I have just ordered myself a new pair of custom IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) from an American Company based in Portland, named 1964 Ears. They seem to have a number of good Products available, and the prices are very competitive once you start converting the dollars into pounds. There is also a pretty fun ‘designer’ on their site, which allows you to create custom IEM products.
I’m a big advocate of IEM’s as I think they really don’t have a downside if mixed correctly – you get an improved clarity of mix (often a much richer image in stereo), along with far more control over the dBs that are hitting your eardrums. This also can minimise stage noise, and often can be used with a silent backline – where a band either uses amp modellers, or place their amps offstage in a separate room/area, making life a lot easier for the Sound Engineer (usually with the exception of the drummer!). There are also a few other hidden perks, such as being able to use a click track or to be able to communicate with the band as a musical director, without the audience being aware.
The big issue with IEMS really comes down to how much you trust the engineer that you are working with. A substandard in-ear mix can be a pretty harrowing experience, as you can be left completely isolated if you can’t hear yourself or any other key instruments. In this situation musicians will often remove an ear, but this is potentially quite dangerous, as you will have to turn your remaining IEM up by 6dB to achieve the same perceived loudness as having both ears in.
For Sound Engineers working with IEM’s it is also worth making sure that you have a Brickwall Limiter in your signal chain, as the Band won’t thank you if you have any feedback issues or spikes such as a microphone being dropped – these particular IEMs can handle about 120dB as standard to give you an idea.
I’ll keep you updated when I get the finished products, but for the moment you can find the designer at the link below –