Inner ear monitoring - or using 'phones on gigs

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Mike Crumpton, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. Much as love my AI, as wags have pointed out on this site, your ears are not in your feet, and my band is getting noisier. Even if I had a different amp, you don't get no bass (unless you've something large) unless its on the deck anyway. Accordingly, a monitor is needed, if only to hear the higher treble overtones that tell you so much about intonation. Chris Fitz uses a seperate monitor, but given the cramped conditions, hassle and amount of gear I was thinking of trying a headphone amp into the DI out and use good quality walkman 'phones which allow a lot of sound leakage from the environment (I use them at work to listen to music and still hear what's going on). Has anyone tried this? I was thinking of a Raven Labs PH1, since if this arrangement works, I can drop taking an amp to any gigs involving a house PA (this headphone amp/pre-amp has a high-quality DI out as well). Any comments?
  2. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I guess my only comment would be that it would be a bit weird to attend a gig where the band was wearing headphones. Something not 'intimate' about it... I would opt for one of those super cheap/light monitor dealies you can put on a mic stand or whatever.

  3. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    UM1's from are great for the money; get those and a little headphone amp and you're set.

    just my $.01
  4. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    Shure in-ear monitors are "the bomb". They are invisible. They ain't cheap.

    However they won't get your bell bottoms flapping like a stack 'o speakers will!
  5. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    Many moons ago I used a mic stand monitor (homemade Hot Spot style) to enhance my listening pleasure, so I could put my amp in front of my bass' position. It is extra equipment to haul (stand, small speaker), but the AI can drive a second cab and I mention it as something to consider.

    I've conceptualized an ear monitor situation as you mentioned, thinking in terms of one inexpensive earbud with a Raven or another headphone amp and will one day get around to experimenting with some items.
  6. geoffzilla


    Oct 30, 2001
    Nashville, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification
    This sounds like it might be what I personally have been looking for. Where can I find more info on these?
  7. poalf


    Feb 27, 2003
    Phoenix, Az
    Rolls sells personal headphone amps that allow you to blend the house mix with your in your mic to headphones and feed the mixer as well. they sell for ~$50 at musicians friend. I've been seriously considering these. I don't want to play monitor wars anymore.
  8. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    See for an example of the Hot Spots; there are powered and unpowered versions, and they are not the only mfr. of these types of systems. The Hot Spot VC is the unpowered version.
  9. poalf


    Feb 27, 2003
    Phoenix, Az
    We have hot spots in our band in addition to floor monitors. The down side is that the hot spots don't do low frequencies well and are pretty inefficient (16ohm) speakers. Works great for the vocals and things like violin though.
  10. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    I <<<LOVE>>> :hyper: my Shure in-ear monitor. I have had it for about 3 years. I tried headphones of several different types and every kind of stage monitor for years before I got the in-ear deal. I HAD to wear headphones a lot of the time as I was playing with a click track. But I had difficulties with them in live performance no matter what I used to drive them with - studio-quality headphone amp or anything else. It's tough to get enough volume and still be able to hear ambient sounds. Plus even headphones that sound great alone lose a lot of frequencies due to cancellation in a live performance setting.

    With the Shure system, you don't have to get the supplied preamp (wired or wireless) - you can use one of your choosing. Your local Shure dealer will probably have to order the earphones separately for you but it is cheaper than the whole system. I drive mine with the line output of a dbx compressor (I was way worried about the program material peaking in my ears) AND I use my stage amp so's I can feel the low end. But I no longer have to worry about cranking up my stage amp to hear clearly.

    Hot Spots are pretty good too, but what's really cool is packing up your monitor rig at the end of the night in a little container the size of a Pop's Rosin (really).
  11. Thanks guys - and on the subject of Shure a quick Google of UK pages (well it's where I live) gave me this which lists the Shure in ear monitors by themselves at not an unreasonable price I thought compared to Westone in-ear monitors, UM1s excepted (thanks NJL) and not hi fi 'phones of course. I guess Shure may not be that dear over in the states then?

    I liked two ideas: - a headphones amp that can mix in the house sound and running heaphones that at some point go through a compressor to save deafening yourself. A professsional pianist (Peter Lemer) with Barabra Dickson used hi fi ear bud type 'phones for monitoring with his own volume control - his dictum was never trust monitor volume to someone else.

    I also agree with Lermgalieu about intimacy (BTW I did have the 'ear bud' 'phones in mind all along but didn't know what to call them) but I feel little intimacy in the middle of a large noise and caged in by speakers. Regrattably, or appropriately, where I would use this would not be intimate music. And since the saxes now want mikes we're defeinately heading to 'monitor wars'. Me - I'd play just accousticly if pos. Only ever managed it on folk gigs (and believe it or not the singer and guitarist used an amp and got wragged for it!)

    The high quality DI in the Raven Labs swings it for me as does the fact that I sometimes play BG and could use this straight into a generic power amp or whatever. Raven also claim it is a good buffer preamp but Bob (RESPECT!) might know about that?

    However, since pennies are restricted, the Shure may have to wait for a month. On the otherhand, I've just been told I've got a commiseration prize comming for working for the same outfit for 25 years and I can choose my prize to a certain value. Can Blue Flame and Touch tell me which model they are using please?

    Even though this is a great site I am very impressed with the replies even by TB standards, since I've seen nothing on this subject for DB anywhere.

    BTW, I'm begining to notice that all my electircal gear is US, my bike is US - some things are truly great over there.
  12. Introvox


    May 21, 2001
    Ontario, Canada
    IEM...fine...secretive, and great for a musician who moves around the stage a lot...

    Headphones?...maybe ok for a drummer hidden in the back, but for a front-person, if I was at your show, first I'd laugh my head off (at you)...then I'd leave...

    Save the phones for the studio

    ...and you'd confuse a lot of non-musicians more than Geddy's new Oversized Clothes Dryers (but he wanted the confusion in this case)
  13. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    I believe we were using the PSM-200.

    As I recall the PSM-200 was mono, but you can adjust two input signals (me in one channel and everyone else in the other channel). You can get them wired or wireless (that cord might get in the way if you're standing on your bass!).

    I think Shure has some sexier ($$$) systems now.
  14. IEM on the cheap was what I had in mind. What the hell do you call those tiny (if not tinny) little ear-plug thingies you get with your Walkman if not headphones?

    It turns out that headphone amps to drive whatever are not too easy to get over here, especially Raven Labs. So I trotted down to Maplin and it's soldering iron and stripboard time. At least it will be cheap. Will it work? I hope to find out on next Sunday's noisy gig. My last two outings convinced me something must be done! It will give me the oportunity to put a limmiter[compressor] in and an input to mix in another signal as the fine sugestions here sugested. I'm not sure how good I am at building these things but if it works I'll post it here first.
  15. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    FWIW, I may be the least picky player on the planet about my sound. If I can hear something in the band playing in time, I can deal with it.

    But, about 6 months ago, the main church gig I have spent real money on a fancy headphone monitoring system.

    This thing is VERY nice. Each player has their own preamp/control box and each box has a complete 16 ch. mixer so that you can dial up as much or as little of whoever you want.

    I absolutely HATED playing through headphones. I was miserable. It was the least enjoyable playing I have experienced in a long time. Fortunately, the leader missed my amp on stage so much that he asked me to bring it back.

    I love a single earbud when I am playing acoustic guitar. If they made one that could make any bass, I'd be there.
  16. junglebike

    junglebike Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Any updates on these thoughts?

    I've had a spate of spirit-crushingly bad gigs due to poor monitor and FOH mixing. I'm playing in a 3-piece (2x vox, keys/guitar, guitar/drums -- We're kind of alt-country/folk/rockabilly/showtunes-ish. Anyway, we're not your typical rock band screamers with half-stacks, but we play in places that typically cater to that sort of thing -- they are absolutely unsuitable for acoustic amplification or harmony vocals!

    I'm strongly considering buying a mixer for the monitor blend, in-ears, and leaving all the amps at home. That would allow me to mic my bass, too, which would be fantastic. Now I have no hope of doing so without howling feedback.

    My only solid requirement is something with a good built-in limiter, i.e. the Shure PSM200. Other option might be that cheap behringer 4-channel comp/limiter.

    I'm surprised I don't see more upright-ists doing this. Almost every pickup-amp setup I've seen looses 90% of the nuance that, to me at least, is the point of playing URB instead of fretless or EUB. Mic/headphones for low stage volume seems perfect to kill the feedback while keeping the subtlety.

    Obviously, you need a killer PA, though...
  17. Joe Smithberger

    Joe Smithberger Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Canton, Ohio, USA
    Does the Behringer Comp/Limiter have a headphone out? Would you use it alone or with another headphone amp and/or mixer?

    I have been thinking about this type of setup myself. It's a shame there isn't a box built like the Rolls PM50 (or whatever) with a limiter built into the headphone out circuit. I would think that a defeatable limter would be a great thing to build into all headphone amps that are advertised for live use; if nothing else just for liability reasons.

    BTW Raven Labs doesn't make a box with a headphone out and a DI.
  18. junglebike

    junglebike Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    No headphone out on the comp/limiter. I'm planning on using it with a mixer and an 8channel headphone amp. Gotta have that limiter -- heard some horror stories, and I'd rather lose a leg than an ear.

  19. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center

    The comp/lim may well have enough line output volume to drive your headphones. Mine does. Try it out in the music store if you can.