What sound qualities do you look for in In-Ear Monitors (IEMs)?

Steefalo

Member
I'm looking to get my first pair of In-Ear Monitors, but on a budget. I am not looking for recommendations of specific IEMs! but rather, what kind of sound qualities are ideal for on-stage IEMs, and specifically for a drummer?
Do I want lows emphasized, mids, highs, some mixture, or balanced? Warm or bright? Does imagining/soundstage matter? Anything else to consider?

Thanks!
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I I know that when I'm using IEMs or headphones I want good tonal range. I need to hear the kick and snare clearly, and I need to be able to pick out instrumentation in the mids, which means clarity. Muddy sound won't work. I don't care too much about directionality of sound; I usually only pan the overheads but even then only about 10 and 2 o'clock. I also insist on durability. They've got to stand a lot of teardowns and setups without the cable breaking, the jack coming loose or the earpieces breaking in the case.
 

BGDurham

Well-known Member
I recommend at least three drivers to more clearly hear lows, mids, and highs.
 

LarryJ

Active Member
If you can get the perfect mix every time, then go for really good isolation and the sound quality that suits your hearing characteristics.

In the real (my) world - perfect mix at church, vocals only for really loud blues/rock trio, and pot luck with the big band - I need exceptional isolation with at least enough ambience to hear the drums. Any universal fit whose sound you like should be fine if they provide enough isolation. For more isolation you would need custom molded with an ambience port. But there goes your "budget".
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
My desires of IEM's a couple of year ago: "I want in-ears with crisp highs, thick lows, and warm mids. I want ultimate isolation and comfort with a long lead wire. I want it to be able to enhance my worship experience at church, and let me connect with an audience whenever I gig. I want the set that puts me 'IN' the music man!"

My wants of IEM's now: "I want in-ears where that pads actually stay on the monitors and don't come off in my ear canal, and the sketchy sound tech doesn't have to pick them out with his pocket knife." I wish I was kidding.

I have three different sets from three different companies, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

First and foremost, I'd focus on a decent-fitting earpiece. You can have all of the magical highs, lows, and clarity, but it doesn't do a bit of good if it's not a good fit. Most decent IEM's come with a variety pack of ear pieces. For me, I like to have just a little bit of noise bleed so I can "hear the stage" which may sound contradictory, but this works for me. I can sort of still hear what's going on around me, but my IEM's protect my hearing well. I wish I would have had them 30 years ago.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Good sound quality is a given, and with the wide frequency range of a kit, you'll need multiple drivers.

But I would argue that fit is at least as important. You need good isolation to hear what you want, and equally important, to not hear what you don't want. Honestly, the only way to really achieve that is with molds, and you're probably looking at $750 and up for that.

Ultimately, it depends what you really need. Don't overspend, but don't underspend either. You get what you pay for.
 

SYMBOLIC DEATH

Senior Member
I'm looking to get my first pair of In-Ear Monitors, but on a budget. I am not looking for recommendations of specific IEMs! but rather, what kind of sound qualities are ideal for on-stage IEMs, and specifically for a drummer?
Do I want lows emphasized, mids, highs, some mixture, or balanced? Warm or bright? Does imagining/soundstage matter? Anything else to consider?

Thanks!

What are you using now? Do you need total isolation or do you just need ear plugs level of protection with speakers in them?

I use shure se215's and they work for me for what I need (click & kick) and the isolation level works for stage volume playing in a metal band.

A buddy of mine who's a known hired gun in the tech death drumming world uses the 215's as well and he's got more going on in his mix than I do. Custom IEM'S wouldn't be needed when he tours.
 
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