Mobile DJs have a few options for remote transmission to speakers. Let’s look at a couple and find out why the In Ear Monitor is the best solution.

Name Your Price

Typically when one starts talking about a wireless solution to broadcast out to remote speakers it tends to become a hot topic. Part of the reason it’s so contentious is that an In Ear Monitor (IEM) tends to start around $1000 like the Sennheiser IEM 300 G3 and up while some other options out there rest around the $400 mark like the Rode Filmmaker Kit and the Alto Stealth Wireless solutions. Many DJs ask what solution may work best for them and if they really have to invest in a fairly expensive piece of equipment.

The Rode Filmmaker Kit

On paper, the Rode Filmmaker (RodeLink) Kit looks pretty good. With prices around the $359-399 mark, it is a pretty inexpensive solution. It’s actually made as a lavalier kit, but it functions as a simple transmitter and receiver and a couple DJs that use it have told me they swear by it.

Positives:

  • Price is competitive with similar units in the space.
  • Ultra-portable with two lav pack sized transmitter and receiver.

Negatives:

  • Frequency response is listed at 35Hz-22kHz. Now, this is better than a lot in this space, but you still do lose a little bit on the low end.
  • It lives in the 2.4GHz spectrum which means battling everything from cell phones, Bluetooth, microwaves, wireless lights, security systems, and squishy humans. The higher the frequency, the more difficult it is to push through walls and people.
  • It’s limited to 8 channels meaning you have a greater chance of not finding a working frequency depending on your situation.

The Alto Stealth Wireless

I’ve personally owned this for about 18 months and had various levels of success with it. The price was right at $399 at the time, especially as a growing solo DJ business, it was hard to justify the higher cost of the IEM. Do I regret the purchase? Not really, however with it batting around .600 in the success department, I lost a lot of confidence using it over time.

Positives:

  • Price is competitive with similar units in the space.
  • XLR Input does not require a typical converted 3.5mm connector.

Negatives:

  • While it is in a legal 500 MHz spectrum, it is limited to 16 channels of use. Greater than the Rode, but still way short of other options out there.
  • Frequency response is limited to 50MHz-17kHz. You lose out a bit on the low and top end.
  • It’s not rack mountable without jerry rigging it in. I did that with mine, putting velcro on the bottom so I could remove it and better position it in my more difficult situations.
  • And the reason to have to remove it from an installation is has fixed antennas, so relocating antennas is not possible.
  • Personal experience is that this does not meet or exceed it’s 300′ reported range except in only extreme cases and sometimes even short distances just did not work well.

 The Sennheiser IEM 300 G3

So this is the tank of the industry. If you go to many tours or other sound installations, the Sennheiser IEM is a staple and for good reason. But since it’s not cheap many (including myself at one point) turn to other less-expensive solutions.

Positives:

  • 25Hz – 15kHz frequency response. Top end is a little chopped off, but pretty solid low end.
  • Meets or beats reported range of 300′.
  • Rack-mountable to make it a permanent fixture.
  • BNC connectors allow for relocation of antennas and use of different antenna types.
  • Operates in the 470-608MHz spectrum inside three bands (A1, A, and G).
  • The display on “lav pack” and base shows signal strength and line output.
  • More channels available and the ability to auto-scan to get the cleanest frequency to work on.

Negatives

  • Price (but you get what you pay for).
  • No native XLR input on “lav pack”.

Range. Range. Range.

One of the biggest requirements of any mobile DJ is the ability to transmit some distance between your core system and a remote speaker. All three products listed here list as 300′ of range but I can tell you from experience at least the Alto almost never would work inside those specs. And I am not sure of the Rode but given that it works in the 2.4GHz spectrum that distance would likely only work in a pure line-of-sight scenario (my 2.4GHz home wireless solution does not exceed 100′-125′). But, as the video shows, I was outside the 300′ zone with some distance I could still travel with the Sennheiser IEM and that was not in an ideal line-of-sight scenario. People, objects, doors, wifi, microwaves, all while inside my digital box with all the gear potentially blocking that signal as well, all with a stock quarter-wave dipole antenna.

Do Not Compromise

As a wedding DJ, I do not want my couples or their guests or the venue looking at me if there is a dropout of the signal. I am there to provide quality sound in optimal locations, and those locations many times are not hospitable to running wires. This is why I turn to the Sennheiser IEM 300, so much so that I purchased a second one for my ceremony rig so I can have a completely wireless and battery powered solution to boot.

Author - Lou Paris

Author Biography: Lou Paris of Paris Creative

Lou Paris has been DJing since 1988 and has a deep passion for music of all styles and genres and became and wedding DJ in 2012. Coincidentally Lou is also a successful 20+ year IT professional and has merged many technology concepts to ensure a successful night of entertainment. Click here to learn more about Lou's background.