In-Ear Monitoring by Al Whale

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Stage Monitoring

Many Instrumentalists rely on Stage Wedges for monitoring.

When a common feed is sent to all of the stage monitors, the individuals will often ask for their instrument volume to be increased. It is essential that they can hear what they are playing. Unfortunately, this often results in a continually increasing total volume. The volume can get to the point that it is dangerous for the performers hearing.

The first rows of the audience will also probably hear more from the monitors, than the sound system.

The result of this scenario, besides affecting the performers, will also make it impossible for the audio operator to get a good sound mix.

Using separate feeds to each stage monitor, allows the monitor mix to be tailored more closely to each performer's desire, thus permitting a lower overall level of monitoring.

In Ear Monitoring

Personal High Quality Head Phones

The In-Ear monitoring system takes this a step further. By eliminating the stage monitors, the audio operator has better control of the audio, and the audience will therefore hear a proper mix, even at the front of the hall. The performer should be able to adjust his mix and level as desired. The In-Ear system mutes the external sound so that the performer will most likely be happy with a lower volume, thus preventing hearing damage.

The In-Ear system consists of Personal High Quality Ear Phones, usually driven by small individual monitor mixers.

To get the best fidelity,
the Ear Phone must fit the ear
snugly (ie. seal the ear channel).
     Tight Ear Seal

The Ear Phones can be a hard or soft material (best fit depending on the skin). Some Ear Phones use replaceable inserts. The more expensive Ear Phones can be molded to the individual's ear. A correctly installed Ear Phone should block out the room noise by 10DB to 25 DB.

Due to this Blocking of external sounds, the Ear Phones can give the desired mix at a lower volume. The mix would ideally be derived from an individual mixer. Since the sounds would normally be direct sound, to get the feel of the crowd, an ambient mic may be added.

One drawback of this approach that immediately will become apparent is that the performer will be unable to talk to the performers around him/her when not using the sound system. This is sometimes cured by wearing a headset or lapel mic which is fed only into the mixers.

Use of only one Ear Phone is dangerous and should be discouraged. To use the single Ear Phone, the volume is raised to match the ambient volume around the performer, running the possibility of too much volume directly into the one ear.

The possibility of excessive volume spikes, also is dangerous (it may take a second to pull the Ear Phones out). For this reason, all systems should have limiters which are set just above the desired volume.

The hardware used for the In-Ear monitoring system can be hard wired or wireless.

A good Reference for more Details can be found at the following locations

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Tutorials: Home  Before Audio Feedback  Effects of Audio Phasing  Amplifier Gain
 70/25 Volt Audio  Dimming Stage Lamps  In-Ear Monitoring