Dan Wilt lists the basics for in-ears use.
It’s going to take time to get used to using IEMs, so decide now that, because you can’t go back, you’re going to keep getting better at using them. There are things to learn about how to wear them, how to keep the relational environment that is worship intact as you do, and how to create a monitor mix that works for you and the overall sound.
1. Wear Them Correctly, And “Relationally.”
Take the time to learn how to wrap your IEMs around your ear, and insert them correctly so they stay well. If this hasn’t happened, you won’t hear well. Put cables down the back of your shirt, or at least around your back. The more obvious it is you are wearing headphones, the more clearly you send a message of disconnection (think of a teenager with their headphones in at a family gathering). Be as inobtrusive as possible. (For drummers, especially behind a shield, sometimes using isolating headphone with bigger ear muffs is not so bad. Heck, everyone knows you’re already isolated! But avoid that for the bass player, and everyone else.[Remember – everything messages on a stage. Like a music stand raised high and between us and the community messages some level of disconnection, so too constant fiddling with our tech can message the same.]
2. Give Yourself Time To Get Used To Them.
Wear them around the house, and use them with your iPhone or Android. When possible, come in early to practice and fiddle with your mix based on some of the ideas here. Over time, using your in-ears will become easy.
3. Take A Few Minutes Before Rehearsal To Set Up Your Mix Correctly.
Take the time during sound check to set up your mix properly. Ask questions if you’re having difficulty. If you get them right from the outset, you’ll have less tweaking and fussing to contend with as you go, and your part in the music will sound better. It’s exactly like getting the gain-structure right as a sound engineer – if you don’t take the time to do it properly, you’ll be fighting the sound for the rest of the morning.
4. Start With The Master Volume Low And Work Up.
Your ears are sensitive, so care for them from the gate. Start with your master volume low, then work up until it’s feeling clear. Then, work with each individual instrument to get only the level you need. This goes with the next one.