I am a drummer who’s thinking about getting IEMs. if I am running IEM’s with a headphone amp and am getting my mix from the board, can I take the XLR line right from the wedge? Or do I ask the sound guy for a line from the snake?
The short answer is you really want a LINE-LEVEL feed as the input to your headphone amp.
Line level is the specified strength of an audio signal used to transmit analog sound between audio components such as audio amplifiers, and mixing consoles. As opposed to line level, there are weaker audio signals, such as those from microphones and pickups, and stronger signals, such as those used to drive headphones and loudspeakers. The “strength” of these various signals also depends on its output impedance.
If the wedge you are speaking of is is powered, then that would be a signal/line-level feed. I am assuming it is powered as usually powered wedges take a signal level in. Passive wedges, for the most part use a SPEAKON or 1/4” feed. You would definitely not want to run that into a headphone amp.
If you can, I would just ask for my own signal level/line level mix straight off the monitor mixer into your headphone amp.
That is the bullet proof solution.
If you take lines from the snake, you should also consider that the venue may expect you to bring your own headphone mixer. No worries, there are plenty of options out there including the super versatile JamHub. The really crucial thing is to make sure your setup (both amp and mixer) can adequately power your IEMs. And don’t forget how important impedance matching is to get the most out of your gear. We’ll drill down further in a future series on UE University. Be sure to check out UE’s new Sound Guard add-on.