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In-ears
There are several things in-ear monitors can do, that give them an advantage over traditional wedges.

In-Ears: Benefits Over Wedges In Providing A Musician a Quality Mix

By using in-ears, versus a series of wedges, there is significantly less competing volume on a stage. The less volume on stage, the easier it is for different engineers to get a better mix.

Listening is the foundation of music.

Having a good mix in one’s in-ears can make or break a good service or gig for a musician.

How to listen to music on or off stage has changed a lot over the past couple of decades.

One of the biggest changes? That has been with in-ear monitors. For those who will be using them for the first time, they do have a bit of a learning curve. Once anyone gets a chance to use them, however, there is usually a preference to keep using in-ears over wedges when given the opportunity.

There are several things in-ear monitors can do, that give them an advantage over traditional wedges.

For starters, musicians can get a better personal mix with in-ears. When on stage, it is important for one to hear what the other musicians are playing or singing. For this, in-ears make this a lot easier than a traditional wedge is capable of achieving.

By contrast, wedges positioned on stage often have a lot coming out of them and make it hard for one to hear exactly what a particular musician wants. A big “game changer” with in-ears is that a user can work with things such as click tracks (metronome) and guide (a cue voice). The ability to have these features handy has been a big change for the industry, resulting in the significant move toward in-ears.

The use of in-ears has given the ability to have a good personal mix all while having at one’s disposal more tools in a live setting.

By using in-ears, versus a series of wedges, there is significantly less competing volume on a stage. The less volume on stage, the easier it is for different engineers to get a better mix. It is also much easier to achieve an ideal mix inside those more intimate venues, where there is not a lot of room for the stage volume to dissipate. As a result, the sound is more pleasurable, intentional sound for the venue is a benefit for all.

Having multiple wedges on stage makes it to where it becomes harder for a musician to hear what they are doing with their instrument. Even when a musician is close, has a good wedge, has a good mix for them, it is still possible that they will not hear what they need to hear.

While in-ears are a fantastic tool, they do carry a significant responsibility when they are being used. Caution must be exercised in that in-ears are literally taking a speaker and placing them, to where the pressure is going to be applied directly to each ear drum of the user.

We have been given the gift of hearing, and it is important for us to be good stewards of our hearing that we have been blessed with.

When using any in-ears, no matter who makes them, it is imperative to be careful how we use them. All in-ears can cause permanent hearing damage, if misused. It can be as simple as keeping the volume to a safe level when using in-ears.

Having a good mix in one’s in-ears can make or break a good service or gig for a musician.

There are a couple things that can also make the experience of using in-ears a good experience. When making a mix, it is important to ask, “What do I need?” not “what do I want.”

It is good to be mindful of what is in the mix when you are putting it together. For example, using drum overheads in an in-ears mix takes up a lot of space in a mix, as the overheads can drown out instruments, such as an acoustic guitar.

By having different instruments getting drowned out, it can cause for instruments that may specifically tuned with a pitch reference for a performance where it is hard to find the pitch. Look to be flexible on trying different things for what could work in a mix. A good resource for someone new to in-ears is YouTube, where one can see how some top bands use in-ears effectively.

With a tool like in-ears, particular features make certain models stand out that can make a big difference.

One of the biggest difference makers for particular in-ears over others, is the seal. If there is not a good seal on a set of in-ears, the result will be that outside noise will get in. With outside nose, the challenge of getting in getting a good mix becomes significantly harder, especially to avoid turning up the volume of the in-ears to an unhealthy level to counteract the outside noise.

There are a couple ways to get a good seal. The best way is to invest in a custom molded set of ears, made just for you. Molded in-ears form to your ear and do not allow much noise in, that is happening from outside of the ears. However, molded in-ears tend to be quite expensive, and often are not a practical purchase for many.

For those looking for less expensive options, there are quite a few other ways to achieve a good seal for your in-ears, at a smaller price tag: One such option is often referred to as “Universal Fit” in-ears. When using a set of universal fit in-ears, for a good seal, use a memory foam tip. A memory foam tip will largely form itself to the inside of the user’s ears and provide a decent seal, without breaking the bank.

The other big difference maker in terms of performance, is the drivers that exist in each in-ear monitor. The drivers inside each of the in-ears, are the transducers for the user. While quantity might seem like a good thing, having a bunch of drivers is not what makes a good set of ears. Having the ability to hear what is needing to be heard, is a majority of the task being asked of an in-ear.

When purchasing a set of in-ears, look at the frequency response of what the in-ear set offers, not the number of drivers. The website, www.64audio.com, has a great guide to looking at what type of in-ears, relating to the number of drivers, works best for each application. In addition, they look at each manufacturer of in-ears, and the aspect of great customer service, to make sure the set of in-ears that is ordered, are made right for what is best for the user.

There are many reasons in-ears are in-ears, and you will find it a better choice to use an inexpensive set of in-ears, rather than opting to use a set of earbuds, and expecting anything close to the same results.

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