Inexpensive In Ear Monitoring
I’ve read many articles on in-ear monitoring for worship bands, most of them using large churches as examples. Only recently did I read one on why small churches can benefit from their use. Now I realize a major reason for this is price. Most small churches like mine can’t afford Aviom, Hear Back, Roland, or one of the other popular systems. But I knew we needed to do something to reduce the amount of stage volume in our worship center.
The room seats 300 comfortably and is long and narrow with high arched ceilings. On any given Sunday I could walk down the long aisle and hear the change in volume and mix due to the monitor spill from our floor wedges.
A couple of years ago I discovered these little jewels – a “more of me” type monitoring system. There are two models of this system. The larger unit allows XLR and 1/4′ inputs, although I have yet to understand how anyone other than someone tied to a keyboard or drum set (and not many drummers need a mic for singing or talking) would reasonably use it.
I wasn’t sure how our band would take to the idea, so I got them together after rehearsal one night and told them what I wanted to do. I made them aware of the cost (the above unit sells for about $60, and I needed a minimum of four) and got their buy-in to at least give it a dedicated trial. Now I should mention that these four musicians all share a monitor mix. Due to snake limitations, we can only have a mix for the band and one on stage for the vocalists. (We also have a small stage with the band positioned all around it, you know where the pianist and organist used to be.)
The band agreed to give a try, so I bought the first unit and set it up for the keyboardist. The keyboardist bought some Shure ear buds and right away loved it. She always had issues hearing herself when switching from a piano sound to pad or synth. The Rolls units took care of that problem right away. She was ready to use it the very next Sunday, no transition required.
I ordered two more units for the acoustic and base guitar players. I had a new issue with them – where to put the units so the volume knobs would be at their fingertips. Rolls sells clamps to mount these boxes, but I’m cheap and didn’t want to pay $20 for them, so I got a friend to make me a couple for pennies.
Once the long, flat piece of the clamp was attached to the Rolls unit, all we had to do was hang it off the side of their music stands and tighten. Everything they need is within reach.
I managed to pick up a couple more of these units later for $20 each, so I eventually put the drummer on one and put the other up as a spare since our electric guitar player has his own system.
This certainly isn’t an ideal solution, but it was the only solution for us and has worked quite well. Our house volume is much more controllable now with a cleaner mix.