Low Cost In-ear Monitors

Learn how you get set up In-ear monitors for your entire band without breaking the bank!

Links:

Rolls Headphone Preamp
Monoprice 15ft headphone extension
MEElectonics headphones
Sansamp Bass Preamp

47 Responses

04.23.13

Check this dude out, his name is Collin, and he made custom Fit Earbuds, worth checking it out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmk-y_9exJ8

04.23.13

First off, thanks for this site and the effort you put into all of this. I’ve been lurking for a while but feel the need to respond for a bit. I realize that this is a low-cost solution to IEM but I’m not sure I would throw the Aviom systems “under the bus” so quickly. Yes, they cost more. Yes, there are more dials, bells and whistles. And, yes, they do take up space on stage… but the control that comes from such a system is stellar.

One concern you note is that musicians fiddle with the knobs during their time live on-stage. This really shouldn’t be the case. Levels for the 16 channels of inputs should be set during practice and can be recalled as groups for each song as needed. It is rare that dials are moved once sound-check/practice is over.

I do appreciate your ideas on organizing earbud tips. We use a large fishing tackle box to hold our tips, but I can see an issue if someone happens to mash into it in an eager attempt at getting to practice on-time!

In the end, we all want to control stage sound spill, but I would be slow to discount the advantages of the Aviom system for those that can afford it.

04.23.13

Brook,

Thanks for coming out of the shadows and posting :)

I think your points are spot on, and you ar correct that musicians shouldn't mess with their mix during a set but that doesn't mean everyone listens to that reasoning :)

However, You can have the kind of control your talking about without spending that kind of money. Like I said in the video our X32 has an ios app that allows us individual control of all 32 channels on our board plus, auxes, and effects. Not all of our musicians have an ios device (over half do) so, we have an ipad that we pass around during practice to people who don't so they can make adjustments along the way.

Presonus has had this feature for awhile now and other companies like mackie are starting to add these kinds of apps as well.

I will say one large plus of aviom's, hear systems and even the P-16 system that we could buy for our board is stereo. The system I detailed can work in stereo but you cut your monitor send in half when you do this. Which will not happen with avioms.

Thanks!

04.23.13

Brad, first of all, thanks for the great tips. I just wanted to double check on some things. Everyone will need one of the Rolls Amp Systems, correct? And then for the headphone amp the number will depend on our number of musicians? My worship leader and I both watched this and are pricing things out for purchase. Thanks again!

04.23.13

Heath,

Yes, 1 headphone amp per person, and cabling and headphones for each person. So for a 6 person band you will need 6 rolls amps, 6 headphone extensions, and 6 headphones.

If your audio console only has 4 monitor sends you would need to split the single for 2 of those sends and send them to 2 different people that way 6 people can use 4 sends.

Let me know if i can do any other clarification!

04.23.13

any suggestions what I should use to split the monitor sends? do y cables work or should we be an 8 channel splitter?

04.23.13

We used Y cables to split our 4 aux sends allowing us to go to 8 people. if you are splitting 1 source to more then 2 people I would look into something different than Y cables.

04.23.13

awesome video! thanks for sharing this. I'm one of the worship leaders at my church and I've been browsing around the internet on how to setup in-ear monitors for my church. As far as I've seen, the wired option with a headphone amp is by far the most economical option. I really don't know that much about setting up a sound system.

Our current worship team setup on any given Sunday is as follows:

1 – lead vocals
2-4 – additional vocals
1 – acoustic guitar
1 – electric guitar
1 – piano
1 – bass
1 – drummer

I'm not exactly sure how are sound system is setup either than we have 2 mixes for our stage monitors. Front and rear of the stage. I'm told that we have 4 auxes on the board, but for some reason a dvd player is hooked up to aux 3. As I stated before, I don't really know how to setup a sound system, but it seems to me that the dvd player should be hooked up to one of the channels? And if we use all 4 auxes we can have 4 different mixes?

Anyways, one of of the drummers used to tour back in his college days and has a Behringer – Xenyx (8 Inputs and 2 Bus Mixer) that he will use a long with his click track. From what I understand is that he just takes the line that feeds the wedge beside the drums and plugs it into his mixer.

We have an old board similar to a Soundcraft – EFX12 – 12X2 Channel Mixer with Lexicon Effects. (I'm not 100% sure that's the board) and we have a Yorkville Sound – Micromix 800-Watt Stereo 10 Channel Powered Mixer that the youth don't use anymore.

Is there a way to setup our old board, or the power mixer to have a wired in-ear system without having to purchase a headphone amp? The other worship leaders are hesitant to move to an in-ear system. They all agree that the stage sound needs to be minimized, and if I can show them that we already have the necessary equipment, they maybe more open to the idea.

any help would be much appreciated.

thanks

04.23.13

Hey Brad,

You've put some great ideas in my head. May I ask what your church uses for guitar amps? Do you have a simulator? Hide an amp in a closet? Thanks!

04.23.13

Whoops, rewatched the video and see that you mentioned putting them in a closet. Do you know of any good alternatives to live amps? Thanks.

04.23.13

if you going to try doing amp simulation i would look at the line 6 stuff. That's what Lincoln Brewster uses and swears by.

04.23.13

Thanks so much for this! I'm a bit confused on how to split the signal from the DI box. One goes out of the DI Box to the Snake and the other goes from the DI Box to the Rolls? Do you need a DI box that has 2 xlr outs?

Also, it looks like the Rolls has a 1/4" monitor input. We would need that input to be an xlr input. Do they make Rolls with that option?

04.23.13

Brad, Really cool video. I've been a Worship Pastor for five years now, and we have been fortunate enough to use digital consoles. I'm getting ready to start a new contemporary service at the church I serve at. If you had the funds available to you, what would you recommend for a church that is going to be setting up each week? It's in a GYM…but the church own's the property so we have flexability for design that some churches might not have.
My biggest fear is that we go cheap and end up creating extra work for Audio guys and the worship team. We will have a full band so I understand some of the challenges that presents. Thanks so much for your time.

04.23.13

Good video on IEM.
We use the Rolls PM351, it give you more options. (Microphone input, Instrument Input & Monitor Feed input.)
Also the roll's boxes are DI's so you do not need a DI
I posted about his on my Facebook group Church Sound Media Tech's back in 2011
We first use Bose headhones with the rolls now we use ear buds from sony and ultimate ears

04.23.13

First of all, awesome video!

I did want to pick your brain about something. But first a little background :).

We're a portable church and have been using wired in ears pretty much since we started. I think our setup is practically identical to what yours was except we went even cheaper and got a Behringer headphone amp so we didn't really have any individualized control. Now having said that, we're at the point of making the leap to digital, and in the same way we won't have to split/share monitor sends anymore, but we will be staying wired. So I saw this video and really liked what you guys have going on.

So having said all that:

Would you recommend switching from a centralized headphone amp to rolls headphone amps even with the switch to a digital board and all the control that those features provide to the musician? Or do you think the control the new board provided you was all you needed?

04.23.13

A new console like the X32 (which I highly recommend) will give you all the options you need, so the headphone amp is just there as a converter. So it really just depends on how you are wiring everything and if it makes more sense to have a central box or multiple individual ones. I like the individual boxes because we can make the "Mega Cables" to reduce clutter and if something goes really wrong your have a physical volume nob you and grab by each person.

Hope that helps!

04.23.13

Hey Brad,

With they way this would be set up, the person on stage would be control the volume of their mix only? Still having to have to sound guy set the levels of different channels before hand is this correct?

04.23.13

Yes and No

If you go with the rolls set up you actually get 2 channels, one for the normal monitor mix(that the sound guy would set), then another that you can loop a mic thru to have control of 1 one specific mic to that person.

04.23.13

Brad, I love your idea with the in-ear storage. I'm going to buy one tomorrow!
We've been loving our Studio Live console and run headphone amps as well. It's been working out very nicely. I'm going to look into eliminating our bass amp with that Sansamp as well. Thanks bud!

04.23.13

Brad, can you write it down step by step to set up a keyboard with the in ear setup
i just received my Rolls 50 and the earphones you put on your video and i am ready to set it up
thanks

04.23.13

plug your monitor feed into the "monitor input", then for the mic then take the xlr out from your keyboards di box and run that into the "mic input" on the rolls, then take another xlr and put that in the "mic thru" on one end then the other end go to your sound board via your snake floor pockets etc. Basically that goes into where ever you normally plug your keybaords di box into.

That will give you a normal monitor feed control by soundboard plus individual control over the keyboard.

04.23.13

Hey Brad. Wicked video man. So im guessing you guys are using wired in ears? Thought about going wireless? Any ideas what brand is good for wireless?

04.23.13

I would love to go wireless if we could afford it, but right now that's not an option. I have not done much research so I don't have any suggestions on brands.

04.23.13

Brad,
Thanks for the video, it was a great inspiration. I shared the video with my pastor and he is on board with switching over to iem, asked that I make a list of everything we needed. But I'm running into a bit of confusion, when you said "DI Box", which can mean one of two things, direct injection or digital imaging? I am deducing from one of the previous posts you meant direct injection. In that case passive or active? Which brand would you recommend? It is a 100ft snake to mixer. The pro audio guy from guitar center said for anything over 50ft to use an active. A quick run down of our equipment: keyboard 1/4" out only to amp xlr out to mixer, electric guitar to amp 1/4" out stereo to mixer, acoustic to amp 1/4"/xlr out to mixer. At this time no DI anything in the system.

I just bought one rolls pm50s to test the waters as well as a livewire active direct injection box to try out for the keyboard. Tried from keyboard to the rolls thru to mix without the DI box and got some noise.

thanks
mike

04.23.13

Mike,

I'm no DI Box pro but the guitar center guy is not correct. As this article states: "In general, passive DIs are the choice for active sources and active DIs are preferred for passive sources" http://www.musiciansfriend.com/resources/article/

This the di box we use on our keyboard with no issues: http://www.amazon.com/Whirlwind-Director-Passive-

Here is what I would suggest:
Keyboard: No need for an amp just a good passive di, if your getting noise try the ground lift switch.
Electric guitar: hide amp as much as possible then mic amp for best results (line outs don't usually sound great)
Acoustic: no need for amp, I would try an active or passive di depending on the the type of acoustic. Basically if the acoustic has a battery in it to power up pickup, eq, and volume then go passive, if it does not have that look at an active pick up like this one from lr bags. http://www.amazon.com/LR-Baggs-Para-Acoustic-D-I/
Bass: If you have a bassist, you will need something like sansamp preamp listed above.

When hooking up the keyboard, go out of keyboard, into di, then take the xlr out of di and run that into rolls input. Lastly take the rolls thru(output) out to your mixer.

Hope this helps

04.23.13

Thanks for the quick reply. Your help is greatly appreciated.

We have no problem cutting out the keyboard amp, which we think is bad or the keyboard itself, and acoustic amp. I made the mistake of trying the pm50s without the di. By the way the link was bad. I picked up a passive DI and a pm351, which had success by itself but with a noticable hiss in a quiet room.

Some more backgroud; our board is a 10 year old mackie and we hold our service in a warehouse.

For the Foreseeable future we do not have a bass player. On the same note, I was thinking that the sansamp para di would work in the same case like the bass but for the electric guitar. The acoustic has an active pickup, so passive DI.

I'm beginning to think the guitar center guys are just salesmen.

Also, do you guys mic your drums? just trying to get an idea, as of two weeks ago no one in our church had an idea what a DI box was.

04.23.13

Great vid. We are investigating the removal of stage monitor wedges at my church. What do you do for musicians that sing?, Do you use the Rolls PM351 for those people? Do you use belt clips or mic stand clamps for the Rolls boxes? Do you need di boxes with the PM50s or is a di box built in(go straight to the snake from the Rolls)?

04.23.13

You could use as sansamp for an electric but the guitar would be clean. I have never tired it so not sure what it would sound like.

We do mic our drums (have have actually full enclosed our drums to help isolate the sound). I would start with a simple set up like a bass drums mic and then 1 overhead to pick up everything else. Over all your long term goal should be to have all sound being controlled by your mixer/sound person. So everything should be miced and sending single to the board. This way you have full control of everything on your stage.

04.23.13

Jon,

Remember that you not only have individual control of 1 channel but you still get a monitor mix in the rolls as well. So for musicians that sing i would give them individual control over their instrument and then send them vocals via a monitor mix. depending on how many people share monitors this shouldn't be a big deal.

All our rolls boxes sit on the ground, because there is really no reason for people to touch them during the actual service.

The PM50 is not a DI box, there is no signal conversion happening, so you will still need a DI's.

04.23.13

Thanks for the tips Brad. We're using a wired set up as well. From the StudioLive Aux outs into a 6 channel headphone amp. We just need to get the other vocalists to switch from the wedges to in-ears. I need to find which ear buds would work for them. Regarding the MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6 ear buds, can you replace the tips with Comply foam tips? I understand that it comes with different sizes, but I personally prefer the foams ones. Also, have you tried the other Rolls PM55 personal monitor amp? You can use a battery with it. I'm wondering if it functions the same or if we should just stick with the PM50. Thanks!

04.23.13

Brad,

I noticed at the end of this video you mentioned that you had upgraded to the Behringer X32. Since it has been several months now, are you pleased with the board? Our church is looking at the same mixer. I have liked the reviews I have seen and my time with one at a guitar center. Would you recommend it? Thanks!

04.23.13

Love it, best purchase you could make if going from analog to digital, or upgrading from a smaller console.

04.23.13

Thanks so much for these awesome tips. One question I’m trying to work through. Our electric guitar players (we have 2) both use amps for volume control as well as different sounds and the ability to add distortion, reverb, delay, etc. So the current setup I have for both of them is guitar to amp, amp connects to the amp control pedal, then amp output to DI box, DI box into system. With this setup, the guitar sound runs through the mains, but noise still comes out of the amps. So I’m a little confused as to how we should setup the earbuds since I don’t want sound out of the amps, but loosing the amps means loosing the sound effects that come with them. What would you recommend? Again, thanks so much.

04.23.13

Working with guitar amps can get tricky. We placed our amps in a closet behind the stage, then we ran a long mic cable and guitar cable to amp so the guitarist could still use the amp but it also cut down the stage volume of the amp. The explanation of how we hooked those guitar amp mics to the headphone amps is at 3:19 in the video.

Now one thing to note, our guitarist control volume and effects from their pedal board they do not use effects built into their amp. To get a picture of this the guitar plugs into a pedal board with all of the effects you listed above, then we take a long instrument cable and run that to the amps off stage. Also unless your guitarist are using Line6 amps which have great line outputs I would highly recommend micing the amps not running them through a DI box.

Hope that helps.

04.23.13

Ok, thanks. Sounds like the pedal board is the way to go. What pedal boards do you guys use? In my limited research of them, it seems the cheaper ones don’t have all the sounds and effects that I would want, but the ones with the stuff we want are super expensive. Which is why we originally got the amps we use now (cheapest solution we could find at the time). Any suggestions? Thanks so much for the input!

04.23.13

Depending on the guitar amp model, it might be pretty easy to just disconnect the speakers from it

04.23.13

Hey Brad,

Thanks so much for this info. We just converted our system over to this in ear monitor system and everything is working great. But we are running into one problem. Our bass player can never hear himself. He does have some hearing loss, but I also read that sometimes ear buds don’t project low tones as well. He is completely maxed out for volume on his bass head, on his pg 50 box, and the soundboard monitor mix. Did you ever run into this problem? Any suggestions?

04.23.13

Brad
I just read your article for low cost IEm systems for small church budgets, lol. Its great, this is just what I have been looking for. I dont know why I didnt think of it sooner since I have been using the PM 50 as a monitor for the drum kit, it just never occurred. Just have a one question for now. We have a Yamaha 32/6 and we will have several stations, piano and vocals, acc guitar, acc guit with vocal, lead guit with vocals, drums, bass, 2 vocals. I know I will need to split the returns, but here is my questions. When coming off our Aux sends to our snake returns, 2 snakes 4 returns each, does the signal need to run thru an amp then to the returns. We run the signal from the Aux out to the amp and then to the floor monitors now. I am thinking we can simply go , Aux out to snake returns, to PM 50 or 351 boxes and to the IEM. Thanks again for everything

Scott Aly

04.23.13

Scott,

Correct, if you are currently using floor monitors that required power amps you will no long need the power amps, because the headphone amp is now amp. So for your set up you will go board to snakes, snakes to headphone amp.

Hope that makes sense.

04.23.13

Thanks Bro

04.23.13

I see this is a really old thread, so I’m hoping to get a response. We are looking at using this method to get rid of our stage monitors due to stage volume.

This may seem like a dumb question, but why do you have to have a different type of box for the bass guitar?

Thank you for the video!

04.23.13

Jae, the PM50 boxes themselves are not amps and what we found when we converted to this system was that the bass does not carry well when plugged directly into the board. No matter how high we turned the bass gain (trim), we could never hear the bass in our earbuds without an amp. Sound quality is way better through some type of amp. So the box used for the bass is also an amp. If you already have some type of bass amplifier system (preferably one that doesn’t produce stage volume) then you don’t need this box and can use a regular PM 50 box. Hope that helps.

04.23.13

Brad,

Thanks for the great video. The Q & A section is really helpful too.

Can you recommend a “Y” cable to use to split the monitor signal to two different rolls units? Would this one do the job?
http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-YXM121-Female-Dual-Cab

Also, I’m trying to figure out why only one side of the earphone gets the signal.

Thanks again!

Amy

04.23.13

Hey Brad, wondering if when you run a microphone through the rolls box into the snake, or out of an instrument's DI into the rolls box into the snake, whether the rolls boxes need to be plugged into a power socket or whether they receive phantom power? For us, running power cables to every rolls box would get messy…
Thanks!

04.23.13

That Y cable will work great. You are only getting signal from one side, because you need to switch the rolls box from stereo to mono. There is a small jumper on the side of the box that you have to pull out and switch which pins it goes around. This will convert the signal to mono and you will hear it in both ears.

04.23.13

Each rolls box will need power cords, That is one reason why we created our mega cable solution. That way I could hide boxes further away from musicians to help clean up our stage.

04.23.13

Works great now! Thanks!

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