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In-ear monitoring for live vocals
hexatron
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#1
20th August 2009
Old 20th August 2009
  #1
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Thread Starter
Talking In-ear monitoring for live vocals

Hey guys,


Does anyone have any experience with in-ear monitors for singing?

The frequencies I like to highlight in my voice, along with a little reverb and compression, tend to cause nasty feedback with on-stage monitors (very occasionally and unpredictably). Since I don't want to change the sound I'm getting, the obvious solution would be in-ear monitors.

My only concern with that is the fact that I'll be singing with earbuds in my ears, cutting off air passageways and changing the way my voice sounds and feels.
Do high-end IEMs account for this somehow? Is there a kind made specifically for vocalists?

You'd be amazed at how little Google had to say about it.
#2
20th August 2009
Old 20th August 2009
  #2
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jude's Avatar
 

it takes most singers a while to get used to IEMs but if you get a good system, with good buds and a good monitor engineer you will be fine


a few tips, have a crowd mic or 2 running to your IEMs, it can really help with getting used to the things that much quicker. Also have a pair of monitors tuned with your mix dialed in on the floor in front of you that way if anything does go to shit all you have to do is rip your buds out and you still have functioning fold back
#3
20th August 2009
Old 20th August 2009
  #3
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

If you're serious, take the time to research custom molds and multi-driver buds. As with most things we do, the transducers are everything. Listen to Shure, Westone, Ultimate Ears and so forth in stores to get an idea of the differences in response, tone and SPL. I'd recommend either a CD player or uncompressed files (no mp3) from an iPod as source material. When you find one you like, find a custom shop to do your molds. Start at: Ultimate Ears Home - Headphones Noise Isolating Earphones In-Ear Custom Monitors ; - In Ear Monitors - Ear Impressions - Mic's - Monitor Systems - - Home ; Alien Ears Custom Molded In Ear Monitors & Eaplugs

Once you determine if you want to go IEM, be prepared to spend $1K for your basic RF system... more for higher end. Look at Shure and Sennheiser at a minimum... and feed the same types of source material through the transmitters to the beltpacks, through the buds/molds you've chosen.

We run wired IEMs every week at our church (in a movie theater... setup and strike time is precious, and stage volume must be minimal). BGVs rotate, so we have a bunch of Shure E2s and Westone single-driver buds, with replaceable foamies. Everybody else (drums, bass, Egtr, keys) has their own buds/molds/cans, all fed by a Behringer 8-mix headphone amp (the only bit of Behringer gear that gets a nod from me)... and the worship leader has his own Shure PSM600 system ( Shure P6TRE3 Wireless Personal Monitor System with E3 Earphones, PSM600 | Full Compass ) from his time on the road. We run 7 or 8 mixes, from FOH, every week, and are usually roughed in (with a rotating volunteer band... everything but the worship leader changes week-to-week) within 15 minutes of line check. We're moving in a month to permanent space... and keeping the wired ears system. It works that well... No backup wedges, either. 3+ years and (knock on particleboard) no reliability problems. Ever.
#4
20th August 2009
Old 20th August 2009
  #4
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Some singers like to use only one IEM because they want to hear the live stage/audience sound.

The folks that use both ear buds always have a pair of audience mics (usually set-up downstage left/right pointing towards the audience) to get that ambiance they miss when both ears are plugged up.
XJR
#5
20th August 2009
Old 20th August 2009
  #5
XJR
Gear maniac
 

I use IEM's, after years of using wedges it only took one song with them to realize the benefits. First thing you notice is how much attenuation of volume they give you. Then you notice how crystal clear your vocals are, you can hear yourself so much better. Basically the whole mix is clean which I guess is a combination of your ears not compressing from the normal stage volume, and the fact the source is now right in your ears rather than coming up off the floor from a wedge.
The lack of vibe might bother some, in which case do what Remoteness suggested and use an ambience mic. I have my vocal and guitar quite loud and a little of everything else

Ohh another plus is you can venture out front away from the stage \ FOH stacks and the delayed sound isn't a problem because your hearing from the IEM's which won't have any delay. Nomally I find anymore than 20 metres causes problems playing ... due to the delay in striking a chord \ singing a note and hearing the sound travel back from the speakers.
hexatron
Thread Starter
#6
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
  #6
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hexatron's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
interesting... thanks for all the advice. so, it looks like professional IEMs (at least the ultimate ears that hbphotoav posted) don't have full rubber earbuds that cover the entire ear canal (?).

i'm actually just interested in the headphones themselves... we run everything (vox, laptops, synths and guitars) through laptops and interfaces, so i would be hearing the entire house mix through my headphones, coming straight out of the interface.

first, i'm going to try to practice singing/playing with one earbud in and see if it's as distracting as i expect it to be.
#7
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Mostl likely you won't want the house mix as your monitor mix, especially in ear.

It can be a problem to have the in ears when you're singing because of the reason you mentioned: it sounds different to sing with your ears plugged. You should be able to get used to it and sing "normally" after a small amount of practice. The monitor mix is crucial for that. If something isn't working, change the monitor mix! Usually it's an issue of not having the right balance between other tonal instruments (keys, guitars) and your voice.
#8
3rd March 2010
Old 3rd March 2010
  #8
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just purchased new custom in ear monitors by drmearz

Here's my iem buying experience. I am a drummer so this might not apply to everyone. I purchased a pair of the drm-1 iem's after reading some posts on this and other forums. I'll be honest I don't know squat about frequency curves and how they are reproduced, but I can tell you I eq in more than enough low end bass drum and bass guitar in my mix with the drm earz and they are only single drivers. They never have any problems handling it. Its an extremely simple and inexpensive process. I use a small behringer eurorack mixer to sub mix my send from the main front of the house mixer or monitor desk depending on the venue. I always split my bass drum and vocals on separate channels of their own which enables me to eq each of them separately and separate from the monitor desk send. I have no problem whatsoever dialing the bass drum in nice and tight yet low and fat. Equally I can dial in the vocals or snare/toms (send) as needed. The small mixer also enables me to control both individual volumes and master volume from right next to my drums. Including the drm-1 iem's ($190), the behringer mixer (used on ebay for $50), cables and adapters I purchased at guitar center and radio shack (approx $40) I am still under $300. Depending on what iem company you use (they all seem the same to me except price) you can easily spend more money, but this was in my small budget range. Oh yeah, it took approximately 14 days to get my drmearz after they got my impressions which wasn't very long to wait at all compared to some of the posts I have read on iem companies.
#9
17th July 2010
Old 17th July 2010
  #9
Gear interested
 

Dude - I have seen you kill one too many threads with your self advertisements... Seriously man - I can appreciated your drive for building your business, but this isn't a soliciting site...is it? tutt

And not to bash your product; but I, for one, will never buy another set of single driver IEMs ever again...

(sorry for the rant...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by drmz4life View Post
Here's my iem buying experience. I am a drummer so this might not apply to everyone. I purchased a pair of the drm-1 iem's after reading some posts on this and other forums. I'll be honest I don't know squat about frequency curves and how they are reproduced, but I can tell you I eq in more than enough low end bass drum and bass guitar in my mix with the drm earz and they are only single drivers. They never have any problems handling it. Its an extremely simple and inexpensive process. I use a small behringer eurorack mixer to sub mix my send from the main front of the house mixer or monitor desk depending on the venue. I always split my bass drum and vocals on separate channels of their own which enables me to eq each of them separately and separate from the monitor desk send. I have no problem whatsoever dialing the bass drum in nice and tight yet low and fat. Equally I can dial in the vocals or snare/toms (send) as needed. The small mixer also enables me to control both individual volumes and master volume from right next to my drums. Including the drm-1 iem's ($190), the behringer mixer (used on ebay for $50), cables and adapters I purchased at guitar center and radio shack (approx $40) I am still under $300. Depending on what iem company you use (they all seem the same to me except price) you can easily spend more money, but this was in my small budget range. Oh yeah, it took approximately 14 days to get my drmearz after they got my impressions which wasn't very long to wait at all compared to some of the posts I have read on iem companies.
#10
18th July 2010
Old 18th July 2010
  #10
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drummerboy_al View Post

And not to bash your product; but I, for one, will never buy another set of single driver IEMs ever again...
Futuresonics are single driver. Check out who uses them. Still a viable option.
#11
20th July 2010
Old 20th July 2010
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonraboin View Post
Futuresonics are single driver. Check out who uses them. Still a viable option.
I have to say that even the Future Sonic Atrios with molds are a very viable option. My ear canals change and molds stop sealing after a couple of years. Rather than having to replace an expensive set of IEMs every couple of years, I opted for FS Atrios and Westone UM2s and a set of molds that fit both from Hear Inc. here in Boulder. They both work great and I switch them out depending on what my needs are (the Future Sonics have much deeper low end, so if there's a lot of lows on the stage I use the UM2s so I don't kill my ears with low end that is swamping the stage anyway).

There are many options out there and the one thing I've learned is that what works for one person may not work for the next. You've just got to do your own research.

Edwin
#12
23rd July 2010
Old 23rd July 2010
  #12
Gear interested
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonraboin View Post
Futuresonics are single driver. Check out who uses them. Still a viable option.
A viable option indeed. I wouldn't dispute that... No disrespect to single driver monitors intended. Especially if you are going be using them for vocals (like the OP).

I have used single driver IEMs for over 10 years. With some decent EQ, I can even make my very old shure single drivers sound ok. However, after using IEMs with a dedicated low driver, I'll never look back. My bias (I'm sure) stems from being a drummer. Hearing the kick drum with full and clean definition changes the way that I play. (hopefully for the better )

I'm not saying that you can't find single drivers (like the Futuresonics) that would work just fine...I know you can. For me, I like the natural ease of the way the multi-driver IEMs handle the low end...JMO

Note that I wouldn't have even brought this up - or bashed single driver IEMs - if not for drmz4life's post. That same canned post is all over the net, and it's advertisement. Frustration got the best of me, sorry!
#13
30th July 2010
Old 30th July 2010
  #13
Gear nut
 

When talking about in-ears, remember that Future Sonics ARE single-driver, but they are a single, full-range dynamic driver. Most other brands use balanced armature drivers, which don't have the same type of low and low-mid response of Future Sonics. Thus, FS achieves their sonic goals with a single driver while a similar sound signature on a balanced armature-based monitor would require two or more drivers.
#14
2nd September 2010
Old 2nd September 2010
  #14
Gear interested
 

What are the main differences between to pro level earbuds and the consumer type ($50-$100.00) earbuds?
I understand that the expensive units use multi drivers and you can buy customs molds etc…. can someone recommend anything good for a hard rock vocalist that will hold up and doesn’t cost big bucks?


Thanks in advance
Basil
#15
17th March 2011
Old 17th March 2011
  #15
Gear interested
 

In-ear madness

Hello, I'm the lead singer in a band that has a big stage production. We use tracks and have a light show that sinks up with what we play. So I have to use in-ears, which is a first for me. It's been a few mounts now and I just can't get comfortable with them. Does anyone have suggestions for adding the front of house mix into my ears?
#16
17th March 2011
Old 17th March 2011
  #16
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jude's Avatar
 

never done that, i just got good at mixing monitors
seriously tho, find a good monitor engineer
#17
17th March 2011
Old 17th March 2011
  #17
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Guitfiddle's Avatar
I am in the market for some In Ears also. We have good equipment, however being a drummer that sings makes things a little more difficult to get to my liking. I am a studio guy first, so I am used to the isolation. I am almost ready to just go Shure (PSM900) for everything, and maybe down the road start to experiment with the In Ears. What say you?
#18
24th March 2011
Old 24th March 2011
  #18
Gear addict
 

How well do the iem's that have the ambient mics built in work? I haven't heard much about them. I'm a little different than a lot of you "light show, sound engineer" guys. I play small bars, etc and am considering them for, A) volume attenuation...I'm a drummer, use ear plugs but would like to actually hear myself and the lead singer;B) it would be nice to leave the monitors at home...less load in and more room in the small corner of a bar. C) ease of set up...less worries and fights with monitor feedback.

On the same theme of ease, we try to keep pretty streamlined so I'd rather not have a random mic on a stand to pick up crowd noise. That's why I was curious about the iem's with built in ambience mics.

Also one of my concerns is, being the drummer, if I'd be catching all drums and cymbals and no crowd/band ambience.
#19
24th March 2011
Old 24th March 2011
  #19
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Guitfiddle's Avatar
What brand or unit has the built in mics for ambient environment?
#20
25th March 2011
Old 25th March 2011
  #20
Gear addict
 

I think most of the main companies offer a version with ambient mics now. Of course it's more expensive but you're basically buying a mic along with iem's, if you want to justify it that way.
#21
25th March 2011
Old 25th March 2011
  #21
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
You said most brands; name at least two so, us lazy folks don't have to search for it online;-)
#22
27th March 2011
Old 27th March 2011
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlambert View Post
Hello, I'm the lead singer in a band that has a big stage production. We use tracks and have a light show that sinks up with what we play. So I have to use in-ears, which is a first for me. It's been a few mounts now and I just can't get comfortable with them. Does anyone have suggestions for adding the front of house mix into my ears?
In ears sends are no different than wedges. If you want to approximate the FOH mix then just set an aux to about the same levels as FOH on every channel. You could even use a post fader aux if you want to. OR if you actually want The FOH mix just insert a splitter after the LR out at the desk and send it to the transmitter.
#23
27th March 2011
Old 27th March 2011
  #23
Lives for gear
 

I dont know about a built in mic but AT and some of the Shures have a jack where you can plug in a lav mic to pickup ambient sound. Many singers just go with one IEM if they aren't comfortable with them both.
#24
28th March 2011
Old 28th March 2011
  #24
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Andy Hamm's Avatar
 

Try this at your next soundcheck.

Put earplugs in your ears, what ever you have available will work, use balled up sandwich wrap if you have none. You will hear yourself in a way you never have before. I've worked with a few people that would just wear ear plugs with no monitor at all.

If you can, rent out an iem system or have one provided at your show. Don't go to a music store and purchase one based on the fidelity of the unit in an otherwise quiet environment. You need to be able to see if you can hear things that you need to hear with them on.

As with stage monitors, you only really need to augment what you aren't allready hearing. When you get into trying to get a full range mix, it frequently has to be loud enough to drown out everything else you hear for you to get that full range sound. Loud monitors often result in singers singing quieter. This is especially the case with a loud band, and more monitors is not allway the best solution.

If you are going to stick something in your ears, you are not going to want to be pumping loads of volume in there. If you try them and decide that you hear yourself too loud, and you need more of the mix in there, have the tech set up a stage mic to feed the ambient stage sound into your ears, or pull one of the buds out (or loosen one).

IEMs are great for two things. The first is giving the performer a better monitoring system while saving their hearing. The second is that they prevent on stage monitors from polluting the FOH mix.

Lots of people I've worked with start out using them really loud, and complain that their ears hurt or itch after a show, and they want to give up on them. If you sepend the time to figure out what you need to actually hear, your confidence level goes up and the volume comes way down.
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