Musicians Ear Protection - Pittsburgh, PA - Wheeling, WV - HearBest
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    Why Go To In-Ear Musicians' Monitors?

    It's easy to get started with in-ear musicians' monitors, and it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
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    How to Get Started

    Getting started is easy! First, you need to understand that the earpiece is essential to the sound quality of an in-ear musicians' monitoring system. Without a good earpiece, you might as well go back to your wedges. After all, nobody buys a state-of-the-art home stereo and then plugs a pair of fifty-year -old jalopy speakers into it. Without great speakers and a snug fit in your ear to block out the stage noise, your wasting your time.

    Secondly, make a realistic assessment of the set-up that you are currently using. There's a pretty good chance, depending on your setup, that you can get started with few or no modifications.
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    The Earpiece

    As noted above, decisions about the earpiece will have a huge effect on your ability to enjoy all the benefits available from musicians' monitor technology. Typical earbuds sound pretty good when listening to CD"s, but they were not designed for in-ear musicians' monitoring. Think about this: The manufacturers purposely make the earbuds so that external sounds (traffic, warning signals, etc.) can still be heard. This is accomplished by not closing out those sounds. That's not what you want on stage unless you're in an acoustic duo or dodging traffic is part of your stage show. Even then it's not ideal. The earbuds that came with your portable CD or MP3 player are not in-ear musicians' monitors.

    If you are using amplifiers, PA systems or any modern pro sound equipment, in order to hear the monitor mix with regular earbuds, the sound level of the earbuds can quickly reach a dangerously high volume. Don't let the generic rubber earpieces that you see on the market fool you either. They don't provide any more noise reduction than the earbuds themselves. They're really only designed to help keep the earbuds in your ears.
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    So, what"s the solution?

    Westone, the in-ear experts since 1959 and the name behind the two most successful lines of in-ear musicians' monitors in music history, has developed the UM1 and UM2 universal musicians' monitor. The UM Series offers the most affordable professional quality musicians' monitor on the market. These monitors come with compressible foam tips, or custom molded earpieces. These tip solutions are designed to seal in your ear canal. This allows you to listen at the volume you choose, which need not be too high because the stage noise has been drastically reduced. This is really important if you want your hearing to last very long. You'll also be able to check out how good a serious pair of in-ear musicians' monitors can sound.
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    Setting it All Up

    Now that you have decided to get a set of earpieces that are designed for serious in-ear musicians' monitoring, lets talk about your sound system and how you can start using in-ear musicians' monitors with the set-up you already have.

    Take a look at the mixing board. How many monitor (aux) sends do you have available? How many do you usually use? If you have a mixing board with multiple aux sends using in-ears is easy. If not, depending on what you want to accomplish, you'll likely need to get a new mixing board. Your local music store or pro sound dealer can help you get a board you can use. Still, even with only the headphone out jack found on the most rudimentary of mixing boards, there are things you can do to improve your band's playing dynamics.

    A common problem in bands is that the drummer gets left out of the mix. They're usually just left in the back of the stage to go through the motions and hope all is well with the other players. Most of the time, the drummer has to make do with what he can hear from the bass player's amp pounding next to him, and what may work its way back from the blaring floor wedges. Good news! Even in the simplest set-up, you can send the drummer a front-of-house mix from the headphone out of the mixer. Suddenly Joe Drummer is part of the band again. But let's talk about what you can do to get the whole band on in-ear musicians' monitors with a system you might already have.

    One easy set-up to implement is to send the mix from an aux send to one of the many headphone amplifiers on the market. You can probably pick one of these amps up from your local music or pro audio store. Make sure you get one that will allow you to add your instrument or voice to the mix that is fed to the headphone amp from the mixing board. By using one of these headphone amps, you'll have control of your instrument or voice and will be able to mix it with the front-of-house feed in order to hear the rest of the band at one volume level and your instrument or voice at another.

    The fact is that you can run as many individual monitor mixes as you have aux sends available on your mixing board. This makes it easy to get going right away.

    With just a little more sophistication, there's a lot more you can do. Add a compressor/limiter into the signal path to control volume peaks and spikes. Add an EQ into the chain to sweeten the sound. And, as your band gets more experienced with in-ear musicians' monitoring, you can add wireless transmitters and receivers if it makes sense for your group.

    Even if your band isn't quite ready to kick those wedges off the stage, you can get started yourself. As long as you've got an aux send from the board and a headphone amp, you can be the only player in the band who really knows what you sound like. The rest of the group will soon be on board.

    Soon enough, you'll find yourself using your monitors on a daily basis, band or not. In addition to providing a great way to practice your electric instrument without making neighborhood enemies, your in-ear musicians' monitors can be plugged into your computer for realistic, all-in-your-head game play. They'll even plug into the seat arm jack in many airplanes! And wait until you hear what your portable CD player or MP3 player sounds like with a pair of Westone earpieces!
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    The Overall Benefits

    In-ear musicians' monitors can make a substantial difference in the way your band sounds. You'll hear yourself more clearly on stage. You'll be able to listen at the volume you choose and, depending on your set-up, you can have your own monitor mix. In most clubs, the audience will be able to hear your front-of-house mix as opposed to the monitor mix. You can forget about your floor wedges and have more room on stage. In-ear musicians' monitors are quicker and easier to set up than all those heavy power amps and wedges and you won't have to lug all that junk around either. Management will love the volume control you can achieve.

    Perhaps best of all, because you've eliminated the stage noise and can keep your mix down to a reasonable volume level, you'll protect your hearing for years to come.

    So what are you waiting for? Affordable in-ear musicians' monitors have arrived. Search our website for more information about how to use in-ear musicians' monitors. If you still have questions, send us an email at music@westone.com and we'll do our best to help you with your specific musicians' monitor problem.

    Westone carries a full line of products for the musician including hearing protection, universal fit monitors and custom fit monitors just like the ones your musical heroes use.