There are a lot of brands that make in-ear monitors, and the enormous variety of IEMs that these companies offer is available to musicians, depending on their preferences and the budget.
Numerous demands, such as minor variations, designs, price ranges, etc., resulted in the market having many different types of in-ear monitors.
You want to find a good fit for yourself, but you are unsure who makes the best in-ear monitor for drummers? Keep reading this article, as I made a round-up of the best brands on the market who are well-known for their work.
Amongst many in-ear monitors from these brands, I will point out some of them that are well-known to musicians. In addition, the examples of IEMs for different levels that these companies offer are based on various opinions from many drummers I came across, personally and online.
Brands that make the best in-ear monitors:
- MEE Audio
- Jerry Harvey Audio
- Ultimate Ears Pro
- Westone Audio
Who invented IEMs?
Before I move onto the list of the brands that make the best in-ear monitors, not only for drummers but for other musicians as well, let me shortly say a word or two about who invented them.
In 1965, Stephen Ambrose modified swimmer’s earplugs, and by mixing tiny speakers and clay, made his first in-ear monitor.
Chris Lindop, a sound engineer who worked with Stevie Wonder, also worked on early versions of IEMs. Later on, Kris Cartwright (Westone) worked with the bands like Rush and Def Leppard and developed the world’s first balanced-armature in-ears.
Although there were already some sound engineers working in this field, the most credit for the invention and improvements of IEMs goes to Jerry Harvey – founder of Ultimate Ears, JH Audio, and sound engineer for Van Halen, Kiss, and many others.
Major brands that make the best IEMs for drummers
One of the most respected names in the audio industry is definitely Shure – not only for great and precise microphones and other audio equipment but also for their in-ear monitors.
Primarily founded as a supplier of radio part kits in 1925, Shure nowadays has a vast selection of in-ear monitors – designed with audio professionals and audiophiles. Their IEMs offer incredible and crystal-clear audio fidelity.
Shure currently offers in-ears with single dynamic, single high-definition, dual, triple, and four high-definition drivers when it comes to drivers.
German audio company founded in 1945, specialized in a wide range of huge fidelity products, such as aviation headsets, headphones, microphones, and of course in-ear monitor systems.
Sennheiser is a well-known name amongst musicians, and it’s not surprising that this name is one of the first you’ll hear when someone mentions IEMs or other audio equipment.
Not only that the sound fits an ear, but their universal IEMs fit ears comfortably and securely for hours.
MEE Audio is a company that crafts innovative high-performance audio equipment since 2005. Along with the in-ear monitors, universal and custom-molded, they manufacture innovative transmitters, headphones, and other audio products for audiophiles and musicians.
When it comes to their universal IEMs, the MX PRO line of in-ear monitors is somewhere on the line between universal and custom. In addition, their modular design gives you the possibility to change and upgrade all parts independently.
If you ever decide to switch from universal to custom, you can convert your MX PRO into custom-fit in-ear.
Audio-Technica is a Japanese company which designs and manufactures microphones, headphones, in-ear monitors, and other audio gear.
Audio-Technica in-ear monitors stand out as some of the best IEMs due to their dual phase push-pull drivers, newly developed A2DC connectors – they provide excellent durability and optimum sound quality.
Fender manufacturing company, founded in 1946 in the USA, is a well-known name worldwide, precisely for their guitars and amplifiers.
Since their legacy is built on a commitment always to make something innovative for musicians, they started creating IEMs.
Until now, Fender has delivered a couple of in-ear solid monitors that cover every price range and level of playing.
Jerry Harvey Audio
Jerry Harvey Audio IEMs are considered pioneers for accurate, detailed, and advanced custom IEMs on the market.
Jerry Harvey, a sound engineer that worked with Van Halen, founded Jerry Harvey Audio in late 2007.
Although Jerry Harvey is mainly focused on custom IEMs, he also creates universal ones.
Ultimate Ears Pro
Ultimate Ears Pro is a custom IEM company founded in 1995 in the USA by Jerry Harvey after developing a custom in-ear monitor for drummer Alex Van Halen to protect his hearing and improve his performance on stage during live concerts.
Twenty-five years later, Ultimate Ears Pro is one of the top-monitor-choices for thousands of professional drummers and famous musicians.
Westone Audio is the company that co-developed Ultimate Ears by Jerry Harvey. The company manufactures custom communication earpieces, hearing protection products, and in-ear monitors for musicians.
This brand manufactures both universal-fit and custom-fit IEMs and hearing protection for concert-goers and musicians. In addition, professional custom-fitted in-ear monitors offer a level of personalized comfort, quality in line with Ultimate Ears.
Westone Audio currently has five series of IEM – B series, W series, UM Pro series, AM Pro series, and PRO X series.
64 Audio is one of the fastest-growing in-ear monitor companies worldwide, founded in 2009 by Vitaliy Belonozhko.
This brand provides world-class custom and universal IEMs using proprietary balanced armature drivers.
They manufacture IEMs with accuracy and resolution for sound engineers in the studio and, most importantly, award-winning custom IEMs for performing musicians.
A4t Custom, U12t Universal, U18s Universal
Universal and Custom in-ear monitors
Universal IEMs have a design that fits anyone, and a tremendous amount of them allow you to change the tips with silicone or foam ear tips to provide you with more comfort.
Although they are made in a way to fit everyone, our ears are not the same, which means one model might suit one person, while not another one.
Still, there are some benefits of universal IEMs such as:
Affordable – compared to custom-made in-ear monitors, universal IEMs can still be well-fitting and cost way less – such as Shure SE215, price is around $100.
Still, high-end universal IEMs cost a lot of money, prices similar to custom ones.
Remarkable sound – Depending on how many drivers they have; the sound will be better. When IEMs have double or triple drivers, you will experience deeper lows, which is a top priority for drummers, clearer highs, and articulate middles.
Possibility to resell – when you are ready to upgrade to better IEMs, you can always resell your old ones, which is not the case with the custom ones that will fit only your ears.
Custom-made in-ear monitors have a specific design for each musician – molded in a way that they are a perfect fit for ears.
Some of the benefits of having a custom IEM are:
Comfort – since they are curved and shaped to your ear, they can give you a comfortable feeling compared to many universals that can be pretty uncomfortable since they do not fit every ear.
Good fit – Custom IEMs will not give you the feeling of falling out while doing head-bangs or jumping around.
Great seal – If the seal is not secure, you can lose the benefits of IEMs, which is why custom ones offer better seal that doesn’t allow spills from the outside noise.
Better sound – They give excellent noise isolation and better sound resonance.
For every drummer, an in-ear monitor mix should include vocals, and some other instruments like piano, keyboards, and guitar along with your drums, to keep the feeling of the music you play. Along with all of that, you will need a good chunk of the bass to make sure a rhythm section is tight and synchronized well.
Personal preference and a budget will dictate what brand and model you may choose when getting IEM, but if you are an enthusiastic player, this is where custom IEMs come in handy; you can be sure the perfect fit will not let them fall out.
All in all, universal or custom-made IEMs will both provide you with making a sound the way you want it to get that perfect mix for yourselves.