mistakes) and the overall sound was much more balanced in the auditorium (1100 seats). Plus, my ears have never hurt from noise level since. The IEMs cut around 20-25 db so it's easy to keep the level low enough but still hear what's going on.
     
  19. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    Is there any use to buying a "budget" in ear monitoring system (Nady IEM, for example)? I mean, obviously, the top of the line would be best (thus the "top of the line" designation), but would it be worth dropping the $150 for a cheap system?

    I'd love to drop $5-6K on a monitoring system. I'd also love to drop the same amount of money on a new PA. Neither of which is going to happen soon. My PA right now has about $2000 in it, and even that has taken years to get to that point. Divide the cost among 4 band members, and we're still talking around 1200 dollars each for a monitoring system. Considering that our drummer has about that invested in his rig, my bassist has only about $500 in her rig (some wonderful buying on her part), I have only about $1000 or so in my guitar rig, and the rhythm guitarist has maybe $400 in his amp and axe (again, wonderful buying choices)... It's sort of a HUGE investment, and not one that we could come up with for a long long LONG time...

    So would it be worth doing to spend $150 (each) on the Nady IEM, then get the custom earmolds done for the earphones? Then we're only talking about a $3-400 investment, something which is much more doable. Or should we just go slowly buy all the wedges we need and just use earplugs?
     
  20. Dkerwood

    Dkerwood

    Aug 5, 2005
    Midwest
    Bump