By: David Jordan

A lot of Churches have little, to no budgets for tech equipment.

With this in mind I am going to share a way to have an in ear monitor system on a limited budget.

The purpose of going to an in ear monitor system is so you can lower your stage volume and also each person can control what they hear. This will help in your overall sound quality. By going to an in ear system you can save money because you can eliminate monitor speakers on the stage, and also you do not need an amplifier to run the in-ear system. All it needs is a line level signal for your monitor feed. By giving control of the volume to the people on the in-ear system, it makes it easier for the sound team. It will eliminate people saying they cannot hear themselves in the monitors. They are in control over their own volume in their own personal monitor box. It will not affect anything else, only what they hear.

After looking at a lot of in-ear monitor systems. All the systems I found were very nice, but also expensive. With a limited budget we could not afford any of the systems I found. So I did a lot of research to find a way to add an in-ear system for a low cost. But still have a good quality system that will last.

There are a couple of ways to accomplish this at a low cost. The cost will depend on who much control you need for each person you and placing on the in-ear system.

First I will go over what we went with and are still using.

We went with the Rolls PM351 personal monitor system because it has a monitor input, an instrument input and also a microphone input. So it gives the user control over their instrument, their microphone and also control over the monitor feed we send to them. By going with the PM351’s we eliminated several monitors and also we removed all the amplifiers from the stage. We run the electric guitar and bass guitar straight through the personal monitor boxes. The personal monitor boxes are also direct boxes. By removing monitors and amplifiers from the stage our stage volume dropped dramatically. We went from about six monitors speakers on our stage down to two.

At first for each user we started using headphones, now we use universal fit ear buds to hook to the personal monitor boxes. You can purchase fairly inexpensive ear buds. A couple of things you what to look for when purchasing ear buds are the frequency range they produce. Get ear buds that produce a full range sound or as close to it as possible. The last thing to look of is Sound isolation. Without sound isolation, you have to run the volume at a higher level to hear.

There are a couple of personal monitor boxes I found that can be used, and the cost will still be where churches with little to no tech budgets can afford them. Rolls makes three different boxes the PM351, PM50s and the PM55. Art also makes the ARTcessories MyMonitor.

David Jordan

Author: David Jordan

David Jordan is a father of two and full time firefighter & part time fireworks technician. David was the tech/media director at Calvary Assembly of God in Kissimmee, Fl. for 26 years. He is currently a volunteer tech at Faith Assembly, Orlando. David Jordan is founder of (CSMT) Church Sound & Media Tech’s Facebook group (link above), which he created as solicitation free learning tool advice column for church techs from around the world. He has been involved in church sound/media for over 36 years. He enjoys teaching & helping others to better their tech ministry.

18 Responses

  1. 33Forrest

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  2. Dan Veach

    We’ve been using the shure se215 for about 14 months now. The singers/instrument players have broke 3 of these. Any suggestions on a more durable iem earbud for about the same cost as the se215?

  3. Chuck R.

    David, I came across your article, and our small church already has one PM351 we are trying to experiment with. What’s a suggestion on how to “split” or otherwise share a particular monitor mix to the 1/4″ input on several PM351’s? We are probably like other small churches… A typical sound snake only has 4 Returns. Two are used for FOH, leaving two for Monitor mixes. I am missing that little piece of the puzzle.

    • David Jordan
      David Jordan

      I have used a 1/4 ” Y connector to send the monitor mix to two PM351’s
      You can but the 1.4″ Y at the snake, or if the PM351 are close together you could put it closer to the boxes.
      Hope this helps you out.

      • Jim Crosby

        You can also use unused channels on the snake. Just have to use adapters (please not Radio Shack!) to end up with the right connection. Such as: if you need to go from male XLR to 1/4″ to connect a snake channel to an Aux out, use a ready-made female XLR to 1/4″ cable of decent quality. Using cheap stuff will degrade the signal and cause volume problems. Do the same on the other end with the correct cable to connect whatever device you are using: headphone amp, etc. We use Presonus HP2’s for monitor amps or an HP4 for more connections to the same send. They work great.

  4. Jimmy

    The Behringer P1 units are another great compact unit that allows us to have a travel in-ear monitor set. If you have some budget, a remote presonus mixer works great for our church as a monitor mixer. This way the musicians can setup their in ear mix with an ipod or iphone.

  5. Jonathan Goff

    We already have the Behringer Powerplay units for all of our team. We would like to go wireless with these units so the base units can be off stage so we can de-clutter our stage. What wireless units would you recommend for doing wireless in ear monitoring?

    • David Jordan
      David Jordan

      The purpose of the Powerplay units is so each person can mix there own IEM mix.
      Putting them off stage would limit this.
      If you want to go wireless and still give your people a way to mix there our IEM mix, I would look a Pivitec, its a wireless IEM system.
      Or something similar to this.

      Just do your research, before purchaseing equipment so you can up grade on what you have.

      • Dallas Stevens

        You could also mount the PowerPlay mixers on a stand. (I’ve seen two to a stand) and set them to the back of the stage out of the way. The wireless systems also mount to this stand. This way you can easily still control your own mix during rehearsal but it’s out of the way during service/performance. Personally I’d recommend the Sennheiser G3 series. Additionally, Audio Technica has come out with a fairly inexpensive (at least in the world of wireless IEM) line of IEMs. Beware of cheap wireless such as Galaxy Audio. While tempting because of the price, most people I have come across that chose the Galaxy systems were ultimately disappointed with and regretted their choice. In wireless technology especially, you get what you pay for b

  6. scott

    We did the same thing at my last church. I put all vocalist only on the RollsPM 50’s and all vocalist/ instrumentalist om the PM351’s. Along with Shure SE215, all we had budget for, it worked fairly well. Having an old analog board with limited aux outs made thing kinda tough. 8 people on stage and 5 aux outs made splitting the only option. If your on a limited budget, this is a great option…

    • David Jordan
      David Jordan

      Thanks for sharing, the way you did your IEM system.
      There is always more than one way to do things.
      It is always good to know several ways to do things, so you can come up with the way that fits your budget and needs the best.

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