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Am I Dreaming?


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Two IEM scenarios;


The First a Country Rock band from around 18 years ago.Guitarist and bassist had Small TEC21 amp simulators,Roland V Drums, 2nd Guitarist/harmonica direct, my keys submixed to board. We had an off stage monitor mixer we all went thru before going to the mains, we mixed our monitors and the FOH sound guy took care of everything else. We either had wired or wireless IEMs.Playing was a dream everything was balanced and right there and tight.This was before the new personal monitors with more me and submixes right on the remote.


Fast Forward to about 5 years ago, 4 piece swamp pop/rock/ band.

The deaf dumb and blind guitarist/vocalist refused to try them he had to "feel" the music but played to damn loud on stage and played louder during my solos. the drummer was literally deaf in one ear. Never could get stage wedges loud enough for them. I felt it was a losing battle and left.


I can see both camps about the feeling the music but also the dream mix in your ears. Right now my country 4 piece band(all OLDER guys like me) use two small monitors but the stage volume is wonderful and manageable, I can hear my SSV3

SpaceStation V3,


KronosX-73,MS Pro145,Ventilator,OB DB1,Lester K

Toys: RIP died in the flood of 8/16 1930 Hammond AV, 1970s Leslie 145, 1974 Rhodes Stage


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I'm about to do a show with them (IEMs, v-drums, the whole shebang), and I'm terrified. Namely, because it's a big show and I'm nervous about not having any direct control over identifying or fixing issues; it's all in the hands of the sound guy. I'm sure that in best-case scenarios IEMs can be great. But what if something goes wrong? With everybody going through one system, a single error/failure can take out the whole show. With individual guitar amps and an acoustic drum set, half the band's gear can crap out and a song can still keep going. This way, if the monitor mix goes wonky, or our in-ears fail or the batteries go (we're doing wireless), there is no sound at all.


I would totally dig it for either a) a venue that was used to doing IEMs and had their own tried-and-true system set up, or b) a regular band that had its own tried-and-true system. This is neither; a one off theatrical production for 7000 people over four nights with limited tech time to work out bugs.

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If stage volume could be kept at reasonable levels I would probably not use IEMs. It looks like there are two camps: isolation, i.e. old guys like me that want to keep whatever hearing they have, and those that just like the ability to control and customize a mix that doesn't depend on a sound system and a sound person. Of course one could be in both camps but I think the impetus to switch is usually one or the other reason, the other being a bonus.


For me the experience of playing live on a stage and feeling the music happen is paramount but doesn't trump the importance of keeping my tinnitus from getting worse than it is. I keep hoping that with time, using IEMs will give me the same feeling I used to have when playing without them on gigs with reasonable stage volumes, good acoustics, and most importantly, musicians sensitive to dynamics. The fact that this is not the usual case speaks to a few things which is beyond the scope of this post but I have to say that for me IEMs are a "necessary evil." Having said this, I'm always looking at ways to improve the experience so I'm hopeful that things will get better. I know my hearing won't!

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It would be interesting to know what styles of music we are talking about here because it's different culturally sometimes.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"






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The eight pc horn band I am in all wear IEM and the only live stage sounds are horns, drums and guitar amp so he can control his tone. Bass, and keys are direct and I like the low stage volume.



Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho




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My limiting factor is my hearing impairment. Both ears have 60% loss and big dip in the speech range so I have to wear a hearing aid. I can't use the ear pods. Only a set of headphones with the aid on "telephone coil" would work.


We all use IEMs with small guitar amps & acoustic drums for a pretty low stage volume. Our singer wears hearing aids, so his IEMs have a 10-band equalizer in the line to boost what his hearing aids would. At one festival when we couldn't use our IEMs, he had a setting on his aids, controlled by a little remote, that I believe he called "Music Setting" or "Loud Setting" or something like that. That setting allowed him to hear even with the loud stage volume. Sorry I don't know what brand aids he wears, but he's never mentioned needing a telephone coil to get by. Good luck if you research this.


Re: Clean FOH sounding like a recording. Our sound man said that after we went all IEM and no stage monitors, that he had to remix everything because the stage monitors used to come through the mics. It did clean up our FOH sound a lot. I don't use an amp anymore, less to carry, everyone gets their own mono mix with panning, yeah!

Kurzweil PC3-76
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The band I tour with has the "combo" approach. Seven pieces (2 horns, lead vocal, bass, guitar, keys & drums). The lead vocalist, both horns & myself use IEMs. But the lead vocalist has a wedge as well not sure of the reason. The bass player & guitarist both sing and their wedges are LOUD. The drummer also uses a wedge. I used to as well, but the stage volume was horribly loud and the increase in my tinnitus (after almost 20 years of it staying basically the same) was scary.


So in my case, IEMs have almost nothing to do with bringing down the stage volume!

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Originally before digital mixers were affordable, the way my old band did it is, IMHO the best way to do it and most preferable to FOH.


We had a custom 16-ch splitter snake (rack mount splitters can be bough and XLR-XLR snakes). The purpose of this was that one end fanned out to plug into the FOH snake from our rack and gave FOH the "wired" side of the split. The transformer isolated side of the snake went to our monitor mixer - being isolated, the sound guy could not claim that Anyang we did was affecting the signal he was getting, the split was in the same rack as the monitor mixer (an A&H mix wizard with 6 sends set prefaced, post EQ). Everything was labeled. Sound guy ran everything into the front of our rack and plugged our snake into his stage box. Channels and band members were labeled on the mixer. IEM transmitters were mounted and premiered in the rack, with the exception of the drummer who ran wired, and we'd coil his send up in the back of he rack. Self contained system ready to roll, barely had to touch it from gig to gig, and completely independent of FOH.


With digital mixers, often now the FOH mixer is digital and you use an app in your phone to connect to it and control your own mix, which goes to your IEM transmitter.


If you don't want to count on FOH and use your own digital mixer all the time, you either still need a split, or need to talk the sound guy into mixing with your mixer with an iPad or something,



Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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..just a side note to my situation of using a monitor while the singer,drummer and bass players use IEMs..


I still can use the app on my Ipad to control my mix which means I have no guitar in my mix (he mics his amp,uses a wedge, and won't use IEM's), no bass or drums, just my mix is just keys and all vocals. Works for me..

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It would be interesting to know what styles of music we are talking about here...

3am - matchbox 20

ain't no sunshine - bill withers

all summer long/alabama/werewolf medley - kid rock

already gone - eagles

alright now - free

another brick in the wall - pink floyd

blister in the sun - violent femmes

blue on black - kenny wayne sheppard

brown eyed girl - van morrison

come together - beatles/aerosmith

counting stars - one republic

dani california - red hot chili peppers

dont bring me down - ELO

every rose has its thorn - poison

free falling - tom petty

funkytown - pseudo echo

glad you came - the wanted

hard to handle - black crowes

island in the sun - weezer

jealousy - gin blossums

keep your hands to yourself - georgia satellites

knockin on heavens door - guns and roses

kung fu fighting - carl douglas

louie louie/wild thing medley - kingsmen/troggs

margaritaville - jimmy buffett

mary janes last dance - tom petty

my own worst enemy - lit

old time rock n roll - bob segar

one thing leads to another - the fixx

peg - steely dan

pink houses - john mellencamp

play that funky music - wild cherry

purple rain - prince

rapper's delight - sugarhill gang

rock the casbah - clash

save tonight - eagle eye cherry

sexy back - timberlake

sharp dressed man - zz top

she hates me puddle of mudd

shook me all night long - ac dc

simple man - lynard skynard

slide - goo goo dolls

the joker - the steve miller band

the middle - jimmy eats world

the one i love - r.e.m.

uptown funk - bruno mars

vertigo - u2

what I got - sublime

what I like about you - the romantics

when I come around - green day

wonderful tonight - eric clapton


Hardware: Nord Stage3, Korg Kronos 2, Novation Summit

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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