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Are IEM’s right for my band situation?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by ThinCrappyTone, Dec 13, 2018.

  1. Yea

  2. Nay

  3. Depends

  4. Stick carrots in your ears

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Just joined an originals band. 2 Guitars/Bass/Acoustic Drums/Vocalist

    Guitarist says he wants us all to go with IEMs.

    I’m open to the idea, but I’m not sure if this band is the right situation to use them.

    My concern is that we are an all originals “showcase” band. To me that means we’ll be playing 25-45 minute sets, rushed on and off the stage, and we can probably only expect to get a quick, apathetic line check for a soundcheck.

    From what I can tell, that’s not the type of situation for IEMs.

    From what I hear on TB and other places, you need a good sound person to make IEM’s work.

    To me that means, we either have to:

    a) do our own full-band submix, and just hand the sound person a stereo feed.


    b) rely on the soundman to feed us a sweet monitor mix for our IEMs.

    As you may be able to tell, I haven’t used them before, and am only guessing what may happen.

    My instincts say it's a bad idea. If we were an all originals band headlining, then sure. Or if we were a cover or tribute band doing a full-night show, sure. But half hour sets as part of multi-band shows at dive bars and small clubs seems like a bad idea.

    So, question: for those of you who have done or are doing the IEM thing. What do you think? Is this the right situation or no?
    Pbassmanca and BurnOut like this.
  2. TerenceE

    TerenceE Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2015
    Benefit vs cost equals no.
  3. IEM's are great if you can dial in your own mix. Our band uses an X-Air 18 and I'm able to get the exact mix I want.
    BassGuyFL, el murdoque, Dels and 5 others like this.
  4. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks, Nick. Appreciate it.
  5. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks Terence. Much appreciated.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i get your point = there may not be enough time to do it right at the gigs/shows you expect to get.

    the first thing i'd do is research the issue (in your own backyard):
    - anyone else in your situation (locally) using IEM's --- how do they do it.
    - can you let the venues/FOH's know you want to use them --- what's their take?
    - can everyone else in the band accept the 'routine' necessary to use them?
    - etc......

    in the future = everyone will use them...sound companies will likely not carry wedges (or so many). just something to think about. (i offer discounts to bands who use the IEM technologies --- my job is easier when running PA for others)

    good luck with your IEM issue(s). :thumbsup:
    s0c9 and ThinCrappyTone like this.
  7. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    One way to have a modicum of control is to use a low-tech device like a Rolls PM351. Bass, vocal mic, and monitor mix are plugged into the PM351 and you can adjust the level for each independently. Your bass and vocal signal pass through the PM351 unprocessed to FOH.

    Rolls Corporation - Real Sound - Products PM351 Personal Monitor System

    Obviously it would be better to have a custom IEM mix for each musician. The custom mix can be controlled by the audio tech. Also with some digital boards users can control various parameters of individual mixes with either a phone app or a device like a Behringer P16-M
    P16-M | In-Ear Monitoring | Signal Processors | Behringer | Categories | MUSIC Tribe
    SoCal80s, BurnOut and ThinCrappyTone like this.
  8. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks, JRA. That's some good advice. Much appreciated!
    JRA likes this.
  9. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks, @Wasnex. Great information. I will talk with the band and see what kind of gear they are thinking of using.
    Wasnex and JRA like this.
  10. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    The ultimate is to use a system with a digital mixer and a split snake.

    The mixer can be used just for IEM mixes or to provide both FOH and IEM support. So if you go to a venue where FOH support is provided, you plug your inputs into the split snake, then patch the thrus into the venues FOH system. This way the band members always have a consistent mix and way of adjusting their sound.

    I believe @s0c9 has experience with a rack setup this way.

    Course, a complete system is a bit of an investment.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  11. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    I’m more curious about how everyone but the vocalist feels about IEMs, including your soundguy.

    I just started using them in the current band and my drummer is fighting them damn things to distraction. Not personally enraptured with the whole IEM paradigm at this point. Still would prefer monitors and ear plugs.
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  12. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    That seems like a really good method. A lot of expense, but maybe worth it. Thank you for the information.
  13. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    well it’s one of the guitarists who is pushing for them. Singer seems open minded. I will ask the drummer what he’s thinking. Also we don’t have a sound person, so i guess the guitarist will be running that as well.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s good to hear real-world feedback from the negative and the positive.
    saabfender likes this.
  14. slamsinger

    slamsinger Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2009
    Coventry RI
    It does take a while to get adapted to them ....... but once you do and give them a chance you will never ever go without them ... it’s fairly easy to get a quick mix from any sound man and you don’t have to battle the “room sound “ that happens with wedges and the feedback issues that come with them pesky wedges ... you can get a fairly inexpensive setup BUT I def would suggest NOT to skimp on the ear buds ... they make a world of difference so get a quad driver setup for your ear buds ... they can get a tad expensive but not crazy .... you will hear your bass or whatever it is you play CLEALY and SMOOTH...... and save your hearing !
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  15. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    I think at the bare minimum, you will each need the ability to turn the volume up/down on your own mix – with something like a Rolls mounted to your mic stand, or an attenuator you can clip to your belt. I don't see why the engineer can't tweak your monitor mix using hand signals you send from the stage (no different than a wedge in that regard). At some events, there may only be 1 monitor mix for everybody – in which case you'll have to live with it. You still need to be able to adjust your own volume. Things can get loud and dangerous in a hurry with IEMs, so I always want that volume know at arm's length. That being said, clarity and volume should be better than wedges in most situations.

    Depending on the venue and engineer, they may have a digital mixer – so maybe you can connect via WiFi tablet and control your own mix.

    My old band used a Behringer X32 with IEMs. We played one outdoor community-fest gig with multiple bands – there was a pro crew running sound with traditional wedges. We just brought the X32, gave the engineer and iPad to mix from the booth (they knew how to use it), and we controlled our own monitor mixes from stage. Worked great until I stepped on my IEM cable – I went into sensory deprivation mode because we had no wedges and zero volume on stage (all D.I> & electronic drums). Good to have a wedge for backup if possible.

    If you are new to IEMs, I recommend going with the best you can afford. Preferably custom molds. Sell an amp if you need to, but don't skimp here. Since going to IEMs a few years ago, all my nice GK amplification is collecting dust. I started with el-cheapo IEMs for a while before going custom InEarz. I wish I hadn't waited so long.
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  16. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Yep... that's pretty much what we do.
    To the OP... as mentioned above, there's an ROI in all of this. The band I'm in that has an X32 Rack, a splitter snake and our IEM transmitters housed in a single rack. We use it to run our own PA, about 3% of the time. Yes, just 3%. Of the rest, we do about 35% where we mix and send the house a L/R feed, and the other 64% we plug the house splitter into ours.
    Not cheap, but over the last 5 yrs we've done close to 400 gigs (only about a 6 this year as the band split in Jan and is now starting up again), so the expense was well worth it. Power up and go.
    We ALWAYS use our own mics, DI's, etc. so our IEM mixes are consistent for every gig - and we can adjusts our mixes remotely. NO FOH involvement.

    If you're doing 45 min sets and used to your setup, for me it would depend on how much setup time I get.
    If it's the typical 30 min between band and you are using house mics, DI's, etc.. then you will have challenges as you'll need to adjust the EQ and gain at each venue, PLUS adjust your own IEM mix on the fly.
    To me, it would not be worth it, especially if you're only playing out once or twice a month!

    We do the occasional Festival gig, with a hour between bands, so it's pretty easy to EQ things and get a good IEM mix. We SAVE settings for each venue, so it's easy to recall them as a starting point when we go back. The advantages of digital.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
    Jimmy4string, Jamvan, craigie and 3 others like this.
  17. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    My limited experience tell me this is a recipe for failure. We have a fairly capable soundguy, tablets to run individual monitor mixes and still there are gremlins galore.

    I'd use this as an opportunity to get a dedicated soundguy. No guy, no IEMs. Your guitarist won't be able to manage all that and make any kind of meaningful contribution on his instrument.
    didgeribass, mikewalker and s0c9 like this.
  18. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    thanks, @slamsinger! Any reccomendation on a particularly bass-friendly set?
  19. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks, @Bullitt5135! This is great info. Hadn’t considered the idea that if the headset goes down, I’m in trouble. Much to think about!
  20. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I have to agree. In order to pull this off safely and well, you need someone in the band with a fairly sophisticated technical understanding of how sound systems work...and there are plenty of so called "audio techs" that can't really do it justice.
    s0c9, craigie and ThinCrappyTone like this.

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