Written by Mike Volkerding/ Freq City Sound President
New to the idea of in ear monitors? One of the questions I often receive is;
"How do I get an in ear monitor mix?"
Open Aux Send
On most mixing consoles there are auxiliary sends. Your board guy will use one for a reverb, one for a delay, and then hopefully there are a couple open aux sends. For you to see what's happening look at your input on the board. Follow the channel strip all the way to the top. See the aux sends? One of those will be your mix. Let's say that your vocal channel. To turn your vocal up in your in ear monitor mix, you will turn up the related aux send. Let's say your aux send is number three. As you go across the console you will adjust aux send number three for any signal of which you want more. You want more guitar? Turn up aux number three on the guitar channel.
On the back of the console look for the output marked aux three. Aux send three is where you will plug in your in ear monitor amp such as the Elite Core PMA (best bang for the buck), Rolls PM50s , Rolls PM55P or the Rolls PM351. We'll call this in ear monitor setup "Hardwired" because you're going from the jack on the console straight to an amplifier with a wire. This is the least expensive way of getting in ear mix and works great because there's no wireless issues to concern yourself with. It's good for drummers, keyboard players or say you're in a church setting where you sit in a chair the same place every week. The next step is plugging your earphones into your in ear monitor amp. You're set to rock.
Everything is the same as above except you come out of the Aux #3 jack to your wireless transmitter. The wireless transmitter sends that same signal to your belt pack (the receiver). Plug your earphones into the belt pack, you're set to rock.
And there's always the old stand by - call me 513.375.3302 if the cell is on, I'm awake.
What's the difference between an Armature & a Dynamic Driver?
Written by an opinionated Mike Volkerding President Freq City Sound & Lighting, Inc.
Many of you know that I've been a proponent of Dynamic drivers over armature drivers for many years. The Future Sonics Atrio (10mm) was one of my favorites until it was discontinued a couple years back. Now keep in mind, what I write here is fact with my opinion added. I'm an old rock 'n roll dude who likes band stuff (bass and a drummer kinda acts). If your instrument is the flute I would suggest an armature like the Westone UM20Pro or the Shure SE425. But if your crowds heads goes up and down when your band plays, read on.
What's the difference between an Armature & a Dynamic Driver?
An Armature driver is very small transducer. In our lives it has primarily been used in the hearing aid market. Recently, they have gained popularity as in-ear monitors. You'll hear them called dual driver, three way, four way etc,. Armature ears moves no air so they don't need an air port like a dynamic. Mids and highs can be more detailed. However, armatures have always lacked low-end. Manufactures attempt to cure the missing low end by combining several Balanced Armatures together, adding multiple crossovers and tricky chambers. All of which, arguably doesn't sound as natural as a single dynamic.
A dynamic driver actually being a speaker moves air. They offer a more coherent and powerful sound. You don't just hear the sound - you feel it! You feel the energy and get bone induction. I'm a singer and own Westone's dual and three way molds. I later got into the Future Sonics mold with a 13mm dynamic. Of course the dynamic has more ass but I also noticed, with the armature driver ears, through out the course of the night, I'd be turning up. One of the pluses of ears is to save ours. Turning up - not so good. With the dynamic - Feeling the sound - I never turned up all night (better on the ears).
The dynamic is a warmer sound where as my 2 and 3 ways are a bit brittle and glassy on the high end. Years back, I switched from Stats and Les Pauls to a Parker Fly. It took me a year to finally realize "Why does a guitar have to sound like a Les Paul or a Strat?" Same with earphones. We get use to that brittle top end of the armatures and that's the deal. Well it's not! Get use to a dynamic and the highs are warm and smooth. When I put my three way in my ear at band practice, I have to adjust to it's harshness and bite compared to my molded stage dynamic.
Who would like an armature?
I'd say blue grass bands, female singers that don't want much ass in your mix, symphony musicians that are concentrated on the higher registers, anyone who doesn't really need or like to feel the low end. Audiophile guys that want a flat sound like the recording engineer mixed in the studio should lean to an armature. Dynamics will present more lows which might not be for you. I just thought of trumpet, sax but I think a dynamic's warmth would be the way to go there.
A good dynamic driver costs more than three of the little armatures. It's hard for some to wrap there hands around 1 vs. 3,4,5,6 or what ever the hell they're up to now. To be honest, when I went from 2 way to 3 in the molded armatures, I never heard a difference. I've heard the same from several other regional touring guys. There's no way I'd hear a difference in a 4, 5 or 6 way! When you're standing in front of a PA system and it's kicking your ass. Can you tell if it's one, two, three, four way? Nope, you just know it sounds really good. The rest is selling hype. All the national and regional touring acts we do sound for ask for bi-amped wedges. For the last ten years, I've put full range wedges in front of them. They sound real good. Never has an act said, "is that a 2 way system"?
OK enough of my ranting. As usual, feel free to call if you have questions. Cell phone is on if I'm awake. Mike 513.375.3302
Hard Wired In Ear Monitor Amps & Getting a Signal
Mike Volkerding Freq City Sound & InEarGear.com
Let's talk a little bit about how to get a signal to your hardwired in ear monitor amp. On standard analog boards you have a number of auxiliary sends. If you look at a channel strip you'll see the fader, EQ section, and AUX send section. You'll need one of those auxiliary sends to be open in order for you to get a personal mix. AUX SENDS are commonly used for sending reverb, delay or a monitor mix. If you have an open auxiliary send that will be your mix. On the back of the console you'll see the AUX outputs. Take that output whether it be a tip ring sleeve (TRS) or an XLR from that output straight to your hardwired in ear monitor amplifier. The mix of instruments and vocals will be done at the console. You'll have overall volume control at your amp.
Let's say you've chosen AUX 1 as your mix. You want more guitar? Go to the guitar channel and on that channel turn up AUX 1. Repeat this for every instrument plugged into the console to create your own personal monitor mix.
It's pretty much the same on the new digital consoles and rack mixers only you have a lot more flexibility. Many digital consoles and rack consoles for ipad have as many as 10 AUX sends where our old analog boards, we were lucky to see 6 . You also have the ability within your AUX SEND to EQ your mix, ad reverb etc. The process is essentially the same though. Your AUX SEND is your in ear monitor mix.
There are a lot of creative ways to get a mix with a personal amp even if you don't have an AUX SEND on your console. Several of the monitor amps have two inputs, some three. They also have through-puts. Meaning, you plug your microphone in to the amp and then out of the other side on to the console. You now have control of that microphone volume in your ear. Now we need to consider what goes into the other input of the amplifier. Let's say you're mixing console doesn't have enough open AUX SEND's to give you your own personal monitor mix.
Get a split from what ever monitor mix their sending and plug it into the other side of your amp. Now you have an overall monitor mix and you were vocal as loud as you want.
Let's just take a split of the front of house mix and run it in to channel 2. Now you have a nice balanced full band signal to mix in your vocal and as needed.
I'm just thinking out loud here. How about we set a microphone in the room and run it into the second channel of your monitor amp. Now you pick up everything on stage with one microphone and balance your vocal and as you like.
I'm sure there are several more ideas we could come up with. They all have their pluses and drawbacks but what I'm trying to get through is the versatility of a personal monitor amp.
If you guys come up with anything new get it to me and I'll add it to our list.
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Questions? Please email or phone: MikeVolkerding@gmail.com / Cell Phone 513.375.3302