Musicians Ear Pieces – Once you’ve logged hours in the studio and compiled a list of songs you feel proud of, the next step is to test them out on the live stage.
To put on a good show, you need to be able to hear the music you’re playing on stage. This is called monitoring, and there are two options you can choose from: stage monitors or in-ear monitors (IEMs).
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Traditionally, performing musicians had to rely on stage monitors to hear what was being played during a show. These speakers are wedge-shaped and face the band so that the audience cannot hear over the speakers.
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However, wedges can cause a number of problems in your set, from cluttering the stage to damaging your ears with harmful volume levels.
But with in-ear monitors, you don’t have to worry about any of these issues Because of this, IEMs have quickly become the norm in live music
Simply put, in-ear monitors are a device that musicians use to listen to their music as they play it during a performance.
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When you see a singer on stage wearing unique earbuds and what looks like a walkie-talkie on his belt, you’re seeing IEMs in action.
The transmitter is placed on the side and is used to send the display audio to the receiver This is known as audio monitor mixing
The receiver is usually worn as a belt pack, to which the headphones are attached. The belt pack will also have a volume knob so you can get the right volume level.
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With the help of noise reduction, the headphones block unwanted background noise The monitor mix is heard through the headphones in crystal clear quality
To understand how much of an improvement IEMs have over stage monitors, you need to understand the common problems that go hand in hand with wedges.
Wedges often have to be cranked higher to compensate for a large crowd or other acoustic problems in the venue. This can cause ear fatigue, or worse, it can increase the risk of hearing loss while on stage.
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Stage monitors can also cause audio problems that negatively affect your audience’s ability to enjoy your performance.
They can also contribute to a chaotic scene, making it difficult to move and increasing your chances of spilling in front of the entire crowd.
When dealing with audio equipment, sound quality will always be one of the highest priorities
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The great thing about IEMs is that they can eliminate many of the live sound issues you encounter at the source
Although stage monitors are meant to be heard only by the performers on stage, they can interfere with the rest of the speakers. They can introduce feedback and even create phase problems that will make your music sound weak and poorly produced
Obviously this is a big problem when it comes to putting on a good show Why take the risk that your audience won’t be able to enjoy your performance if it suffers from sound problems?
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If you go too far, you’ll be out of earshot of your monitor and unable to hear yourself.
Since most IEMs are wireless, you can be more mobile while performing As long as you have the headphones on, you’ll be able to move to any part of the stage.
Not only will you have the ability to roam freely, but getting rid of old wedges will go a long way in removing debris from the scene. This allows you to take full advantage of the performance space and enhance your stage presence
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In addition to allowing you to be more mobile on stage, they are also easier to travel with. Most IEM systems are compact enough to fit in a briefcase, so you can say goodbye to heavy wedges to set up gigs.
As a musician, protecting your ears should always be your number one priority. It’s already hard enough to do in music, so there’s no reason to make it harder by hurting your moneymaker.
That said, high volume levels only come with the musician’s realm It’s important to protect your hearing on stage, which is another reason to use IEMs over wedges
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We’ve all experienced a bit of ringing in the ears after a concert, but it usually goes away within a day or two. But imagine the damage to your ears subjected to that kind of volume night after night
Noise-canceling headphones not only make it easier to hear the monitor mix, they also protect your hearing when you’re standing in front of the speakers.
Between reducing the number of speakers on stage and reducing loud background noise, it’s not hard to see how IEMs ease the strain on your ears.
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You can think of it as using your phone to play music through a Bluetooth speaker. Your phone (transmitter) sends audio wirelessly to a Bluetooth speaker (receiver).
For a simple setup, send all your mixes and instruments to the mixer From there, assign an output to each so that the parts are heard separately
The outputs then come out of the mixer where they connect to your wireless transmitter The transmitter will then transmit the sound to your belt and finally your headphones
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And there you have it, basic performance settings on your in-ear monitor system You will now be able to start setting up the monitor mix for your performance
In addition to getting your IEM system up and running, there are a few decisions to make about how you’re going to use it
When it comes to in-ear monitors, there are two main styles you can choose from: generic fit and custom molded. For the most part, this will be a budget issue
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If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll probably want to stick with generic fit They’re designed to be one size fits all and come with a variety of tips that range from a basic earbud to something that fits more into your ear canal.
To do this you need to visit an audiologist and get a mold in your ear canal This pattern will only be used to design an earring that is made for your ears
Then you have to wait for the earrings themselves to be manufactured and delivered to you Even then adjustments are sometimes necessary to get the perfect fit
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Because the earbuds are designed specifically for your ears, you get an airtight seal that makes them more comfortable and helps remove as much outside noise as possible.
Custom molded ear pieces used to set you back thousands of dollars, but you can find cheaper options these days for around $100.
For most musicians, spending a little extra and investing in a wireless IEM system will be worth it. The ability to roam freely on stage will appeal to many performers, making it easier to justify the initial investment.
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But for players like drummers and keyboardists who live in the same place, spending the extra money on a wireless setup might not be worth it. With wired systems, the belt pack is removed and the headphones are plugged directly into the mixer.
This will help resolve any issues with compromised audio or potential interference that may occur with wireless systems.
While in-ear monitors are a great tool, they have their strengths and weaknesses, just like anything else Make sure you’re aware of these potential issues with IEMs before you hit the stage
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One of the hardest things you have to get used to with in-ear monitors is the feeling of isolation from the audience.
All concertgoers know how to spot loud music venues Not just because of the music, but the sound of the audience and how they travel through the venue
Actors who have performed with stage monitors before are used to getting that feedback from the audience But with in-ear monitors, these sounds are removed through noise reduction
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This can result in the audience feeling isolated, which is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve on stage.
Fortunately, this problem can be solved very easily. All you have to do is set up the microphone. In addition, you will be able to capture the atmosphere of the audience and add some of it to the monitor mix.
Another potential problem you may encounter with IEMs is that they can easily fall out of your ears This is especially true if you use generic earbuds
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