Headphones are devices that convert electrical vibrations into sound. They differ from the acoustic system by smaller dimensions and lower sound pressure. They are used individually.
At the heart of the headphones design is a metal membrane. Under the influence of a magnetic field, this membrane vibrates, radiating audible vibrations that can be heard by a person. In size headphones are divided into: small (ear buds, in-ear headphones), medium (clip-on headphones) and large (on-ear, over-ear). Another method of classification involves the separation of devices by the type of acoustic design. There are also three main categories: open, closed, and half-open. Each of these types of devices is used in studio work to monitor the track being recorded.
The main requirement for in-ear monitoring is the maximum realism of sound, reproduction of all the shades of music, including the shortcomings of the original signal. They should not only transmit the fullness of the reproduced frequencies, but also not let any noise into sound. This kind of headphones is used by sound engineers, as well as composers when writing and working with the music.
We must also mention the wireless headphones. In this case, operators work with the studio equipment only. In wireless headphones the signal is transmitted either by infrared radiation or by radio waves. The battery must be used in any case you choose.
Benefits of In-Ear Monitoring
Standard monitoring requires the use of bulky and massive floor monitors located on the front part of the stage. In-ear monitoring has a number of significant advantages:
– Sound quality: when a signal is sent through the headphones, the performer is given an extremely clean mix, in which all instruments are perfectly audible and no extraneous noise interferes. In addition, it’s better for the audience, since in-ear monitoring eliminates the acoustic feedback, and the microphones on the stage do not catch low frequencies from the floor monitors.
– Mobility: floor monitors create a fixed zone for comfortable listening. With in-ear monitoring, the headphones remain with the performer all the time; he can move freely from one place to another.
– Compactness: The in-ear system is in a small suitcase, which can be taken wherever you go. Floor monitors are very often large and heavy.
Applications Where You Can Use In-Ear Monitor Systems
Where can you use personal in-ear monitors? Well, almost everywhere you need it to be used.
– During live concerts: musicians that are constantly on tours will undoubtedly appreciate the convenience of this device, as well as a significant reduction in transport costs – there is no need to carry floor monitors and amplifiers.
– Rehearsal rooms: in-ear monitoring would turn the most unfortunate (from the acoustical point of view) into an excellent place for rehearsals. Musicians get the opportunity not only to rehearse in more comfortable conditions, but can also avoid overstraining of vocal cords and ringing in the ears.
– Recording Studio: During recording, performers can independently control the monitor mix and the volume of the metronome. Small ear molds are much more comfortable than huge studio headphones.
– Performance of classical music: when working with floor monitors there is always a risk of acoustic feedback while playing on acoustic musical instruments. As on the stage and in the orchestra pit, the systems of in-ear monitoring provide individual control without reducing the sound quality in the audience.
– Theatrical performances: the absence of huge floor monitors provides nice, not overloaded with details look of the stage. However, the main advantage for actors and technical personnel of the scene is that they can hear the director’s remarks.
– Television and radio broadcasting: in addition to high sound quality, in-ear monitors allow reporters and TV-show’s hosts to cut off the noise. In addition, wireless personal in-ear monitors can be successfully used for apps related to satellite broadcasting, as well as for voice connection with videographers, speakers, technicians and other professionals working on television and radio.
With the appearance of in-ear monitoring systems, the lack of standard floor monitors has become quite common thing for a stage performing. Even guitar and bass amps are not used on the stage as they were in the past.Nevertheless, some artists, such as Paul McCartney and Gov’t Mule, prefer to use old school classic floor monitors.Still, you should keep in mind that when first rock and roll concerts appeared there were no monitors at all! The musicians could hear their instruments only through guitar or bass amps. Vocals and drums were audible only through the main amplifiers and speakers. With the growing popularity of rock music, the audience grew larger in the audience, and it became almost impossible to hear music the same way, for both musicians and audience.
With in-ear monitoring systems, you can totally rely on the sound engineer who works with your console.Besides that, the sound picked up by the microphone is not the same as the sound of the amplifier on the stage. Also, a tight mix can be a drawback.
In order to feel great with your headphones, you need to spend some time on the right mixing.Working with it on the go is a bad idea. Competent sound engineer would still be the best choice. It is also useful to know how to work with the sound on the microphone and on the instruments. If possible, you should take the time to set up your in-ear monitoring system and work with the sound engineer. Experiment with various microphones and their positions until you get the desired sound in your earphones. When using stereo effects will add a little space (delay, reverb or both), which can make the mix more natural and enjoyable. Also, you should be careful with the volume level. When using this kind of monitors, it is recommended to use a limiter (the limiter is already built-in in most receivers).
Finally, we suggest you to take a look at several advantages of wireless in-ear monitoring systems for musicians and singers if compared to onstage monitors:
- Decrease the volume on the stage (no floor monitors);
- Better sound in the audience;
- The performer can move freely on the stage, there is no need to be located near the monitor;
- Lowering the level in the monitors to improve hearing safety;
- Deeper monitor mix;
- Individual mix and volume level for each performer;
- The possibility of an inconspicuous connection with each performer;
- Portability of the system (the outdoor monitor weighs much more than the receiver);
- Improved aesthetics;
- Improvement of acoustic insulation.
Musicians and technicians in the transition to in-ear monitoring systems need to learn how to communicate with each other and spend enough time to create the right monitor mix. Acoustic isolation of personal monitor systems offers total control of sound in headphones, but also requires more attention to detail in the mix itself.
We have listed devices that, in our opinion, can be good assistants in stage performances. We must say, that when buying this type of devices for musicians or singers, you should consider all the important features of each separately and, thus, choose the best wireless in-ear monitor system.