I don't often play in high volume situations where the side wash from Bose systems isn't enough to monitor well but have been trying out a couple of IEM solutions.
The cheap Shures that came with the wireless rig were hopeless. I got a pair of Etymotic in ears and they're somewhat better but as you've said, isolating.
I was thinking of trying a pair of Westone Am Pro 20s - quick in and out and they allow some ambient sound in as well (thus the "Am") but I spent the money on a new '61 SG Standard with Maestro Vibrato instead. 😉
PS: The next time I play at one of the fancy hotels up the coast, I'm going to bring my own splitter, mixer and in-ear monitor and tell them to turn the **** wedges OFF! The last time was a terrible experience with distorted sound from the monitors that seriously degraged our performance.
Aug 3, 2018
All good points above guys - thanks. I guess we all go about things in slightly different ways to get the same result. Our band is also a 4-piece - 2 elec guitars, bass and electronic drums - with four SM58 mic's for the vocals, all fed into the mixer and then into the L1M2's. We always use the L1's in the back-of-stage position (left and right) and don't normally have any problems with feedback that can't be managed. The mixer has a very good EQ section which enables us to cope pretty well with different room acoustics. We have occasionally played with the L1's just ahead of the mic line and although that has worked reasonably well for us, we much prefer the L1's to be behind us. That way we can hear everything, can maintain a good balance and we know exactly what the audience is hearing. The back-of-stage arrangement of the two L1's just gives a feeling of being immersed in the overall sound, and you don't seem to get that with a FOH PA system and foldback monitors.
We would only use additional FOH speakers if necessary to augment the overall sound volume, whilst still keeping the L1's at the back.
Mean while on the IEM front... I've learned a bit more and read some Doctors and engineers explanations, the biggest problem is the occlusions. Apparently the ear canal starting from the outside is cartilage covered with skin but as you go deeper in it becomes bone covered in skin, and its reported that its the cartilage area that causes the occlusions. If the IEM canal tube is long enough to reach the bone area, apparently the occlusions either do not exist or are at least not perceived. However, at that depth its dangerously close to the eardrum!
There is in fact a report on Trust Pilot of a guy who says his eardrum was damaged by the audiologist who took the impressions! Perforated eardrum, a lot of pain and deafness and months of recovery, so it says.
An alternative to going in deep to reduce the occlusions is to allow the plug to breath. However, reducing the seal has dramatic effects on loss of frequency response starting at the low end.
There are some companies who manufacture IEM's with what they call "Ambient Filters", meaning they are vented through a filter to let ambient sound in (so you can hear the audience etc.). The vent kills the occlusion and the "head under water" feeling, great, what about frequency performance? Well, it seems they either specify or at least imply that the frequency response remains fantastic, which suggest they have found a way to alter the rules of physics.
If you've never used IEM's you can get a feel for it if you put a finger in each ear, gently but enough that it feels sealed. Now hum something like E2 (different pitches for different people) and you should hear that in your head probably quite loud, if its not loud then adjust the note up or down a bit. When you've got that, slowly press your fingers tighter into your ear canal, you should find that the harder you press so the sound becomes quieter and more natural.
My custom IEM's are now back with the manufacturer being re-molded with longer canal tubes... lets hope they don't poke my eardrums out! I dare say we'll find out in a week or two.
A brother-in-law of mine (now deceased) always used to say, "Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear-hole"... that could be the best advice on this subject.
Just yesterday I received my re-worked custom IEM's back from ACS the manufacturer... WOW! The difference is absolutely incredible! So far as I know all they did was extend the canal tubes. Occlusions? What occlusions? The sound quality I'm getting is so good its totally bonkers! The feeling of "I've got my head stuck in a tin bucket full of water" has totally evaporated.
So now I've had to spend more cash to upgrade my radio gear, so I've bought a Shure P3T transmitter with the P3R receiver. I'll report back on that when I've tried it out
May 11, 2020
Hi Dave Hazel.
Have you seen The L1® Approach and the History of Amplification?
I haven't had to think about monitors (in ear or other) since I got my first L1.
With respect I would doubt there is much you could tell me about the history of amplification/sound reinforcement that's of any consequence in the real world, equally I am also aware of the Bose approach. It's a good approach, it's a very practical approach and a very tidy approach, and I would also argue that it is probably the best cost effective method too. But the simple fact is Bose do not have all of the solutions to all of the potential issues that performers may need to overcome. As such, the Bose back of stage PA method absolutely cannot provide a solution to my particular requirements.
By day I'm just a time-served development engineer in the field of dedicated microprocessor controlled wireless alarm/monitoring systems that help to keep people alive in hospitals/care homes etc. I haven't worked in professional audio for something like 35 years or more. When it comes to music, essentially I'm just a serious hobbyist come part-time semi-professional, which means sometimes I accept a fee and sometimes I don't. But that doesn't mean that I hold anything back when it comes to presenting myself as a performing vocalist, I give it the best as I can in terms of the overall quality of the audio output and presentation.
By virtue of Shure wireless systems I am totally untethered by either cable or visual lyric prompt. In fact I do have a lyric prompt system that is totally invisible. All power to anyone who can accurately remember all the lyrics to a couple of hundred songs at any point in time but the fact is, I personally cannot rely on myself to be able to do so.
I'm well aware that many people use such things as tablets, laptops, smartphones etc. that are able to operate as a prompting system. In fact, that is exactly how I used to do it when I first ventured into this hobby. But, it is not ideal, equally my system would not be idea for everyone but it is for me.
Given that the Bose PA systems in question are it would seem 'supposed' to be the ultimate solution for performers, considering how popular the visible synchronised prompting method is, its a real shame that Bose do not include a decent display/media player within the compact T mixers!
ST, I trust that answers your question as to weather or not I need a history lesson on sound reinforcement methods or Bose sales methodology? I do not have any issues in respect of where I am in relation to the PA, except that more gain before feedback is available if the mic is off axis. But that is NOT why I use an IEM system
Getting back to my IEM system and the actual purpose of this thread.... based on my experience so far I would say there is little point in messing about with the budget priced equipment. Get some good quality off-the-shelf wired IEM's to test if its the way you want to go or not. If you decide it is, then get yourself custom molded IEM's and a quality wireless system.
The sound quality of the ACS IEM's (now they have sorted them out) is so good I cannot overemphasise the fact. Because I can now hear everything in higher definition than the L1 can deliver, its made things more comfortable, which in turn has improved my performance and confidence. At the same time it doesn't matter where I am in relation the the PA stack.
Shure claim that the P3T-P3R is so clean and solid you wouldn't know you're on wireless and not hard-wired. Because of the fantastic definition of the ACS IEM's it seems there is a very slight, and I mean VERY slight softening of definition compared to hard-wire but its of no concern whatsoever. I would guess that one of the reasons its so clean and noiseless is because its digital which may raise questions in respect of digital latency. It cannot be zero latency but whatever it is, its nothing that I've be able to notice.
I ventured into the IEM world several years ago investing in a Sennheiser wireless system with custom ear units.
I could never manage to get a satisfactory mix and gave up on them in the end (an expensive venture). I work mostly solo and the biggest problem I had was getting the house mix to sound the same as the mix in my ear monitors. I prefer to hear the full mix even on the rare occaisions I have to use floor monitors which allows me to hear what my audience is hearing and always have a good sound.
Your posts here have enthused me to maybe try once again with some new in ears. 90% of the time I am very happy with the Bose system behind or to the side and rarely in front with additional foldback or side fill monitors for me. The only time I have issues with monitoring is with restaurant gigs when house levels have to be so low sometimes it is difficult for me to hear the backing or even myself, this makes it very uncomfortable for me and I am sure affects my performance, I like to feel the music. I believe with the right system, IEM's can solve this for me providing I can overcome the issue of matching the mixes.
I have had the low volume issue too, not in a restaurant as such but I occasionally go and do a turn at a local care home in an open lounge where the overall sound level needs to be what the audience wants, which may not be the same as what I want or need.
As for getting the right mix, I would setup the PA with 'naked' ear-holes then apply the IEM and simply use that as the reference as my IEM is a clone of Pre-Master output. I hear exactly the same as the audience only with better definition on account of the IEM delivering higher definition than the L1 can produce.
I'm using 100% backing tracks, no live instruments, so my levels are fixed at a known source level. My voice level is controlled naturally relative to the level of the backing track. So it is no different to using the PA as the monitor, except it is in fact much better and easier to control on the basis that it doesn't matter where I am in relation to the position of the PA stack(s) or whatever the PA level needs to be, it just doesn't matter to me if its relatively low level, typical level, or they want it LOUD... its all the same to me.
It's a fact that it wasn't easy to deploy an IEM system with the T1 mixer, and I was on the brink of buying an "ART MyMonitor" to make things easier to manage. But then I spotted the T4s, being a 4/2 i was able to reduce my equipment device count and tidy things up.
I think the people at ART have rationalised matters the same as I have. Solo performers only need a small compact mixer. However, it seems that the designers behind compact mixers seem to think that AUX sends/returns, pan-pots and monitor mixes etc. are not required! The ART MyMonitor provides a solution to the problem, or the typical short fall of compact mixers.
I had bought budget equipment to start with, fact is, I needed to prove the system before I invested too much cash. The system works perfectly for me, so it was just a matter of improving and upgrading the equipment. Admittedly is wasn't cheap with the cost of the T4s, the Shure P3/T/R and the custom IEM's but I would say that my set is now about as perfect as its ever going to get, it is pretty much self-contained and VERY portable and the overall sound quality is top class for the audience and myself
I hear what you are saying but my experience differs from yours. I also use the full house mix for my IEM's but it doesn't reproduce the same hence the problem, what I am hearing in my IEM's isn't the same as what I hear from the speakers when I take them out. Even though it's the same mix from the mixer the backing tends to sound a lot louder in the IEM's and I found myself adjusting the mix accordingly only to find that when I listen to the house the backing isn't loud enough so there is a balance problem that needs resolving. I need to spend some time to achieve a monitor mix that compensates and matches the house mix and I have not had the time to do that ..... one day.