In Ear Monitoring VBlog #1

Thinking of getting in ear monitors!!  This is a post for you!

Have you always wondered how to use these in ear things in the right way?  Let me give you an overview.

If you stand around a room, or set up your band in a rehearsal, you always stand in a certain configuration.  You stand in an order.  You stand or play in the most comfortable spot for you in order to hear the other members in the group.  Also, there is natural room ambience!  There are natural sonic elements of your instrument or voice in that room, right?  You are able to hear and get the information you need to have a good rehearsal, resulting in a good show.  To be clear, you rely on your brain telling you the sound, direction, and instrument information you need to do have a productive rehearsal.


Your brain can understand all of the information its being fed simply because of the spatial differences in the room.  The drums are over here, the guitar is over here, the beatboxer is over there.  And I’m in tune because I can hear myself in reference to all others I’m making music with. Can you think of your last rehearsal off of sound equipment?  Yes?  Good!

Now, when we get on stage, we use floor monitors to feed us an un-natural representation of the spatial environment.  And it has nothing to do with where the instruments or singers are standing.  It’s just all front and center.  NO WONDER WHY WE CAN’T HEAR OUR PERFORMANCE ON STAGE. Our brains are not wired that way.  You practice in a stable spatial environment and then perform in a fake one.

Why do we put our selves through pain on stage?

The theory behind my in ear monitoring technique is that In-Ears (subsequently referred to as IEM’s) give you the option to have a stable spatial environment for every show in every venue around the world.  Your listening experience can be the same every night.  And it can have the nuances of each venue and audience if you just let this theory work for you!

Now, let go of all of your experience on stage and using floor monitors and IEM’s.  Leave it at the door!

The theory in practice!

IEM’s, what are they for?  They are a tool used to give the artist a better listening experience on stage that ultimately results in a better performance.  Great performances are a combination of good tuning, timing, balance and blend.  Creating a consistent spatial environment using panning is the key, based on how artists rehearse.

How many times have you or the band said…  “We had it perfect in rehearsal!”  Now you know why it’s not the same on stage.  So tip #1, rehearse on your in ears from now on!

Here’s how to set it up and get going on IEM’s

  1. Pan out the instruments and vocals as if you are standing in a room together on a small digital mixing console, like the Roland M-200i
  2. Make sure that all instruments and mics are at an equal gain and level and the EQ is flat with no compression.
  3. Close your eyes and play/sing together.  Give your brain a chance to hear the spatial environment.
  4. Play or sing the same song over and over, with your eyes closed, at least 4 times, sometimes 6.  Don’t stop until you’ve played the song at least 4 times.
  5. Leave your IEM’s in and totally sealed the entire time.  NO PULLING ONE EAR BUD TO FAKE OUT YOUR BRAIN.  This is a brain exercise!  You can’t go half way here.
  6. About half way through the first few run throughs, you will have the sensation of your voice or instrument being turned up in the “Mix”!  That is when your brain has found it’s instrument/voice.  It’s like riding a bike!  Once you got it, you have it for life!  Watch this for the theory behind this brain function!  CLICK HERE for the brain scientific discovery, the “Backwards Bike”!
  7. Now, you have it! The key to always hearing yourself, your band mates, and your pathway to a totally new way of mastery!  Now all you have to do is hire a good front of house engineer, like me!  Your monitoring situation is now finished.

The end result!  (hint: In Ear Monitoring VBlog #3)

When I started working with Take 6, they were on 6 mono mixes and constantly having issues hearing.  6 guys on mic, how hard is that?  Then we started putting them on shared stereo mixes!  Game OVER!  The first show on sealed IEM’s, audience mics, and one stereo panned mix was epic.  But after the show, I went back to the dressing room.  The band was complaining and saying, “That was the worst show we have ever performed!”.  I walked in as the sound engineer and said, “That was the most in-tune and incredible performance you’ve ever DONE!!!”  They finally heard all the mistakes of the show, and had the opportunity to fix them in the performance.  It was a huge improvement over being oblivious to the mistakes and relying on me, their engineer, to fix them.  They were finally hearing the true performance they were giving thanks to a stereo IEM mix!


In this VBlog, you will get to hear a few IEM mixes.  You will hear the fruits of the hard IEM times for Take 6.  Now listen to the quality of their voices in this stereo mix on episode #3!  It will BLOW YOUR MIND!