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Author Topic: IEM on a budget  (Read 1176 times)

Mattijs Bosveld

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IEM on a budget
« on: April 23, 2019, 03:54:06 am »

Hi all,

I'm currently investigating if, and if so, what kind of IEM we should implement in our church:
Maybe a SITREP is in order here:

We currently use the Behringer X32 Console with an S16 connected to it.
Our current monitor setup is a standard ability to set up 6 individual mixes through monitor wedges.

Our church isn't that big and therefore the sound from the stage with the wedges makes it difficult to make a decent FOH mix.

So: our intent is to setup IEM's.
But I have a couple of questions:


1. Everywhere I look, i read that being able to setup a stereo IEM mix is very important.
But when I take a look at our current setup, the ability to make stereo mixes will make the whole effort quite costly.
90% of the time our worship team consists of 6-8 musicians/singers. That would mean that a full stereo IEM setup would take up to 16 output channels.
So then, my options are:
- Use the ultranet and buy 8 p16's + about 4 wireless setups for Worshipleader and vocalists.
- Get a second mixer (X32 Rack or something) dedicated for Monitoring. If I can stretch up the monitor mixes in the X32 desk to 8, I assume that I can make 4 stereo mixes from the console and 4 mixes from the Rack.

The other option is: Don't make too much of the stereo mix discussion and go mono. That way I have enough channels in the current setup.

I'm looking for opinions here.
When you consider that the church has a (very) limited budget, what do you guys think:
Should I not even consider going to IEM's when I have to restrict it to mono mixes due to the budget and wait till I can make the investment,
Or is the mono/stereo difference not that big and should I just go for it using monomixes.
Maybe it's good to mention that for some people of the worship team, it would be the first time using IEM.

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MikeHarris

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Re: IEM on a budget
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2019, 07:25:10 am »

The transition to iemís can be gradual.
Most importantly to start is to determine how many can share the same mix ? One transmitter can be received by many receivers. Get a system with 2 receivers and try sharing stereo...or 2 mono mixes. Skills at foh need to be learned as well. As the budget becomes available add additional systems.
The P16s can make mixes to hardwired iem too.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: IEM on a budget
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2019, 08:34:47 am »

Hi all,

I'm currently investigating if, and if so, what kind of IEM we should implement in our church:
Maybe a SITREP is in order here:

We currently use the Behringer X32 Console with an S16 connected to it.
Our current monitor setup is a standard ability to set up 6 individual mixes through monitor wedges.

Our church isn't that big and therefore the sound from the stage with the wedges makes it difficult to make a decent FOH mix.

So: our intent is to setup IEM's.
But I have a couple of questions:


1. Everywhere I look, i read that being able to setup a stereo IEM mix is very important.
But when I take a look at our current setup, the ability to make stereo mixes will make the whole effort quite costly.
90% of the time our worship team consists of 6-8 musicians/singers. That would mean that a full stereo IEM setup would take up to 16 output channels.
So then, my options are:
- Use the ultranet and buy 8 p16's + about 4 wireless setups for Worshipleader and vocalists.
- Get a second mixer (X32 Rack or something) dedicated for Monitoring. If I can stretch up the monitor mixes in the X32 desk to 8, I assume that I can make 4 stereo mixes from the console and 4 mixes from the Rack.

The other option is: Don't make too much of the stereo mix discussion and go mono. That way I have enough channels in the current setup.

I'm looking for opinions here.
When you consider that the church has a (very) limited budget, what do you guys think:
Should I not even consider going to IEM's when I have to restrict it to mono mixes due to the budget and wait till I can make the investment,
Or is the mono/stereo difference not that big and should I just go for it using monomixes.
Maybe it's good to mention that for some people of the worship team, it would be the first time using IEM.

Go with P16s.  The cost for a couple of those is less than any wireless system and then your engineer doesnít have to do double duty with iems as well.  Iems take much more time, care, and skill to mix than wedges do.  Buy p16s as money is available and slowly phase out the wedges.
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Lance Rectanus

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Re: IEM on a budget
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2019, 09:21:19 am »


I'm currently investigating if, and if so, what kind of IEM we should implement in our church . . .


The P16 gives you the ability to create stereo mixes without affecting anything on the X32.

You can only send 16 channels to the P16 so you may have to create some sub-mixes (i.e. drums) to get down to the 16 channel max.

I would recommend that you buy one P16 and a basic pair of single driver earbuds (Shure 215's, Westone UM10's, etc.) and learn before you get your praise team involved. I find it easier to explain to people how to use things if I've figured it our first. You will need the team members to buy into the whole concept of IEM's so you will need to make it as frustration-free as possible.

If you aren't recording your individual channels with Reaper (or equivalent) you should start. Using the virtual sound check feature to learn what works and what doesn't, IEM-wise, is invaluable.

This will run you less than $450 (US) for a wired solution. Your S16 can feed 4 P16's. Beyond that you will need to add additional equipment.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: IEM on a budget
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2019, 10:34:38 am »

Here is a cut and paste with some edits of something I wrote about IEMs last year. And these are generalizations regarding IEMs that shut you off from the outside world and those that donít.

Unless you have a fantastic IEM stereo mix and a person who really knows how to mix IEMs and ambient mics in the right places, I have found that you are better off with plain ordinary ear buds, the type that may come with an iPod. They donít shut the people wearing them off from all other sounds and that can be important in some situations.

Now if you are on a LOUD Rock & Roll stage the isolation can possibly help with minimizing hearing loss and let the musician run the IEMs at a lower volume, because they shut off the outside world. But how many times on TV have you seen a performer rip out their custom molded IEM earbuds because something wasnít right. 

One would think that you wouldnít need a person mixing their IEMs but how many musicians have you heard asking for less of things in their monitors so they can hear what they want better. Almost all of them just keep asking for more, more, more. If they do the same thing for their IEM it will not sound good and no matter what, they eventually wonít be happy. But now it is only themselves that are to blame, but will they realize that? This is not to say that it canít work to have musicians mixing their own IEMs. But I just want to caution you as to the issues and with this knowledge maybe you can make it work. If you are actually using Mix Bus outputs on the X32 to derive the mixes for IEMs then someone at FOH mix can jump in and help them with their IEM mix. You canít do that with the P16m systems so just keep that in mind. This is if you can have enough spare Mix Bus outs that you need to handle all of the IEM mixes.

One possible solution to giving you even more mixes is to use an X32 rack as a monitor mixer and come off of the X32 into the X32Rack. I am not sure of the exact wiring to do that with also using the S32 on stage. The added benefit to that is that if they are controlling their own mix wirelessly on the X32 Rack they canít mess with the house mix on the X32 unless they are running 2 different app at the same time and you have the FOH X32 set up to let them do that. 

Almost everyone has cheap iPod type of earbuds. So they can start with them and see how they work and if they want to buy expensive custom molded IEM earbuds they can.

The buds that are specifically made now for phones (the ones with the mic in them) donít work. We had someone from a church run out and buy a bunch of those and they couldnít understand why they wouldnít work.

And I should add that a simple hardwired headphone amp should work for the musicians that stay put in one place. This is assuming that you have the feeds to send to them. 
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brian maddox

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IEM on a budget
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2019, 12:17:58 pm »

Hi all,

I'm currently investigating if, and if so, what kind of IEM we should implement in our church:
Maybe a SITREP is in order here:

We currently use the Behringer X32 Console with an S16 connected to it.
Our current monitor setup is a standard ability to set up 6 individual mixes through monitor wedges.

Our church isn't that big and therefore the sound from the stage with the wedges makes it difficult to make a decent FOH mix.

So: our intent is to setup IEM's.
But I have a couple of questions:


1. Everywhere I look, i read that being able to setup a stereo IEM mix is very important.
But when I take a look at our current setup, the ability to make stereo mixes will make the whole effort quite costly.
90% of the time our worship team consists of 6-8 musicians/singers. That would mean that a full stereo IEM setup would take up to 16 output channels.
So then, my options are:
- Use the ultranet and buy 8 p16's + about 4 wireless setups for Worshipleader and vocalists.
- Get a second mixer (X32 Rack or something) dedicated for Monitoring. If I can stretch up the monitor mixes in the X32 desk to 8, I assume that I can make 4 stereo mixes from the console and 4 mixes from the Rack.

The other option is: Don't make too much of the stereo mix discussion and go mono. That way I have enough channels in the current setup.

I'm looking for opinions here.
When you consider that the church has a (very) limited budget, what do you guys think:
Should I not even consider going to IEM's when I have to restrict it to mono mixes due to the budget and wait till I can make the investment,
Or is the mono/stereo difference not that big and should I just go for it using monomixes.
Maybe it's good to mention that for some people of the worship team, it would be the first time using IEM.

Okay, i've done this transition a BUNCH of times with both professional musicians as well as church groups.  Here's my thoughts.

First,  Stereo is VERY important.  Yes it adds a LOT of complexity, but IMO doing IEMs mono is not workable.  The reason for this is that it becomes basically impossible to create a usable mix where people can hear everything well in Mono.  Our brains rely on having two ears to create spatial separation for things that are of the same volume.  Plugging those two ears and delivering a mono signal to them defeats this very powerful ability that all of us already have and sets you up for failure.

Second,  Given your situation, i think your end goal should be a hybrid system with an X32Rack as your "monitor console" feeding up to 7 stereo mixes directly using mixbusses and then also having p16s for stationary positions as well as people who just can't get the hang of using an iphone to control their mix.

I'm sure that suggestion seems financially daunting, but the nice thing about it is that you can get there in stages.  Start by adding some P16s to your existing system.  Maybe give them to your drummer or keyboard player or other folks that are stationary.  You can even use them with singers and hardwire them.  I've seen it done and it work just fine so long as they aren't running all over the stage [and in church most of them aren't].

This first stage will have some drawbacks.  The biggest one is that IEM mixes will be affected by things that you do for your FOH mix, since they are sharing the same console path.  You can do some things to mitigate this [pre-fader sends, Direct outs pre-EQ], but those aren't perfect solutions either.

Stage two you add an X32Rack and make that your monitor console.  Then you can split all our inputs to both consoles and you get completely independent control of the inputs that get sent to your IEMS which is ideal.  You can still use your p-16s you bought earlier, and you can start to introduce mixes that are remote controlled via WiFi and come straight off that X32rack.

Adding wireless IEMs can happen basically at any stage in this process.  But be aware that wireless is VERY difficult to do cheaply.  The less RF you can get away with using, the better off you are.  I go to a large church with multiple campuses here in Savannah, GA and one of our campuses uses ALL hardwired IEMs including all the singers in front.  It works just fine.  Singers were tethered to wired microphones for decades before RF mics became workable.  It can be done. 

Again, i have done this exact process multiple times in churches and it has worked out very well.  obviously there is a learning curve for everyone, but it's quicker than you might think once you've committed to it.

Good Luck!
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Mattijs Bosveld

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Re: IEM on a budget
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2019, 01:14:20 pm »

Hi guys,

Thnx for all the answers.
To be clear, the transition will go gradually. First of all, I'm already testing different setups myself in different locations and with different bands.

When I am done with that I'm going to take a couple evening with the whole team, testing IEM in general. I can borrow some hardwired Mic amps (behringer P1) from some friends.
First step is to get the team (especially the singers) acquainted with IEM and give them the opportunity to hear themselves through headphones in stead of a wedge. Then I will teach them the use of the X32-Q app on iphone and iPad. When all is set up, its a matter of doing that a couple of times untill they all can make the setup they like and be able to make quick adjustments when necessary. The good thing is that the setup in church will always be about the same, so once they have set things up, it's less hard from there on out.

I recognize the great advantage of stereo IEM. If budget was not a problem, I'd indeed go with the option of a x32 rack mixer. But I have to start somewhere. The thing is that I'm absolutely sure that when we can show the congregation (and with that the people who decide over budgets) the huge advantage of in-ear, there will be more budget along the way. So it's a bit of a chicken egg story. I have to convince my band (mostly my singers) to use IEM and that would be a lot easier if I could give them a stereo mix. But to have the budget for a stereo mix, I first have to show the congregation as a whole, that it's worth investing in it...
But I assume there are lots of people with a similar kind of 7-10 split situations... :)
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David Winners

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Re: IEM on a budget
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2019, 07:52:06 am »

I've made this transition with a few bands. On a budget, I would suggest holding off on the P16s as they are expensive. 3 P16s are about the same cost as an X32 Rack. I use the Behringer Powerplay P1 headphone amps hardwired to the mixer (>$50). They can be belt worn or mounted on a mic stand depending on the application. I have a headphone extension cable taped to my instrument cable with the P1 mounted on my mic stand with a clamp on adapter. I use a wall wart power supply so I don't go through batteries.

There are MUCH better IEM options than the SE215 for less money. I suggest you look into KZ earphones, available on Amazon for less than $70. I use the KZ AS10 with Comply foam tips. They are 5 driver balanced armature phones.

IME, non singing performers can deal with a mono "more me" mix just fine. This mix could come from the FOH mixer to free up a bus on the monitor console.

Seeing that you are wanting to show the benefits of the IEM system to the congregation immediately, I would start the transition with the performers that are loudest on stage. Just putting your backline performers on IEM could clean things up a lot. $150 - $200 each would get you started.
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Fred Dorado

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Re: IEM on a budget
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2019, 04:17:34 pm »

I just did this with an X32, a pair of SD8's and HA8000v2 headphone amp. We did get one p16 for a musician who has control issues.

Over all, the cables were some of the more expensive parts.

The thing about the SD8's vs the SD16, is that you only get 8 in, but you still get 8 out on each of them.

I linked my Aux outs in stereo pairs for 1-8 and 9-12 are mono and then we have 1 p-16. We could have done more stereo, but didn't need them

After doing some research, the p-16's have some volume issues and I don't think sound as good as the headphone amp.

We also used the KZ ZST in ears $18 and an AS10 for the leader - told others they could upgrade on their own budget, but they were all ok with the ZST's.

Lot's of wires running. If I had to do again and may, I would separate the SD8's and add another heaphone amp and run shorter cables.

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Caleb Dueck

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Re: IEM on a budget
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2019, 07:34:16 pm »

Okay, i've done this transition a BUNCH of times with both professional musicians as well as church groups.  Here's my thoughts.

First,  Stereo is VERY important.  Yes it adds a LOT of complexity, but IMO doing IEMs mono is not workable.  The reason for this is that it becomes basically impossible to create a usable mix where people can hear everything well in Mono.  Our brains rely on having two ears to create spatial separation for things that are of the same volume.  Plugging those two ears and delivering a mono signal to them defeats this very powerful ability that all of us already have and sets you up for failure.

Second,  Given your situation, i think your end goal should be a hybrid system with an X32Rack as your "monitor console" feeding up to 7 stereo mixes directly using mixbusses and then also having p16s for stationary positions as well as people who just can't get the hang of using an iphone to control their mix.

I'm sure that suggestion seems financially daunting, but the nice thing about it is that you can get there in stages.  Start by adding some P16s to your existing system.  Maybe give them to your drummer or keyboard player or other folks that are stationary.  You can even use them with singers and hardwire them.  I've seen it done and it work just fine so long as they aren't running all over the stage [and in church most of them aren't].

This first stage will have some drawbacks.  The biggest one is that IEM mixes will be affected by things that you do for your FOH mix, since they are sharing the same console path.  You can do some things to mitigate this [pre-fader sends, Direct outs pre-EQ], but those aren't perfect solutions either.

Stage two you add an X32Rack and make that your monitor console.  Then you can split all our inputs to both consoles and you get completely independent control of the inputs that get sent to your IEMS which is ideal.  You can still use your p-16s you bought earlier, and you can start to introduce mixes that are remote controlled via WiFi and come straight off that X32rack.

Adding wireless IEMs can happen basically at any stage in this process.  But be aware that wireless is VERY difficult to do cheaply.  The less RF you can get away with using, the better off you are.  I go to a large church with multiple campuses here in Savannah, GA and one of our campuses uses ALL hardwired IEMs including all the singers in front.  It works just fine.  Singers were tethered to wired microphones for decades before RF mics became workable.  It can be done. 

Again, i have done this exact process multiple times in churches and it has worked out very well.  obviously there is a learning curve for everyone, but it's quicker than you might think once you've committed to it.

Good Luck!

Some good info here.  To add to it-

Crappy quality (technical term) ear buds aren't worth it.  Telling musicians to go from hearing 'OK' (multiple wedges coming from various angles) to 'less than OK' depending on ear buds model is the wrong direction to earn trust. 

Inter-band communication is important.  A non-latching stomp box for the worship leader, and thumb switch mic(s) for those who don't sing, is important. The stomp box should have A and B out; one is normal level and goes to audience and band, the other is higher level and goes only to the band.

Audience microphones, stereo, are important.  A pair of cheap condenser mics on the stage lip, or a pair of little choir mics flown, work great.  I much prefer condenser mics over dynamic, but I've met others who prefer dynamics. 

Clark Synthesis or Buttkicker shakers are great - not just for the drum throne, or for the bass player to stand on, but most of the stage.  The Clark branded ones play higher and give more than just 'shaking'. 

Agreed that stereo in-ear mixes, even on a mono PA, is very important. 

Wired vs wireless - wireless costs a lot more for convenience and aesthetics of no wires.  After everything else is done and done well - then consider upgrading from P16's to wireless - BUT only where necessary. 

If you have a dedicated audio engineer who is experienced - a monitor console as Brian noted is great to have.  This allows for not only mixing for those who aren't as adept at mixing their own mix - but also allows for multiple reverb FX. 

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Re: IEM on a budget
¬ę Reply #9 on: May 13, 2019, 07:34:16 pm ¬Ľ


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