In-ear Monitors: The 7 Best Headsets to Hear Yourself On Stage | LANDR

Whenever you’re playing live on stage, you need some way to hear what you’re playing.

many places use traditional monitor wedges, but there is another option.

Reading: In ear headphone monitors

I mean the internal monitors. these are dedicated personal monitoring devices that are placed directly in your ears.

Many top touring artists use in-ear monitors and are considered by many to be the best option for hearing you on stage. These days, in-ear headphones are becoming more and more common, even in smaller venues.

but what exactly are internal monitors? are they just headphones? what are the specific benefits of using them and which models are the best?

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know to get started with in-ear monitoring.

what are internal monitors?

In-ear monitors are personal monitoring devices in the form of earphones. they are designed to go directly into a musician’s ears to provide the clearest, most direct monitor mix possible.

An in-ear monitor set consists of a pair of headphones connected to a portable device that includes the amplifier circuitry, wireless receiver, and battery pack.

indoor monitors are typically wireless devices that allow for greater mobility and less bulky wiring, but wired versions are also available.

Wireless in-ear systems use a transmitting device to send the signal to performers on stage. they are sometimes custom molded for a custom fit, but universal models work well for many artists.

The snug fit provides additional sound isolation that greatly reduces the external noise a musician hears while wearing them.

In-ear monitors are essentially headphones, but they are specifically designed to function in a live performance environment.

In-ear monitors are essentially headphones, but they are specifically designed to function in a live performance environment.

why use internal monitors?

There are several challenges in modern concert production that in-ear headphones help solve.

First of all, in-ear monitoring is often used on large stages where musicians move a considerable distance during their performance.

It’s not practical to use monitor wedges in these situations, as there would have to be multiple settings for wherever the players are.

Not only that, in-ear monitoring provides much greater accuracy than traditional wedges. higher sound quality and superior isolation can make it easier for musicians to deliver their best performance.

It is important to note that any loudspeaker monitoring setup has the potential to create uncontrolled feedback. this happens when a performer’s microphone is accidentally pointed in the direction of the monitor’s speaker. the microphone signal creates a feedback loop.

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These loud, scratchy screeches distract both performers and audience members. in-ears eliminate them entirely by removing the monitor wedge that creates the feedback loop.

transmitters and receivers

As I mentioned earlier, any wireless in-ear system consists of several pieces:

  • a transmitter unit that connects to the sound source and transmits the signal
  • a receiver unit that clips onto the performer’s clothing that connects to their headphones
  • headphone speakers that amplify sound for musicians to hear

A transmitter may be capable of transmitting one signal to multiple receivers, allowing an entire band to receive a monitor mix from a single unit.

In-ear systems are usually sold in sets, so it’s best to choose one with the right number of receivers for your needs. That said, it’s possible to add receivers individually with some units, so look into this possibility if you think you’ll eventually expand your system.

It is also important to note that it may not be possible to send multiple monitor signals so that each musician can hear a custom mix with a single transmitter. there’s a lot of variation when it comes to in-ear headphones, so be sure to research them carefully!

the 7 best in-ear headphones for musicians

While most transmitter/receiver pairs come with a set of headphones, many musicians prefer to purchase their own for the best sound and fit.

In this list, I’ll focus primarily on the headphone component of an in-ear system, as it has a significant effect on sound quality.

1. shure se846

shure se846 in-ear monitors

I’ll start this list with the premium in-ear headphone option. Despite looking similar to other pairs in this guide, the Shure SE846 retails for $899!

While it may seem like an exorbitant price for the headphones, the incredible sound quality makes them the best choice for large touring productions.

If you need uncompromising sound, these might be the headphones for you.

2. sennheiser ie 40 pro

sennheiser ie40 pro

at the other end of the budget spectrum you’ll find the sennheiser ie 40 pro.

While most transmitter/receiver pairs come with a set of headphones, many musicians prefer to purchase their own for the best sound and fit.

These affordable iem headphones offer solid sound and comfort that won’t break the bank.

If you just want to try internal monitors without spending too much, the ie 40 pros are a great option.

3. ath-e70 audio technique

audio technica ath-e70

audio technica ath-e70 is an excellent option for those who need the best quality at a mid-level price.

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The design features a multi-driver configuration that delivers clear sound with plenty of bass. that puts them in the realm of other budget professional headphones, but still affordable with quality that rivals the top contenders.

4. sony ier-m7

sony ier-m7 in-ear monitors

sony offers its own line of excellent iem headphones.

The ier-m7 is a solid option that rivals many of the best on this list.

while still firmly in the budget pro level, you get all the high-performance design philosophy of the more expensive ier-m9 with few compromises.

A lot of finding the right items is about fit and comfort.

5. shure se215 pro

shure is a big name when it comes to iem systems.

His respected series contains accessible models for all budgets, including the affordable SE215. For under $200, the se215 is a single driver design, but don’t let that stop you from considering them if cost is a concern.

6. mackie mp-220

mackie mp-220 in ear monitors

mackie live sound giant several sets of well-respected in-house monitors. The MP-220s are a budget-conscious pair with a step up in sound quality thanks to their dual-driver design.

7. westone audio um pro 20

A lot of finding the right items is about fit and comfort.

If you’re having trouble with traditional headphone manufacturers’ iem options, you might want to consider a pair from Westone Audio.

Like many of the iem headsets on this list, the um series offers a wide range of offerings at different price points.

the um pro 20 is in a comfortable price range between professional and budget options.

in the ears to listen

It’s easy to see why many of the best touring artists use in-ear headphones.

Superior sound quality and noise isolation solve long-standing problems with traditional stage monitors.

If you’ve read this article, you’ll have the background you need to get started with iems.

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