Technical Audio Group | RRP: $1,499
As a live sound engineer, artists rocking up with their own set of in-ear monitors is becoming the new norm. Live electronic acts who want to hear their low-low bass frequencies accurately as well as bands who want a really loud mix on stage without running into feedback issues from all the live microphones will bring or spec an in-ear monitoring system for their live performance.
In the past, in-ear monitoring systems were reserved for large scale touring acts due to their expensive initial cost not being financially viable for local and semi-professional musicians. As times have changed, wireless audio systems have become more streamlined, easier to implement and most importantly, pretty affordable for even small-time local acts.
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With artists yearning for a simple to implement, high-quality in-ear monitoring system for live performance and rehearsals, along comes the new 3000 Series IEM from Audio-Technica. This affordable wireless in-ear monitor system comes packed with an ATW-T205 stereo transmitter, an ATW-R3250 stereo receiver, and a pair of ATH-E40 in-ear monitor headphones which is enough to kickstart your journey into taking control of your monitor sound.
Modelled after their popular 3000 series wireless UHF microphones systems, the form factor of this product is sleek and professional. The all black aesthetic paired with OLED displays on both receiver and transmitter gives a clear and accurate readout of all the essential data necessary for operating the system including name, battery level, frequency, group and channel selections and if there is audio being transmitted. The stereo transmitter is rack-mountable which makes it a viable option to integrate into a touring setup while concurrently being small enough to be discrete if deployed on stage.
The receiver features multiple screen display options that provide the information you need depending on the setting. For example, if you’re the sound engineer and you don’t need the artist to see information about what specific frequency is set, you can display the channel name instead which means they will always know which receiver is theirs. The lightweight enclosure features a double-sided latch for opening the battery compartment which will prevent you from accidentally opening it mid gig.
Audio-Technica have added professional level features to this set, with the transmitter able to automatically scan and find suitable frequencies for wireless audio use, not to mention the inbuilt high and low frequency EQ shelf, limiter, gain, and balance controls on the receiver. There’s a mono balance mode which allows you to mix the left and right channels in mono on each receiver which enables the artist to customise the level between two different audio signals which could be their vocals and the band’s instruments, for example.
The bundled in-ear monitor headphones, ATH-E40s, utilise Audio-Technica’s proprietary dual phase push-pull drivers which provide a high level of clarity and definition while concurrently isolating you from the outside environment. There are multiple silicone eartips which made them fit securely and comfortably inside my ears during testing. The sound these earbuds carried through the wireless system was immense, a well-balanced sound that provided immersion across the full frequency spectrum whilst not ever hyping the high or low frequencies. A unique part about these in-ear monitor headphones is the easily detachable cable which first, prevents you from breaking the sometimes fragile IEM cables getting snagged on something and secondly, making the cable easily replaceable and interchangeable. Not only that, but these have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the output with a low impedance (12 ohms) which means they can double as your everyday headphones by simply plugging into any consumer grade device (like your phone).
With an inbuilt network connection, the IEM Transmitter included in the bundle can be controlled remotely using Audio-Technica’s wireless manager software. With the software you can rename your transmitters, scan the frequency band to look for used frequencies, and finally, and most importantly, generate a coordinated frequency plan to avoid these used frequencies and send that information to the transmitters. This can save you time and effort testing to find frequencies that don’t generate interference or intermodulation between different frequencies, a real winner in terms of usability and functionality.
Using the receivers with high-quality rechargeable batteries I was able to use the system for just over six hours continuously, which would allow you to use them for soundcheck and the gig without worrying about it dropping out on you. I also experienced no dropouts during testing walking around my home out onto the street about 50 metres away, which has almost convinced me to get a set for my home studio so I can walk to the other end of my place and listen to a mix I’m working on while cooking a meal!
Perhaps a great part of this set is how easily it can scale to suit your needs. Say you’re a solo performer and you purchase one for yourself and then you decide to start performing with another musician. You can simply purchase another receiver and you’re both able to access the same monitor mix. You could even set up two separate mixes and send them in mono to the one receiver and now each of you can have independent mono mixes with a single transmitter, the monitoring possibilities are vast.
All in all, this in-ear monitoring system from Audio-Technica is a quality professional product that will appease both small and large scale implementations for artists and venues. The robust construction paired with solid RF connectivity options and most importantly, clear and precise audio transmission that drive the included IEM’s fantastically, makes the 3000 Series IEM system from Audio-Technica a fantastic choice for those in the market for upgrading their audio monitoring.