For this post we thought we would talk about in ear monitoring, how useful it can be, setting it up and whether or not you need it.
In ear monitoring, what is it? When we talk about in ear monitors we are talking about a stage monitor mix that goes through your ear phones instead of the stage monitor. Think of a headphone mix when you are in a recording session but on a stage.
As far as we know, most systems are wireless. Wireless makes sense with in ears as you don’t want anymore cables dangling on the stage being a trip hazard than there already is. A basic set up for in ears is a transmitter, this transmits the audio wirelessly. The receiver, which receives the transmitted audio wirelessly and your ear phones. The transmitter can either have a stereo 1/4 jack out or an XLR left & XLR right(some may have both.) The out is connected to the aux connection on the stage box(if on the stage) or the aux connection on the mixing desk(if near the sound booth). You would then plug in your ear phones to the receiver , attach the receiver to yourself and switch it on. Some transmitters have multiple channels so you would have to make sure that the channels match up. The sound engineer would then send you a monitor mix and you can tell the engineer what you want in your mix till your happy.
The transmitters are pre set to transmit on certain frequencies. Older models and cheaper models can run on the frequency bands that you require a license to use so be careful before purchasing these. With the overall wireless frequency range limited, legislation is continually eating into the range (tv, radio and 3/4/5G require a certain range to use) so it is slowly decreasing and will do so untill a new way is commercialised. Don’t fret, it varies from country to country and most sellers will have a world map of where the products are license free.
We always recommend singers to have in ear monitors. Like we said in the previous post, not being able to hear your vocals well can result in wavy vocal performances. With in ears, singers can use them at small venues that don’t have monitors so it would reduce the chances of bad vocal performances. Generally if you have a great monitor mix you are more likely to play better and have a better sound going out the PA. In a perfect world, every venue you play should give you great stage monitor mixes but unfortunately that’s not the case. The size of stage, shape of it, acoustic treatment, quality of speakers and the sound engineer will contribute towards how your monitor mix may be. With in ear monitors you can bypass most of those factors and it comes down to the sound engineer(and the mixing desk) on how good your mix will be. Don’t those odds sound better?
There is a more complicated system that you can use which bypasses the need of a sound engineer. This system gives you and your band full control of your monitor mix.
You require a digital desk with app control software, a microphone splitter, xlr cables, phone or tablet/iPad, wireless in ear monitors and a WiFi router(if the desk does not have one built in.) Depending on how many are in your band, what instruments/amps are used and the venue will change how you set up and use the system. We will describe the set up we use with our resident band The Ruptured Ducklings.
They are a 4 piece rock band with drums, 2 guitars, bass and 2 vocals. Both guitar amps and the bass amp have emulated outs. Emulated outs are xlr connections on the back that can plug straight into the desk instead of setting up a microphone. These outs aren’t normally as good quality as the sound you get if miked up. For our set up this isn’t an issue as the emulated out sound doesn’t go out the main PA to the crowd. They connect the main vocals, backing vocals, all emulated guitar outs, click track, kick and snare to the microphone splitter. Then they connect those 8 tracks to the digital desk via the left split and the right split connects to the stage box/venue mixing desk. This means they have the signal of those 8 tracks going to their desk and the signal can still be routed to the venues desk. They connect their wireless in ears to the aux outs on the monitor desk. With the tracks routed and in ears plugged in, they now load up the digital desks app software and connect to the built in WiFi that links the software and the desk. They can send and change the volume of each of the 8 tracks to suit their individual monitor mix. If they all download the app on their phones they can control it all individually and change it to their preference without it affecting the other members mixes and the sound going out the PA. the settings can be saved so next the next gig they just need to load the settings and tweak it a little and they are ready to go. If you set it up at the sound check, you can leave it set up till your set. If you don’t get a sound check then it could take 10-15 mins to set up so its important to bare that in mind as it could eat into your set time.
So that about covers it. If you are interested in using in ear monitors whether it’s the simple system or the more complicated system, get in touch and we can give you a consultation. We have in ears for hire so you can hire our systems to test it before buying.