How To Mix In Ear Monitors

You feel like you, the company, and the congregation is all in this jointly. While you switch to in-ear monitors (IEM’s), all of a sudden, you hear every tiny mistake, all tonal discrepancy, and every missed beat. 

They can also feel “claustrophobic,” like you are in a small tiny closet and separated from the rest of the band and group. Ultimately, I firmly think IEM’s are a better way to go if you have the choice to do so. They make your company tighter, rhythmically, and also part-wise.

I trust this article will shed light on setting an in-ear mix that is useful and encourages your company to get tighter. I have noticed some points over the years that may assist put you on that way. Most of these concepts think you will not have a separate monitor engineer. Your FOH engineer will also be running monitors for you.

How To Mix In Ear Monitors
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Related: 11 Best In-Ear Monitors For Men.

This topic could be one of the most overlooked yet crucial areas for leading worship at church. For years, I never gave it much thinking. I was focused on getting a good tone from my amp, what effects to use, and following the worship leader. Little did I understand that the moment I made some easy changes, ALL of these things I mentioned would improve drastically. So in this blog, I want to talk to you about the importance of a great monitor mix.

I want first to address why it can be essential to have a good monitor mix and then give you some personal tips and tricks to implement on your own.

As musicians playing in a band, we feed off each other by what the other players are doing. This means that if you can’t hear what the other guys are doing, you likely won’t be complimenting what they are playing and vice versa.

Here is an overview of some things that can be applied to your mix, whether you are a drummer, singer, guitarist, or another musician.

How To Mix In Ear Monitors?

USE BOTH EARS

I confess. When I first started using in-ear monitors, I only put one earbud in. It freed me from the claustrophobic feel of my isolated in-ear mix. I could hear some of the monitors and the ambient sound of the band. There were two big problems with the one-ear approach:

I could have damaged my hearing. I’ve read that for our ears to listen to something above background noise; it has to be about 10db louder. You may recall that the ambient noise level on stage when the drums are rocking, the guitars are pounding, and the piano jamming set a noisy place. If I then crank up my IEM to hear it above the noise on stage, I am subjecting my ears to potentially damaging sound levels.

I am forfeiting the main benefits of using IEMs–clarity, and control. The clarity of a good IEM mix in both ears is AWESOME! It takes time to learn how to mix and requires perpetual tinkering. But it is well worth it!

Stereo or mono?

If you have the sources to run a stereo or binaural mix — meaning, a stereo antenna/receiver combo. A stereo supporting sends from your mixer — then, by total means, mix in stereo. Joining in stereo has a distinct benefit on in-ears; you’ll be competent to set your mix in a system that mimics true life. If you’re a lead vocalist, you’ll need your vocals to be in the middle, without the guitars, and drums can be panned nearby you only as you’d hear them while standing on the platform.

Mono does have benefits. You will get a significantly stronger signal if you spread it in mono. This is a benefit, especially in big cities where there are fewer precise numbers to choose from.

Mono also benefits from being accessible; if you don’t have a stereo aux, post. It’s a lot more comfortable to use one rather than balancing two separate sends as a stereo pair.

Related: 11 Best In-Ear Monitors For Men.

Whoever is mixing monitors at your church is your best friend.

Be kind, patient, and encouraging to this person. Usually, they juggle a lot, and a little will go a long way in being kind to them. If they feel appreciated, they will be more likely to make changes for you.

MAKE THE MOST OF THE SOUNDCHECK

When setting up your mix, the first goal is to set a baseline audio level to which all the other channels can be mixed.

  • Turn your wireless pack or central volume knob down. 
  • Set the drum channel to unity or 0db. (Click here if you’re not sure what “unity” is) If you’re using the OneMix app, you should also set your aux channel to unity. 
  • Slowly turn up the wireless pack or central volume knob while the drummer plays until the drums are comfortably clear. Then don’t change the wireless bag or central volume knob until the sound check has been completed. 

Now that you have a baseline audio level set for the drums mix each instrument and voice to a comfortable and precise level as the soundcheck progresses. 

LEVERAGE THE POWER OF SUBTRACTIVE MIXING

My intuitive way to solve not hearing enough of a particular instrument is to turn it up more in the mix. This is undoubtedly a direct way to hear more of something. However, if all I ever do is adjust my mix by turning things up, you can guess what the result might be—a loud, muddy mess! 

As you begin rehearsing songs together, you will probably notice that there are instruments you cannot hear very well. 

  • Before you reach for the control to turn up that channel, ask yourself this question: “What can I hear most clearly?” 
  • If one instrument or vocal seems to be dominating the mix, try pulling their volume down slightly. Consider again what you hear most clearly. Perhaps something else is now popping out to you, and you still cannot listen to what you were looking for initially. Continue dialing back a few channels until you are more satisfied with what you needed to hear. 

Of course, you can turn things up when needed, but remember that subtractive mixing can be just as effective. It has the attached benefit of keeping your mix from getting too loud.

Mixing the mix

The 1st thing to identify is that, while many artists who use in-ears prefer a complete mix, this won’t be needed on a bit of stage. You’ll often need an effortless blend on a shorter stage — just vocals, a small guitar (or different instrument the mix owner is playing), also a kick drum. Remember, the loudest sounds regularly win at the mic, so you’ll get immensely bleed from the singing mics to hear everything else.

On a bigger stage, the sky’s the boundary. Only remember to communicate with your designer. Ask specifically what they need if you’re mixing in stereo. Put in mind that everything they need panned will be the opposite of whatever you see. If you view a guitar on the left side of the platform, they’ll enjoy it on the best side of their mix because while they’re meeting the crowd, that’s how they hear it.

Begin with a kick drum, overheads, more bass guitar. Once you get a firm foundation, you can join the vocals. Make assured that you avoid posting effects sent at this limit — make assured your artist is feeling suitable just hearing the rhythm part and their voice. 

Next, color in the rest of the tools they require. Remember, they’ll regularly need their voice and machine on top of everything else, so make sure you don’t bury the necessary signals.

I tend to bypass putting trick or close-mic’d toms in a mix until the designer feels comfortable and asks for it. Sometimes, hearing a big snare crack quickly can be scary and irrelevant to the overall health of the mix.

Related: 11 Best In-Ear Monitors For Men.

MAKE SURE YOU SAVE YOUR WORK!

We have all learned that lesson the difficult way. Something we were writing or making on a computer was not saved, and our work was lost. The same thing applies to your IEM mix. Although musicians on the team may differ from week to week, having a starting point to recall is very helpful.

If you’re using the ME-500 IEM mixers, here is a link to the instructions on how to save your mix. I have even provided space on the ME’s labels to write your name on the channel to which you hold your mix. Then the next person who wants to save their mix will see your name and know not to overwrite your settings. It also will help you remember where you saved your mix.

If you’re using the OneMix iPad app. there is only one option for saving your mix–bring your iPad. Unfortunately, the app does not facilitate saving user settings. So if you use one of the iPads that the church provides, you will likely start with someone else’s mix.

Give yourself time to make a great mix.

Some days it can take time to get a good mix. The added time you have, the more you can tweak your mix.

MIX SOME AMBIENT MIC IN IF YOUR MIX IS TOO ISOLATING. 

If the sterile mix of your ITEM still bothers you a bit, mix in some of the ambient mixes to give you a sense of hearing the room. Go easy on the ambient mic, as it can quickly muddy up your mix.

Adding Ambiance

In a bigger room, you’ll quickly find that your designer may feel isolated. This is pretty common; in-ears, by plan, offer exceptional ambient noise attenuation, making players think to chop off from the world nearby them.

First, consider joining a crowd microphone. Any like to fix two on either side of the platform, stereo, provides an expansive sound. I favor an only shotgun microphone at the base of the microphone stand in the face of the leading singer, pointed at the back of the place. This gives an excellent “localization” — the artist understands that the ambiance they hear is happening best at their feet.

Related: 11 Best In-Ear Monitors For Men.

Conclusion:

Having a good mix will keep you informed on the dynamic of each moment and let you know if the worship leader wants to go off script and flow. If a worship leader wants to go in a specific direction that he feels the Holy Spirit is leading them, you want to be right there with them every step of the way. In my experience, the more worship leaders feel supported in this way, the more they will step out and follow the prompting in their spirit.

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Are ear monitors suitable for mixing?

As a bonus, most people listen to music on headphones or earbuds, so you get an idea of what most people hear. Of course, we believe it’s always a good plan to test your mix on as various systems as you can. With a kind set of studio in-ear monitors, you can get 99% of the system to a great combination.

What is an in-ear mix?

Suppose you have the sources to run a stereo or binaural mix — a stereo transmitter/receiver combo. A stereo auxiliary sends from your mixer later; by every means, mix in stereo. Mixing in stereo has a clear advantage on in-ears; you’ll be competent to set your mix in a system that mimics real life.

What do singers hear in their earpieces?

The earpieces that singers wear on the platform are called ‘in-ear monitors. They give the singer a straight source of the sound, guard their hearing, and customize their stage mix. They also support the singer to listen to things that the public can’t hear (such as metronomes or support tracks).

Are in-ear monitors better than earphones?

The In-ear monitors are very comfortable to use on the platform than earphones due to how great they isolate from background noise nearby and match inside your ear canal. They have the advantage because they’re significantly less likely to cause some discomfort or pain. They reach tightly into your ear canal and are planned to stay put.

How much do in-ear monitors cost?

A decent pair of familiar fit in-ear monitors with a single driver will cost you within $100-$200, and molds commonly start at around $300.

How To Mix In Ear Monitors? Singer Edition

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