Need help with wireless IEMs for the whole band

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by socialleper, Aug 31, 2022.

  1. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    My band is looking to join parts of a tour and we should really invest in a wireless IEM system. I know the basics, but the practical application of a system for all 5 people is a little over my head.
    It doesn't look like there are a lot of systems that are more than 2 receivers to one transmitter. Are there any 5 receiver systems out there? Just a way for the sound guy to dump a house mix into our IEMs?
    If I have to go with a few systems, is there a company out there that will build a portable rack with the transmitters in it?

    Thoughts? Advice?
     
  2. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
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  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    "Dumping the house mix" into your five IEM monitors is (quite simply) a TERRIBLE idea. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone doing it that way. All kinds of room physics come into play with the house mix. That could make it where some channels are jacked up, and some are almost not in the mix at all. That won't be helpful AT ALL as a monitor mix.

    If you are "joining parts of a tour" you need to speak with production guy on that tour. Find out if they have a splitter snakemaybe? If so you could even have your own mixer for monitors. It could be rack mounted with the transmitters. One of the Behringer/Midas units would get the job done easily. Or, they may even possibly have gear that will accommodate your IEMs anyway. In other words, they may have enough aux sends to just run you guys five mixes.

    But, yeah, the conversation needs to be had with their production person first. Right now you don't even know how you would tie into their system.
     
  4. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I don't have anything to tie into their system yet. So that's a little more crucial.
     
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Sure. But you still need to talk with their production person ASAP.
     
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  7. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    We don’t have those either.
    I personally have a Sennheiser G4 system with Shure 215 IEM, but the rest of the band doesn't use IEMs. It is something we have discussed, but never moved on. I was figuring this would be an opportunity for us to take care of that all at once.
     
  8. 2112

    2112 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2005
    Doing the wireless thing with any sort of reliability over the long term is an expensive and, at times frustrating, experience. Basically, the rule in wireless is "you get what you pay for". Yes, you can get occasional good results with cheap equipment. But, if you want consistently good performance, you're really going to have to come off your wallet.

    If it were me, the only two names out there are Shure and Sennheiser. Yes again, there are cheaper players, but they won't have the reputations of the big 2, and there's a reason for that.

    They both offer systems that will do 4 channels in one rack space, and they might offer 8-channel units (I don't know). However, they are very expensive, several thousands of dollars. Also, even if you use a combined multichannel system, you may have to invest in an antenna combiner, which will cost several thousands more.

    Beyond making the big spend, there is also the hassle of managing and coordinating the frequencies they will use. Each IEM unit, even in a combined unit, needs its own frequency. However, picking out frequencies is not as easy as just dialing in the first 5 frequencies on the dial. Before you purchase, you have to consider which band is going to best for you in terms of frequency availability and performance characteristics in the areas you'll be using the system. And then, after you purchase, you have to contend with interference issues from other operators on those same frequencies in the shared spectrum as well as from other electronic devices. These will change from venue to venue, and from city to city. You can even get interference from you own devices. Moreover, you will be at the mercy of laws and regulations regarding their use... and these change from time to time... and has resulted in wireless systems instantly turning into very expensive pumpkins because a rule change made those that operate on certain frequency bands illegal to use.

    On top of all that fun stuff, you also have to manage the expensive belt packs and the antennas and batteries that come with them. And, since we all know that if guitarists and drummers can't eat something, they'll lose it or break it instead, you better have extra packs, batteries, and antennas on hand, and be prepared to spend a good amount of time maintaining them and teaching/reteaching everyone how to use them and not abuse them.

    Dumping the house mix into all 5 IEMs is a way you could get your cost on a wireless system down... you'd still need at least 5 belt packs, but at least you'd only need one transmitter and you wouldn't need an antenna combiner. But, keep in mind that the house mix won't be tailored to your ears, it will be tailored to the venues... tuned to the spaces, and will change from venue to venue. Definitely not a good way to achieve good quality and consistency in your monitors... and kinda defeats the purpose of spending all that money on a reliable wireless monitor rig.

    You will still need your own mixer to bring in the instrument and mic sends and send them to the monitor channels. But, since you'll also be touring with this rig, I'm assuming you won't be handling your own FOH mix. So, you should also have some kind of way to split the instrument/mic sends off to the FOH board, many times this is done by way of a splitter snake. This will add to the cost of your rig as well.

    There are outfits out there that'll build you a portable IEM system from components. BTPA is one, and there are others. They have demo. videos up on youtube. I'm sure they aren't cheap either... but isn't that always the way in this business? Also, check out the rig-building videos put up by Riffs, Beards & Gear and others... this might make you feel good about a DYI'ing it and help save you some bread.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2022
  9. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I guess house mix is the wrong term. I mean just a general mix with everything in it. That way we could just use one unit.
    It does seem like there are units that have that many receivers to one unit. If I have to get separate units, then finding out about properly mounting them in a travel case is what I would be interested in.
    I realize that it won't be cheap. The buy on is a few grand, so I might as well spend a little more and be able to hear myself if I'm going to do it. In for a penny in for a pound.
     
    2112 likes this.
  10. Check with the production/engineers they may have a system already !!
     
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  11. ebo

    ebo

    Jul 15, 2012
    Bay Area, Ca
    I guarantee almost no one will be happy with a general “little bit of everything” mix. Vocalists need to hear themselves more than everyone else. You won’t want as much guitar as the guitarist. Make sure what you get works with the tour system, and experiment with them as much as possible before going out. IEM’s take a while to adjust to and you don’t want to be doing that live on stage if you can help it.
     
  12. You can run as many beltpack receivers as you want on a single transmitter. How successful you would be with 5 people sharing a single mix is another question. If no one is particularly demanding in their wants and needs, no one has very isolating IEMs, everyone is extremely accommodating and flexible, and this was a direct change from using wedges, I can actually imagine scenarios where it maybe just maybe could work...but I've never seen it done.

    One thing you can do is use the left /right channels of a stereo transmitter to provide two mono IEM mixes. I'm not sure of the details, but that might be something to look into for cost and rack space savings (i.e., you keep using what you have, and you'd need to buy 4 belt packs and 2 transmitters). Three transmitters would go into a pretty small rack case or rack bag/soft case.

    I fully agree that my first step would be to talk to whoever is handling production. I also agree that this is an area where the likelihood of better all around performance is with more expensive units. If you're doing professional level work, I'd assume you want professional level performance. And while the budget gear could work, is it a gamble that you need to or should make?

     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2022
  13. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Germany
    If you want to go down that route of "everyone gets the same mix", you can simply add receivers to your transmitter at leisure. No limits here. Just get the same unit you already have.
    Since it's a stereo system you could choose to either have a stereo mix for that or you could have two separate mono mixes. Maybe one mix with more drums and bass for the drummer and bassist and one with more guitars for the guitar players. One mix goes to left, one to right. On the receivers, you can pan either way. . .
     
  14. 2112

    2112 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2005
    A single general mix to the monitors would definitely be better than piping in the FOH in terms of quality and consistency... as I'm sure you're aware the downsie to that is that it wouldn't be individually tailored for everyone. I suggest maybe pregearsing with it a few times to see if you could set a series of "one-size-fits-all" levels before you hit the road.

    In terms of stacking up those half-width transmitters, both Shure and Sennheiser include and/or offer some sort of brackets and/or plates you can use to join 2 units together for direct mounting in a single rack space. Lesser brands I'm not so sure.

    Definitely agree that spending more up-front is the way to go. It's what's stopping me from putting wireless into our rack... I don't want to spend the money to do it right. :roflmao:
     
  15. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Considering we typically play with no monitoring at all, and just amps on a stage, no one will be picky with the mix. Just being able to hear one another is the goal.
     
  16. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I wasn't aware of this. If I am understanding you right, as long as the beltpack receivers are tuned to the same frequency, they will all get the same signal? There isn't an issue with the transmitter not being able to accommodate a certain number of devices?
    All having the same mix aside, is there an issue with having 5 belt packs in such close proximity to one another, running at the same frequencies?
     
  17. There is not. It's similar to asking how many radios can tune into the same broadcast? And what about if those radios are close together? They are receiving...that doesn't create interference.
     
  18. Then yours might actually be a situation where based on expectations and experience, a shared mix can be agreed on satisfactorily.
     
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  19. rutrho

    rutrho

    Mar 29, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Does the drummer need to have wireless or can they run a mix from a wired unit? I've been wanting to get a wireless setup for myself, but I don't see much of a point in doing it with anything less than pro level stuff due in order to minimize issues. This would be spending like 2k on wireless units for my bass and personal IEM.

    A good thing to try would be getting a WIRED setup working first with some long headphone cables and some personal headphone mixers or a headphone amp with separate outputs/levels for everyone. This lets everyone get used to having a clearer monitor of all the parts, and get your instrument and mic sends figured out. Once you can make that work, THEN throw the cash out for a wireless system.

    I've been wanting to get my band doing something similar to this for a while, but they're not the most tech adapt so its been... a challenge.

    I know for myself, playing with a heavy band, I'd want to be able dial my personal mix with a room mic for drums, guitar/vox as one part and then have my bass in a separate channel, so for me, this means a personal mixer/something to deal with those two levels to dial it in.
     
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