Bass Only IEM Setup?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by EMoneySC2, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. EMoneySC2

    EMoneySC2 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hi everybody, I am IEM-curious, but I don't really know if I'll ever really be in a band where everyone is running on IEMs. Is there any validity in running an IEM setup with only my bass coming through the IEMs, and then hearing drums and guitar through traditional floor monitors?

    I've done some band rehearsals with a wired setup like this using decent IEMs with standard rubber tips to let in plenty of room sound, and I quite liked it, so I'm thinking at some point going to a wireless setup with better IEMs would be cool.

    I'm sure I could pull it off, I'm just looking for some wisdom on if it is a good idea or not.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Farseer

    Farseer Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2014
    Parker, Colorado
    One problem with this is IEM's work best when they are sealed properly in your ears to block any outside sounds. I stand next to the hi hat and with my IEM's in I can barely hear him when I am playing without him turned up in my mix. I cannot hear the guitars at all.
    KentuckyMartian, craigie and s0c9 like this.
  3. EMoneySC2

    EMoneySC2 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Minneapolis, MN
    Yeah, I've been thinking that is the main problem. I guess it'd be best to talk to a company that does molds to ask about doing a mold that isn't designed to completely seal me off, but just attenuate ambient volume.

    Thanks for the feedback.
  4. Westone makes an AM series that lets in ambient sound -15db.
  5. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    that's not how it works.

    don't use in-ears unless you can have a mix with everything in them, it's just not viable otherwise.
  6. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    You can certainly use IEM's even if no one else in the band does, but you'll need a decent mix in them. With wedges I think you can have a pretty crappy mix and still manage, but with IEM's it's got to be a good mix. However the only drums I ever use in my IEM mix is whatever I hear through the drummer's vocal mic and the other vocal mics.
    Having guitar and vocals (and keyboards if you have them) in your mix seems absolutely necessary, to me.
    People will tell you to get a stereo feed for your IEM mix and an ambient mic, but I get by without either one.
    craigie and superheavyfunk like this.
  7. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    This x 2000.
  8. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    This isn't yet the right question. Your IEM mix doesn't depend on everyone else being on IEMs. It depends on whether the other musicans are in the PA. If so, you have options for getting a proper mix to your IEMs.

    If not, you still have some options, but they're much more limited.
    craigie and superheavyfunk like this.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    You cam get a two channel mixer (Rolls, Mackie, Soundcraft all make them). Run a monitor mix into one channel and your bass into the other. Then you can blend your bass against everything else.

    The whole point of IEM buds (good ones anyway) is to seal out most outside noise so you can run them at less volume and still hear everything clearly. There's no point unless everything is in there. If you can't hear the vocals and melodic instruments you won't be able to keep your place.
  10. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    several other issues buried here...

    Ambient Sound (custom-fit IEMs or universals?): Off-the-shelf earphones will knock ambient SPL levels down some, but by design they'll let in a lot more ambient than custom earphones that fit well. The problem is that ambient sound on any night's stage tends to be less predictable than ambient sound in your usual rehearsal room. You'll get some nights when the crash cymbal is all you hear from your stage position. So for gigging, you can use ambient sound w/ non-custom earphones to reduce the sense of acoustic isolation. But that comes at the potential cost of needing to run your IEM mix at higher SPLs. (Not a problem for quiet stages and genres, but can be a practical red-flag stopper if you gig on LOUD stages. And in any event, you can't rely on stage bleed to balance with bass-only IEM to give you a useable monitoring mix.

    Wireless or Wired (budget and sound quality): Wired sounds better until you get well beyond the budget wireless IEM units. But if you move around a lot on stage, wireless may be non-negotiable. Got 1980s-refugee roadies carrying you through the crowd during the several two-hand tapping bass solos in your band's set? Wired IEMs will harsh your buzz.

    Ampless or amped?: will your bandmates' wedges support the monitor mixes they need while also carrying enough of your bass to let you go ampless on stage? If not, you're still locked into bringing a stage amp, and your IEM mix will need to give you a combination of isolation + monitoring level to not get swamped by whatever you get from your stage rig. Again, if your not blazingly loud on stage, this shouldn't be a problem. If otherwise, non-custom fit earphones may not be workable for you.
  11. Scottkarch


    Sep 11, 2012
    I just picked up a Rolls 351.. basically a 3 channel mixer and headphone amp. Input for bass, vocal and a shared monitor mix.. then you have 3 volume knobs to control the level of those 3 inputs. If your wedge monitors are powered, it should be easy to tap off the line input of the monitor and feed it into the Rolls. Then youi'll hear the monitor mix in your IEMs and have control over your bass volume with a separate volume knob. If you are running powered wedges, its harder but you just need to find a way to get a line level signal and plug into the Rolls.

    It can't hurt to try out the combined IEM and wedge mix.. try it and report back.
    superheavyfunk likes this.
  12. larryshaw48


    May 10, 2011
    Oxford, UK.
    If you run IEM's then you need NO ambiant sound - run your own mix from the mixer/desk: self+drums and rhythm plus a vocal feed
  13. superheavyfunk

    superheavyfunk 音楽は人生だ

    Mar 11, 2013
    Im the only one in my band that uses IEMs. I have my Rolls 351 velcro'd to my pedalboard, and I literally just disconnect the XLR that goes to the wedge in front of me and plug it into the rolls. Then I put my ears in and proceed to tell the sound person what I want to hear, just like I would if I wasn't using in-ears. It's a pretty simple setup and it works really well for me.

    Whatever you do, just make sure you have both ears (or earplugs) in. Leaving one out is a recipe for a permanent ear damage disaster.
  14. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Think of it this way: without ear protection you will very likely get hearing damage of some form. IEM'S should have a good enough seal to prevent it. So it's like using earplugs but you can add what you want to hear it better.

    So yes, definitely you can use them even if other people use wedges and it's totally worth it! It is a very good decision, and ignore any selfish naysayers in your band who complain about it. Be careful not to crank the sound too much and to have protection in place like a limiter.
    s0c9 likes this.
  15. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Absolutely.. What many folks don't seem to be aware of with IEM's is that you can be WIRED OR wireless.
    There's ONE big difference between the two approaches.
    Most wireless IEM systems have BUILT-IN limiters.. the lower end are fixed, the upper are adjustable.
    Wired IEM systems running thru a headphone amp or "personal monitors" (like the Rolls PM351) mostly DO NOT have built-in limiters.
    If using a WIRED IEM system, you need a LIMITER in the signal chain to protect your ears...
    For many using digital consoles, the output busses/aux's have compressors built-in that can be set as limiters.
    If not, an external limiter should be placed in line.
    craigie likes this.
  16. superheavyfunk

    superheavyfunk 音楽は人生だ

    Mar 11, 2013
    The Rolls PM55 does have a limiter but only two channels. It's a great solution if you don't have to sing.

    As for the limiter, it's not an absolute necessity but it's a good safety measure. I've been using my rolls without one and haven't had any issue but I'm buying an alesis micro limiter tomorrow to put in line, just in case.
    Scottkarch and s0c9 like this.
  17. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    You've possibly been lucky :)
    I agree, it's NOT an absolute necessity and one might get by for some time before needing it..and it IS a good safety measure.
    But my point was, that most wired personal monitors don't have built-in limiters, and one SHOULD put one in the signal chain to protect your ears.
    Feedback, or a dropped mic only needs to happen once to do damage.
    If your personal monitor HAS a built-in limiter - even fixed - that's AWESOME!

    PS: I couldn't find any info showing the Rolls units I looked at (PM55, 351) have built-in limiters..
  18. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    You can absolutely do that, but unless your band forces you to play ridiculously low, it seems to me like it would be a wast of time, money, and energy. If it were only me in my IEMs I'd much prefer just asking for a little bass in my vocal monitor. I'll add that for the bass to sound really good in IEMs, you're going to have spend a bit also. Can become a costly experiment they you may wind up never using.
  19. I played in a band for 12 years and it ended in 2013. The last 5 years of that band I was the only one using IEM's. My sound person loved it. Eventually I bought a splitter snake and a 12 channel mixer and did the mix to myself. Towards the end we had a new drummer come in who used them and he ran off my board as well .

    I still had to bring my bass amp though. So one gig I wound up doing sound with my main PA not the IEM one. I left my bass amp at home and had Qsc K12's for monitors. I put the bass in them and at the end of the night asked everybody w/o IEM how the bass onstage was. They said fine. Ha nobody noticed my lack of an amp.
    Johnny Crab likes this.
  20. Try these. They let in ambient sound too.

    Players who usually only use one IEM seem to like these.

    I bought them for my son, a drummer, and he L-O-V-E-S them.

    EDIT: The ones we have are AM Pro 30s, but should be the same as the link provided except of number of drivers.

    Westone Am Pro 20 Ambient Earphones - Clear
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
    EMoneySC2 likes this.
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