"How do I get an in-ear monitor mix?"

Written by Mike Volkerding/ Freq City Sound
New to the idea of in-ear monitors? One of the questions I often receive is;
"How do I get an i- 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 you are the 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 $89 or the Behringer Powerplay P1 $50.

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.


Wireless

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.

Best Bang for the Buck:  Mipro MI909 Fully Digital $659

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. I was introduced to dynamic drivers by Rudy Garcia at Future Sonics. 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 crowd’s heads bobs 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. Also adding all that technology opens us up for phasing and time alignment issues.

A dynamic driver actually being a speaker moves air. A dynamic offers 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, throughout 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 in comparison. 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 low end 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 their hands around 1 vs. 3,4,5,6 or whatever 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"?


Who the Hell is Mike Volkerding?

In Ear Gear is a subsidiary of Freq City Sound & Lighting LTD Cincinnati Oh FREQ CITY WEB SITE. Our primary business is live sound and staging 

My name is Mike Volkerding. I am the President (and truck loader). I started just like everyone in this business giggin’ on the weekends and the rig just kept growing. I still recall my powered PV head and 2 SP3 speakers. The rock n roll compulsion has grown me into a 44,000 sq ft warehouse loaded with enough gear to fill several semis.

Along the way, I stumbled in to in ear monitors. In my 60 years of life, I had never seen something change the dynamic of playing music as much as going in ear. The in ear monitors thing became a sideline passion of mine and hence this web site. I still rock out on the weekends and never do it without ears. Actually, the thought of a wedge terrifies me!

Why do I want to be a client of a concert tour type sound company instead of an online music store? Read on.

Music stores make their bucks on retail guitar sales and trumpet/violin rentals to schools. Most of the guys at the shops are good dudes and gig on the weekends. They have a little knowledge of everything in the store. Their primary push to you is whatever they're using on their weekend gigs or what pays a $5 manufacturer's spiff for a sale. I've been there; I managed a music store here in Cincinnati 30 years ago.

At a sound company we specialize in live sound. We're specialists in the areas of speaker enclosures, power amps, mixing consoles, and all styles of stage and in ear monitors. We recently did the sound, lights and stage for Styx and Huey Lewis for a crowd of 75,000 people. It's a different caliber of professionals around the stage wearing the "All Access" pass (there are no music store dudes).

An analogy – you want to improve the torque on your car's engine. Your options for direction on this move are the guy at the NAPA auto parts store or a NASCAR race driver's pit chief who also sells parts. Dig?

Ever notice that music stores are closed when you're setting up the show and there's a technical question? I understand that rock n roll’s not an 8-5:00. My cell phone is on if I'm awake (513.375.3302). I value my customers and I'm here as your consultant (plus I love this stuff).


Regarding the lines carried on this site. There are mega numbers of in ear monitor manufactures. I try to stay on top of them to make sure there's nothing new I should make you aware of and/or add to the site.

Here's the deal. What's carried on InEarGear.com is all of the industry boiled down to a few products. I've done a lot of comparing, research, and trying of products for you.

Each year at the NAMM show I check out all the new products. One outfit had 12 drivers! I listened and they sounded fine. Here's the thing, after two armature drivers, I've never heard the difference that would justify the added cost. I'm really not sure I can hear a difference at all. I've paid through the nose for mega driver stuff and I just wanted to believe!

I went from a dual driver Westone mold to a three way and spent a fortune. I heard no difference. I opened a 3 way Shure SE535CL and compared it to the Shure SE425 2 way. I heard no huge difference. Keep in mind, I'm talking stage rock n roll here.

You head-fi guys like talking top shelf, burn in time etc and that's fine. You read reviews on the mega drivers how badass they are. It's like buying a new expensive guitar, you've spent a fortune on it and you believe it's the best - worth all the money you've invested. You tell everyone you know and continue convincing yourself that it was worth all you spent. Same with the mega driver IEMs in the chat rooms. I've been there.

Do you believe with a 12 driver IEM that if a couple drivers went out, you'd hear a difference - nope. 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"?

In ear gear has the basics, the standards, the meat and potatoes of in ear monitors. I try out everything on the market and if it beats something on this site, I'll switch out or add.

So bottom line; There's not a million choices on this site like the big box stores that sell ever product in the world. What is on this site is what you need. I spend a lot of time researching, studying, reading, talking with manufactures etc. This frees you up to do your job and hit the stage.