What Do Singers Wear In Their Ears During A Concert?

If you’ve been to a live performance before, then you’ve probably come across a certain device that singers or performers have placed in their ears.

It’s only curious to want to know what it is. In this post I’m going to discuss this and give you a general idea about these devices.

Live performances usually utilize different equipment due to its overall uniqueness. For example, dynamic mics are used instead of condensers; amplifiers are also used for instrumentation etc. There are obviously a lot of things I can discuss about this topic but let’s focus on the question at hand.

With that said, what do singers wear in their ears during a concert?

Singers wear an ear piece in their ears called an in-ear monitor. Its purpose is to allow the singer to hear whatever they want to hear such as backing tracks, Metronome, instrumentals etc. In-ear monitors also serve as ear protection for the singer and allows them to have a unique experience different from that of the audience.

People are basically different and perform differently therefore, in-ear monitors are not meant to serve one purpose for every singer out there.

With that said let’s get into the importance and use of in-ear monitors.

Ear protection

Live performances are different but one thing they have in common is that they can get pretty loud.

The performer can easily get distracted by all the live instrumentation being blared out through loudspeakers.

Therefore, in ear monitors usually serve as a way to shield the performer from the direct loud music coming from instruments through speakers.

This way, the singer can focus on delivering a grand performance without being distracted by instruments, noise or anything else.

It’s important to keep a level head in live performances because the singer needs to focus on doing their part.

Live performances are coordinated efforts, the people doing the instrumentation focus solely on that to do their part.

The singer also has to do their part without being overwhelmed by noise, instruments etc.

Backing tracks

Performing live is not easy. It takes a certain level of skill as well as a good amount of practice.

However, even with lots of practice, some songs can just be too complex to perform without getting some sort of guide.

Therefore, in-ear monitors are sometimes fed with backing tracks that serve as the singer’s guide to follow while performing.

When performing, the mix engineer will usually prepare a mix that excludes the main vocals but has the backing vocals.

This is the mix that is usually sent to in-ear monitors as a guide for their performance.

Metronome

Some times, mix engineers won’t necessarily send a backing track mix to in-ear monitors.

A simple Metronome can be used instead. This is usually the case for performances that include back up singers that back the singer or performer.

To ensure that everyone stays on tempo and no one deviates, the main performer and other key musicians may be provided with in ear monitors that play a synchornized Metronome.

This way, everyone can do their part taking into account the tempo as provided by the Metronome.

Instrumentals

Not all performances will be made up of live instrumentalists and the like.

Some performances are simply lip syncing performances where the singer will simply have the song being played and all they have to do is sing along to it.

In ear monitors can be helpful in such situations as well.

They can ofcourse shield the singer from the loud music blaring all over the stage and they can also play the instrumental of the song being performed so they can have sort of a guided mix in the process of performing, ensuring that the singer is set.

Final Thoughts

Live performances are important in any singers career. Unlike studio recordings, live performances are a lot different which is why they have to be rehearsed.

Rehearsal helps the singer nail the performances by practicing how to perform with a band as well as practicing how to perform for an audience.

Live performances are usually characterized by the use of live instruments as well as other unique devices to aid the process.

One of these unique devices is what is called  in-ear monitors.

They act as a specialised headsets that shield the singer from loud distractions.

Audio is usually run through these monitors to ensure that the singer has a guided mix to follow while performing.

Sometimes the in-ear monitors will simply have a Metronome which could be a rimshot or hihat playing on time with the tempo.