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What is that wire?
March 21, 2010 1:29 PM   Subscribe

What is that wire in his ear?

Whenever most popular vocalists perform live they have a wire in one of their ears. What is it and what is it for?
posted by srbrunson to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
In Ear Monitor
posted by niles at 1:32 PM on March 21, 2010


That is helpful. The article says the performer listens to "a mix." A mix of his own voice singing? Prerecorded? Live? Does it include the background music? A simple accompanyment? Does it help them sing on key? What is the main purpose? Sorry, it is still unclear...
posted by srbrunson at 1:40 PM on March 21, 2010


A mix of their voice, the instrument they're playing, and all the other instruments and voices onstage. Each performer has their own preference of how much of their own voice they want to hear, combined with the voices/instruments onstage.

It does help them sing on key. Things can be so loud on stage that it's often hard for them to hear what they're playing, because it could be drowned out by the drummer, the guitar, etc. Monitors (in-ear monitors are one form) help them hear themselves better. Try singing in your room, and then try it again with your fingers in your ears.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:46 PM on March 21, 2010


It's basically a personal stage monitor. When I've mixed stage monitors, it's usually a mix of each singer and one or two key instruments. Because the speakers aren't aimed at the stage, everything can sound really muddled to the performers without having "speakers" aimed at them.

On preview: yeah, what spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints said.
posted by niles at 1:48 PM on March 21, 2010


Sometimes they'll also have a click to play on time.
posted by ddaavviidd at 1:49 PM on March 21, 2010


The article says the performer listens to "a mix." A mix of his own voice singing? Prerecorded? Live? Does it include the background music? A simple accompanyment? Does it help them sing on key? What is the main purpose?

The main purpose of a monitor is to allow the performer to hear themselves over the audio of the instruments, the audience, quirks in the venue (echoes), etc. For the most part, a singer will just hear a final, clean mix being pumped from the speakers to the audience so they can hear an accurate representation of what's actually being performed. But the setup can differ from performer to performer, different mixes depending on their preference (e.g. someone may want to hear the bass prominently to stay in time, or back-up singers to queue off from). A drummer may even listen to a click-track to keep a beat during a studio session.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:50 PM on March 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


In addition, an IEM mix should also involve some 'ambient' sound, perhaps a microphone aimed at the crowd, to make it not sound like you're in a box
posted by gkhewitt at 1:52 PM on March 21, 2010


Have wondered about that for a good while, then realized some mefites would know the answer and could dispel this point of personal ignorance. Thanks for the answers!
posted by srbrunson at 1:53 PM on March 21, 2010


Here's the opening of one of U2's concerts from "Bonocam" (a camera on his glasses) perspective. It features the mix he hears in his in-ear monitors.
posted by The Deej at 2:02 PM on March 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here's a second Bonocam clip.
posted by The Deej at 2:05 PM on March 21, 2010


It's exactly the same reason there are always speakers pointed back at a band or DJ - you need to be able to hear what you're doing, and the speakers for the crowd Aren't For You.
posted by flaterik at 10:05 PM on March 21, 2010


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