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In Ear Monitors, good/bad ?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Fetusyolk, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. Fetusyolk


    Aug 7, 2008
    Now i've read about in-ear monitors and despite what you may have thought this is not about models or what to purchase. It's just some thing that's been bothering me a bit.

    In-ear monitors i figured are a great choice as it mutes the outside noises, protecting your ears, but allows you to still hear whats going on.

    but woudln't having such high frequency (and i guess low frequency) notes IN your ear like that do damage regardless of volume? (as it's not exactly smoothed out in recording or anything).

    and what about the drummer? if you're playing a venue where the drums are not mic'ed, arent you running the risk of not being able to hear him?
  2. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Not necessarily. We use a shotgun mic on the audience and feed it into the mix, for ambient monitoring. Without this, it sounds like you're playing along to a CD. It sucks the energy & life out of a performance if you can't hear the crowd.

    Not any more than listening to an iPod, etc. What do you mean, smoothed out? Like, mastered? In-ear monitors have built-in limiters to protect you from volume spikes, but anyway, it's no different than listening to the mix as soundmen do with headphones, just from the stage, instead.

    Yes, if you are using in-ears, you will need everything going into the mix or you won't be able to monitor it. If a show is not a big enough production to run everything you want to monitor through the board, skip the in-ears and go with wedges and earplugs (if needed).
  3. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    Not ALL in-ear systems have built in limiters, (our system is hardwired, we needed to add limiters). I think almost all wireless systems have built in limiting though.

    We run 2 "live" mics onstage , that we can hear the audience with, and also communicate with eachother.
    One thing I have noticed, is that even though I run my in-ears somewhat on the loud end of the spectrum, I NEVER experience ringing in my ears or noise fatigue anymore. I took my in-ears out of my ears the other night, and I couldn't believe how loud everything was, and we don't use amps on stage at all, it was just the drums. And our drummer is not a wild drum-killer, but it was a smaller club, with a lot of hard surfaces on the stage. Sounded horrible! I got those monitors back in my ears as fast as I could!
    That said, we always run a couple of condenser mics and a kick drum mic on the drums, and they are always going through the mains to some extent, so I can usually hear the drums pretty decent. Or I can just dial in a little more drums on the monitor mix if need be.
  4. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    All wireless systems ( inear or signal ) have a db limit , no true with wired bass or headphones.
    With wired stuff , the limit is the wire gauge.

    That why all wireless sounds "compressed"

    EDIT; it is a good thing to have a limiter of some sort with IEM...
  5. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I personally have never had a good sonic experience with in-ears. My bass always winds up sounding like a ukelele, and if you're someone that likes to feel bass as well as hear it then you're going to be disappointed unless you augment it with something like a Buttkicker and at that point you've practically got as much gear onstage as if you just used a wedge.

    But then I've only ever used low- to mid-priced solutions and from what I hear you really need to spend some bucks to get the ones that can carry some low end.
  6. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    IEM's are both good and bad. With a good mix you can hear the whole band at a reasonable volume. That's good.

    With the earplugs stuffed into your skull, if the drummer wants to call an audible, you can't hear him unless he's on mic. That's not good.

    Not being able to hear the audiance takes some getting used to as well.
  7. kirkm24


    Jan 1, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    I use them at church every week and they are fine. They have overhead mics to pickup the house mix and the crowd. Doing this really helps make it feel better. I was resistant at first but now I really like them and would be willing to use them exclusively with no amp on-stage. I use the M-Audio IE-30s and they sound nice and full (I like them better than the Shure E5's which I also used). They are also considerably cheaper at $250 instead of $600 for E5's.

    You can really here everything in great detail and you become a lot more self-conscious about your playing and how you fit in the overall sound which IMO, makes me a better player. The "old guard" on here are resistant to them and will bash them but they probably haven't given them a fair shake. I think it is the wave of the future for live sound because the quieter the stage is, the better the front of house will sound. This also means that players have to be better because they can't hide behind an amp but it also means that the nicer the bass you have, the better you will sound.
  8. Joel S.

    Joel S. Reserved for future witty use...

    Jul 9, 2008
    No, it's not the frequencies that cause damage, it's the pressure levels. You tend to lose high frequencies first, and since low frequencies don't trigger the pain mechanism in your ear like high frequencies do, you're more likely to turn bass up too high and cause damage.
  9. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Ok, here is my opinion on In-Ear Monitors. I use them 95% of the time. The only time I don't is when we do not bring our system (monitor). I like the "CD" sound. I prefer to have a complete evenness that In-Ears give. I don't want to hear the audience. I want to hear the 3 guitars, bass drum, and vocals. I work better that way. Even if you wear both in-ear monitors, they do not cut 100% of the sound out. You can easily still hear the drums and extranious noise. And if you really need to hear what is going on off stage, take one of the ear monitors out and just use one. 4 of the guys in my band only use 1 in. I prefer both in.
  10. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    I think your satisfaction will depend a great deal on what you really want to hear (or feel) onstage. As you've read, there are all kinds of different perspectives on what a stage (or in-ears) should sound like. I agree, you won't "feel" your bass with in-ears, although the Buttkicker solution may help. I believe I've read somewhere that Dave Muscato has used one, how did that work out for you Dave?
    I am also our lead singer, so the in-ears are a no brainer for me. I love my headphone mix, and I can customize it to my liking. I have also run into rooms where I get what I think might be some phase-cancellation of the bass, between my in-ears and the PA, which is frustrating.
    I don't think you necessarily have to have the top-of-the-line in-ears for a good sound. I've used Shure E2's, Westone UM1's, even cheapo Koss "The Plug" one night, and now I use FutureSonics M5's. None of those cost me over $150, and all worked "okay", the FutureSonics M5's are great for bass. Getting a good seal is vital. If your bass sounds like a ukulele, I'm guessing you don't have a good seal. I have trouble hearing the drums if they are not in my headphone mix, especially hearing the high-hats.
    I've also read somewhere (was it here?) that using one in-ear is a very bad idea (although I see it happen all the time). Something about compensating the sound pressure difference between the "live" stage sound and the isolated signal being pumped directly into your ear. Apparently, the problem is that the performer keeps turning the in-ear signal up louder and louder to try to "match" the sound pressure level of the stage, and causes hearing damage, due to the rather high sound pressure levels. I have noticed when I take one of my plugs out, the stage level is usually surprisingly loud compared to my in-ears (stupid drums!). And I usually think I have my in-ears pretty loud.
  11. I used a single IEM for about a year with mixed results but with my new Westone UM2's I have been using both. Takes a little more attention to the mix in mmy monitor send from FOH but it works fine for me.


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