Making the switch from floor wedges to in-ear monitors has major benefits:
- Stage noise is drastically decreased which in turn improves sound for the congregation.
- The band becomes ‘tighter’ because they can hear better.
- Each band member can have a unique mix where they are slightly louder than the rest of the band which fixes the ‘can you turn me up in the monitors’ problem.
The drawback to switching is the cost involved, especially if you want to go wireless with everyone having their own personal mix.
But, there is a solution for those working on a smaller budget. It may not have as much flexibility or look as pretty as the costly solutions, but it is way better than sticking with floor wedges.
Although everyone shares the same monitor mix in the solution I outline below, they are still able to turn up their own instrument in their ears only over the shared mix. It is not as ‘personal’ as being able to create your own, unique mix, but at least you will be able to hear your part over the rest.
Whirlwind Split 6
First of all, you will need to split your monitor mix so you can send it to all those who will have in-ears. I recommend the Whirlwind Split 6. If you need to split more than 6 times, simply use 2 aux sends and buy two of these splitters. Then all your vocals could share one mix and the instrumentalists could share another.
Don’t forget to buy the patch cable needed to connect the Whirlwind Split 6 to your stage snake. Depending on your setup, one of the following three cables will be needed:
Equipment Every Musician/Vocalist Will Need
|Equipment Description||Buy Now|
|Rolls PM50S Personal Monitor Amp (for those that either play or sing)||Amazon|
|or Rolls PM351 (for those that play and sing)||Amazon|
|MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6 In-Ear Headphones||Amazon|
|Hosa MHE-310 3.5mm Stereo Extension Cable||Amazon|
|Microphone Cable (length depends on your needs)||Amazon|
|1/4” to XLR Female Patch Cable (length depends on your needs)||Amazon|
Step 1: Connect microphone splitter to desired monitor mix.
Prior to using in-ears, you used an aux send for each monitor mix on the stage. You can use this same mix for the in-ears, but it will be routed through the Whirlwind Split 6 instead of your floor wedges.
If your floor wedges are powered (have the amp built in), you can use the XLR cable that runs to the floor wedge and plug it into the splitter instead. If your floor wedges are unpowered, you will pull the XLR cable from the amp that is powering your monitors and plug it into the splitter.
Otherwise, you can simply use a new aux send, if you have one available. Simply route the connection from your board, through the stage snake and then to the splitter.
Step 2: Connect personal monitor amps to the mic splitter.
Each Rolls Personal Monitor Amp needs to be connected to the Whirlwind Split 6 with a 1/4” to XLR female patch cable. Simply plug the 1/4” side into the ‘Monitor Input’ on the Rolls and the XLR side into the Whirlwind mic splitter.
Keep in mind, the monitor mix will be in mono. So on the Rolls Personal Monitor Amp, you will need to use the mono (aka ‘mon’) selection. To do this, you will need a small tool to remove the little plastic piece and reposition it appropriately.
Step 3: Connect the instrument or microphone to the personal monitor amp.
The way you connect an instrument or microphone will be slightly different. Following is a description of each.
How to Connect a Microphone (whether for a vocal or micing a guitar amp)
Use an XLR cable to connect the microphone directly to the ‘Mic Input’ on the Rolls Personal Monitor Amp. Then use another XLR cable to connect the ‘Mic Thru’ to your mixer (most likely through the stage snake).
Just think of it this way: it is like before, where you are sending the mic signal to the mixer, only the Rolls is in the middle. So, the signal simply ‘passes through’ the Rolls and then heads back to your mixer.
How to Connect an Instrument
For everything that uses a direct box (keyboards, acoustic guitars, bass guitars and guitars that go direct in), you will still need to use the direct box. Simply use a microphone cable to connect the ‘Output’ on your direct box tot he ‘Mic Input’ on the Rolls Personal Monitor Mix’. Then use another XLR cable to connect the ‘Mic Thru’ to your mixer (most likely through the stage snake).
Side Note for Bass Guitars
To make your bass guitar sound great, I recommend using the Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI instead of a normal direct box. Otherwise, you may struggle with it sounding thin and powerless.
Step 4: Connect headphones.
It is now time to connected your headphones to the Rolls Personal Monitor Amp using the 3.5mm extension cable. Now, you can use the two knobs on the front of the Rolls to control your mix. The ‘Mic Level’ is how you turn your instrument up over the mix. The ‘Monitor Level’ is how you adjust the volume of the shared monitor mix.
The best way to manage the microphone cable is to create a small loop at the end of the cable and put it in your back pocket after connecting your headphones. Then the cable runs down you back leg – almost invisible!
One Final Tip for Guitars
To simplify and make things better, it is a good idea to combine your guitar’s instrument cable with the 3.5mm extension cable using electrical tape. Then, there is only one cable running up to the guitar and the guitarist can plug in their headphones near the guitar input. This looks much cleaner than two separate cables running to the guitarist.
Special thanks to Brad with ChurchMediaDesign.tv for introducing me to this in-ear setup.