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In-Ear vs. Wedges Part One | The Basics

by Erica Lomotan

Would you ride in a car without seatbelts? Wear a brown polyester leisure suit? Watch a black and white TV with no remote or cable? Of course not, because you don’t live in the past.

So why do you think onstage wedges are better than IEMs? In the 70’s, wedges were the only way to get onstage monitoring, but times have thankfully changed. In-ears provide outstanding sound quality, help eliminate feedback, and protect your hearing. What’s not to love?

To get us started, we are going to give you a bullet point overview of these advantages. In future installments of UE University, we will take a deeper look into the advantages of IEMS over wedges. We’ll also be speaking to some musician and audio pros who have made the switch and get their input too.

You get to avoid “volume wars” with your band.

When you use wedges you have to turn up to be heard, and so does everyone else on stage. If you are using IEMs, you get to hear what you want to hear, clearly.

You get to hear at the perfect volume, for you.

Sound people are really busy folks, especially during soundcheck. The last thing they want to hear is “can you turn me up?” IEMs will give you studio quality sound when you play live no matter what’s going on in the room. Your engineer will be able to put their energy elsewhere.

No more feedback!

Feedback, it’s the absolute worst. It hurts, and it’s potentially damaging. Using IEMs eliminates the feedback between wedges and microphones.

IEMs help conserve your hearing.

Stages can be really LOUD. Exposing yourself to that kind of volume and intensity can mess up your hearing, just ask Pete Townshend. IEMs keep out the sounds you don’t want while making sure you are getting the sounds you want to hear right into your ears. That is much healthier. 

IEMs help conserve your voice.

Singing is really tough on your voice. Singing over loud guitars and drums just makes it so much worse. IEMs will make it so you don’t have to scream over the rest of the band.

You can monitor in true stereo.

Because you have control over the elements in your mix, you can have a truly stereo mix of what is happening on stage.

You can still hear the audience if you want.

The engineer can use a room mic to pick up crowd noise and pipe that right into your in-ears. That way you can hear what’s going on and not feel disconnected from the crowd. 

Portability is key!

Wedges are heavy. IEMs are not. An IEM system can fit in rack, or even in a backpack if that is your thing: saving your back and your gas tank.Your back will thank you.

You can move around stage and still have the same sound.

If you rely on wedges, you are relying on staying in your sweet spot for sound. When you make the move to IEMs your mix goes with you.

Get the sound you want.

Maybe the best thing about about IEMs is that you are in control of what and how you hear.

New night, same sound.

Not enough wedges? New sound guy? No Sound guy? All these things can mess with your mojo on stage. With IEMs you are carrying your own monitor system. 


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