Are IEMs overkill for a bar band bassist?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Odinbass, Jan 12, 2015.


  1. Odinbass

    Odinbass

    Dec 6, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    IEMs are well covered on TB, and I have read all the posts I can. However, with such a huge financial commitment on something I've never used before; I have to field opinions directly. So sorry if you're sick of IEM talk....

    Specifics: I play in a 4 piece (1 guitar) rock cover band. We do small to medium venues with full PA support and a sound guy. The guitarist runs IEMs with a mono aux out directly to his transmitter. The rest of us use wedges. I also have a bass amp that I use at bigger places.

    For me, I'm looking at 1964 custom Quads/Qis, the Carvin Transmitter/Bodypack, and possibly a Rolls PM351 so I can adjust my own mix somewhat. Roughly a $1100 investment when you include the audiologist impressions.

    Why I Want IEMS:
    -To hear my vocals clearer, and thus hopefully improve my singing.
    -To hear *** my guitarist is doing over there.
    -To get away from bass amps and their volume/size
    -To get away from having the wedge be my bass amp (when i go ampless)

    Why they may be overkill:
    -I make $100 a show... not exactly justified by my music income.
    -Even at my best I'm a mediocre singer, IEMs won't change that
    -Extra layer of complication to the setup
    -If I feel isolated it may 'take me out of the show' a bit.

    If I was a pro touring musician this would be a no brainer, but unfortunately I am a weekend warrior and it's purely a luxury item to improve my live playing experience. Money could always be spent in smarter places but with a baby on the way this may be my last chance for awhile to get any nice music gear.
    I know a lot of people are happy with their IEM experience and a few say they didn't like it. I'd love to hear from any weekend warrior bar band types but anyone's input is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    I'm actually thinking about a similar investment. From my perspective, gigging regularly is hard on the ears and I don't want to wind up with tinnitus or hearing loss. I've been playing with earplugs, trying out different brands, but if you're worried about being isolated from the show, earplugs can definitely have that effect. So the third option would be to bring the show to my ears with an IEM, but having volume control. From that perspective, it isn't so much whether the money I make playing music justifies it, as whether the protection of my hearing justifies it. Which it does, though it's going to be some months before I can sock away the cash.
     
  3. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Assuming you have a separate monitor mix available and your soundguy doesn't suck you don't have to spend all of that to get started. I have a AS900 IEM setup that cost me $175 and it's fine :) .
     
    rolandm likes this.
  4. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Saving your ears/hearing is never overkill.
    I play for free at church. I have a nice ($275) set of Westone IEM's. I have a Rolls box ($50) and go wired as I just stand there. I have my own Aux and control my mix via my iPhone. Best $350 I've spent.
     
    Bellbass and Dominic DeCosa like this.
  5. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I don't find them to be overkill for bar band's. I would argue that for most bar bands, they would go a long way towards making them sound better. Better monitoring allows for tighter vocal harmonies, which is where I think most bar bands suffer, gives the drummer a realistic monitoring situation that isn't chalk full of compromises, and greatly, if not completely, reduces the impacts of stage volume by guitars, bass, and keys.

    Where I do think they're overkill is when you have an original act on a bill with 2-3 other bands, they're playing a 45 minute set in the middle slot and they want to run IEMs. The setup time just doesn't make sense for that type of situation. If you're the only band playing on the bill that night. Give them a shot. Try to get your entire band to give them a shot.
     
    LiquidMidnight likes this.
  6. I apologize for the Hijacking (if any). But, If we spend the $$$ involved for IEMs, wouldn't that render my $2000+ Bass Rig pretty much useless?
     
  7. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Bass rigs are sooooo last century ;) . I do often play with just a floor monitor if the PA is capable of carrying the bass and has an available separate monitor mix for me but I can't use the IEM because I'm also mixing or need to communicate with the others (fill-in and/or crappy band ;) ).
     
  8. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
    OP stated
    "-To get away from bass amps and their volume/size"
     
  9. I AM the band's sound engineer too. Didn't think of that. Thanks. Crisis averted.
     
  10. Odinbass

    Odinbass

    Dec 6, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    I currently use earplugs. I'd be half-deaf by now if I didn't. They kind of sit half in my ears, so I can still hear but at reduced volume. Not too bad really. I don't know how people don't use plugs at all and play week after week. That's nuts.
     
    joenoone likes this.
  11. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    I use the ~$15 "Musician's" earplugs fully inserted. They takes some getting used to sonically but c'est la vie ...
     
  12. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Since I resemble that remark... :)
    First... IEM's WILL SAVE YOUR EARS!!

    2nd... I have and use (every week) the VERY same gear you have - minus the Rolls. I get my IEM mix from the XLR outs from our X32 Producer (mixer) straight into the Carvin xmitter, which is rack mounted. Power up and go. I adjust my mix using the X32-Q app on my iPad which connects via the router mounted in same rack as X32/Carvin - on a rack draw.

    The bass in the 1964 Quads is simply ridiculous. How anyone could use them and complain about not enough bass is beyond me. I LOVE THEM !! I turn the bass levels in my IEM mix down because it can be so in-your-face. The Carvin EM900 is best value for $$ on the market. FWIW - I did a LOT of research before going that direction.

    I'm in a regional level weekend warrior bar/club Country cover band, playing venues from 200-1000 people. That's my rig.. it's NOT the IEM rig I started with, but it IS where I'm at.

    You are correct about it being a lot of $$ to spend on something that may not work for you. IEM's do not work for everyone. My guitar players dumped them and went back to wedges. I had to go back to a bass amp rig on stage (versus direct with volume down) so they can hear it. Meanwhile, I get all vocals, ME!, BOTH guitars, acoustic and as much drums as I need.... I'm VERY happy with my setup.
     
    pbass6811, Odinbass and Geri O like this.
  13. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Yeah, it pretty much does, as in my really nice, really expensive EBS rig doing few gigs these days. But hey, that's the times we are in.

    There's also times where both IEMs and wedges are used. In that case, I bring the amp and adjust to to the level the band guys/gals on wedges like it.

    And of course, there's always the last-minute call. I just bring the amp ready to play whatever. If I get to use IEMS, fine. If not, fine. In those cases, I don't even worry about a monitor. These kinds of gigs almost never have provisions for running IEMs and we are lucky if we have wedges. Which is fine. Play the gig, tough it out, make the leader happy and get paid. Easy enough.
     
  14. Amen 1+
     
  15. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    [QUOTE="Odinbass, post: 16825652, member: 83977" For me, I'm looking at 1964 custom Quads/Qis, the Carvin Transmitter/Bodypack, and possibly a Rolls PM351 so I can adjust my own mix somewhat. Roughly a $1100 investment when you include the audiologist impressions.
    [/QUOTE]

    Consider replacing the Rolls with a small 4-channel mixer from Yamaha, Alto, and other small mixer makers. The Rolls is a good unit, but it's a little clumsy to use. The mixer will allow you to connect your bass, your vocal, and a send from the house mix and mix it all according to your needs, You'll have to split the bass and vocal signals somehow (the bass can be split at the DI, the vocal can be split with a hardwired balanced Y cable available at Radio Shack or Guitar Center). This works very well for basic IEM monitor mixing.

    (Man, what's up with the size formatting? It went to this size all by itself)
     
    s0c9 and Odinbass like this.
  16. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    If you have a solid state head that you really like, you can still take a post-EQ DI out to the house and monitors. I suppose that may make a pricey bass cab null, though. :D Of course, I wouldn't recommend just bringing a tube head and DIing. Your amp may need a repair after the gig. :D
     
  17. strictlybass_ic

    strictlybass_ic Mediocrity is a journey

    Jan 9, 2014
    Northern Indiana
    This is the biggest allure to me as well. Yes its fun to be enveloped in a wall of sound on stage, but it gets annoying saying "What?" all the time. And you get a clearer (hopefully) mix piped right into your head.
     
  18. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    I went from playing bass in the band (and using earplugs) to playing keys. I had to either buy a keyboard amp or IEM's. Last may we had five gigs (!!!!) so the cost became not an issue. I got the carvin IEM's and use them at every show. We also make $100 per person per show.
    Rather than being part of the volume war problem, I'm part of the solution! The other guys in the band scoff at my insistence on the in ears in a bar band, like I'm being a bit of a prima donna. Just trying to save my hearing folks!

    My other band where I'm playing bass should be gigging by March, so far I haven't used the in ears for a bass gig yet. :bored: I'm guessing that really good earbuds become crucial in that scenario. I have used the allen and heath zed10 as a submixer which is nice, but normally I just get an aux feed off the main mixing board. Usually I don't have a "more me" issue with my monitor mix, but a "less of that one guy" issue, and using your own submixer doesn't solve that.
    In any case I highly recommend the carvin em900. Upgrading the earbuds can come later.
     
  19. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    "The other guys in the band scoff at my insistence on the in ears in a bar band, like I'm being a bit of a prima donna. Just trying to save my hearing folks!"

    Screw them. They should be more mature than that in the first place.

    "Usually I don't have a "more me" issue with my monitor mix, but a "less of that one guy" issue, and using your own submixer doesn't solve that."

    Hmm, great point. Never thought of that...:D
     
    s0c9 likes this.
  20. Scottkarch

    Scottkarch

    Sep 11, 2012
    Chicago
    I play about once a month. About $100 each band member per gig. So I'm right there with you.

    It is my hobby and passion and I'm lucky my hobby helps pay for itself. That's my angle.

    We went to IEMs last year and it really helped. It was easier on the ears and easier to hear vocals. I sing too. But we could never agree on a iem mix and it didn't work with everything in the mix as high as everyone wanted.

    This year I bought a mackie dl1608 with 6 aux mixes. Easily managed by iPad or iPhones. We picked up a second transmitter for our receivers and since the six mixes are mono anyway I made custom cables and we now we each have our own custom iem mix. It is truly amazing. It makes everything easier. I can hear my singing and bass loud and just a touch of everything else. Works great for me. Everyone can hear exactly what they want and our ears aren't ringing at the end of the night.

    I am also less fatigued each night. I found I was playing harder and getting arm cramps because I couldn't hear myself. With iems I play with a light touch and love it.

    I say if you have the money to spend it it sooooooooo worth it.

    That's my opinion. :)
     
    s0c9 likes this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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