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  • - If you've ever been to a live concert,

  • or seen your favorite musicians performing live on TV,

  • you may have noticed that they were wearing these, in-ears.

  • But what are they listening to through them?

  • And, are they really necessary?

  • Well, a year back, I did a short video on these

  • and you guys had so many questions

  • that I thought I'd give you a more in-depth view.

  • (roar, roar, roar, roar, roar)

  • Rawr!

  • When you are singing or performing

  • it is really critical that you can hear yourself clearly.

  • And traditionally, this was done with wedges.

  • Wedges, as the name suggests,

  • are a wedge shaped loudspeaker floor monitor.

  • These are placed on stage facing the performers

  • and play the music back to the musicians

  • so they can hear themselves clearly.

  • Legend has it that The Beatles were the first people

  • to use onstage monitors when they couldn't hear themselves

  • over their screaming fans in the 1960s,

  • at the height of Beatlemania.

  • Their sound engineers decided to simply turn

  • some of the speakers that were facing the audience

  • around to face the band so they could hear themselves.

  • For a long while wedges were

  • the only way of doing this effectively.

  • But they presented other problems

  • in the form of hearing health, sound quality,

  • and the mobility of the musicians.

  • Something smaller and more effective was needed.

  • And this came about in the form of the in-ear monitor.

  • The first basic homemade in-ears were made in the 1970s,

  • and they were essentially earbuds attached to a radio pack.

  • Now, these weren't very good quality

  • and were certainly not available to the everyday musician.

  • More effective in-ear monitors were made by Chris Lindop

  • on the Stevie Wonder tour in the 1980s.

  • These were better sound quality, although not perfect.

  • But they did allow sound to be fed

  • directly into Stevie's ear.

  • However, these were not made with hearing health in mind,

  • and didn't protect the wearer

  • from the loud noises from the band or audience.

  • And they weren't for sale in the public forum.

  • So it would be more than a decade

  • until any significant development occurred.

  • Then, in 1995, a sound engineer called Jerry Harvey,

  • who has an amazing CV, he's worked with people like Kiss,

  • Motley Crew, Morrissey, The Cult, KD Lang,

  • and Linkin Park to name a few, was working with Van Halen.

  • The drummer, Alex Van Halen,

  • felt the noise from the monitors was hurting his ears,

  • which he was probably right.

  • And he didn't feel like he could

  • communicate with the band properly.

  • He went to Jerry for a solution.

  • After researching current in-ears,

  • Jerry realized that there was nothing

  • that really solved the problem,

  • nothing created complete isolation from external sounds.

  • And the sound quality was tinny,

  • and didn't give the musicians an accurate representation

  • of what they were producing.

  • Jerry decided to do something about it.

  • He created the first ever dual speaker custom in-ears,

  • which he molded to Alex's ears himself.

  • This allowed a greater frequency of sounds to be heard,

  • so it was much better quality, and it had true isolation.

  • Skid Row were touring with Van Halen at the time

  • and was so impressed by it that they offered

  • to pay $3,000 per pair for each member,

  • including Sebastian Bach, the singer.

  • The custom in-ear was born.

  • Since then, the work of many sound engineers

  • has evolved and improved the in-ears.

  • And, since the early 2000s,

  • they became accessible to the everyday musician

  • for a fairly reasonable price.

  • So let's have a look at in-ears,

  • and what they do, and what makes them so great.

  • So, much like an earbud,

  • they sit in the structure of your ear.

  • But, unlike an earbud,

  • they create a seal between your ear canal

  • and the in-ear monitor themselves, creating isolation.

  • So, here are eight reasons why they work.

  • Number one, superior sound quality.

  • Because the in-ears fit really tightly into the ear,

  • the seal between the in-ears themselves and your ear canal

  • blocks out the outside noise.

  • It also means that the sound coming from the monitors

  • goes directly into your ear canal,

  • which means you can hear things

  • with more detail, at less volume.

  • Which leads me on to number two, hearing health.

  • It's no surprise given the loud environment

  • that they're constantly in,

  • but musicians are four times more likely

  • to deal with noise induced hearing loss,

  • and 57% more likely to develop tinnitus.

  • Listening to anything above 85 decibels for

  • an extended period of time can damage your hearing health,

  • and musicians often have to hear things at that level.

  • In-ears block out the sound of outside noise,

  • whether it be amplified instruments, drums, or the audience,

  • which all can be really, really loud.

  • They also allow you to have the mix at a lower level,

  • protecting your ears.

  • Number three, individual mixes.

  • Because the sound is isolated to each performer,

  • rather than the entire stage,

  • then the performer can choose the mix that they want.

  • So everything is completely personalized.

  • It also means that you can put on things like click tracks,

  • and cues, and the audience won't hear them.

  • Number four, reduced vocal strain.

  • This one is a great one for singers, of course.

  • Because you have that lower mix in your ears

  • it reduces that urge to push.

  • You don't have to fight against the band,

  • you don't have to sing louder.

  • You can hear yourself clearly and sing with more precision.

  • Number five, elimination of feedback,

  • and clean sound for the audience.

  • If you've got speakers on stage blasting sound back at you,

  • some of this can get picked up by your microphone.

  • And this gets amplified, and makes this horrible noise.

  • (feedback screeching)

  • Even without the full effect of feedback,

  • some of those lower frequencies still can

  • bleed into the audience mix, which really muddies the sound.

  • With everyone having their in-ear monitors,

  • this shouldn't happen.

  • And it allows the audience mix to be clean,

  • and the sound engineer to do what he is best at doing,

  • making the best sound possible

  • for the audience and for the musicians.

  • Number six, mobility.

  • Stage monitors take up a lot of space,

  • they've got loads of wires, and they are also directional.

  • So that means you have to stand

  • in front of them to hear your sound.

  • This means that if you wanna run around on stage,

  • you're pretty stuck.

  • With in-ears you can move around, there is no stage clutter,

  • and you have fantastic sound

  • even when you are crowd surfing.

  • Number seven, portability.

  • In-ears are small and portable.

  • On stage speakers are 45 pounds.

  • So you have two choices.

  • You can take your big old speakers with you,

  • lug them to every venue,

  • and have your sound set up how you want to.

  • Or you can use the venue speakers that they have

  • and configure everything around those speakers.

  • With in-ears that completely solves that problem.

  • Number eight, stereo sound.

  • In-ears empower the singer to set the mix that they want.

  • But also, nowadays, in-ears are generally in stereo,

  • which means you can have more of one sound

  • in one ear than in the other ear.

  • So you could have a bit more drums here

  • and a bit more guitar here.

  • This is much more natural for the ear.

  • It sounds as if you're being surrounded by instruments,

  • rather than mono,

  • where you're getting the same thing in both ears.

  • And this is great for a few reasons, clarity,

  • general enjoyment, and of course hearing health.

  • So, this all sounds awesome, you want some,

  • what are your options?

  • Well, as you can see,

  • I'm not gonna go into massive detail here,

  • but I have my own custom in-ears,

  • which are made to the shape of my ear.

  • It's kind of weird being able to see

  • what the inside of your ear looks like.

  • These are a little more expensive

  • than the average on the market,

  • but there are pros and cons to this.

  • Because it does fit to my ear

  • it fits really, really snugly in,

  • which means they're really durable,

  • and I'm definitely not getting any bleed from outside noise.

  • So my hearing is really, really protected.

  • Personally though, I really like my Sennheiser IE 400 Pro.

  • Now, I'm not even being sponsored by these guys,

  • but there is a specific reason that I like them

  • that may be different to the general musician.

  • The one con for these guys for me

  • is they're quite fiddly to take in and out.

  • These are really, really quick and easy.

  • So, as a vocal coach, I will go to gigs,

  • and I will have to listen to the mix

  • that the performer is listening to,

  • and then quickly switch over

  • to the mix that the audience hears out front.

  • So I'm gonna have to take them out

  • really, really, really quickly.

  • And for me, this gives a great sound,

  • and I'm able to take them out really quickly.

  • However, hearing health is so important,

  • and you do get a little bit of bleed

  • from the outside noise.

  • So if you're gigging regularly in loud settings,

  • I would really recommend going to pay that little bit more

  • for a pair of customs because your hearing

  • will thank you in the long run.

  • Okay, so this sounds great.

  • But sometimes you see that singers aren't wearing them,

  • and sometimes they take them out during performances.

  • Why would that be?

  • Well, of course, there are always problems.

  • There could be interference,

  • there could be a problem with the mix, mistakes happen.

  • But there are also some important things to consider

  • when you're looking into getting in-ears.

  • Sometimes in smaller venues there is only one sound desk.

  • This means there just isn't the option

  • of having your own mix.

  • But the most common reason is that it does take

  • a little bit of getting used to in-ears

  • because that isolation makes you feel

  • a little bit disconnected from the audience.

  • Sometimes in smaller, more intimate gigs

  • where you're playing something like an acoustic set,

  • which isn't very loud,

  • it's much better just to have your ears free,

  • to be able to get that direct connection.

  • But, in bigger gigs where it is really, really important

  • sound engineers do get around it.

  • Often sound engineers will set up ambient microphones,

  • which pick up the sound of the audience

  • and send the sound directly back to the singer.

  • Then the singer gets to pick how loud they want

  • the audience to be within their mix as well.

  • Having said that, no matter the size of the venue,

  • how big or small it is, sometimes you just want

  • that direct connection with the audience.

  • And, as any performer will tell you,

  • it's all about the audience.

  • (upbeat music)

  • (people singing)

  • (person roars)

- If you've ever been to a live concert,

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B1 UK sound mix hearing roar noise stage

What Are In-Ear Monitors And Why Do Singers Use Them?

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    Jill posted on 2021/06/19
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