Best In-Ear Monitors for On-Stage Performance

AUDIOFLY AF 180 In-Ear Monitor Stone Blue

One of the most fun, invigorating, creative experiences in on-stage performance. Playing music to a crowd, big or small, is always an absolute blast. Speaking as a professional musician myself, believe me when I say in-ear monitors make the entire experience that much more delightful.

Especially in regard to vocalists, such as myself, who actually have to use their body to create the sounds, it is essential to be able to hear yourself loud and clear. Otherwise strain on the vocal chords can happen from pushing too hard, or the entire performance can be more challenging if other members can’t hear what’s being played.

We are going to take a look at the very best in the in-ear monitor game, so you can get yourself a great set that will allow you to hear yourself and have a great performance every time.

 
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Sennheiser IE 800 Audiophile
 

Sennheiser IE 800 Audiophile

  • Features:  
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  •  – Includes scratch resistant ceramic housing
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  •  – Includes Sennheiser’s proprietary extra wide band driver
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  •  – State of the art dampened two chamber absorbers
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Shure PSM 300
Shure PSM 300
  • Features:  
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  •  – Customizable two channel mix
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  •  – Dependable hardware and technology
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  •  – 24-bit digital audio processing
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AUDIOFLY AF 180 In-Ear Monitor Stone Blue
Audio-Technica ATH-E70
  • Features:  
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  •  – 3 balanced armature drivers
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  •  – Provides accurate and extended response across most large stages
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  •  – Specially designed housing for maximum isolation
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Audio-Technica ATH-E70
Audiofly AF180
  • Features:  
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  •  – Detail-oriented with perfect balance between frequencies
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  •  – Four high resolution armature drivers
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  •  – Precision tuned 3-way crossover
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Mackie MP-240
Mackie MP-240
  • Features:  
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  •  – Dual hybrid driver allows for a balanced frequency level
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  •  – Ergonomic design provides excellent noise isolation
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  •  – Braided cable is durable and can be detached for easy storage
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 – Includes three different types of ear tips to fit any size ears

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The Top 5 In-Ear Monitors for On-Stage Performance

Sennheiser is one of the top brands in the music gear business. The sleek, compact design doesn’t sell these in-ear monitors short. They provide crisp, clear sound like it was meant to be heard. Arguably the best sounding set of in-ear monitors on the market. Everything comes through crystal clear in a way that is very hard to compete with. Provides a comfortable fit with foam tips that form to your ear and will stay put through the performance. ​

Okay, this is considered to me the mac-daddy of all in-ear monitor setups. Sennheiser is not only one of the most trusted names in the brand when it comes to music gear (which absolutely includes me), but they have meticulously created a set of in-ears that are crystal clear. They may be the most expensive choice on our list of products, but they are absolutely an item in which you get what you pay for.

The setup of the Audiophile has been designed to effectively block out the other sounds around you. Especially when it comes to playing, there will be a lot of exterior noise that can creep in while you’re playing. Front of house sound can penetrate your in-ear monitor output, and the bigger the crowd the louder they will be. And that’s awesome! But we want you to be set up so that you can hear everything clear as day while you’re playing.

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Includes sound isolating headphones that block out exterior noise so you can hear your levels clearly.

Very simple to operate and easy to setup. One-touch frequency scan and seek will easily connect with the wireless pack so you’ll be ready to play in no time at all.

Includes rack mount and hardware kits to keep everything organized and install the receiver in your rack.

The Shure PSM 300 happens to be the setup that I personally use, and it is an excellent choice. When you’re new to the in-ear monitor game and you want to find that great choice without totally breaking the bank, the PSM 300 may be the right choice for you. From beginners to seasoned pros, Shure has developed an in-ear monitor system that gives plenty of musicians a great experience when it comes to the gig itself. With a super simple setup and play process, the PSM 300 has a lot of really great qualities.

The only downside is the wireless pack that your in-ears connects to has the propensity to quickly drain the batteries. But as long as you remember to switch them before each show, you shouldn’t have a problem. That’s pretty common with most of the wireless packs out there, this one just happens to suck the life out quicker. So, having rechargeables is always a great option, or having extra AA’s will be a necessity.

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Includes flexible cable loops so you can personalize the fit every time you use the monitors. The fit will always be comfortable while the buds stay comfortably in your ears.

The housing was designed specially to isolate the noise so you can hear the music perfectly whenever you perform.

Was manufactured to be very durable, so the monitors will last and stay in good shape for years to come.

Audio-Technica is another behemoth in the music gear world. They have tons of great products that give plenty of musicians exactly what they need to have great performances. Same goes for their in-ear monitor setup, they have the ATH-E70 and it is a great option for in-ear monitors. These do a pretty good job of blocking out the exterior sound while providing an option that’s not going to break the bank. They will also last for years to come because Audio-Technica took the time to manufacture a set that is durable.

The sound quality that comes through is crystal clear and, once you have your levels set right, will provide an experience that will have you wanting to play more shows right away. Because that’s part of the fun. Being able to hear yourself clearly so you have a great show, everyone has fun, and at the end of the night there is a lot of positive feedback. These in-ear monitors also have the flexible memory cable loops so they stay in place every time you use them.

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Comes with both foam and silicon tips of varying sizes to get a perfect, tight, comfortable fit in your ear so the ear buds don’t fall out while you’re performing.

Durable design so the in-ear monitors will last for a long time and won’t break.

Includes hybrid speaker design for warmth and clarity, drivers have also been customized for great aural detail.

Audiofly is a company that launched their first set of headphones back in 2011. Since then, they have strived to create a brand that serves the utmost clarity in music. Every manufacturer of in-ear monitors wants to give their customers just that, clarity. Without being able to hear what you’re playing, it can create an exceedingly frustrating situation. We don’t want that. I’ve been there, and it’s no fun. Audiofly may be newer to the game, but they definitely have a passion for creating legitimate products and the AF180 does just that.

With unique tip options that will keep the buds in your ears while you’re playing, the AF180 has foam and silicon tips that are a little different than the competition. The shaping and size of each tip gives you multiple options so that you can find the perfect fit for you. One of the more important aspects of in-ears is making sure they stay put. Because if you’re anything like me, you’re moving around a lot. Being a physical performer is great, so having the right tips for your in-ears is essential.

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Coated, braided cable provides extra durability for the chord so it lasts and withstand damage.

Includes a detachable MMCX connector that swivels for increased comfort and durability.

Can be utilized for both on-stage performances and live situations outside of playing gigs.

Although Mackie may not be the first choice of a lot of musicians, they still provide an excellent product that can provide exactly what you need when performing on stage. The MP-240 in-ear monitors are a great, affordable option that you can depend on. They also include a protected cable that comes with a durable coating to prevent any breakage. It also provides uniqueness with a detachable MMCX connector that can be adjusted for additional comfort and stability when they’re in your ears.

The MP-240 is such a great option for the price, too, because not only do they provide magnificent sound quality, but the price is unbeatable for these in-ear monitors. There has been a lot of great feedback about this specific model in regard to the sound quality and the price. Some options totally break the bank because of how expensive they are. And they’re great options, but when you’re first starting out or if you’re short on cash, these are an amazing option that will give you what you need.

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Buyer’s Guide for Choosing the Best In-Ear Monitors

Pay attention to these four components when choosing your in-ear monitors for performance:

Pricing

We always want you to get the best deal while not sacrificing sound quality. So, pay attention to the pricing of each option. The most expensive option is indeed the best, and although they do cost a pretty penny, they are worth the price. That’s not to say that our other options aren’t excellent, but the Audiophile is top of the line.

Sound Quality

Be sure to check some other reviews out there in the world of the internet. Plenty of other musicians have used these IEM options before and have weighed in with their opinions. Try to determine the sound quality that’s right for you, each option is a little different.

Battery Life

Each in-ear monitor will have a pack that goes with it to wirelessly receive the signal and send it to your ears. There’s nothing more frustrating than being caught in the middle of a show and having your batteries die, so check out how long they will last for any of the options included.

Durability

If you’re touring around all the time, you want to have in-ear’s that are going to last. Having an option that was constructed with durable materials is going to give you a product that will last for years to come. Check out which option has the strength to withstand your performances and travels as you’re out there kicking butt on tour!

Frequently Asked Questions

Will all of these options fit the same as each other in my ears?

No, but each option comes with multiple tips so you can typically find a fit that will be right for your own ears.

Is there a specific brand that musicians rely on more than others?

Sennheiser and Shure are the two brands on our list that musicians rely upon most, Audio-Technica is a close third. The other brands are also great, they’re just newer to the world of music gear.

If I have custom moulds made for my ears, are they compatible with these in-ear monitor options?

Yes, most monitors can easily detach the tips that they come with to be replaced by custom moulds. It’s a good idea to check with the manufacturer, but most have a universal attachment.

Conclusion

In-ear monitors make playing music on stage even better and more fun than it already is. In this day and age, they are essential to a great performance. They allow you to hear everything that’s being played, you can set your very own levels, and you can give yourself the perfect mix so you hear everything exactly as you want.

The Sennheiser IE 800 audiophile is truly the option that is separate from the rest, but they come with a price. If you have the dough and want to set yourself up with the best in-ear monitors, go with the Sennheiser IE 800. Shure makes an option that definitely comes in second, and the rest of the options are great, but Sennheiser managed to successfully create an in-ear monitor that should be named the best. Happy playing!

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