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Old June 23rd, 2008, 02:48 PM   #1
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Using Isolating Earbuds to monitor sound from camera...

Does anyone else use Isolating Earbuds to monitor sound from camera when needed? I do mainly documentary shooting and a lot of man on the street type stuff, so relative subtlety is good, but I still prefer to make sure that the shotgun mic is just picking up the individual being interviewed rather than just monitoring the volume meters on the XH A1 I use.

I use a $50 set of Denon Isolating Earbuds (not sound cancelling type, just the type that seals in your ear so it blocks out a good amount of sound) and I haven't had any real issues.

What are the drawbacks of doing so, if any? This project that I'm working on is the first one that I haven't had a secondary sound guy and have actually had to worry about such things.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 02:55 PM   #2
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A lot of folks swear by Etymotics
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 03:56 PM   #3
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There are two drawbacks, and neither is a big deal.

The first is that many in-ear monitors have poor bass response. I have a pair of Shure E2 in-ear monitors. Great isolation. No bass. Then again, as long as you're not clipping, you can EQ the bass as needed in post. If all you're doing is monitoring basic coverage, the bass is fairly unimportant.

The second problem is that in-ears can have a lot of mechanical coupling - brushing the hanging cable to your ear can be LOUD. Eating an apple with plugs is LOUD. The solution is just to clip the wire to your shirt collar - and don't eat during a shoot.

For additional isolation, put noise canceling headphones over your in-ears. Don't bother feeding the headphones a signal. Just turn the noise cancellation on.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 04:10 PM   #4
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I'll add one Jon hasn't listed... time to get the things in and out of your ear. One of the reasons why there is a perceived lack of bass response is because the earbuds generally don't get seated correctly. To properly seat most earbuds, it takes a while.

I do not use and don't recommend using ear buds for monitoring in a film environment because most of the time as the mixer or boom op, you're having to take them in and out quickly. However, I have a pair of Etyomotic ER-4S earbuds, with custom fitted ear molds, that I use when I am doing music recording on-location. In this environment, they make perfect sense because you are trying to listen to every detail in the audio. With the 20-25 dB of outside noise attenuated, you can actually do this.

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Old June 23rd, 2008, 05:42 PM   #5
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So true, Wayne.

I use my E2s (the E4s and up have better ba$$) as an airline passenger. It can take a bit for the attendant to get my attention, I take out an E2, he/she asks me what to drink, I say "coffee", I re-seat the E2, their lips move, I remove an E2, they ask about cream and sugar...

It's annoying enough on a plane. It could really be annoying when time = money. But it's definitely workable.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 05:49 PM   #6
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Nice that you guys mention.

I have a flat freq. response Audio-technica headphone (ATH-M20), it's good for monitoring, but it doesn't isolate that much.

I used to use cheapo Creative ones to monitor, but they broke.

I mean, a headphone can be super-duper, but if doesn't isolate from what's going on how can I tell things apart? So sound isolation is top priority on my list.

Maybe later I'll buy a more expensive in-ear headphone.
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