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Does the whole band need to use IEMs?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by superheavyfunk, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    Long story short, I'm sick and tired of blowing out my ears are shows and I want to move to using IEMs. Nobody that I play with (except the country bands) is prepared or even willing to make the investment to try them out but I'm really keen on it for a number of reasons, including reducing my stage footprint.

    All these cats are like "turn your bass up! Bass needs to be felt," and here I am saying, "I can hear myself fine - turn yourself down and you'll hear me better." Or, "the bass is to be felt by the audience. This here amp is just a monitor." But nobody listens. I'm thinking that if I just do it (rock the IEMs), they'll be forced to ask FOH to put bass in their monitors, thereby making them take responsibility for crafting their own mix, rather than having me blow my ears out for their benefit.

    What's a guy to do?
  2. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I think it's difficult to do it by yourself. Seems more like an all in or all out deal to me. That said, you can do it. You need your own monitor mix - no sharing. The rest of the band has to be ok with you just in their monitors - no stage amp. Your PA and monitors need to be able to handle it.
    I know a guy who's band went from IEM's back to wedges. I don't know why and he was irrritated. He tried to stay IEM but ended up going back to stage amp, wedges and ear plugs.
    superheavyfunk likes this.
  3. TedH


    Dec 6, 2014
    Westchester, NY
    I'm the only one with them in my group and it works fine. You will need to make some investments in kit (e.g. headphone amp with limiter, good IEM's, maybe a small mixer if you aren't on a digital one with the band), but to me it was worth it as I go home without my ears ringing. The place I most enjoy it is actually the smallest stage where I'm right on top of the ride cymbal, so taking 20db off of that is a blessing.

    The other thing is using a meter for FOH levels and if they understand sound, seeing 100db and above on an SPL meter, usually gets them to keep it in check on levels. If not, well that's a different conversation.
    Johnny Crab and superheavyfunk like this.
  4. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Wha-a-a-t ??? Nobody said "fire the drummer!" yet?
    Geri O likes this.
  5. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Under the wrong circumstances, ditching your stage rig in favor of IEMs might instead send some of your projects looking for another bassist. But if that's the case, you might augment—rather than replace—your stage rig with IEMs. Won't help your load-in, but earphones will at least at least let you determine your SPLs for monitoring.
  6. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    In all seriousness... No, but it sure helps if the whole band does, because everyone is on the same playing field with the same investment and commitment levels.
    My band has been IEM for most of the last 4 yrs.. until we split back at the beginning of July.
    That said.. we always had the BL and guitar player who NEVER moved to IEM's.. ran a wedge the entire time.
    It helps to have a digital mixer or your own IEM rack (which we had) so you can stay independent and avoid relying on and having FOH mix your IEM's.
    superheavyfunk likes this.
  7. Scottkarch


    Sep 11, 2012
    Yeah.. it's not necessary but it's helpful. There are so many ways to do this.. I recommend trying a few to see what might help.
    • First of all IEMS doesnt have to mean wireless. I go wired IEMs most of the time we're on small stages. It sounds better than our galaxy audio wireless IEMs. And it's way cheaper to get started.
    • Individual mixes make the most difference, sharing monitor mixes is difficult.. very difficult. If you need to share one monitor mix, look into a separate monitor mixer that allows you to pipe in the monitor feed as well as an input..so you can put more of YOU into the mix.
    • Use quality IEMs to get the best experience. At rehearsal, nice over the ear cans can be a good way to get isolation similar to quality IEMS. Custom molded is the most likely way to get the best isolation with iems but some people can do really well with trying various earbud tips.. comply foam ones work well and expand a lot to fill your ear canal.
    • Going ampless and IEM with a dedicated monitor mix gives you and the sound man the most flexibility.
    • Using and amp and IEMs with a dedicated monitor mix can work and help the band hear you if they don't have IEMs or monitors that can handle bass...

    You can experiment with the following variables..
    • wired or wireless IEM
    • dedicated monitor mix or shared mix
    • if shared monitor mix, look for a way to get more of your signal into your monitor feed.
    • custom IEMs or whatever tips fit your ears best
    • amp or no amp ( DI or pedal preamp ) Or DI from your amp but volume on 0
    Good luck and keep us posted. Unless I know and trust the company doing the sound, we will be bringing our own mixer for monitors even if FOH is provided. we have a splitter and feed our mixer AND theirs. Once you get things dialed in I find it simple and less stress. we played Sunday at a big outdoor place. Plugged everything into the board, played 1 verse of a song and we were done with soundcheck. Everything was the same setting as our last rehearsal. nothing changed. If I closed my eyes, it sounded exactly like the rehearsal space since the mix was the same. I'll never go back.
  8. Take in two stages. First get your IEM setup as best you can. I did that using a small mixer and a few spliters and Y cords. I was lucky that we had a sound person who could give me my own mix. Later i went wireless is steps. I was nave able to lose my bass amp in that band because stage needed to hear it. But my ears were loving it.

    My current is all IEM and go direct with only a small bass amp on stage. No wedges, no guitar amps and electronic V Drums as well. Stage is so quiet.
    Scottkarch, superheavyfunk and SteveC like this.
  9. BassikLee

    BassikLee Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2004
    Deltona, FL
    Owner: Brevard Sound Systems
    If you're all on ears, why the small bass amp? I'm curious. In my band, me and the drummer are on ears, gtr and kb players are both still on wedges, but we use no amps at all on stage.
    Scottkarch likes this.
  10. monkeyland


    Jul 1, 2008
    Ft Myers, Florida
    Endorsing artist: Curt Mangan Strings, JH Audio

    I use ears at basically every gig and I'm generally the only person using them. I also use an amp on most of these gigs where the PA is only really for vocals. I play the first song or two without my ears in so that I can make sure that my volume is good and then after that I put my ears in. There is typically only one(or none i.e. Bose) monitor on stage and it's just vocals.

    I do bring my own digital mixer and I put a mic on the kick, overhead and guitar amp. I also take a line from the PA when it's just vocals and acoustic instruments. This gets me plenty to work with and has really helped my ears feel a lot better than they did this time last year.
    superheavyfunk and s0c9 like this.
  11. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    so you have more PA mixer for your personal use than the entire rest of the band has for out front?

  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    two different goals here, fixing your own monitor situation and trying to change theirs.

    yes you can use them if you have enough monitor out channels on the main out-front board so you can have one of your very own.

    if not you can cobble together a mix with things like the rolls PM351.

    as for the rest of the band hearing you, bass in typical bar/club monitor wedges sucks. it takes all the headroom and makes it hard for those guys to hear themselves or other stuff.

    you'll likely still need to bring out the bass rig to make for a good stage sound, especially with live drums and amps.
    Scottkarch and superheavyfunk like this.
  13. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    First, thank you everybody for your insights and opinions. This is slowly becoming a bigger a bigger issue for me... I can feel my hearing is changing as I age and I'm beginning to worry about it. I want to be able to enjoy hearing things as long as is possible. :)

    @walterw the pcm351 is what I've been looking at. I figured it was the easiest place to start... I think it'd put the least amount of burden on FOH and the rest of the band(s). I have no problem bringing a combo amp with me so everybody else on stage can hear it but I would prefer to put it on the other side of the stage and let the boys and girls turn it up as loud as they want. I don't want to change their mix, necessarily... I just want to be autonomous, as concerns the decibel levels that I'm exposed to.

    @Scottkarch thanks for the detailed post and suggestions. Almost all of the venues at which I play offer individual mixes, which is nice. I do worry that, as @derrico1 said, that my insistence on going with IEMs might make me seem like a bit of a diva to the bands I work with though but I guess I'll just have to figure out a way to explain it to them.
    Scottkarch likes this.
  14. Nathan Ferguson

    Nathan Ferguson

    Jul 14, 2015
    I want to move to IEMs as soon as possible, but for now I just use a DI. The sound of the bass coming out of the monitor is great for me. Everybody has a nice mix in their monitors. Plus on top of that, 1 less item to bring to gigs :)
    superheavyfunk likes this.
  15. monkeyland


    Jul 1, 2008
    Ft Myers, Florida
    Endorsing artist: Curt Mangan Strings, JH Audio
    Yes I do. I know that it seems rediculous to most but because of it I'm able to do my part well and in the manner that I wish, without imposing on anyone. And I can get the whole rig running in about 15 minutes.
    superheavyfunk likes this.
  16. monkeyland


    Jul 1, 2008
    Ft Myers, Florida
    Endorsing artist: Curt Mangan Strings, JH Audio
    Well you are well over halfway there.
  17. You have a dilemma for sure with that situation. i went through a very similar one in a band I play in. They (at least the MD) expected my amp to provide low-end not only for the stage but the venue as well. I heard the same things you do; "I can't hear the bass!" "You sound like a guitar!" "We can't feel the bass!" Over a period of a year I practically burned up my SWR Super Redhead trying to appease this guy. What I ended up doing ultimately was turning my amp on during soundcheck but adjusting the master volume waayyyy down on it, forcing the sound guy to compensate w/ his PA. Worked like a charm and has been working ever since. The band still plays too loud and the stage volume still gets outta hand, but I now have the reserve power/headroom to hear myself without running my amp too hard. Give it a try!
    mikewalker likes this.
  18. dnp41


    May 10, 2016
    Perhaps strange idea. But if you don't turn up your amp, wouldn't they also have to ask FOH to put bass in their monitors? Just be open about it (or wear heavy earplugs)
  19. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    @superheavyfunk :

    If your intent is to protect yourself against overexposure to high sound levels--and not that you want an individual monitor mix--you might consider good custom plugs.

    I've used the ACS and 64 Audio plugs since I've been working with a band that's too damned loud. (I enjoy the music and enjoy working with my bandmates, but ... ) In the tradition of IME/IMHO, here's my comparo:

    The attenuation curve of the ACS Pro 17 is pretty much flat; the silicone plug material is comfy but sometimes the seal breaks momentarily when I sing; it's not bad at mitigating the occlusion effect.

    The 64 Audio plugs with -15dB inserts roll off the top end a bit; the acrylic plug material took a few wearings to get used to, but the seal never breaks; the occlusion effect is gone.

    That's how I see the trade-offs, anyway.

    I'm using the 64 Audio plugs all the time, now. Sure is nice to get to the end of the show, take the plugs out, and have my ears feel fresh.
    Johnny Crab likes this.
  20. We have such low stage volume that some of us including myself use one ear. Now this is not a good idea at normal or above normal band levels but my band is so quiet that if I step towards my drummer I can here his sticks hit his rubber pads. Since I listen to the front mix I can't hear my bass very well so the small bass amp onstage allows us to hear just enough bass.

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