In-ear monitors or IEM are small devices used by people that work in the audio or sound industry to listen to a particular music while blocking all other sounds. These monitors are used in live recordings, stages, and by others who like to listen to music carefully. These monitors are mostly custom made and are highly effective to use.
If you’re buying for the first time then you’ll get confused because there are so many types. The following is a detailed guide and the answer to all the confusing questions you may have in your mind.
As mentioned earlier, there are so many different in-ear monitors in the market. Each one of them is for different purposes and helps users in different ways. The following is a detailed guide to them and their features.
Straight or over-ear?
In-ear monitors can be more or less like regular earphones. They are designed the same except to be for a different purpose. One of the most basic kinds is the straight design or the over-ear design.
The straight design is like regular earphones. You push them into your ear and their wires fall in the front. These ones are the basic and the cheapest ones. They work well and can be very easy to put in your ear without a problem.
However, the more popular ones are the over-ear ones. These have a wire too, except they are designed to be worn over the ear so that they can remain masked. The over-ear ones are usually used for stage performances or for places where the wires tend to give off a bad look.
These ones are also useful if you tend to move your limbs a lot and might tangle in the middle of work and get them pulled out of the ear. Most custom-made professional in-ear monitors are made over-ear so that they are easier to handle. They may be a tad bit more expensive but they are worth it.
Wireless or wired?
Just like earphones, in-ear monitors also come in the basic wired or wireless in-ear monitor. The wired option for the in-ear monitors is a simple design which can be custom made. The design allows the device to be connected to the in-ear monitor and used without a hitch.
They are cheaper but can be a hassle to control because of the wire. If you get one with a fragile wire, then one wrong move and the whole set can be ruined. However, these are the most common ones and they give off good results which is why they are loved.
Wireless in-ear monitor systems, on the other hand, are also very convenient. The biggest convenience they give off is that they do not have the hassle of a wire and are generally stronger in this way. However, with the wireless ones you may have to pay u a little more than regular. You will also have to consider several things like the battery time which is important. For people who are using this on stage, they will have to ensure the battery time is at least 5 to 6 hours.
Another important factor to consider is the connectivity. Bluetooth and infrared are the most basic types of connectivity that needs to be there. In some cases, Wi-Fi is important too. You will have to make sure that wireless connectivity is strong too otherwise it can be interrupted in the middle of work.
☛ Related reading: Wired Headphones VS Wireless Headphones, Which Is For You?
The drivers of the in-ear monitors are a very important part. These drivers help define the quality and the different aspects of the sound that is produced in the in-ear monitors. The two basic types of drivers are;
- Dynamic drivers
- Balanced armatures driver
These drivers are more powerful in creating the spectrum of the sound. They are as heavy duty speakers but they are smaller. They work to produce all the frequencies that are there in the sound spectrum. These drivers are most suited for people who work to change and play with sounds.
Ø Balanced armatures driver
The balanced armatures driver is not a new technology. In fact, it was not even made for this purpose. This driver was made and used on hearing aids. They provide clear sound and high-resolution frequency.
They are not very expensive considering the quality they produce. These are most suitable for people that want o to observe music and use in-ear monitors for noise reduction. Some devices have a hybrid of drives and balanced armatures are most likely to be one of them.
The earbud part of the in-ear monitor is the only part that is in direct contact with the ear. Hence, it is responsible for keeping the quality of the sound intact by being a fair channel to the monitor. It is also responsible to be comfortable as well. The following are too basic cushioning for the in-ear monitor. They are both a great option and can be selected according to preference.
Foam Earbuds are one of the most comfortable tips ever made. They are made to easily fit into the ear without worrying about the size and without worrying about them falling off. They are shaped like regular earplugs with a hole for sound to pass and for being a better fit.
Foam buds may be a little more expensive than the traditional silicones, but they are worth every penny. Some companies also make memory foam buds for additional comfort.
These earbuds are one of the most common types and the most inexpensive types of Earbuds. Silicone is considered hypoallergenic which is why it is a great choice. They offer more sanitation and health benefits compared to foam. However, they can get slippery if you sweat too much. These Earbuds are also not suitable for long times as they can get uncomfortable.
The fit of the in-ear monitors is very important. Ideally, you want it to fit in your ear and be comfortable so there is no sound disturbance. The two types of fit are the universal fit or the custom fit. The following are details about both of them.
Ø Universal fit
The universal fit is exactly as the name suggests. The in-ear monitors are designed with a neutral size and a neutral shape which fits almost all ear types. These are good options for a cheap way to get in-ear monitors, but they might not be effective in blocking out the sounds entirely. The reason for this might be because of the bad fit.
Ø Custom- molded
Custom made in-ear monitors or CIEM are the right way to get them perfect. The custom design is made according to the ear shape and size of the individual. These can get very expensive, but they are longer lasting and are producing the best quality.
They can easily block out the noise and are not prone to slipping since they are made for your ear. You can also choose the foam type in this monitor according to your health issues and make it entirely yours. Just keep in mind to do a quality check from the company.
Choosing an in-ear monitors manufacturer
Perhaps choosing a manufacturer is the most important and difficult step in the selection of in-ear monitors. The most trusted manufacturers will give you the best results and will make your money well spent and worth it. It is important to look out for the following things when looking for a manufacturer for this purpose.
- Make sure the manufacturer has been in the business for some time
- Read their history and their performance in the market briefly
- Take heed of customer reviews
- Price is important but makes it your least priority
- Always make sure the company has good customer service reviews and offers warranties and a guarantee.
- Do not pay all the money in advance if you are getting it customized.
Once you are done finding these features in the manufacturer, you can give it a thumb up. Companies like Ultimate Ears have been around for about two decades and have been providing to musicians all over the world. It is a great example of one of the finest in the market.
Now, you have come across many small and big aspects that need to be considered when getting in-ear monitors. These monitors are very important in the sound and music industry so make sure you pick the right one carefully. Keep in mind the wrong pair will waste your money and if you are working with music, it might ruin your music too.
Additionally, when purchasing know why you want them. In-ear monitors for drummers can be different from the in-ear monitors for singers. So make sure you know the usage and the features required before you go for the right pair.