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About In-Ear Monitors

The selection of in-ear monitoring at the HiFi Cat runs the gamut. We carry everything from earpieces to transmitters, receivers, and accessories. If you’re looking for professional in-ear monitors, Kinera BD005 Pro 1DD+1BA Driver In-ear are a great place to start. These single-driver, lightweight in-ears connect to any 1/8-inch input, and they are surprisingly affordable. Advanced model recommendation: XENNS Mangird Top 8BA+1DD Hybrid IEM, this high-end model to defeat the moodrop. TANGZU WANER SG HIFI Music In-ear is the best recommendation for beginner audiophiles.


What are in-ear monitors, and how do they work?

In-ear monitors (also known as IEMs or in-ears) represent a special category of headphones commonly used by live performers. But while traditional headphones deliver sound through earcups on the outer ear, in-ears deliver sound through tiny earpieces that fit into the ear canal. Because the earpieces of in-ear monitors slide into the ear, they create a barrier to any outside noise, offering 20-40dB of noise reduction.

While most in-ear monitors are designed for a universal fit, some professionals choose to invest in custom-made in-ear monitors. A molded impression of the individual’s ear canal is used to create perfectly tailored in-ears, offering the greatest possible comfort. The idea for custom-fitted in-ear monitors is actually credited to drummer Alex Van Halen and his former monitor engineer, Jerry Harvey. On a 1995 Van Halen tour, Alex was having trouble hearing other band members amid the overwhelming stage noise. When he voiced his frustration to the band’s monitor engineer, Jerry began tinkering. Tiny speakers - designed originally for pacemakers - were installed into earpieces molded from impressions of Alex’s ears, and voilà: Alex had the first-ever pair of custom in-ear monitors. The difference, in the drummer’s words, was like “night and day.”


Learn more in our In-ear Monitor Buying Guide.

How can I choose the best in-ear monitors for my needs?

Every artist's needs are different, which means you have options when picking the best IEMs for your application. Whether you're a guitarist needing live sound monitoring or you're outfitting a church worship system, Sweetwater can help. Here are the main points to consider when shopping in-ear monitors:

Driver Count

High-end IEMs can pack as many as eight micro drivers into a single earpiece! More is better, right? But unless you are buying a top-of-the-line monitoring system, you may be wondering how many you need to get the results you want. In this respect, the drivers in your IEMs are analogous to the number of speakers in a pair of studio monitors. With standard single-driver in-ears, the burden of re-creating the entire frequency spectrum rests squarely on one driver. While there are some truly impressive single-driver models out there, the fact is that there’s only so much a single driver can do, resulting in a limited frequency range, usually noticeable in the output of low-end frequencies.