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Only band member using in-ears


Dr88s
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I’ve become a busy bee lately and now find myself in three projects. 

 

One of the bands plays in a rental rehearsal space that can change from one evening to the next, has different mixers in each room, and has a limited number of shared wedges with others, etc. Another of the three plays in a makeshift jam room at the drummer’s workplace with pretty bad PA acoustics and nonexistent wedges. 

 

At these two places it’s impossible to hear myself so I found myself cranking up to the point where the others complained but yet I still couldn’t discern myself from the noise. It wasn’t good for the music and it certainly wasn’t good for my ears. 

 

A few times I tried playing with custom moulded earplugs but it only made the mud worse.

 

Last time, I schlepped some extra gear and went Nord Stage (mono mode) -> Radial Key Largo -> rental space PA, the Radial box feeding a belt worn Behringer P2 -> SE215s. There was no monitor return from the mixer. All other band members were heard bleeding through the IEMs.  The difference was indescribable. I had full control over my volume and played so much better and more comfortably with zero exposure to uncomfortable SPLs. 

 

Unfortunately I was the only one in the room wearing in-ears, so it became quite awkward when there was chatter between songs.

 

From those of you with experience, is this the best way to go? Any other suggestions to protect my hearing and hear the band better? No, playing with other musicians in better spaces is not in the cards for now, and neither of these bands are going to be moving to all in-ears any time soon…

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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If it's possible for you to get an Aux mix out of the board(s), you can feed that into your P2 (and IEMs) and mix in whatever you need. If it's just a matter of hearing the other band members, you might look into a way to feed a live mic into your ears. An inexpensive option there might be a Behringer P1. I've got both and depending on the use case, I'll choose the appropriate measure. FYI, we use a XR18 mixer and I used the Aux out and mix what I want from my phone app. Hella convenient. Good luck and hope that helps!

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Good luck, Dr88s. The rehearsal spaces in town are... less than optimal especially for keyboards, but I've learned to live with it. I always wear my Etymotic earplugs, get my own wedge if possible, or run myself through the wedges and not the mains. I've never bothered to run IEMs in the rehearsal rooms in town.

 

When I was in the function band, drums, bass, and both keys players were on in-ears. Everyone else was on wedges. When I switched over to IEMs in that band, it was a similar experience to yours – I cut the level of my monitor mix probably in half, saved my ears, and could finally hear everything.

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One of the bands I play in rehearses too loud for the room size.  
 

I wear inexpensive musician’s earplugs which cut down the overall dB but allow me to hear all the different frequencies well.  No problems so far - my ears aren’t ringing after rehearsal. I just point my monitor at myself and have at it. 

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10 hours ago, midinut said:

If it's possible for you to get an Aux mix out of the board(s), you can feed that into your P2 (and IEMs) and mix in whatever you need. If it's just a matter of hearing the other band members, you might look into a way to feed a live mic into your ears. An inexpensive option there might be a Behringer P1. I've got both and depending on the use case, I'll choose the appropriate measure. FYI, we use a XR18 mixer and I used the Aux out and mix what I want from my phone app. Hella convenient. Good luck and hope that helps!

I could but the guitar amps and bass amp are not mic’ed so the only advantage that would give me is clearer vocals. 
 

The live mic is a good idea and I’ve tried with it but it’s even more gear to bring set up and tear down and possibly forget. I would certainly do this in a set practice space. Any suggestions for a cheap condenser that would fit the bill?

 

I personally have an XR18 but this is a one off for a fundraiser and I don’t want to be the de facto sound guy for the project. 

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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8 hours ago, David R said:

Good luck, Dr88s. The rehearsal spaces in town are... less than optimal especially for keyboards, but I've learned to live with it. I always wear my Etymotic earplugs, get my own wedge if possible, or run myself through the wedges and not the mains. I've never bothered to run IEMs in the rehearsal rooms in town.

 

When I was in the function band, drums, bass, and both keys players were on in-ears. Everyone else was on wedges. When I switched over to IEMs in that band, it was a similar experience to yours – I cut the level of my monitor mix probably in half, saved my ears, and could finally hear everything.

There aren’t enough wedges in the room for me to have my own. I could bring a powered speaker from home as my own monitor but the schlep factor would increase very considerably (even the key largo adds some noticeable weight). 

 

Seeing as how the custom plugs with a flat attenuation didn’t help, I think for the sake of my ears I’m going to stay on IEM. I’m toying with buying a pair with the ambient vented port to allow a bit more room bleed and cut down on the isolation especially during the chit chat between songs. 

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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6 hours ago, CowboyNQ said:

One of the bands I play in rehearses too loud for the room size.  
 

I wear inexpensive musician’s earplugs which cut down the overall dB but allow me to hear all the different frequencies well.  No problems so far - my ears aren’t ringing after rehearsal. I just point my monitor at myself and have at it. 

I have similar - a flat attenuation (I think 25 dB) but it all sounded like mud regardless through those. 

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Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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I've found the idea of an earplug that attenuates "all frequencies evenly" to be fantasy, in my case. Can't say I've tried them all of course, but I've never seen unsolicited reccs by different musicians of any one particular brand. Just claims in Facebook ads.

 

I use foam plugs now, and deal. Yes, the between song chit-chat and verbal stage cues are lost on me. On a wedding/corporate gig, that's mostly the leader calling the next tune as we're finishing one - so it's a problem! I follow along and assume the next song doesn't start with a keyboard intro! Somehow I get through. I just did my first club date in years, subbing in a band of nice folks with wedges blaring back at us at a very high volume. I nodded my head when the leader called the next song, and caught the tune being played by the second bar.

 

IMO, preserving your hearing is more important than stage patter.

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I've never liked earplugs either.   Ironically I use in-ears at gigs and not at practice so I hear better at gigs.  That said often our drummer can't make practice, and knows the songs anyway, so they end up semi-acoustic.

Our band has been together nine years, many hundreds of gigs and since the 2nd year or so has always had a mix of in-ears and wedges.   There really shouldn't be talking on stage IMO, in fact we like to work out "mini sets" with transitions between 2-4 songs so there is less dead time.   We have a set list for every gig and try not to deviate if possible (requests and feeling the vibe--time for a slow song, or keep them fast dancing etc-- can cause changes). Practices of course need some discussion but that's when I argue that super low-volume practices are the thing for working through song structures.   Crank it up when necessary when you can get through the song easily and know the ending etc.  Unfortunately I can't have the hours or the lost hearing back that I spent in loud bands that go 100% from the start and have to yell for everyone to stop because half the band missed when the bridge came in.

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11 hours ago, Dr88s said:

 

At these two places it’s impossible to hear myself so I found myself cranking up to the point where the others complained but yet I still couldn’t discern myself from the noise. It wasn’t good for the music and it certainly wasn’t good for my ears. 

 

 

Last time, I schlepped some extra gear and went Nord Stage (mono mode) -> Radial Key Largo -> rental space PA, the Radial box feeding a belt worn Behringer P2 -> SE215s. There was no monitor return from the mixer. All other band members were heard bleeding through the IEMs.  The difference was indescribable. I had full control over my volume and played so much better and more comfortably with zero exposure to uncomfortable SPLs. 

 

I've had that problem so many times, but never really dove into the IEM space.  With the P2-Se215s setup, is that wireless, or are you teathered to the soundboard?

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12 minutes ago, ABECK said:

I've had that problem so many times, but never really dove into the IEM space.  With the P2-Se215s setup, is that wireless, or are you teathered to the soundboard?

No soundboard connection at all in the practice space. The only thing coming out of the PA in the rental room are vocals and my keys anyway so I just run keys from my key largo to my P2 wired. 

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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38 minutes ago, Reezekeys said:

Yes, the between song chit-chat and verbal stage cues are lost on me. On a wedding/corporate gig, that's mostly the leader calling the next tune as we're finishing one - so it's a problem!


 

 

31 minutes ago, Stokely said:

Our band has been together nine years, many hundreds of gigs and since the 2nd year or so has always had a mix of in-ears and wedges.   There really shouldn't be talking on stage IMO, in fact we like to work out "mini sets" with transitions between 2-4 songs so there is less dead time.  


Agree totally with all of this. But this is a new project for a fundraiser so songs are being actively worked out and in between takes there is lots of necessary back-and-forth discussion in the room.

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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I can’t imagine wearing in-ears with a band that isn’t also doing so to keep stage volume low and help everyone to hear what they need to.  
 

Could you perhaps just have come to a point where loud bands isn’t your thing anymore? The number of players with hearing loss and tinnitus -especially a lot of our heroes from the 70s - should be a lesson learned. 

 

Ask the other people in the band if they are interested in improving the clarity and listening experience for the band and the audience.  It’s 2022, there are better ways to do the job.  Technology marches on. 
 

In the rehearsal space I’d suggest having everyone take a moment to place their amplification directionally to blast their own ears rather than everyone else’s. Then set their own volume so they can hear themselves comfortably.   

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I think the idea of a mic plugged into the Key Largo might be the least inconvenient way to get the job done. You said in your first post that the band can be heard acoustically & nicely reduced in spls through your in-ears, you just need to hear the verbal discussion in-between songs . If the Key Largo is situated in arm's reach, you could just turn up the gain knob on the mic channel when discussions are being had.

 

For a while I used my old Tascam DR05 handheld recorder for blending some stage sound into my ears. When put in "record ready" mode, the stereo mics' feed is sent out the headphone jack. I connected a 1/8" stereo cable from there to an 1/8" stereo input on my MOTU audio interface and varied the level from a slider on my Roland controller. I stopped bringing the MOTU to gigs when it disconnected in the middle of a show, so I can't do this anymore. If you have one of these little handheld recorders lying around it might be worth a try, though you'd probably need some adapters or adapting cables to get the audio into the Key Largo's 1/4" inputs. A stereo stage mic is nice, better than the "inside your head" sound you'd get from a mono mic.

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Fortunately, the 2 bands I'm currently in don't do the "loud" thing with Marshall stacks etc. Occasionally both bands have done gigs with an opener (or us as the opener), and we still see the other band doing this. 😕 (One band had the lead guitarist pointing a Marshall cab right at himself - for monitoring!) Glad I'm out of that territory.

 

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You guys read the last sentence of Dr88's original post? "No, playing with other musicians in better spaces is not in the cards for now, and neither of these bands are going to be moving to all in-ears any time soon…"

 

Personally I think that rehearsing at high volume levels makes no sense. Being an old guy and more in the jazz/r&b camp than bar band rock/cover camp, even on actual gigs the people I work with tend to keep the volume at reasonable levels.

 

Many years ago I was at a NYC rehearsal studio and the great band Stuff (Cornell Dupree, Richard Tee, Chris Parker, Eric Gale and Gordon Edwards) were in another rehearsal room - the door was ajar and I peeked in to listen. You could barely hear them! Is "playing loud" something that needs rehearsing? 🙂 

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Good question.  You hear all the time that bands feel the need to practice at "gig volume".  I have never really agreed, if you know the tune and are able to play with energy at low volume (which is honestly required at all of our "better" gigs) then that should work.   Practice and gigs are typically different monitoring in any case.   If you are using an acoustic drummer it all comes down to how quietly that person can and is willing to play--and that has been a sticking point at my weekend warrior level.  It's hard (and perhaps not fun) to play drums both quietly and with energy, but most of them I've run into don't even want to try.  A few guys refused to even try the quieter drum sticks like it was some personal affront.

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Rehearsal room PAs aren't meant for instruments to be run thru they are for vocals.   Playing music music typically had  two to three sets of gear,  one for live where volume and dispersion,  sometimes a second setup for rehearsals small and easy to hear in a small space,  then a set of recording gear.     My buddy owned and I worked at one of the best rehearsal studios in L.A. (my opinion of course).    Only the big room (concert stage) had a PA designed for running instrument through.   Sure some people would run instruments thru PAs in the smaller rooms, but we'd tell them they were meant for vocal and we'll gladly rent you an amp for your rehearsal.   

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3 hours ago, ElmerJFudd said:

Could you perhaps just have come to a point where loud bands isn’t your thing anymore? The number of players with hearing loss and tinnitus -especially a lot of our heroes from the 70s - should be a lesson learned. 

 

Ask the other people in the band if they are interested in improving the clarity and listening experience for the band and the audience.  


 

2 hours ago, Reezekeys said:

You guys read the last sentence of Dr88's original post? "No, playing with other musicians in better spaces is not in the cards for now, and neither of these bands are going to be moving to all in-ears any time soon…"

 

1 hour ago, Stokely said:


 

 

1 hour ago, Stokely said:

If you are using an acoustic drummer it all comes down to how quietly that person can and is willing to play--and that has been a sticking point at my weekend warrior level. 


So this summarizes it. I don’t think these bands are by default or design loud bands. And before every meet up everyone voluntarily agrees to make a concerted effort to keep the volume to a minimum-needed level and complain about the levels from the last meet. 
 

But these practice rooms are small and with a set of acoustic drums, the drum level sets the overall sound level. While the drummers in these pants don’t seem to want to mercilessly beat the crap out of the drums, this is rock n roll and not jazz and it’s always loud one way or the other. 
 

 

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Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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I have never understood loud rehearsals. Had a sub guitarist who said he needed volume to get the right tone. If I recall, he finally put his amp in the other room when I said I was done with rehearsal unless the volume got under control. Keep in mind this was the country band and not some rock out group.

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I've been the only person in a rehearsal on in-ears. I do it whenever I can, even if I'm just wired to the rehearsal PA and only getting bleed from drums and guitars. It always helps me hear what's going on better than what's happening in the room acoustically, even better than when I use my molded ear plugs, especially since I'm usually right next to the drum kit.

 

Honestly, if missing the between-song chatter is a problem (like when important band members don't have vocal mics), I just pull one ear out until we start playing again. 

Slightly related, I was just watching some Foo Fighters concert footage, and since I'd recently seen an interview where Dave Grohl talked about how he's been putting up with some hearing loss because he doesn't like in-ears, I was paying attention to the monitor situation. A few of the band members have the ol Arc o' Wedges, but the bassist, lead guitarist, and possibly the keyboard player were all on in-ears. Of course, when you're in a band at that level of success... you get whatever you want!

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23 minutes ago, SamuelBLupowitz said:

A few of the band members have the ol Arc o' Wedges, but the bassist, lead guitarist, and possibly the keyboard player were all on in-ears. Of course, when you're in a band at that level of success... you get whatever you want!

 

I'm not sure what "level of success" I or the band I work with is at (I don't feel particularly successful right now, actually!), but we do the same thing. I wear wired ears. The two sax players and lead singer have wireless ears. The drummer, bass player & guitar player use wedges - and they're pretty loud, one of the reasons I went to ears in the first place (I used to use a wedge). I do miss the "liveness" experience but the cilia cells in my ears take precedence.

 

In any case, it's not particularly hard or groundbreaking to have a mix of ears & wedges on a stage. We usually play larger venues where loud stages aren't necessarily a problem in itself, so the decision to use ears or wedges is more personal taste or a desire to protect one's hearing. My in-ear's main function is to act as earplugs!

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In my band I am the lone IEM user during gigs.  It pisses them off to no end, and yes, I lose the between-song (or in-song) chit-chat, but having my own mix helps me do my job better.  I go the isolate-and mix-everything-in route; I would be distracted if I heard all the crap in everyone else's monitor.

 

Similarly, I am the only player without his own onstage sound; they can all have as much or as little keys in their wedges as they like.

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Thanks for all of the recent batch of replies. 
 

I think I’m going to stick with this set up for now. My hearing is far more important than anything else and, for comparable SPLs, I hear myself so much more clearly via IEM than room bleed through molded ear plugs. 
 

As for the communication between songs during rehearsals, I will just take one out between takes.

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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Your hearing is far more important than anything else. 

 

 RE: communicating and feeling cut off.    I've mentioned  before  I dial in a  cheap Tascam stereo mic that only I hear for ambient stage sound and  that also  makes it easier to hear talking as well.   

One of the wedding bands I sub with is pretty neanderthal as far as technology goes.  At the request of  the band leader who complained I wasn't loud enough,  I now also bring a small amp and shoot it towards whoever wants it. I let them control the volume as well.  For whatever reason, they're opposed to  putting a little keys (or other instruments) in the monitors, yet the stage volume is ridiculous.  One more reason I'll use IEMs on the gig. 

 

 

Like everyone mentioned, I continue to be amazed at bands who rehearse at volume 11 when you're trying to work out parts and arrangements. 

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One of the bands I was in a few years ago used to rehearse "unplugged" with acoustic guitar, bass with small amp, snare/bass drum with blasters, no PA. I used one of their kid's Casio or Yamaha PSR portable keyboard. It proved to be a great way to get tight (in the musical sense although there may have been beer 😉

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I have been in similar situations in the past, and did figure out a way to defend myself adequately.  As above, IEMs, use a mic, etc. but specifically for me?

 

Stereo pair from keys to stereo DI.  The XLRs go off to whatever is supposed to be making loud noises: FOH, my gear, etc.  I use a small mixer (Yamaha MG06) to mix my split keys feed with a monitor feed (if available), or simply hang a microphone elsewhere to get sense of what the rest of the band might be doing.  Small mixer out to my sealed IEMs to protect my hearing.  I can adjust keys and other stuff to my taste.  I can also listen to only the microphone feed, turn down my keys feed and get a sense of the keys mix wherever the microphone is placed, which is way better than trying to guess.   The microphone will also lessen the sealed feeling. 

 

This setup was very adaptable to different styles, volume levels, quality of monitor feed, etc. 

 

I am fortunate that I do not play in many of these situations these days, but I do feel your pain.

 

Edit: just remembered I tried this without the DI and using a single mixer with auxes.  Worked great until I managed to send the monitor feed back to the PA with an amazing feedback howl.  Better to have a setup that makes that impossible.

 

 

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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