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in-ear options for keys player

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  • in-ear options for keys player

    Hello, not really a live sound guy with tons of knowledge of monitor options; I'm back playing out live in a casual non-pro band and am curious about in-ears.  We currently use powered wedges.

    One reason I'm thinking of this concerns the space needed for my monitor  (we are a six-piece) and it can be hard to place a monitor anywhere that my boards are not blocking it on our small stages we tend to play.   Also, I'd love to be able to not have a wall of sound blasting me quite so loud all night long from amps and a drummer right next to me (assuming earbuds will reduce outside volume). 

    I mentioned I'm a keys player because I believe I could get away with non-wireless.  My thought is this:

    get a monitor feed (our new board has enough for everyone if so desired);  run it into my small Rolls mixer (that I bought for a keyboard submixer but didn't end up needing) that can be velcro'ed to my stand; plug in phones!   If this worked, the only thing I'm missing are decent earbuds.  

    If I did try this and got some earbuds, my bandmates suggested getting ones with multiple drivers and staying away from the ~$100 cheaper (relatively) consumer options.  They mentioned they may not be able to handle live sound (much like home stereo speakers are not used for non-mastered studio work I guess) and that the bass definition would be poor.

    I'm hesitant to buy expensive ones..there's the factor that I'm pretty much in the band for fun and a bit of extra $$, so I'm careful about expenses...but I'm more worried about losing/breaking something that is $300 or more and so small and fragile.  Much as with keyboards though, I understand to get quality and robustness you often have to pay more.

    I've heard some local musicians here mention they often play with one earbud partially out, and I thought that was a bad idea as far as potential ear damage.  That said, if I were to do that perhaps I'd still be able to hear the bass without having it in my monitor mix.  

    I appreciate any info.


  • #2

    Another option is to mount a B208D or two on mic stand(s) - I've had no complaints about those for keys.


    • Stokely
      Stokely commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah a small powered monitor that doesn't take up space is probably the simplest option. Yet another easy option is to use my powered monitor(s)--12"--that I currently use for my "amp" and have a monitor send go to one instead. Although one thing the in-ears or the small speaker would do is make this unnecessary as well...but at the least I wouldn't need a monitor wedge.

  • #3

    I'm a keys player as well - and use an iEM setup roughly 50% of the time - depending on the gig.   The reason that I don't use it all of the time is that I also run sound from the stage - which means I'm flying blind once the IEMs go in my ears.  

    I'm using a Shure PSM200 wireless system - with a pair of LiveWires custom ear buds.   I could easily have gone wired - but wanted the freedom of the wireless.   Although my experience while purchasing my ear bud (the LiveWires customer service was terrible - they couldn't provide a shipment date and then basically stopped responding to status inquiries.   Then one day the buds showed up at my door without any notice that they had been shipped - more than 3 months after I placed my order.  At the time I placed my order I was told 3-5 weeks.   Service issues aside - I happy with the price/performance balance.  

    The Shure PSM transceiver unit is mounted in my Keys rack.   The rack receives a AUX SEND from the FOH board with a general band mix minus keyboards - which I run into a available channel on my line mixer.   I mix this with my keyboards to create the mix I hear in my stage monitors and/or IEMs.   I simply use care not to send the AUX Feed monitor mix in my send to the FOH.   I feel I get the best of both worlds in that I get the mix I want but still have control over my keyboard volume in MY mix.  By keeping the PSM200 in the Keys rack - it's flexible when doing sub jobs - give it a monitor send and take a FOH mix and it handles pretty much any situation. 

    You alluded to concern about cost / selection of your ear buds.   No question - it's easy to suffer from stickershock when you start looking at ear buds - and makes alot of guys try to ease into IEMs and just "sticking a toe in the water" in terms of buying what they need.   Ear bud fit is critical - and all to often, the more affordable "stock" ear buds simply do not fit right.   I tried using the "stock" earbuds that came with the Shure PSM200 "system".   I could never get them to seal properly in my ears - not only was the sound poor, but it also meant the damn things were either jammed so deep in my ears that they were painfull to wear - or I was constantly dealing with them falling out of my ears.   It was clear that a "custom" ear bud was my only option.   Now, my earbuds fit well - I easily get a good seal yet am comfortable.   My IEM buds are now the ear buds I use for all my music listening.  The point I'm trying to make is that you may vary well end up having to try a couple of ear buds to find the buds that work for you. 

    The SpaceNorman


    Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
    Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
    Stage Amplification: Stereo via 2 Yamaha DSR112s


    • Stokely
      Stokely commented
      Editing a comment

      Thanks guys, I see I'm not the only one out there wrestling with monitoring issues

      My buddy does as SpaceNorman does, mixes and aux send with his mixer and just is very careful to avoid a feedback loop!  

      I'm going to crawl before I walk and experiment with getting an aux send (including my keys) to my current powered monitor.  Having only one big monitor (vs two with the band monitor mix) might solve my space issues.

      Of course that means it may be a bit harder to hear my keys since they are not the only thing coming out of it, but I'll give it a shot.  A variation would be to use my little rolls mixer as a monitor mixer since the kurzweil has multiple (mirrored) outputs--that's pretty much what was described above except the mixer won't be sending to FOH.  I'd just use the additional outs of the pc361 into the mixer along with the monitor send (minus keys) and then my mixer out to the monitor, giving me keys vs the band level control.





  • #4
    I mentioned I'm a keys player because I believe I could get away with non-wireless.  My thought is this:

    Unless you have a big budget and a big need I'd recommend going wired as far as IEMs go. 

    First, the sound quality will be much better (unless you can pony-up $2500 for the lectrosonics unit).  Everything else that is generally availble for in-ears is still analog so you would be getting the mp3 version of the sound as opposed to the quility of the live stage dynamics.  Also be aware of those cheapy digital units that are out there.  Most have limited dynamic range and even worse 20+ ms of latency.  The are not ready to be live music monitors.


    Second, the TV band wireless landscape is still changing and more bandwidth will be sold off.  Next auction is scheduled for 2014.  But not even counting that, consumer TVBDs will be here before you know it.  I'll bet you can count on 5-600 MHz cell phone service by next year.  That means that a big part of your audience will be carrying renegade RF devices in their pockets.  So when you count that you are really left with about 10% of the bandwidth you had before the 700's were shut down.  Pros will be able to operate (although it will take a lot more works than it used to) but weekend warriors and those that don't have RF scanners and a bunch of radio knowledge are gonna be in tough shape.  So if you can buy UHF IEMs and make your investment back in a year or two then it might make sense.


    Personally, I'm using wired systems (until I can build my own digital systems ).  I send monitor mix busses to headpone amps passing them through a DSP unit that provides EQ and limiting and then on to earbuds.  In my case my molded earpieces actually keep the overall level down which is a benefit to me.  I also use some omni mics placed around the stage so that I can hear people talking and I run them through a MIDI-controlled "cough-drop" to switch them out when the song begins (although I used to use a reverse gate to do it automatically)

    Don Boomer


    • dbMontana
      dbMontana commented
      Editing a comment
      Sorry Don -- TVBDs means?