Thursday, 29 August 2013

In Ear Monitor Review - LD MEI ONE

Hi, my name is Dan and I'm a Gumtree addict. There, I said it. The buying and selling website is a good place to find music gear at knock down prices, and I've done it again. I bought some IEMs.

As a working musician I've realised how important it is to protect my ears and recently with the more powerful sound system my regular band use these days I've been looking into hearing protection.

I've been doing a lot of research and not found many sax players going into detail about their monitoring setups and experiences so figured perhaps it was time I did.

I've tried plugs. Not expensive ones though as going full tilt into any form of hearing protection is costly and I've heard some horn players have some issues with plugs and the occlusion effect. The 'head sound' you get when pressure changes inside your plugged ears when you play.

Industrial foam plugs were ok, they're kind of like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut though and it really
isolates you from the rest of the band. They feel fine in your ears even if they do take a while to expand and settle in. You're definitely protecting yourself from high sound levels and you are able to hear the sax, but the cost is getting any real clarity from anything else and more often than not I'd find myself taking one or both out to feel more 'connected'.

The Christmas tree style ones often marketed as 'music' or 'surfer' ear plugs are more of the same. The plastic material they're made from makes them less comfortable and more likely to lose their place in your ears. Also, they seem to block less frequencies too. I still feel clear eared after a gig, but the sound is somehow 'off' when using them.

So, to the crux. I've been looking into budget IEM systems. As assured as I was that Sennheiser and Shure combinations are the industry standard, the wireless systems themselves cost £500 and the best earpieces are £300. This is great and I'm sure they're the best out there, but if I find out I don't get along with them I've spent close to a thousand pounds to get there.

T.Bone and LD Systems both make some budget IEM's and on doing some research online, I've found that they share a lot of components between both companies and their upper and lower price range models.

You can get brand new reasonable quality setups for about £350 from both companies with very similar specs. LD also do a super low priced one called an MEI ONE for £130. It was one of these that I found on Gumtree going for £90.

I figured that was a reasonable price and if nothing came of it, I've not lost too much. I also reasoned I could spend the cash I saved on some half decent Shure earbuds if all went well.

To the gear.....

Sender Unit:

Rear of Sender
Weighty, feels solid and made of metal which is good. I've felt plastic units similar to this before and they don't inspire much confidence. The aerial is separate and has an extension cable which is a nice feature. On the front are headphone out and seperate volume, an pair of AF input level meters to show how much audio is being pushed through the unit, and a power button.

Rear has two balance multi XLR/jack inputs for ya engineer to pipe stuff to you through. You can have stereo or mono and it's all switchable and the volume of both inputs is adjustable.

Belt Pack:

Belt Pack
Plastic, light, takes two AA batteries, which is nice because they're the same as the EWI so I don't have to carry around two different sizes. Small flexible aerial on it, 3.5mm jack input for your 'phones and a volume/power pot too. That's great, to give yourself a little more control if things get out of hand or the engineer falls asleep.


They feel really solid, far more than I was expecting. They're metal body and rubber cushioned, fit well in my ears and aren't too obtrusive. The jack is metal cased and once again feels pretty well built too.

The quality seems reasonable, I think this is possibly due to the previous owner (I did clean them thoroughly!) He was a drummer in a rock band and it feels like some top end has gone out for a while and might be some time. This could of course be the 'phones themselves, but the mids and bass sound great.

The whole thing:

Front of the Sender
I got my horn out in my studio and routed my mic (Rode NT2-A) and some jazz backing tracks through the MEI ONE and got to work. Getting the levels right was a bit of a pain, but that comes with practice. Sound was great and I can definitely work with this. No 'head sound' in there and once the mix was there it was a pleasure. There was nothing like the background noise of a real stage and the live test will have to wait 'til the weekend, but so far so good!

Mackie My Fader App
Our sound man, Mike Osbourne if you want to check him out, has started running a Mackie DL rig with an iPad controlling the whole thing. This means that with the My Fader app on my iPhone I can manage my own monitor levels without having to worry him. Looking forward to the weekend!

Rundown of how it was to come next week!

Hope that was of interest to you,


1 comment:

  1. so what was the outcome of this ?