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Quality IEM in the $500-1,500 range?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by SLO Surfer, Jul 2, 2019.


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  1. Sorry if this belongs in a different forum, like accessories or something. It’s about in ear monitors.

    I have been researching and wanting to invest in a nice setup for awhile, but every thread I’ve found here is, “best on a budget,” or, “as cheap as humanly possible,” or, “for around $200.” My budget is $500-$1,500 and I want something nice with plenty of low end. I don’t need the best of the best, I just really like quality audio.

    My whole band uses IEM except for me. Last night I finally got to try a pair of universal-fit, dual driver Audio Technica IEMs at rehearsal. I loved them. I’m going to be borrowing these until I get my own custom IEM setup this summer. I’m also borrowing a behringer wired pack that’s kinda big and clunky, but works well. I’d like to find a smaller wired pack if possible.

    Ultimately I’m looking for something with good isolation and really nice lows.

    Desired specs:
    Custom fit
    3 or more drivers
    Wired amp/belt pack (no wireless)

    Band:
    Rock/funk/soul/pop
    6 piece (three vocals, electric guitar, keys with huge leslie cabinet pumping out competitive lows on stage right next to me, sax and sometimes trumpet, bass, pretty loud drummer on my other side)
    X32 mixer where we each get a stereo IEM mix/two XLR aux sends.
    Edit: I use effects pedals, including two octavers (OC-2, Octavbre). So I would like to enjoy the sub bass frequencies.
    Edit: Each band member is an audiophile geek, so all of their instruments sound amazing. I want to capture that high-quality in my IEM

    I’m looking at the Ultimate Ears UE6 and UE11, as well as 64 Audio’s A4t and A6t.

    Will 3 drivers be enough? Is it worth going from $700 to $1200 for an extra driver or two or three? What IEM setup do you use to get a great bass sound? Are there other IEM companies that rival the two I mentioned?

    Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
  2. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Well, I have 64 Audio's A8's - those have 4 LF BA's embedded - and I can hear bass with those that I can't hear using other buds.
    I would say the MINIMUM # of drivers for a bassist is THREE! But add more to taste :)
    You need to be able to boost the bass in your ears without turning your mix to mush.
    The ONE thing I like with 64 Audio over the others.. is the ADEL tech. The embedded diaphragms that equalize internal and external pressure. They also act [a bit] like ambient ports, in that once you get used to them, there's a certain level of stage bleed (if you keep your volumes low) that lets you communicate on stage (without pulling them out). The ADEL's come in different dB ratings, so you can use different ones if the factory defaults give you too much isolation.
     
    MoeTown1986 likes this.
  3. Thanks for the response! Part of what I liked about my universal fit IEM last night was the extreme isolation. I enjoyed having them block out more sound than my earplugs, and then being able to have the volume set really low in my ears. And then I enjoyed how good my ears felt at the end of rehearsal. You’re right though, I couldn’t hear anyone talking to me. :laugh:
     
    John6 likes this.
  4. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    When I was doing 90+ IEM gigs a year in 2017 (we've slowed dramatically since Feb 2018) I got so used to having the A8's in, that they stayed in between sets, to keep out the loud dance music :)
     
    John6, tkonbass and SLO Surfer like this.
  5. Allthough 64 audio, Jh Audio, Ultimate ears ect are all good products they are extremely inflated in price for the quality in sound very big diminishing returns imho. My personal rec is the custom mold Bgvp dm7 at $350 or $300 for universal fit they use 6 knowls and sonion ba drivers and sound amaizing. I curently own the universal fit Bvgp Dm6 five driver set and the six driver hybrid Bgvp Dmg both sets are excellent if you want universal fit for backups. Another company worth checking is Fearless Audio the S8 freedom custom and S6 Rui custom are the two models I'd look into as the other models are not a substantial improvement in sound versus the price imho.
     
  6. musicman7722

    musicman7722 Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    York, ME US of A
    FWIW I have never used more than 2 drivers. I use Westone UM2's, UM20's and also the open port version (I forget). I am lucky that universal fit fit me. Of course as they say you don't know what you don't know :)
     
    SLO Surfer, s0c9 and tkonbass like this.
  7. musicman7722

    musicman7722 Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    York, ME US of A
    Oops sorry, the Westones are in the $300 range.
     
  8. DirtDog

    DirtDog

    Jun 7, 2002
    Retired
    One or two drivers and properly fitting eartips.
     
  9. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Unfortunately (for me), I spent a number of years and $$$ on trying universal fit solutions - Westone's and others - single + multi-driver, with all kinds of tips. From Comply to custom molds on the end of my Westone UM1 stems. Then, an audiologist (hearing test) mentioned in a conversation about IEM's that I had small ear canals and universals would probably never work for me. I got some impressions made and went with 64 Audio's Qi's (4 driver). LOVED them... and have never looked back. Upgraded to the A8's a couple of yrs ago.
    That said, the ZS5/6's I've listened to have sounded awesome.. and if they would seal in my ears, those or the AS10 or the Chinese brand @Ethereal Thorn mentioned would be where I would go - if I could.
    I tend to agree with him on much of the US based customs being FAR TOO EXPENSIVE.

    I would NOT go with the 64 Audio N8's for an upgrade. Far too expensive for a non-audiophile, non-pro, non-touring bassist :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
    John6 and SLO Surfer like this.
  10. Thanks for the info! I’ll look into those. I really do want custom molded ear pieces for a good seal. Universals work pretty well for me, but they always slowly slide out and need to be pushed back in over two-three songs in a set.
     
    musicman7722 and s0c9 like this.
  11. tkonbass

    tkonbass I'm just one of the out-of-focus guys. Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Mobile, Alabama, USA
    I use Westone AM Pro30's, triple driver. In the $450 range. Nice bass response and very clear and detailed. The bass is so full and clear that I don't miss having my cabinets behind me at all in most situations. The low end can be over driven if pushed very hard but usually this is way too loud anyway. The ambient feature is nice to have if you need to communicate between songs or you keep phones in when off stage. It also helps prevent your ears from feeling plugged up. These are universal fit and I use the Westone memory foam tips.

    I too am currently researching my next IEMs but only because I want to go with custom molds for a better fit. I'm leaning toward staying with Westone and moving up to their EAS30 or ES50 custom models.
     
    s0c9 likes this.
  12. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    The one thing I HATE about my Adel ports, is when the air from my stage fan hits them, it sounds like wind blowing into a microphone. Not really noticeable when music is going, but in between tunes it drives me nuts.
     
    John6 and SLO Surfer like this.
  13. Good to know. I’m kinda not liking the idea of these ambience/pressure Adel ports. My band leader uses a talk back mic dedicated for communication. Also, I think I really like/want super good isolation. I play lots of outdoor gigs and would not like to hear any wind blowing across these ports.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  14. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    I don't know why that would be... the UPSIDE is that you get minimal ear fatigue from them, unlike the fully-closed shells. More vendors are going that route and putting equivalents in their models.
    Ultimate Ears has their "sonic filters". JH Audio has their "Ambient FR", and there are others who have similar devices.
    Based on my experience with and without the ADEL's and the comments about them here (mine included), I would NOT scratch them off my list. They DO prevent noise saturation and ear fatigue.. The negatives are incidental. YMMV
     
    John6 and SLO Surfer like this.
  15. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    I agree, I think the benefits of the Adel ports far outweigh the negatives. They don't reducuce isolation at all from what I can tell. IMO they block out just about everything. I had two identical sets of monitors, one with Adel filters one without. To me they sounded identical for the most part. Bass response was no different with the filters. That is where I would have noticed the difference in isolation. I even bought a different set of filters that offered even more bass response. I heard no difference there either.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
    SLO Surfer and s0c9 like this.
  16. Thank you guys for the follow up. I guess I was thinking they let in more outside/ambient sound than I wanted. I do love the idea of pressure relief and avoiding ear fatigue, just didn’t want to give up a bunch of isolation. Sounds like I should be fine.

    I just got a promo code for 15% off 64 Audio. Today only. Time to really do some soul (and bank funds) searching.
     
  17. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Ft.Worth/Dallas
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Please note that I run my IEM's at VERY LOW volumes, which lets the ADEL's act like ambient ports. If you turn up the volume a little bit (just a little), the isolation is no different from NOT having the ADEL's..
     
  18. Good to know. I’m liking running my current IEM’s as low as possible, which is why I’m wanting really good isolation.
     
    s0c9 likes this.
  19. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    so i'm guessing you're on crowded stages and don't move around too much? i suppose wired would be OK in that situation, especially if the bass is run wired as well. myself, i could never deal with that, i'm wireless for instrument and IEMs.

    they make those cables where the guitar send and IEM return are built into one cable, one of those might make sense.
     
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  20. The Bgvp and Fearless Audio iems both offer custom molds that was why I mentioned them they are both under the 1k mark even for their flagship iems im going to be ordering a set of custom Bgvp dm7's as soon as I get caught up on bills the sound quality is insane for only $350
     
    SLO Surfer likes this.

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