headphone splitter and In ear monitors/earbuds questions

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by MC208, May 31, 2018.

  1. MC208

    MC208 Active Member

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    I'm shooting some music instructional videos in a residential home basement. Due to problems with mic bleed, I've convinced the subject to wear headphones for listening to himself, and his assistant musician during the shoot as opposed to speakers.

    I have an Allen & Heath ZED10FX mixer. (guitar and piano are recorded direct, not mic'd) Since I need to get headphones for two people, I plan to connect the headphones output of the mixer to this unit I found on Amazon:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000KIPT30/?tag=r06fa-20

    Will that work ok so they can both hear what's being recorded?

    Also while agreeing to wear headphones, he doesn't want the "can" kind. He wants to wear some less conspicuous earbud style. So I started looking around and found something called in ear monitors, or IEMs. For example:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07921DBPK/?tag=r06fa-20

    Will something like these work? Keep in mind it's not a stage performance with an audience, just a quiet basement, and he needs to hear himself (guitar) and the assistant (digital piano)

    Thanks (again) for any advice/suggestions.
     
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Hey there, that headphone amp should suit your purpose just fine.

    As far as iems, Shure makes some that may be worth checking out. They seem pretty popular with live bands, and have various price points.
     
  3. MC208

    MC208 Active Member

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    I came across that in one of the reviews, guy said he liked these better than the Shure:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/RT45UB9MU7/?tag=r06fa-20

    I guess something like this gets pretty subjective. But I would definitely want some that don't color the sound from what's actually being output from the mixer, i.e. what's getting recorded.
     
  4. MC208

    MC208 Active Member

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  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    I haven’t heard of either brand you linked. Subjective audio fidelity aside, when you go with a well known pro audio manufacturer, you get a certain level of manufacturing quality, and the company reputation. What you hear or can’t hear is integral to getting a good performance and running a smooth production. As far as budget I’d expect $100 to be the starting point for a set of iems. Good ones around 350-500, and custom molded around 5-600$. That’s the general price spectrum.
     
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I own and use the MEE M6 Pro. I prefer them to the Shure SE215s and they cost about half as much. If you find the right tips that give you a good seal they are quite good.
     
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  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    To add a bit to that, now that I have a little more time...

    A couple years ago I was buying 10-15 sets of earbuds for a church IEM project when I got a pair of the M6 Pros on the recommendation of a trusted sales rep. He could have sold me the Shures, but recommended the M6 Pros, which he felt were better earbuds at half the price (taking money out of his own pocket). This salesman has never steered me wrong, so I ordered an extra set for myself to evaluate and I was anxious to try them. When they arrived I was impressed with the appearance, the semi-rigid zippered pouch, and the extra cable for phone use. I put them in and found them to be very comfortable and really liked the way the fit around the ear. I pushed Play on some tried and true soundcheck music and was totally underwhelmed. The sound was really midrangey and anemic sounding. Disappointed, I set them aside until I could reset and try them again. I put them in again late that night and found the same squonky sonic quality. They were very comfortable and seemed like a good fit, but I thought I should try a different size of the assorted tips that come with them before I opened another pair to see if I got a bad one. Stepping up just one size in the silicone tips made all the difference in the world. There it was!! They were still very comfortable, but with the improved seal in the ear canal it really introduced the low end they needed to balance out. Now they had real solid bass and exceptional clarity - so lesson learned. It's all about getting a good seal. The report I got back from the church that got that first batch of M6 Pros has been all good. Everyone has been able to find a comfortable fit and full fidelity. The M6 Pros are all I've recommended since.

    I have a $400+ pair of Alien Ear 3-way custom moulded IEMs which are extremely detailed, like little reference monitors. I'm happy to report the $50 M6 Pros are not as good as the $400 Alien Ears, but they are not so far off to warrant most people spending the extra money. The AE being custom moulded is extremely beneficial in some scenarios. Not only does it help to control how the music translates in your ear, but it also blocks out the outside sounds almost completely. The MEE earbuds give me a very respectable sound quality with a reasonable degree of isolation.
     
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  8. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I use Shure 215s, so I have ordered a pair of these M6 ones too try - cheers for the recommendation - I ordered the mk1 versions because the mk2 in clear isn't available at the moment, so the price is even better.
     
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  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy mine, Paul.

    Personally, I'd give them an edge over the Shures in performance, so I'll be anxious to hear if you have the same experience with them. I haven't heard anything better anywhere near that pricepoint.
     
  10. MC208

    MC208 Active Member

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    Thanks for all that info dvdhawk, now I feel good about purchasing them, and thanks for letting me know about trying the different tips. Looking forward to receiving my pair :)
     
  11. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    They arrived today - so I tried them alongside my SE215s - I have one pair on ordinary expanding foam pad, which expand too fit your ear, and another pair with proper moulds. They came with some expanding foam inserts so I used these one. There are differences, but they're much cheaper, by a long way, and do not sound worse - just a little different.

    The cable and connectors are nice and solid and two cables are included, plus lots of the soft plastic adaptors for your ears in small to large sizes - the type with three flanges in a cone shape.

    They are more bassy, and little harsher in the male voice top end/girl voice mid range area. Not unpleasant, but more tiring if you turn the level up. The bass is louder, but still quite accurate. I have trouble pitching with fretless, and now double bass on some headphones, and these don't make it worse. Overall, I like them nearly as much as the Shures - so at worst case, I have a nice sounding spare - but I have a couple of IEM shows this week, and one will be too loud, because the stage is too small, and we'll be squashed in a bit - so I'll wear them for the two shows and report back on how they did.

    The ear bend reinforcement is nice and solid, so they'll be secure with the cable sliding sleeve to put at the back of your head. For the money these are really nice.
     
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  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Great info on this thread guys, Thanks!
     
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    A good and thorough assessment, Paul. I'll look forward to Part II.
     
  14. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Interim report - show one. Sound check. Bass response that was better was too much once I turned them up. The bass was 'strange' - it was not what my bass usually sounds like - X32, P16 monitors, input DI'd from socket on amp. Did the first 45, and in a couple of songs, I got lost - not sure what note my fingers were fretting and unable to look down as I was singing. Swapped back to the SE215s and normal playing again - I could hear the difference between finger and finger nail, and pitch was fine.

    I will give them one more try tomorrow at a different location - same show, different venue. If I get a chance I'll try eq, but my brief tweaking at soundcheck seemed to be no bass, or lots of bass and not much in between.
     
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  15. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I've never used them at anything I would call high volume. I do prefer the silicone tips to the foam. I wonder if the foam makes any difference in consistency over a range of volume. I'll look forward to the next update. Thanks, Paul!
     
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  16. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    The good news is the actual headphones are fine - you just need to change things a little. I did a second show this weekend and the shape and size of the venue, and very 'quaint' layout meant the audience were not too deep, but quite wide, and behind the audience, a wall that reflected sound right back. I got my bass amp out of the flightcase, connected it, and immediately had to turn the master down by 3 notches from the settings the previous show. We had a lot of spare time after sound check, so I was able to try at length.

    First thing is the enhanced bass response of the headphones, compared to the SE215. On m,y Behringer P16, this mean the bottom end needed near on 90 degrees of turn on the knob to restore 'normal' (for me) tone and response. The expanding foam pads, a black/grey colour do not keep the sound out as well as the light grey ones on the SE215. I have an old spare pair of the 215s with a damaged cable, so even though the tube on the new M6's is larger (hence better bass?) I managed to squeeze the M6 into the 215 expanding foam, and it sealed so much better reducing the room sound to the same level I was used to on the 215s. While fiddling, I did try the 'tree' shaped soft seals. They stay in is the best I can manage - audio reduction is hardly noticeable at all - you can have a conversation with them in - you find that difficult on the M6 expandable foam ones, and impossible on the 215 expanding foam.

    With the adjustment to the bass fed to them, and with the better seals, the M6's are a good product. They do distort earlier than the 215s, but that's only an issue because the seals are poorer. Once I stopped the leakage, they didn't need to be turned up so loud. This roughness when driven hard is the only real thing to remember. For our band - layout means that in some venues, I have the guitarist's musicman right behind me, and the drums only a little way away - so I've even been known to play with my left 215 in, even when I have a wedge - festivals being always a problem for us with a heavy metal sound man who I don't trust to mix my IEMs on our vocal harmony stuff - I'll use a wedge because I can always move closer or further from it and hear the stage sound. Having my left ear blocked gives me protection, even if the plug just dangles.


    I have some proper moulds for a pair of the 215s these are by far the best for sealing and comfort, the Shure expanding foam seal comes 2nd, the M6 foam 3rd and the latex style tree shapes are just ways to keep them in your ear - offering minimal sound reduction from stage noise.

    The Shure SE215s have a balanced sound - eq settings when plugged into iTunes are neutral - no need for any real eq changes.
    The M6 has enhanced bass response and a little extra something I cannot quite identify in the mid-range that makes them just a tad harsher - but perfectly usable
    The M6 ear wires to keep them over your ears are stiffer and less receptive to gentle bending, so if they pop of the top of your ear, trying one handed to pop them back over can pull the thing out of your ear canal. The Shure wires are just a little more bendable.

    I'm going to order a replacement cable for the spare SE215, and the cable is close to the price of the entire M6 package!

    My conclusion is that if you have the money - the Shures at their higher price are good value for that money, but the M6 price point and small sound differences makes them a serious contender - especially if you need to buy multiple pairs. The only caveat would be that your monitor feeds need to have some kind of EQ available - I would not wish to split an output to a 215 and an M6 user - this would be a compromise too far. I suspect they've been design to have the old fashioned smiley face eq curve, which would make their sound more understandable - whereas the Shures are just 'flatter'?

    Am I going to replace the M6 in my bass case when the new cable appears? No! I'm quite happy to continue using these now I know how to just tame them a bit and improve the isolation.
     
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  17. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I'm impressed with the thorough analysis, as opposed to the knee-jerk response we see so often these days!

    99.9% of the clientele that I'm recommending them to are church bands, which means the drummer is either on electronic drums or in a plexiglass box and often the rest of the band runs mostly direct. Stage volume is usually quite low by design so we don't really bump up against the loudness issues you point out.

    Again, well done. I appreciate the effort you put into thoroughly testing them and reporting back.
     
  18. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I've been bitten a couple of times by people recommending products and often, I suspect, just rewording other people's opinions, so I kind of made it a rule to help if I can, and just report on what I see and hear for myself.
     
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