In Ear Monitors vs. Booth Monitors
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  1. #1
    Tech Wizard
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    Default In Ear Monitors vs. Booth Monitors

    Hey everyone,

    So lately I've been playing out more than normal and I can't help but notice that every club I play in, or every rave I play at (minus a few), I can never clearly make out my mixing through the booth monitors that they have in the club, ever. I'm used to mixing on my Studio Monitors (Mackie MR8's) at home, and when I go to the club to mix, it's like I can barely make out the melodies of the two tracks I'm mixing.

    I've always been told to never use my headphones soley to mix through, even though it seems to make more sense when you can't really clearly make out what's happening on the booth monitors.

    My question to you all is: Have any of you switched over the in ear monitors (the little earbud headphones that Laidback Luke uses) as your primary source of monitoring? If so, what is it like? Do you ever find yourself thinking that your mix sounds fine in your monitors but on the club PA it sounds just fine?

    All the veteran DJ's I've asked have said that you should never use these as you can have instances where you think you sound fine through your in ear monitors, but you actually sound terrible on the club PA, but then I see guys like Laidback Luke using them to mix with and having them in ear the entire time, while going to new venues daily and not knowing much about the acoustics of the room/setup of the sound system in the venue.

    What do you all think? Can in ear monitors be used as a primary monitoring source as opposed to relying on what are often very shitty booth monitors?

  2. #2
    Tech Mentor
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    Its all about keeping an eye on your levels. Dont ride the gain and watch the low end.

  3. #3
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    Default Is that a yes or a no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Janky View Post
    Its all about keeping an eye on your levels. Dont ride the gain and watch the low end.
    So is that a yes or a no to the original question? Is this feasible/a good idea?

  4. #4
    Tech Guru djproben's Avatar
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    In ears work fine; so do headphones. It's all about knowing what to listen for and watching the levels. I usually dont have booth monitors at all, so I've gotten used to mixing without them. Sometimes they can be deceptive; their timing is better since they're closer to your ears, but you'll get thrown off if the main sound comes in delayed. I've used both headphones and in-ears and prefer headphones since they can be taken off easily, but in ears will give you better isolation (and protect your ears more since you won't have to turn them up as loud).

    In a loud club a lot of sound will be hard to hear no matter what you do, and turning things up will just make it worse. Don't try to hear every nuance in your music; listen for specific percussion sounds since that's what is guiding your mixing anyway. I'm sure it's nice to mix from a booth with perfect monitors in a club that isn't so loud as to overwhelm it, but that's happened in fewer than 5% of my gigs if even that.
    "Art is what you can get away with." - Marshall McLuhan

  5. #5
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    You need to do a sound check so you know how things are going to work out and/or have a sound guy you trust. Then just don't over-drive your mixer, and it works. The biggest danger is that you might forget about EQ tweaks you've made if your headphone feed is pre-EQ.

    And it's only viable if you can monitor the master output.

  6. #6
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    Theres no right or wrong approach to this, its all about what works for you. personally, i wouldnt go near the in ear route...i think theres the chance of doing real damage to your ears imo...but ive never been a fan of in ear ear-goggles...i'll stick to my hd25's and monitors
    Traktor Scratch Pro 2.7, MBP 13", iPad 2 & TouchOSC, Reloop NEON, Pioneer DJM750mk2, Mackie d.2, Pioneer CDJ800 x2, Technics SL1210MK2 x2, NI Audio 6 DJ, Dicers,

  7. #7
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    That's why you shouldn't use studio monitors for mxing at home, it will just spoil you regarding the details you can hear in your mix

    BTT

    If possible, I use the monitors. But if the sound quality should be too bad I usually switch to using my headphones. The most important thing is that the mixer let's you monitor the master out through your headphones. I usually still use the monitors for beatmatching/cueing and only use the headphones to control the mix itself.
    Depending on how low your headphones in-ear can go (frequency wise) you might want to be a little more cautions with the low end and rather pre-emptively cut the bass a little more during transitions, as you might have clashing bass frequencies your headphones can't accurately show you.

  8. #8
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    I think I can give you some insight on this, I've been using Ultimate Ears 11's since I started DJing. I can't really praise them enough, it's hard to relate to anyone that just uses cans since they're custom molds. You can't just hand them to a friend that can pop them in to hear the difference. It's basically like wearing two reference monitors on your ears, while getting rid of about 26 dB.

    One thing is you have to get used to hearing the mix and the monitors at the same time, from the same source. I've heard of some people using panning to separate, but I don't find it taxing. They don't sound like headphones, they sound like you're in a room, with a speaker in it. Also, as it's a good idea to pop an ear out for a couple seconds to make sure your levels are normal, you'll be fine as long as you watch your levels.

    Anyone who tells you you can't balance the room correctly sounds like they're never actually engineered a board, since you can't even hear the actual room PA mix unless you're standing in fro. Literally, the physics of wave propagation make it impossible. And that effect can be achieved by whatever headphones as long as you leave the decks and stand out there on the floor in front of the PA's.

    So as far as giving your ears a rest and the best possible monitor quality, and preventing tinnitus, I'll praise in-ears til I'm blue in the face.

  9. #9
    Tech Wizard Bruiser Smith's Avatar
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    I never use booth monitors as in my experience they mix too much with the house system itself, unless I crank it to deafening levels. I have used in-ear monitors to mix in, but only in a pinch. At home, I mix with ATH-M50's (and also have a pair of KRK VXT-6's as well), but when I am out I use a pair of V-Moda Crossfade LP's that a friend bought me and pretty much leave them on. They're not great for reference cans, but for performing live they have excellent sound isolation around the ears which my AT's don't have, and emphasized bass which actually stands out and separates really well from the bass from the house system. It's funny but I didn't like them at all until I used them live - now I'm a big fan.

  10. #10
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    Alright, so basically what you're all saying is that:

    There's basically no difference when it comes to monitoring in good headphones (HD25 II's) vs In-Ear Monitors, it's more a matter of preference when preserving your hearing. That there's nothing special about having In-Ear Monitors vs Headphones when monitoring the master mix as your primary source when the booth monitors are too loud to hear from?

    Or am I wrong and is there something superior about in-ear monitors as opposed to high end headphones when using them as a primary source for mastering your mix?

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