In-ear monitors (IEMs) are finding their way onto the wish list of nearly every church technical director and worship leader these days. But are they the right choice for your ministry?
Answering “yes” to any of the following questions may provide direction.
• Does your church suffer from excessive stage noise?
• Does your sound operator have difficulty establishing a decent mix?
• Does your sound (especially your music) always seem a bit muddy?
• Does your talent always complain about the monitor mix?
• Does your talent wish that they had “more me” in the monitors?
Ok, so I answered yes to all of those questions…but what in the name of sound reinforcement are in-ear monitors?
IEMs provides the talent with a monitor mix sent to a set of earbuds worn in the ears instead of the traditionally used loudspeaker wedges found on stage. They can either be wired or wireless, and also be user-adjustable (personal monitor mixing). Some advantages include:
• Lower Stage Volume
Since fewer wedges will be needed on the stage, the overall SPL level on stage will be considerably less. This lower stage volume will provide for a cleaner, more intelligible house mix. It will improve the effectiveness of any monitor wedges left on the stage.
It will also improve any audio recording due to less acoustic leakage into any open mics on stage. And less stage noise will also lead to fewer instances of acoustic feedback.
• Greater Flexibility & Mobility
With wireless IEMs, the talent can move anywhere they see fit without any noticeable change in their monitor mix. If a personal monitor mixing system is also used, the sound engineer will no longer hear “I Need More ME!” because the talent can take care of it on their own.
The use of IEMs requires a lot less volume than typical stage monitors and can save your hearing if worn and used correctly. If you value your hearing, then this is a way to go.
The use of IEMs allows for discreet communication from front of house. You won’t ever have to worry about getting the attention of the talent (or the first six rows) when trying to fix a sound issue on the fly.
Tip: Place a couple of ambient mics around the room and feed the signal to the IEMs or you’ll have talent taking one of their earbuds out of their ear because they feel isolated from the congregation. The practice of wearing only one IEM will in most cases require an increase in SPL, resulting in an increased chance of hearing loss in that ear.
Casey Watson is a project manager and Certified Church Consultant for Church Audio Video.
Church Audio Video specializes in the design, installation and support of high-quality and affordable custom audio, video, lighting, broadcast and control systems for worship facilities. For more information, visit the company website.