Those who are live on stage have special requirements for their headphones, because “normal” in-ears are out of place here: high level stability, no distortion and robustness are the most important properties that so-called monitoring headphones have to offer. That they have to seal perfectly is just as important as their – usually – specially adapted frequency response for live environments.
The Best In Ear Monitors for Singers Reviews – Guide and Buy
The Shure SE846 promise well-equipped in-ears for professional applications, which also allow private music enjoyment on the go. First-class workmanship and an immense package of accessories make the earphones a flexible tool that is fun and justifies the purchase price. In the end, what counts: attenuation and wearing comfort are great, the sound of the earphones is first class.
Since their frequency behavior can be adjusted, these in-ears are up to almost any playback situation and any musical genre. If you want to treat your ears to real sound luxury and have the necessary change, testing the Shure SE846 is therefore a must.
The Shure KSE1500 offers the highest level of sound enjoyment for demanding PA professionals and hardcore hi-fi fans who are willing to pay a high-end price for this system with a mega-extensive range of accessories. Impressively transparent basses, multi-faceted mid-range resolution and the finest highs make the hearts of sound purists beat faster when playing almost all musical styles.
Ergonomic fit, adjustability of the pad depth and low structure-borne noise transmission of the interchangeable cable are factors that make me thumb up for these in-ears. And the scope of delivery with soft case, ear pads and cleaning tool also convinces me.
Sennheiser’s IE 500 Pro In-Ears are really loud monitoring button headphones that offer a wide frequency range and reproduce the mids so precisely that they ensure high speech intelligibility. In one production or another, however, sibilance can be unpleasant. To listen to hi-fi productions with these headphones, the mid-range boost could be too much of a good thing for one or the other user. Beyond this mini point of criticism, the offered sound is well positioned. The Sennheiser IE 500 Pro are impressive monitoring in-ears that, in my opinion, are worth every penny.
The A6t is a high-quality in-ear earphone that is aimed at musicians who want to combine high demands on sound quality on stage with the advantages of a tailor-made fit. The sound of the system is outstanding due to the fact that it is equipped with six balanced armature drivers and the pressure relief, but it costs at least 1,500 euros. At the same time, as an audiophile music listener, you are guaranteed to be right here.
The InEar StageDiver 4 is a thoroughbred in-ear earphone for monitor use. The sound is trimmed so that musicians hear each other on stage and you do that extremely well with this listener. But not only the sound is convincing, with the SD 4 the entire package is right: starting with the fit, through the features, to the fact that the receiver is available in two sizes. All of this makes the SD 4 an excellent tool for the working musician. For many, the only downer is the price, but good tools have never been cheap.
The IE 400 Pro passed their practical test without question. Scope of delivery and design are top, comfort and usability of the seat and handling leave nothing to be desired. In terms of sound, the in-ears convince with fine highs that convey a good sound stage, as well as with a rich sub-bass. Like their smaller sibling, the IE 40 Pro, these button headphones also deliver quite succinctly in the mid-range.
The distortion-free playback, with which I was already impressed by the IE 40 Pro, can also be found in the IE 400 Pro. All those who want a strong bass for monitoring on stage and have no problem with the fact that voice and speech signals can hiss here and there can feel addressed. The bottom line is that the buyer receives an enormous amount of “value for money” because it is a mature product
The Westone UM Pro 50 delivers an excellent overall performance. In terms of sound, due to its target group in the stage area, it is not strictly attuned to neutrality, but rather with its emphasis in the bass area strives for the equally full and contoured sound image with which Westone has established itself in the professional field over the years. Nevertheless, the listening experience is excellent due to its richness of detail and precision, even when it comes to pure musical enjoyment. Here you can immerse yourself deeply and genre-spanning in the music!
With a street price between 540 and almost 700 euros, the UM Pro 50 is a small investment. In terms of sound, you are rewarded with a comprehensibly higher sound quality than in the price range around 200 euros. I don’t want to judge to what extent this leap in quality is worth several hundred euros to you. Often enough, the last qualitative percentage points require a particularly high effort. A look at competitors such as Sennheiser ( IE 800 S – to the test ) or Shure ( SE846 – to the test ) shows that you could also dig deeper into your pockets.
The AMPro30 is a recommendation for everyone who has always felt too separated from the outside world while playing with in-ear monitoring. Ambient noises are not only perceptible during breaks, but also when the music is playing – ideal for jam sessions, church services and all kinds of occasions where contact with the audience or fellow musicians is important. In terms of sound quality and workmanship, Westone has also done everything right – but all for a very high price.
With the Mackie MP-120, the traditional American manufacturer offers good in-ear headphones at an affordable price. The MP-120 works just as well as an everyday listener as it does as a stage monitor – if you can live with the withdrawn mids and the hissing tendency. Those who like crisp bass are well served here, those who prefer not to indulge in the finely drawn highs I give special praise for the fact that Mackie delivers its MP series headphones, which are of different prices, with identical accessories, which are really very high quality!
If you want to hear what’s really going on in your favorite tracks, put the Mackie MP-360 in your ears! In terms of concept, they are real IEMs, developed for musicians or sound engineers on and in front of the stage. Headphones are needed there that allow reliable sound assessments and that is exactly what the MP-360 delivers. You will find a nice middle way between this analytical accuracy and a sound image that also allows relaxed listening to music.
Since the MP-360 sound good with almost every style of music, this makes it a real all-rounder, only fans of really deep and fat basses should keep their distance. But if you want to hear music the way the artist intended, you will be amazed at the many fine details that you can hear in songs with the MP-360
As true monitor headphones, the Mackie MP-240 has committed itself to sound neutrality. If you are looking for a sound that impresses, you are better off with the bass-stronger (and cheaper) Mackie brothers MP-120 and MP-220 . On stage, however, the MP-240 has two advantages: it still sounds pleasant at high volumes and the individual frequency ranges can still be bent properly with the EQ of the monitor mixer if necessary. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether the black piano lacquer look matches the stage outfit.
Many headphones are advertised with the word “professional” and the Japanese audio specialist Audio-Technica also uses this word in the description of their in-ear headphones from the ATH-E series. But here it is not used as a (sometimes daring) advertising statement, it is the description of the targeted user: The equipment and sound of the ATH-E listeners are aimed at professional musicians and producers and they are usually looking for headphones with a neutral, unadulterated sound character. There are currently three ATH-E earphones, the ATH-E50 tested here is the middle model. We also tested the top model ATH-E70 (for review) .
The Audio Technica ATH-E70 is not a listener that plays its way into the foreground with power and pressure. But thanks to its well-balanced sound, you can always hear “what’s going on” and is therefore a great listener for everyone who needs to hear what’s going on: From this point of view, the term “professional” in the product description is quite appropriate, because the ATH -E70 is a precise tool for musicians on stage or producers in the recording studio.
The Shure SE535 was previously suitable for moderators, speakers and singers. Now, in the wireless version with Bluetooth connection and remote control for smart devices, it gets an additional boost of everyday proximity for daily use on the road. As high-quality workmanship and scope of delivery as these in-ears are, the use of their remote controls is just as complicated in practice.
Therefore, to be on the safe side, those interested in the Shure SE535 should make sure that they are comfortable handling the remotes. The fact that SBC is used as the Bluetooth codec instead of aptX is also a small downer. In terms of sound, on the other hand, even heavy mid-heavy guitar music can be heard differently with these in-ears,
Factors To Consider When Buying In-Ear Monitors For Singing
High quality sound
There are a few factors that, taken as a whole, are responsible for the high sound quality of in-ear monitoring systems. These include optimal volume, resistance to feedback, protection of the hearing, reduced vocal stress and less interference with the audience mix.
One of the most common requests to monitor engineers is, “Can you make me louder ??” A request that they cannot always comply with. There are many factors that determine how loud a signal can be when using stage monitors: the size of the amplifiers, the power of the loudspeakers and the gain. Another point that can make it difficult to hear yourself properly is the volume level on stage.
Singers often only rely on stage monitors – in contrast to guitarists, bassists or keyboardists, whose instruments are generally amplified. And drummers are naturally louder, even without amplification. The usual volume battles are sometimes inevitable, as every musician is always anxious to hear himself out of this confused music.
The brilliance of the voice is often neglected when other instruments are added to the monitor mix. Pianos, acoustic guitars and other instruments that also rely on a monitor are then at odds with the singing voice to be considered in the mix. An in-ear monitoring system, which isolates the artist from high stage volume and poor room acoustics, allows him to achieve studio quality sound – and that on stage!
The monitor mix can then be adapted to personal taste without the artist having to assert himself against the above factors.
If higher volumes are to be implemented using conventional monitor boxes, you can add more amplifiers and more speakers, but you cannot bypass the laws of physics. The concept of gain-before-feedback describes how loud a microphone can be before feedback occurs.
The further you move away from the microphone, the closer the microphone is brought to the loudspeaker or the further the loudspeaker is from the musician, the lower the resistance to feedback. Let’s imagine a typical stage scenario: the microphone is close to the mouth, that’s good.
The microphone is close to the speaker, that’s bad. The monitor is relatively far away from you, which is also bad. Feedback occurs whenever the sound that enters a microphone is reproduced by a loudspeaker and then picked up again by the same microphone. For a reasonable monitor volume, however, you definitely need some gain.
With in-ear monitoring there are none of these feedback problems. The loudspeakers sit directly in your ear canal and therefore quite a distance from the microphone. And without the threat of feedback, the volume can be increased as required.
Protection of hearing
Long-term exposure to high sound pressure levels can impair your hearing. Many artists use hearing protection such as ear plugs to protect their hearing, but these often change the frequency response. In-ear monitoring provides protection that comes close to that of earplugs, but with the difference that small micro-speakers are stuck in the earplugs. The monitor volume has thus moved into the area of responsibility of the artist on stage. So loud levels should be a thing of the past. We also recommend using a limiter for even more effective hearing protection.
Reduced vocal stress
Another problem besides the volume is the great vocal stress on the singers with normal stage monitors. To compensate for their volume, many singers feel compelled to sing against it with more power than would be normal or healthy. Anyone who makes a living by singing can imagine the consequences of losing their voice. Protecting the voice should therefore always be a high priority. In-ear monitoring systems are the perfect protective measure for all singers.
A distinct advantage of most in-ear systems is the ability to hear stereo. This does not necessarily fit always and everywhere, especially if only a limited number of mixes are available, but a monitor mix in stereo generally provides an accurate image of the environment. After all, we spend our entire lives in stereo, so it makes sense that a stereo mix would increase the perception of a natural soundscape. In-ear monitoring in stereo can also help reduce the volume.
Interference with the mix of the audience
But in-ear monitoring not only has advantages for the musicians on-stage. An undesirable side effect of stage monitors is that sound radiates from the stage into the audience. The loudspeakers in particular emit the low frequencies in all directions. This situation complicates the already demanding task of the FOH engineer, who has to fight against the loud levels on the stage in order to drive a clean mix for the audience.
The low frequencies emanating from the monitors wash out the mix and can also impair the intelligibility of the vocals, especially in smaller locations. This is also a point that clearly speaks in favor of using in-ear monitoring.
Easy to transport – that is an important argument e.g. B. for artists who travel a lot. Let’s imagine an average stage monitor system: 3-4 wedges of 20 kg each and then one or the other amplifier of 25 kg each – that comes together quite a bit. And an in-ear monitoring system? It fits comfortably in every pocket. Another nice side aspect of IEM is the aesthetics.
Finally, bulky stage monitors and cabling are no longer necessary; the stage looks much tidier. By the way, this point is especially important for bands that are B. performing at weddings, in churches or at important social occasions, where a professional appearance is just as indispensable as good sound.
Freedom of movement
Stage monitors create a sweet spot; so a certain point on the stage where everything sounds pretty good. But if you only take a step to the left or right, that is suddenly no longer the case. This is due to the directional nature of the speakers, especially at the high frequencies. Using in-ear monitoring is like using headphones – the sound is always right where you are. And you have this effect in every location. Since professional earphones effectively block out ambient noise, only good sound remains.
Probably the biggest advantage of in-ear monitoring is that you can control the mix directly. Sure, the musician still has to rely on the sound engineer to do the fine tuning, but in-ear monitoring gives him the opportunity to make some adjustments himself. These include the volume or the ability to choose different mixes. If the entire mix should now be louder, the artist can regulate the volume directly on the bodypack instead of trying to convey this wish to the monitor engineer with wild gesticulations.