Since the use of stage speakers is a difficult condition for sound engineers and musicians, there is an increasing shift to the use of earphones (in-ear monitoring) that are not directly visible to the audience. In contrast to the stage speakers, there is no feedback that would normally occur when, for example, a microphone catches the amplified vocals of a singer again and reproduced via the monitor speakers. In addition, the sound impression for the musicians is independent of their location on stage. In order to give the artists free space to move, the connection between the monitor mixer and headphones is usually via a radio connection. For musicians with a fixed location on stage (e.g. drummers or keyboardists), there are also wired solutions.
Advantages of in-ear monitoring are
- The listening impression always remains constant, regardless of whether you are in the rehearsal room or on a stage.
- An in-ear set, which consists of a transmitting station and a bodypack, is much easier to transport than a conventional monitor box.
- An in-ear monitoring system can be used to give stage directions (e.g. during television broadcasts) without viewers noticing.
- In-ear monitoring allows the band to use a metronome without viewers noticing, as the metronome can only be heard on the artists’ headphones.
- Less noise pollution for the performers on stage.
Disadvantages of in-ear monitoring are
- The changed impression of space for the musicians, since the sound impression does not change when moving or turning. In extreme cases, this can lead to orientation difficulties.
- In certain areas (singers, speakers, brass), the sound impression can be distorted due to bone conduction in the skull. When using hard plastic, wearing it can also be perceived as uncomfortable.
- Only useful for a certain number of performers; For many actors, this is more complex and considerably more expensive than monitor boxes on the floor.
Some systems provide a high level of noise reduction to protect the ear, but most in-ear monitors can also cause hearing damage, being placed closest to the eardrum.
Balanced Armature Technology
A balanced armature is intended to increase the electrical efficiency by reducing the stress on the diaphragm. It consists of a moving magnetic armature which is centered in the magnetic field. A typical in-ear monitor may use 8 balanced armatures in a configuration of four low, two mid, two high. That is triple crossover design. This provides a higher fidelity sound. But the design is not mechanically stable.