In my first three blogs, I wrote about Soundcraft digital consoles and their digital stage box – a package I put together for the group “EXILE.” In addition to the digital consoles, we needed a quality stage monitoring package. After months of research and pricing great choices, I ended up purchasing five Audio-Technica M3 Wireless In-Ear Monitor System, one ATW-A49S Antenna, one AT MCB4 Antenna Combiner, and seven Aurisonics IEM earbuds (two ASG-1’s and five ASG-2’s).

When putting my IEM system together, I had several considerations that would need to be met. The IEM package needed to be fitted around Exile’s needs, designed to avoid sound checks when possible and keep their stage monitoring consistent from show to show. Next, the gear needed to be compact and road-worthy, including a quick set-up and tear-down process. Lastly, audio quality was a must. This band has been in top-notch studios and concert stages since the ’70s, and they recognize great audio.

The AT M3’s
Audio-Technica has been the source of many fine microphones for over two decades. A-T now offers an in-ear wireless monitor rig called the M3. The M3 system is targeted toward the working musician who desires a full-featured but easy-to-set up IEM system.

A great feature of the M3 system is that it allows you to attach an optional lavalier microphone to the belt-pack receiver; this gives the user the option of mixing the ambient audience and stage volume to interlace that mix with their monitor mix. I use this auxiliary 1/8″ input for my drummer’s click track. The drummer can control the volume of the click to his mix directly from the drum machine volume control. This has greatly reduced our set-up & tear-down time since we were able to do away with his mixer, cabling, and wall-warts that were associated with combining his ear mix and click via a small audio mixer.

The belt-pack receiver can also scan for available frequencies, permitting you to easily find an open channel at the touch of a button. The well-written M3 manual gives the complete frequency chart for the IEM system, allowing for a little advance info for travel applications. Other features include three-stage ear protection limiter, personal mix control, and 16 simultaneous systems per frequency band, to name a few.

To round out the IEM systems, we also purchased a pair of AT2010 to handle the audience mic duties.

Aurisonics IEM ear buds

Aurisonics Inc is a Nashville-based boutique manufacturing company of high-end in-ear audio products. In existence for little more than a year, the company was started by veteran sound recording engineer Dale Lott and has become one of the most respected audio companies in the USA.

Aurisonic caters primarily to the professional music crowd, and their products are generally tuned for stage use.

They are, without a doubt, the best IEMs I have ever used, and the cable is one of the best on the market. I describe the sound of both the ASG-1’s and ASG-2’s as audio nirvana.

The ASG-1 one was designed as a singer’s stage monitor and is the only IEM that comes close to rendering the true sound of percussion instruments and cymbals.

The ASG-2 is a multi-driver hybrid employing a 15mm full range rattle your teeth dynamic bass driver along with an adjustable bass port and customized dual balanced armatures acting as treble tweeters, giving them more bass response and treble than the ASG-1’s. With Exile being primarily a vocal first band, the ASG’s provide the ability to present vocals in a way that makes it seem as if the notes are rolling off your tongue.

While the Blackbird Academy teaches on a wide range of Wireless In-Ear Monitor Systems and in-ear audio products, we’re looking forward to integrating Audio Technica M3 systems and Aurisonic earbuds into our program to give students a well-rounded view of options available for the performance arena.

Thanks for reading. The next installment will cover mics and more!

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