Stage monitors are a pain.
They clutter up the stage and can cause ear fatigue (and even damage) due to their volume levels.
In-ear monitors are a much better solution.
They block out ambient noise and allow singers (and any other musicians) to hear only what they want, so that they can give their best possible performance.
But only good in-ear monitors are effective. Bad ones can be uncomfortable and don’t block out enough noise. They also sound bad.
And there are a lot of bad ones.
That’s why we did the research and narrowed it down to only the best in-ear monitors for singers. All are great for any other musician as well. We’ve included every budget level and also two complete systems that come bundled with the receiver and transmitter.
In Ear Monitors For Singers Compared
|Best Overall||10 Silicone|
|$$$||4.8 / 5|
|Audio Technica ATH-IM04|
|Highest Quality||3 Silicone|
|$$$$$||5 / 5|
|BASN Bsinger Pro|
|Best BudgetIntermediate||4 Silicone||$||4.4 / 5|
|Higher QualityBudget Alternative||3 Silicone|
|$$||4.6 / 5|
|Best Complete System||3 Silicone|
|$$$$$||4.7 / 5|
|Phenyx Pro PTM-10|
|Budget Complete System||1 Silicone||$$$||4.5 / 5|
Best In-Ear Monitors For Vocalists
The following are the best in-ear monitors we recommend for singers. They include all budget ranges for both monitors alone and for complete systems.
Best In-Ear Monitors Overall: FiiO FA7
You won’t find better in-ear monitors than the FiiO FA7 at this price range. These monitors are intended for full-blown pros, but they cost less than most others targeting the same professional level users.
These headphones come with four high-definition drivers, that are able to reproduce any sound between 20 and 40,000 Hz. At the same time, they manage an almost even reproduction of all the frequencies, which is what good monitors are supposed to do. The sensitivity is 110 decibels.
Since we’re talking about the best in-ears for singers, the FA7 provides surprisingly great sound isolation. The manufacturer does not state how much exactly in decibels, but with their strong output and the overall clear representation of desired frequencies in the mix, you won’t have any troubles with outside noises.
The FiiO FA7 includes a detachable cable and MMXC connectors. However, it isn’t always easy to detach the cable from the headphones, because the connectors keep a firm grip on the headphones.
Although, the main purpose is to work as monitoring in-ear pieces, they work great as regular headphones, too. That said, some users have complained about the comfort of the fit after longer-term use. Of course, this depends on the user, because everyone has different ears. Overall, they are more comfortable than any competing models at the same price level.
At the same time, the manufacturer could have tried to address this. Other brands have found ways of dealing with this issue. Of course, those brands cost a lot more than these.
There is always a sacrifice when you pay a lower price and the fit is the one notable sacrifice with these. And the fit is actually still pretty good, compared to most of the competition. When it comes down to it, only expensive custom fit models do much better in terms of comfort.
What is nice is that FiiO include 10 pairs of silicone ear tips and 3 pairs of foam ear tips, covering balanced, bass-emphasized or vocal-emphasized sound signatures. You can get any sound signature you want by simply switching out the ear tips.
- Great sound
- Very wide frequency spectrum
- Can be used as regular headphones
- Good outside noise isolation
- Includes 13 pairs of ear tips
- Fit could be better
Highest Quality Vocalist Ear Monitor: Audio Technica ATH-IM04 SonicPro
After going through the countless different in-ear monitors for singers, the ATH-IM04 SonicPro by Audio Technica stood out as the best overall. They’re fairly expensive, but they deliver more than you’d expect, even at the higher cost.
Known for their line of amazing products, Audio Technica delivers another home-run with these monitors. First off, they have a wide frequency range from 15 up to 20,000 Hz, basically covering the entire audible spectrum.
More importantly, they manage to reproduce all frequencies pretty evenly, making them the ideal choice for performing vocalists. They’re the first-ever headphones made by Audio Technica to have quad balanced armature drivers. As for sensitivity, it goes up to 101 decibels.
Aside from sound, these monitors stand out for their easy fit. The headphones come with three sizes of silicone earpieces, and they also include their special “Comply” foam earpieces. No matter your ear shape or size, they will fit comfortably. After using them for a while, they are almost unnoticeable in your ears.
On top of that, they do a great job at canceling outside noises during even the loudest stage performances. They also come with detachable cables, as well as their own case.
If you’ve got the budget and want more than just decent monitors, get yourself a pair of ATH-IM04s.
- Top-tier sound quality
- Flat audio reproduction
- Wide frequency range
- Great fit
- Higher price
Best Budget Earpiece Monitor For Singers: BASN Bsinger BC100
In-ear monitors (not just for singers, but for any other musician as well) can get pretty expensive. At least quality ones. Once you get into the lower price ranges, you can’t expect great features and quality. But there are some budget models that do a surprisingly great job. Most notably, the BASN Bsinger Pro.
Despite the low price, they have actually become quite popular among frequently performing singers, and have proven to be reliable on stage. First, they feature dual-driver dynamic speakers, which are capable of covering anything between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.
As for the sound reproduction, it’s all fairly even across the spectrum, although you can’t really expect the sound quality to compete with the two higher quality options reviewed above.
The cable has a low resistance copper wire in it. As the manufacturer explains, this is done to fully support the signal coming to the dual drivers. While this is all great, it’s still somewhat of an overblown feature and doesn’t have any particular impact on the performance.
The BSinger Pros are pretty light and provide decent comfort with the silicone tips, as well as with their overall housing design. The inclusion of MMCX connectors was a great idea. The cable replacement is simple.
While they certainly can’t match more expensive models, the Bsinger Pro headphones are by far the best you can get at this budget price. They also do well as regular hi-fi headphones and are surprisingly great at canceling outside noise. If you’re on a strict budget, you can’t do any better.
- Extremely low price
- High quality considering the low price
- Flat response
- Can be used as regular headphones
- Not practical for long-term professional use
- Lower quality than other models on this list
Higher Quality Budget Alternative: Shure SE215
Shure is one of the biggest names in the industry, so it should come as no surprise to see one of their monitors here. They actually have models at numerous price ranges and all are good options. But our favorite is the SE215.
They sell at the upper end of what we would call the budget range, but they are worth every penny, and then some. They are extremely versatile, especially for live performances. They are not only popular with singers, but also drummers, guitarists, keyboardists, and many others. This also makes them a great choice for singers who also play an instrument.
This versatility is primarily due to their sound quality and overall comfort. The frequency spectrum is pretty wide, going from 22 Hz in the lower spectrum up to 17,500 Hz in the high end. The sensitivity is 107 decibel and they block up to 37 decibels of ambient noise for good sound isolation.
The SE215 monitors give you a balanced output across the spectrum. They’re as neutral as it gets, which is the whole idea behind great monitoring headphones. Of course, this also means they are not ideal to use as regular headphones to listen to music. But if you wanted that kind of listening experience, you would be looking to buy headphones, not in-ear monitors.
There are a few complaints about long-term use, most notably concerning a lack of comfort. And they do feel a bit too weird in the ear canal for any potential longer use. But that is a common issue with lower cost earpieces.
If you won’t be using them for extra-long performances, you probably won’t have any issues with comfort. But anything that involves you keeping them in for a couple of hours or more and you will likely begin noticing some discomfort.
Usually that is not a big deal, because it is rare that you will be using your monitors for such an extended period of time. And in that case, the SE215 monitors are the best choice if you are on a budget, but one that is not quite so low. They are also the earpieces included in the Shure kit reviewed below.
- Great price to performance ratio
- Great isolation and sound quality
- Extremely neutral sound
- Highly versatile
- Not always comfortable if using for long periods of time
- Not ideal to use as regular earphones
Best In-Ear Monitor System: Shure PSM300
The final two options are a little different. Because many people need a complete in-ear monitor system, I decided to include the two top ones in this article. And we’ll being with the best: the Shure PSM300 system.
It includes the P3RA wireless bodypack receiver, the P3T half-rack single channel wireless transmitter and the SE215 sound isolating earphones with dynamic microdriver (featured directly above on this page). Naturally, getting all these components means that the price is higher.
We covered the SE215 above, so we won’t go into those again here. Let’s focus on the other two components.
The transmitter is a half-rack mount and comes with a mount kit. It sends your stereo (or mono) mix out to you wherever you are on the stage, with a maximum range of 300 feet (90 meters). It links up with the receiver simply and easily and does not suffer dropouts. The high-contrast LCD screen makes it easy to adjust any settings you need.
The receiver is incredibly durable thanks to an all-metal construction. It also features an easy-to-read LCD screen that makes it easy to choose your settings. You can adjust the left/right balance, change the EQ with a low and high boost, set a maximum level for the volume, and enable a frequency scan to find a clean channel, among other things.
The PSM 300 professional stereo personal monitor system gives you high-quality 24-bit digital audio and it delivers this to any corner of the stage thanks to the powerful and reliable wireless signal. It is simple to set up and to use.
If you are looking for a complete monitoring system to take your live performances to the next level, this is easily the best value on the market. It is also available with a wireless ear monitor for singers who don’t like having a cord running down their body.
But it is not cheap. If you have a limited budget, check out the next option below. It makes some sacrifices, but it also costs less than half as much.
- Includes earbuds, receiver and transmitter
- Range of 300 feet (90 meters)
- Durable and reliable
- Incredible sound quality and isolation
- High price
Best Budget In-Ear Monitor System: Phenyx Pro PTM-10
The Phenyx Pro PTM-10 UHF wireless in-ear monitor system is another complete solution that blocks out excess stage noise and feeds consistent audio into your ear wherever you are on stage. It costs a lot less than the previous complete system by Shure, but it also lags behind in every area.
This system does everything well, but nothing quite as well as the Shure PSM300. It has a range of 140 to 160 feet, compared to the 300 foot range of the Shure.
The sound quality is also not quite as good and the fit not as comfortable (though this does depend on your personal preference). Similar to the Shure, it features an LCD display for pertinent information and to display the settings menu.
The Phenyx Pro PTM-10 system includes a set of in-ear monitors, a receiver, and a transmitter, along with a sturdy carrying case, a power adapter, two AA batteries, an antenna, and an extension cord. It also comes with metal racks for a professional rack mount use.
If you’ve got the money for it, the Shure system is the better choice. Obviously. But if you’re on more of a budget and you want a complete in ear monitor system that does everything well and won’t cost you too much, then this one from Phenyx is easily the best option.
- Includes headphones, receiver and transmitter
- Low price for a complete system
- Durable and reliable
- Not as good as the Shure system in any area
Singer’s Ear Monitor Buyer’s Guide
When buying in-ear monitor headphones, there are a few important characteristics you need to consider. We’re focusing specifically on singers, but the same characteristics are important for any other type of musician as well.
Singers do tend to move around stage a bit more, so range might be a bit more important as a singer, but any of the models featured above have an adequate range for even the largest stages.
The models above are also tops when it comes to any of the other important characteristics. Just find the one that best suits you and you’re set. You won’t have to worry about getting stuck with a useless monitor. If you’re going to buy some cheaply made piece of crap, you might as well just not get one at all.
That’s because not using any in-ear monitors is better than using lousy ones. You don’t want to go out on stage with a useless piece of equipment that will only serve to distract your attention from your performance. On that note, let’s take a look at the primary features you should consider when buying in-ear monitors.
Sound quality is the most important feature to consider. But it is hard to quantify.
The most common spec manufacturers bombard you with is the frequency range that their in-ear headphones cover. While this is an important trait, it’s not a definitive indicator of in-ear monitor quality. It is more important in standard earbuds. For monitors, you also need to consider how even the distribution is over the audible spectrum.
That said, some singers prefer to have more pronounced mid or high-end frequencies, which is a feature some monitors offer. These kinds of in-ears are especially useful for guitar-centric bands, where it’s important to make out what each of the instruments is doing and a less pronounced bass frequency helps with that.
But generally speaking, you want the tone to be as “flat” as possible. This makes for a better listening experience and gives a singer (or any performer) can get the most realistic “image” of what’s going on during a live show.
The quality of sound depends directly on the type of drivers, which are technically the speakers. There are monitors with single drivers, two drivers, or even triple drivers. There are various arguments as to how the number of drivers impacts the overall sound, but there are good in-ear monitors with any of these configurations. The number of drivers is not an indicator of quality.
The main idea here is not to obsess about the specs and the numbers. The best way to know how good a set of monitors are is to try them in action if you get the chance. If not, read user reviews carefully to learn what the common issues are with each particular model. The key is to not to get fooled by any of the usual retail tricks, like highlighting an “impressive” spec that doesn’t really mean much (like megapixels in a camera).
Ambient Noise Reduction
As you may have noticed, noise cancellation is one of the main selling points of good in-ear monitors. It’s usually expressed in decibels, which describe the amount of outside noise being reduced. This is somewhat of a challenge for in-ear monitor designers, as creating a complete “vacuum” might make wearing them feel unnatural.
Nonetheless, the more noise canceled out, the better. While performing vocals, you’ll want to have as little interference from background noise as possible. While you can’t expect them to remove everything, any of the models recommended above do an excellent job of canceling out background noise with their noise reduction technology.
Build Quality, Durability, And Reliability
The last thing you need is a flimsy in-ear monitor headphone that will fall apart, malfunction, or completely stop working mid-way through your show. The problem is that it’s hard to tell at first glance which in-ear monitors are durable and which aren’t.
The only way to get an idea of durability and reliability is to read customer reviews. Even better, talk to people who have actual experience using them.
That said, price is a pretty decent indicator. For the most part, you get what you pay for. You can’t expect to get great-sounding and long-lasting in-ear monitors at a low price.
But there are some great values on the market, where you get more than what you’re paying. That is the case for all of our recommendations on this page. In fact, it is exactly why we recommended them.
And our one deep budget pick, the BASN Bsinger Pro, does actually give you pretty good sound and build quality for a very low price.
One aspect of build quality many people overlook is how well they can handle moisture. Any live performance includes a lot of sweaty musicians on stage. You don’t want your earpieces malfunctioning because of it.
The last thing you want is to go out on stage and feel discomfort in your ear canal. Should something as small as a pair of headphones interfere with your mojo?
The perfect scenario is to feel as if there’s nothing in your ears. While that’s practically impossible unless you splurge on custom fit in-ear headphones, audio engineers can definitely make less expensive earbuds more comfortable as well.
Both the main construction and the silicone earpieces should be designed with comfort in mind. You want a pair of in-ear monitors that will always stay firmly in your ears, no matter what you’re doing on the stage.
Many manufacturers include a few different sizes of silicone earbuds to ensure that they fit any ear size and shape comfortably and firmly. You definitely want to make sure any set you buy has a few different earpiece options. Or buy some additional earpieces to ensure you get one that fits well.
At the end of the day, the last thing you want are in-ear monitors that make you want to pull them out and toss them in the trash mid-show.
Every pair of in-ear monitors has a few additional features. The most common one is detachable cables. What’s actually important to us is whether the cable holds well in the earphones. This is why many prefer MMCX connectors like the Bsinger. Another great solution is the lock-snap mechanism used by Shure.
Additional components are another common feature. Most manufacturers include different earbud sizes, ¼-inch adapters, and even carrying cases. While you may not care about many of these extras, some, like multiple earpiece sizes, are not only useful, but highly recommended.
Every new purchase starts with the same question: “How much money do I want to spend?” Having a price range automatically narrows down the choices and also sets your expectations at a certain level. As mentioned, you can’t expect high quality at a lower price.
At the same time, you should always be careful when buying higher-end in-ear headphones. You often end up paying for features you don’t need and you don’t want to spend a fortune on something that’s not really worth it.
The good news is that it’s much easier to find out about any of this beforehand in the age of the internet. That is in large part due to sites like this…I knew I’d be able to find another opportunity to toot my own horn before this article ended!