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I am about to go on tour with a very large salsa orchestra, Pacific Mambo Orchestra. I’ve worked with many bands and controlling on-stage volume is always an issue, no matter the size. As a singer, you must protect your hearing and your voice. But it’s so hard to figure out the ideal solution. I’m sharing my evolving solution for in-ear monitoring. At this point, it’s quite inexpensive and definitely working better than wedges. I’ll also share what mics I’m using (and jonesing for). I’ve learned a lot from forums such as Gearslutz.com, as well as many sound engineers and monitor mix engineers. Please share your solutions! Who knows where I’ll go next: Should I buy the Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G3 In-Ear Wireless Monitor System?
*IF YOU RUN a monitor mix into the box, you will need to also have a limiter. With your own mic, you cannot create feedback and are unlikely to make a sound loud enough to damage your hearing. But if you run a monitor mix line back from the mixing board, you need to make sure there is a limiter that would shut off the sound if feedback were to occur, or you could permanently damage your hearing. The solution is to run a second mic of your own onstage (some monitor mix engineers also put a presence mic out facing the audience so that the singer can hear the audience). Lots to consider!
*You cannot return microphones and in-ear systems. The way I worked out testing the Shure PSM 200 in ear system (which did not work for me) was an agreement made with Guitar Center that I would not break the seal on the Shure SE215 earphones included (I already had a pair). If you don’t work out such a deal in advance, you’ll be SOL if you want to return the unit.
*Beware that the law around available wireless spectrum changed in 2010. There are many used units for sale on Craigslist and eBay that CANNOT be used legally. Plus, you may get unwanted cellphone interference. I nearly bought a unit until I discovered that the manufacturers have had to change what frequency they use. Do not buy any used wireless unit that uses the 700 MHz band.
Also, for the question of pitch reference and hearing the audience while wearing in ear monitors, watch this video by …. argh now I can’t find it. Famous musician who talked about his theory of why in-ears make pitch perception difficult even among masters such as Stevie Wonder… I’ll update this if I find it.
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