Volume Wars

Ending the Volume Wars: 5 Reasons for In-Ear Monitors

On-stage volume wars can get ugly fast. Fortunately, in-ear monitoring is here to help keep the peace while improving your drumming performance.

Are blaring wedge monitors causing conflict during your band’s live show? There’s little a sound engineer can do when a vocalist finds herself lost in the mix and a guitarist keeps turning up his amp.

Even the acoustic nature of drumming can’t protect percussionists from becoming a casualty in the battle for sonic supremacy. Thankfully, there’s another way to ensure you can hear yourself and the rest of the band while performing.

Brann Dailor, drummer for US metal veterans Mastodon, explains the benefits of swapping floor wedges for in-ear monitors (IEMs). “For me, it’s been tremendously better,” Dailor says. “There's just so much clarity in my mix now, and I can control exactly what I hear – make it sound just like the record if I want.”



IEMs give you complete mastery over what you want to hear on stage. No longer will you have to fight to hear a guitar part over your loud, washy cymbals – or, even worse, be forced to play quieter. Being able to hear better means you can play better, too. And that’s just more fun for everyone.


In-ear monitoring allows you to have the same setup every night – no matter what venue you’re playing. So your sound engineer won’t have to adjust to new a monitoring situation at each show, allowing both you and your fans to enjoy a more consistent performance.


What’s that you say? Chronic exposure to the high sound pressure levels of wedges can damage your ears permanently. IEMs allow for live monitoring at safe levels. It’s by far the healthier option for your hearing.


In-ear monitors provide unbeatable isolation and much better control of your mix. You’ll still rely on the monitor engineer for fine adjustments, but you can adjust the volume using the knob on your bodypack. Plus, you can choose different mixes yourself, for example, you might want vocals and guitar in the left ear, and drums and bass in the right. That’s right, unlike standard wedge setups, IEMs offer audio in stereo.


If you play the drums, then you’re no stranger to schlepping gear. Yet a complete in-ear system fits in a briefcase. Ditch the bulky monitor wedges and you’ll have more space for other stuff in the tour van – like that giant Led Zeppelin-style gong you always wanted.

Words: LOUDER magazine
Images: Shure