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Another In Ear Monitor thread


Jensked
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Drives me crazy...

 

I started playing in a new coverband. We use in ear monitoring (IEM) for our rehearsals. When i create presets at home (studio monitors) - everything sounds nice. Helix is good!

 

When i use my IEM (Sure SE425), it sounds like (sorry) crap...both clean and OD

 

I'm this far: 

  • people say you should tweak presets for use with headphones or IEM. Can someone share a preset made with IEM in mind?
  • Most IEM have a very low impedance (24ohms) - as if they were tailored to be used with en iPhone. Most high quality audio products like Helix, my mixer and our Begringer IEM system all have very high impedences. What is the use of making an IEM (which would be a quality product) with a mismatched impedence.

 

I play a American Delux strat with noiseless pick-ups + Shawbucker. Someone told me there is an issue with the S1 switch - something to do with 250k or 500k stuff...

 

Is there a scenario where IEM can sound as nice as a guitarspeaker in a room?

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First, tweaking your presets for in ears is about the worst idea I've ever heard.  If your mixer provides it you can tweak your guitar channel's aux output EQ for your in ears.  You're there for the audience who's paying your way.  If it comes down to who gets the best sound it should be them.  Secondly, the IEMs you're using are NOT tailored for use with an iPhone.  They're pro grade and that's why they're sold at Sweetwater and other pro stores.

In my experience you can get a serviceable experience with IEMs, but not a live stage experience.  The closest I've come is using a much higher quality IEM that incorporates some outside ambient sound and isn't completely isolated such as those by Westone.  But I've given up on IEMs and gone simply to high quality stage monitors with everyone going direct to the board and no onstage amps to get a manageable stage volume.  It's a much better live experience in my opinion because I'm hearing exactly what the audience hears and exactly what I dialed into my Helix at home, but mixed specifically for me.

You're not going to get a guitar speaker in a room sound because your audience is never going to get that from you or from any other live performance even if you use stage amps because you'll be mic'ing them.  They'll always get the mic'd version of a live amp just like every recorded album they've ever listened to.

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On 9/8/2022 at 10:51 AM, Jensked said:

1. people say you should tweak presets for use with headphones or IEM.

 

2. Is there a scenario where IEM can sound as nice as a guitarspeaker in a room?


1. That’s plain crazy - (and just who are these people?).

 

2. No.

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Pete Thorn just reviewed some IEM's that actually have an external mic in the bud and allow you to mix in room sound via the battery pack.  Was debating getting these....  I dont recall the link, but if you go on youtube and search Pete Thorn IEM review, it should be top of the list or near it.  

 

 

I've never liked IEM's for full band stuff.  Great for singing, horrible for guitar.  Ultimately I ended up using one IEM in (right side facing band), one out (left side facing my powered wedge).  I put the rest of the band and my vocals in the one ear and then had my guitar coming out the wedge only.  This had me keeping volume in check and also allowed me to mix my 'mix' easily.  Generally my mix in the 'right' ear was mostly just vocals and a little of the other guitar players guitar as I could catch enough bass from the FOH speakers.    

 

When I was happiest with IEM's, you really need to dial in a subtle but present reverb/delay sound to make it seem a bit bouncy in the room.  

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On 9/8/2022 at 4:51 AM, Jensked said:

people say you should tweak presets for use with headphones or IEM.

 

Ignore those people.... seriously!

The SE425's you use are a decent set of buds...  they should not sound like dog poop.

 

On 9/8/2022 at 4:51 AM, Jensked said:

Is there a scenario where IEM can sound as nice as a guitar speaker in a room?

 

No, but you can do things to get it much closer. 

 

There are many great "recorded" guitar tones... iconic tones.... they are the tones we love! Stop and think about it.... none of us have ever heard the "amp in the room" of those tones, we just heard the final product and we love it. That's the result of a studio engineer working diligently to capture the "amp in the room" as much as possible, then seasoning it a little. 

 

As guitar players we generally understand pedals and amps but not much beyond that. With a modeler it's worth the time to expand our knowledge to the engineer stage....  

  1. Engineers start their job with microphones. One close mic, often one mic a few feet back, and on occasion even a third mic deep in the room.
    • The Helix does one mic on a stock cab and is capable of two mics when using the dual cab block. Every mic has it's own tonal quality, and every inch of movement alters that tonal quality. There is a lot of learning to do when it comes to mic choice and mic placement. 
    • IR's often have multiple mic's baked in and can make this process easier, but finding a great IR that works "for you" can be a fatiguing task. FWIW... I chose to buy the MBritt IR pack. He's a live and studio player that created very good sounding IR's from multiple cabs, mics, placements. 
  2. Sprinkle a little reverb and/or delay near the end. These should not be used as an "effect"... it's there to sweeten the tone and add some ambience (ambience = room, end result - something akin to "amp in the room")  (@themetallikidalluded to this in the post above)
    • NOTE: That doesn't mean you can't add additional reverbs and/or delays as effects. 
  3. (Optional for live) Those great "iconic tones" on recordings are "studio compressed".... for that I like to add the LA Studio Comp after the cabinet. Don't squish the sound... you just want the gain reduction meter to barely register. 

YMMV, but when using those approaches my live tones are as close as possible to "amp in the room" when listening through FOH, stage monitors, FRFR or IEM's. To me that's the joy of a modeler, you can get that final tone as close as possible to the sound you really want. With a real "amp in the room"... you might get something you like on stage, but that final sound at the FOH (foh, monitors, iem's, recordings, frfr, etc...)  is left in the hands of others, because the amp cannot do it alone! 

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The Pete Thorne review is below.

 

I have used IEMs for at least 5 years, starting with 1964 fully molded IEMs and fully sealed. Whilst it meant I could hear myself without deafening anyone elser the sound was always a compromise, very isolating, and never quite sounded right. I tried many things to improve it like 1 in 1 out, EQ for the IEM mix, etc etc.

 

Long story short, I have owned the ASI system for the last 2 years and couldn't be happier. I started with the generic IEMs and moved to the molded inserts and then to fully molded IEMs for a better seal. Being able to EQ the IEM send myself with the body pack (differently for each ear) and control how much ambient sound I get is amazing. I can run completely monitorless for vocals and guitar, or use my PC+s for onstage monitoring and for the band and hear the blend in the IEMs. Best of both worlds.

 

By way of context, I've gone from ALWAYS beng told to turn down, to being asked to turn-up to get a better stage blend.

 

When I can afford them (pretend I can) I'll upgrade to the triple driver version they have recently released, but for now the dual driver is great.

 

Concur on the don't EQ your patches for your monitors (IEM or otherwise).

 

 

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On 9/9/2022 at 3:54 AM, Jensked said:

Thanks for all your insights...

 

The low impedance of the IEM and the high impedance of the Helix Phones out (or mixer phones out) couldn't be the issue?

 

I really don't know... I always use a dedicated pack with my own mix. Never a problem.  

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I don't know if it's an impedance issue or not, but it's certainly not normal to run in ears out of a headphone output.  Most people run them out of one of the Aux outputs on the mixing board which are meant to be used for monitors and can be given their own custom mix from whatever is plugged into the board.  That being said I use my in ears at home all the time coming out of my computer headphone jack with no problems.

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Never found IEMs I liked. A lot is due to fit, I think. I could get a custom fit, I suppose, but $$$. The IEMS in the vid above are $$$$. Crazy. Semi-open headphones work good. I like 'em. To save my already-diminished hearing when playing with a band, I use good but affordable musicians ear plugs that turn down the dBs reaching  my poor little eardrums. Either way, get your Helix sounding good without ear covers. And never stand next to the drummer.

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On 9/10/2022 at 3:05 AM, soundog said:

Never found IEMs I liked. A lot is due to fit, I think. I could get a custom fit, I suppose, but $$$. The IEMS in the vid above are $$$$. Crazy. Semi-open headphones work good. I like 'em. To save my already-diminished hearing when playing with a band, I use good but affordable musicians ear plugs that turn down the dBs reaching  my poor little eardrums. Either way, get your Helix sounding good without ear covers. And never stand next to the drummer.

 

To the $$$$ issue/concern they cost me (in Australia with substantial issues with what we pay for musical gear) :

 

  • less than my Helix
  • about the same as one of my variaxes
  • less than my other guitars
  • less than my 2 x PC+
  • less than any reasonable quality foldback solution
  • less than one of my FoH mid/top boxes (ignore subs)
  • significantly less than a single QSC 10.2 or 12.2 cabs that seem to be the benchmark in this and other forums
  • significantly less than any quality valve amp

And the sound quality/comfort etc outcome is amazing, and they are how I hear my vox, my guitar, the rest of the band, in a 3 pieace where I'm lead singer and fidelity makes stage work, just work - not hard work.

 

Why guitarists, more than any other musican, appear to scrimp on IEMs then complain about them not working for them is beyond me.  Especially when I consider the esorteric crap we/they will spend substantial $ on. (point to point amps, vintage pedals, modern re-issues of same, pretty lumps of wood with metal that makes noise)

 

On fit - absolutely custom IEMs are not even in the same league as generics from a comfort perspective, and the ones referenced are silicon (softish) which are a substantial step above hard shells from a comfort/fit/seal perspective. And yes that translates into $, but see above.

 

To hearing and protecting it - I have bilateral otosclerosis with up to 75db defeat from normal (yes thats a lot), which means a) it protected my hearing to an extent when I played very very loud with real amps b) I need stuff real loud to hear it 'normal'. High quality IEMs allow anyone to reduce the overall volume whilst increaing fidelity reducing nearve damage. IEMs that remove the need for hearing aids whilst onstage (I need them in the real world) and protect the fundementals (ie nerve damage) by allowing me not to drive as loud as ambient are worth the $.

 

I would suggest that anything that saves people with undamaged, or even damaged, hearing from the horror that is constant tinitus is in the same league.

 

Apologies for the rant - but being cheap in this space is just that, and I just don't get it. But then I don't understand threads about "whats the cheapest case I can get for my Helix?" for much the same reason.

 

 

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Actually, although I agree in principal with the cost analysis above, to get a decent functioning IEM setup would cost me about the same as my Helix originally cost me once you consider the cost of a premium set of earplugs and the wireless system to support it, so it's not an insignificant investment.  But all of this is generally a problem of our own making for the most part.  Even in this age of technological innovation musicians still struggle trying to manage their stage volume to the point they create the monitoring problems they complain about.  That's understandable to a degree when you're dealing with traditional stage amps and drums.  But it's not impossible to get by with just decent stage monitors if you address the core problem.  By eliminating the stage amps and acoustic drums and going direct to the mixing board we eliminated the core issue of stage volume and can hear everything just fine including vocals and harmonies for three singers just using stage monitors.  The added benefit was reducing our setup and break down time.

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On 9/10/2022 at 4:55 AM, DunedinDragon said:

Actually, although I agree in principal with the cost analysis above, to get a decent functioning IEM setup would cost me about the same as my Helix originally cost me once you consider the cost of a premium set of earplugs and the wireless system to support it, so it's not an insignificant investment. 

Depends on your definition of "decent", I suppose.  The band I "retired" from several years back asked if I'd get involved with a couple different "tribute" type shows they were putting together. Two hour, artist specific.  But in the few years I'd been away they'd gone from zoned floor slants to in-ears.  In the first of these projects I was only guest-ing on a few specific tunes - didn't seem cost-effective to spend +/- $1k for a few songs maybe once a month or so.

 

So I poked around at bit, gave a try to the Xvive U4 system.  Simple, rugged build - stated range is only around 90 feet, but how much do you really need?  Started with a set of Shure 215's, wasn't impressed and after some searching/review grinding gave a set of KZ AS10 5 driver buds a try.  I've now done a dozen or so shows with these - solid performance (absolute worst on some stages were a "walk through" dropout - split second) and the KZ's sound great, to the extent that 2 other bandmates now use them.  Total price around $300.  It's a mono setup, so if that matters yer out of luck.  In fact the band bought an identical setup to keep handy for failsafe and/or guest players.  Don't know that they're "audiophile", but they're certainly decent.

 

It really is an amazing time to be a musician.

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On 9/11/2022 at 11:54 AM, ricstudioc said:

It really is an amazing time to be a musician.

 

Yes it is...

 

Like you, I pieced up a good in-ear system at a decent price. My modest setup is perfect for the smaller shows that the artist insist we do "in-ear". When I do tours and/or larger festivals & casinos the packs are often provided and all I need are my ear pieces.   

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My problem with the Xvive is I already have transmitter and receiver for my headworn mic and the transmitter/receiver for the headphones interferes with it and you can't juggle the frequencies to clear it up.  At that point I just dropped the whole effort because we were doing fine with our current stage monitors.  I may go back and revisit it later because I did have to suck it up with the premium IEMs I got as they're non refundable.

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Just last weekend, our band used IEMs for the first time at an all-weekend rehearsal. We ran an output (Line Out) from the main Mixer, to Behringer HA400 Mini Headphone amp / mixer, out to x4 sets of the KZ AS10s. It sounded fantastic. We were playing x2 Electro Acoustic guitars, x3 Vocals, Keys, and my P-Bass via the Pod Go (I also use a Helix Stomp).

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In reference to ear preservation, what are the IEM users here doing to prevent potential ear damage from dropped mics, live cables being plugged in or removed, errant dramatic volume increases from the sound engineer or another player, and the like?  Gating/limiting?

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On 9/19/2022 at 12:51 PM, HonestOpinion said:

In reference to ear preservation, what are the IEM users here doing to prevent potential ear damage from dropped mics, live cables being plugged in or removed, errant dramatic volume increases from the sound engineer or another player, and the like?  Gating/limiting?

Hmm - interesting question.  Personally my IEM levels aren't all that high, don't really have to be when you have a good solid seal around the earpiece - you're pretty isolated.  So can't say I've ever had a problem regarding that.

 

That said - I don't know for a fact that our FOH guy isn't running limiters/comps on the mix busses.  It's the ubiquitous X32 console so he certainly could be.  I'm seeing him in a couple days, I'll make a point to ask.

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On 9/19/2022 at 8:51 PM, HonestOpinion said:

In reference to ear preservation, what are the IEM users here doing to prevent potential ear damage from dropped mics, live cables being plugged in or removed, errant dramatic volume increases from the sound engineer or another player, and the like?  Gating/limiting?


I don’t use IEM, never got on with them at all, but I do get the point you make. Although, I wouldn’t expect a gate to help with the sound of a dropped mic, a live cable being jacked in, or feedback (I have read of an instance this accidentally happening in a studio and causing complete mayhem) - surely that sort of sudden signal burst passing the threshold would open a gate allowing the potentially damaging sound through.
 

From what I have read about IEM, most receiver packs contain a built-in limiter, but a hard limiter on the mixer should be a big help. Other than that I wonder what sort of protection is available to stop people becoming like Brian Johnson of AC/DC.

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On 9/20/2022 at 8:24 AM, datacommando said:


I don’t use IEM, never got on with them at all, but I do get the point you make. Although, I wouldn’t expect a gate to help with the sound of a dropped mic, a live cable being jacked in, or feedback (I have read of an instance this accidentally happening in a studio and causing complete mayhem) - surely that sort of sudden signal burst passing the threshold would open a gate allowing the potentially damaging sound through.
 

From what I have read about IEM, most receiver packs contain a built-in limiter, but a hard limiter on the mixer should be a big help. Other than that I wonder what sort of protection is available to stop people becoming like Brian Johnson of AC/DC.

 

True; the gating will only help with preventing constant low level background noise and such in IEMs, and I did not mention noise in my original post (although it is another issue to control for). I agree; for the stuff that has potential to wreck your hearing, it is hard limiting that can kick in quickly that seems absolutely critical, via the pack, board, or essentially anywhere in the signal chain. As long as it is before ear damaging levels have the opportunity to reach your ears.

 

 

 

On 9/20/2022 at 12:30 PM, soundog said:

It's frightening to think that IEMs are meant to protect your ears, yet might run amuck (or be misused) and permanently damage hearing.  +130 dBs mainlined.

 

This made me laugh 'cos it is exactly what I was getting at. Every one of those sudden ear puncturing types of events I listed has occurred in the monitors while I have been on stage at one time or another. Scary when it is directly in your ear. Using them for long periods of time at too high a volume during "normal" usage can cause damage as well (like any headphones/earphones). 

 

I guess as you summarized so well, although IEMs are often touted as being ear preserving, used incorrectly they also have a serious capacity for ear damage. More tips welcome from those who have the same concern when hooked up directly to the 'Matrix' :-)

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