We partnered with Tiffany & Co. to design and build one of the most stunning in-ear monitors (IEMs) ever created for Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour.
Beyoncé has been using 64 Audio IEMs since 2016 around the time of her Super Bowl 50 performance. Beyoncé and team have constantly presented us with challenges that require innovation to solve. From their opening order of almost 100 units for that halftime performance to quick turnarounds for Coachella 2018. We love rising to the occasion when an artist brings us a challenge such as this.
A18s is my new go to IEM. It sounds big and powerful like a full blown line array with subs, yet has the clarity and resolution of a studio monitor.James Berry (Monitor Engineer: Beyonce, Kings of Leon, Lionel Richie, Fantasia & Maxwell)
A18s was developed in part because of special requests made by Beyoncé in 2019 relating to the previous model she used which was A18t. These changes she requested eventually led us to developing an entirely new model. Working with her monitor engineer, James Berry, A18s has become an incredibly successful product for us and spawned our U18s universal fitting IEM.
A special request was brought to our attention a few months before her Renaissance World Tour. Since Tiffany & Co. were set to be the official jeweler of the tour, providing custom jewelry, the idea was to merge their high-end jewelry and our world-class technology. While the 3D printed acrylic shell and internal components would stay the same the faceplate was to be made of diamond encrusted platinum.
We had seen other brands utilize precious metals in their IEMs for other performers but we wanted a much cleaner and more elegant way of incorporating the two parts. This exercise required us to entirely re-engineer our faceplate process.
We typically use liquid acrylic to create faceplates which bonds to the hypoallergenic acrylic of the shell when cured with UV. Even when using premium materials like carbon fiber or abalone, we cover it all in a clear acrylic which preserves the material and bonds it to the shell.
Since covering the precious metals and gemstones would defeat the purpose of this faceplate we needed to come up with a way to mate it to the shell. Rather than just using industrial grade adhesives to secure the faceplate we needed a mechanical hold, just as the gemstones require prongs to mechanically secure them to the metal. We couldn’t risk designing it any other way. We also wanted a beautiful seam that would allow the platinum border of the faceplate to not be obstructed, so the “stepped” border that we’ve seen some competitors use was not an option. This would’ve been an easy way to lay acrylic over the stepped portion of the faceplate which would secure it to the shell but takes away from the look of the faceplate.
Our R&D Manager, Vitaliy Gordeyev, pursued an idea we called “the channel.” This was a “c” shaped channel built into the perimeter of the faceplate that, when filled with liquid acrylic, mates to the shell and UV curing would create the invisible mechanical hold we were after.
After some back and forth with Tiffany’s Senior Product Engineering Lead, Indira Biswas, where we compared design ideas and shared 3d files, we landed on the final shape. We both built 3d printed mockups to prove the theory. Once the design was approved by Beyoncé, built by Tiffany, and arrived back here we got to building our side of things.
Building The IEMs
Some corrections had to be made in the 3d files of the shells and we had to adjust our production process to accommodate the order of assembly. Typically our IEMs are slightly buffed and lacquered at the very last step of the production line. Since we weren’t going to be polishing the Tiffany faceplates that came in pristine condition, we had to lacquer the shells before the components were inserted and assembled, which was a challenge and required the assemblers to take extra care at every step in order to make sure the shells remained in pristine condition throughout the build process.
Another small detail which had to be addressed was our apex module, which is something that makes our products recognizable from afar, but serves one of the most important purposes among all of the IEM components which is relieving the pressure in the ear canal for a more comfortable and fatigue free performance. Typically our module is a matte finish anodized aluminum. To match the shine of the platinum faceplate we explored polishing and then clear anodizing a special set for these particular IEMs.
The end result speaks for itself. A total of 20.4g of Platinum and a total carat weight of 4.51ct of the highest clarity diamonds were used by Tiffany & Co. to produce these two faceplates. They are mated seamlessly to the A18s IEM shell and are made to withstand the incredibly demanding performances that Beyoncé is known for.