Suggestions for cheap IEMs?

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
Some of the IEM companies have very experienced audiologists. In the UK they come to you to fit the moulds. It's an extremely delicate and potentially dangerous operation pumping the foam into your ear canal to make the model they use to create the custom fit mould.
So they are highly qualified and understand hearing damage.
There are private audiologists that specialise in music. I visited one in Harley St London while I was in the middle of a 1.5 year world tour. He said the loud two hour show was punishing my ears, but also flying every day, with the pressure change, was not allowing my ears to recover.
Ten years later I had some moulded earplugs fitted by an audiologist in Australia who said she wouldn't recommend anything less than -25db protection. They know how loud drums are, on their own, without mentors and guitar amps etc.
A little bit of hearing loss is manageable, although not great. You DO NOT want tinnitus. It can happen in a split second, without warning.
Protect your ears with affordable isolation headphones. From what I've seen, custom moulded IEMs can cost around $650. That is a cheap price to pay for peace of mind.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
Turning down the volume is not the issue, you should be able to turn the vol. down on any IEM. I'm wanting something with a vol. limiter. A limiter will not go over the decibel limit, say 82 for instance. No matter how high you set the vol. knob it will not exceed 82 decibels. Without a limiter I think I'll end up having my in-ears too loud, just like I do with a wedge monitor. That will not protect my hearing. After 50
Yes, you also need a limiter to protect against unexpected feedback. If you've ever been on a stage when feedback suddenly blasts out. Your ear can shut down and take a few minutes to recover. Imagine that next to your eardrum!
 

drumnut87

Well-known member
ive got the KSZ 6 driver IEMs from amazon, theyre decent for what they are, granted theyre no custom-fit IEMs, but for what they are theyre ok, ive had no problems with them :)

HOWEVER, if youre serious about IEMs, custom-moulded are the way to go, i would reccomend at least 3 drivers in them as well.

and as chris has said above, a limiter will definitely help against unexpected feedback and unexpected loudness such as a guest singer whose voice is 10x louder than your normal singer (been there, done that, had to REALLY turn my IEM receiver pack down while trying to play!!!)
 

BGDurham

Well-known member
Where does a limiter fit in? I assume that is a feature of the belt pack gizmo (some, not all) and not in the earbuds themselves--is that right?
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
Where does a limiter fit in? I assume that is a feature of the belt pack gizmo (some, not all) and not in the earbuds themselves--is that right?
The only ones I have found with limiters are safety equipment companies like the 3M Peltor earbuds that I use. The limiter is built in. They're fine for listening the music while I'm at work welding, but not so good on stage. They can't handle the kick or bass guitar very well with out distortion. I usually use the overhead mics to monitor my kit, if I try to turn up the kick mic or bass guitar all I get is distortion.
 

OSDrums

Well-known member
I’m using KZ AS10 with Comply Foam tips and I’m more than satisfied! The noise rejection is so high that I can’t play without signal on my IEM channels because I can’t hear my drums anymore. Cymbals are totally gone, drums almost. Marshalls do not exist anymore… I use them for IEM in the studio and during practice with my Rockband and I can tell you: we are not silent! The only reason for custom moles for me would be the better comfort if wearing the IEMs for hours.
 

someguy01

Well-known member
You DO NOT want tinnitus
It's not the end of the world, I have it and it's quite manageable. If I had real health insurance, it's also a curable disorder. I find it has little to no effect on my drumming as the frequency isn't in the same range as anything on the kit. Really, it's only an issue if I'm trying to hear voices in a crowded room.
 

calan

Silver Member
Where does a limiter fit in? I assume that is a feature of the belt pack gizmo (some, not all) and not in the earbuds themselves--is that right?

In my case, my small board that I use for IEM mixing has an onboard compressor that I use for limiting my incoming monitor feed.

It's kind of ridiculous that there aren't more options for IEM mixers that have built in limiting, or even IEMs that have it natively, but alas. It just seems like something that would have become more commonplace as IEMs increased in popularity.

In any case, there is a large selection of outboard gear that can be used for this purpose, but of course it's just another thing for set up. If you're so inclined, I believe it's possible to use resistors in line to your buds to function as a hardwired/fixed limiter, but I can't offer much besides relaying that I've read its possible.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
It's not the end of the world, I have it and it's quite manageable. If I had real health insurance, it's also a curable disorder. I find it has little to no effect on my drumming as the frequency isn't in the same range as anything on the kit. Really, it's only an issue if I'm trying to hear voices in a crowded room.
I've had pretty severe tinnitus for the last 40-odd years. Wasn't aware there was a cure. Anything you can link to?
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
Well, I just got my first very budget set up, and it works. I got the cheap Shure 112 and some foam tips. I have a SM57 across the room going in a cheap-o 4 track mixer and take the headphone out, then some earmuff from work on top of that and it really is very quiet sound almost completely from the mic. Without the muffs it is a mix between bleed and mic but still lower volume.
The practice room is the main place I need protection because it's little and the guys actually play louder at practice than at shows so, good deal. Plus better perspective of my mix. Haven't tried them out at any of the spots we play that have big sound system, but I'm sure they will be fine and gentler than a wedge. If they have no option to plug the buds in, I can take my practice room setup of mic and mixer and use it.
Thanks guys for recommending, I know it isn't really exactly what you recommend but the volume reduction is available to me now and I can hear everything fine. I probably spent $100 US, I already had the mic and cable
 

NackAttack

Well-known member
I have the KZ ZS10. They sound great but are a little too bass heavy for my taste. I also find the fit uncomfortable when trying to use them behind the set. I bought some nice comply tips but I think it’s the overall shape that is causing me issues. They are an absolute steal for just listening to music and rank up there with IEMs 2 or 3 times the price. All the nit picky flaws are ones that keep me from using them on the drums, but I know about six musicians that use them on stage and love them.
Right now I use the 215s which fit better and have a flatter response that I appreciate more. I have also always liked Etymotic. They aren’t the most rugged brand but they are second only to molds regarding isolation (in my experience).
 

jimb

Member
It's not the end of the world, I have it and it's quite manageable. If I had real health insurance, it's also a curable disorder. I find it has little to no effect on my drumming as the frequency isn't in the same range as anything on the kit. Really, it's only an issue if I'm trying to hear voices in a crowded room.
Not sure ur age and Im Mr Nobody, but it can get increasingly worse as you get older even u were to spend the rest of ur life in total silence. Im very, very careful yet it appears to be getting slowly worse as the years go by, and some have committed suicide because of it, apparently Debbie Harry is in a bad way with it.
But I have another theory which is not good at all. I strongly beleive there is a tendency to increase the volume of ur in ears...and as any doctor will tell you, squirting noise directly into the ear can only end in tears........
Ive now gone to full industrial fitted solid earplugs with a -40db cut........The peeps I feel for are singers who have to pitch and who cannot wear full protection
 
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BGDurham

Well-known member
Just wanted to complete my portion of this thread as the OP.

I decided to go with universal fit IEMs from a well-known brand: Westone UM Pro 30s, which, I believe, were on sale at the time for $249 (currently $399) at SW. I decided to go with three drivers from a known brand, but universal fit. The Westones were back-ordered and I called Sweetwater about every two weeks for about six weeks (hence this late post) and then when our gig was imminent I asked/insisted they replace the Westones with an in-stock pair of three driver buds and send them right away. These turned out to be the Mackie MP-320s, which were $50 more at the time.

I bought the Behringer P1 headphone amp because according to its description on the Behringer website it has a built-in current limiter to prevent loud sound peaks.

These are my first IEMs and after using them 3-4 times I think they are pretty awesome! Sometime in the future I may go with custom molds and stuff, but for now I am happy with these and appreciate Sweetwater for sending me the Mackies when time was running out.

Now I have to remember to plug them in (I actually forgot to do that at the gig! I couldn't hear anything and I was trying to figure out what the hell was wrong throughout the first two songs until I saw the XLR cable end on the table next to me! D'oh!) and turn them on (forgot to do that at the first practice! D'oh again!).

Thanks everyone for your advice!
 

Iristone

Well-known member
Just bought a pair of KZ ZAX's and can attest their quality. They have an open soundscape and high frequencies are well preserved like my AKG K702, much better dynamic response than my Shure 535 (which used to mess with my dynamics when playing e-drums, and make my ears hurt afterwards). The build quality is much better too - no annoying rubber edges anymore.
I believe they control their cost mainly by not overspending on advertisements (looking at you Beats) and no name brand premiums.
 
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