IEMs simply means an in-ear monitors system. They are devices used by musicians, audio engineers, and audiophiles to listen to music or to hear a personal mix of vocals and stage instrumentation for live performance or recording studio mixing.
In-ear monitors (IEMs) have only been around for a relatively short time. Introduced in the late ’80s, and it’s fair to say that they’ve revolutionized the audio industry. Many live acts have adopted them now, and for some tours, they are seen as indispensable, mainly due to the freedom they can give the performer, particularly singers.
The ability to have a consistent sound quality wherever you go on stage has enabled uncluttered set designs, increased freedom of movement, and enhanced sound performance. The combination of a wireless microphone and in-ear wireless monitors is now a common sight on many tours.
Not everyone has seen IEMs and not all know they have two-part systems. There’s a transmitter, usually, a half-rack unit, which transmits the monitor mix wirelessly (via radio) to a receiver, a belt pack around the size of a mobile phone that the performer wears.
The belt pack will also have a volume knob with which you can get the playback level just right and the earphones block out unwanted background sounds. The monitor mix can then be heard through the earphones in crystal clear sound quality. The two components operate in the UHF band between 606 and 614 MHz.
An in ear monitor is like a set of headphones, called in ear headphones but using a design that creates a barrier between your eardrum and the outside world, cuts down environmental noise, which makes it more useful on-stage and in-studio. This means that IEMs can be run more quietly for better sound quality and to reduce ear fatigue.
In-ear monitor can be as simple as a single driver in each ear, or as complex as 64 Audio’s 18 drivers per earpiece set. There are two main variants of in-ear monitors: Universals earplugs are ﬁxed in shape and come with either foam or rubber earplug tips. They fit most ears but not all. On the other hand, molded earplugs are shaped specifically to a user’s ear, and will not fit anyone else.
There are different types of utilized IEMs, all of them very accurate at producing good sound quality. You’ll hear of variants such as ‘balanced armature’ and ‘dynamic’ drivers. When talking about IEMs, you may encounter ambient ports, filters, and valves, which are all ways to bleed outside sound into your mix through a pluggable hole in the earpiece, or just to improve the hearing experience.
Recommended Read – Best Budget Headphone AMP
Best IEMs under $100
|Shure SE215-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriver, Secure In-Ear Fit - Clear||Buy Now|
|LINSOUL TIN Audio T2 HiFi 2DD Double Dynamic Drive in Ear Earphone Bass DJ Metal Headphones, 3.5 mm MMCX||Buy Now|
|FiiO FA1 Over The Ear Earphones Detachable Cable Design HiFi Single Balanced Armature Driver Earphones for iOS and Android Computer PC Tablet(Blue(L) and Red(R)-Swirl||Buy Now|
|1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Earphones Hi-Res Headphones with High Resolution, Bass Driven Sound, MEMS Mic, In-Line Remote, High Fidelity for Smartphones/PC/Tablet - Gold||Buy Now|
|KZ ZSX Terminator Metal Headset 5BA+1DD Hybrid 12 Drivers HiFi Bass Earbuds in Ear Monitor Headphones Noise Cancelling Earphones(No mic,Black)||Buy Now|
|HiFiHear BLON BL03 in Ear Earphone,10mm Carbon Diaphragm Dynamic Drive Bass HiFi DJ in Ear Monitor, Diamond Mirror Process in Ear Headphone with Detachable Cable Wired Earphone(Gun with Mic)||Buy Now|
|Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 True Wireless Earbuds - 10+70 Hours Play Time, PureControl App, Bluetooth 5.2, Wireless Charging, IPX7 Waterproof, Black||Buy Now|
|Audio2000'S AWR6305U5 Wireless Receiver for in-Ear Monitoring System||Buy Now|
Comfortable sound isolating sleeves block a lot of ambient noise. Sound isolation technology prevents outside noise from interfering with your listening experience, whether on-stage or on the go.
Light in weight, low-profile shape with optimized beak angle is designed to rest comfortably in the ear. Cables are durable and they allow easy reinforcement and replacement or customization. Formable wire ensures secure placement, and over-the-ear configuration keeps cables out of the way.
It has a Gold plated Connector which has a lock-snap mechanism allowing 360-degree rotation for a comfortable fit. Fit Kit includes three sizes (Small, Medium, Large) of the flex and black foam sleeves.
A good seal is a key to optimizing sound noise isolation and bass response as well as maximizing comfort during extended wear. A soft-zip, the compact carrying case is included to provide a convenient, tangle-free solution to store and travel with your earphones.
They evolved from personal monitor technology that’s been road-tested by pro musicians, the SE215 offers detailed sound with punchy bass for personal listening or professional monitoring.
Recommended Read – Best Budget Headphone AMP
LINSOUL TIN Audio T2
It has high sound quality and has a good balance of high and low frequency. The tone won’t be too bright or too dark. It’s smooth. The high-frequency extension is good, delicate, and supple.
Full of elasticity and intensity without any slow feeling. It has a detachable Micro-miniature coaxial connector Cable. The main body comes with 5N 8-core silver plated wire, because the soft and supple material is used, the handling is good, there is no worry that the cable will be curled afterward. It ensures durability even at ultra-lightweight and withstands long-term use.
The shell is made of metal reflecting a sense of luxury in appearance. The canal design can shut out noise perfectly. Three different sizes of earplugs are included. It can fit in your ear perfectly.
We all love our music to the point that we use our personal audiophile earphones for an extended duration, with the Tin HiFi T2, the metal housing won’t induce any allergic reactions on your ears as they are completely hypoallergenic.
Also Read – Best Budget Floor Standing Speakers
The 10mm beryllium-plated diaphragm dynamic driver in the FH3 earphones was specifically chosen for its superior acoustic properties. The beryllium-plated diaphragm is not only light and thin but is also extremely rigid, allowing for thunderous yet lightning-quick, responsive, and dynamic bass.
The earphones which are paired with a beryllium-plated dynamic driver, placed near the opening of the sound tube, controlled by a physical + electronic frequency crossover system masterfully cover the entire frequency response range.
It provides extremely clear sound with well-extended yet smooth treble, gives sweeter and fuller vocals as well as a wider soundstage. The longer and smoother turbine-inspired sound tubes effectively filter unwanted high bass frequencies, giving one deeper and harder-hitting bass.
It is carefully designed so as to ensure that the air pressure in the front and rear chambers are balanced, thus making for stress-free listening. The included high-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper cable, with 4 strands of 96 wires, was carefully chosen for its fidelity and ability to resolve details, being noticeably better than the typical earphone cable. One’s music will sound sublime with the included cable, which brings the best out of the FH3’s drivers.
The earbuds are made of an aerospace-grade aluminum-magnesium alloy shell.
1MORE Triple Driver
1MORE collaborated with internationally acclaimed producer, mixer, and sound Engineer to perfect the final tuning to deliver a precise representation of your favorite artist’s intended sound.
It has OBLIQUE angled ear fittings that will naturally match your ear canals. 9 sets of included ear tip sizes ensure a proper fit for the different ears. They’re more comfortable and less likely to fall out, which makes you enjoy your music more.
It has a remote control that is conveniently located in-line allowing you to effortlessly control volume, select songs, and take calls. Superior mems Microphone has independently set ground wires to eliminate cross-talk and background static.
Triple Driver in-ear headphones have 6 sets of silicone ear tips, 3 sets of foam ear tips, magnetic clasping traveling case, attractive storage case, quality dual prong airline adapter, matching shirt clip.
After several successful series of hybrid driver earphones, here comes the terminator, KZ ZSX. It features high-quality driver configurations which include drivers for medium and high frequency, one DD for low frequency, and one 30095 driver for high frequency.
The sound is powerful and comprehensive, dynamic and bright in all respects. While maintaining the previous performance, the high frequency of this model is extended.
The faceplate is made of zinc alloy while the cavity is made from imported resin. The two different materials have an elegant look and shimmer and are also practical and durable.
The detachable gold-plated 2 pin cable offers fully upgradability and the limit slot protection design greatly avoids the pin from breaking and prolongs the service life of the interface
You can experience the full play of all the drivers, displaying a smooth, sensible, detailed music experience
The cavity is made based on large data of cochlea. It’s scientifically molded to fit the ear like customized earbuds. Even with vigorous exercise, it will still securely fit in the ear. Comfortable for a long time wearing as well.
The In-Ear earphone is made of Carbon Diaphragm Dynamic Drive, providing delicate and clear high-frequency detailing which is for supreme bass, mid and high performance. The sense of speed, realism, balance, and overall vocals are very close.
It gives audiophiles a true listening experience. It can offer supreme sound quality. Every minute sound and signals are accurately captured, higher resolution and information content are reproduced, and a completely new dimension of the sound source is reproduced.
BLON 03 offers enhanced wearing comfort while retaining a highly stable structure with minimal vibrations. You can wear it for a long time without feeling anything. This model has a detachable cable that is of high quality.
Smooth metal edge circular arc to prevent cutting hand. Sound cavity using precision metal anodizing process, high polishing mirror surface technology for cavity surface,anti-skid and anti-scratch, not easy to stick fingerprint, light and elegant.
The LYPERTEK TEVI is compact and well built. It has a smooth and sturdy matte plastic housing. The earbuds are IPX7 certified. This according to IP ratings means they can be fully submerged in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth not exceeding 1-meter. This makes the earbud good for running and overall working out.
The Lypertek Tvei features single push buttons on each earpiece to control playback, pairing, and other settings. The buttons are not intuitive and feel hard to press and overall stiffness.
The TEVI comes with a charging case that uses a USB-C port with a huge battery which can last up to 70-hours. The earbuds themselves are advertised to have long battery life of 10 hours on a single charge.
These are comfortable once you place them in the right position. It comes with 2 pairs of silicone ear tips and a pair of flex-fit ear tips. It fits well as long as you select the correct ear tip size and stays secure while using it. The product also has outstanding noise isolation properties and blocks out most noises in the environment.
Audio 2000S AWM6304U IEM
These wireless in-ear monitors are made for singers, drummers, and for the whole band, as it is very easy to operate, flexibility and versatility are key advantages of these IEMs. These could be used on stage, in an exhibit, in speech, and lecture, or in a studio. The sound is consistent and of very high quality. Below are the features of Audio 2000S AWM6304U IEM.
- UHF frequency band
- 25 MHz bandwidth
- PLL synthesized oscillation mode
- FM Stereo modulation mode
- <10mW output power
- -60 dBc spurious rejection
- 75 kHz maximum deviation range
- 50-15000Hz frequency response
- Line level X2, XLR audio output and input of ¼ inches phone jacks
- Dimensions of the audio monitor system are 9.4×5.4×2.0 inches
- Comes with a PVC case for carrying
IEMs can either go straight or over-the-ear. Straight IEMs are the ones with the cables hanging straight down, while over ear headphones IEMs have cables that wrap over the back of the ears. Choosing either of these types comes down to the taste and choice of a user.
Over-ear IEMs are more preferred by performers because they offer a secure fit and also hide the cables. Some In-ear monitors will come with removable or detachable cables that let you upgrade the cables, replace them to fit your specification or change them in case of any accidents.
The drivers in IEMs are of different types with their advantages and disadvantages, listed below are the drivers
- Dynamic Drivers
- Balanced armature Drivers
- Planar magnetic Drivers
- Electrostatic Drivers and
- Hybrid Drivers
Dynamic Drivers (Moving Coil Drivers)
They are the most common because they are cheap and easy to reproduce sound. This type of headphone driver consists of a magnet also called neodymium, a voice coil, and a diaphragm that is attached to the voice coil.
The magnet creates a static magnetic field and when an audio current is introduced, the coil is forced to move away or towards the magnet. This movement of the coil triggers the diaphragm movement and creates sound waves.
Dynamic driver is good at reproducing the bass frequencies and is also prone to audio distortion, which degrades the audio quality. They are on average and more affordable than other drivers and they are also easier to power.
They are the type of driver created by using both Balanced armature and dynamic drivers. In hybrid driver setups, multiple drivers are tuned to provide an unmatched sound output with utmost clarity like letting a single dynamic driver unit handle the lower end, and adding either a single or multiple units of Balanced Armature drivers to cover the Mids and Highs and similarly.
ED works through the use of static electricity. When the audio current is introduced, the static electricity is created and it draws and repels the diaphragm. As the diaphragm moves it displaces air through the stator perforations thus reproducing the audio currently.
Electrostatic drivers are rare because of their cost. However, with headphones with electrostatic drivers, you will have the joy to enjoy near distortion-free spacious sound with better accuracy. The Shure KSE1500 and KSE1200 are notable examples of IEMs that utilize electrostatic drivers.
Balanced Armature Drivers
They are much smaller than all drivers and they are limited to in-ear headphones. The driver consists of an arm called the balanced armature, magnets, a coil, a driver pin/rod, and the diaphragm. When an audio signal is introduced, it flows through the coils and magnetizes the armature.
The balanced armature is then forced to move up or down. This movement is transferred to the driver pin/rod and then to the diaphragm which moves to reproduce sound.
Planar Magnetic Drivers
They come in different names such as isodynamic, orthodynamic, or magneplanar drivers. They use two magnets and a diaphragm with embedded wires. When an audio current is introduced, it moves through the wires in the diaphragm, which creates an electromagnetic force that moves the diaphragm up and down towards both magnets, then reproduces sound.
Different items have been produced with the listed above drivers. Below are other products.
It’s clear that there are vast improvements over stage monitors with the use of IEMs. Between removing unnecessary sounds from stages and audience, protecting your ears, and improving the quality of your monitor mix, there are plenty of reasons for musicians, presenters, and individuals to make the upgrade to In-Ear Monitor.
IEMs can reduce the outside noise level by anywhere from 20-30dB (Decibels), which is considerable. This level of reduction alone helps you hear things more clearly. They can also improve comfort over conventional rubber earplugs.
IEMs, when used correctly, can increase comfort and increase your playing time without headaches or fatigue, and allow you to listen to your colleagues better. They can also safely protect your ears and help you overcome challenging technical situations.