Ultimate Ears | In-Ear Monitors for Musicians, Sound Engineers & Music Lovers

Rich Hilton | CHIC | Ultimate Ears Stories

Can you tell us about some of the musicians you’ve played with?

As I’ve been playing professionally since age 15 and engineering since 25, I’ve worked with a lot of different musicians. Over the years, in addition to performing with CHIC and Nile Rodgers, I’ve had the privilege to record and play with David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, Elton John, Kool & the Gang, Slash, Stevie Ray & Jimmie Vaughan, Paul Simon, David Lee Roth, B52s, Lionel Ritchie, Michael Bolton, Sister Sledge, Tina Arena, and many others.

Can you tell us about some of the Film/TV projects you’ve worked on?

I’ve contributed performances to the films Coming to America, Thelma & Louise, The Flintstones, Blue Chips, Beverly Hills Cop 3, Earth Girls are Easy, and Rush Hour 2. I’ve done TV commercials for Nike, Budweiser, Hersheys, and others, some of which won awards. I’ve been fortunate to work with directors John Landis, Ridley Scott, Julian Temple, William Friedkin, and Francis Ford Coppola.

When and why did you decide to transition from wedges to in-ear monitors in general?

There were a number of factors that went into the decision to give up stage monitors and go to in-ears. We are a large band, and quite often fill the stages on which we perform. I preferred stereo monitoring, and so my setup proved to be quite large with the speakers on each side, and prohibited movement on and off the stage quite often, so it was an inconvenience to the production to have all those speakers by me. Another factor was my wanting more control over my ability to hear well without having to listen at extremely high level. I prefer a moderate listening level, and that’s much easier to achieve on stage with IEMs.

What was the tipping point? When did you finally have enough of the wedge?

When I began to feel that my stage monitors were a drag on the production, and I was needing to wear earplugs to lower the stage volume and still hear.

Which model of UE are you using?

I use the UE Pro Remastered model.

How do in-ear monitors fit into your setup? Meaning how do you use them?

I use them on stage for monitoring our live shows. Occasionally I use them for podcast broadcasting, and even more rarely to check mixes in the studio.

How did you think they improve your performance?

They make it possible for me to hear at an incredibly precise level on stage, and thus allow me to play with more feeling and dynamics than before.

What’s in your monitor mix?

My monitor mix is a full mix of the entire band, with my keyboards perhaps a bit louder than in the FOH but not blaringly loud. It sounds like a well-presented recording.

What is your favorite thing about the product, fit, isolation, sound quality, and why?

I just love the way they present a very uncolored, honest presentation of the frequency spectrum. They fit me very well, and they allow me to forget entirely about the monitoring and just enjoy playing the music.

What are your thoughts on universal-fit in-ears versus customs?

Customs fit and sound better, but really the only way to audition them (and for most people, to afford decent quality models for casual use) is to try universal-fit ones.

Anything else you would like to mention about in-ear monitors and UE?

I’ve been extremely pleased with my UE monitors, and with UE’s commitment to professional products and support.

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