There comes a point when most musicians evaluate the pro’s and cons of in-ear monitoring. Rightfully so – there are numerous advantages to any live experience.
It gives you an increased sensibility for musical nuances. On top of that it can also act as a great health preserver, giving you complete control over the loudness of a given situation.
It also limits the amount of noise on a given stage. This is a huge plus for any live mixer trying to make the magic happen.
To ensure you have a great experience while using in-ear, we compiled a list of some vital factors to think of. Some of them might seem more obvious than others. Still, we think you might find them useful when diving into the world of in-ear monitoring.
Let’s start with gear.
Custom moulded earbuds vs. factory standards
You don’t necessary have to grab the most expensive, tailored ones right from the start.
On the contrary – while many custom made earbuds produce an impressive sound, the nature of the product may be a harsh entry into this new monitoring.
The fact that they are specifically moulded to your ear also means that they completely seal off your potential live situation. While this makes perfect sense for many musicians due to various reasons, beginners should be aware of this effect.
Your technician can obviously work with and against this sensation of isolation (more about that in a second), but trying factory standards should definitely be considered. They might not isolate as well, but they might just ease your way into full in-ear monitoring.
Yes, this is something super obvious but it has to be considered.
If you’re going with in-ear monitoring, and are NOT using a stationary charger, make batteries a part of your equipment routine.
You WILL forget them prior to gigs, and you WILL need backups. If you have fixed accountabilities within a project, designate a person to take care of that.
But just make sure you always have enough backup batteries, because more often than not, venues won’t be able to save you last minute.
Pre-rehearse with equipment
Don’t start a tour without engaging in prior rehearsals with in-ear equipment. Ideally the set-up that you will use on the road.
An unknown in-ear situation can mess up the beginning of any tour, so you want to be ready and adapted to this technology.
Make sure you have at least one or two weeks of in-ear rehearsals. This will give you enough time to debunk any issues, and give you a sensory feeling for what’s happening around you.
This is a super vital aspect. Apart from adapting to the changed sensation of your own musical performance, the communication on stage is greatly effected by in-ear monitoring.
Screaming across stage, reminding musicians of cues or switching stuff up last minute can turn out to be quite impossible with in-ear monitoring.
Again, this is why the in-ear rehearsals are so incredibly important.
Bands, or live projects in general, have to develop a way of new communicating. Even if the auditory possibilities on stage are quite limited.
It’s not really a big deal, but it’s something you have to be aware of. Find a strategy for improvisational communication. On-stage-yelling won’t suffice.
Use an ambient mic
To conserve a feeling for the audience, ask your mixer to set up an ambient mic. This mic can be a live saver when trying to maintain a connection with the audience.
It will minimize the feeling of being cut-off from the outside world, and give you back that much needed energy. It also helps your lead-performer interact with the room, ensuring that she or he hears audience reactions.
You can set up the ambient mic next to the stage, ideally not close to the drum set. That will pretty much negate the concept of picking up ambient vibe.
Try out different positions, and be aware that you’ll have to switch them up from venue to venue.
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