Can Mixed Monitor Band Survive? A question for bands using both IEM and live monitors

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Jamvan, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. Jamvan

    Jamvan The Bassist Formerly Known As Meh Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2014
    I've played in a power trio for about 18 months. During that time, I've invested in my own IEM system (Audio Technica M2 w/Westone UM-2's) primarily because we have a loud guitarist/BL (surprise, surprise) and the ear plugs I was using (Earasers) to keep my right ear from going deaf were making it hard for me to hear well enough to sing harmonies.

    Well, after a very busy summer, our drummer/soundman just said he's moving to in-ears because of persistent worsening of tinnitus in his right ear (any guess which side of the stage the guitar player is on?). Well, this apparently concerned our guitarist/BL greatly and he threatened to quit if the drummer started wearing them too. His primary concern is, if two of us on stage are wearing them, there is absolutely no way we, as a band, can ever be 'in the moment' and he'll be constantly fighting to engage/communicate with us. He refers to it as being 'under water' and not worth the hassle to continue playing. He said he's struggled to communicate with me since I started wearing them (news to me) because I always have my back to him in between songs (he likes to call songs at will versus following a predefined issue for another day) and he doesn't want to yell at me. I told him that my set list is sitting on my amp, which is to my left (away from him) and I wasn't aware he was struggling. I use an ambient mic and told him I hear everything he's saying onstage and didn't realize he had an issue (as compromise, I told him I'd lay it on the ground to my right so I'd be facing him when I look at it).

    So my question for the masses is; is it possible to peacefully coexist in a band where some members are using IEMs and others are not? What challenges will arise or what do I need to be aware of to try and manage it before it becomes a problem.

    For the record, I took his threat seriously and began auditioning for other bands. I'm a firm believer in communication and if this was such a serious issue to threaten quitting over, then that tells me we are much more fragile than I believed and I need to find something a bit more stable.
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Sounds to me like the bigger obstacle is getting the guitarist to turn the #[email protected]%$~#@%#~ down.

    Being "in the moment" has nothing to do with the kind of monitors you use.
    fokof, Winfred, Gabbs and 4 others like this.
  3. Jamvan

    Jamvan The Bassist Formerly Known As Meh Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2014
    We've been working on that as well and have tried most everything including using an acoustic (he stuffed it and played it through a 50 watt H&K Tubemeister), ampsorber, and the volume knob. His volume knob is broken though because no matter how quiet we start the night, it turns up as the night progresses (seems to be a common defect in guitar amps). He's a great player but he's also a throwback in that he has this unyielding fear of becoming the old dinosaur in the corner, playing brown-eyed girl at cocktail hour volume levels.

    What bothers me first and foremost is that he's placed his need for volume above the hearing of his long-time drummer (8+ years together). It's the fit that kind of broke this camel's back.
  4. Our drummer switched to IEMs a few years ago. Believe it or not, it's because he didn't think he could hear his drums well enough(?!?). Me thinks he not only wanted to mic the drums but also overlay reverb so they sound great to him. Consequently, every instrument is now miked/DId so he can hear it all. The other three of us stayed with monitors for vox & pre-recorded keys, our amps blasting away and live drums (we all use Hearos ear plugs). Do we co-exist? Yup! The only caveat is we need to communicate using our mics, but the spontaneous calling out of songs can be tricky.
    Thumper and Jamvan like this.
  5. Jamvan

    Jamvan The Bassist Formerly Known As Meh Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2014
    I spoke with him about this yesterday (primarily to see if he truly was leaving the band) and I told him that's one more reason to create (and stick with) set lists. That way we always know what song is next and there's no dead air between songs while he figures out what we should play. Again, I'm not here to bag on him as he's a nice guy and a great player but I'm wanting to figure out what pitfalls may lie ahead. Thanks for the feedback so far!
  6. Agreed on the set list. With set lists I also include other information, like our guitarist's patch numbers on his multi-effects board, which may be able to sell your guitarist on the benefit of a pre-arranged set list. Other information on the set list is if downtuning is required - I lump downtune songs together so we're not tuning up and down mid-set which is a huge time-waster live.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Again, the excessive volume is the elephant in the room. Take a look at the biggest bands playing on the biggest stages in the world - they usually can talk to each other on stage, mid song.

    Sorry - risking hearing loss is not worth any band. If you all play at normal volume, you can still play any kind of music.
    Jamvan likes this.
  8. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Just give him a separate "bitch mic" that only feeds into the in-ears - put it off to the side. Ideally with a momentary switch of some sort.

    But yah - stoopid loud gui**** = time to leave. See if the drummer wants to form a new band with you ;) .
  9. Damn, as others have said, I think the only problem here is that guitarist's attitude.
    s0c9 and Jamvan like this.
  10. Jamvan

    Jamvan The Bassist Formerly Known As Meh Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2014
    I guess the result of my unscientific poll is the band likely CAN'T survive but not because of the mix of IEM's and monitors...Failure to compromise strikes again.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Consensus is that your guitarist is being unreasonable, and is acting like a high schooler.

    Hye, I know, let him get IEMs, and turn them up as loud as he wants - everybody wins, and you and the drummers get to keep your eardrums.
    Jamvan likes this.
  12. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    My band has a mixture of monitors, IEMs, and earplugs. We've developed a mixture of lip reading and hand signals to call non-setlist songs DURING songs. Not in between.
    Jamvan likes this.
  13. Jamvan

    Jamvan The Bassist Formerly Known As Meh Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2014
    That's kind of what started the whole tantrum. The drummer asked him to "join us" and get his own IEMs. That's when he threatened to leave. To state it mildly, IEMs are incompatible with his live music world's about the connection between players, not just people playing the same song. IEMs isolate you from achieving that connection. It's just an excuse as far as I'm concerned and that's for him to figure out. I know I can hear him speak with my ambient mic and I don't have a splitting headache and ringing in my ears when I drive home from our gigs.
  14. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    You could always offer to compromise - ditch the IEMs if he is willing to turn down to a volume where you can speak to each other on stage in a normal tone of voice. :thumbsup:
    fokof likes this.
  15. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Bergantino-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    It's absolutely possible for only a few members to use IEM's, it causes no inherent problems at all; having everyone on IEM's also causes zero inherent communication problems.

    Your guitarist/BL is flat out wrong to the point of absurdity, and you're smart to have already started auditioning for other bands :thumbsup:
    Jamvan likes this.
  16. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    Absolutely. I work in a few bands that do just that. And have worked in several others doing the same thing. I'm often in the one or two holdouts who have just not made the purchase yet. I get all I need (which is usually not much) as usual from wedges and everyone else' amps. Everyone else in the bands using IEMs seem happy.

    Edit: Oh, and your BL is full of BS. I have noticed no difference between one method of monitoring over another as pertains to communications or "being in the moment."
    Jamvan likes this.
  17. cableguy


    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    Cause you never see any of the "pro" or tourings bands use IEMs.................
    pudgychef and BigNotes like this.
  18. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Tip: send the guitarist out one night, AFTER soundcheck, to get some weed, and while he's away, sneakily turn up behind his tube amp, and remove ONE power amp tube, so he will just play at half volume. Hide the tube. When playing live and he's bickering still even if his volume knob is at eleven, just shrug, and look and pretend to be sympathetically bitter with him, and just say that you all don't know either what has happened. Be with him, like "Have you checked this or that..." to produce an air of pretended compassion. Then when the gig is over, send him backstage to collect the bands gig pay, and then sneakily put the tube back again. Alternate version is that you can connect his mains backstage to a power regulator and deliberately DIME his voltage, so it sags like h*ll, and not producing the same volume, but alas, this technique can actually be hazardous to any tube amp, depending on what it is. It can be just as hazardous as cramming to much voltage into it - as the fuse will probably blow first.

    But if he has only one tube power amp, all the volume will be gone, but I doubt it is just one if he cranks it too loud every time.
  19. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Rush does and has been for like at least some 15-20 years by now.
  20. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    That was sarcasm. The point is that almost every touring band uses IEM today.
    Honch likes this.
  21. Odinbass


    Dec 6, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    My band does it. 2 with 2 without.

    The AT M2 has an input for an ambient mic. Get a lavalier clip on and use that if you need to hear what people are saying.

    IEM is the way to go but some people are resistant to it. Usually for money reasons but also old school mentality.
    Jamvan likes this.
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