In-Ear Monitors

Posted: October 04, 2011 02:20 PM

Andy Doerschuk

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I played at a big biker rally in Reno a couple weeks ago (which included a gunfight between the Hells Angels and Vagos, although that’s a whole other story!). We were outdoors on a big stage with a really nice sound system, but instead of floor monitors, the sound engineers set me up with in-ears. I hate to admit it, but it was the first time I’ve ever used in-ears and was interested to see how well they worked. Each bandmember got a personal mixer, which allowed you to dial-in levels for every microphone or direct signal on stage — at least in theory.

I felt pretty confident about my monitor mix after we finished soundcheck, but my system seemed to go haywire almost as soon as we started our set. I couldn’t hear any guitar or lead vocal and each of my drums was at a completely different level. I frantically messed with my little mixer between songs, but it didn’t seem to get any better. Frustrated, I finally pulled out my ear buds and just played along to the ambient mix on stage — which was, like, a billion times better than my in-ear mix.

So I’m wondering — has anybody else had similar experiences with in-ears? Or do you find them to be great tools for truly individualized onstage mixes?


Andy Doerschuk
Editorial director,

Posted: October 05, 2011 06:02 AM


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I use in ears exclusively at churches. We use an Aviom system, for an individual mix, like you mentioned. I love it. I want control of my monitor mix. I had stopped playing at one church until they got the avioms, because the sound mix was too much of a hassle. Now I’m in control.

Sorry to hear about your bad experience. If it’s a temporary setup, there could be a lot of things that went wrong. We know it’s that way for any sound system.

All other gigs I still use a floor monitor. Actually played a small restaurant Friday without any monitor, just the room mix. When I said I needed more vocal, I was told to play softer.


loud is my forte

Posted: October 05, 2011 09:12 AM


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I absolutely love my JH Audio IEM’s. They are not only the best monitors for live and in the studio (which I can attest to) but they are THE BEST practice device known to man. Good IEM’s and a metronome will change your life! Until you can hear that sort of clarity and separation of the click and drums, you have no idea what you are missing!

You have to have a monitor engineer if you are using them live (or if your band plays with the same live rig every gig you can set & forget)

Posted: November 12, 2011 08:03 PM

Brett V

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I have definitely experienced lots of trouble with monitor mixes changing in identical circumstances (minus the biker fights). Avioms were the individual mixers my band used for something like 5 years. I have a feeling that more problems were caused by those individual mixers than the in-ears. Though I did LOVE the control…when they worked. I have never personally owned Avioms though, so perhaps they only sucked cause they were the house gear. Now days the sound guy just does my in-ear mix from the board and things have gone a lot smoother ever since. If I were you, I’d be making sure that it’s not those individual monitor mixers that are changing your mix.  I use in-ears almost exclusively, and while it’s definitely more of a challenge to make them sound right, I think it’s worth it considering I don’t want any hearing loss from my drumming career.

Posted: March 13, 2012 10:56 PM


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Haven’t had too many bad experiences with In-ears, but then again, I control my own mix most of the time.
I have been playing with Ultimate Ears Super fi 5 pros for about 5 years, but just last month I stepped up to custom molds.
I’m now rock’n the UE4s, and they are like crack for my ears, I LOVE them (not that I know what crack is like or anything…)

I would give In-ears another shot, but handle your own monitor mix…

Here’s how I set mine up.
I run a line from the monitor board to a small 6 channel Yamaha mixer.
I also run a line from my click track into another channel on the mixer. (I always use the click live).
I keep the mix of the live band low, and the click at a reasonable volume so I can hear it clearer than anything else.

When playing with backing tracks, the click is lined into one channel and the tracks on another. I can’t have a mix of the live musicians this way though because the backing tracks are fed out of the mixer to the sound board and my mix of the band would bleed through.