Best In Ear Monitors for Musicians
by David Wright | Last Updated on January 20, 2020
When musicians perform on stage, they wear special earbud-like devices in their ears to help them listen to their music. Why is that?
For any musician to have a great performance, they’ll need to hear their music to avoid messing the audio. The in-ear monitors are becoming more popular by the day as many musicians prefer them to the conventional stage monitors. They reduce unwanted sound in the background as they use noise cancellation mechanism.
What’s more, they produce the best sound quality and reduce any possible problems. The in-ear monitors are mobile in that, as long as you have them in your ears, you are free to move around while performing.
In-ear monitors are just like in-ear headphones or earbuds that are used as studio headphones. Since the market is overwhelmed with different types of in-ear monitors, we have narrowed down the best options for you to select your ideal unit.
Shure SE846 is one of the best sound isolating earphones in the market these days. That is because they feature comfortable sleeves that block ambient noise up to 37dB. The sound isolating design stays secure in the ears to ensure comfort while you have the IEMs on.
They also feature four HD drivers that are responsible for the high-quality sound that you can’t get anywhere else. The sound comes out with great clarity, and you can get the real subwoofer performance with the in-ear monitors. In addition, the frequency is adjustable to customize the sound with the detachable metal nozzle and variable nozzle pullouts.
There is also a multilateral system outline for low, mid, and high-frequency delivery.
The SE846 earphones have a removable cable system for multiple connectivity options. These options enable lasting compatibility, upgrades and ensure ease of maintenance. It also features BT1 variants on the inline remote and a mic for total control.
You can pick calls, control the volume and enables voice commands among other things. The BT1 variants are compatible with most phones, tablets, and laptops that have 4.1 Bluetooth connectivity and lasts for 8 hours at a 30-feet wireless distance.
Pros and Cons
Quality sound performance
Solid build quality
Shure KSE1500 uses state-of-the-art electrostatic technology with a single MicroDriver design to produce cutting edge performance. The technology is responsible for providing the fastest and most precise volatile response. For the first time, the technology has been applied to sound isolating earphones to give you the best results on these professional in-ear monitors.
Each headset presents a lightweight design, and there is an electromagnetic field from the back plates surrounding the diaphragm. That is responsible for the unparalleled clarity and detail in sound reproduction.
The KSE1500 comes with a four-band parametric EQ that allows for easy and personal control of each setting. Here, you have the freedom to customize how you want to listen to your music. There are five EQ presets for flat, vocal boost, low boost, loudness, and De-ess, to select your preferred settings.
The amplifier also enables you to switch from digital to analog without interfering with the sound quality. It also comes with a built-in USB-rechargeable battery for perfect convenience.
Connectivity is well-suited for Android devices supporting USB Audio Class 2.0 and Micro-B On-The-Go.
Pros and Cons
Lightweight and comfortable for continued use
Excellent battery life
If you are looking for the perfect In-Ear monitor headphones, then the Audio-Technica ATH-E50 is a great choice. The in-ear monitors come at a reasonable price and provide a direct reference in all sonic surroundings. This attribute makes them perfect for use by music producers on the go.
You get more accurate full-range response thanks to the powerful single balanced armature drivers. They come with a flexible memory cable that circles over the ears for a customized fit and comfort.
The ATH-E50 features special housing on each earphone that is responsible for excellent sound isolation. That enables you to concentrate on the music. It also has a removable cable measuring 1.6 meters and A2DC connectors for long-term use and enhanced audio performance.
The unit comes with a carrying case, silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L), and a 6.3-millimeter adapter.
Pros and Cons
Comfortable in the ear
Excellent build quality
Logitech UE 900s was first introduced to the market in 2014, and since then it is one of the most preferred by musicians all around the world. The in-ear monitor headphones feature four Balanced Armature drivers one for high frequency, another for mids and two for the lows. Besides, the sound channels are perfectly separated with a three-way cross over feature.
There is also a dual bore design that aligns the highs, mids, and lows. The pair’s impedance is at (1khz) 30ohms and sensitivity of 101.2db.
Compared to the UE 900 predecessor, the IEMs have a higher quality build. That is after the previous model received a lot of backlash on the build quality. The Logitech UE 900 presents an ultrasonic welding design with a connector on the lustrous unibody.
It offers a cable with gold MMCX plugs to provide a tight fit with an effortless spin. Also, the IEMs feature a memory wire to wear over the ears to provide a comfortable fit for all day use.
Pros and Cons
Sound changes when you cover the pinhole
If you are looking for ear monitors that will elevate your music experience, then the Weston W40BT is an ideal choice. It is designed with four balanced armature drivers with the optimized three-way crossover network for excellent clarity and detail in the sound you are listening to. The drivers are small and extremely efficient when you compare them to conventional drivers.
The in-ear monitors come with several side plates for the user to customize how they will look.
The W40BT features a Westone Bluetooth cable using the aptX technology. That helps to deliver clean and stable audio.
The monitors present an 8-hour battery lifespan and has a 10-meter measurement of range. The cable is also water and dust resistant with an IPX-4 rating and also features the MMCX Audio connectors for a customizable fit. What’s more, the Westone W40BT includes a 3-button MFi control system featuring a Microphone controller.
These earbuds are compatible with all Apple devices and presents the volume and tracking control as well as phone answering and Siri activation. The pair comes with a mini-monitor vault that is built to last and is perfect for storage.
Pros and Cons
A sleek and lustrous finish
Most music enthusiasts find the Westone UM pro series to provide a brilliant listening experience. The Westone UM Pro20 is one of the earphones in the series that offer great sound performance. It uses the noise isolating technology to enable you to fully enjoy your music without interruptions from ambient noise.
The high-quality sound performance is achieved thanks to the dual drivers in the earphones, which offer detail and clarity audio. These drivers provide a balanced sound with an accurate response of the audio for you to listen to different parts of the music.
The UM Pro20 features a compact build quality. At a glance, the earphones provide a durable design. They also feature a low-key profile which fits comfortably in the ear regardless of the settings.
The cable goes over the ear for a secure fit, so you can have them on without the fear of sliding or slipping. These earbuds come with five sets of True-Fit foam tips as well as five pairs of STAR silicone sleeves to choose your preferred fit. Also, the MMCX audio cable is twisted to minimize cable noise and improve flexibility as they are lightweight and also provide exceptional comfort.
Pros and Cons
Lightweight and flexible
Numerous sleeves and tips for preferred selection
The bass is not as deep
The market features a wide range of ear monitors, including wireless and wired models. That makes it hard for any musician to make a perfect selection.
But after understanding what the in-ear monitors are and how they function with different features, it becomes much easier to pick the right one. Below are the vital factors to consider when buying ear monitors.
What are in-ear monitors?
In-ear monitors (IEMs) are small devices that are placed in the ears for the sole purposes of listening to audio. They are usually compact and have a lightweight design to suit all your listening endeavors.
They are sometimes known as earbuds or earphones. Often, the IEMs are used by musicians and performers to reduce or get rid of background sounds that may be destructive. That enables them to achieve a much clearer listening experience.
The in-ear monitors deliver audio mixes straight to the ears of the users and allow them to move freely from point to point. It allows the performers to focus on specific audio. These monitors usually use the sound isolating mechanism to provide hearing protection.
There are two main types of in-ear monitors available on the market. These include the wired and wireless in-ear monitors.
As the name suggests, this type features a cord. If your performance involves staying stationary for a long time, then a wired in-ear monitors are ideal. They provide excellent noise isolation and the best sound quality.
For performers who move a lot, the wireless in-ears monitors are a perfect choice. That means that they lack wires that limit them to a stationary position. They include the in-ear headphone unit, a receiver, and a transmitter.
The receiver clasps on to a waistband. If you choose a powerful transmitter, then the wireless range is much stronger regardless of the distance.
Type of Drivers
In-ear headphones consist of many parts that make them function well. The most important part is the transducer, commonly known as the driver unit.
Magnets, a diaphragm and voice coils make up the driver unit. These components are essential because they translate the electrical signal into a sound wave that is perfect for the ear. IEMs feature different types of drivers that range in size and other factors.
Below are the main types of in-ear drivers.
Balanced Armature driver
This type comprises a minute arm in a coil of wire, and two magnets surround it. The top and bottom magnets greatly determine the movement of the armature. Since the distance between the magnets is at equilibrium, it is known as balanced.
This type of drivers provides a more precise and detailed sound.
Dynamic/moving coil driver
This type is the cheapest option available on the market today. They use magnetism and electromagnetism for movement, which in turn creates sound.
Dynamic drivers consist of three parts neodymium magnet, voice coil and a diaphragm attached to the voice coil. These drivers produce a significant amount of bass.
As the name suggests, this type uses static electricity to produce vibrations when the diaphragm pushes and pulls against electrodes. That is a more sophisticated type of drivers that requires amplifiers commonly known as energizers. Because of that, electrostatic drivers are only found in premium headphones, which is a downside for those who can’t afford them.
They provide the best sound isolation experience.
Planar magnetic drivers
These are thin drivers found in premium IEMs. Like dynamic in-ear headphones, this type uses magnetic fields in sound production. They have a brilliant bass response because of the huge thin diaphragm together with the electromagnetic force that displaces more air.
However, they are larger and heavier compared to all the above mentioned. What’s more, they are more expensive and require a headphone amplifier.
What You Need To Know Before Buying In-Ear Monitors