In-Ear Monitoring for A Cappella Singers
Tjidde Luhrs is one of 4 singers with the Dutch a cappella band iNtrmzzo and one of the owners of InEar Systems, a company specialized in in- ear monitoring. Those guys serve a wide range of artists with custom- made in-ear systems as well as transmitters and receivers.
Tjidde is also very active in social networks and in one of our Twitter dialogues I learned about his IEM expertise. Three years ago, writing a corporate event concept for a bank’s anniversary, I realized that using IEM can really make a difference: After 44 years of traditional stage monitoring the Swingle Singers did their first gig using IEM – and were able to appear at several different and surprising places in the concert hall. Thanks to the complete flexibility of the artists – we were able to present an exceptional show.
So much for the anecdotes – enter Tjidde Luhrs:
Nowadays we have extremely complicated in-ear systems; custom-molded earpieces with two, three or even five speakers in each (to handle the mids, highs, and lows separately) are becoming the standard. Many in-ear monitors are incorporating ambient systems into their earpieces to reduce the learning curve on in-ears.
IEM has several advantages, the greatest being hearing conservation. Cutting yourself off from loud stage wedges is a great idea, as you can control your volume and mix very easily, just as you please.
The disadvantages are, surprisingly, similar to wedge monitoring: sometimes listeners push the in-ears louder than they should, forgetting that by doing so they can hit the same sound pressure levels as wedge monitors. In addition, a lot of artists can’t get used to the isolation, which can be combated by using ambient microphones on stage.
One of the reasons for iNtrmzzo to choose for an IEM system was that they simply don’t use any stage space. The racks with receivers/transmitter is at the technician’s booth and the stage is free of any equipment.
Another big advantage is that we use the entire stage during our show. With IEM we can go wherever we want without losing the monitor.
The direct sound on the IEM makes you pitch better and gives you the possibility to pay more attention to musical dynamics. For bands, like iNtrmzzo, who use a beatboxer it’s really a big plus! Each member creates his or her own mix on the mixing desk and that way everybody has one’s own “personal monitor”. Hard to accomplish when using wedges. Anyway: It helped iNtrmzzo a lot in several ways.
What’s your opinion on in-ear monitoring? Do you have experience – good or bad – with IEM? What’s the difference between different kinds of IEM? Let the community know about what you think about the topic.