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If you find yourself performing to bigger and bigger crowds as a singer, chances are, you’re starting to have some trouble hearing yourself on stage.
Floor monitors are helpful in a variety of venues and contexts, but sometimes you need a little more. That’s where in-ear monitors come in.
In-ear monitors are also a must-have in some performance situations or environments, where all the musicians need to be locked into a click track, a video, or otherwise.
In this guide, we’ll look at the best in ear monitors for singers. Take your pick! These are all great options depending on your budget and the functionality you need.
Top Choice: Sony IER-M9 In-Ear Monitor Headphones
Kicking off the list are these otherwise normal looking Sony IER-M9 in-ear monitors. If you're looking for the best in ear monitors as a singer, this is what you'll want to get.
These are super high-quality in-ear monitors that come with five Sony-designed Balanced Armature (BA) driver units, magnesium alloy diaphragm super tweeter, magnesium alloy outer housing, and preformed ear hanger.
The package comes with triple comfort ear buds, hybrid silicone ear buds, clip carrying case, cable holder, cleaning cloth, and cable clip.
A carrying case certainly seems par for the course if you don’t want your expensive monitors breaking on you.
Most buyers were simply stunned at the sound quality these monitors offered. Some said they did not fit great, and they were in the minority. But fit is an important consideration when it comes to in-ear monitors, and we'll talk more about that later.
Item weight: 1 lbs.
Package dimensions: 8.75 x 3.5 x 6.53 inches
Audio Technica ATH-IM04 SonicPro Balanced In-Ear Monitor Headphones
Audio Technica is another known name when it comes to sound equipment (especially microphones), and here we have the ATH-IM04 SonicPro balanced in-ear monitors.
These babies come with tuning circuitry in the quad balanced armature drivers, detachable cables with formable wire, case, silicone earpieces and foam earpieces.
Based on the number of drivers alone, you can tell that these aren’t quite in the same ballpark as the Sony monitors mentioned above. That said, four drivers is still a lot, and these ear fillers cost quite a bit less than the Sony monitors.
Plus, they still come with BA drivers, which are generally considered superior to dynamic drivers.
Many customers were quite happy with the ATH-IM04, noting their excellent sound.
Others said they weren’t crazy about the sound, and expressed they couldn’t hear highs as clearly as they would have liked.
Item weight: 7 ounces
Package dimensions: 8 x 3 x 4 inches
Moondrop S8 8BA IEM Bass HiFi In Ear Monitor Earphone
The Moondrop S8 8BA IEM monitors come with eight driver crossover architecture, customized midrange driver for “MOONDROP” style midrange tuning, and 6N OCC internal wiring.
Buyers unanimously loved the sound of the flagship Moondrop monitors, which are simple and stylish in design.
Item weight: Unknown
Package dimensions: Unknown
Sennheiser Pro Audio In-Ear Audio Monitor, IE 500 Pro
Sennheiser is another brand that doesn’t need much of an introduction (mostly because of their microphones), and here we have the Sennheiser Pro Audio IE 500 Pro monitors, which offer a linear frequency response.
You also get a detachable twisted cable with reinforced ear hook and break-proof ducting, a durable and ergonomic design, and silicone and memory foam ear tips in all sizes.
Overall, users loved the clarity and balance of these in-ear monitors. Some discerning buyers said the onboard drivers weren’t as good as BA drivers, which may well be the case. But BA drivers also cost considerably more.
Item weight: 11.5 ounces
Package dimensions: 8.7 x 5 x 2.4 inches
Fearless Audio 8BA Knowles Sonion Drivers HiFi In-Ear Earphones Monitor (S8 Freedom)
The Fearless Audio 8BA in-ear monitors come with BA drivers with four-way crossover technology and three sound tubes.
The monitors come with 113db/mW sensitivity, 26 Ω impedance, and a 15HZ – 20KHZ frequency response.
We couldn’t find any unhappy customers for the Fearless Audio monitors, who loved the detail and quality of the sound, and even said they were the best bang for buck.
Item weight: 3.52 ounces
Package dimensions: Unknown
Sony IER-M7 In-Ear Monitor Headphones
The Sony IER-M7 are styled much like the IER-M9s are, and overall, are quite comparable too. The main difference, not surprisingly, is in the number of drivers onboard.
So, with these ear fillers you get four BA drivers, magnesium alloy housing, audio grade film capacitor, 4.4mm standard balanced connection cable, silver-coasted oxygen-free cables, ear buds, carrying cases, cable holder, cleaning cloth, and cable clip.
Some said these in-ear monitors were comparable to the IER-M9s, despite being considerably cheaper. Some didn’t think they were worth the asking price though.
Item weight: 2.23 lbs.
Package dimensions: 8.75 x 3.5 x 6.63 inches
Westone AM Pro 30 Triple-Driver Universal-Fit In-Ear Musicians’ Monitors With SLED Technology
The Westone AM Pro 30 triple-driver in-ear monitors come with triple balanced armature drivers with three-way crossover, ambient SLED technology, a compact ergonomic design, and a twisted MMCX cable.
In terms of technical specs, you get 123 dB @ 1mW sensitivity, 20Hz – 18kHz frequency response, and an impedance of 57 ohms @ 1kHz.
The package includes the in-ear monitors, twisted cable, STAR silicone ear tips, TRUE-FIT comfort foam ear tips, impact-resistant monitor vault, cleaning tool, and a two-year warranty.
Most customers were satisfied with these in-ear monitors, and some even thought they were especially great for singers.
Others thought they weren’t worth the price tag, and some said the bass wasn’t quite what they’d hoped for either.
Item weight: 0.7 ounces
Package dimensions: 8 x 9 x 5 inches
Moondrop KXXS Flagship Edition Diamond-Like-Carbon Dynamic In-Ear Earphone With Detachable Cable
Now we’re starting to get into a more affordable range of product. If you’re looking for the best, most high-quality in-ear monitors, then look above. Otherwise, continue, as there are some great products at great price points, including this one.
The Moondrop KXXS in-ear earphone comes with a detachable cable, virtual diffusion sound field, and diamond-like diaphragm dynamic with airflow equalization control inner cavity.
Many buyers loved this product, noting its sound quality and fit.
Some said the treble was a bit much with unusable low-mids and muddy bass.
Item weight: 13.3 ounces
Package dimensions: 7.76 x 7.48 x 1.65 inches
Westone UM Pro 10 3.5mm Jack Noise Cancelling Wired In-Ear Headphones
The Westone UM Pro 10 in-ear headphones come with a single balanced-armature driver, silicone and comfort foam ear tips, a MMCX twisted audio cable, impact-resistant monitor vault, and a cleaning tool.
These babies feature 114 db @ 1mW sensitivity, 20Hz – 16kHz frequency response, and 19 ohms @ 1kHz impedance.
Most buyers thought these were great value.
Others had issues ranging from lack of durability to bad fit. Fit is individual, however, and we’ll talk more about that a little later. But it is important.
Item weight: 0.7 ounces
Package dimensions: 53 x 1 x 1 inches
Sennheiser IE 40 PRO, Molded In Ear Dynamic Monitors
The Sennheiser IE 40 PRO in ear monitors come with a 10mm broadband transducer, ergonomic ear mold design, replaceable cable, internal cable duct, and reinforced ear hook.
These are incredibly simple in design and functionality, and are even quite cheap, but depending on what you’re looking for, could prove perfect for your needs.
Some thought these monitors were the best product available in the price range, but many others didn’t like different aspects of the product, be it frequency response or fit.
So, users are a little split on this one, but we think it's still a good option to consider in its price range.
Item weight: 4.8 ounces
Package dimensions: 8.9 x 5.3 x 0.01 inches
BASN Bmaster In Ear Monitor Headphones For Musicians, Hybrid Triple Drivers Dynamic Earbuds
The BASN Bmaster in ear monitors could prove a fun choice for kids or people with a personality, as they come in blue, pink, red, white, yellow, and olive. And we think they don’t look half bad in any color.
These babies come with two dynamic and one balanced armature drivers, active noise canceling, HiFi stereo sound, ergonomic design, detachable cable design, and a 12-month warranty.
Included in the package are the earbuds, memory foam ear tips, silicone ear tips, adjustable inline mic cable, silver-plated audio cable, a 6.35mm plug, instructions, carrying case, and cleaning tool.
Item weight: 8.8 ounces
Package dimensions: 6.5 x 4.92 x 1.89 inches
Shure SE215-K Professional Sound Isolating Earphones
Shure is certainly best known for their microphone products, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make other quality products.
The SE215-K professional sound isolating earphones could be just the ticket if you’re looking for an affordable pair that will deliver on your simple monitoring needs.
In addition to the pictured black, these are also available in blue and clear designs.
These road-tested in-ear monitors come with sound isolating sleeves, durable reinforced cable, gold plated MMCX connector, fit kit (flex and black foam sleeves), and a compact carrying case.
Many reviewers liked what they got for the price. Some said the quality or design wasn’t quite their cup of tea though.
Item weight: 4.6 ounces
Package dimensions: 3 x 7 x 2 inches
KZ AS10 Earbuds Pure 5 Balanced Armature 5BA Earphone
The KZ AS10 earbuds come with five balanced armature drivers, detachable OCC 2 pin cable, and a one-year warranty.
The manufacturer says they are suitable for pop, rock, DJ, electronic music and more.
Customers agree – this is one of KZ’s best products.
Some weren’t crazy about these in-ear monitors, however, and cited a mix of issues – sound quality, durability, and fit.
Of course, you can’t expect to get the best in this price range. Some compromises generally need to be made.
Item weight: 3.2 ounces
Package dimensions: 4.5 x 3.4 x 1.75 inches
MEE audio M6 PRO Musicians’ In-Ear Monitors With Detachable Cables
The MEE audio M6 PRO musicians’ in-ear monitors don’t look too shabby, and they do come in different colors too – black, blue, clear, red, and smoke.
The package comes with a regular stereo cable, headset cable with mic and remote, protective carrying case, Comply memory foam ear tips, six sets of silicone ear tips, ¼” adapter, and a one-year warranty.
The monitors feature a sweat-resistant design, and an ultra-thin 5µm driver diaphragm and aluminum voice coil.
Many reviewers liked the quality and value of these monitors.
Others thought they didn’t have the best sound or comfort though.
Item weight: 5.8 ounces
Package dimensions: 4 x 1 x 1 inches
BASN Bsinger 2nd Sound Isolating Earphones With Dual Dynamic Driver Detachable MMCX Cable
The BASN Bsinger in-ear monitors come with noise isolating memory foam sleeves, reinforced OFC cable with standard MMCX connector system, formable wire, and ergonomic earphone nozzle angle.
This is the most affordable product on this list, but many reviewers say they simply couldn’t believe the value of these in-ear monitors.
Some buyers had minor issues with them, but they were in the minority.
Item weight: 0.705 ounces
Package dimensions: 1.18 x 0.79 x 0.79 inches
What Should I Look For In In-Ear Monitors As A Singer?
This may go counter to all other advice out there, but it’s worth heeding – above all, get in-ear monitors that work for you.
In this section, we will be going over several criteria you should consider when you’re thinking about buying in-ear monitors.
But above all, just use what works for you as a singer. You don’t need to worry about what anyone else says or even tells you to use. You don't need the best sound quality or the best-looking equipment, for it to work for you.
Because at the end of the day, you’re the one singing, and your performance is largely going to depend on how well you hear yourself and how good you feel on stage. So, gear is a major factor.
With that, here are the main things we suggest looking at when buying in-ear monitors:
- Sound quality
- Fit and comfort
- Isolation and noise cancelling
Let’s get into it!
Sound quality is the most important piece to the puzzle, right alongside fit and comfort (which we’ll look at in a moment).
People tend to have individual preferences in terms of sound and how they like to hear it. In-ear monitors are all a little different in terms of frequency response and drivers, which will make a considerable difference in how you hear things.
Age can also be a factor, simply because there are frequencies younger people can pick up that older people cannot. This is a vast generalization, as some people have perfect hearing in their advanced years, but it could be a factor depending on where you’re at in your career.
Unless you’re able to try out in-ear monitors in person, you’re basically going to be going into the shopping process blind. Thus, figuring out what’s right for you can prove a little challenging.
So, we suggest checking demos and reviews for best results. There are plenty on Amazon, YouTube, and elsewhere.
Finally, what you require in terms of sound quality is going to come down to several factors:
- What is the size of the venue you’re performing in?
- How often do you perform?
- What is the size of your band, and how loud are their instruments?
- How much noise do you need to block out?
- What do you need to be able to hear most (typically your voice, but if you rely on other instruments like guitar, that might be something to consider)?
These questions are but a starting point but can help you home in on the right product for you.
Fit & Comfort
As noted, fit and comfort is generally just as important as sound.
Even if you’ve got great sound, if the monitors don’t feel good in your ears, or they slip out, or they feel a little too heavy, or whatever it might be… If they don’t feel quite right, $50 to $1,000 can be a lot to spend on something that just doesn’t work for you.
Again, your first line of defense is checking demos and reviews, which you can find on Amazon, YouTube, and elsewhere.
If possible, you should go into a music store to try out a few pairs (if they let you), so you can get a better idea of which product to buy, but this isn’t always possible.
As I said at the outset, though, what works for one may not work for another. So, look for a product that works for you. Don’t worry about what others say is best if it doesn’t suit you.
We do recommend taking good care of your in-ear monitors. They are small, and while not always fragile, if dropped or misplaced, are easy to step on, sit on, or otherwise. And that can leave your precious gear damaged.
In-ear monitors can cost quite a bit, so we’re guessing you’re going to want to avoid such occurrences as much as possible.
You certainly can’t test the durability of the product before buying it, so we suggest checking online demos and reviews for more information.
The material the in-ear monitors are made of can make a difference too, and that’s something to look out for as well.
Ideally, you want your gear to last for a long time to come, so it’s always best to pick gear that’s going to last.
Also, consider how often you perform, how often you require in-ear monitors, and for what venues.
Cheaper in-ear monitors might work okay if you only use them occasionally and don’t rely on them for your professionalism.
But if you’re performing often and require your in-ear monitors to be spot on all the time, durability is going to be of the utmost importance. You must find a product that supports your work and always allows you to be at your best.
Isolation & Noise Cancelling
A good in-ear monitor should block out excess noise. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to hear anything going on around you, but it should help you with focusing on your performance.
After all, if they don't block out excess noise, they aren't doing their job. The whole point of in-ear monitors is to be able to hear yourself and your band right in your ears.
How well this function works depends a lot on the design of the in-ear monitors, whether they are meant to be used with ear tips, and so forth.
All in-ear monitors will help with noise reduction to some degree. It just depends on how much you rely on it.
Check the product specs as well as reviews for more information on how well a specific product works in this regard.
As suggested, in-ear monitors generally cost somewhere in the range of $50 to $1,000.
For musicians, $50 might not be a lot, but you can quickly move into a range that’s nothing to sneeze at and even uncomfortable.
If you spend a good amount on your gear, it’s bound to last you a while. But that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for you to spend more.
Either way, the number one thing we want to encourage you to do here is to spend responsibly. Don’t go into debt for this purchase.
If you want better in-ear monitors, save up for them. If you want to buy within your current budget, go right ahead.
Otherwise, just be mindful of your spending.
How Do In-Ear Monitors Benefit Me?
As I hinted at earlier, you can find yourself in situations where in-ear monitors are a must-have. This could be because of the venue or the production itself.
But in-ear monitors can be beneficial for a variety of other reasons. I’ll cover them here:
- They can help you hear yourself better. Floor monitors are great. Until they aren’t. You could end up playing in larger venues where sound bounces around a lot more, and band members are forced to turn up. So, being able to hear your voice becomes more important in situations where it can be quite difficult. Especially if you plan to move around the stage a lot. In-ear monitors can help.
- You can have your own mix. You can have an in-ear mix that’s separate from everyone else’s. And that means you can have more of your voice in your ears, along with any other instruments you want, at the exact level you want them.
- They can block out noise. In a large, loud environment, there can be all kinds of distracting noises that make it harder for you to perform. You can block out many of these noises with a proper set of in-ear monitors.
- You can save your ears. Assuming the mix in your ears isn’t blaring, and they have proper isolating and noise cancelling functionality, you can protect your ears from excessive hearing damage.
- In-ear monitors are compact and easy to travel with. They are smaller than stage monitors.
- You can get a more consistent mix night after night. One of the challenging aspects of live performance is that every venue can be quite different from the other, from the way the sound travels to how it reflects on different surfaces. With in-ear monitors, it’s easier to get a more consistent mix with each performance.
Now for a bit of a controversial one – in-ear monitors can shorten sound checks. This isn’t necessarily true.
It certainly depends on the competency of your sound engineer, and depending on the system, the tech might need to rewire and re-cable to be able to work with your gear.
Further, if they need to set everyone’s mixes in addition to a house mix, altogether they have multiple mixes they need to manage simultaneously.
If you’re using the same gear and have the same tech night after night, then you will save time. Otherwise, in-ear equipment might cost you some serious time in setup.
Do In-Ear Monitors Take Awhile To Get Used To?
If you’ve never used in-ear monitors before, the answer is “yes,” and there are several reasons why.
First is how you hear. You might be used to hearing your band through stage monitors, mains, or a combination thereof. But listening to everyone through in-ear monitors is a different experience entirely because it’s far more direct.
Further, you’re going to be hearing your voice right in your ears. And that can also be a strange experience if you’ve never done it before. It will certainly mean gaining more confidence with your voice, given that you’re going to notice imperfections.
Second is how the in-ear monitors sit in your ears. Unlike ear buds, which basically sit just outside the ear, in-ear monitors sit further inside your ear canals.
You can certainly adjust to taste, even take your in-ear monitors out (during performance) as necessary.
But this should explain why comfort and fit are so important. Without that, performing could prove an uncomfortable experience.
Finally, there are productions requiring you to play to click tracks or pre-recorded instrument tracks. Oftentimes, click tracks are used to keep the band on time and synced to video footage or lighting. Instrument tracks are usually used to augment a performance in small ways and are triggered by a band member (oftentimes the drummer).
You can likely adjust the intensity of each in your mix. But if the production requires that you be tight and on time in specific parts of the performance, this will take some getting used to as well.
What Are The Best In-Ear Monitor Brands?
Depends on who you ask. After all, sound and comfort come down to personal preference.
That said, the brands mentioned here are among the best.
Sony is a well-known brand in consumer electronics, and hardly needs an introduction.
It just so happens that they make high-quality in-ear monitors too.
As a musician and singer, you probably know Audio-Technica best for their mics. But they also make quality headphones, turntables, cartridges, commercial audio products, and of course, in-ear monitors.
Moondrop specializes in in-ear monitors, and that certainly makes them one to watch. But the company started out as a small studio with hobbyist engineers, until they found their true calling with ear buds in 2014.
We suspect you aren't a stranger to Sennheiser either, another brand that's known for their headphones, audio systems, microphones, and more.
They serve both consumer and professional level markets, so they've got good product to offer.
Best In Ear Monitors For Singers, Final Thoughts
As you go from playing smaller bars and pubs to performing in larger theaters, clubs, stadiums, and so forth, you will also go from using basic stage monitors (if any are available) to using in-ear monitors.
I used to play on the worship team in a medium-sized church whose services were held in a literal theater, which they packed out every Sunday.
All the musicians (including me) used in-ear monitors so we could stay in tune and on time with each other. This was quite necessary, given that we often used click tracks, the drums were behind plexiglass, and band members on stage were quite spread out.
So, there are a variety of situations requiring in-ear monitors, and if you consider yourself a professional singer, or one day intend to become one, you’ll certainly want a pair.
We hope you’re equipped with all the information you need to make a buying decision, and as always, we wish you happy shopping!