Protecting Your Hearing While Wearing In-Ear Monitors

In-ear monitors (IEMs) have become the standard for stage monitoring and have been around for a decade and a half. They are used on the world’s biggest stages as well as that run-down karaoke bar down the street. While they offer some of the best audio fidelity possible, they can also be used to preserve one of your most precious gifts­­…. your hearing. Let’s face it, you’re going to slowly lose the ability to hear detail as you get older, but you can slow down this process by taking care of your ears.

Here are 3 tips to make sure you are protecting your hearing while enjoying audio bliss:

1. Listening Volume. Listen to your mix at as low volume as possible. An easy way to check is to briefly take your in-ears out during a moderately loud portion of the performance. If the sound gets louder, you know that you are already saving your hearing by monitoring with IEMs.

2. Wear both in-ears. Even though you see rock stars take one ear out, you should be aware that this is not healthy for your hearing. Because you are putting direct sound in only one ear, you will have to turn it up about 6db louder to achieve the same perceived loudness (compared to wearing both).

3. Limiters. Most pro-level IEMs are capable of producing SPLs (sound pressure level) well above 120db. A phantom power spike or a microphone falling on the floor can easily produce a signal loud enough to damage your hearing. To avoid this, we recommend inserting a “brickwall” limiter on the output* of the IEM mix. For best results, set the threshold 2-3db above the peak level.

We hope that this information will help you take the right steps to protect your most valuable asset as a musician or an audiophile. If you have questions or would like us to go into more detail on any of the points mentioned in this post please email us, or connect with us on any of our social networks.

*Some belt-pack IEM receivers come with a built in Limiter. This limiter is NOT properly calibrated for earpieces that did not originally come with the unit. ♦♦