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  #1  
Old 02-18-2014, 06:55 PM
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SbrickwallS SbrickwallS is offline
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Default Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Question to the gigging drummers. As a drummer who gigs regularly. I have been thinking about trying out some In Ear Monitors. I currently just use some simple Sony ear buds that are connected to my Tama Rhythm Watch that I use for a click during all songs as we play. As you all know, all venues monitors are different, some great, some not so much! I am thinking about going to an In Ear Monitor to eliminate those with poor monitors. I'd like to hear some pros & cons of using them, some that are a good buy without breaking the bank, and if other drumers here use them along with a click of some kind.

Thanks for any feedback on this.
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:43 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

I have used in ears off and on for several years. They are great in rehearsal and serve as both hearing protection and a monitor so I use them for most practice situations. Live there are two big drawbacks I have found.

The first is the time required to set them up correctly. I usually only have about 10 minutes to get all my gear on stage, get a mic check done, and make sure I am ready for the first song. I think that is pretty common for most small club and opening act shows. That leaves almost no time to unplug the on stage monitor, plug in my in ear mixer and set the levels properly. Believe me the FOH engineer doesn't have the time to do a second sound check on each instrument and vocals so I can set my levels. Its not like I have a tech setting levels for me, so once the first song starts that's it, what I got is what I got. The worst thing that can happen is the monitor is blaring and I have to pull it out to avoid hearing damage. Now I have no monitor and I am pretty much screwed for the rest of the show.

The second issue I have had is the total isolation from the rest of the band. Its like I am playing by myself to a track or something. It is really hard to explain, but it is a lot like playing behind plexiglass. With on stage monitors there is more of a sense of being with the band and the crowd.

Those are my pro's and con's. I have never played with a click, so I can't help you there, but hopefully my experience can help you decide.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:05 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

I switched to in ears a little over a year ago and I'll never go back to traditional monitors. This is why:

1. Better hearing protection because you are isolated from the direct sound on stage and can control your own volume. The level of protection is based on the in ear monitors you chose, so chose wisely. I also suggest having a limiter in the in ear chain.

2. Eliminates any chance of feedback.

3. Better over all mix and sound quality (depends on venue, sound person and your gear).

The cons are:

1. You have to invest in what can be a costly in ear setup. Mine consists of the following:

a. Yamaha MG102C Mixer
b. Behringer DEQ2496 (for EQ and Limiting)
c. Behringer HA8000 Headphone Amp
d. SKB Mini Gig Rack
e. Clear Tune Monitors CT300 Pro in ears

I normally run the stereo monitor mix from my mixer into 2 channels of the mixer. I also run my iPad into a channel for click.

2. If you're working with a house PA you have to be prepared to accept different types of feeds into your in ear rig. Not every venue is setup the same. Some can give you a mono only feed while some can do stereo. Some use XLR connectors, some 1/4. In some you may only be able to get a speaker level feed from a power amp (1/4 or speakon). So you need to have a variety of adapters with you, don't count on the venue to have what you need. For a speaker level feed i use an Art HeadTap. It converts speaker level into line level.

3. Longer, more complex setup and more things that could fail. Have a back up plan.

I hope this helps.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:09 PM
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BradGunnerSGT BradGunnerSGT is offline
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

If you are already used to playing with a click like that, then a pretty simple solution would be a small mixer like this one. You can put the monitor signal from the board into one channel and the click into the other.

FYI, I suggested that board because it has a built-in compressor on the first few channels. This acts as a limiter so feedback or sudden "Are you ready to rock, Springfield!!" lead singer screams won't blow out your ears.

Another option is the Tasty Blender. This is one that is more customized for guitarists and drummers. I have the first-gen model that is just a single input, but this one has multiple inputs. It also has a limiter.

For the actual in-ear monitors, I would recommend a set of the Shure SE215 or equivalent.

Pros:
In-ears really help with making the monitor mix more consistent and once you get used to hearing everything at a nice comfortably lower volume you won't miss the "amp headache" the next day after playing.

Cons:
You can get a "closed" off feeling from the rest of the band or the audience. Getting a good monitor mix is key because you can't just "lean over to the right in order to hear a little more guitar during the solo" and you can't adjust your dynamics off of the rest of the band.

Overall, affordable and good quality in-ears are a good investment and will help you in the long run. I wish that I had them 20 years ago.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:18 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

I have in-ear molds, and headphones. Here's why I prefer the phones.

Apart from comparable isolation, better fidelity, and lower cost using headphones, the convenience and durability is far superior to that of in-ears (not to be confused with ear-buds of the iPod variety.) True in-ears require more than a few seconds to properly insert, or to remove. This becomes an instant detriment as soon as you try to have an acoustic conversation. With phones, you simply lift one earcup up, and you can hear. Same goes for feedback or volume issues. With in-ears, you have to fumble for the volume or find the plug and pull it. With phones, it takes a half second to reach up and pop them off your head.

Also, real in-ear molds need to be re-fitted periodically as you grow. This is especially true for younger users. But phones are phones... now, and 5, and 10 years from now. At worst you'd need to replace the ear-pads.

And, here's the big one, if you have a problem with in-ears, the repair process may take days or weeks, and may involve taking new impressions (of your ear canal.) With phones - any kind of phones - you can have a replacement pair in your hands within a day.

In terms of the mix, better isolation yields a better mix. With less outside sounds to deal with, the mix is easier to work with, so playing becomes easier. In most cases, a good mix is not just about what you hear... but also about what you don't hear. With iso phones, both of those aspects are more controllable.

Bermuda
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  #6  
Old 02-18-2014, 09:27 PM
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BacteriumFendYoke BacteriumFendYoke is offline
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Phones are a good idea, especially if you're at the back of the stage and not immediately visible. Personally, I like the discrete look that in-ears give. As somebody that plays the bass, guitar and also sings (as well as the drums) I'd rather have a pair of moulded in-ears.

If I was purely playing the drums and had a limited visible presence on stage, then headphones are much more convenient.

I hate stage wedges but have used them a lot. Most places around my area are not equipped to deal with in-ears (staff, equipment or otherwise). If you're playing good venues and can discuss your needs with the sound engineer prior to the gig, then you're all set.
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  #7  
Old 02-18-2014, 11:28 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Agreed about the vanity consideration of in-ears, I use mine when doing TV. But that's the only real advantage they have over phones, and drummers wearing phones isn't really a big deal. It's much more important for me soundwise and logistically to use phones, than to look good to the audience. Again, only for TV do I use in-ears... for a song or two, I don't mind.

Bermuda
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  #8  
Old 02-21-2014, 06:28 AM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Hmm, lot's to think about. Thank you guys for all of your input on this. It is nice to have this forum where I can ask questions to others gigging drummers who have been down this road before instead of blindly making decisions. Much appreciated!
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:25 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
Agreed about the vanity consideration of in-ears, I use mine when doing TV. But that's the only real advantage they have over phones, and drummers wearing phones isn't really a big deal. It's much more important for me soundwise and logistically to use phones, than to look good to the audience. Again, only for TV do I use in-ears... for a song or two, I don't mind.

Bermuda
where and how do you plug in headphones? I love my noise cancelling headphones. do you need some kind of electronics to go with them to act as a monitor?
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  #10  
Old 02-21-2014, 05:03 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

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Originally Posted by The Old Hyde View Post
where and how do you plug in headphones? I love my noise cancelling headphones. do you need some kind of electronics to go with them to act as a monitor?
When I had my own mixer, I plugged them straight in to the headphone jack on the board. They have great isolation and the volume was plenty high, so I never needed separate amp. When I started trusting the monitor engineer and programmable boards, I lost the mixer and got a wireless pack (although mine is hard-wired.) It sits in a cup holder under my pads.

Noise cancelling phones work best in a situation where there consistent sounds like airplane hum, road noise in a car, etc. I can't imagine them doing much good on stage.

Bermuda
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Old 02-21-2014, 06:44 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Lest anyone think I am strictly pro-headphones, there is a situation where they won't be as effective as in-ears.

If you've got a lot of hair and the phones don't sit fairly close against your head, you will will get a lot of outside noise, lose fidelity, and risk having the phones fall off if you move your head too sharply. In that case, in-ears would be preferrable.

I keep my hair on the short side anyway, but I keep it even shorter on the road so I can maximize the benefits of phones (and also minimize 'bunk hair'.)

Bermuda
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Old 02-22-2014, 05:16 AM
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Vintage Old School Vintage Old School is offline
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

If by chance you opt in favor of headphones at least take a look at the Sennheiser HD25-1 II phones. They block nearly all the outside noise and stick to your head like glue. Lots of DJs use this model because they won't slip or come off. That being said, they do fit tight and if you have sensitive ears you may find them uncomfortable.
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:45 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

The only thing I personally don't like about using headphones is they tend to make me hot, kind of like what winter earmuffs do to keep you warm. I used Sony studio headphones for decades, now that I have some nice IEM I don't miss those at all.
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Old 03-07-2014, 04:37 AM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Thanks for all the input guys! Still doing some research on this one, lot's of variables to consider.
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Old 03-14-2014, 02:25 PM
kyleshipton kyleshipton is offline
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

As others have said, in ears are great when you trust the engineer and have time to set them up. Those are the things I consider when using in ears live. I always use them when practicing with bands in my studio so I can hear my vocal and so I can hear my click if I'm using one.

I don't have any problems with feeling isolated from the other musicians on stage because if I'm not using in ears I'm always using custom mold earplugs with fold back wedges. You get used to the blocked noise that comes with in ears fairly quickly.

I don't like using the over ear headphones, they hurt my ears and give me a headache when i have them on for over half an hour.
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Old 03-14-2014, 03:45 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

I've used in-ears and wedges both over the last ten years, and I have concluded that the best system for any musician is in-ear. Yes, it's a bit of work and investment, but everyone gets to keep their hearing onstage, the music is much tighter since nobody can ever say, "Well I can't hear Bob's bass in my wedge!", and even singing is easier. The best is when each person has his or her own output channel with the ability to mix in what's needed. The cost, the extra equipment, sure, that's a detractor for budding drummers and bands, but when you're able, plunk down the money. There's a reason so many pros use them.
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Old 04-03-2014, 04:12 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

I've been using IEM for the past 10 years and won't play a gig without them.

Initial cost may be a factor (my kit was about $700) but considering that I will have my hearing as an old man and I've made 20 times that cost in bar gigs, it's a no-brainer.

Invest in yourself and you won't regret it. Buy the best you can afford and don't bat an eye.

The best part is rolling into a gig and having your own monitor in a small pouch. No heavy wedges to tote around.
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Old 04-03-2014, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

I want to know what gigs you guys are playing that you have the ability to use in-ears. I play a couple of shows a month in two different bands and there is no way in hell I have the time to set up my own mixer and deal with the set up time for my entire kit as well as a personal monitoring system. Half of the time we get a 1 minute soundcheck and off we go. I can understand that Bermuda plays headlining shows in large venues with techs doing much of the set up, but for the guys playing local bars and clubs, using anything but the venue supplied equipment is almost impossible. 15 minutes is the usual allotted time between bands, meaning I get 7 1/2 of that to get my shit ready to play. Not bitching. I am just wondering where you guys are playing that is so much different.
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Old 04-03-2014, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Easy. We have our own PA and soundguy. My ears are dialed up 95% before I even get there. As you do a line check for vocals, you ask for a little more or less. Around you go.

We always start with FoH drums and I make sure my own mix is where I want it. Then all the other check (that have to be done, mind you) I am 'listening' in on.

I take an aux send for my mix. In the event that we play on a house system (which happens once a month or so) I does take a few minutes to get up to the 95% baseline. Usually, I need running adjustments during the first few songs and most soundguys are checking with me and the others to see what we need.
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:23 AM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

I am preparing myself to invest in a good in ear system, as they will benefit me when I play in my cover band where we are the only band and I can take my time setting up before the show.

But I'm also thinking along the lines of eclipseownzu where my other projects I play in we typically share the stage with one, sometimes two other acts and we usually only have 20 minutes or so to tear down the first bands kit and set up/mic the second kit before we start playing. Won't leave any time for the in ear tweaks?

I sure do want to try them though.
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Old 04-04-2014, 03:44 PM
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Default Re: Pros & Cons to In Ear Monitors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SbrickwallS View Post
I am preparing myself to invest in a good in ear system, as they will benefit me when I play in my cover band where we are the only band and I can take my time setting up before the show.

But I'm also thinking along the lines of eclipseownzu where my other projects I play in we typically share the stage with one, sometimes two other acts and we usually only have 20 minutes or so to tear down the first bands kit and set up/mic the second kit before we start playing. Won't leave any time for the in ear tweaks?

I sure do want to try them though.
I use 2 different systems for that. When we play out regular gigs with our PA, I use a wireless IEM system that's permanently wired into our rack with the mixer. When we play one-off gigs with other acts, I use a RockBox from RockOn Audio (the older one, I'm thinking about upgrading to the Tasty Blender). The RockBox lets you take either a line-in input or a speaker-level input, so if the sound guy doesn't have time to set up a separate Aux send for you, you just plug a short speaker cable into the existing monitor and you've got your in-ears.
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