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Why do singers/artists wear IEM's?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I've noticed this for a while but I never understood why.

Whenever I see singers perform live music, they almost always wear custom-molded IEM's or at least that's what it looks like. Why do they wear them? Are they listening to the song while they perform so that they know when to start singing?
post #2 of 23

yes

post #3 of 23

They use the iems to monitor their own voice. It's very hard to hear yourself on stage over loud amps.

post #4 of 23

Realize that IEMs are in-ear monitors. Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of stage monitors / in-ear monitors. Basically, in a world without monitors, when a musician is performing, the main sound system will completely drown them out and they won't be able to hear themselves: the echoes and reverberations will bounce off the walls of the auditorium/coffeehouse and come back to the musician considerably late. That makes it very hard to keep rhythm.

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
I see. Couldn't they just use ear plugs or tuned ear plugs instead of something similar to a headphone?
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by sourced View Post

Realize that IEMs are in-ear monitors. Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of stage monitors / in-ear monitors. Basically, in a world without monitors, when a musician is performing, the main sound system will completely drown them out and they won't be able to hear themselves: the echoes and reverberations will bounce off the walls of the auditorium/coffeehouse and come back to the musician considerably late. That makes it very hard to keep rhythm.


And the singer can go out of tune easily, except if the singer has a perfect pitch.

 

post #7 of 23

Mike Portnoy, former Dream theater drummer, uses customs IEMs

 

mike Portnoy 1.jpg

 

aab41db7_MikePortnoycustom4.jpg

 

I believe I saw him in a interview saying that he uses those because of the isolation.

 

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesMcProgger View Post

I believe I saw him in a interview saying that he uses those because of the isolation.

 


Right, but couldn't he just use ear plugs or tuned ear plugs instead of something similar to a headphone?
post #9 of 23

They can't just use ear plugs because they need to hear themselves, too. So they can have their voice played through the massive concert speakers and their IEMs, and they'll only hear themselves.

 

Think of them like personal speakers with isolation.

post #10 of 23

The answers above pretty much covers it.

 

I don't know if you have ever been on a stage but it gets really loud so having customs or some kind of iem will serve as two purposes. One of them would be isolation so that they can protect their ears around such loud music and the other would be to hear what the other members of the band are doing so they know when to come in.

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by miceblue View Post


Right, but couldn't he just use ear plugs or tuned ear plugs instead of something similar to a headphone?


what the ponie said

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

They can't just use ear plugs because they need to hear themselves, too. So they can have their voice played through the massive concert speakers and their IEMs, and they'll only hear themselves.

 

Think of them like personal speakers with isolation.



he just said that custom offered better isolation over standard, but of course he also need them to reproduce a sound too.

post #12 of 23

As a musician, I've tried playing without a monitor. It gets pretty ugly when you don't realize that you're dragging by half a beat.

 

Stages are designed to project the music into the audience. Most often, musicians aren't hearing anything similar to what the audience is hearing. It is very unbalanced, like a horribly mixed recording through colored headphones. Add that to the screaming 14 year old girls, and we hear nothing. Often we'll use speakers (instead of IEMs) at the front of the stage facing us as monitors. This causes reverb, and we go deaf more quickly. IEMs lower the noise to safe levels and blocks out the audience's noise.

 

The only time musicians don't need monitors is when the music isn't amplified loud enough to overcome aforementioned screaming girls. Examples are orchestral stuff, jazz, and other acoustic gigs. As a general rule, if we hear the amplified audio more than the unamplified audio and the speakers are not pointed at us, then we need a monitor(s).


Edited by Lumify - 9/29/11 at 6:22pm
post #13 of 23

As a backup vocalist, I'd like to point out that a singer doesn't just need to hear his/her own voice; if you're on backup, you need to hear the lead and your fellow back-ups to harmonise and complement each other properly, and also to stay in sync (you may notice that vocals don't always hit notes at the same time as the instruments. To do this would often lead to very, very draggy songs).

 

Additionally, vocals--especially the lead--need to hear other instruments for cues. Drums and bass in particular, so that the singers keep in time, and also to know where the band is going with a song. In rock band setups, the rhythms section really is the true leader of the band. In some cases, the drummer or bassist even has a mic, and they use this to talk to the rest of the band; double ditto for the sound crew. All of this is much more efficient with IEMs than with stage monitors--plus stage monitors are prone to feedback (and it's almost always due to vocalists' mics).

post #14 of 23


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesMcProgger View Post

Mike Portnoy, former Dream theater drummer, uses customs IEMs

 

 

 

I believe I saw him in a interview saying that he uses those because of the isolation.

 



To add, some drummers play along to a click track to keep proper timing (see the 5th paragraph), which as far as I know only require headphones when playing live. I have no idea if Portnoy uses a click track in any situation. 

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sourced View Post

 

To add, some drummers play along to a click track to keep proper timing (see the 5th paragraph), which as far as I know only require headphones when playing live. I have no idea if Portnoy uses a click track in any situation. 


Hm interesting to read.

I haven't been on stage before, but where/what does a vocalist plug his/her IEM into?
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