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For the first time in a long time, I haven’t got an imminent gig, or studio session, so, am taking the opportunity to list a load of kit with a view to change my setup. Am offering loads of bits on here, before I put things on eBay. Sales preferred, may listen to trade offers. Pictures to follow/on request. Shipping not a problem.
AKG C1000 x2 (Matched Pair) - £100
RRP - £85 each
Fairly standard mics that I’ve always got good results from. A matched pair from AKG, complete with clips (one original, one not).
Tascam Drum Mic Set - £75
RRP - £150
Decent set of drum mics - used once. Kick, 2 x overhead and a snare mic.
Thomann Beta 56 Copy (CD56) - £25
RRP - £34
Very good mic for the money.
Thomann Beta 87 Copy (MB78) - £30
Very good mic for the money, used but, excellent condition.
Shure PG27 - £90
RRP - £170
Really nice, large Diaphragm Condenser mic - not the USB version.
Gator Mic Hard Case - £60
RRP - £150
Great condition - just used to store mics in my studio.
Gator Mixerbag 2519 - £35
RRP - £50
As new condition - used to move a desk around for gigs since the summer.
Gator Bag 1818 - £20
RRP - £35
2 of these - one newer design, and one older, all great, used condition; good for heads/leads.
Samson S-Phone 4 Headphone Amp - £50
Decent Headphone amp - pretty standard, with nice level meters and options… 4 channels, blendable with a master input.
Auralex Gramma Pad - £35
RRP - £60
Great piece of kit for gigging bassists, and dealing with tricky stages
FAME DC Junior Effect Pedal PSU - £25
RRP - £45
6 x Isolated outputs for FX pedals
Alto TX208 Monitor - £60
RRP - £90
Insane monitor for the size/price!
Nordel Audio Vocal Booth/Reflection Filter - £40
RRP - £70
Really nice Vocal Filter - folds for storage.
Boschma 4U Rack Case - £40
RRP - £80
Shockproof rackcase, great condition and very sturdy.
Having recently been interested in entering the murky world of in-ear monitoring I consulted IEM guru @EBS_freak of this parish and, on his recommendation, purchased this fantastic IEM system. Budget price, but excellent performance in a great package.
I've only used it approx 5 times (!) and I'm only selling it on as I've been fully converted to the IEM cause and since been offered an expensive high-end Sennheiser G4 system at a bargain price.
All present and complete in its carry case with:
Transmitter & Aerial
This operates on the license-free UK channel and was £225 new but I'm asking just £150 posted (UK)! Get yourself a set of the fabulous 'KZ' 5-driver earphones for under £40 and you're laughing! A great way to enter the world of IEMs for under £200, rather than laying out £1k+
Payment by Paypal (you pay fees), direct bank transfer or cash on collection from Woking/Guildford area.
Please see my extensive positive feedback thread for assurance of a clean, honest transaction.
Lots of positive chat abut this system on this very site too:
*NOW ON HOLD*
WELCOME TO THE IEM BIBLE! - a beginner's guide to IEMs.
After a recommendation to me, I decided that I would start a new thread that is born out of the old super thread at : https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/205633-in-ear-monitors-help-needed/
That thread contains a whole wealth of information – however, over time it has naturally become quite fragmented or lost when the Basschat migration happened, a lot of information has been superseded and of course, recommendations change. This thread, I'll summarise everything and try and keep all the important stuff in the first few posts of the thread. I'll do a few posts on IEMs, hardware, radio, tips etc.. and build it up from there and keep chopping and changing stuff in the main posts as it happens - SO PLEASE DON'T QUOTE THE MAIN POSTS AS THE INFORMATION MAY GET CHANGED AND REFINED OVER TIME - thanks
What I’ll do, is try and keep this opening posts updated with all the relevant bits and try and tie any bits of interest to posts in the other thread. This should make it easier for people looking to quickly digest information around IEMs than reading the other thread and no doubt bailing out before getting what they need out of it. I'll try and keep it at a fairly high level to make things easy to consume for the complete starter... so let me know if things aren't clear and I can refine them.
So, without further ado.
1. IEMS (this post)
2. Wireless vs Radio (https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/389429-the-iem-bible-thread/?do=findComment&comment=3944326)
3. The source (e.g. your mixing desk) (https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/389429-the-iem-bible-thread/?do=findComment&comment=3944327)
4. Haptic feedback for the feeling of "big air" https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/389429-the-iem-bible-thread/?do=findComment&comment=3944328
5. Integrating a monitor solution with other house systems https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/389429-the-iem-bible-thread/?do=findComment&comment=3944330
6. Concerned about "spikes"? - what about limiters? https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/389429-the-iem-bible-thread/?do=findComment&comment=3944331
OK, so you are here probably because you are interested in finding out more about IEMs or have decided to purchase some and are looking for additional information.
1.1 WHAT ARE IEMS?
IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) are basically a set of earphones that are intended to replace the traditional monitor wedge. They tend to range from single driver (single speaker) through to multiple driver units and can be either referred to as a generic/universal fit or a custom fit. As the name would suggest, generic/universal fits are intended to be able to used by everybody, independent of their ear shape, whereas the latter is an earpiece that has been crafted to fit an individual’s ears perfectly (and hence cannot be shared between users).
1.2 WHY USE IEMS?
Like traditional monitor wedges, IEMs are intended to provide a musician with a monitor mix that can be tailored to their individual needs. Unlike monitor wedges, as you move around the stage, the sound doesn’t change. (e.g. standing off axis to a monitor wedge, or perhaps moving around the stage and standing in front of an amp’s cab or the drum kit can significantly impact how well you can hear what is coming from that monitor). Additionally, you can run more complex stereo mixes, which can’t be replicated anywhere near as well using wedges. This is particularly good if you are running lots of vocals or stereo instruments where panning the signal can help with the perception of width and stereo position of instruments and vocals. For example, being able to place vocals to the left and right of the central position can help with pitching and clarity in the monitor mix.
IEMs are a safer way (if you run the volumes sensibly) to protect your ears. Like earplugs, IEMs significantly reduce the SPL of the sound entering your ears from the stage. With that ambient volume reduced, a monitor feed can be fed into your ears at a safe volume resulting in a clear mix, delivered at a safe volume. Running IEMs at a safe volume means you can kiss goodbye to post gig ringing ears – which in turn to lead to chronic tinnitus (for which there is no cure).
By removing wedges from the performance area means that you can achieve a significantly higher level of gain before feedback. Less sound on stage means a reduced chance of sound from the monitor wedges entering open mics and causing the feedback loops that we all hate. Cleaner sounds onstage (or even a silent stage) can make your sound engineer happy and ultimately, your band will sound a lot better out front for it.
When running a band on IEMs, you tend to close mic what you want to hear (hence taking the room out of the equation) and the monitor mixes tend to stay pretty similar from gig to gig – leading to quicker setup times and a more consistent and familiar sound in your ears.
IEMs are cool. Turning up to a gig with IEMs make it look like you know what you are doing… even if you don’t. What is also cool, is that unlike the rock n roll dinosaurs, you’ll still be able to hear in your advanced years. Another big plus - even if you aren't a confident singer, a set of IEMs will mean you can hear your vocals - and everybody else's vocals a lot clearer. Your ability to sing and tune with other vocalists will no doubt improve significantly - they really are a bit of a secret weapon on that front!
Here's the thing though - IEMs can be expensive, especially if you go down the custom route. When considering IEMs, I always ask people to think like this - consider buying a wedge. What's the cost of a decent wedge than can cope with a bit of bass? Well, you're looking at circa £300. No buy two so you have one for each ear. Now look at a set of custom ear plugs - they are about £100. So in essence, a non portable version of CIEMs that don't sound as good comes in at £700. Now those ultra portable customs aren't looking quite as expensive as you first thought...
1.3 NUMBER OF DRIVERS… and DRIVER TYPE?
IEMs tend to be made up of drivers, from a single drive per side, up to 12+ drivers per side. Typically, these will be of one of two types, namely balanced armatures and dynamic drivers.
Dynamic drivers are typically found in cheaper units or as a hybrid setup with balanced armatures. The difference between dynamic drivers and universal drivers can be quite significant, however.
Generally, dynamic drivers tend to have more headroom and have a better bass response than balanced armatures and come with a lower price tag than balanced armatures. They do, however, give up a little in detail but are perceived to have a warmer tone, or bloom in the mids, which some people can prefer. In contrast, the balanced armature is more clinical and precise in its sound but not as good at reproducing bass. Unless you are close A/Bing units of differing driver types with each other, the vast majority of people would not be able to recognise the difference between driver types.
Adding drivers primarily adds headroom and allows a mix of driver types such that a driver most suited for say, lows, can be paired with another driver that is better at reproducing highs. By combing driver types, a better response and superior sounding IEM can be built. However, it should be noted that this is not as straightforward as simply putting in extra drivers and hoping for the best. Great IEMs are the result of hours of R and D to developing crossovers and tuning the units for a pleasurable output. Additionally, all these drivers must be phase aligned and most importantly, the left and right need to match. Of course, all drivers have their own responses in terms of how they sound, despite dampening, there is the chance that there is a limit to how good a sound a multiple driver unit can sound. The larger manufacturers then turn to custom orders of drivers to engineer their way out of the constraints that physics have put in the way of standard off the shelf drivers. This is one of the multiple reasons why the market leaders of IEMs tend to sound the best – but also have a higher pricetag. All of this quality comes at a price. So, in short, adding drivers can improve the sound… but in some cases can cause all sorts of phasing issues if not done correctly.
It should also be mentioned that adding drivers has an additional advantage. By increasing the number of drivers, the last hard the drivers must work to get to working volume. The less hard the drivers are working, the less chance there is of distortion whether it be audible or not perceived. The latter is quite significant; even if you can’t hear it, if distortion is present, it will fatigue the ear a lot quicker. As the ear fatigues, people tend to push up the volume to compensate – and again, this increases the risk of hearing damage. If an IEM is distorting, chances are there is something wrong with the gain structure, or you are simply pushing the IEM beyond it’s limit and into distortion. This is not a good thing for your listening enjoyment or your physical ear health!
As we are on a bass forum, I tend to recommend at least a quad (treble, mid, bass, bass) as the driver count to aspire to. This reduces the chance of distortion as the work is being shared between the drivers – and the drivers that are reproducing the frequencies that we are most interested in (those that are also the most difficult frequencies to reproduce) are given a helping hand by being doubled up. There is an exception to this in my opinion, and it’s a unit that I tend to recommend for its performance vs price point - and that is the UE6. The UE6 is a triple driver – but has dynamic drivers in the mids and bass. There is a balanced armature in the high. In short, the dynamics provide greater headroom and better bass response in the lows, whilst the air and detail that is most importantly found in the highs, is retained using a balanced armature. The UE6 custom gives a performance comparable to a equivalent quad balanced custom – but without the price tag.
You can begin to guess (to a certain extent) what an IEM is going to sound like by it’s driver count. If there is an equal number of balanced armatures in the treble, mid and bass range, it’s likely to be more flat response than say a different unit that has a higher driver count in say the bass. That latter unit is likely to have a slight kick in the bass and additional headroom. It’s probably worth mentioning though, that due to tuning and different driver types, if you are really fussy about the native response of your IEM, you should A/B them. It’s rare for IEMs to be tuned to a reference or flat response – because mostly flat sounds boring… and each manufacturer has their own take on what an IEM should sound like. Additionally, if you want to use IEMs for critical mixing, you are probably better getting a set of headphones. You’ll pay less for not going small and portable and will certainly get a flatter response for a lot less money. I will say one thing though, once you are on stage, the native response of the IEM becomes less important. I always say I will take the IEM with headroom and are in phase, as opposed to an IEM that is reference quality but lacking in headroom or has phase issues! In short, from the larger manufacturers at least, you can’t really go wrong… they are sound great, just a bit different from one another. This also counts for drivers. As soon as you get over 4 drivers, you are looking at diminishing returns… and higher driver counts don’t necessarily sound better (they could sound worse due to poor crossover design or phasing issues) – they just sound different.
1.4 UNIVERSAL/GENERICS VS CUSTOMS
Universal IEMs as stated above, are intended for use by anybody. In a lot of cases this is true… but for some people, universal IEMs just don’t stay in some people’s ears. This is largely down to potluck; some people just don’t have ears that are well suited to a one size fits most IEM. Some IEMs can be overly bulky or simply not shaped in an appropriate manner that fits well with your outer ear.
Universal IEMs will come with tips. Some fit issues can be addressed with changing the tip size or tip material… or both. Tips generally come in two flavours, silicon and foam. Neither are inherently better than the other, they are just different. You need to find the material and size that best suits you. There is a trend on musician’s forums and Facebook groups that Comply foam tips are where it’s at. This isn’t necessarily true – foam tips can disintegrate very quickly with sweaty ears… likewise, silicon tips can easily slide out of sweaty ears. Again, it’s about finding the right tips to fit your ears (if they exist).
The fit is the primarily reason why people tend to move to custom IEMs. Having a custom IEM made for you means that there are no fit issues.
The commonly mentioned universals include Shure SE215s and MEE6 inears. I have to say, these aren’t the best by a long stretch, especially when you consider what you can get for your money. They are single dynamic drivers earpieces, with not a lot of headroom and less than adequate bass response. Whilst they may sound OK listening to music that has been processed and mastered, remember live music is full of transients and not given the post processing and mastering process that recorded music has (unless you have a separate monitoring rig for your mixes – which is not likely if you are using budget IEMs for listening to your monitor mix). I’ll tend to recommend ZS10s – they are a 5 driver per side hybrid setup that can be had for typically less than £40 and will slay most of the competition. Whilst they may not be the best sounding IEMs in isolation, on stage, they have bags of headroom and great low-end response, so for bass players especially, they are a much better investment than many of the most mentioned alternatives. Just remember to buy the version without the mic control for on stage use (the mic version being for mobile phones). Other alternatives to look at are the AS10s (non hybrid, 5 balanced armatures per side) or the new AS12 (6 drivers per side) and AS16 (8 per side, flatter sound signature).
Custom IEMS are made by taking an impression of you ear canals and concha and then building the drivers inside a custom casing that fits perfectly in your ears. This impression needs to be taken by somebody suitably qualified or an audiologist. Before the impression is taken, the ear is checked for being healthy and free from wax. If there is too much wax build up, an impression cannot be taken, and your ears will need to be cleaned by a professional. This is usually called micro suction or an “ear toilet”. It doesn’t hurt – it’s literally a little vacuum cleaner that sucks wax out. I’m a bit weird and like it (and I also like impression being taken also!). If your ear is all looking good, an impression can be taken. This is quite a straightforward process; a gauze is pushed into your ear to stop the silicone going too far into your ear (don’t worry, there is a string attached to it so that it can be retrieved post the impression) and then your ear canal is filled with medical grade silicon which is left to set. Once set, it’s still flexible enough to be removed from your ear. The impression is then sliced and diced appropriately before being sent (either physically or digital via a laser scanner) to the manufacturer to be used to make your final custom IEM. There are two important things that must be observed when taking impressions. First of all, the impression needs to go past the second bend and secondly, a one inch bite block should be in place when the impression is taken. This bite block is to shape your ear canal such that the resulting impression will enable you to be able to sing and smile without the seal on the custom IEM being broken. This is really important as if the custom IEM does not seal, you will get stage sound leaking into your ear and you’ll also lose a lot of bass response… which isn’t great, especially when you have spent a lot of money ensuring that you have lots of bass drivers. Final thing, when taking impressions, make sure you keep still. Don't talk, don't move, don't do anything... be wary of people taking your impressions and not observing these rules - you will end up with a rubbish impression that in turn will lead to a poor fitting custom. Oh... and beware, you will drool when having your impressions taken, it's normal, don't be embarrassed!
Essentially all IEM casings, independent of model, are the same, it’s the inner electronics (e.g. driver count and crossover) that largely separate them. Not only do you get a perfect fit but because the fit is so much better than a universal IEM, the isolation tends to be better (-26dB) – this is the same as putting your fingers into your ears. This of course, has major advantages; this means that less ambient noise is passing through into your ears… but also means that you don’t have to driver you drivers as hard to get over the ambient size from the outside world.
Customs are generally made of silicone (flexible) or acrylic (hard). Having had both, there is no advantage over the other in terms of fit or real-world isolation between the two. Silicone is not more comfortable than acrylic – if it is, the acrylic mould is not a good fit in your ear. Silicone does have two disadvantages over acrylic. Over time, it tends to shrink a little and if you have clear, it tends to discolour and go cloudy (choose a smoke colour if you want a translucent colour that doesn’t show the yellowing over time). In my experience, silicone is more prone to cable failure due to the additional flex on the cable attachment.
Talking of fit, customs tend to fit well for around 5 years. After that period, they may need adjustment, a reshell or a replacement. It’s worth noting, however, that due to your ears constantly growing, this can vary from person to person… and things like losing or gaining a lot of weight can influence the fit. Generally, for acrylic at least, adjustments can be achieved by removing or adding acrylic to perfect the fit, so isn’t really that big of a problem (although it can be a little annoying if you want to use your new IEMs straight away!). For most people, fitment is perfect the day your custom IEM arrives, however the odd fitment issue can occur – and is not something to get overly worried about – it’s fixable without too much of an issue!
Modern technology has really been beneficial for the creation of acrylic custom IEMs. With the advent of 3d printing, the labourious hand pouring of moulds is a thing of a past. This means that custom IEMs are made with now accuracy and precision than ever and at a much-accelerated pace
One of the big appeals of customs is that they can be cosmetically altered to your design. Whether you want them made from bits of diamond, wood, bullet ends, right down to custom colours, most of the larger manufacturers are willing to entertain all sorts of design details – for a cost.
1.5 CUSTOM IEMS FROM OVERSEAS
Lots of people have a worry about buying IEMs not from the UK or their home territory. A lot of IEMs originate from the USA. The world is now a small place. A build from UE and JH Audio for example, is about 2 weeks, 64 Audio about 3 weeks. The build process is so automated, the turn around times are a lot, lot lower.
Any repairs, warranty work? Pro IEM builders appreciate that musicians can’t be without such an important piece of hardware. As an indication, I had a wax blockage that had to be sent back to JH Audio to be cleaned out. It was back in my hands in less that 10 days – including the days that it was in the postage service.
1.6 AMBIENT PORTS? LIVE SYSTEM?
A lot of people get anxious about being isolated from the outside world. There is a transition period as you get used to the different sound – but as a rule of thumb, I would always recommend that you want to block out as much ambient noise as possible and work on the premise of if you want to hear something, you’ll need to mic it up. So, if you want to hear the audience and the room, mic them up. Send that feed into your monitor mix but obviously, not out of the front of house mix.
So even though I’m not a fan of ambient ports, what are they? Well, as the name suggests, they add a port in the IEM that allows stage sound through the casing and into your ear canal… but at a semi reduced volume. Whilst it does put the feeling of being in the room back, the big disadvantage to having an ambient port installed is that it effectively breaks the seal in your IEM – resulting in a loss of bass, which is obviously not the best for bass players or bass junkies.
What’s this ACS Live! System about? What’s the Sensaphonic 3d sound about? They’re actually pretty cool concepts to be honest. Instead of ambient ports, these systems utilise microphones that are installed in the ear pieces. The cables to ear pieces are fed into a belt pack mixer that sums the monitor mix with the signal from the tiny microphones to enable you to blend in the ambient sound… without having a break in the seal. Whilst this is all good in theory, its best suited to those on big stages with low SPL. I have found that with my Live! system, that the mics distort very easily, even when padded down. I would imagine they would be great if you were a singer in the West End or similar – but for me, the results have been disappointing.
Personally, I have found a couple of condensers in XY configuration on stage to mix in a little ambient sound is preferential – although I prefer the isolated feeling to be honest. You have to experiment and see what works for you.
You may have seen Apex/Adel modules on IEMs. These are not ambient ports as such. They are primarily there to reduce any extra pressure that is present in your ear canal and also meant to widen the sound stage. There is some physics behind it but to some it’s snake oil. Make up your own mind. I find my IEMs equipped with the Apex modules do fatigue less – but that may be a placebo effect in action. They don’t really impact any of the bass levels – but you can block them off totally if you think they do.
1.8 WHAT ABOUT SLEEVES FOR MY SHURE 215s ETC?
Yes, you can possible get sleeves that fit on your universal/generic monitors. Theses essentially replace the tips and are custom moulded to your ears. People tend to go for these after dipping their foot into the IEM game. Do they work? Well, yes... kind of. They will fit better - but still won't get you in the ball park of a true custom. My advice, given that you most people that get sleeves very quickly move onto customs anyway, is to skip this step. Given you'll have to pay for impressions (which are getting pretty expensive now anyway - London prices are now topping £80) and the cost of the sleeves themselves (circa £150), I would always recommend in saving that money to put towards some customs where you are more likely be able to negotiate some free impressions as part of a custom IEM deal.
1.9 IEM CARE
Keeping your IEMs clean is very important. There are two main things that you can do to keep your IEMs clean and your ears healthy and free from infection. First up, alcohol wipes are great for cleaning your IEMs and keeping any nasties at bay.
ALWAYS keep the tubes of your IEMs clean. Get into a regular cycle of cleaning your IEMs after every performance. Wax build up is the number one problem associated with IEMs. If you don’t keep your IEMs cleaned, the audio tubes can get blocked. If they get too blocked, they can’t be cleaned with a wax pick. If you can’t clean them with a wax pick, they will need to be vacuumed. If the wax has gone too far, it can damage the driver, which will require the case opening (e.g. return back to the manufacturer) and the driver to be replaced. In short, for the 30 seconds it takes, just check the IEM tubes are clean after every gig and fish out any stray wax with a wax pick. Some IEMs (e.g. 64 audio, have a gauze over the tube ends to attempt to stop the ingress of wax - beware however, if the wax melts into the gauze, it's very difficult/impossible to remove in situ - so the same applies with IEMs with this in place... clean regularly!
For the obsessive, you can get UV baths which both dry and kill any nasties that may be residing on your IEMs. These are just little cases in which you put your IEMs, air circulates to dry your IEM (any moisture is taken out of the air via silica gel) and the UV light zaps any potential sources of infection.
Overall though, keeping your IEMs in a clean bill of health is easy. Wipe down and clean out any stray wax after EVERY use.
I see people mention cable upgrades. In short, yes, you can get better cables… and very expensive cables… but what I will say, in a band environment, are your ears really bothered or able to distinguish between minute details? If you feel the answer is yes, then by all means, upgrade… however, to really be able to distinguish the difference I would say you should be an environment that is quiet and suitable for critical listening.
For onstage use, any upgrades I think, should be down to stock cables being too springy, or prone to getting tangled. Most of the big manufacturers now use cable where this isn’t an issue any longer.
Other things to consider when ordering cables, is to ensure they are the right length. Don’t get too long a cable such that it is dandling around your kneecaps when you are performing. Doing that is more likely going to cause the IEMs to be damaged by avertedly being yanked out of your ear. A drummer, however, may want to use a longer cable to plug into a nearby mixer.
Always coil you cable properly after IEM use. If anything is going to fail on an IEM, it’s a cable. Make sure you look after the cable, don’t just shove your IEMs and cables in your pocket, take time to store them properly in their cases and you won’t have any issues.
One last thing for those people with OCD. Silver cables look great but do tend to go green over time as they age. If you can’t cope with that, play it safe and go with black sheathed cables.
USEFUL LINKS :
*other IEM manufacturers available, these are the ones that I have used/bought etc. Paul at CIEM tends to help a lot of Basschatters out with their custom needs and you'll tend to find me at the shows with Paul to help him out. I am not employed or have shares in or anything like that with CIEM company - it's just a great and rare place in the fact that you can try all the models of CIEMs out from the top 3 manufacturers. Testing out customs you say?? How can you do that? Well, the manufacturers provide test models with tips (like on universal/generic IEMs) so you can get a flavour of their sound signature.
NOW - £150 POSTED
Up is my Line 6 G50. A well gigged but perfectly working example. This comes with an aftermarket high quality cable too. A really great and dependable wireless. Selling due to recent upgrade. Power supply is not pictured but is included.
Price includes UK postage. All the stickers and ProGaff will be removed. Any questions then please drop me a message.