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MoJoKe

In Ear Monitors - help needed...

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Hi, I've done a quick search around here and can't find an exact response to this...

I am in a three piece band playing 60s music, we have been having real problems with monitoring for three part harmonies and need a solution fast!

Last night I borrowed "Nicknack"s (my nephew) Shure PSM-200. It wouldn't be over-egging the pudding to suggest was a bloody revelation. Even the guitarist commented on how much better we were all pitching now that at "least one of us could hear what we were doing!"

I have done some research (mostly on Thomann), and come up with three budget systems, as, until we are out 3-4 nights a week we don't have a great deal of money.

To get us all wireless with 1 x transmitter and 3 x receivers (I was using a pair of £20 sony headphones which allowed all the ambient "rest of the band" noise in, we just had vocals in the monitor mix, and it was bloody amazing. Like a duck to water.) it will cost circa:-

t.Bone IEM100 £380
LD Systems MEI 1000 £510
Shure PSM-200 £1130

so, the question is, does anyone have any experience of any of these systems? it stands to reason that the more you pay the better the quality... I completely get that, so, will we be kicking ourselves in a couple of months if we don't buy the Shure system?

Many thanks! Edited by MoJoKe

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Not used any of the systems you mention but looked at the Shure and T Bone when I was setting up my system. In the end I opted for an Audio Technica system (M2) which has been great.

What I can tell you from my experiences with this is that the most important factor is actually the monitors themselves, I tried cutting corners on that front and was horrified by the sound. I would honestly advise you to look at including a budget for a custom fit monitor with at least 3 drivers in them, I opted for ACS and they have been great.

I would recommend chatting to EBS Freak as he has just switched all off his band over to IEM's.

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So that'll be nearly £2k spent just on the ACS triple driver earpieces for the three of us then. Holy cow, that's not quite what I had in mind for a sensible entry level...! I really do appreciate your thoughts but we simply don't have that kind of budget yet.

I've spent over 35 years being a pro and semi pro bass player and fully understand the ears [i]must [/i]be protected (having failed at that so badly in the 80's!), but forgive me if I'm completely missing your point, it sounds like you're suggesting [i]Hifi [/i]is the most important consideration. I wouldn't argue the need to do the best you can, and "detail" is of course the holy grail, but surely the way to get into this is to choose the "system" first (unless you're suggesting its largely irrelevant) and afford the best earpieces you can, as and when?

Last night I could hear, at an incredibly sensible and safe low level (compared to on stage monitors), albeit in a different but easily audible frequency, all the vocal harmonies so that it was easy to perform and pitch correctly. Surely that's the point? On that basis I really don't [i]want [/i]every element of the band in the in-ears. With some reasonable earpieces which don't completely block out the outside world it should allow me to focus on the vocals and still hear what the drums/bass/guitar are doing?

I have no doubt that spending more on earpieces is definitely worthwhile (I haven't compromised on my home surround sound or studio nearfield monitors where I crave detail), but as a long time live performer I've never expected to hear exactly the same "experience" as my audience (while that'd be a great thing to achieve) surely there's a cost effective starting point? Also, at the moment we mix ourselves, from the stage, without the luxury of an engineer ensuring a perfect on-stage mix.

I'll certainly check out the Audio Technica M2, it looks to be in the same price range as the PSM 200? Whereabouts are you in the south west? I'm near Taunton, perhaps I could get to one of your gigs if I get time off for good behaviour!? Edited by MoJoKe

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I've used various systems, but I've always been hardwired rather than wireless. For an entry level system, some half decent earbuds and the t.bone system will do you. But you will very quickly start wanting the more expensive systems with better quality. Yes, good IEMs make a big difference, but you've got to respect the level of equipment you're looking for... if you just want an entry level one, t.bone all the way... at least for now.

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I am only giving you the benefit of my experience with this and for me I wanted to hear a good mix of the band and most importantly my bass in the mix whilst at the same time protecting my hearing by cutting out the loud stage sound etc.

The thing is that in order to protect your hearing 100% you need moulded monitors that fit your ear and create a complete seal to block out the rest of the noise, once you do this then I found that I wanted the best quality sound that I could get and the reality is that single or dual driver monitors just can't recreate bass cleanly and you end up with some pretty bad sounds. I do have to add hear though that the supplied buds with the AT system were actually a lot better than the entry level monitiors from ACS where you basically plug a single driver speaker into your existing ER15 moulds.

I am not convinced that you will be able long term to live with a mix of vocals in both ears and with just a small amount of band mix coming from what they let in down the sides if you see what I mean! Like McGraham says T.bone will work and I also share the opinion that too much money can be wasted on the wireless system itself they all pretty much do the same thing so go for the system and then if you think it is the way forward then do yourself a favour and invest in the best monitors that can.

Just as a reference, we used to rehearse in our old drummers studio which has a full desk etc and you could create your own mix of the rest of the band and I can honestly tell you that once we set that up I never went back to listening to rehearsals accoustically as they sounded so bad in comparison! With decent monitors we had a CD quality in our ears and my bass never sounded better too which was a bonus.

Carrying on this theme - the new drummer has no such equipment and as a result at moment the IEM's are not getting any use which is a nightmare!!

Hope some of that may help!

[quote name='MoJoKe' timestamp='1366501771' post='2053371']
So that'll be nearly £2k spent just on the ACS triple driver earpieces for the three of us then. Holy cow, that's not quite what I had in mind for a sensible entry level...! I really do appreciate your thoughts but we simply don't have that kind of budget yet.

I've spent over 35 years being a pro and semi pro bass player and fully understand the ears [i]must [/i]be protected (having failed at that so badly in the 80's!), but forgive me if I'm completely missing your point, it sounds like you're suggesting [i]Hifi [/i]is the most important consideration. I wouldn't argue the need to do the best you can, and "detail" is of course the holy grail, but surely the way to get into this is to choose the "system" first (unless you're suggesting its largely irrelevant) and afford the best earpieces you can, as and when?

Last night I could hear, at an incredibly sensible and safe low level (compared to on stage monitors), albeit in a different but easily audible frequency, all the vocal harmonies so that it was easy to perform and pitch correctly. Surely that's the point? On that basis I really don't [i]want [/i]every element of the band in the in-ears. With some reasonable earpieces which don't completely block out the outside world it should allow me to focus on the vocals and still hear what the drums/bass/guitar are doing?

I have no doubt that spending more on earpieces is definitely worthwhile (I haven't compromised on my home surround sound or studio nearfield monitors where I crave detail), but as a long time live performer I've never expected to hear exactly the same "experience" as my audience (while that'd be a great thing to achieve) surely there's a cost effective starting point? Also, at the moment we mix ourselves, from the stage, without the luxury of an engineer ensuring a perfect on-stage mix.

I'll certainly check out the Audio Technica M2, it looks to be in the same price range as the PSM 200? Whereabouts are you in the south west? I'm near Taunton, perhaps I could get to one of your gigs if I get time off for good behaviour!?
[/quote]

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Hi,

I use the [color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]LD Systems MEI 1000 with Shure SE535 ear buds.[/font][/color]
[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]The LD Systems transmitter and receiver are excellent in my opinion, never had a drop out or any interference. They have plenty of power (especially with the Shure buds) and good dynamic range. [/font][/color]

[font="helvetica, arial, sans-serif"][color="#282828"]There are a few reasons I use the Shure buds over the ones that came with the LD. I found the LD buds uncomfortable, they distorted the bass, the left bud seemed to "rattle" even with no input. Saying that, I used them successfully for a few gigs before shelling out on the Shures.[/color][/font]

[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]I have a full mix of the band in my ears with my bass and vocals prominent in the mix (we have invested in an X32 with P16M personal monitor mixers). Relying on just vocals wouldn't work for me as I'd struggle to hear everything else, especially with the Shures which are very effective at cancelling background sound.[/font][/color]

[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Hope this helps.[/font][/color]

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"I am only giving you the benefit of my experience with this"

I sincerely hope you didn't think I was being critical of your response, far from it! I am so grateful for your, and everyone else's feedback (freudian slip!) as there is precious little info elsewhere!

I suspect from the my further thoughts and reaction of the other band members we'll start with LD or the tBone with some midrange earpieces and take it from there...

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I used to use a Trantec system with a previous band (and they still use it). IIRC it cost about £500 for the transmitter and 2 belt-pack receivers. My comments:

(1) The supplied earphones were complete Barry White. We bought M-Audio earphones at about £70 per pair - brilliant sound, slightly uncomfortable fit.
(2) Get some extra-high capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries that will see you through your sets, keep Alkalines for spares.

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Hi, I see my name was cited above so I suppose I better step in and say something although I have to say, my rig is touring grade so it may not suit everybody's budget - but needless to say, some of my experiences may be able to help you.

I will state what I use and how I got there... and also comment on other things that I have found out along the way. Hope it helps and of course, feel free to ask me any questions - I'll help where I can.

OK, here is the setup I use in my function outfit (ranges from 5-13 in size)

IEMs, I use ACS T1 Lives. ([url="http://www.acscustom.com/"]www.acscustom.com[/url])
Monitor system I use the Shure PSM900
Desk I use Allen and Heath GLD80

The ACS monitors are a triple driver unit with an ambient mic option (not released yet - but allows the signal from inbuilt mic in the ear pieces to be blended with the incoming in ears mix to reduce the feeling of isolation that some people complain about using in ears. For example, the best in ears should have as close to as perfect isolation as possible - but this means you get the situation where you move around the stage and say, move closer to the drums but they don't get louder... or if people come to talk into your ear, you can't hear them. I can't comment on how good it is at this stage but I am interested in trying one out. Hopefully I'll be able to use them as fine tunable earplugs!).

After doing a lot, a lot, alot of research, I plumped for the ACS for a number of reasons. The primary one is for comfort. Most IEMs are acrylic which can be quite fatiguing on the flesh of your ears, ACS are silicon so move with the movement of your ears. On top of this, it's actually quite difficult (due to the custom nature of the product) to road test but the big gotcha seems to be the assumption that the more drivers in your ears, the better it sounds. To some extent this is true but it doesn't hold all the way up to the 8 and 9 driver models that some of the competition are churning out.

I went to ACS to talk to them at length and wasn't given the hard sell - they wanted to know exactly what I would use it for and I ended up with the T1s for the extended bass response. For example, they said that alot of singer actually like the T2s because of the way the voice sits in the mix. I really liked the honesty and the experience there... and to top it off, they sound amazing. The first thing I did was listen to my favourite reference tracks and they really do show up all the detail... to the point where some tracks do reveal the slight little imperfections.

Anyway, the key thing for bass players, is the depth of the tubing on the in ears - the further you can get the tube into your skull, the better the isolation and bass response. ACS appear to be better as the softer tube which goes deeper into your ears is good at reducing the coupling between the sound and your skull. (You know when you put your finger in your ear and then speak you can hear your voice being pulled towards that side of your head - that doesn't happen with the ACS monitors).

Sound isolating headphones will get you some of the way but from all the ones that I have tried, you will always comprimise on the bass response - and boosting the low end eq (if you can, more on this later) - only seems to wreck the sound, add distortion and kill your drivers.

With IEMs, it really is, you get what you pay for.

OK - the units. I've gigged a fair few - these are the latest I've tried out.

The Shure PSM900 really is the mutts nuts. It's also really expensive and when running on channel 38 will cost you a license to run. It's transmitting range is absolutely ridiculous and above all, crystal clear. Stereo loveliness! No intereference whatsoever and the sound quality is near enough damn it the same as a wired system.

Can't really say a great deal more about it - it just works, perfectly, every time without fail. Crystal clear, no hiss, buzz, rf interference, nothing. To all intents and purposes, it's as good as wire but without a wire.

I've also run PSM200s which are a league apart from the PSM900s. They are mono but also are prone to RF intereference. There have been some gigs where they can't be used because there is no clean space to enable a clean(ish)_signal. I say cleanish because there is always a hint of "radioness" about it. The fuzz, slight drop out, odd bits of distortion with are experienced with large transients - especially when the limiter kicks in. Also, the PSM200 seems really funny about hot signals... I've had to use an inline XLR attenuator to cut the distortion out of these units.

Senn EW300s - pretty much the competition to the PSM900. No complaints. I would be happy with this system alongside the PSM900. The main reason I didn't keep with this system is down to the lack of a removable aerial on a transmitter pack. I would be bummed to think there is a costly repair if the aerial got damaged. The Shure enables you to screw in a new one in seconds.

Audio Technica M3s (M2s with more selectable frequencies, a prettier interface and better aerials) - pretty good but the inbuilt limiter is not as pleasing as the EW300s or the PSM900. Lots of frequencies to choose from but we have had the odd venue (very occassional) where the unit found it difficult to get a signal clear of RF interference (but not to the point where you would consider not using them). The sound quality is a little more harsh than the EW300 and PSM900 also.

There is definately a noticable difference in the sound quality between the M3s, the PSM200 and the EW300 and PSM900. They are stereo though and bridge the gap between the PSM200 and the big boys in all aspects - e.g. sound quality, RF performance, build quality... but they still don't perform quite as good as the EW300 and PSM900.

A good desk is pretty much critical to the icing on the cake of your IEM solution.

The GLD80 can give me up to 20 dedicated mono auxes or 10 stereo auxes... or a combination of mono and stereo. The compressor on the desk is a far superior limiter to the ones built into the packs - so the band's packs run with no limiters and the desk takes care of the soft knee compression/brick wall limiting to protect the ears of everybody in the band.

The desk enables each user to have their own monitor mix to completely tailor their sound... and with each monitor mix, users can run a completely dry mix or reverb/gate/compress/eq each channel in their mix as well as EQ the final mix that goes to their ears. All very, very powerful stuff. So yes, I can get a completely mastered signal into my ears which is completely to my taste and completely different to FOH. Running a dry mix certainly feels very primative now in comparison. All of this is controllable via iPad too so I can mix on the fly mid set. Yes, it's a very expensive setup... but it certainly as good as it gets.

We could even free up all those auxes by runing the A&H ME system. Astonishingly good - similar to the Behringer system mentioned above or Aviom.

If you want to look at upgrading your desk to get somewhere near this functionality, there is the Behringer X32... or if 16 channels will do you, wait for the Allen and Heath QU16...Street price is about 1700 so just short of 500 quid cheaper than the Behringer... but obvs without the channel count.

Understanding that not everbody is going to be dropping the sort of money on a desk like that, I would have to say, if you are looking to do IEM systems on a budget... don't. Get some really good ear plugs instead - especially if you are looking at going radio. You won't be happy with the performance out of poor earbuds and a poor radio system. You'll end up struggling even with a localised mix.

100% I would invest my money into the IEMs you put in your ears (ideally molded, the best you can afford) and run a wired system unless you want to spend the money on the top end stuff. You won't get the problems associated with RF drop out and poor sounding systems.

I've had people report that their budget radio in ears sound amazing... then they try the PSM900s and somewhat rethink their definition of amazing. Something like the Fischer headphone amp is what I'd look at with a limited budget (important that it has a built in limiter! - especially if you are running off a desk with just an aux send on a rotary because you have no control on compression or eq!). Invest all you money in the monitors alongside a wired solution and it's going to sound as best as it can.

Unless you are running a wireless bass or a standalone singer, you aren't going to gain much by running a wireless monitor system (just don't forget to unplug yourself when you have taken your bass off and are walking off the stage!). You may think it's a pain - but it's quite easy to run up a stereo cable up to your bass and splitter it off into the belt pack or cable tie two cables together (one to your belt pack, one to your bass). Trust me... IEMS to a tight budget, this is the best way of doing it.

I love my IEMs, I can't imagine life without them now. Whistle free ears, CD quality monitoring. No stuggling to hear. It's an absolute dream... and if you are a singer... well, I can see why singers love them. Being able to hear yourself really clear means pitching is so much easier.

Oh - and in terms of batteries, I can get 5-6 hours approx out of the PSM900... Either stock up on Procells... or get some Eneloops. They can be charged days before the gig and they will hold their charge no problem... and they last nearly near enough as damn it as their non rechargable counterparts.

Any other problems, give me a shout. I've probably been there, done that. Hope this helps. Edited by EBS_freak

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[quote name='urb' timestamp='1366633045' post='2055095']
ACS are the best... end of
[/quote]

I don't know if I'd go quite as far as that... but they are good at what they have set out to achieve... Just wish they'd hurry up with their ambient processor! :P

Just as a response to the OP - make sure you have enough *pre* send auxes to run as many mixes as you need. For example, for 3 mono monitor mixes, you'd need 3 aux sends, 6 if stereo. There's not many small desks with a high aux count - most will only have 2 or 3... Even touring grade analogue desks have typically 6-8... and they are gernerally the size of a car.

It's only when you get to the digital realm does your bus count start to go through the roof whilst retaining a small footprint. Edited by EBS_freak

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A year ago I was in a 70k a year day job and, having been a pro player for most of the 80's, music had reverted to a hobby and I would have been perfectly happy to spend out on touring quality equipment. This year has seen a major life change, where I now no longer have a reliable job, and my 3 piece 60's band will, hopefully in the next 6 months be my main income, and I would hope that it will fund much better equipment! In the meantime I must start somewhere, to improve the monitoring!

I really [i]do [/i]appreciate all the help here guys, and [i]do [/i]get it! I can definitely see a way forward now, and certainly planning to aspire to a new digital desk, ACS and PSM900 grade gear as soon as the budget allows!

I am certainly interested in the forthcoming A&H desk, as this band will manage perfectly with 16 channels... I'll keep an eye out!

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Completely understand where you are coming from, it's a huge investment and one that I was very wary of taking myself. I had put it off for a while but my comfort on stage and tinitus was getting worse and I had to do something about it before things got really bad.

To put it into context, I have a 1u rack with my guitar and iem wireless systems in. With the headphones, that's 3k worth of gear. That's a substantial investment but the key bit I wanted to get across is the bits in the ear are the singularly most important thing to getting a good sound to your ears on stage. I thought a set of headphones were near enough damn it the same to the next one... I quickly learnt that live audio is actually really demanding for a set of headphones to reproduce reliably... and the key bit is being able to get it into your lugs. No point in getting the signal to just before your ears if it fails at the last hurdle. The thing is, that last hurdle is the hardest thing to beat. A wired solution direct from the desk is going to get you the source to you ears as good as all the top end wireless systems but at a fraction of the cost.

Alot of people seem to focus on the radio aspect of an IEM system - and in reality, unless you really need the wireless function, it's the least important bit. A wired connection as stated earlier is going to beat all other solutions. Without trying to undermine the cheaper units, you do notice a big difference in the RF performance and limiters - even though the PSM900 limiter is really, really good, the extra tweakable control from the A&H desk still knocks it into touch. I've noticed that RF at big events can be a real issue... but even at the most remote venues, I've had RF issues with the gear not on channel 38. It's really weird. Most of the time things are OK... but, well you know. Luck of the draw.

The only reason I have all this stuff is because it is paying for itself on the gigs that we have got coming in and to safeguard my bad ear... and of course the comfort factor when you are doing the number of gigs is really a bonus. The days of difficult on stage sounds have gone, I can play at much lower volumes despite the backline pushing it out like billy-o in some stages... you get it... It's just really, really comfortable and enables you to get on with your playing rather than struggling to hear cues from others etc.

That new A&H really kicks ass and offers an incredible amount of functionality in a really portable package. Hopefully things work out for you man because once you have this kind of setup, it'll transform everything. Seriously. I can't recommend it enough. I would defo say save up for it in stages because as they say, buy cheap, buy twice - as proven by Gunsfreddy who went through a whole chain of events getting the final bit - the IEM bit, right. I'm sure he'll back me up in saying it's the most important component of the setup. Edited by EBS_freak

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100% agree - what goes into your ears makes IEM either a very enjoyable experience or a complete pain in the arse!

I tried cutting the corners and it cost me more in the long run. Just wish I was using mine now, uh oh I can feel a desk purchase coming on. :)

[quote name='EBS_freak' timestamp='1366653355' post='2055544']
Completely understand where you are coming from, it's a huge investment and one that I was very wary of taking myself. I had put it off for a while but my comfort on stage and tinitus was getting worse and I had to do something about it before things got really bad.

To put it into context, I have a 1u rack with my guitar and iem wireless systems in. With the headphones, that's 3k worth of gear. That's a substantial investment but the key bit I wanted to get across is the bits in the ear are the singularly most important thing to getting a good sound to your ears on stage. I thought a set of headphones were near enough damn it the same to the next one... I quickly learnt that live audio is actually really demanding for a set of headphones to reproduce reliably... and the key bit is being able to get it into your lugs. No point in getting the signal to just before your ears if it fails at the last hurdle. The thing is, that last hurdle is the hardest thing to beat. A wired solution direct from the desk is going to get you the source to you ears as good as all the top end wireless systems but at a fraction of the cost.

Alot of people seem to focus on the radio aspect of an IEM system - and in reality, unless you really need the wireless function, it's the least important bit. A wired connection as stated earlier is going to beat all other solutions. Without trying to undermine the cheaper units, you do notice a big difference in the RF performance and limiters - even though the PSM900 limiter is really, really good, the extra tweakable control from the A&H desk still knocks it into touch. I've noticed that RF at big events can be a real issue... but even at the most remote venues, I've had RF issues with the gear not on channel 38. It's really weird. Most of the time things are OK... but, well you know. Luck of the drawer.

The only reason I have all this stuff is because it is paying for itself on the gigs that we have got coming in and to safeguard my bad ear... and of course the comfort factor when you are doing the number of gigs is really a bonus. The days of difficult on stage sounds have gone, I can play at much lower volumes despite the backline pushing it out like billy-o in some stages... you get it... It's just really, really comfortable and enables you to get on with your playing rather than struggling to hear cues from others etc.

That new A&H really kicks ass and offers and incredible amount of functionality in a really portable package. Hopefully things work out for you man because once you have this kind of setup, it'll transform everything. Seriously. I can't recommend it enough. I would defo say save up for it in stages because as they say, buy cheap, buy twice - as proven by Gunsfreddy who went through a whole chain of events getting the final bit - the IEM bit, right. I'm sure he'll back me up in saying it's the most important component of the setup.
[/quote]

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[quote name='Gunsfreddy2003' timestamp='1366702234' post='2056031']
100% agree - what goes into your ears makes IEM either a very enjoyable experience or a complete pain in the arse!

I tried cutting the corners and it cost me more in the long run. Just wish I was using mine now, uh oh I can feel a desk purchase coming on. :)
[/quote]

Ha ha - do it! Digital desks are really one of the most exciting developing products at the moment - there are no bad desks out there. There's a hefty battle going on in the prosumer market between Behringer x32 (this has really shaken up the market for it's functions and price and now appears on a lot of pro hire lists - in fact, the only downpoint seems to be the brandname but touchwood, it seems to be holding up OK), Presonus Studiolive (these were the guys that really shook the market with their feature rich desks - and they've just released a 32 channel version at NAMM (which the Presonus fans have been looking forward to for years!)), Soundcraft Sis, the Yamahas and now Allen and Heath with their entry level (but seriously specced QU16 - undercutting the X32 is a smart move, it puts people in that tricky situation... "Allen and Heath" or the channel count of the Behringer). Of course, we've also got the likes of Mackie and Line6 doing their own take on Digital desks also (if Mackie did a 32 channel version of their iPad mixer, I'm convinced they would corner the weekend warrior market). Very exciting times - and it means that even bands used to running straight into a desk with no outboard and maybe just applying a little onboard reverb to the final mix find themselves having the option of running compressors, more powerful eq per channel, inbuilt 31 channel eq across any output etc without actually carrying any more gear (and in lot of cases digital desks are a lot lighter and compact then their analogue counterparts due to the layers instead of individual sliders for each channel). Immediately the sound is going to tighten up - you'll be able to really get the most out of that SM58 thrown into the bass drum (in fact, once you hear what these desks can do, the drummer will be out buying dedicated drum mics) - and the battling with feedback is a lot easier. With the high aux count and digital monitoring options, the trend of wedges will eventually go to in-ears, especially as prices continue to fall... (except for the touring grade stuff which seems to still be going up in price - grr! - although to be fair, it's down to the inclusion of features that are great for massive gigs but wouldn't get a look in usually... e.g. the remote network control of the units, Dante... etc)

I am tempted to fit a Dante card to my desk just to open up the possibility of high channel count in-out recording (I think Dante supports up to 128in out over a standard cat5 cable into your computers rj45 port) however I'm waiting to see if the firmware update for the GLD80 will support multichannel direct to USB like the QU16. OK, it's not got the channel count or functionality of the Dante card but its a start and would give me an indication of how much I'd use it. As for Dante, have a look at the A&H iLive system built for the Camryn tour on YouTube - it'll blow your mind.

I have been having a series of conversations about digital desks with another member on here and when you cost up say, a 32 channel analogue desk with all the outboard (that you find embedded on digital desks) you will soon see digital is a steal in comparison... and a lot more compact. You only have to see the horrific low resale prices of large analogue desks on eBay to see where the industry is going.

There are however, some things to think about when running digital desks. People always seem to ask why digital IEM radio packs don't seem to be very popular. Well, the answer is pretty simple - latency. OK, you do get percieved latency from a wedge running off an analogue desk - but it's a lot different when the monitor mix is being plugged straight into your ear, especially if you are a singer. As soon as you start increasing latency into your signal chain, then the delay can cause you problems (have you ever tried talking against yourself when you hear a delay on the phone? It confuses your brain and will make you stumble). Ideally, for you to use IEMs off a digital desk, you want a monitor signal to be 5ms or better (some people can cope with larger latency figures though). So, as an example, if you are using a digital radio mic with say a latency of 2.5ms (this is top end figures), the desk introduces say, a 2ms delay in it's DAC conversion... and then if you were to use a digital monitoring system with say a 2.5ms (optimisitic!) delay, you can see you are beginning to get past the limits. I can't see digital IEMs being used in the pro scene whilst latency figures are riding this high.... so there you go, thats why digitial IEM systems haven't bit yet! I have to laugh when you read on the Line6 forums about guys pushing them to release a digital monitoring system - especially when the latency figures that Line6 are getting on their wireless mics aren't really representative of the latency figures that you get before going to the desk (I'd have to look again but I seem to recall them quoting latency for each pack - which of course you would effectively double as you go through the transmitter phase and the receiver phase). Having said all of that, there is no real world problem with latency... running digital mics, transmitters on your bass etc... is not going going to give you any problems whatsoever - in fact, I would defy anybody to notice any difference when on stage... it's only when the monitor source ends up directly in your ears. If you are used to using wedges, using wedges with a digital system is not going to introduce any real world noticable difference... in reality, it's like taking half a step backwards away from the monitor.

I think the market is more concerned on the source transmission at the moment... and especially trying to factor in the encryption element whilst keeping the latency figures low. Only Sony and Shure seem to have nailed it with the DWZ and ULX-D systems. I have both. They are simply amazing.

I was also thinking last night how cheap you could get an IEM solution for should you have the right desk... and I have used this system so can confirm it works. The drummer in my band has used a small Behringer mixing desk (the sort of thing you could pick off eBay for twenty quid) taking an XLR feed from my A&H aux and plugged his headphones into that. A simple headphone amp for little money - of course (and crucially!) the limiter is implemented on the desk. Edited by EBS_freak

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My 2p worth of experience/advice.

I play in a 4 piece covers band - weddings, clubs, parties, weekend warrior kinda thing. We started out using wedges but it's not really practical to carry all that gear so some of us have adopted IEMs.

I agree with the idea that the biggest contributor to the sound quality is going to be the buds, but I disagree that you need custom fit, triple driver system to get a consistently usable solution.

First, the IEM systems...

The t-bones are great for the price. Our singer uses one of these and I've used them too in the past and they're fine. They are a little shy on bottom end bass response however - not catastrophically so, but depending on your preference, maybe not acceptable either.

The Shure PSM-400 and Sennheiser G2 systems I have used both provide a much richer low end and given the choice between these or t-bone I would try to stretch for a second hand set of either ahead of the t-bone but I'd weight my budget towards the phones moreso than the system.

The monitors/phones/buds...

If you can afford the custom fit jobs, absolutely go for it. If not, I've quite happily used a set of Shure E3c and when they got nicked a set of Shure SCL3s. I wear them with the yellow foam tops which provide a decent seal in your ear canal, which is one of the secrets to good low end reproduction with IEM use. These (and I believe most of the Shure phones) are intended to be worn with the the cable running over the ear to help them stay in place and maintain that seal. These foam tips also cut outside noise by about 40dB so provide excellent hearing protection.

That being said, I have a set of iBeats which I use on my phone and I tried them on my IEM system once and the difference was astonishing. The bass response was massive. Unfortunately they don't stay in place very well so not ideal for stage use, but if they could, I'd be wearing them. It'd be interesting to know how much the difference in bass response is down to the specific design of the iBeats and how much is simply a product of the advances in technology since the Shures were designed (6+ years ago).

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[quote name='P-T-P' timestamp='1367838511' post='2069988']
My 2p worth of experience/advice....
[/quote]

I really appreciate your feedback. Our guitarist has just bought a new LD MEI1000 from ebay. It arrived yesterday and he says he is happy enough with it to have rack mounted it in the PA rack already. He says the earbuds are a bit tinny, but going by all said here, that was to be expected!

We discussed the relative merit of the "budget" options, and decided the MEI 1000 was worth a punt over the t.Bone because it has a switchable stereo option - as we only have 2 aux's at the moment this will allow us to have backline/drums in one channel and all vocals in the other, so each band member will be able to blend the band/vocals to suit until we have more money!

So, we have a rehearsal on Wednesday, I shall check out for myself, and if also happy I will invest in a receiver and a pair of earbuds. Going with the masses of great advice here, these will not be the cheapest; I'm thinking Shure 315's... does anyone have experience of these?

Hopefully by the end of the month having given them 4-5 gigs trial, I will at least initially be able to concur with P-T-P, with the ultimate intention of joining the in-ear elites in the not too distant future!!


PS. regarding the iBeats, this was exactly the issue I had with my Sony ones. Reasonable sound, but kept dislodging. I ended up attaching the cable to the back of the collar of my shirt with a paperclip in an interval! Edited by MoJoKe

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[quote name='P-T-P' timestamp='1367838511' post='2069988']
I agree with the idea that the biggest contributor to the sound quality is going to be the buds, but I disagree that you need custom fit, triple driver system to get a consistently usable solution.
[/quote]

Agreed - I mentioned above that more drivers does not equal a better sound. Gunsfreddy was talking about ACS specifically on that one and he told me that in his experience the AT buds that he got with the unit developed more bass than the T2s. Audio apart, the biggest benefit for me and ACS is the fit - they dont cause me any irritation at all and are very comfortable in my ear and as an addition, the attenuation that they provide. I have yet to find any buds that give anywhere near the same amount. What this latter point means is lower in ear volume = less danger to your ears.

[quote]
First, the IEM systems...

The t-bones are great for the price. Our singer uses one of these and I've used them too in the past and they're fine. They are a little shy on bottom end bass response however - not catastrophically so, but depending on your preference, maybe not acceptable either.
[/quote]

I would love to try a T-Bone system to get an idea of how they sound. The lack of bass doesn't surprise me as the compounding issue common to IEM systems is unlikely to be as fine tuned as the higher end systems. I know for example, that Shure have invested a lot of times fine tuning their compounder - especially in their top end stuff - and the difference between the PSM200 and PSM900 is night and day - as you would hope given the difference in their cost.

[quote]
The monitors/phones/buds...

If you can afford the custom fit jobs, absolutely go for it. If not, I've quite happily used a set of Shure E3c and when they got nicked a set of Shure SCL3s. I wear them with the yellow foam tops which provide a decent seal in your ear canal, which is one of the secrets to good low end reproduction with IEM use. These (and I believe most of the Shure phones) are intended to be worn with the the cable running over the ear to help them stay in place and maintain that seal. These foam tips also cut outside noise by about 40dB so provide excellent hearing protection.
[/quote]

What sort of dirty m***er nicks in ear headphones? Anyway, yes, agree - best bass response comes from getting the buds as deep as you can in your ear and getting a good seal. Over the ear cable paths can be troublesome for some - if they haven't come with cable guides, they are a worthwhile investment. You can find them for about a fiver a pair.

[quote]
That being said, I have a set of iBeats which I use on my phone and I tried them on my IEM system once and the difference was astonishing. The bass response was massive. Unfortunately they don't stay in place very well so not ideal for stage use, but if they could, I'd be wearing them. It'd be interesting to know how much the difference in bass response is down to the specific design of the iBeats and how much is simply a product of the advances in technology since the Shures were designed (6+ years ago).
[/quote]

iBeats are voiced bass with a heavy bass bias... which is not so good for the audiophile... but may be perfect for us bass players wanting a nice big deep end in their IEM mix. I am guessing Shure are trying to get a less hyped bass response and are going for a more even, flat response with their headphones.

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[quote name='MoJoKe' timestamp='1367858005' post='2070301']
I really appreciate your feedback. Our guitarist has just bought a new LD MEI1000 from ebay. It arrived yesterday and he says he is happy enough with it to have rack mounted it in the PA rack already. He says the earbuds are a bit tinny, but going by all said here, that was to be expected!
[/quote]

Could be the system - the PSM200s for example, sound really tinny compared to the PSM900s (that's my experience when running the systems through the same pair of T1 buds anyway) - you can can run an eq in line though and that helps to beef it up.

[quote]
We discussed the relative merit of the "budget" options, and decided the MEI 1000 was worth a punt over the t.Bone because it has a switchable stereo option - as we only have 2 aux's at the moment this will allow us to have backline/drums in one channel and all vocals in the other, so each band member will be able to blend the band/vocals to suit until we have more money!
[/quote]

Good call - works well as long as you can all agree on a mix. One of the big IM positives for me is that you can run an unbalanced mix though - I like having loads of bass and loads of my own vocal in the mix. Singing with a mix like that is a breeze as you can tell when you are out instantly and adjust appropriately.

[quote]
So, we have a rehearsal on Wednesday, I shall check out for myself, and if also happy I will invest in a receiver and a pair of earbuds. Going with the masses of great advice here, these will not be the cheapest; I'm thinking Shure 315's... does anyone have experience of these?
[/quote]

Cool - let us know how you get on. No experience of the Shures I am afraid though... but if they do sound great, you have the option of getting them inset into a molded slip from ACS to get the ultimate attenuation you may be looking for down the line. [url="http://www.hearingprotection.co.uk/images/ACS-Custom-Earphones.pdf"]http://www.hearingprotection.co.uk/images/ACS-Custom-Earphones.pdf[/url]

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[quote name='EBS_freak' timestamp='1367923912' post='2070992']
Cool - let us know how you get on.
[/quote]

Of course I will, many thanks for all your help! Also, the guys have very willingly taken on board the other things we discussed, so thank you for that, and I'll update you on that too!!

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OK, my Shure SE315's arrived today. I've unpacked and chosen my favourite sleeves. I've just done a "studio" (well, listening to spotify on the mac, through my Yamaha 01X desk, anyway!) test, comparing my previously used Sony buds and the new Shure ones....

OK, I get it! nuff said!

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shure earphones are great i have a pair of 215's as backup to my moulds never had a problem and yeh its like night and day moving from wedges to in ears

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