DJ, producer and drummer Spinscott, who utilizes a sampler in his rig to “finger drum” along with the music as well as doing entire tracks with the sampler in real time in a style he calls Jungle Plus Drums, employs an ASI Audio 3DME Active Ambient in-ear monitor system for monitoring in his live perrformances.
In a traditional DJ setup, Spinscott explains, “You typically remove the right ear cup to be able to hear your monitor, which exposes your right ear to very high sound levels. You have to have that speaker right there, near your ear. While you can just mix all in the headphones, that essentially isolates you from the crowd. Most DJ equipment has evolved over time, but headphones have kind of remained the same.”
Meanwhile, the 3DME system utilizes Active Ambient earphones with embedded binaural microphones that pick up ambience – the direct sound around the performer including the audience – paired with a bodypack that houses a headphone amp, dual mic preamps, earphone and monitor I/O and DSP for signal processing and blending the ambient and monitor signals, under control of the companion ASI Audio app for iOS and Android. “I’m now an avid user of the product,” he says. “It just makes sense for the application. It adds a lot of value, particularly when I’m playing live elements and mixing at the same time.”
Spinscott’s monitoring setup involves feeding the 3DME beltpack from the headphone jack on his mixer with the Cue split panned left and the 3DME ambience turned down almost all the way on the left channel. On the right-hand side, the ambience is turned up with no programming being fed from the mixer – he listens to the monitor speaker via the 3DME right channel mic, using the ASI Audio App to EQ the full-range monitor output.
“I tend to mix to the hi-hat,” he explains, “It’s the most staccato instrument. It’s usually the timekeeper, especially in 808-based or other electronic-type music. I don’t have to turn up the volume as loud because I’m only hearing what I need to hear to mix.”
The 3DME IEMs, Spinscott adds, “stay in my ears the whole time. If somebody does come up to speak to me, because of the ambient microphones, I don’t have to take my headphones off. It frees up my hands to do other things. If I’m drumming or triggering samples and cues, it’s a game-changer.” The system is simple to operate, he says. “It becomes a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. That’s so important to any performer. You don’t want to focus on your equipment while you’re on stage; you want to focus on the music and get into that zone that we all crave.
“I love the sound quality of the 3DME and, even more, the control,” he concludes. “It just creates this consistency that removes the room variables, so I am free to be creative and spontaneous from the very start of the set. This is a huge step forward in ensuring that just about every set starts off great from the first downbeat.
“Everything is lower volume in my ears. You’re getting the protection while you’re enhancing the experience by being able to hear everything.”