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In-ear monitors (IEMs) are an essential requirement for anyone who performs in front of an audience.
They are also great for a whole host of other purposes. In this article, we identify the 5 best IEMs on the current market.
We conclude with an in-depth IEM FAQ.
Best In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) Reviews & Recommendations For 2019
Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones
SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones deliver very clean sound with a secure over-the ear design that is comfortable and immersive.
It is available in both wired and wireless versions.
The SE215 does not have fantastic treble. It is also not overly durable.
The SE215 Sound Isolating Earphone features an over the ear design that will ensure that the ear piece remains securely in place while you are performing.
The wireless version will pair with the majority of phones, laptops and tablets.
The SE215 features Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and provides you with up to 10 hours of battery life and 30 feet of wireless range.
The models that are universal communication come with remote + mic control and selectable iOS/Android functionality.
The single dynamic driver delivers a clear sound with deep bass in a convenient package.
The frequency range of the SE 215 is 22 Hz –17.5 kHz / 21 Hz – 17 kHz (SPE). Comfortable sound isolating sleeves block up to 37 dB of ambient noise.
Sound isolation technology prevents outside noise from interfering with your listening experience, whether onstage or on-the-go.
Shure Sound Isolating Earphones require a proper fit to achieve the best sound.
The sound isolating sleeves block up to 37 dB of ambient noise. This stops extraneous noise from imposing on the sound you want to hear.
Make sure that you get a proper fit with these ear phones for the optimum listening experience.
The SE215 sound isolating earphone features a detachable cable system to enable multiple connectivity options.
Your connectivity options include Bluetooth, Lightning, USB-C, and Universal 3.5 mm.
The SE215 Sound Isolating Earphone provides you with an excellent level of sound isolation and a great deal of fit options.
This is a very comfortably fitting in-ear monitor that is affordable and effective.
A great choice!
KZ AS10 Earbuds Pure 5 Balanced Armature 5BA Earphone
KZ AS10 Earphones provide you with a 5 balanced armature driver with response from Low to High frequency.
This adds more detail to the sound quality and provides a balanced sound feature.
Compared to the other in-ear monitors we have reviewed, the KZ AS10 is slightly bulky. In addition, the no-online remote variant limits performance.
KZ AS10 Earphones provide you with HIFI sound, with a high quality bass, full and warm mids with great detail.
The highs are extended but not overly boosted. You also get an impressively wide sound stage coverage with individual instrument sound very distinct.
Among the 5 drivers included in this device is one 22955 BA driver for Lows, 1 piece 296898 for Mids, 2 pieces 30095 for Highs, 1 piece 31005 for Mid and High.
You also get a detachable OCC 2 Pin Cable.
The KZ AS 10 comes with a detachable OCC 2 Pin Cable. Your purchase is protected with a one-year warranty.
The KZ AS10 is a nicely designed in-ear monitor that looks great. The angled shape of the earbuds helps them to stay firmly in place.
But they are a bit bulky which may feel uncomfortable for people with smaller ears.
The detachable braided cable helps to make these air monitors more durable.
Yinyoo KZ ZST Hybrid Banlance Armature with Dynamic In Ear Monitors
The Yinyoo KZ ZST in-ear monitor features a special armature and dynamic driver design.
It has a removable cable and delivers a high quality performance at a very good price.
The housing of the KZ ZST is quite big. It is ergonomically well shaped for comfortable wear.
However, the larger than normal size does make them uncomfortable to wear after an hour or so.
There is also no carry bag with your purchase of the KZ ZST.
The Yinyoo KZ ZST provides an independent sound channel for each driver to ensure that the sound remains undistorted.
The mid bass and treble driver unit has a very rich bass performance, midrange and treble.
The device is very durable and ergonomically designed with memory-wire technology.
This is great when you are moving around on the stage.
The fit is locked in so you do not have to worry about the in-ear monitors falling out half way through your performance.
The Yinyoo KZ ZST uses a 3.5mm cable plug that is compatible with iPod, iPhone and iPad.
It will work with all Androids, tablets and MP3 players that have a standard 3.5mm jack.
The KZ ZST is well built with the driver housing being made from hard plastic. This housing is quite large but very lightweight.
You get a two-pin detachable cable system with this device. The cable features a short 45-degree angle two-pin connector.
At the end of the cable is a 3.5mm jack and sports rubberized Y-splitters.
You can purchase two version of the KZ ZST; one with a universal inline remote and one without.
Your purchase of the KZ ZST comes with 1 x 2-pin cable, and two extra sets of silicone ear-tips.
KZ ZST in-ear monitors represent excellent value for money.
If you are on a budget and are after a good performing system with a slight bass boost, then we highly recommend this product.
CCA C10 High-Performance In-Ear Monitor
CCA C10 in-ear monitors provides you with 10 driver hybrid technology. You get one dynamic and four balanced armature in each ear.
This technology delivers silky highs, detailed mids and deep bass sounds.
CCA C10 in-ear monitors are not Bluetooth enabled. They are also quite an expensive item, in comparison to the other products on our list.
The CCA C10 High-Performance In-Ear Monitor is housed in a zinc alloy shell and resin that is very durable while also being extremely lightweight.
That means that the device can handle wear and tear and makes it a good option when you’re running or working out at the gym.
These in-ear monitors do a good job of cancelling noise, whether it’s on the performance stage or out in the environment.
You get a pleasing balance of high, mid and low frequency. Sound stage has a natural expansion with a generous width magnitude.
The CCA C10 has a detachable cable design.
The 0.75mm Gold Plated 2 Pin diameter low impedance braided wire that enables you to adjust the sound quality without having to worry about the cable curling up.
Your purchase of this product is protected with a 12-month warranty.
CCA C10 in-ear monitors provide you with high quality sound and impressive noise reduction while also supplying superior ergonomics for a great fit.
It is made from durable materials and looks stylistically pleasing.
Audio 2000'S In-Ear Audio Monitor System
The Audio 2000’S In-Ear Audio Monitor System is a flexible system that provides you with a number of receivers that can be added as needed.
It can be used wirelessly in a range of sound monitoring situations. These include performing on stage, in a studio, or while giving a speech.
The Audio 2000’S In-Ear Audio Monitor System does give you some very light, infrequent background static.
Occassionaly you may also notice a slight over- compressed sound. The input on the receiver can also get very hot.
The Audio 2000’S In-Ear Audio Monitor System provides you with a hundred selectable frequencies. You can even transmit multiple languages.
The compact system allows you to perform onstage with complete freedom of movement without being tied to a wire.
This is a simple plug ‘n play system that delivers excellent sound quality in both stereo and mono.
This system is also very well priced. Keep in mind that you get the receiver and transmitter, along with a smart black carry case all in one incredible package.
The total price is about a quarter of what you will find from some competitors.
It may give you not quite as clear a sound quality as those higher prices options but the quality is 90% as good.
The Audio 2000’S In-Ear Audio Monitor System is a very affordable complete in-ear monitoring system that delivers a pleasing level of sound quality without any drop outs or interference.
Types of In-Ear Monitors
In-ear monitors are minute devices with some pretty high-tech componentry packed into them.
There are a number of different types of IEMS, including the following:
Dynamic drivers are miniaturized versions of the woofers and tweeters that you find in speakers.
They include a very small diaphragm which is between 8 and 11mm in diameter. This is connected to a coil of wire around a magnet.
When an electrical signal passes through the coil, a magnetic field is created. This moves the diaphragm back and forth.
Dynamic drivers are known to produce more bass than other types.
Balanced Armatures & Hybrids
This type of IEM makes use of balanced armatures that employ a U-shaped armature suspending one end of the U between a coil of wire and a pair of magnets.
This creates a magnetic field when the electrical signal passes through the coil, causing the armature to vibrate. The movement of the diaphragm creates a sound.
Because balanced armatures are so small, you can get as many as 12 of them into your IEM. Separate drivers are used for treble, midrange and bass.
The system makes use of a crossover circuit that divides the signal into bass, midrange and treble.
The more expensive IEMs make use of planar magnetic drivers.
These feature a very thin mylar diaphragm with a wire coil that is suspended between perforated, magnetized plates.
When an electronic signal is sent through the coil the diaphragm moves back and forth.
These types of IEMS will produce a superior quality of sound.
In-Ear Monitors FAQ
Why do singers wear in ear monitors?
Musicians wear in-ear monitors while they are performing so that they can hear the song that they are singing.
This helps the performer to keep in tempo with the beat of the song.
The in-ear monitor is more practical for the performer than the old floor monitors. This is especially so if the artist does a lot of dancing on stage.
Can you use in ear monitors as earphones?
Yes, you definitely can use ear monitors as earphones.
What do in ear monitors do?
In-ear monitors allow a singer to listen to the song while they are performing it.
There are three parts to the in-ear monitor system; the receiver, the transmitter and the airbuds.
The performer attaches the receiver to their waist with the ear piece plugged into it.
The system will elimintae all background noise so that the performer can clearly hear the song as he is performing it.
Prior to the advent of in-ear monitors, artists had to rely on stage monitors.
These would constantly have to be cranked up in order to compensate for the noise of the crowd.
At best this was a cause of fatigue to the ear and, at worse, permanent hearing damage.
Stage monitors were also likely to interfere with the quality of the audio. They also clog up the stage, which is less than ideal.
A major benefit of in-ear monitors is that they allow for total freedom of movement. They also reduce feedback.
With an in-ear monitor you don’t have to worry about the feedback that results when you point the mic towards the stage monitors.
Do in ear monitors deliver better sound quality and movability?
Yes, in ear monitors will allow for better sound than stage monitors. Conventional stage monitors can cause feedback and phase problems.
Stage monitors also limit the artist’s ability to perform onstage. If the artist moves too far from the speakers, he won’t be able to hear himself very distinctly.
Because in-ear monitors are wireless, they allow the artist to move freely around the stage.
The only consideration when dancing is to be sure that the in-ear monitor stays in place.
Another advantage of the in-ear monitor is that it is extremely travel friendly. In fact, you can easily fit the entire system into your backpack.
Are in ear monitors safe?
Yes, in ear monitors are safe. In fact, they will actually protect your ears during a performance.
It is imperative that artists protect their ears during a performance. In-ear monitors will protect your ears from noise pollution.
How do you use in-ear monitors?
The in-ear monitor system is pretty easy to set up. It is very similar to how you set up your phone to work with a Bluetooth speaker.
Your phone is the transmitter, while the speaker is the receiver. The only difference here is that the song needs to pass through the mixer before getting to the in ear monitor.
The first thing you need to do is to ensure that all of your instruments and mics are passing through the mixer.
Now assign each line output to enable them to listen to each sound individually.
Then connect the output from the mixer to the wireless transmitter. Send the audio to the belt pack and, from there, to the in-ear monitors.
Which type of in-ear monitor is best for performance on stage?
When it comes to in-ear monitors there are two two types that you can choose from; wireless and wired.
If you are a person who will be performing on stage, you are strongly advised to go with the wireless variety.
Wireless will allow you absolute freedom to perform on stage.
The advantage of wired in-ear monitors is that they do not need a belt pack. That is because they are connected to the mixer by wire.
There are two variants as far as the in-ear piece goes; custom molded and generic.
As you might expect, the generic type is considerably less expensive than the custom molded variety.
If your budget permits, the ideal is to get a custom molded in-ear monitor. You will have to visit your audiologist and get your ear canal checked.
A sketch to match your ear will then be produced. The device will then be custom molded for you.
Can in ear monitors damage your ears?
No, in-ear monitors will not damage your ears. In fact, they will actually protect your hearing.
In-ear monitors will eliminate outside noise so that you hear only the sounds that you need to hear.
What are the potential dangers of using in-ear monitors?
While in-ear monitors are great, there are a few potential negatives associated with them.
Some performers feel somewhat disconnected from their audience when they are wearing in-ear monitors.
The crowd noise is a huge part of the atmosphere, so when you can’t hear it, there is a perception of distancing from the crowd.
This contrasts with the use of stage monitors, which allow for total connection with the audience.
You can overcome this disconnection from your audience problem by setting up the mic to face the audience.
This will allow you to get some of the crowd reaction to your performance.
Another potential problem is that you could lose you in-ear monitor. It may fall out while you are performing, especially if you are dancing around a lot.
Having to stop to look for your ear piece will kind of kill the flow of your performance!
The way to overcome this is to spend more money to get yourself a pair of custom molded in-ear monitors.
Unlike generic monitors, they will completely fill up the ear canal.
In-ear monitors can also be affected by interference from radio waves as well as audio dropout.
The best quality in-ear monitors should not give you these problems, so we suggest that you stick to the five in-ear monitors that we have recommended above.
What is the difference between U-series and A-series in-ear monitors?
U-Series in-ear monitors are universal. That means that they can be used in all ears. A-series in-ear monitors are customized to fit certain types of ears.
The best in-ear monitors on the current market are Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones, featuring six different ear piece options, great noise cancellation and a sharp price point.
Our second favorite item headphones are KZ AS10 Earbuds Pure 5 Balanced Armature 5BA Earphone which feature a comfortable ergonomic design to keep the ear pieces firmly in place.
The best affordable in ear monitors is the Yinyoo KZ ZST Hybrid Banlance Armature with Dynamic In Ear Monitors.
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