You probably haven’t seen them but in-ear monitoring systems, or IEMs, are used pretty commonly during all sorts of live performances: newscasters hear directions from production staff, theatre personnel talk to performers, and musicians hear each other during concerts. In-ear systems are superior to other communication methods because they’re easily hidden, let the user move around freely, and reduce feedback sounds from the stage. The best in-ear monitor system will let you communicate during a live production as if you were doing so in the studio.
Our complete buying guide will help you choose an appropriate in-ear monitoring system. We’ll discuss important things to look for, give you several buying options, and provide a detailed review of our top three choices.
Top 6 In-Ear Monitor Systems Comparison
Consider This for In-Ear Monitor Systems
- How Do They Work? This type of system consists of earphones, a bodypack receiver, and a transmitter. Each person on the system has their own earphones and receiver but shares a transmitter.
A sound engineer mixes from the sound booth. That feed is sent to the transmitter. The transmitter then sends the mix to the beltpack that the headphones added plugged into.
Monitoring systems can be wired or wireless. Singers will often use a wireless system while musicians often used a wired system.
The setup process for each show is quick. Large stage monitors don’t have to be lugged around and repeatedly moved.
Performers can move around the stage without interfering with the sound of their mix.
An uncluttered stage is more visually appealing for attendees.
Groups perform better together because member’s mixes are individualized.
Acoustics of the room are easier to manage.
Top 3 Best In-Ear Monitor Systems Reviews
Not too long ago a wireless earbud monitoring system would have been a dream for all except the most awarding-winning artists. But Shure has once again been able to make professional gear available to everyone.
Essentially, this is Shure’s PSM300 monitoring system packaged with their SE215-CL isolating headphones. The all-inclusive package definitely saves the aggravation of making sure all your components work together.
Both the transmitter and the bodypacks are well-built and durable. Each is comprised of an all-metal housing and easily accessible controls. The units transport without a problem but you will have to get your own carry case.
The P3RA bodypack clips easily and securely to clothing. There’s no fear of it falling off during an energetic performance. Additionally it’s only about the size of a small smartphone. It runs on regular alkaline batteries but we got more use from lithium rechargeables; a battery adapter kit is included.
The P3T transmitter comes with its own hardware and mounting kit. The LCD screen is bright enough to see even in dark engineering quarters.
Setting up the system is pretty much plug-and-play. Once everything is plugged in you just press a button for the transmitter to connect to the bodypacks. And with a 90-meter range you’re free enough to move around most venues. Sound quality was superb in quiet and loud environments. We experienced no interference even with other wireless devices nearby.
The Shue P3TRA215CL is appropriate for entry-level or professional use. It’s easy to set up and use but also maintains high quality.
Audio2000S is a relative newcomer in the realm of audio equipment appealing to budget-conscious consumers.
AWM6304U is equipped with a transmitter and pack similar looking to the Shure we looked at earlier. Readouts are easy to read, and controls are easy to find.
The range of these is much smaller than the Shure. You need to stay within about 25 feet of the transmitter or you start to get hissing and cutting out.
The included earbuds aren’t professional quality but are sufficient to get an idea of what’s going on.
AWM6304U by Audio2000S is suitable for tight budgets and very small venues.
Sennheiser builds upon the reliable base by adding several useful features to its in-ear monitoring system.
Each component in this system, like the others, is constructed of a durable metal foundation. The bodypack, for example, clips snugly but we’re sure it wouldn’t become damaged in a fall.
Using the devices in the dark is incredibly easy. The displays are visible when needed, but also easy to hide. We had no problems finding controls either.
Where the Sennheiser excels is in the extras. It has the longest battery life, and a limiter to stop peaks of high volume. Each bodypack lets its user dial their own balance with the general mix from the receiver. Additionally, a built-in Ethernet port on the transmitter allows the entire set to be controlled remotely.
This Sennheiser is a good investment if you’re in the market for a fully integrated system.