Welcome to the new MEE audio!

← Return to Knowledge Base

Why Do Musicians Use In-Ear Monitors?

Comparison of universal-fit in ear monitors vs MX PRO modular in-ear monitors vs custom in ear monitors

“What are in ear monitors, and why do I need them?”

... is a question we hear surprisingly often.

“What are in ear monitors, and why do I need them?” is a question we hear surprisingly often, even from seasoned musicians who have been performing for years.

Remember the good ol’ days when guitar amps went up to 11 and the louder you were, the better you thought the sound was? Fast forward to today, and 60% of active musicians are experiencing some type of hearing loss – four times the rate in the general population. In-ear monitors (also commonly called “IEMs”) were introduced for two reasons - to protect your ears and to give you a better mix than any stage speaker ever could.

Most universal in-ear monitors do both of these things reasonably well, with options starting around $50. For the best isolation and audio performance, however, musicians have historically turned to full-shell custom in-ear monitors – made-to-order buds custom-molded to the user’s ear. These usually start around $400-500, and go up into the $2000 range and beyond. Custom in-ears are considered the Holy Grail for musicians, but historically have been so expensive that many musicians have foregone on-stage hearing protection entirely, especially when first starting out.

Left: M6 PRO universal in ear monitors with Comply foam eartips. Right: MX PRO custom in ear monitors with 3D-printed silicone custom eartips and custom artwork

It all started with the M6 PRO

When we first launched the M6 PRO back in 2015, there were no proper musicians’ in-ear monitors available under $100. The M6 PRO became an instant hit, offering stage-worthy audio performance and durability for a price anyone could afford. But there was still a gap in the market between basic universal-fit in-ears such as the M6 PRO and the custom-fit monitors used by musicians who routinely sell out stadiums.

Yet again we set out to try and marry quality with bang-per-buck, this time for custom-fit monitors, creating our MX PRO modular IEMs. The MX PRO series offers four different driver configurations, ranging from a single driver up to a 4-driver hybrid, and that’s just the start. Our modular concept introduces an entirely new way to customize your IEM by starting out with the universal version and building it up over time. Our custom-fit 3D-printed eartips, custom-engraved faceplates, and various accessories can take your in ear monitor to the next level with a couple of clicks.

Drummer using red M6 PRO 2nd generation in ear monitors

How much should you spend on your first proper in-ears?

That really depends on how much use you’ll get out of them, what you’re using them for, and of course your budget.

If you’re only using them for weekend gigs, but the volume is so loud that your ears ring for days afterwards, a less expensive in-ear monitor with a custom-fit tip would be the best choice – this gives you the highest noise isolation for your buck, while still giving you all the benefits of using IEMs.

If you’re using them to practice on an electronic drum kit, or to mix/master recordings, for a few hours every day, sound quality may trump comfort and isolation. In this case, a higher-end universal-fit model may be the way to go. If you’re getting our MX PRO series, you can always upgrade it to custom-fit later on.

And of course if you’re using your earphones for many hours each day, a higher-end, fully customized unit might just be worth the investment.

If you do choose to go with an MX PRO IEM in order to have the best of both worlds between custom and universal-fit, our “Design Your Own” interface lets you build them from the ground up with the exact components you need.

Watch Sabrina Claudio’s band rehearsing for Coachella ’19 using the custom MX Pro in ear monitors

Artist Roster

Our PRO monitors have been trusted by musicians around the world since 2015. Check out our Artist Roster for more artists using our monitors.

Artist Roster
A young woman holding a small, labeled ampoule close to her eye, focusing intently on it. she has a neutral expression and a black background enhances the clarity of the image.

Additional Information

Check out the MX PRO Custom in ear monitors to explore how you can design your monitors from the ground up using our design-your-own interface

Design Custom In-Ear Monitors

This post is part of an educational series on custom-fit products. Visit our Knowledge Base for more articles.