For Your Praise Band, Are In-Ear Monitors Really The Right Solution?
Even at some churches, the "Everything louder than everything else!" demand is a challenge that rises from "monitor wars."
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In-Ear Monitors NewsFor Your Praise Band, Are In-Ear Monitors Really The Right Solution? Most Read Worship Tech Director Article in 2017 Worth Second Look Best Performing 2017 Worship Tech Director Pieces Worth Second Look, Part 3 Sound System Engineering: Monitors Still Need the Audio Tech
In-Ear Monitors ResourceIn‑Ear Monitors: Hear The Music
In the interest of having your talent receiving an optimal mix, in-ears often go a long way toward accomplishing that task.
One of my favorite moments in rock history can be heard on Deep Purple’s “Made in Japan” double live album from 1972. At that time, The Guinness Book of World Records deemed Deep Purple as the world’s “loudest band.” If you’re a music and sound enthusiast, this is essential listening and wonderfully exposes an ugly phase in the history of live band sound.
In particular, the open speaker “monitor wars.”
It’s a very brief discussion between lead vocalist Ian Gillan and (I presume) the band’s beside-stage monitor engineer. You can hear it just after their blisteringly-loud rendition of “Smoke on the Water.”
If you haven’t heard it, you should. Click this YouTube link and listen for about 15 seconds, beginning at the 7-minute, 20-second spot.
Gillan says that he wants, “Everything louder than everything else!”
That makes me laugh! Surely, no statement better represents the bad old days of loud stage sound and the struggle - even the impossibility - of giving band members, especially vocalists, the monitor sound they so desire through open speakers.
Some years later, the “Everything louder than everything else!” headaches of the “monitor wars” crept into churches as well.
Some are still at war.
A solution had to be found. Along with other technological “breakthroughs” like drum enclosures, and amp-modeling pedals (I’m not a fan of either), in-ear monitors (or IEMs) seemed to declare an end to the “monitor wars.”
As the technology has become more affordable and simpler to operate, just about every Christian church music team in the western world either has in-ear monitors or wants them. Conventional audio-tech wisdom would say that switching from the older technology of open speaker monitors to IEMs is the best thing to do.
But are IEMs really a good move?
Sure, we enjoy lower stage volume and greater control over Front of House (FOH) and monitor mixes with IEMs.
But have we fully counted the cost - in more than just dollars - of using IEMs? I don’t think we have.
No one wants a return to the “Everything louder than everything else!” conflict of open speaker wedges, side fills and stage volume that overruns the FOH. But maybe the problem is not with the choice of hardware, but is, instead, in our loss of focus on an agreed goal and an unwillingness to make selfless choices to achieve that goal.
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