Making the Switch: 3 Reasons to Move to In-Ear Monitors for Houses of Worship

Making the Switch: 3 Reasons to Move to In-Ear Monitors for Houses of Worship

Week in and week out, churches have one main goal: to make their message heard as clearly and effectively as possible. 

Nearly every modern church has some form of live music taking place, from a single musician on guitar or piano to massive bands and choreographed productions that can rival the size and expertise of touring groups.

Churches face unique challenges when creating a dynamic musical environment. For one, their physical buildings can vary widely. Many have their own permanent facilities, which come in all shapes and sizes (and acoustic challenges), while other teams set up and tear down in rented auditoriums, gyms and schools every weekend and some weeknights. 

Church budgets are just as varied as the places in which they meet. Some worship leaders have budget for state-of-the-art mixing boards and PAs, but many teams are unable to afford upgrades from antiquated gear that could have been donated years ago by a congregant. 

One common challenge across the board, however, tends to be stage volume. Team leaders can find themselves engaged in a tug-of-war between their musicians, sound engineers and congregation, with everyone seeing a different picture of what they would like to hear. Musicians often want to push the limits in terms of stage volume so they can clearly hear themselves. Sound engineers would rather keep stage volume low so they can have more control over the mix. And the congregation wants to be able to feel the music without being blown away by a loud amplifier. 

Making the move to in-ear monitoring addresses a myriad of issues that are common in many church environments. Our church, Clovis Hills Community Church of Clovis, CA, made the switch to in-ear monitoring for our entire team several years ago and never looked back. With a roster of over 40 musicians and a congregation of roughly 1500 per week, we were looking to solve several key problems that our team had been running into over the years.

Our takeaways? In-ear monitoring helped us clean up our house mix and reduce stage noise, opened us up to new creative opportunities and has saved our musicians’ hearing.


Cleaning up our house mix

Floor wedges were always a major battle for our team. We were limited in the number of mixes we could produce by how many amps we were willing to purchase as well as available floor space.  

Since not every musician could have their own, dedicated floor wedge,  certain members had to share them instead. This inevitably led to the “more of me” problem: each musician fought to put more of their sound in the wedge to hear themselves clearly. The end result was unbearably loud stage noise and feedback. 

This issue isn’t unique to houses of worship—nearly every venue in the world that relies on wedge monitors experiences this—but the expectation of stage noise in a traditional music venue vs. a house of worship is vastly different.

Switching to in-ears gave each team member their own personalized mix and allowed us to regain control over our room. Plus, it eliminated the feedback caused by too much stage noise.


Opening us to new creative opportunities

This may have been our favorite part of making the switch. By placing the entire team on in-ears, we were able to add several new creative elements to our weekend experience. 

We started by moving the entire band to click tracks, which helped create musical consistency and allowed us to add additional backing loops to fill out our mix. Click and backing tracks simply weren’t possible with wedge monitors, as the entire congregation would hear the click track keeping the tempo. 

Over time, we were able to allow the technical team to communicate live with the band, which has been an incredible blessing and helps service run smoother. 

Finally, we added a live music director on stage who can speak to the musicians live and help keep transitions and different musical moments smooth as possible. These cues can seamlessly and unnoticeably tell the band when to start and stop playing, which elevates the congregation’s experience.


Saving our hearing

Let’s face it—a live band is LOUD. 

At Clovis Hills Community Church, our building is very “cavernous,” with lots of natural echo and slapback. Adding live drums and guitar amps only adds to the noise reverberating around the room. By the time we added floor wedges in the mix, the levels could feel downright painful to our teams after several hours of rehearsal and performance. 

With proper in-ear monitors (your little white earbuds were not designed for this), our musicians can listen to the elements of the mix at volume levels that are much safer than without headphones. And since UE Pro IEMs offer a custom fit, our musicians can block out a lot of the sounds around them that they don’t want to hear too much of, like the entire drum kit. 

Once you make the switch to in-ear monitoring, you will wonder how you managed without them! Many of our members have made the switch to UE Pro custom-fit IEMs, while the rest are using universal-fit IEMs. Since Ultimate Ears offers many different solutions to fit different tastes and budgets, our team could easily find their perfect IEMs. 

Take the plunge and switch to an in-ear monitor system for church and house of worship services—your ears will thank you. 


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