A few years ago, stage performances were risky business. Seriously. Let me explain. In order to be able to hear themselves, performers had to have loud monitor speakers pointing in their direction. No wonder a number of performers lost part or all of their hearing.

Fast forward to today and in-ear monitors have mitigated the risk of hearing loss.

What Are In Ear Monitors?

In-ear monitors, sometimes called IEM, are special high tech earphones used to reduce external noises (noise reduction) while allowing a performer to choose exactly what they want to hear through the in-ear monitor. This can be their own voice or their own voice with certain other instruments, say, a keyboard. You’ve probably seen them donned by stage performers (or being removed as did Beyonce when singing at the presidential inauguration).

The beauty of in-ear monitors is that they work both as a headphone (giving a clear, custom listening experience) and an earplug (canceling out unwanted noise).

Though most in-ear monitors are a “one-size-fits-all” cut, many professionals prefer to have custom ear monitors. If you are a fan of custom ear monitors, you should thank Alex Van Halen and Jerry Harvey (Alex’s monitor engineer). It is said on one tour, Alex was struggling to hear his band members due to the extremely loud stage noises. Jerry being the think-outside-the-box engineer that he was, got some tiny speakers from a pacemaker and fitted them into earpieces molded to fit Alex’s ears. That was the first pair of custom ear monitors.

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Benefits of In-Ear Monitoring Systems

  • Noise cancellation. This by far is the biggest advantage of in-ear monitors.
  • Reduce voice strain. Many performances (and performers voices) have been ruined due to a singer failing to hear their own voice above the sound of the instruments, leading them to sing louder and straining their voice.
  • Custom sound. In-ear monitors allow you to select exactly what you want to hear. And the sound is superb.
  • Protect your ears from damage. Prolonged exposure to high volumes from traditional wedge monitors can lead to ear damage. With in-ear monitors, the volume is in your control. You only hear what you want to hear at the levels you want to hear it.
  • Traditionally, with wedge monitors, performers were limited within a certain area of the stage where their monitor gave the best feedback. With in-ear monitors, you are free to move from one end of the stage to the other, all the while receiving the perfect sound from your in-ear monitors.
  • Easy to carry. Musical equipment is heavy, not to mention sensitive. What with amps and speakers weighing tons (not really but it sure does feel like it)? In-ear monitors reduce the volume and weight of equipment needed to be lugged around. The whole in-ear monitoring system fits in a briefcase.

 Best In-Ear Monitors – Your Pick

The perfect performance depends on you being able to hear yourself. After all, how will you know if you are in tune or not? This is why you need to invest in a good, very good, in-ear monitoring system. Here are a few for you to pick from.

JTS-IES1 Wireless In-Ear Monitoring System

This unit is an easy to use in-ear monitor that easily allows you to control your listening experience. With superb noise canceling ability, you can even stand next to your drummer and come out of the session unaffected.

Shure P3TRA215CL PSM300 In-Ear Monitoring System

If it’s Shure, it’s quality for sure. If you are looking for a combination of robust build quality and superior sound output, this is the in-ear monitoring system to go for.

Galaxy Any Spot AS-100-4 Band Pack System D-Band

For an entry-level unit, the Galaxy handles large venues and outdoor performances quite well. It also comes with everything you will need for 4 band members.

Wireless In Ear Monitor System, UHF Pro Audio 2 Channels 4 Receivers...
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Sennheiser EW 300 IEM G3

The Sennheiser EW 300 IEM G3 is a powerful unit with amazing stereo mixing capabilities. One useful feature is the remote monitoring software, truly ahead of its time.

LD Systems MEI ONE

For a budget unit, this in-ear monitoring system packs a bigger punch than its price tag suggests. If your gigs are mainly in smaller venues, this is the IEM for you.

In-Ear Monitors – Music to Your Ears

Whatever your final selection, make sure you get a great transmitter. Ear comfort is important but then again, you can always upgrade the ear piece easily, not so with the transmitter seeing as it is pricier. So, if you haven’t yet, get rid of those outdated (and hazardous) wedge monitors. Get yourself a sweet set of in-ear monitors and enjoy the sound of music – yours of course.

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