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In-Ear Monitors (Ultimate Buyers Guide)

In Buyer's Guide, Guides for Bands, Guides for Musicians, Guides for Singers by Jake LLeave a Comment

Last updated on August 7th, 2020 at 12:04 am

If you’re a performing singer or musician, you understand how crazy and loud it can get on stage. During a live performance, it’s very important that everyone on stage can clearly hear the music they are playing. This is where on-stage monitoring equipment comes into play. While many bands use stage monitor speakers, we highly recommend everyone to check out In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) for their convenience and freedom. We especially recommend IEMs to singers, as it makes it much easier to monitor your vocals as well as the music.

If this is an issue you’re running into while performing, or you’re just interested in trying in-ear monitoring out, then make sure to continue reading as we dive into the world of IEMs.

What are In-Ear Monitors

Red arrow pointing at singer's in-ear monitor

In-Ear Monitors or IEMs are systems that utilize a transmitter to project sound directly into the ear of the performers. They help drown out unwanted crowd noise and allow you to focus on your sound with clarity. As performers, it is important that we immerse ourselves with the music we are playing so we can confidently perform our sets on stage.

This is especially important for singers, as on-stage monitors can easily get drowned out by outside sounds. Singers and musicians having a hard time hearing what they’re playing can ultimately lead to miscues during their performances, as well as not being in sync with their fellow performers.

Why You Need In-Ear Monitors

In-Ear Monitors are great at getting the job done, easy to use, and easier to travel with. While they can take some time to get used to, the quality of life impact it has for performing musicians and singers is well worth it. In-ear monitor systems are affordable and have great options for any price range.

Things to Consider

Wireless or Wired?

While there are benefits for both, it will ultimately depend on your needs. At the end of the day, the decision to go wired or wireless will depend on your budget. Going with a wireless In-Ear monitor system can be great as you’ll have less clutter on stage and more freedom to move around. Still, you should consider your position on stage. If you’re going to be stationary like a keyboardist or drummer, you might not benefit as much from a wireless system than what a singer could get out of them.

Clarity

How clear can you hear every instrument on stage? In-ear monitors that have a flatter response are much better to work with when using In-Ear Monitors. This is why we would recommend that you look at the equipment that is specially made for on-stage performances, and not for recreational use.

You can use ordinary earbuds or a set of earphones you have for listening to music leisurely, but you will notice that they’re not so good when used for monitoring the sound you’re playing on stage. This is because these types of earphones aren’t designed for that type of use. Not having a flat response from your In-ear monitors won’t be accurate, which can affect how you perform.

Price

Like we’ve already mentioned, there is a wide price range when it comes to In-Ear monitors, but you do get what you pay for. Now let’s take a look at our recommendations for the best In-Ear monitor systems available.

Shure SE215

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Shure comes first on our list with their SE215 isolating earphones, an excellent overall choice for anyone in the market for in-ear monitors. The SE215s provide singers and musicians with detailed sound while having great isolation features.

They block up to 37 dB of ambient noise (Thanks to its Isolating Sleeves). These earbuds are great for in-ear monitoring while on-stage but are also great for personal use.

The SE215s are lightweight and have a low-profile design with an optimized nozzle that is angled to rest comfortably in the ear. This allows for long-lasting comfort even when wearing them for extended periods of time. Keep in mind, there are both wired and wireless versions of these earphones. If you planning on going with a wireless set, definitely consider the SE215s. It’ll be less cluttered up on stage, giving you more freedom to perform.

The SE215s by Shure is definitely one of the best IEMs available today in terms of quality, features, and price. A great durable choice that will last you a long time.

Sennheiser IE 40 PRO

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The IE 40 PRO In-Ear Monitors from Sennheiser offers its users a detailed and balanced sound while sporting a well-balanced design. These IEMs feature a flexible cable that is similar to Shure’s SE215s. Thanks to its ergonomic ear mold design, users will have long-lasting comfort while they perform.

These dynamic in-ear monitors produce a precise sound at both the lows and highs, giving you maximum control of what you’re listening to while performing on loud stages. Unlike many IEM systems that use multi-driver solutions (similar to conventional hearing aids), the IE 40 PROs utilize a dynamic single-driver.

This means that the frequency range does not have to be split up into sections, keeping the sound harmonious as a whole.  Also thanks to the dynamic 10mm broadband transducer, the sound still resonates easily at maximum sound levels. Acoustic stress factors are reduced, which leaves the sound free of distortion.

Overall a great choice for anyone looking for a high-quality pair of in-ear monitors. Sennheiser did an incredible job with the IE40 Pros, making them great for those looking to enhance their on-stage performances.

MEE audio M6 PRO (Budget-Friendly) 

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The MEE audio M6 PRO Musicians’ In-Ear Monitors are another great choice that comes at a more affordable price tag. The 2nd generation of its kind, these IEMs are built to produce the highly acclaimed sound of the M6 Pros with an even more accurate midrange. The sound is smoother and the treble is more natural.

Even though these are the next generation M6 Pros, they still keep some key features from their first Gen counterparts such as its overall hook design. They also retained the MMCX connections, making it easier to swap their detachable cables. And last but not least, they have foam-like ear tips and silicones that make for an excellent fit.

It has a flexible over-the-ear memory wire and comes with seven pairs of ear tips allowing users to personalize the fit of their pair of M6 Pros. These IEMs come together in a complete kit that includes the following:

  • Regular stereo cable
  • Headset cable with mic/remote
  • Protective carrying case
  • Comply memory foam ear tips
  • 6 sets of silicone ear tips
  • 1/4″ adapter

Overall, you can’t go wrong with the M6 PROs from MEE audio. The price is nice and affordable, but the IEMs are high-quality, durable, and long-lasting. A great choice for first-time buyers who are experimenting with In-Ear Monitoring for their on-stage performances.

Audio Technica ATH-IM04 (Highest Quality)

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If you’re looking for a pair of very high-quality In-Ear Monitors, the ATH-IMO4 from Audio Technica. These IEMs have an incredibly balanced sound and do a great job of isolating outside noise. Many have even argued that these are one of the best sounding listening devices they’ve ever owned.

The balanced sound that the ATH-IM04 produces is all thanks to the turning circuitry in the quad balanced drivers. Each driver has its own complex tuning circuitry that divides and distributes audio signals. Thanks to the drivers, the ATH-IM04s produce an accurate overall sound. They’re also very comfortable to use.

Audio Technica specially designed these IEMs to fit and seal within the user’s ear for the ultimate in-ear monitoring experience when performing on stage.

Overall, a great pair of In-Ear Monitors that are well worth the hefty price tag it comes at. We definitely recommend the ATH-IM04s to musicians and singers who are looking to enhance their on-stage experience.

Shure SE425

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Another great option from Shure, the SE425 Earphones are great In-Ear Monitors.  It has a comfortable over-the-ear design, making them great for periods of long usage. One of our favorite features is its innovative detachable cable system, allowing you to use it with wireless systems.

The sound quality on these IEMs are accurate and natural, thanks to its dual high-definition drivers (dedicated tweeter and woofer). This will ensure that the sound you are hearing while performing on stage is accurate as possible, allowing you to fully control your performance. Your listening experience is also enhanced by the SE425’s great sound isolation features.

The Isolating sleeves on these in-ear monitors are comfortable and can block up to 37 dB of ambient noise, helping prevent outside noise from interfering with what you’re trying to listen to.

While the price tag is higher than the SE215s from Shure, you do get a great value for what you’re paying for. A great pair of in-ear monitors that you can use professionally on-stage or casually when listening to music.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it! Here are our recommendations for the best In-Ear Monitors currently available. We tried our best to cover IEMs within a wide price range that fits any type of budget. Hopefully, our list helps you find the perfect pair of In-ear monitors so you can have more freedom on stage and perform your hearts out! Until next time.

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