Seeking A Clean, Clear Mix for In-Ears

With a stereo mix, you are able to add panning techniques that will assist with separation of instruments or voices within the mix.

Seeking A Clean, Clear Mix for In-Ears
The goal to an in-ear mix is that it be clean, clear and creates a sense of isolation.
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These days, church bands and worship leaders are frequently making the move to convert over to in-ear monitors. In-ear monitors have many benefits, such as creating a quieter stage, and the freedom of musicians to move around on stage without ever leaving behind your mix.

Of the many benefits with IEMs, the biggest misconception is that you now have more gain before feedback. Although the feedback is eliminated, proper gain structure is the key to mixing in-ear monitors.

Increasing your worship leader’s channel gain to get more volume only increases the sensitivity of the microphone’s pick up. So when you solo the channel, you will end up hearing the peripheral sound from their surroundings being picked up by the microphone.

For better isolation, use custom molded in-ear monitors or universal isolating ear buds.

Remember that gain controls signal, faders controls volume. How does that come into play when building a mix? The goal to an in-ear mix is that it be clean, clear and creates a sense of isolation. Disclaimer:  For better isolation, use custom molded in-ear monitors or universal isolating ear buds, such as the Shure SE series earphones. The driver count does play a factor in the sound quality you are aiming for, but that’s another article for another day.

Back to the subject at hand, the more bleed you have, the worse the mix becomes. Your worship leader should only hear their voice when singing into the microphone, not the cymbals or guitar cabinet bleeding over, from 10 feet behind them.

You get the point. 

So in the end, what is a good mix? A good mix is when you can hear a balance of all the instruments or singers, while keeping their vocal or instrument above everything else. OK, I hear your murmurs, “Easier said than done!”

Let’s take your worship leader, for example, who happens to play the acoustic guitar while singing. Their mix should consist of their voice dominating the mix, followed by their acoustic guitar a few dBs below. Now give them the kick, snare, hi hat and keyboards a few dBs below the acoustic guitar so they can stay on tempo and on key. Now blend in the bass and you have a solid foundation to start from.

If you have the capacity to provide a stereo mix, I suggest that you do so. With a stereo mix, you are able to add panning techniques that will assist with separation of instruments or voices within the mix.


More About Harry Timothee
Harry Timothee is the Audio Technical Director and Lead Sound Engineer at Destiny World Church in Austell, Ga. In addition, he is a live sound engineer and training instructor for Digital World Live, a full-service audio training and development program for live sound engineers and technicians. They offer hands-on training workshops on topics ranging from Professionalism & Ethics to training on the latest digital audio consoles.
Get in Touch: harryt@fastmail.com    More by Harry Timothee

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Article Topics

Technology · Audio · Musical Instruments · In-Ear Monitors · Mixing · Musical Instruments · Panning · Peripheral · Shure · All Topics

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