Let' s be honest:
No on-stage musician can perform without clearly hearing themselves.
In the past, floor wedges or floor monitors offered musicians the only way out. They were speakers placed in front of musicians which blurred out music. However, with the advent of In-Ear Monitors or IEMs, times have now changed.
Hence the need for this comparison of In-Ear Monitors vs Wedges.
So, whether you' re a musician looking to perform at your full potential – or a show organizer hoping to find a way to increase the singer' s performance level – this article will help you out.
In ear monitors – Explained
How do In Ear Monitors Work? Basically, they are two-part systems, comprising a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is no more than a half-pound unit, which transmits the sound waves wirelessly to the receiver.
As for the receiver, it' s a belt pack which the performer wears and is of the size of a smartphone. After picking up the signal from the transmitter, it amplifies it before sending the same to the performer' s earpiece. The receiver and transmitter mostly operate between 606 and 614 MHz frequencies.
One of the major reasons why musicians generally prefer in-ear monitors is because of the portability of the latter. Put simply, since they are wireless, IEMs allow monitors to wear them and cover the whole stage. This feature of the IEMs is in stark contrast to Wedges whose wires greatly restrict the mobility of the performer.
Wedges – Explained
While most performers – especially those of the 90s – have worked with wedges, they don' t know how they do work. That is the reason why this section came into being – to educate musicians on how wedges work.
Put simply, wedges are speakers and receive live sound from either one of two sources. These sources include either a split from the stage or the auxiliary waves coming out of the soundboard. They then amplify this sound for the stage performer – and audiences to hear.
Most musicians who use wedges do the same because wedges can create incredibly high volumes to electrify the space around them. Also, since they are heavy-duty, wedges can withstand extreme physical and electrical abuse.
Why You Should Use In Ear Monitors?
In this section of the article, we' re going to give you () reasons for why IEMs are better than wedges. Take a look.
#1- Better Sound Quality
Imagine two scenarios. In the first one, the mixed sound is played directly into your ear through In-Ear Monitors. In the second, the same sound – after coming out of wedges – reverberates throughout the arena before reaching your ears.
Tell me: which sound would be of better quality? Even if you keep factors like audience noise and outside sounds constant, the fact that IEMs provide sound straight to your ears allows them to provide better sound quality.
#2- Normal Volume Levels
At a time when the show is on fire, it might happen that the stage performers might not hear their voice. In such a case, they might ask the sound engineer to turn up the volume. Little do they know, however, that high volume means drowning out the sound in heavy music.
Fortunately, no such problem exists in In-ear monitors. That is, because, they deliver sound right to the tip of your ear. So factors like audience noise, external sounds and interference won' t adversely affect sound quality.
#3- Increased Mobility
In the case of wedges, musicians cannot walk away far from the wedges due to the fear that their music will fade away. Such fears are quashed the moment stage performers wear IEMs.
Why? Well, that' s because IEMs deliver music right to your ear. Also, since there are no wires on stage – which is a normal occurrence with wedges – you don' t have to watch your step while moving around.
#4- Fine Tuned Feedback
Just because IEMs deliver music straight to your ears doesn' t mean they won' t let you hear the voices of the audience. Instead, provided you have a competent sound engineer, you can ask him to fine tune the IEMs in such a way that audience feedback is delivered individually into your ears.
Why You Should Use Wedges?
In case you thought we were biased towards IEMs, let me assure you that we definitely are. After all, who in their right mind would think wedges are better than IEMs. Unfortunately, there are some people who think exactly like that, and we' re going to give you their viewpoint.
#1- Custom Learning Environment
Some musicians demand that the sound they hear while performing on music contains reverb of the room as well as their guitar amps. For the purpose of simplicity, let' s call such an environment a custom learning environment.
IEMs, to their discredit, cannot provide such an environment. Wedges, to their benefit, certainly can as they blare out the sound in open-air. So, if you want to hear raw, untamed music, wedges might be worth a shot.
#2- No Sound Blocked
As stated above, whether or not an IEM will block out external noise depends on the competence of the sound engineer. Even a minor mishap on his side could make the singer oblivious to the crowd chants.
Not so in the case of wedges. With nothing to shield your ears from the crowd noises, there' s no danger that you won' t hear the crowd.
#3- Directional Sound
Ask on-stage performers, and they might tell that you can only hear wedges properly if you' re right in front of them. Some performers – and especially those who like to move around the stage – think of it as a shortcoming.
However, regardless of what you think, having directional sound can be a godsend, especially if you want to take a breather and ease of the sound coming at your ears for a few seconds.
#4- Price and Group Settings
Starting with the former, In-Ear Monitors are far more expensive per unit than wedges. That means if you have a fixed amount to spend on equipment, you can buy more wedges than In-ear monitors.
As for the latter, it is simply not feasible to give every member of your group their personal IEMs. The problem increases manifold if you perform in choirs, in which case the money required for separate IEMs would be exceptionally large.
In Ear Monitors Vs Wedges – Pros and Cons
So far in this article, we were concerned with the working and comparison of both these devices. From here on, we' ll fixate our attention on the pros and cons of each.
In Ear Monitors
Why Should In Ear Monitors Replace Wedges?
As stated earlier, we were unabashedly biased towards IEMs for the simple reason that they are better. Now, to convince you to think likewise, we' ll present you some reasons. Take a look.
➢ In comparison with wedges, the sound quality of In-Ear Monitors is much better
➢ By moving the sound directly to your ear, they eliminate feedback, create a quiet stage and allow your sound engineer to mix-up the sound
➢ The absence of on-stage noise allows you to sing at your normal voice levels. Hence, you have to put less strain on your vocal chords
➢ Provided you' re using wireless In-ear monitors, they allow to move around the stage without fear of losing out music
➢ Since they allow you to fine tune the sound level delivered to your ears, In-Ear monitors let you control how much audience feedback you want to listen to.
➢ IEMs allow you to fine-tune the music delivered to your ears. As a result, IEMs help save your hearing which might otherwise be disturbed by loud blaring noises
➢ With IEMs, you can easily get personalized music to your ears after a little bit of tinkering on the part of the sound engineer.
➢ Since you' re the one in control over all the elements in your mix, you can get a stereo mix of what is actually happening on stage
All musicians agree that they cannot perform at their true potential unless they clearly hear themselves. What they don' t agree, unfortunately, is on the equipment which lets them achieve their objective. For, while some of them are in awe of wedges, others tilt more towards in-ear monitors.
In light of these facts, we tried to present a balanced comparison of In Ear Monitors Vs Wedges. Not only that but we also showed you how each of these devices works. Therefore, now that you have so much information at your disposal, the onus is on you to choose between in-ear monitors and wedges.