Many churches today are using personal monitoring systems for their worship musicians and in this article I take look at some really good iems available, from the cheapest and most affordable, to more high end in-ear monitors. Unlike the traditional stage monitoring, in ear monitors come with a pair of earbuds used to muffle out any noises or sounds from anyone or anything surrounding the user. Anyone using a wireless monitor is able to fully concentrate on the sound of his or her instrument through their earpiece.
A stage monitor, on the other hand, does not muffle any sound and when you play your instruments, you can hear the live sound of every other instrument onstage. You can also hear the audiences’ response to the music which sometimes can be distracting. Many benefits come with using in ear monitors vs floor monitoring. Stage monitors for starters do not come with sound isolating technology, whereas pro-audio iem systems do, allowing whoever is performing to concentrate better on what he or she is hearing. There are also over ear monitors that use closed back headphones, but they aren’t quite as popular as the in ears, although they do offer good external noise reduction.
Which models are best for musicians, singers and churches
Some people may argue that the people that those who would benefit from headphones are singers and performers in live bands. So it stands to reason that they would be useful in many church settings too. Some of the reasons many churches perhaps choose not to go from the traditional floor monitors to iem systems are;
Most of the above assumptions are incorrect and the opposite is true about iems. True though that some of them may be too cost prohibitive for some churches but once the benefits are realized, the costs become a non-issue. Current technologies can reduce the costs down to a level that most churches can afford. However, you have to have the knowledge of how to assess those technologies.
There are many types of personal monitoring products in the market today. Not every piece of gear out there would, however, work well in a church setting. They come in different sizes, shapes and dimensions. The cost of wireless systems also depends on the make and the qualities. Below are some of the best iems for churches available today.
1. Audio 2000S AWM6304U IEM ( * my value for money pick)
The Audio 2000S AWM63004U #ad is one of the best wireless monitors for singers, drummers and for the whole band because it provides the following benefits
Check price at Amazon
This unit is highly rated by many buyers and is one of the top systems around .
Others said they couldn’t have been happier after buying this monitor unit and that it was even better than expected.
A number of people mention the great value for money.
I would highly recommend this system, but if you are interested in buying, to check the current price on Amazon, click here.
2. Rocket Audio RW2080 In-Ear Monitoring System with 4 Body Packs (* my budget pick)
The Rocket Audio RW2080 #ad is another top quality wireless monitor system that comes with 2 channels and 4 body packs. It is one fairly priced and one of the most popular wireless systems around. The things that make Rocket Audio unit stand out are;
Users rated this monitor system highly. The majority of those that bought the item hailed it for its good quality work and flawless audio.
Some users said that they didn’t regret purchasing this system and was the best they had used. One of the best budget in ear monitors around.
To check the latest price on Amazon for the highly rated Rocket Audio RW2080, click here
3. XTUGA Wireless In-Ear Monitor System with 6 Body Packs
XTUGA and Rocket Audio are basically the same company, but the difference is that this model comes with 6 receivers. The XTUGA RW2080 #ad and is a wireless bodypack that comes with 2 channels. It is slightly more expensive than many of the other units. There is however a reason why XTUGA is more pricey. Below are the features and specifications that make it special and a worth buy.
Most buyers gave this unit a big thumbs up and said it was very good and generally pleased with their purchase and one of the best wireless monitors for the price.
I personally think this system is great value for money and highly recommend it. To check the price of the XTURGA RW2080(6 receivers) on Amazon, click here
If you find this article helpful, you may also wish to check out my Recommended Gear page here
4. Pyle Audio Personal In-Ear Monitor and Receiver System
The Pyle in-ear wireless monitor system #ad comes with 100 pre-set audio frequencies. It has a combination of ¼ inch audio input jack and XLR. This is a system that will not fail any singer or musician because it is made up of high technology and user friendly controls that take sound experience to another level.
The Pyle Wireless System has sold decent volume and many users thought it performed reasonably well.
Some said they thought this was an amazing piece of gear and among the best in ear headphones for musicians around. Others commented on the benefits to their hearing, as they could now control the volume on stage. Others said that they preferred the in ears to stage floor monitors. Other user recommended this monitor system to anyone that was looking for quality monitoring equipment.
Others commented on the number of channels available and the value for money this product offers.
This is another great system, I can highly recommend. To check the price of the Pyle In-Ear Monitor System on Amazon, click here
5. Shure P3TRA215CL PSM300 IEM ( * my top quality pick)
Over the years, Shure has been one of the big names in quality microphones and audio gear. The Shure custom in-ear monitoring system is used widely by many of the top musicians and bands. Musicians like the Shure PSM 300 system, because of its incredible noise and sound isolating earphones. You can choose from the entry level of the P3TRA215CL PSM-300 #ad to the more advanced PSM 1000. However, this pro audio quality does come at a price and it is more expensive than many other similar products out there. Features and specifications that make Shure IEM headphones stand out are;
Overall most users were very happy with their purchase and some commented that they didn’t know how they managed before with personal monitoring. Professional musicians also seem to really like this model and is certainly among the best iems available.
Others comment on the sound quality, the build quality and also how comfortable they headphones are to wear and the Shure pedigree ensures it is among the best iems for vocalists and musicians available.
When you buy Shure, you know you are getting quality. They aren’t cheap, but I can recommend this system very highly. To check the current price of the Shure PSM-300 on Amazon, click here
6. Audio–Technica In-Ear Monitor System
Audio-Technica has been one of the big players in professional audio for many years now, and is probably better known for their vocal and instrument microphones and wireless microphones. However, they certainly know what they are doing when it come to in-ear wireless monitoring systems too. The Audio Technica In-Ear Monitor System #ad unit is very popular with musicians and gets some great reviews. The unit is quite pricey, but not as expensive as the Shure system above. The things that make the A-T monitor system special are;
Many customers mentioned that the monitor earphones help a great deal to reduce ringing in the ears caused by loud stage volume.
Others had mentioned that even though this system is quite expensive, the quality of sound is worth every penny and it’s probably the best one for musicians from Audio-Technica.
This system is high quality and comes with high recommendations from many people. To check the price of the Audio Technica System on Amazon and read buyers reviews, click here
7. ANLEON S2 In-Ear Monitor System (great for tight budgets)
Specifications and features
IEM System Customer Reviews
Many users praised ANLEON in-ear monitors and very few gave negative reviews.
A couple of people said that they had tried other makes but weren’t happy with them, but were very happy with the Anleon iems.
Others comment on the value for money of this system. You get a lot of bang for your buck and it’s on of the best systems for the money.
This is another value for money system. To check the price of the Anleon In-Ear Monitor System on Amazon, click here
If you are in the market for the best in-ear monitoring system for your church, then do your research carefully and choose what is best for your needs and your price range. The above wireless iem systems are all very good, generally affordable and all do a very great job in blocking out noise from other instruments and from the crowd, and give great comfort to the ears. They are all great for their price points and some of them have more advanced features for better comfort and quality.
Please note: One little thing to watch out for is that some users didn’t seem to realise that with 1 transmitter and 4 receivers, they weren’t going to get 4 separate monitor mixes. A lot of people don’t realise that at the end of the day you aren’t going to get more monitor mixes than your sound desk can produce e.g. if your desk has 2 monitor outputs and you buy 2 receivers, then you will have 2 mixes. If you only have 1 receiver, you will only have 1 mix. Also if you have 4 monitor outputs on your desk, if you want 4 mixes, you are going to need x4 in-ear transmitters.
Worship bands can now produce better quality music without any interruptions by using any of the above products, but what you decide upon will ultimately depend on your own needs and budget. The models we have selected in our view are among the best for musicians available at the moment.
If you have found this article helpful, you may wish to check out my Recommended Gear page.
Also, to check out the post I wrote about my 15 favourite bits of audio gear – click here
Other notable systems are the Sennheiser EW IEM G4 which is a good bit more expensive than the other models we have assessed in this article, but it is very high quality and if you have the budget, it’s definitely worth considering . Click here to read more about it on Amazon or see below.
I just want to take a minute about a great video course I discovered over at CreativeLive that teaches you how to mix live audio. The course is taught by Zach Varnell who was chief engineer at Harbor Studio in Seattle and Tacoma’s Spectre Studios. He has many years experience as a sound engineer working in both the studio and live concerts. This is a terrific resource and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you want to check out the lesson plan, just click here.
Consideration for professional band iems
There are mainly two types of iems. These are wired and wireless in-ear monitor systems. There are many different things to consider when choosing quality universal monitors available for your own context.
Regardless of type, iems also require light headphones of some kind. I have been using the MEE Audio M6 Pro headphone set in our church for a while now and the M6 Pro monitor earbuds have been really terrific with great bass response and overall sound quality. Check them out here on Amazon. #ad
A wireless stereo in-ear monitoring system allows you to move around unhindered and more. It consists of in-ear headphones, a transmitter and a receiver. It also comes with a range for the receiver which allows the user not to lose audio signal at any time during the performance. The wireless in-ear monitor is pricier. There are also Bluetooth options for wireless iems. Bluetooth doesn’t always have the range of other wireless in-ear systems, but it is still a good option for musicians.
For those musicians who are stationary like drummers, pianists or guitarists, or bass players – wired monitoring might be ok. They are less costly but also offer the same benefits as the wireless in ears which is muffling any sounds from outside what you are playing.
Before purchasing, check the unit construction as they all come with diverse drivers. The drivers include standard magnet driver, crossovers and multiple drivers. Standard magnet drivers are the basic ones and used for frequencies that are from mid to high. Multiple drivers and crossovers are more advanced and used to produce wider frequencies and clearer sound separations. If your sound system uses a 19″ rank, you should check if there is a rackmounting kit.
Check out the degree of noise cancellation offered by the iem. This will allow you to verify how much of the noise around the Church and staging area the earpieces can isolate. You may want to read my post about feedback cancellation here.
Select monitors that you are comfortable to move around in. They all come with different features that protect them from damage. Universal fit earbud monitors are usually comfortable for most people, but you will need to look out for those features that best suit you.
Cost price ranges vary from a high end system to affordable in ear systems at the other end. Some of the best iems are priced highly while others are very cheap or at least fairly inexpensive. Buy what best suits your pocket but do not compromise price with the quality, although there are affordable custom in ear monitors out there for small ears or bigger ears. Generally speaking, a wireless personal monitor system will be more expensive than a wired system. However you can get cheap in ear monitors under $200 if you look around. Read all the user reviews on all the wireless systems in the market before you make your decision.
If you enjoy this article, you may wish to check out my Recommend Gear page
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do iems protect hearing?
Your ears can be damaged permanently with any prolonged exposure to loud music. Musicians on stage are particularly vulnerable to this risk. However, iem headphones block out sound from outside and allow the musician to hear only what is coming through the mixer. So yes, they do to a certain extent protect hearing.
What is the difference between iems and headphones?
I think the way most people understand these two terms is that in ears are literally “in ear”, in the same way, that earplugs are inserted into the ear, whereas headphones go over the ear. Both, however, can be used with personal monitoring.
What do iems cost?
This is not an easy question to answer because it really comes down to quality, the number of receivers, range etc I would recommend following my buyers guide above for that answer.
Do in-ear monitors cause hearing loss and are they safe?
If used properly, no they don’t cause hearing loss. In fact, they may well protect against hearing loss as they limit the sound pressure coming into the inner ear.
Are IEMs for bass players the same as any other type?
Yes, bass players can use the same type as guitarists and other musicians and singers
Are personal monitors for a drummer any different?
Drummers can use universal iems, but one of the things to check is their noise-cancelling ability.
What about iem rental?
This can be an option maybe for irregular large events. If you don’t have the cash to justify buying the best iems out there, then you could rent from your local dealer.