Louder Isn't Better || Tips On Mixing In-Ear Monitors

The goal is to protect hearing while giving a balanced, clear mix.

This article is Authorized by the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organziation

The In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization publishes unbiased educational articles about the use and benefits of in-ear monitors.

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November 13, 2019

I usually tell my artists to use their IEMs as earplugs first and then to just bring the volume up until they hear themselves clearly — not loudly. I tell them that if they start low, they can always turn it up a bit and that they’ll feel the difference. But if they start off loud, the will only go louder! And that’s not good.

Here’s the thing with isolation.  I have the control to give my artists a more balanced mix. I like using perceived loudness. I try to make it almost like having a mastered record being played in their ears — it feels loud but it really isn’t. 

When I mix like that,  they feel good and excited with what they hear. I throw in some EQ, stereo imagers, compression and limiting as their Masterbus processing.  I do this all in broad but subtle strokes. It’s very effective.

On the vocal channel, it is a known fact that most Singers like their vocal brighter that we would want to hear it. I believe that  the main reasons for this is the occlusion effect.  They’re sealed up. So cutting lows and / or low-mids and adding some air and hi-mids is  a formula that has work for me 99% of the time. This really comes across at low volume.

More tips like this can be found in a recent article I wrote for Live Sound International and ProsoundWeb. Please take a look.

Finding The Sweet Spot: Getting The Desired Vocal Sound In IEM Mixes

This post was written by IEMITO member Eddie “El Brujo" Caipo. Eddie is a veteran touring engineer who's credits include Enrique Iglesias, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera and Tears for Fears.

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