Originally Posted by bowei006
We head-fi'ers and headphone audio nerds generally see custom in ear monitors as god like audio devices. Would you say that artists and engineers have a similar view to their CIEM's in terms of quality of sound?
I see a lot of artists on your UE page. Are those artists that personally use UE CIEM's?
So in order to really answer this question, it is best if I explain the full picture so I'll start at the very beginning. Please forgive me if this is boring or if I repeat myself from other places online. So it all starts with a live performance. But see, what a musician is listening to at a concert is different than what you or I listen to. The audience hears the sum of all the parts — the audience hears the whole band. And that's the job of what we refer to as a Front of House engineer. That's the guy who stands in the middle of the audience in that sound box. He is mixing for the room. For the audience. He is taking all the inputs from all the different band members (and from canned tracks) and is overlaying them in the best sounding way he can. (I shouldn't just say he because there are many amazing women engineers out there so forgive me) Anyway, you can liken the job of the FOH to your home stereo system. It's providing a great balanced full mix. (some FOH's use in-ears to check their mixes) but they need to listen naturally the way that an audience member will.
OK. That's the engineer that you see but there is another person on the side of the stage who is mixing for the artists. The artists DON'T want to hear a full band FRONT OF HOUSE mix. They want to hear themselves. They want to make sure they are in tune. They want to hear their voice, or their guitar, or their drums. They want their stuff with a little bit of their band mates. Think about this for a second. It is really important to get your head around this. At work, chances are you work in a team. And you are responsible for certain parts of certain projects. You tend to focus on your stuff, not on your neighbor's work. Same for the musicians. Their bit is part of a whole, but if they are off, everything is off. In-ears are productivity tools for musicians. They let them hear better which means they can focus more and be in the moment of creation more deeply. If it all goes well, they are giving the Front of House engineer some great stuff to work into the mix for the whole song.
So follow me on this. Since we don't know if a musician buying the UE-18 will be playing bass or guitar or singing, we had to make it sound great at every frequency point. Because a bass player will use it differently than a vocalist. They'll both EQ it to accomplish different sound signatures. No one on stage really listens to CIEM's the way us audiophiles do. We listen to them wide-open without a mix. We're listening to the FOH mix while they are actually intended for a monitor mix. Get it? But since we don't know which monitor mix they'll be representing, they have to be robust enough to handle everything. That's why they sound so good and so clear to you. They have to. Plus, think about this. Is Mick Jagger really going to use an inferior product when he's performing? No! He makes a living by his ears. That's why we keep inventing new stuff. We're always sneaking up on perfection. Chasing that elusive sound. Trying to get better and better and better. Our professional clients keep calling us up wanting more. Wanting fractions of more. And I think it's pretty safe to admit that some pop stars are a bit demanding and/or fickle. There are some pretty tall glasses of expectations out there and we — all of us manufacturers — strive to meet them. We make what our industry demands. We love selling to audiophiles but we design for pop stars. That's been our secret success strategy. If it's good enough for Madonna, chances are it's good enough for me;)
As for our client list, we try to be as accurate as we can when making any representations. To the best of our current knowledge, our list is correct. Sometimes things change that we are not aware of. Sometimes some band members are on one company and some are on another. That's why you often see overlap on various websites. But like I said originally, and I've been doing this a long time, besides for quality and service, it sometimes comes down to who you know and who you are friends with. The companies with great reputations in the pro world — we all know who's who here — each of those companies have EARNED those reps through endless years of dedication and service. Real recognizes real and there is a tremendous amount of respect in our industry. It is rare to see companies poach clients. The usual rule of thumb is that if an artist is happy, don't rock the boat and make waves for the engineers.
Hope that helps clear it up a bit. If you are interested, dig through some more of those On The Road With interviews for more answers.