Talk to me about wireless IEMs.....

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FarleyUKFarleyUK Frets: 458
One of my bands are looking to move to IEMs. The drummer has a pair of wired ones, and myself and the singer / bassist are looking to get wireless ones.... but I have no clue about them. Can anyone recommend a decent set that isn't going to break the bank? And what about headphones... are the type that clip over the ear the better option?

We also use Line 6 Relay wireless gear for the guitars, so I'm assuming this won't affect anything...?
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  • welshboyowelshboyo Frets: 950
    We as a band are all IEM.

    I started out using an LD systems unit which was fine - it didn't cost me a huge amount of money and did the job really well, no issues whatsoever, however, it was lacking a little in clarity and when I used the singer's spare Sennheiser system, the difference was night and day..

    But!! for starting out and dipping the toes, the cheaper LD's are all you need, get comfortable and then move up the food chain..its a different discipline with IEM's and can sometimes give you too good a monitor and makes it all feel a little sterile/disconnected. Lack of ambient noises too can be a little strange until you are comfortable with it.

    Make sure your PA has enough Monitor Outs or the ability to mix separately if you are looking to delve into it in a big way.

    Headphones - I use Shure 535's now but I started out with the 215's which were perfectly adequate for the job until they got left dangling out of a car door on the way home from a gig......
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3613

    Are you going to be running mono or stereo ? I found the cheap LD systems pretty bad in mono and unusable in stereo, likewise with Thomann's cheap Tbone range. The best results came from the Sennheiser EW system, that was pretty good but cost around £450 ish. 
    If you can put up with hiss \ piss poor headphone amps and strange burst of interference in some venues then the cheaper ones are usable and still preferable to wedge monitors but for me the dearer Senn systems are worth the money if your stuck on wireless 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2106
    Re juvenating this topic because I need some advice.

    Our new drummer is a lot louder than his predecessor and I need to update my IEMs. Currently I’m using Shure SE215s, but they aren’t isolating. I need something which is. Not afraid to spend £100s to protect my hearing. The band already has transmitters and belt packs, so don’t need to replace those.

    My ear plugs, which I use with noisy tools, have ACS moulded plugs, so I could go down that route. My bassist has just bought the new Mackie IEMs because Sound on Sound recommended them, but they look flimsy to me, and they’re not isolating. There is no consensus in Internet reviews. What’s the real life experience?
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 5171
    Roland said:
    Re juvenating this topic because I need some advice.

    Our new drummer is a lot louder than his predecessor and I need to update my IEMs. Currently I’m using Shure SE215s, but they aren’t isolating. I need something which is. Not afraid to spend £100s to protect my hearing. The band already has transmitters and belt packs, so don’t need to replace those.

    My ear plugs, which I use with noisy tools, have ACS moulded plugs, so I could go down that route. My bassist has just bought the new Mackie IEMs because Sound on Sound recommended them, but they look flimsy to me, and they’re not isolating. There is no consensus in Internet reviews. What’s the real life experience?
    You need fully moulded. I have a set of 215's and a set of Starkey Tunz Trio moulded IEM's and the difference in isolation is night and day. I usually need some ambience added to my mix so I don't feel totally Isolated with them.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2106
    Yes, I gathered that. The question is which supplier to turn to?
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  • bob21bob21 Frets: 133
    @Roland ;

    One of my favourite topics! I am a monitor engineer, mixing loads of IEMs, so I have quite a keen interest in the market for custom IEMs, and spend time with lots of artists, with lots of different IEMs from varied manufacturers!!
    I will try and keep this brief-ish..

    The options pretty much fall into two categories.. UK, and Rest-Of-World.

    All the big boys are rest-of-world (pretty much all USA). This includes Ultimate Ears, 64 Audio, JH Audio amongst others. 

    Pros: These are undoubtedly the most-used options - they have the artists, the media presence. Big driver counts are standard. Huge amounts of R&D. A pretty slick customer experience. There will be a whole line of artists waiting to tell you how great their ears sound.

    Cons: The big one: service. If something goes wrong with your IEMs - you're sending them back to the states, having them fixed and then sent back. This is obviously a pretty significant chunk of time. Depends how much of an issues this is for you.
    Price.. These brands will be the more expensive end of the marketplace! You're going to want to buy through Custom IEM Company if you go for one of these - they make some of the UK/USA hassle go away by dealing with it for you. Lead time is generally not great with the US big boys.

    So - the UK options!
    Obvious pros in that lead time is better, service time is hugely better, and you can pick up the phone and chat to the manufacturer very easily!
    Cons: If you want big driver count, no-one offers this.. There are less artists using UK ears (depends how much you care about endorser opinions!)

    Cosmic Ears:
    Based in Manchester. Probably the cheapest of the reputable options. Gaining a huge amount of traction in the marketplace, and some big artists. Ears ranging from single driver to 6's. Still using the 'old fashioned' acrylic moulding technique. Really good service, few bad reports.

    ACS:
    Based in Banbury. Middle of the price range. IEMs from single to 5 driver options. Unique in that they use a silicon, rather than acrylic, to make their IEMs. Use an unusual cable/connector which is prone to failure (that is the industry noise at least!). Known for being a bit bass-light. Perhaps slightly more isolation than acrylic (maybe 21db vs 29db) - not a significant factor in my opinion. Offer an (expensive) LIVE option which adds ambient mics in the IEMs, and a processor worn on the belt. Users report interesting, but expensive!

    Read Audio:
    Based in London. Top of the UK price range, pretty much. Only do up to 3 drivers. They use acrylic, but 3D print their shells, which leaves a slightly rough finish. This initially cause several issues with fit, many of the customers I know had to have refits. I am told they have sorted this now though. Super quick turnaround - 48hrs from order to having them in your hands is not unusual.

    There are other options (HearWave, for instance) but I have no useful info on them, and don't know anyone with their IEMS.. so that says enough for me to say that their not serious options at the minute..

    I use Cosmic Ears, and have had nothing but stellar service from them. Plus, they sound slamming! I have several friends with Reads, who are not super-happy. Most of the people I know who had ACSs have either blown them up, or got fed up of sending them back over again and moved to another supplier. I will only use a UK manufacturer, just for speed of service, as my ears are a crucial part of my job! Several of my colleagues have bought Cosmics on my recommendation, and they're all very happy (and that's coming from a bunch of sound engineers!)..

    That's probably plenty of info for now... Fire away with questions!!
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2106
    @bob21  That’s marvellous. Exactly what I need to know.

    So, assuming I go with Cosmic Ears, which product do you think is sensible? It’s a choice of 3, 4, or 6 drivers. I don’t sing, but i still like to hear the singer clearly. 
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  • bob21bob21 Frets: 133
    @Roland ;
    You're in luck.. I have listened to all the models cosmic sell (and a few they don't)..

    The triples are, in a word, phat. They sound big, and exciting.. They're not fatiguing, but they're maybe a tiny bit recessed in the highs (about 3-4k). They are very easy to listen to!

    The quads have a bit more detail, but lack some of the big low end and warmth. They just don't inspire in the same way as the triples. They do have some of that 3-4k back though. I also felt they had a bit of a niggly at 1.6k that would fatigue a bit.

    The 6s are triples on steroids. If you want to run them loud - the 6s are the ones to have. They sound very, very similar to the triples (maybe just a tiny bit more extension at both ends) - but obviously have twice the headroom. Personally.. I've only ever clipped the triples out once, and I was doing something very filthy with a kick drum at the time..!

    I'm currently on the triples - I felt they were the best value-for money option as a try-out-cosmic project, they excited me the most, and I don't need the headroom of 6s (I am at monitors, which is not as loud as on stage, and I am really protective about hearing, so don't turn my cue packs up that much!)..

    Just as a comparison - Cosmic triples £420 (price on website is ex-VAT), ACS Triples £549, Read triples £800.

    I think for your average bloke in a band - the triples will blow your socks off. As long as you don't crave super crunchy highs, or super powerful lows at silly volumes, I think they will do you happy. I actually like the sound signature of the triples - that 3k dip makes them a lot less fatiguing over a long gig!
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  • Sounds like you’re pretty covered but I’m getting on quite well with snuggs sleeves on westone monitors. Be interested to know what @bob21 ; has heard about snuggs though, my first foray in to decent in ears so be good to know if I could be getting even better if go upgrade again. 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2106
    An update.

    Last month I had ear moulds taken by an audiologist. Cosmic Ears rejected them because the audiologist hadn’t filled the ear canal completely, leaving air bubbles which caused voids in the moulding. He’d also economised on material, and hadn’t moulded the outer ear properly. £50 down the drain.

    Today I visited Cosmic Ears in Cheadle Hulme to have proper moulds taken. While I was there I was able to try out some of their models, using Spotify on an iPad as a sound source. The two driver model was comparable in sound quality to my SE215s, clear but obviously ear buds. Three drivers was a lot better. I’d compare it to the sound quality I get from the medium sized hi fi speakers we’ve got dotted around the house. Not audiophile, but acceptable for general use. The six driver model was smoother in upper and lower regions. Just how much of an improvement it is over the three drivers is impossible to say because it was limited by the sound source. I didn’t push the volume far enough to test headroom.

    Conclusion. I concur with what @bob21 said above. Three drivers gives a decent sound. Six gives better, but I’d have to upgrade my wireless gear to appreciate it. That isn’t going to happen. I’m doing this to protect my ears from our new drummer, and not because I need better sound quality.
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  • bob21bob21 Frets: 133
    @Roland ;

    Great to hear the Cosmic guys looked after you! Did Phil do your moulds? He's a great guy..

    I think listening to them as generics, pre-mold, is probably 20% less than the finished product - so hopefully they will surprise you once they're sealed in your ears!
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