Years back I bought my first personal wireless in-ear monitoring system (IEM for short). It was expensive, had mediocre sound quality, and it often picked up the watercolors jazz station during my worship sets! Even with a good set of Shure earbuds, I kept finding myself pulling them out and resorting back to stage wedges. They were so bad that I eventually just stopped using them.
Times have changed and wireless IEM’s have come a long way. Now they enable us to keep stage volume low, have click tracks with cues, and most importantly… help us hear ourselves in a way that’s simply unattainable with floor wedges.
However, the entry cost for wireless In-Ears is very high. “You get what you pay for” rings so true with these systems. Having just a few vocalists and musicians with their own individual wireless mixes will cost a couple thousand dollars minimum. It is for this reason that most small and medium churches are still using floor wedges or wired IEM’s. Even many larger churches with big budgets opt to use a very limited number of wireless monitor packs simply because of the cost to replace them when they break (because they will).
A new way to hear
Much like how digital mixers are commonplace in many houses of worship, a new company called Audiofusion wants to do the same with wireless IEM’s. We’ve been following them closely for the past 6 months, and what they are offering may be a gamechanger for worship in churches.
Unlike traditional wireless IEM’s which require expensive hardware for each person’s individual mix, Audiofusion is completely software-based and relies on your already existing audio equipment.
- Load the software on a MAC
- Connect the MAC to a compatible wireless digital mixer
- Have your team members download the Audiofusion Performer iOS app
- Connect your iPhone to the Audiofusion Soundcaster app
- Enjoy your wireless mix
Instead of using a proprietary IEM transmitter and receiver, you plug your earphones to your iOS device and stream the mix via WiFi. Each user is able to control their mix individually right from their personal device. Much like Aviom systems, you give your musicians and vocalists the power while freeing up your sound person to focus solely on the house mix.
Audiofusion claims that the quality is high and the latency is low using their setup. From what I’ve read from the initial reviews, this claim is surprisingly true. That’s really something to get excited about if your church is wanting to get into wireless IEM’s or upgrade its existing setup.
How much does it cost?
As of now, Audiofusion states that their $100 Mac app gives you the ability to stream a mix to one “performer”. Every additional performer is $100 each. So if you have 5 people in your band, it’s a $500 one-time-cost for everyone to use their software solution. Though $500 isn’t what I would call “cheap”, it’s significantly less expensive than a traditional wireless IEM system. Just one decent transmitter and receiver will set you back that much these days.
A look into the future
Now that we have officially crossed that barrier into using WiFi for wireless IEM’s, it got me wondering…
It’s only natural that a company like Behringer, Yamaha, or even Presonus would take their already existing apps to the next level and offer this functionality. Could we see it happen in the form of an expansion module on an existing digital mixer like the X32? Maybe it will be a standard in the next generation of digital mixers?
I’m not here to debate when that will happen, but I think we can agree that it will be sooner rather than later.
Wireless IEM systems as we know them are going to be extinct…and I’m perfectly okay with that.