In Ear Monitors
In-Ear Monitor (IEM) Systems
In-ear monitors (also known as IEMs or in-ears), when used correctly, offer musicians, music industry personnel, audiophiles, and the general public access to crisp, clean sound. When used correctly, IEMs can promote career longevity.
Benefits of In-Ear Monitors:
- Reduced risk of hearing when used properly
- Freedom of movement on stage
- Improved sound quality
- Consistent sound quality from venue to venue
- Reduced vocal fatigue
- Removal of temporal distortion
- Easier portability as compared to bulky floor wedges
Cautions around in-ear monitors:
In-ear monitors are not safety devices, even if they are marketed as “safer”. IEMs provide the wearer with better isolation and the ability to turn their monitor mix down lower. However, the monitor is only safe when it is actually turned down by the wearer to a safe listening level.
More drivers aren’t always better. In fact, they rarely are. The majority of in-ear monitors on the market are made with balanced armature drivers. These drivers (speakers) are manufactured to produce specific frequency regions that have a crossover connection that splits the sound signal into multiple frequency bands. Adding drivers and crossover points add loudness. While that may sound like a good thing, some IEMs are made to reach levels of up to 130 dB without distortion. These levels can permanently damage your hearing within seconds.
How do you know if you are being safe? Only one company offers a measurement tool for their IEMs to monitor listening levels while in the ear. If you don’t use this particular product (and even if you do):
-Set your monitor mix as low as comfortably possible.
-Get your hearing tested annually.
-Use hearing protection when exposed to loud sounds.