Recently I made a change to my DJ monitoring setup and discovered a whole new world of possibilities as well as a smoother workflow.
First, I want to say that DJing with in-ear monitors (IEMs) has been a mind-altering experience. It took me ‘til the cows came home to make the transition, and looking back I now wonder why I waited. Going wireless was like the dawn of a brand new day.
A little background. I’ve been DJing in various styles and at various events for a long while now. I started in the late 1980’s and took the professional plunge in the late 90’s. Since then I have played everything from large (3k+) venues to intimate house parties to museums to theaters to opening acts for bands in the US and Europe. Until recently, I have always used cans (over-the-ear headphones). 2 years ago, I got the great idea to use IEMS instead and it made a world of difference. For large events, my weapon of choice has become the UE18, as the subs really help you feel the music.
But here are some things that surprised me:
- My mixing skills improved immensely. For the first time, I was able to hear my mixes in incredible detail. I no longer suffered the need to turn my cans up so loud as to drown out the booth monitor and have the high end (the high hats especially) turn crunchy-sizzle. When I could hear my mixing with such clarity, I was able to fine tune where my tracks were overlapping. Not just matching kick drums, I was now threading percussion. It really was a whole new world.
- My ear fatigue became a near non-issue. This was because I was monitoring at a much lower level than I ever had before. Also, the IEMs had acted like a kind-of ear plug and were protecting me from the main PA. This I call a win win win!
One little problem I did have was that, in order to speak to anyone, I was having to take out my IEMs. Not too much of a problem in bigger venues, as I usually don’t have anyone coming on stage, but in more intimate events it was a hassle. It was then suggested that I give a try to the UE1, which is a single earpiece that receives both left and right signals. Boom, problem solved. Now, at smaller venues and events, I am able to communicate easily without having to remove my IEM. I need only to turn down the signal to the UE1 and I am golden. And I found that my fear of feeling unbalanced while wearing just one ear was totally unfounded.
Finally, I was lucky enough to get hold of the Sennheiser G3 wireless transmitter and receiver. It too was helpful in the world of DJing, as well as in other onstage endeavors. A help beyond my wildest dreams, in fact. The ability to move untethered is a key to the successful mobile DJ. And if you’ve done any kind of event where there is a passed mic or hands to shake, you might be familiar with the slight panic that happens when you have to put down your headphones and move through the room. For me, the Sennheiser G3 makes it unnecessary to put down my headphones. I am amazed at how something so small takes so much anxiety out of DJing an event. And when nature calls, as nature always does, I am always clear on how much time a song has left to play.