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Author Topic: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.  (Read 11902 times)

frank kayser

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Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« on: October 27, 2016, 12:51:02 pm »

Hi folks,


I've been asked to come in and move a band to IEMs.
I have a wee bit of experience plugging in a "working system" and setting the mix for a couple drummers/vocalists in different bands.  I'm pretty sure there are many similarities, yet also a world of difference between throwing a monitor at one's feet and sticking buds in one's ears.


Right now, I do not know the equipment that will be provided - they have 8 systems - 4 wireless and 4 wired.  The band I'm needing to convert will be three or four musicians, and we will concentrate on the wireless.  Fingers crossed that they are decent quality and matching... No doubt they will be dealing with included standard buds.


So setup would require finding and setting unused frequencies within the band limitations of the trans/receiver set.  I think I may be able to handle that with frequency finder apps from Nuts and Bolts.


Assuming the IEM set has limiters - not a clue as to how to set.


Stereo or mono?  Advantages/disadvantages.


Setting a basic mix - should not be too different than running multiple monitor mixes?  Of course, that begs the stereo question...


Adding an ambient mic.  I've read this is necessary to "read the audience" and room and to make it less sterile/disconnected for the performer.  Where to set up the ambient mic, also ties in with the next question


How do band members talk to one another before-during-after the song without being in the audience mics or pulling earbuds out.


What am I missing?


I've had a couple years now running up to six separate monitor mixes from FOH.  Communication with the performers during the show has been hit or miss.  I do not know how to "mix monitors" as a separate function from FOH. There are some missing pieces between what I do and truly mixing monitors. I'm sure the answer is more complex than could be discussed here, but can someone recommend some reading material specifically on the mechanics of monitor mixing?  I'm sure that will be absolutely necessary if the IEMs are to stay in the ears and be successful.


thanks yet again,
frank

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Robert Piascik

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2016, 01:04:20 pm »

I'm not an expert at this but I've run IEMs at a couple of casinos in my area and a trick I've learned is to set up a 'comm' mic (or even two) on the stage that are routed to the ears only. They can add a bit of ambiance but more importantly anyone on the stage can talk into it and be heard only by the other band members. It's great for communication between songs or even during songs. I also rout it the the FOH headphones and if someone onstage needs something from me that can't be communicated by the usual hand signals, I can put on my headphones and they can talk to me without it going out over the speakers.

And it's also great for scoping the chicks in the audience too.

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Terry Martin

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2016, 01:11:12 pm »

I've run mono IEMs for years in a club band, touring regionally.  Setup is Senni G2s, shure dual driver buds,  16 ch mic splitter, and a MixWiz.  It gets the job done and is not complicated for band members to adjust their own mix with knobs.  This is for 4 musicians.  We don't use an ambient mic or comm mic. 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2016, 01:54:37 pm »

I used to provide mono iem (Senny EW300) but after trying stereo, there was no going back. Much better separation and not as much need to have 'more me' turned up so high.
Most of my musicians prefer an ambient mic set up but they usually only use it to hear the audience and room. I use my headset and I have a pack also to communicate to the band members.
I give them full control on their iPhones/ smart phones/ iPads etc for their own mix. Most digital mixers these days offer free apps for this purpose.
I usually give wired to drummers or keyboard players freeing up my wireless systems. I use Behringer P1's or if I need more than 2 wired systems- Presonus HP60

Limiters built into Senny packs and P1. You could also use whatever the mixer provides.

I also use the iems with wedges on the same stage with no issues.

I suggest you organize a band rehearsal to get everything ironed out before a show. I have done this with each band I have provided iems for and it helps a lot.
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Trevor Jalla

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2016, 02:17:56 pm »

I'm pretty sure there are many similarities, yet also a world of difference between throwing a monitor at one's feet and sticking buds in one's ears.
----
No doubt they will be dealing with included standard buds.
----
So setup would require finding and setting unused frequencies within the band limitations of the trans/receiver set.  I think I may be able to handle that with frequency finder apps from Nuts and Bolts.
----
Assuming the IEM set has limiters - not a clue as to how to set.
----
Stereo or mono?  Advantages/disadvantages.
----
Setting a basic mix - should not be too different than running multiple monitor mixes?
----
Adding an ambient mic.
----
How do band members talk to one another before-during-after the song without being in the audience mics or pulling earbuds out.
---
 I'm sure that will be absolutely necessary if the IEMs are to stay in the ears and be successful.

IEMS vs wedges are indeed a world of difference.

Consider replaceable tips, or at very least disinfectant wipes. It gets nasty once reused and shared.

As already mentioned, intermodulation is a headache esp once the number of transmitters starts growing. You might need to change a few frequencies if performers complain about interference.

Senn G3 - Limiters are on the bodypacks. Make sure they are on. I've heard those advocating turning them off for better SQ... but only if you have set limiters at the console. A bad experience on IEMs is far, far worse than a squeal in a wedge.

Sonically, stereo is always better than mono... but very resource consuming - both in hardware and mix buss/output consumption. I allocate stereo vocalists to allow better harmony singing. Drums and keys are "nice" in stereo, but rarely execution critical.

A basic mix in IEMs is very different from wedges. Firstly, you need everything mic'd. A drummer on a wedge might be happy with kick and maybe snare. Put in IEMs and he'll want each drumkit component to varying degrees. Also, different performers want different things. Some are happy with a balanced mix, plus a bit more of themselves. Others want tonnes of themselves and just a few select elements.

Ambient mics are great, as are comms mic. I use an MD mic and/or a push-to-talk footswitch on the lead vocalist. It is more setup, however.

If I were you, hire in a monitor engineer with experience mixing IEMs on the first show. Someone who understands what a performer needs... IEMs can be very invasive experience to the uninitiated, and even to the seasoned the concept is still very "close to the bone" compared to wedges. The adage that "you don't get a 2nd chance to make a first impression" applies to IEMs. When I do supply IEMs, half the time I'm trying to get bandmembers over the line who due to bad IEM experiences are gunshy of trying again. Poor deployment by others makes my job difficult - which is why I try to give as good an experiences as possible.
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Trevor Jalla

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2016, 02:19:02 pm »

I suggest you organize a band rehearsal to get everything ironed out before a show. I have done this with each band I have provided iems for and it helps a lot.

+1 in a big way.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2016, 02:23:08 pm »

Not a fan of IEMs for small venues with amps and acoustic drums.  Been there, done that. 

What I did learn:

Stereo is a lifesaver.  Particularly for folks who operate in similar frequency bands (guitars, keyboards, vocals).  Bass players and drummers have an easier time.  Stereo allows for some spatial separation rather than just level.  With only level, folks need to constantly readjust to hear what they want to hear in the moment.  With stereo separation they can shift their focus around.  More-me's center panned can hear themselves easier with everything else off to the sides.

Molded plugs.  Even molded sleeves for consumer plugs.  General purpose plugs constantly fall out.  Even the so called "sport" plugs.  And as they work their way out the sound changes.  Especially the relationship to bass.  And it's very distracting to keep pushing them back in while trying to perform, especially while playing an instrument.

Never take one out and leave one in.  IEMs are such an unnatural "locked in a box" sensation that people will want to pull one out to hear what's going on.  And they see performers on TV doing this all the time (as a reaction to poor in ear mixes for one song).  In order to compete with the ambient stage volume in the open ear, the opposite in ear will have to be turned up to damaging levels.  If someone absolutely can't abide by being locked in a box, use an attenuating ear plug in the opposite ear (Hearasers or Etymotic ER in a molded plug).

The corollary to that is to keep levels down.  Use the mix to reinforce the attenuated leakage and conduction around the plug instead of the providing the primary sound.  The advantage of the attenuation of the plugs to ear survival is wasted with excessive IEM levels.  And keeping the levels down maintains a certain amount of spatial awareness, reducing that uncomfortable locked in a box sensation.

"Comm mics" are great.  A leader can change up a set list without the audience being aware.  Be careful of being distracted by them though.  I've seen bands constantly commenting into them and everybody grins, eventually the audience catches on that there are private conversations going on and may wonder if it's about them.  Focus on the audience and use the comm mics sparingly.  They can also provide a bit of ambience and sense of audience.  I actually like a pair of comm mics on either side of the stage better than other "ambience" attempts like stereo mics or pairs on the stage lip or choir mics over the dance floor.  It's never going to recreate the spatial sense of open ears because the mics aren't where you are, so just get a wide enough coverage that you hear most of what is going on in some sense of stereo.

Individual mix capability is great.  Phone apps for a digital mixer are more cost effective than something like an Aviom system but more distracting to operate.  Get the other things right so that folks aren't constantly trying to tweak their mixes all night.  Which takes away from the connection to the audience, which is why we're there in the first place.
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Dave Bednarski

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2016, 04:01:20 pm »

Don't underestimate your role as an educator in the process!

I have found the best results by having the 'talent' check their mic for a gain/level with ears out before putting ears in.

Intentionally set up a pack on a frequency with interference so they can recognize it when it inevitably happens and effectively communicate it to you/someone.  Seems obvious but it's not to everyone.  Clipping/limiter can sound similar.

As professionals it should be their (shared) responsibility to look at the battery bar before show time.  When I install batteries I write the date on a strip of white gaffe and tape across them.  I change them every 3-4 jobs (12 hours).

2 buds vs 1.  Encourage molded ear buds.  For $500 someone can visit an audiologist and get some Jerry Harvey buds.  Buy, cry, try, once.  If you start with universals and later go to custom buds its like starting over.

Mixes are kinda personal.  After seeing feelings hurt a few times I have a MYOFB policy with in ear mixes.  Sorry Jim but Jane doesn't want to hear you.  :(  It's another band dynamic you can easily avoid.

In stereo hard panning can be distracting.  Try to be transparent.

In stereo panning is a form of volume control relative to center.  If I intend on panning a source, I will start with it a tad hotter than desired and pan 30-50%.  This usually this lowers the perceived volume enough without losing it in the mix.

Unless you are on a large stage consider starting without the ambient mic.  Many have said it - the vocal you have setup are dumb things and listen to more than their intended source.

Many techniques.  On a digital console I start with "me" at unity/center and build around that sparingly.  If doing this in rehearsal environment then set up like you would on a stage.  Consider starting with "me" (or barebones) mixes and play a song or two.  What they really need vs. what they thought they will need are usually different.  Things sound differently when a band gets going.

The iPad apps to shift the mix responsibility were helpful training wheels but challenge yourself and become confident on your own.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 04:03:26 pm by Dave Bednarski »
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Joel Mevis

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2016, 04:48:33 pm »

So setup would require finding and setting unused frequencies within the band limitations of the trans/receiver set.  I think I may be able to handle that with frequency finder apps from Nuts and Bolts.
Your major bands will find them for you, Shure PSM300's the body pack finds open channels, Sennheiser the transmitter finds it. If you can try to place all of the wireless in the same BANK on different channels. This allows enough separation between each freq so that they do not interfere with each other. The systems are designed to work this way


Assuming the IEM set has limiters - not a clue as to how to set.
It is different for each brand, but Shure PSM 300s and Sennheiser Ew 300 g3 both have the option.

Stereo or mono?  Advantages/disadvantages.
Stereo for quality, Mono for economy. You can run 2 mono channels off 1 transmitter with the body packs panned. 

Setting a basic mix - should not be too different than running multiple monitor mixes?  Of course, that begs the stereo question...
Correct you use AUX sends just like stage wedges. Just make small adjustments

Adding an ambient mic.  I've read this is necessary to "read the audience" and room and to make it less sterile/disconnected for the performer.  Where to set up the ambient mic, also ties in with the next question
Depends on the type of music, at church they like an ambient mic, at shows not so much. I find that the ambient mic screws up my mix and losses some of the clarity and isolation that comes with IEMs.

How do band members talk to one another before-during-after the song without being in the audience mics or pulling earbuds out.
Hand Signals, or talk back mics, routed only to ears. Which also means you can have a talk back mic routed to the mix.

What am I missing?
Does your desk have enough AUX channels for this? Does it have enough AUX channels for a stereo mix? Some smaller/older boards are limited in the AUX department. Can you send reverb to AUX? some singers will like it in the ears some wont. It will deff be an adjustment at first, but after you have them you will not want to go back. Not just the band, but you not having to deal with loud stage monitors muddying up your FOH mix.

Oh Also! Sometimes turning something down is the answer, instead of turning something up. IEMs are meant to save hearing, not to blow out ear drums.


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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2016, 05:20:50 pm »

I've only worked with Sennheiser gear but I think Shure has the same thing where there's a web app you can look up open frequencies in the area of the venue and it will spit out settings to avoid IM between multiple units.  I had Sennheiser wireless mics as well and used their app.

Doing an on-site channel scan can be risky as someone can turn something on after you do that.  Although verifying what the app told you with a channel scan is good if you have the time.  There may be some unreported low power devices close enough to cause you problems.

Oh, and everyone leaves their cell phones away from the transmitter or the pocket near their belt pack.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Moving band to IEMs - a couple questions, please.
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2016, 05:20:50 pm »


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