I’m a long-time fan of in-ear monitors (IEMs). The primary reason? The environments in which DJs perform are almost universally loud, and a properly fitting set of quality IEMs provides passive noise reduction that can help protect your hearing in these noisy settings. (Of course, one needs to manage one’s monitoring volume as well, or using IEMs can defeat that benefit rather quickly.)
The main problem for DJs with IEMs has long been that they don’t merely slip off like a pair of classic, can-style headphones, making it difficult to speak to guests, take requests, or for those of us doing mobile work, attending to such minutia as coordinating the evening’s activities with a wedding or event planner.
A few years back, ASI Audio came-up with a clever solution to this problem, a product offering they call 3DME, which takes an innovative approach to monitoring, in three parts.
It begins, as you might expect, with a set of universal-fit IEMs. The product comes with foam ear tips in multiple sizes that can easily be replaced as needed. Like most true IEMs, there’s a formable behind-the-ear loop that provides a secure anchor for the monitors when you have them inserted.
But rather than connect the IEMs to an audio source directly, with the 3DME, they’re connected to a rechargeable battery pack and amplifier “body pack” that typically is clipped to one’s waistband or belt.
Lastly, a companion app for Android or iOS pairs with the body pack via Bluetooth, and allows you to customize your monitoring set-up, including EQ, and a range of other settings. (You don’t have to have the app running, or your device nearby, when using the system; it’s primarily for set-up purposes.)
But the real power of the 3DME system is the ability to mix in ambient sound in real-time. A rocker switch on the body pack allows you to turn up or turn down the ambient monitoring. When turned up, microphones pick up the sound around you with ease, allowing you to continue monitoring while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with someone around you — all without removing the IEMs from your ears. Once you decide to go back to work, simply turn down the ambient component as desired.
Using this approach, it becomes realistic for DJs to use IEMs when performing, without the need to keep removing and reinserting the monitors into one’s ears to communicate with someone, and it all works remarkably well.
While the 3DME system is designed primarily for performing musicians and others, ASI Audio has attracted a following among a cohort of DJs who recognize the benefits of using IEMs with the company’s innovative approach. In recognition of the interest from and uptake among DJs, the company has even added a new DJ audio cable to their product line-up, making it simple to connect the body pack to your DJ mixer or controller without having to hunt down an adapter cable on your own. The high-quality cable is just the ticket, and it fits easily inside the pouch of the 3DME’s carrying case, so you have everything you need for monitoring in an elegant, well-designed, rigid-bodied, zippered case.
I’ve tested the 3DME system in the past, but the company has recently improved the product, dubbing the result “G2” or “Gen 2” to reflect the improvements. They include longer battery life in the body pack, reportedly up to a full eight hours on a single charge, along with squeal suppressor, and additional configuration and operational options that provide even more utility. And as before, the 3DME system sounds terrific, with awesome bass response.
While the system is an investment (at just under $800), if you value your hearing and the flexibility to do your job without compromise, the 3DME in-ear monitoring system is worth a look. For more information, you can visit www.asiaudio.com.
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