How to use in-ear monitors on tour without a dedicated Monitor Engineer

Regardless of what your touring situation looks like and even if you’re playing clubs without a dedicated sound engineer, you can still benefit from IEMs.

If you’re fortunate enough to be touring with a dedicated monitor engineer, obviously he or she will be responsible for everything monitor related, including your mix(es) and all things wireless.  If you’re touring with only a dedicated FOH engineer, it’s  possible they can assume those responsibilities, or at least part of them.  And if you’re  relying on the venue to provide both monitor and FOH mixes, you can certainly still use IEMs, but you’ll need to know some tips and tricks to make sure you get what you need on a night-to-night basis. 

In-Ear Mixing Without Dedicated Engineers
Here are some essential tips & tricks for consistent results. Watch the video and/ or read all the tips below.

Approach the venue’s sound engineer well before soundcheck
o    Explain that you’ll be using an in-ear mix and that you have your own transmitters and beltpacks. Most club engineers have worked with wireless before but some have not. Offer to help if needed or asked.

Know how to connect your transmitters just in case…
o    Remember that from the console you connect: the aux / monitor output
o    To the transmitter: Left / Mono input

Be prepared. Travel with extra cables and adapters in your toolbox
o    The venues should have these but why take chances? Always keep extra cables for your wireless set-up.
o    Be safe. Pack extra XLR cables, ¼" cables (balanced), XLR > ¼" adapters, and BNC cables (for antennae)

Know how to scan for available frequencies
o    Both Shure and Sennheiser systems have scan functions. Learn how your system works and make sure everyone has a clean frequency.

Always keep an eye on the input meters
o    On the console: meters should be peaking at or just above “0”
o    On the transmitter: meters should be peaking at no higher than “0”

Learn everyone’s mix
o    Know the difference between what everyone needs to hear rather than what they like to hear.
o    Keep things simple — less “clutter” in the mix is a good thing. Only include what is necessary for the performance.

Confirm that the IEMs are properly used
o    Make sure that everyone wraps the stiffening wires around their ears and that they pull the strain relief up to their neck. This secures the monitors in place while they are performing.
o    Cables should be run underneath clothing — from the ears to the beltpack.  This helps prevent snags during the performance.

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