Author: Diane Ferraro
If you’ve been to a live concert or are a fan of The Voice, American Idol or X Factor, you have probably noticed that the singers and musicians wear in-ear monitors during the performance. These tools allow the musician to hear his/her voice or specific instrument along with the entire band while also providing noise reduction from ambient surroundings and loud, screaming fans. (They love us but also need to hear what we’re there to hear them do, natch.)
Back in the old days (we’re talking waaaay back, like the 1980s and decades prior) bands such as Bauhaus, B-52s, Duran Duran, Bon Jovi and The Cult relied on loudspeakers placed on the stage to monitor the audio mix. Getting to a show at the Hollywood Palladium early to stand in the front row often meant securing “prime” space stuck behind one of these monster speakers and having only limited visibility of Simon LeBon, Peter Murphy or Ian Astbury.
The early 1990s was a pivotal period in the music industry. While grunge and hip hop were becoming mainstream, Colorado-based Westone Audio helped to pioneer an in-ear monitoring solution for the bands Def Leppard and Rush and forever changed the on-stage sound experience for musicians of all genres.
Today many of the artists from the eighties are still touring but now have the convenience of wearing professional Westone in ear monitors. Watch this video of Duran Duran performing Ordinary World in London and look for the close up of Simon LeBon wearing Westone monitors at :57, 1:12, 3:12 and Nick Rhodes wearing his in ear monitors at 2:34:
For additional information on the history of in-ear monitors, also referred to as IEMs, check out this Wikipedia article.