For Your Praise Band, Are In-Ear Monitors Really The Right Solution?
Even at some churches, the "Everything louder than everything else!" demand is a challenge that rises from "monitor wars."
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In-Ear Monitors ResourceIn‑Ear Monitors: Hear The Music
In the interest of having your talent receiving an optimal mix, in-ears often go a long way toward accomplishing that task.
Why do so many IEM users pop one ear out? Or even both? Despite often-parroted warnings from audiologists, we want to connect. We want to feel the vibe! We want to know we’re part of something that’s bigger than just one person. And we’re prepared to sacrifice some sonic clarity, performance confidence and risk possible hearing damage, to achieve it.
We recognize - perhaps unconsciously - that IEMs are working against the all-important, main objective of connection.
The bottom line is this: If I desire to perform for an audience at the highest possible level, then IEMs are of great benefit. But if my main objective is to lead the congregation to sing, I must be able to hear them! Have an acute awareness of their sonic contribution to the sound in the room. With IEMs, this is almost impossible.
I know … some will argue that ambient or room mics (facing the congregation to let musicians hear the congregation through their IEMs) solves that problem. I disagree. If you’re locked into IEMs, ambient mics can help, sure. But how many adjustable gains has that signal passed through? At least two, right?
Understand that ambient mics can only give an approximation of the congregation’s ”voice.” They will not accurately reproduce their true volume and the “vibe.” Having our ears and skin share the same vibrating air with everyone else is required for that.
My preference and strong recommendation is for open speaker monitors - at least for vocalists and especially the congregation-leading vocalist. To create connection, we need to be free from the isolating influence of IEMs. We need to hear the congregation singing with us, or we will be tempted to sing for them.
Certainly in very large, sonically difficult auditoriums, for very large congregations, with widely spread instrumentalists and singers, IEMs can make good sense - especially for the instrumentalists.
And if you’re fully committed to a metronome click or backing tracks, IEMs will still be needed - maybe just for the drummer. But, especially for smaller rooms and congregations, please resist rushing to IEMs. The costs associated with any benefits are too high.
I never want to see church bands and audio techs going back to the “Everything louder than everything else” monitor wars. Band leaders and audio engineers need to work together to establish and maintain a different culture, where all team members understand our agreed, main purpose. That is, to craft a sound that helps the congregation to connect with God and each other.
Latest ResourceWorship Facilities Magazine, November-December 2017
The November-December 2017 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers a review of the 49 New Product Award entries this year, as well as those entries up for Solomon Awards in 2017.