Never say never: old dog, new in-ears!

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
So, I normally jump in on the occasional 'headphones or in-ears?' topics, and have consistently favored phones for several reasons pertinent to my primary performing situation. So why did I suddenly change to in-ears?? Let me explain.

I've said that the durability and convenience of headphones is far superior to that of in-ears. With regard to durability, that's still true, in-ears need to be treated with care, and I will be doing so. But the convenience factor, for me, has shifted. With more wardrobe changes and the various things I wear on my head like glasses, hats, and a wig, having phones is sometimes less convenient and actually a detriment sound-wise when anything interrupts the seal of the earcups (glasses are the worst.) Also, each time I leave or return to my throne - a total of 24 times in the show! - I have to handle the phones and the cord. Sometimes it's a matter of 4 or 5 seconds, but in the case of dealing with extra costumery on my head, might take 15-20 seconds to work the phones under a wig, place the glasses, or situate a hat on the headband. With in-ears, there is no coordination necessary. I can jump on the throne without the handling of the phones, and I can jump off the throne immediately after the song. In terms of Al's show, that's important.

It's also true that proper in-ears (molds) require more than a few seconds to properly insert or remove, and this is a detriment as soon as you try to have an acoustic conversation, whereas with phones, you simply lift one earcup up and you can hear. That remains a bit of an issue, but so far I've managed to not engage in idle conversation between songs, which is fine with me. :)

In-ear molds need to be re-fitted periodically as you grow, and it's especially true for younger users. Well, I'm an older guy, and not likely to need another set in my career, so I'm regarding this move as cost-effective.

Comfort is subjective, and I will say that the newer molds made of hard plastic are more comfortable (non-abrasive) than the older 'rubber' ones. I used to use Neosporin on the old ones to combat chafing, and it was messy on my fingers, ears, and the molds. That's no longer necessary.

Sound quality had been an issue for me, but a lot has changed since I first used the two-element molds 15 years ago. With 8 elements in each mold, everything sounds great. Isolation is excellent, easily 3db better than my current phones!

A big concern was if there's a problem with the in-ears, the repair/replacement process can take 10 days or more, and will probably involve taking new impressions. With phones, you can have a replacement pair in your hands within a day. All still true, and as I said above, they'll need to be treated with care. One major improvement is the advent of cables that plug into the earpiece, as opposed to the older ones that are molded into the piece. Once the cable broke, there was a good chance you'd have to toss everything. Now, it's simple and smart to invest $30 in a spare cable.

Cost is still a factor, my in-ears are about $1150, compared to $220 for my UltraPhones. Is my experience with in-ears 5x better than the phones? Well, maybe only 3x better :) but it costs money to do things right, and I felt it was important to make the switch. I'm so glad I did.

Last, and actually least for me, is the vanity issue. If anyone on stage can get away with wearing phones and not looking weird, it's the drummer. I've got a bunch of great photos of me with phones, but from now on, I'll look more natural without any distraction on my head (except for the nun's coronet I wear during one song...)

I'll still use my UltraPhones in the studio, as I'll definitely need to remove them frequently. And I'll keep a pair on tour with me in case there's an emergency.

And I should add that all in-ear monitors are not alike, so choosing a particular model may not be the right solution for everyone or every gig, vs using phones.

Most importantly, I want to point out that although I have strong convictions about certain things, I keep my eyes and ears and mind open. I'm perfectly willing to make a change when a product improves and as my needs evolve... even though you'd have bet money that I wouldn't :)

Bermuda

PS - While I'm not necessarily endorsing the brand, I'll mention them anyway - it's JH Audio, Jerry Harvey's company. I believe that Jerry started Ultimate Ears, and I'm told his spin-off company does things even better than the other. :)
 
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Florian

Gold Member
welcome to the JH Audio family...I love my -16s. JHA is lightyears better than UE. JHA in action (with obligatory kilt)


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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I can finally concur that he is right about Al's show. They do so many costume changes that it makes sense to use the in-ears. This is a good choice!

I had never been to a Weird Al show until this past weekend and during the after-show dessert with Jon in a diner, I had to express how impressed I was with the pacing of the show, and how seamlessly all the changes went with the entire crew. There is no way anyone can just sub into that show without having lived with those guys for a long time - crew included. It was totally entertaining and worth every penny - even if you don't know all the songs (which I didn't).

If in-ears make the changes easier, that's the important thing here. Even if they are $1100+. Bragger ;)
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
John, I haven't used IEMs before, but I've always wanted to try them. I remember when they first began to see use by drummers that the primary negative issue revolved around the inability to hear the bass and sub-bass frequencies. This, of course, led to the use of external sub-woofers and/or bass shakers attached to the drum throne. How is this issue handled/resolved in current IEMs like yours?

GeeDeeEmm
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I've been using an Aviom and IEM system for a few years at my church. I will never go back to wedges again. (We also use a click track and performance tracks as well, so IEM's are a necessity now.) The transition can be interesting to say the least. I just use the Shure 215's (a whopping $99), and I'm wired in (no wireless pack b/c I just don't need it).

IEM's are great IMO.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
John, I haven't used IEMs before, but I've always wanted to try them. I remember when they first began to see use by drummers that the primary negative issue revolved around the inability to hear the bass and sub-bass frequencies. This, of course, led to the use of external sub-woofers and/or bass shakers attached to the drum throne. How is this issue handled/resolved in current IEMs like yours?

GeeDeeEmm
I've got great low-end with the new molds, and even the old ones were really nice (my sound complaint with those was the lack of highs.) The question is, do the bass & subs need to be heard, or felt? These IEMs deliver all the lows you could want to hear. But if you like to feel the lows - and of course the kick - that's not gonna happen through you ears anyway.

Bermuda
 
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GrimmReefer

Senior Member
I love love love my in ears. We decided on the Sennheisers. Like you said the investment is substantial. I think mine were $980 including getting the molds done.

I always say the three best things I have ever bought are my in ears, my rockin roller and my $15 fan.
 

feldiefeld

Senior Member
Wow....I've been thinking about this for a while. In-ears seem like they can make life a lot easier. It seems like you guys all agree...... thanks for reminding me.....
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I guess the change isn't much different for you as you were already using the 'phones, but I found the isolation to be difficult with IEMs. It felt like I was just playing the drums, not making music with other musicians. Every hit was so stark and every mistake so obvious. Obviously I has a great mix but it was like playing behind plexiglass every show, which is probably one of my least favorite things in the world. I really had a hard time getting into the music, which I guess just takes some getting used to. Have you noticed a difference in the isolation and how it affects you as a player?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I guess the change isn't much different for you as you were already using the 'phones, but I found the isolation to be difficult with IEMs. It felt like I was just playing the drums, not making music with other musicians... Have you noticed a difference in the isolation and how it affects you as a player?
You get to hear whatever you want, there's no reason it should be less of an experience than hearing everything acoustically. Perhaps it's just the concept that bothers you?

But it really depends on the gig. I do gigs with no monitors, or one monitor with a little kick and maybe guitar, or full on isolation, and it's all the same to me from a drumming perspective. That is, I'm playing drums and making music with those around me. I've never thought my bands at home would somehow benefit if I went in-ear with them, nor would it even be possible to do the Al gig without phones/IEMs. They're not for everyone... but most pros wouldn't/couldn't do their gigs without them.

What the isolation does is allow an absolutely perfect mix. The better the isolation, the better the mix. The better the mix, the better I play. So I would have to say that going to proper iso phones many years ago made me a better player in that I became more intimate with my parts and how they gel with the other players, and enhanced my ability to work with a click. The better I can hear the click, the better and smoother I can play with it. And because I've become very comfortable with a click over the last 30 years, the better my time became on gigs without it.

So the effect on me as a player has been strictly positive.

Bermuda
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Would anyone here be willing to take the time to explain to an old uneducated drummer how all of this works?

What exactly do you hear in the earphones?
Can you hear all of the other instruments?
Are they all mixed together by someone else and then sent to your earphones?
How do you know how loud you should be playing?
Isn't it harder to keep the band together when using earphones?
Isn't it harder to get into a groove with the other players when you are using earphones?
When you use the word "isolation" what does it mean, what is isolated?

Thanks.


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konaboy

Pioneer Member
Would anyone here be willing to take the time to explain to an old uneducated drummer how all of this works?

What exactly do you hear in the earphones?
Can you hear all of the other instruments?
Are they all mixed together by someone else and then sent to your earphones?
How do you know how loud you should be playing?
Isn't it harder to keep the band together when using earphones?
Isn't it harder to get into a groove with the other players when you are using earphones?
When you use the word "isolation" what does it mean, what is isolated?

Thanks.


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Usually you can have whatever mixed into your IEM that you want same as if you were using a monitor wedge. Like someone else said above I use an Aviom system at my church and can have any instrument I want in my ears and any vocals or I can choose to take whatever I don't want out of the mix.

I have a mix of the kit coming back through my monitors so I can hear it, you get used to it and get the feel of how loud to play.

To me it makes the band tighter as everyone can clearly hear each other at a drastically lower volume level. Never had an issue finding the "groove" using in ears. Like I said I think it's actually easier because you can hear so much better.

Isolation referring to keeping outside sound and noise out. "Isolating" sound. The better the fit of the ear bud the better the sound quality and reproduction. Some people feel like they aren't connected with the audience because you can't hear them with the buds in which is why many people put up a couple mic's pointed at the crowd and mix it in to alleviate that feeling.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
Congrats on the custom IEM's Bermuda!! Holy crap 8 drivers :-o Most I've ever seen before listed are 5 and I thought that was a lot!

Been a wish and a dream to have a pair of custom ones some day.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Usually you can have whatever mixed into your IEM that you want same as if you were using a monitor wedge. Like someone else said above I use an Aviom system at my church and can have any instrument I want in my ears and any vocals or I can choose to take whatever I don't want out of the mix.

I have a mix of the kit coming back through my monitors so I can hear it, you get used to it and get the feel of how loud to play.

To me it makes the band tighter as everyone can clearly hear each other at a drastically lower volume level. Never had an issue finding the "groove" using in ears. Like I said I think it's actually easier because you can hear so much better.

Isolation referring to keeping outside sound and noise out. "Isolating" sound. The better the fit of the ear bud the better the sound quality and reproduction. Some people feel like they aren't connected with the audience because you can't hear them with the buds in which is why many people put up a couple mic's pointed at the crowd and mix it in to alleviate that feeling.

Thank you so much !


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Galadrm

Senior Member
I recently got a pair of JH5's and they are just fantastic! I had to get the left ear refitted because they didnt fit perfectly the first time, and living in Australia that means 4 weeks before I could get them back. Now the isolation is just fantastic, superior to my shure in universals with triple flange tips. I went with JH audio for the same reasons mentioned previously, that Jerry has the experience. Even with 2 drivers per ear the sound is really really great. The bass could be a bit tighter, and the midrange lacks some detail but as with any headphone you become accustomed to its sound signature over time.

I hear that ultimate ears are making the shells using a laser cutter or 3d printer? Some people on headfi have said that they fit better than the hand made shells, with a much higher comfort and less chance of refit. Would be interested to try them but unfortunately I can only afford one set while at uni!
 
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