/// The Dangers of using 1 Custom In Ear Monitor & Why to Avoid It!
So, we're often asked about this or in conversation you may mention to us that you'll maybe just use 1 IEM, usually at this point you'll see raised eyebrows from across my side of the meeting table!
So, why shouldn't you use just 1 IEM?
Simply, by removing or not using 1 side of your IEMs that ear will be completely unprotected from the loud ambient that your IEMs were intended to protect you from! But this is not the only issue, there's another that is never thought of or certainly overlooked...
Our ears are intended to listen or want to listen "in stereo" to give us a clear sound picture of our environment, if we try to listen to different signals in our ears, then the natural tendency is to turn up the one we are concentrating on - the monitor feed. If you are already in a high noise area then the level in the IEM will have to be dangerously loud in order to be heard. So you've gone full circle, you were protected using your IEMs in both ears and now you have 1 ear potentially being damaged by the ambient and the other potentially being damaged by the excessive noise level of the single IEM.
Listening using 1 IEM is NOT a safe way of monitoring!
The other question is why you feel you need to use 1 IEM? Often you don't want to be completely cut off from the ambient or your audience, best advice here is to deal with what part of the ambient you want to hear, understand why and then feed that through your mix at the level you want with the use of ambient stage mics or at the very least consider custom IEMs that have an ambient port option - We discuss ambient ports here.
If you want to interact with the front few rows of the audience directly and you have taken 1 IEM out just ensure that the sound guy has killed the PA and that the IEM is back in before the PA goes live again!