I run sound for a smallish church. Normally 12-14 inputs are in use on our StudioLive 16.4.2 over the course of a service. We're currently using floor wedges and hot spots for the two monitor channels used by our music team, but would like to move to multi-channel IEMs for two reasons.
First, the music team is in the front corner of our auditorium and all the monitors bounce off the walls and act like an unwanted speaker in the space.
Second, the musicians would like more individual control over what they hear on their monitors.
The team varies week by week, but for instruments we have a piano, keyboard, cajon, acoustic guitar, and either a second acoustic or a bass guitar. Most of the musicians provide vocals, and we frequently have an additional 2 or 3 vocalists. I figured we need 8 IEMs to make sure we're covered.
I've been looking at a couple of IEM solutions, but they're both rather pricey. The top contenders as of today are AKG IVM4500 wireless IEM sets at around $1,250 (MSRP) each, or a wired dbx PMC16 system that runs about $1,400 (MSRP) per IEM.
The AKG wireless IEM provides more freedom of movement and portability, but virtually no ability to adjust individual vocal/instrument levels during the set. Between the 6 aux sends and the 4 subgroup outs on the StudioLive 16.4.2, I can create 8 individual mixes to send to each transmitter, which is far better than the 2 monitor channels we have now, but it can really only be set prior to the service.
The dbx solution has a wired tether, but gives each vocalist or musician the ability to mix their monitors as they wish. The PMC16 is a miniature 16 channel mixer that works over BLU link. I can daisy-chain Cat6 between each mixer mounted on the mic/music stand, and then to a dbx TRC1616 XLR-to-BLU converter under the deck. If I toss in an extra TRC1616, I can even use the Cat6 as a digital snake between my sound booth and the platform, giving me more I/O flexibility, too.
Still, either solution is rather expensive for my tastes, and I started looking into the HP60.The challenge there is that there's not the same level of individual monitor mix control that the other two solutions provide. After reading through the HP60 manual, I think I can come up with a workable solution for a lot less money using 3 HP60s in series.
Two mono subgroups on the StudioLive are vocals and instruments. I would run those into the mix inputs on the first HP60, then daisy-chain into the second HP60's mix inputs via one of the channel outputs, and likewise for the third. That would give me a total of 16 individual vocal/instrument inputs (5 channels on the first two HP60s, 6 on the third).
Musicians who both play and sing can get both their vocals and instrument by taking the stereo out from one channel into the next, and run the headphones on the second channel. Each musician would be able to control their personal mix, as well as the mix and volume of the Vocal/Instr subgroups using the 3 pan and volume controls.
I could either rack-mount all 3 HP60s in the same place, or distribute them across the platform so they're more easily accessible to the musicians.
What do you think? Would that work, or am I missing something? By my calculations, that would run about $220 per channel, including AKG IP2 IEMs.
Thanks for your input!
Thanks for your detailed description and for sharing your thoughts. I have the impression that you should first of all think of how to overcome the limits, that are in your system right now. If it comes to 8 musicians and singers, you need 16 mix outs/auxes, linked to stereo pairs. Musically seen only stereo makes sense. Mono works somehow, but it's no fun for the musicians and singers, because it does not stimulate their playing and singing. Therefore I would recommend buying a RM(L)16AI plus an AVB switch (MOTU) in order to set up an AVB network and use both (!) mixers independent.
This would make the six mix outs of your SL 1642AI available for other uses like recording or webstream, and the musicians and singers could mix their in-ear sound without any restrictions, because the RM32AI is the monitor mixer (and the digital stagebox). I would NOT buy a RM16AI, because it has only 8 mix outs and it does not add more channels. A RM32AI makes 16 more input channels available, which can be used for monitoring (tracks, click, communication on stage...) and as addtional mix for PA.
Hopefully this answer helps you to develop some new ideas. Another solution could be to wait for the new SL mixers and their "personal monitor systems", but it will take some time until this "ecosystem" will be complete. A solution with a RM32AI in a AVB network is available and working right now...
Since money is an issue (it always is but for some churches more than others) a solution with two (or 3 if you need controls in 3 locations) HP60s might do the trick. Do note that you may have to spend money on additional snakes as you will have to run most of the mixer's channels (from the mixer's DB25 outputs) back to the stage. And you need adapters to go from 2xTS to TRS for many of the HP60's inputs. And you need some patch cables to feed the mixer's aux mixes to more than one HP60.
Even with an RM(L)32 mixer (provided that you have the SL16.4.2AI mixer and not the classic 16.4.2 mixer) you will still need headphone amps to plug the earbuds in to. So the 2 or 3 HP60s solution may be the budget solution for your church, and if it doesn't 100% satisfy all wishes you will still use them in 'the next' solution.
Sorry, I haven't noticed the missing AI... My solution does not work with a SL Series I, as we say nowadays.
It is also my goal to save people's money, that's why I am thinking about solutions that are worth the investment. Headphone amplifiers like the HP60 are mighty tools and they work well, but can you imagine 8 musicians tweaking the physical knobs during a service, if they want to change some settings? This does not really work and many more cables on stage is also no fun. The goal should be mixing by QMix or UC Surface and not more than 1 cable per person (or wireless solutions for the singers)... It is not impossible. I made it work for a band of 8 singers and 4 musicians. Everybody got an individual in-ear stereo mix.
But you need enough mix outs (auxes), so the only product from PreSonus, that delivers that, is the RM(L)32AI. If it needs some splitters to get the signals to the two mixers, it is worth the money. There is no "cheap" solution, if you want a good result for the musicians.
Just my two Euro cents.
My band was also looking for an inexpensive IEM solution, and now use an HP-60 for that purpose.
This what I did:
1) The "Control Room" outputs from the SL16.4.2Ai go to "Input A" on the HP-60. We may use "Input B" for the click track someday.
2) AUX 1 through 4 outputs are routed to the corresponding "Stereo Ext. In" channel on the back of the HP-60. The AUX'es are set to "Pre2" in the system menu of the board. Especially for the vocals, they have a better idea of what is going to the mains. The "Post" setting would cause too many volume changes from mixing during the show. So, the lead singer has some of the main mix, then adjusts his vocal level (or any other channel) from his AUX channel via Q-Mix.
3) We needed 5 IEM's, but only had 4 AUX'es available. So I patched the "Stereo Out" on channel 3 into the "Stereo Ext. In" of channel 5 on the HP-60. The drummer and a guitarist had similar mixes, so it worked out, and each of them now have individual control of the AUX mix, CR, and overall volumes.
4) Everyone can use their iPhone with Q-Mix to fine tune their AUX mix without bothering the sound guy.
5) Return lines from the snake plug into the appropriate "Phones" channel to send it to the stage.
6) A line from the stage box goes to each mic stand, where your IEM plugs in. Since we don't dance around on stage, a tethered IEM works, and we don't have to worry about the cost or set-up of the wireless.
We use StudioOne 3 to run plug-ins (Waves ADT and Plate Reverb), which returns to the board on the "Digital Return" line. Again, everyone can individually adjust the "wettness" of their IEM by adjusting it in Q-Mix.
So there it is, a poor-man's version of IEM's.
SL16.4.2Ai, SL312Ai mains, SL18Ai sub, Yorkville M810 Powered Mixed, Lenovo W530 Laptop (i-7 4-core @ 2.7 GHz, 24 GB RAM, 7200 rpm hard drive, 2-nd SSD, Win7 Pro 64 bit), Linksys WRT54GS router, Studio One Pro 3.2, Presonus Fader Port, HP-60 headphone amp, Furman PL-Plus power strip, all in a rolling SKB 2-piece case with A/V shelf.
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