About in-ear monitors
What is a monitor?
When we talk about monitors, it is not about a screen; it's about 'monitoring sound'. When you're on the stage as an artist, you are behind the PA (speakers), which are aimed at your audience. The only thing you hear is a bassy sound, but you miss the sharpness and you can't hear what you actually do; you can not monitor yourself properly!
When you play in open air, this is annoying, but when you play in a concert hall, you end up in an acoustic box with reflections from all sides (depending on the hall). The sound that the band makes, comes back delayed from the back wall in larger halls, so you constantly hear yourself singing with an echo. Very annoying. But this problem could be solved with the Floor monitor!
The Floor monitor is a loudspeaker that is not aimed at the audience, but at you! It is right in front of you which 'overrules' all other reflections and you can hear yourself much better. This makes you feel more confident and you can better 'monitor' your pitch, or if you play the correct chord. Through your floor monitor you can hear exactly what you want to hear; like your vocals, a little backing vocalists and the guitar for example. The guitarist can also do that, the bass player, keyboard player and drummer. Superb you would think! But no...
With all those floor monitors on stage, there is also a lot of 'stage noise'. The singer has difficulties hearing himself, so the volume is turned up. The guitarist can no longer hear his guitar and so the volume of his amplifier has to be turned up, or his monitor. Same goes for the bass player and so on. This creates a lot of noise on the stage and causes hearing loss and ringing ears. Furthermore, it does not increase the pleasure of making music. How wonderful would it be if everyone had their own monitor without being a burden to each other... And here the in-ear monitor comes in!
The in-ear monitor
Suppose we can make all those floor monitors so small that they fit in your ear only if you hear them. A 'monitor in her', say. Well, there you have it; the in-ear monitor! The beauty of the in-ear monitor is that the floor monitors are no longer on stage. In addition, you are not dependent on where your monitor is, so you can move around the entire stage and everywhere you hear what you want, without anyone bothering you. Your in-ears are so close to your eardrum that they also do not have to be put so hard, so you are less likely to suffer from hearing damage and you can perfectly pitch (sing).
2-way, 3-way, 10-way? Drivers?
You probably heard about it, but what exactly is it, a 3-way system? Imagine your earbuds that you get with your mobile phone. If you play music through it, the loudspeaker (driver) should represent the low, mid and high frequencies. That is possible, but all these frequencies have a different character and are actually a bit in the way, but it doesn't sound that bad.
Suppose you can separate the bass from the mid/high frequencies. The result? A much cleaner sound. The mid/high frequencies aren't processed by a single driver, but by 2 drivers. We call it a 2-way system.
If we could also separate the mid and high frequencies, we'd also have a much better representation of the mid and high frequencies. In addition to the bass driver, the system runs a total of 3 drivers; a 3-way system.
When we then double the number of drivers (2x low, 2x mid and 2x high for example), then the in-ear monitor suddenly is a lot more sufficient. Compare it to a 2 cylinder engine and a 4 cylinder. The 4 cylinder has a much easier job and runs much smoother. An in-ear monitor with more drivers, also has an easier job. The sound is much less tirering and you hear a much better placement of the instruments (the soundstage).
No, a 12-way system does not exist. There are 3-way systems with 12 drivers (4 for the low, 4 for the mid and 4 for the high). With these in-ear systems you really own a high-end hi-fidelity audio system. Great for audiophiles who want to get the most out of their audio equipment, or musicians who want to hear their performance in CD-quality. But as a musician, do you need that on stage? Or do you just want to hear what you're doing?
Which in-ear monitor suits you?
In general we see that most musicians like to keep it 'simple'. The best sold in-ear monitors have 2 or 3 drivers, but there is no such thing as 'the average' musician. What one person classifies as beautiful could be a pain to listen to for you, and vice versa. It is certainly not a fact that 'more drivers' is luxury or unneccessary. Neither do 'more drivers' make it a better in-ear monitor. The best in-ear monitor is the one that does what you need it for. If you want to be 'straight forward', a 2-way or 3-way is fine. Do you want your ears to be 'less fatiqued' with a way better 'soundstage', then you can go for 3-way systems that consists of single drivers, dual drivers and quad drivers.
Can I also listen to them before I buy them?
Yes, you can read more about that in 'About demo sessions'.