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Sell me on IEM's, bad live experiences

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey all, I recently picked up a Sennheiser G2 IEM rig, and am have been using ultimate ears metro.fi 170's (35 dollar best buy specials)


Live, i run an axe fx rig straight into the board, and absolutely hate the guitar tone in my ears. I like my tone out front and out

of my qsc wedge, but it's unbearable in my ears.


The only way i can explain the difference in tone is that it sounds less smooth, less detailed and lacks sustain. I improvise

frequently throughout the night and this change in tone actually affects my playing.


I'm contemplating ordering a pair of JH audio JH-5 pro's, but am hesitant to drop the money and be left with similiar results.

Has anyone here used cheap IEM's and hated the experience, but warmed up to them when you got a decent pair of customs?


Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 12

You aren't going to and IEM that make it sound like its actually coming from your wedge monitor but a higher end model will have far better tone and FR than a cheap one.

post #3 of 12

I disagree. While a better IEM will offer better sound overall, it won't fix your problem of bad guitar tone in your ears. First off, it'll take some getting used to, and you'll warm up to the IEM idea over time.


However, as a guitarist, I find that most of our tone comes from air moving, and interacting with the strings (providing sustain). If your FOH level is pretty good, or your amp is on stage with you, you'll still get that [good] feedback into your strings. A direct guitar signal is often much brighter than what you think, and a honky, barky sound will actually fit in a mix pretty nicely, compared with a full scooped sound.


Play with your tone settings on your rig first, then think about adding ambience mics. They'll counter that direct sound and help warm things up. Whatever you do, get the mix right first before cranking your ears till they bleed. On stage, a great mix is soo much better than even the best monitors. My 1964-t's are actually less forgiving than my e2's, and force me to whine and complain until the mix is right. But once it's good...whoa boy is it nice!

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

I've pondered the ambient mic idea. However, the only sound i have on stage is coming from an FRFR monitor. If I were to add

an ambient mic that would color my tone. I guess by making this post I have realized that the root of my issue is that I feel

like I no longer have an accurate representation on my tone with IEM's and I cant stand it! I think I'm going to go forth with getting

some customs however, and am interested in getting ones with ambient filters as that may take care of this issue slightly.

post #5 of 12

That's probably the best bet. I love my customs. But as a guitarist, I tell other guitarists that ask about the switch to go ahead and do it. You WILL hate the the tone, but just tough it out and you'll tweak and adjust over time. The benefits outweigh the disadvantages.


Which brand customs are you going after?

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

It's a toss up right now, originally i was planning on going the JH audio JH5 pro's, but I have been hearing alot of good things about 1964 ears and have been reading up on them. The only qualm i have with the 1964 ears is from a driver standpoint, anything over dual drivers is just basically adding low freq drivers and im not sure if I need to drop the extra cash to improve the low end as I would take precedence over mid range.

post #7 of 12

I was also planning on the JH5s, but went with the 1964t instead. It gave me a triple driver with custom art and tips for the same price. I will say that the triple isn't bass-heavy at all. It can definitely handle whatever you throw at it, i.e. a bass-heavy mix, but my drummer is about to order a set of duals from them, so you can probably pick whatever you like. One thing about 1964 is the wait time--mine was about 20 business days, and folks now are saying it's 6 weeks!


The IEMs are giving a hyper-accurate representation of your tone. It's like listening in the studio. Once you like it in your ears, it should sound good everywhere else.

post #8 of 12

I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there because i think it's important to note: The "monitors" you are using on stage are dynamic driven headphones that were created for people who don't know music like we do.  If you are truly looking for accurate representation of your sound you will have to venture into the land of balanced armatures.  There is no way around it.  Dynamic drivers are often more fun to listen to personally (though i disagree), and BAs are designed for fast, accurate attack (this is why i prefer personal listening on BA drivers, as well as stage monitoring). 


In the realm of accurate music reproduction, you cannot get away with spending $35 on a pair of ears.  As far as your choice in custom IEM manufacturers, you are certainly headed in the right direction, but i caution you...you will always get what you pay for.  I haven't heard the 1964ears brand (though they appear to be impressive).  I would just worry that some of the more established companies who have decades more experience might make a superior product.  In my opinion (though i cannot stand Ultimate Ears website and marketing) Ultimate Ears and Westone stand above the crowd in terms of sheer experience for numerous years, Westone taking the cake on this one.  The nice thing about JHA is that their creator started UE's business model, but i still see them as more of an audiophile focused company rather then a musician's company.  I also consider the cheaper priced custom IEM companies to be in the same vein.  I feel that if your companie's goal is to produce incredibly cheap (by comparison, they are not cheap to the average wallet) custom products then your materials must be slightly inferior, otherwise your prices would be the comparable. 


Perhaps the smaller companies do not spend as much on R&D before they bring a product to market.  Perhaps I have a screw loose.  Perhaps i don't know what i'm talking about at all.  My $0.02 is all.

post #9 of 12

I also forgot to note that your "monitors" are a massive stretch of the word "monitors".  More like ear plugs that provide toddler-produced sound reproduction. 

post #10 of 12

All I have to say is that my favorite audio experience comes from a tiny set of iems. The Ety ER4S sounds better to my ears than any full size headphone/loudspeaker that I've heard. For me personally, the fact that they block out all of that ambeint noise, plus the fact that such a presice speaker literally sits so close to one's eardrum give such an intimate feeling w/ the music. It provides a level of detail that literally feels like you're listening to the real thing, rather than a set of earphones. I've listened to MANY bad iems, and I know how crappy they can sound. But a really good set of iems can be one of the most valuable items a musician can have.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Alright, tax returns are cashed and the money is there so I'm going to go ahead and order some customs. I settled on the 400-600 dollar range so I'm pretty set on the 1964t's with some custom artwork. I've never had a high end pair of headphones and am excited to hear them and use them live. Plus, I imagine having the drivers so close to your ear that its easier to hear definition, in turn making transcribing easier.


Thanks for your replies everyone!

post #12 of 12

Poultryinmotion, I encourage you to read the thread on the new Sensaphonics j-phonics (link below). I'm an AxeFX user like you, and I'm looking for an in-ear that will provided a reasonably uncoloured, full range tone. I'm hoping to hear in my IEM something close to the AxeFX tones I hear through my near-field studio monitors (DynAudio BM5's) in my home studio.


Sensaphonics is focused on musician IEM solutions, and their Japanese operation has just released a new universal fit IEM stage monitor. It's very reasonably priced and looks very interesting.




Good luck in your search!



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