Do in-ear monitors protect my hearing?
- In-ear monitors do not inherently protect your hearing; however, with a properly isolating seal and when used correctly, following safe listening practices, custom in-ear monitors offer excellent ambient isolation that allows for lower listening levels and some loud sound attenuation.
- All in-ear monitors block out some ambient sound; however, how much attenuation (reduction of the volume of external sound reaching the ear) in-ear monitors provide will vary. In order to obtain maximum attenuation:
- the IEMs should not have any open sound bores or open vents that would allow for unregulated amounts of external sound to enter the ear and
- the IEMs should have a properly isolating seal and should fit snuggly and deeply into your ear canal, which is why a proper fit is so important, making the ear mold impression and follow-up fitting process crucial.
- See an audiologist and have your hearing tested every year (or sooner if you are having issues).
- Know how loud you are listening. In-ear monitors can absolutely harm your hearing. Some IEMs are capable of delivering up to 130 dB SPL to your ears! That's loud-really, really loud. Keep the volume down.
- How loud you can safely listen is a product of how loud the sound is, how long you are exposed to the loud sound, how often you are exposed to loud sounds, and individual risk factors.
- Ask us how we can help you find out exactly how loud you have your in-ear monitors turned up so we can make absolutely sure you are listening at safe volume levels.
- Re-train your ears. Using in-ear monitors is going to sound different. You will be more isolated on stage than you are used to and the monitor mix will sound different through in-ears than wedges, so you will need to re-train your ears to listen in this new way. In addition, it is important to know that if you are used to using floor wedges and switching to in-ear monitors, there is a tendency to turn the IEM volume up to the same, usually unsafe, level that your wedges were at without even realizing it, so you will need to re-train your ears to listen at lower volume levels.
- Wear both earpieces! Taking one earpiece out negates any isolation and attenuation you would have had for that open ear canal. When you take one ear piece out, the tendency is to raise the volume of the IEM still in your ear to compensate and hear the mix over the ambient sound. Now both ears are susceptible to damage from loud sounds.
- Use either an internal or outboard compressor or peak limiter to help protect agains bursts of feedback, transients and other sudden loud sounds that can occur during a performance.
- Be aware of how the monitor mix and your monitoring system impacts the use of your in-ear monitors.
- The more isolation your IEMs provide, the more attenuation you'll have of the ambient sounds and the less you'll need to turn the volume up. The deeper in the ear canal that your IEMs fit, the greater the isolation. Silicone in-ear monitors can more comfortably go deeper in the ear canal and have a snugger fit than acrylic IEMs. Custom-fit in-ear monitors will provide better isolation than universal-fit earpieces.
- Ultimately, the goals should be to keep the stage volume as low as possible, to obtain as much attenuation as possible from your in-ear monitors to protect your hearing from ambient sound levels, to wear both IEM earpieces to protect both of your ears, and to keep the volume of your IEMs in a safe listening range.
- At the end of the day, you are in charge of how loud you listen and in-ear monitors are capable of being just as damaging, if not more damaging, than floor wedges. Make protecting your hearing a priority.
- Contact us to learn more and to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect your most valuable piece of gear-your ears. Our audiologist is happy to consult with you and answer any questions you have about safe listening with IEMs.
What are in-ear monitors?
- When musicians perform live, they need to be able to hear themselves and their bandmates while on stage. There are basically two ways to do this, one, using stage monitors, also called wedges or floor wedges, or two, using in-ear monitors (IEMs). IEMs are essentially earphones that are used by musicians to monitor their music as they perform.
IEMs are one component of an in-ear monitor system. In a wireless IEM system, the IEMs plug into a receiver worn by the musician, usually as a belt pack. A transmitter sends an FM signal to the receiver of the monitor mix, the mix of the performance that the musician wants to hear. In a wired IEM system, the receiver is eliminated and the IEMs are plugged in directly to the mixer. Most musicians will want to opt for the wireless system so that they can move freely around the stage; however, some musicians such as drummers or keyboardist, who usually stay in one spot, may opt for wired options.
Manufacturers we proudly carry
At Sound Access, our audiologist specializes in working with musicians and those working in the music industry. Our audiologist believes that your ears are the most important piece of gear you will ever invest in. We offer more than just ear mold impressions, we guide, support, and empower you through the process of getting in-ear monitors.
How long does it take to get my custom IEM order in?
- Custom in-ear monitors typically take 5-6 weeks to come in. The time it takes can vary depend on the manufacturer and shipping services.
- There are rush options available if you need your order sooner (additional fees apply to rush orders).
Sound Access is an authorized dealer of the following in-ear monitor manufacturers:
musicians in-ear monitors
What is a balanced armature driver?
- Balanced armature (BA) drivers were originally developed for use in hearing aids and are still used for this application as they offer efficient drive and have the ability to be tuned to accommodate different hearing loss configurations. Operating on different functional principles than traditional dynamic, moving coil drivers (the drivers found in most standard earphones), BA drivers are significantly more compact allowing for a more comfortable, electronically sensitive, and sonically accurate end result. The driver consists of a mini armature inside a coil of wire surrounded by two magnets. The top and bottom magnets determine the movement of the armature. When there is no net force on the armature, meaning it is at equal distance from both magnets, it is balanced. The armature is attached to the center of the diaphragm. When current flows through the coil, it magnetizes the armature, causing it to pivot towards either magnet. This pivoting movement will move the diaphragm. BA drivers can be tuned to cover specific frequencies giving a more precise response even in single driver in-ears and because they are compact, multiple drivers can be used in an in-ear monitor. Just like with a tower speaker, better fidelity is achieved with separate speakers for low, mid, and high frequencies and with multiple BA drivers, filtering is used to separate the range of frequencies allowing each driver to focus on a particular frequency range.
- Most in-ear monitors use BA drivers or a combination of BA drivers with traditional dynamic, moving coil drivers.
Are in-ear monitors just for musicians?
- In-ear monitors are not just for musicians!
- They are for anyone who wants a superior listening experience. IEMs traditionally come with a standard earphone jack to use with your personal listening device.
- Custom-fit IEMs are great for individuals for whom universal-fit ear tips don't fit well, for those with an active lifestyles who experience difficulty with universal-fit ear ear tips falling out, or for anyone who wants more comfort, function, and superior sound quality out of their earphones.
Why should I use custom-fit in-ear monitors?
- Universal-fit in-ear monitors generally use ear tips that are often uncomfortable when worn for prolonged periods of time. In addition, our ears are unique and universal-fit isn't always so universal so many people are unable to successfully and properly wear this type of in-ear monitor.
- Custom-fit IEMs are made to specifically fit your ears, giving you more attenuation with increased comfort.
How will I be able to demo a custom product?
- We have universal-fit demos of most in-ear monitors that we offer so that you can try before you buy. You can spend time listening to the demos to made sure you get the right product for your listening needs.
- We also have models of custom-fit in-ear monitors so you can see what your finished IEMs will look like.
- In addition to demonstrations, we offer IEM consultations with our audiologist so you can get expert advice on how to get started.
Why should I use in-ear monitors?
- With a properly isolating seal and when used correctly, following safe listening practices, custom in-ear monitors can help reduce your risk of music-induced hearing loss.
- In-ear monitors, used with a wireless IEM system, provide a freedom of movement onstage, you aren't limited to standing were you can hear your wedge.
- IEMs eliminate the need for wedge monitors, which means no more lugging the wedges around, the stage is less cluttered, and the stage volume is not as loud. In addition, even though wedges are meant to only be heard by the on-stage performer, they can sometimes interfere with the rest of the speakers and can introduce feedback and even create phase issues that will make your show sound weak or badly produced-something you don't need to worry about with IEMs.
- When used properly, IEMs can help prevent vocalist from "over singing", which can help reduce vocal fatigue and damage to the vocal cords.
- With properly fitted, well sealed IEMs that are providing appropriate isolation, you can monitor at lower volumes without sacrificing fidelity which can reduce the risk of "overplaying" possibly decreasing physical strain.
- With a good monitor mix, IEMs can offer an improvement in sound quality with greater dynamic range, frequency response, and clarity over wedge monitor systems.
- IEMs generally offer less temporal distortion than wedge monitors.
- Depending on your set-up and circumstances, you can experience greater consistency among venues.
- IEMs offer enhanced music enjoyment with personal listening devices when you are off the stage.