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In Ear Monitors

Khary Reynolds

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The issue of hearing loss when it comes to professional musicians is quite a serious one. Since musicians put food on the table in large part due to their excellent hearing and ability to interpret and produce music, any amount of damage that they might do to their ears can have long lasting consequences. Unfortunately, modern music has turned up the amplification so loud at most concerts that not only the audience is in danger of having their hearing impacted - the performers are taking a risk as well. Given that night after night, musicians must be able to hear their own instruments and voices over the roar of huge stadium sound systems, they often have no choice but to turn up their own monitors in order keep up with the escalating volumes. In a short amount of time, this can lead to permanent damage to their hearing capabilities.

Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem. Many musicians already play with ear plugs, some of them with plugs which have been custom designed to form-fit their ears and cut out harmful frequencies while preserving the sound of their performance. This allows some degree of protection from loud sound, but a better option for those on stage is to eliminate the need for loud monitors completely. An excellent method for achieving this goal is to use in ear monitors.

Also called personal monitoring systems, these devices resemble ear bud headphones due to their small size and shape. However, they are far more sensitive and effective than consumer-grade earphones when it comes to transmitting the details of a musician or singer's performance. With up to 3 different drivers, the nuance and emotion of the music can easily be picked out by band members. These devices also work as a form of earplug, isolating the ear from the noise of the house sound system and the crowd, and enabling them to listen to their own instrument or voice at a comfortable level. What's more, each musician can request that a custom mix be sent to their in ear monitors that reflects the elements of the band that they most need to hear during a concert. This cuts out a lot of the muddiness and confusing harmonics that can be created by very loud standard monitors, and it also prevents one band member's monitor from overpowering that of another. In effect, in ear monitors can also work to prevent conflicts amongst musicians when it comes time to decide the position of monitors and the mix that will be used in each.

In ear monitors are manufactured by a number of different companies, with Shure, Ultimate Ears and Westone near the front of the pack. These types of devices can easily be connected to the wireless transmitters and receivers already worn by artists, making it so that they do not interfere with the flow of a performance. Unobtrusive, and with excellent sound quality, in ear monitors are an extremely appealing option for professional musicians looking to preserve their health and their hearing.

Khary Reynolds is a Pro Account Manager for Guitar Center Professional, specializing on sound system design. He is experienced in putting together sound and live sound systems from the ground up as well as music and pro audio product sales. Also a certified CTS by Infocomm International, the trade association for the A/V industry, Khary is dedicated to go above and beyond expectations, establishing himself as a respected resource. Visit his site,


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