Features & Insights of an In-Ear Monitor System

Performing live in front of a large audience or recording live in the studio—the environment needs to be calm, totally pure from the subtle noise, the in-ear monitor system helps in achieving that aura. They seal out the ambient noise and provide artificially enhanced sound mixes for the performer. Here, we have disclosed the insights of an in-ear monitor—the drivers, connectivity, ear piece quality, transmission, frequency, impedance, sound isolation factor, and some aesthetics as well.

Drivers for Earplugs and Monitors

The drivers are responsible for re-creating the entire frequency spectrum of signal received by the receiving devices.  They are analogous to the number of speakers in a pair of studio monitors.

How Many Drivers are Enough?

The number of drivers in an IEM piece implements greatly on the quality. You may have witnessed that the in-ear monitors with a greater number of drivers in their ear pieces are pricier but the sound experience is likely to be more luxury.

Single Driver in an Earpiece

With single driver in an earpiece the load of all sorts of frequencies rests on one driver only. Although, some model work greatly even with one driver but limitation of low frequency is noticeable in the lower ends.

Dual Drivers Per Earpiece

In this, there are two drivers per earpiece—they are separated by a passive crossover, one driver is dedicated for the reproduction of low frequencies and the other is for higher frequencies. Thus, this will boost the working efficiency with burden distributed, giving greater clarity to the sound.

Three Drivers Per Earpiece

The efficiency is evenly increased as per the addition of one more driver in an earpiece. as compared to the dual-driver technology, the burden is distributed in three parts—low, mid, and high frequencies, one is whole for a driver. This combination of three different ranges delivers deeper bass and boosted clarity across the frequency spectrum.

More than Drivers Per Earpiece

The increase in the drivers decreases the burden of frequency more efficiently—allowing you to convert different variations given to specific drivers. Without getting too technical, the additional drivers dispense the workload, allowing each to function more capably. The in-ear monitors with higher number of drivers per earpiece let you experience deeper lows, clearer highs, and more vibrant mid than the earpieces with lower drivers.

Connectivity

The ear pieces need to be connected to the monitoring system that picks the right mixes for the IEM user. Thus, the connectivity is based on two sorts—wireless & wired. Both are described as;

Wireless

They don’t require a wire for the operativity—transmitter throws radio frequency and the receiver (worn by the performer) deciphers and converts them in the audible sound.

Pros

  • No wire hassles.
  • Much portable.
  • Easy to transport.
  • Longer range.
  • Range is not limited by wires.

Cons

  • Might need maintenance.
  • Limited duration (battery powered)
  • They are pricier than wired IEMs.

Wired

The wired in-ear monitors are connected through cables through which the transmission of sound is taken place. They were popular till 1980s—before the wireless IEMs.

Pros

  • They are economical.
  • No hassle of batteries.

Cons

  • Mess of wires.
  • Limited range because of wires.
  • Need operating power source.

Shape (Ear-Tips)

The shape of the ear buds of in-ear monitor system is designed to fit in the ear firmly otherwise, while mobility or fast performance they might fall off. To protect this factor, there are generally two fittings that manufacturers make;

Custom

The custom in-ear pieces are constructed specifically for a particular ear shape. There are generally two categories for custom—fully and by-hand custom ear pieces. Fully customs are manufactured as per the exact ear shape of that person. By-hand ear pieces are pre made, user just need specify the preferences (shape, & comfortability).

Pros

  • The ambient noise leakage is none.
  • Comfortable to wear.
  • Efficient protection from hearing damage.
  • Noise reduction of around 25 and 34 decibels.
  • Soft silicone ear piece of custom shape can be inserted deeper in the ear for more sound isolation.

Cons

  • They are pricier.
  • Manufacturing takes time–the audiologist needs a deep impression of the ear canal.

Universal

Universal in-ear monitors are made to fit in almost ears of any shape. The fitting might not be suitable for some people but some professional-grade manufacturers like Shure, produce fully universal and portable designs that fit almost every ear.

Pros

  • They are less expensive than custom-fit in-ear monitors.
  • They typically contain a variety of foam and silicone tips in the hope that at least one pair might create a comfortable seal for the person.

Cons

  • If there is no comfortable seal achieved then user might need to order custom ones.
  • Possibility of ambient noise leakage.

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Transmitter

The transmitters are used in wireless models of in-ear monitor systems. They are now widely used in the music concerts because of no hectic wire hassles. There is generally a transmitter for each IEM—outputting the stereo mix to the receiver that is worn by the performer.

Operativity

The transmitter or receivers are operated by the VHF (very high frequency) or UHF (ultra-high frequency) radio frequencies.

UHF vs VHF

The in-ear monitors that operate mainly on UHF are considered more comfortable and wide range than the VHF, but on the contrary side, they are pricier too. The other reason that UHF are good on quality is that they are less susceptible to frequency interference.

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Receiver

The receiver attaches to the body of the performer—it receives the channel signals of sound from the transmitter. The main thing to look about the receiver is the range. The maximum distance that it can get far from the transmitter while operating smoothly is the range. The latest models are integrated with high ranged wireless connectivity systems.

Monitoring

The monitoring is the quality of sound that goes thru ear piece. There are mainly two sorts of monitoring that are—mono, & stereo;

Stereo vs Mono; in-ear monitor

The stereo monitoring is a more lively experience than the mono because the mono will only sound “inside the head”—if you’re good with that. Stereo is much of a 3-dimensional sound source but on the other hand, mono is just one.

How to Set up In Ear Monitor System?

Impedance

The in-ear monitor system has a specific resistance to the electric current transmitted by the amplifier—this whole transmission and the resistance is known as the impedance. A certain range of impedance is good for a better sound experience.

Measurement

The impedance is measured in ohms (unit of resistance).

Suitable Impedance Range

  • The impedance range between 20-40 ohms is decent for casual use.
  • The range of 64 ohms or above is the best grade for audiophilia.

Frequency Range

Although there are many frequencies ranges used in the different models of the in-ear monitor–the most convenient range is;

  • 18 Hz—19 kHz

The best-considered models of the Shure allow you to cover a frequency range of 22 Hz to 17.5 kHz that is perfect for performance and sound experience.

Sound Isolation

The sound or noise isolation is also known as passive noise cancellation. This is the blockage of noise through the use of physical barriers. For instance, you cover your earholes with your fingers tightly and you cannot hear a thing, or if you can then to a very low extent. The sound isolation character of the in-ear monitor works on the same, the covering, sleeves, and the fitting do the same.

Sleeves

The sleeves are the endpoints of an earbud that inserts inside the ears. The material of which they are made to protect the ear from unnecessary noise plus staying comfortable with hour-long sessions. Performers need to wear them for an extended time thus if the right preference is not selected—ears can get damaged.

Silicone

Silicone is the standard used material for earbuds. They were much praised in the older days, but a factor of pushing ear wax back into the ear has decreased their market sales.

Foam

The foam earplugs are the most comfortable of any material used for earplugs. They give the maximum noise reduction, especially for low-frequency noise cancellation, they are highly effective than silicone.

Data Source

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-ear_monitor#Earpieces
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphones#Balanced_armature
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-ear_monitor#Safety
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-ear_monitor#Dynamic