What is an In Ear Monitor Wireless System?
A wireless in-ear monitoring system is a product you would use to have your own personal blend or mix of the band. This is in lieu of the popular floor or wedge monitor, which is a PA speaker placed on the floor and angled up towards you. A typical In Ear Monitor system consists of a transmitter box which is usually rack mountable; and connects to an auxiliary send on your mixer, a belt pack receiver and a set of in ear headphones often referred to as ear buds. An In Ear Monitoring system is a great solution for reducing stage volume well as eliminating chances of microphone feedback that a typical stage monitor could produce.
In Ear Monitor Systems vs. Floor/Wedge Monitors
Some of the major benefits of using wireless in ear monitoring systems instead of floor monitors are the fact that they save you space on stage and dramatically reduce the time it takes to setup. If your band is responsible for bringing their own sound system, it will also be much less gear to carry overall as well. Some major performance advantages of In Ear Monitor systems are their ability to provide a truly personal and custom mix, not shared by your other band members. While it is possible to share the mix, the musician is not forced to, in the same way as they are with floor monitors. By it being a personal mix, the sound engineer can integrate things into the musician’s ears that are not going to be heard by anyone else. For example a metronome sometimes referred to as a click track, backing tracks or direct talk back from the engineer can all be exclusive to the user.
Musicians also benefit from using these types of devices because the reduction of stage volume and elimination of feedback helps keep your ears protected. In fact, In Ear Monitor systems actually have a personal volume knob on the receiver belt pack in case you need the mix louder or softer.
Due to the variety of ear bud types, there are different types of driver (miniature speaker) configurations. Some have extended bass, which can be useful to drummers, bass players and keyboardists. Some sets of ear buds can have dual, triple or more drivers as the configuration. They are crossed over like a speaker system would be, separating the bass from the treble. As you upgrade to better models, not only does the driver separation get better, but the output and fidelity are better as well. An alternate use to the buds of any level of quality is that they can be used separately from the wireless system in a smartphone, iPod or like device for high quality music playback, especially in mobile environments. Some brands even offer a specialty cable that includes a built in microphone so that you can take calls on most smart phones. Most IEM systems will include Earbuds which can be upgraded if you choose to do so. For example, the Shure PSM-300 comes standard with a pair of Shure SE215 Earbuds, which contain a single micro dynamic driver. However, the system can also be used with the Shure SE425 Earbuds which contain dual dynamic drivers that replicate the configuration of a woofer and tweeter within a speaker. Shure even offers the SE535 Earbuds which contain 3 dynamic drivers for a more spacious sound field and detailed bass.
Selecting an In Ear Monitor System
Some of Sam Ash’s most popular In Ear Monitor systems according to both customers and our sales associates around the country include Sennheiser EW-300 IEM G3, the Shure PSM-300 and the Audio Technica M2. These items listed from best to better to good are very popular models priced $1,000 and under. The Sennheiser EW-300 IEM G3 system priced at $999.99 features very durable all metal components (transmitter and receiver) and contains 1,680 frequencies across 42 MHz to choose from. It has an HDX compander which gives the widest dynamic range, resulting in amazingly clear sound. Also the system has an ether-port connection for use with computers using Sennheiser Wireless System Manager Software. The Shure system priced at $799 also features all metal components. It has 24-bit digital audio and selectable frequencies across a 24 MHz bandwidth. The metal belt pack features on screen controls and provides up to 90dB signal to noise ratio for very clear sound quality. A slightly less expensive version of the PSM300 with a plastic receiver and entry level ear buds priced at $699.99 is another good option. The Audio Technica M2 is our final In Ear Monitor recommendation and although it only has 100 usable UHF frequencies, it is still has very good sound for users on a budget. This model coming in at only $599.99 still has a limiter to protect against sound spikes as well as a cool mode called “Personal Mix”. This allows the user to not only control volume, but to blend two sources of audio from the receiver. This feature is not usually found at this price point. Another great feature about all the systems we have discussed is that they are frequency agile which makes them great for touring musicians and for bands looking to purchase a system for each member.