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Moving to headphones (IEMs) - pros/cons, suggestions on a budget..?
I've been considering getting our band on headphones/IEMs to reduce stage volume and improve monitoring, but would like to hear what people think.
We can't afford Aviom or that super-cool looking Roland RSS thing. Our budget is what one of those mixers would cost
I like the look of the "Stage-Buddy" system from SM Pro Audio (smproaudio.com), which gives a "more me" control for one or two inputs and a level for general foldback (but doesn't give individual control over other channels like Aviom).
We currently use 1 wedge for worship leader, 2 for singers and 2 for for the band (bass, piano, 2 guitars) + headphones for drummer (electronic drums). We don't really get enough coverage from the wedges for the band, and so I'd like to improve the monitoring situation for the players. The SM Pro Audio Stage-Buddy pack comes with a master sending device + 4 slave mixer/DIs (foldback and power is sent via Cat5) for about $1250 AUD, so I figure with this we could put bass, 2 guitars and piano on headphones and they could each control their own level and foldback. Singers could stay on wedges and hopefully we could turn them down.
So - any thoughts?
Does anyone have any success stories or warnings about moving to IEMs like this (not Aviom-style full-control fanciness)?
We don't use Avioms at my church. But we do a pretty extensive sound check. We use all IEMs. It is really the only way to go. Just give yourself plenty of time to get a mix and let them get used to it.
On the road we use a separate monitor mixer with engineer, which makes adjustments a lot easier. This is the way that most road companies do it.
Esoteric Visions Lighting and Video
A/V/L designers, installers, and integrators for churches. 15+ years of industry experience.
Back in my drumming days i use to carry a rack with me that had a 16 channel mixer, 16 mic splitters, and a fan tail snake. I would have certain lines ran back to me including my drum lines and then the sound co. would get my fan out to carry the lines to their system. I hate wedges and loud volumes but had to play at loud volumes so i would mix everything down and pop in my IEM's and i could play at whatever level was needed and at the end of the night my ears weren't ringing. Trust me it was an expensive fix to make sure i was getting what i needed without getting my ears blown out.
Have you tried looking into a Hear Back system? Hear Back systems are super cheap and do a great job if you can get buy with just 8 feeds to mix off of. Out side of that you may want to look into a Rolls system. The SM Pro Audio Monitoring system is going to climb in price quicker than a Rolls system.
Do you currently have any free Auxes? What make/model of console do you have?
Conversely, in a success story that I had with another client, once I was able to help the band fix their problem with the excessive noise, they didn't need the IEM's anymore. When they were able to become disciplined enough not to blast their volume across the stage, they were able to hear themselves and each other without a problem.
So overall I think that IEM's are good to have in situations where wedges are impractical or in environments where a musician may not be in a stationary position (e.g. a lead guitar player that sings and walks the stage) but IEM's don't break bad habits and they don't resolve counterproductive actions on the part of the musicians.
As far as the money aspect of the situation goes, you get what you pay for and unless you don't mind paying twice (which is perfectly ok from an R & D perspective) then by all means get what you can afford. One of the cheapest and most effective methods of IEM's that I've been able to use was with a couple of headphone amps and dialing them in with the Aux channels. It will take some work to get it to function properly but it does the job.
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Thanks for the responses so far!
We have a Soundcraft Spirit LX7 with 4 aux sends for foldback - usually leader, singers, musos, drummer.
I had looked into a Hear Back system recently (and years ago). Looking again... although it would be nearly twice the price (~ $2000 AUD), it would give us significantly more control (8 individually controllable levels) so I'm sure it would be worth it.
The issue of the band liking it loud is probably relevant to us. Since we got e-drums and have less stage volume, a few people find it 'weird' and want the drums up louder in foldback. We might try working on that discipline thing.
What about the issue of wearing things in your ears or feeling 'disconnected' - how do people usually go with that and what else could we do to make it work?
Ambiance/ congregation mics are important to an IEM system do avoid the musicians feeling cut off or disconnected. These two articles might have some helpful information for you. churchproduction.com/go.php/article/5751