Collection: In-ear Monitors

What are in-ear monitors?

In-ear monitors (IEMs) were originally developed for musicians and performers to be able to hear themselves on stage without having to rely on traditional stage monitor speakers. Because the needs of a performer are a little different than the average consumer listening to their tunes, in-ear monitors have some specific features and design choices to be aware of.

In short, IEMs must do these things:

  1. Block outside sound well, using passive acoustic isolation.
  2. Provide excellent clarity in the frequency region(s) of interest to the performer (e.g. the vocal range).
  3. Provide relatively high sound pressure levels with minimal distortion.
  4. Stay put, even if the performer is moving around a lot.
  5. Remain comfortable for long performances, with weight kept to a minimum.
  6. Add no noticeable latency.

Given these needs, it’s not surprising that in-ear monitors tend toward very specific design choices, and are defined by features like these:

  1. A nozzle that pipes sound into the ear canal rather than an earbud that sits outside (think AirPods).
  2. Memory foam ear tips, or specialized silicone tips built for isolation.
  3. Custom molding, or a chassis shape that fits well in the concha.
  4. An ear-hook or over-the-ear loop design to prevent accidental pulling and movement.
  5. A physical, wired connection (rather than Bluetooth).