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Shure PSM Range & The Advantages Of Using In-Ear Monitors

Published: Thu April 23, 2015  News Feed
Most musicians who perform live will be familiar with onstage wedge monitors. But many may still not be familiar with the idea of using in-ear monitors (IEM for short) as their main monitoring option. However, this is the preferred method for most professional musicians worldwide. Read on to find out why...

Singer using in-ear monitors (IEM)

Usually if you're a musician playing live, you'll prefer having monitors rather than not. If you find yourself performing onstage without any form of monitoring, you may notice it can be more difficult to perform well - especially if playing loudly - because you won't be able to hear your band and/or yourself too well. For singers, performing without monitors can be even more problematic - without being able to hear yourself properly, you might end up singing out of tune!

It's pretty much universally agreed, then, that monitors are an essential part of a live setup, and good monitoring helps the artist to enhance his or her performance, whereas lacking of monitoring can be detrimental.

Why Should I Use In-Ear Monitors?

Just as monitors are a marked improvement on having no monitors at all, using in-ear monitors represents yet another step ahead, and is a great improvement on using the usual wedge monitors. That's why, today, most professional musicians opt for IEM, from rock bands such as Kings Of Leon and Arctic Monkeys to pop acts such as Beyonce.

If you too are ready to take your band’s live sound to the next level, in-ear monitors are the way to go. After all, you don't need to be a pop star to reap the benefits of a better sound!

IEM acts

Yes, stage monitors can be good, but at bigger and/or louder gigs, you'll be taking a major step in the right direction by reducing or eliminating your stage monitors altogether. There are plenty of reasons to make the change: Loud wedge monitors create significant audio issues that are counterproductive to good sound; such problems include increased feedback, or sound spilling into the audience, making it difficult to control the house mix. Other problems include creating phase issues with the house speakers, generating “cross talk” that enables one musician to hear another’s monitor mix, and increasing the chances of hearing fatigue.

Picture the scene: a singer wants to hear him or herself better onstage, because the band is too loud. They ask for more vocals on their monitor. However, due to everything already being so loud, their microphone will now create feedback, thus making the situation even worse! What do you do? Tell the band to play quieter, thus reducing the impact of the performance? Play along with the annoying mic feedback? Or just suck it up and carry on best you can - unable to hear yourself too well? Using IEM, these are not problems anymore!

The fact is - whether you're practicing or performing, it's impossible to sound your best if you can't hear what's going on around you. And for years, Shure Personal Monitor Systems and Sound Isolating earphones have given professional musicians an "edge over the wedge" (their pun, not ours!)

In-ear monitors have been around since the late 1980s, when Stevie Wonder became the first well-known act to use one. It was designed by his sound engineer Chris Lindo in 1987, when Stevie had a full-blown, mobile, broadcast-standard FM radio station, Wonderland Radio. On stage, Wonder used a standard Walkman FM radio receiver tuned to Wonderland Radio, which broadcast his mix to him via a pair of earbuds. (for more on this story, read Sound On Sound article)

Stevie Wonder and his in-ear monitors

Things have moved a long way since, and now IEM's are much more convenient and affordable, such as the Shure PSM200 in ear monitor system or the Shure PSM300 Wireless Personal Monitor System. But still, some musicians may think that an IEM is another unnecessary expense, but that's not the best way to think about it. Having your own IEM should be seen as an investment, one that'll save you time and help you to have a consistent mix every time, when you play at different venues.

Steve Down, Bombay Bicycle Club's tour manager, explained some of the IEM advantages:

"One huge benefit of using IEMs is consistency from show to show. With wedges, you have to deal with the acoustics of the room a lot more, and difficult rooms can make it hard for musicians to pitch. The acoustics do still play a small part with IEMs, as the room sound will inevitably work its way into vocal mics, but it's much easier to deal with. You certainly don't have to worry about our old friend Mr Feedback, which can be a huge problem when dealing with quiet vocalists on stage."


Other advantages from switching from wedges to in-ear monitoring include the fact that it can even help preserve your hearing, since IEM give performers control over their mix volume, and that an ear mix remains consistent even when the performer moves around the stage.

This short video by Shure showcases some of the advantages of IEM, too:

Convinced? Find out more about our current top choices of in-ear monitors:

Shure PSM200 in ear monitor system

Shure PSM300 Wireless Personal Monitor System

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Shure PSM300 Wireless Personal Monitor System with SE112 Earphones

The PSM300 Stereo Personal Monitor System delivers detailed 24-bit digital audio processing and reliable wireless freedom to every corner of the stage. Easy to use, PSM300 offers custom control of a personal mix from two channels of audio. The PSM300 Stereo Personal Monitor System delivers detailed 24-bit digital audio processing and reliable wireless freedom to every corner of the stage.…

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