In ear monitor system/mixing on stage

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by enti7y, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. enti7y


    Jul 18, 2013
    i have a couple rather odd questions.

    1: Looking into in-ear monitors for my band and i understand HOW they work. nobody gives an idea of how you set them up as far as wiring. i understand each configuration could be different.. looking for a simple setup for my band so when we play big shows we have everything ready to roll on stage and we don't have to wait for them to dial in the monitors the way we need.

    2: this may solve the issue with the in ear system by running a mixer on stage. is it practical to mix our own sound on stage prior to a show, then send a single digital signal back to FOH? we can have a side-stage sound guy mixing us and sending a clean signal back to FOH..

    the problem is, will this cause future issues with different clubs having different house configuration? would we be battling and always readjusting to the club we play at?

    i really want IEMs.. and i really don't like battling with a house engineer to give us what we want in stage monitors.. that and not being able to move if they only have 2-3 stage monitors. (smaller places)
  2. enti7y


    Jul 18, 2013
    lastly... could we just run our own set of cab mics and bass DI into a mixer for a more simple IEM setup? we have road cases with cab clamping mic holders and we have Senn E609 cab mics we can use and tuck the wiring and just dial in our own IEMs for consistency on the road... our singer has a wireless mic setup and can run one output to the IEM transmitter and another to FOH.. just trying to figure out the BEST way
  3. kevinpmajka

    kevinpmajka Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2013
    Phoenix, AZ
    Hello -
    I"m not an expert on this at all so please take my info as hearsay that is informed....

    The ideal situation would be a splitter snake that sends a line of inputs into a monitor mixer, and one to Front of House.

    You can get these in rackmount form for having prewired to a mixer. I would recommend a digital mixer so you can save your mix.

    You will need to use the same amp settings/levels/DIs for everything all of the time. A quieter stage would be the best thing.

    How ever many people are in your band - that is how many aux sends you will need. 5 piece band, 5 auxes, etc. Auxes are typically in mono - if you want stereo that will cost alot.

    Everybody in the band will need a set of monitors (headphones), and either a wired or wireless system with a built in limiter for hearing protection. Especially with custom molds - these things going into your head. You need protection from sudden blasts of feedback.

    As far as a monitor mixer - a digital mixer may be preferable so you can recall mixes at will, but a carefully laid out analog mixer could be great. Write down your settings if the knobs get turned.

    Ideally you roll in your monitor mixer, plug your mics and everything into the splitter snake, connect your IN ear Systems, take your outputs to Front of House and do a silent sound check for monitoring, and then do one for FOH.

    Most importantly - practice this way. That's how you get used to the quiet ness and getting the mix you need to perform better.
  4. musicman7722


    Feb 12, 2007
    Hampton NH
    I will agree with Kevin above. I use a poormans splitter snake and send one side to foh and other my mackie dl1608 digital board. Foh for our band runs a Yamaha digital board and he rarely has to use his snake as mine reaches his board which is usually just off stage.

    Then outs to each band member that uses IEM. I would disagree that you need custom molds in the beginning but you do want decent buds. Anything that comes with an IEM system will be a throw away. Personally I have used Westone UM2 for 4 years now and have never found the need for customs. If I did I could move ahead and get them. In the end what works for you is what is right.
  5. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    We use a 6 channel single space rack mixer mounted in our 24 space IEM rack. We each have a dual 15 band eq, the IEM's, the mixer and a power strip. We also use mic mutes that are active when muted so we can talk into our mic's and hear each other but the audience can't hear it. That way if we want to modulate or change tunes we can communicate much better with each other
  6. kevinpmajka

    kevinpmajka Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2013
    Phoenix, AZ
    Custom molds are great - but very isolating. Either throw up a shotgun mic and make it available for feeling some air in your mixes, or do a pzm mic.

    It's a lot easier if the whole band does it.

    On systems, if you have the resources - but the nicest you can. For bands on a budget I would recommend getting the Audio Technica M2 or M3 series... Because of the dual inputs, you can actually have 2 mixes per Transmitter - so 2 rack units, and 4 belt packs if that makes sense. Pretty neat.
  7. nicopiano

    nicopiano Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Levis, Quebec, Canada
    If you are playing club, I would say that in ear monitoring will be adding much more work and time to sound check at every gig.

    But if you want to do it anyway and don't need to be wireless, you can simply send each monitors mix into a small board, and plug in ear phone in the small board. Each musician control is volume on the board. It's easy to do, but you'll need more time to sound check because each tiny change in the monitor mix can make a huge difference in what you ear.

    Also, if you are using earphones with good isolation, don't forget to mic the crowd to get the live feeling.
  8. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    This. For small clubs, in an ideal world you'll get a quick line check before you go on unless you're the opening act. I've played gigs where we don't even get that, it's just reposition a few mics and away you go with levels adjusted while you play your first tune. I have IEMs - my cover band was all IEM - and have used them for smaller club gigs with my other bands. Usually we just give the transmitter to the FOH guy and have them dump a vocal mix into the IEM system and end up playing one ear in, one out so you can have stage volume/sound too. If you're at a place with really good sound people and you show up early to get things settled they'll take some time to balance your mix but for the most part it's kind of been a "we'll wing it" scenario.

    If you had your own rack system that you could roll in with the settings premixed and have either a snake or other split feed from your mixer to the house system I can't see any sound guys complaining. But that's a lot of extra gear to bring.
  9. kevinpmajka

    kevinpmajka Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2013
    Phoenix, AZ
    I would only really go In Ear if you are playing at least 2 hours. For a quick in and out 45 minute originals set I would do it.

    I use this with my cover band who is playing 4 hours at a time....
  10. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    playing with one earpiece out is the quick road to hearing loss nono.gif

    what works for my cover band (all in-ears) on the rare occasions when we don't do our own sound entirely is to insist on a splitter snake from the soundguy, which goes between our own mics and our own board (mixwiz, so 4 auxes for 4 guys in the band).

    we hear ourselves the same as we always do, i adjust our monitor mixes the same as i always do, and the FOH guy can do what he wants and it won't affect us at all.

    normally, we just do our own sound in clubs; the monitors stay where they usually are, and i spend the first few songs out front with my wireless dialing in the house mix before i get to put my own ears on.
  11. Keithwah


    Jan 7, 2011
    Milwaukee WI
    The poor mans splitter snake works great with good clean A/C power, but if you have hums/buzzes that occur, you'll wish you were using a transformerized split. I am a strong believer in the use of isolation splits to keep your sound cleaner and to help prevent ground issues. The real poor mans method for this is using an Art S8 electronically balanced (no iso's but superior to the cruder hard wired split being discussed. You can do the hard wired poor mans, you will be better served by the Art piece or a real splitter from Proco like the MS82 or MS83. And if you can afford the MS83, it has three splits, one non transformerized and the other two are transformered.

    Getting your IEM's set before a show is very easy. Say you have this splitting device, the house sound will take one set out to the house desk. You can now use some mixer with enough Aux outs to handle all your needs. I use a Presonus SL16.4, my IEM mix never changes. I got it great all the time by just turning my belt pack on and ramming my buds in my ears. My bandmates don't have it so lucky. They are too stupid and keep trying to get more out of their mix and completely screw them up. An IEM mix is not really supposed to be like your fav band is cranking in your buds and you get to play over the top of them. You mix in what you need first for your voice and instrument. You then bring your other vocalists into the mix. If you are a back up vocalist, don't push your voice way over the lead, just under it works the best. Then start bringing in the instruments behind it all, guitars, keys, drums. I always suggest bringing drums in last since they always sound huge and big and phat and wow dude loud......and you end up fighting yourself with the everything has to be louder than the other mentality. Basically I have my buds set up like I was standing in front of my mic and in the sweet spot of my rig, I'm always louder and clearer, and I don't have half the wall of Marshall sound I would if I were taking a center stage image instead of an image from being right where my virtual wedge would be. I also run a mic on each side of the stage for ambient sound which really helps keep the other guys from pulling one earbud out, which is dangerous, and doesn't take full advantage of being able to minimize the sound pressure pounding your ear drums. And you also really need to have compressors and reverbs on your mixes. That is why I love the SL16.4.2, everything built right into it. Good luck with it!

    And the real secret to a great IEM mix is having a very good set of ear buds and using Comply foam for the perfect seal.
  12. modulusman

    modulusman Inactive

    Jan 18, 2004
    Not sure what the purpose the EQ is serving. Great for feedback problems but that doesn't happen with IEMs.
  13. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    I usually set my volume both ears then replace one side with a -15db molded ear plug if I'm not getting enough stage volume. Negates most of the volume imbalance issue and as long as you don't turn the "in" side up more you're fine. The issue is if you crank it up the other side to compensate for the volume drop of not having both in.
  14. bodoger


    Feb 28, 2008
    Chapmanville, WV
  15. musicman7722


    Feb 12, 2007
    Hampton NH
    Have had no noise issues with my splitter snake.
  16. afrank89

    afrank89 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    Anderson, IN
    enty7y: I have both performed with bands that use IEM racks and mix their own monitors, and I have run lots of production with bands that do the same. What I have found is this:

    Having a standalone IEM system is a great way to get a consistent monitor mix with minimal time spent dialing them in at each gig. The big things you need to do to prepare are setting up the gear and keeping levels consistent, use the same gear (or spend a rehearsal dialing new gear in), and know how to run to the gear properly.


    Board: You can use a rackmount mixer, either digital or analog. In my experience, each have their perks. An analog board is easier to make adjustments on-the-fly. This is simply because you don't have menus and such to scroll through. HOWEVER, with the use of a digital board you have the ability to EQ and compress the AUX sends themselves. [modulusman, I've always seen graphic EQs used with IEM set-ups to EQ the ear channel. On most boards you will only get a 4-band EQ if anything, the graphic EQ gives unlimited control to dial in the ears.] If you want to use an analog board, the extra EQ and compression and such isn't necessary, it's just a nice perk if you have someone that can run it. In addition to choosing between digital and analog, you also will have to determine the number of AUX sends you need--this is determined just by the number of stereo/mono mixes you need.

    Splitter: In all of my dealings with bands that use IEM systems, the splitter has not been a big factor. Sure, some are a little noisier than others, but if you get one that has a pad and/or ground lift on each channel, then you will be a step ahead. I know people may rail me for saying that, but in all of my years with these systems, the splitters have been great.

    Stage Gear: This is the big one for me--in what I've found, the goal of using an IEM system is to reproduce the monitor mix each person wants with as little work as possible. This biggest part of this is monitoring the inputs you are using. The best way to do this is to own all the stage gear you need, including mics). Make sure the drum mics, guitar mics, vocal mics, etc are the same from gig to gig and you won't have to touch much EQ once it is dialed in.

    Running gear: Once you have dialed in your ear mixes at a rehearsal, you can just hand the sound guy a fan tail from the splitter and/or snake and be finished with it. Trust me, sound guys love that. Knowing that all they have to do is the FOH mix makes life much better, not to mention with no wedges the mix is cleaner, gear is more controlled, etc. The big thing is to check inputs at each venue. Run a line check and make sure the gains of each channel are hitting unity. Doing this will ensure that the EAR LEVELS are the same. This does not mean some tweaking won't have to be done in the room to compensate for how close/far away band members and amps are or gains on DIs and pedalboards changing. But if gains are set, the rest is minor tweaking. The beauty to having a set-up where you own/run all the stage gear is simply that you know what you will be working with. All the sound guy really needs is his FOH board and stacks/racks.

    To run a system like this definitely takes some cash and a bit of knowhow to set up initially, but after that it makes life easy. I know this went on for a while, but if any of this was worthwhile feel free to PM me, I can answer any other questions about it too.
  17. Why do you say that the Art S8 is "no Iso"? From what I understand the S8 has one direct and two transformer isolated outputs per channel.