Canadian Musician - January/February 2023 - Page 22

ROAD TEST

ASI Audio 3DME Active Ambient In-Ear Monitoring System

By Benjamin Josh

ASI Audio ’ s 3DME active ambient inear monitoring system may be the future of IEMs . If the genre of music calls for backing tracks , IEMs are indispensable . But for the audience , live music doesn ’ t exist in a pair of headphones ; it lives and breathes in the room . A performance can have a tasteful mix , perfect timing , and perfect pitch , yet still fall flat if it doesn ’ t connect with the audience . When performers wear IEMs , they isolate themselves from the audience . This is especially problematic in smaller venues where constant communication with the audience is essential to the performance . You need to be able to hear your audience , not just your mix . Yes , there are workarounds . For example , you could put up a few room mics and put them in your monitor mix . But that just confuses your ears — you can ’ t tell which direction ambient sounds are coming from . Also , what if you want to communicate with your bandmates ? It ’ s annoying to have to constantly take out one of your in-ears .

ASI Audio ’ s solution is obvious yet effective — put ambient mics directly into the IEMs themselves .
They ’ ve essentially designed a hybrid between IEMs and hearing-aids , and let me tell you , it works . I was skeptical at first – I imagined an IEM system with an Apple headphone quality mic attached , but that ’ s not the case . These mics sound fantastic for ambient sounds , delivering a full frequency spectrum of the room without muddying up the monitor mix . Another worry I had was that my vocals would get picked up by the ambient mics and overpower the monitor mix , and I would be constantly adjusting levels . This wasn ’ t an issue . It was as though I was simultaneously wearing IEMs and not wearing IEMs — a very surreal experience .
ASI Audio also includes an app that allows you to EQ the room ambience on your phone or tablet via Bluetooth . It ’ s reliable and easy to use . You can also control the ambient volume directly on the bodypack itself , so no need to pull out your phone if you want to make volume adjustments midsong . The app also has a limiting option , which could lend itself well to genres that call for a louder stage volume . Though , if your stage volume is extremely loud , then this product may not even be necessary as you ’ d likely be wanting less ambient noise , not more .
As for the headphones themselves , they sound excellent . A fairly even response with an ever so slight bass boost . They look sleek and have an excellent battery-life . Though , I would definitely recommend using custom-fit silicone eartips for maximum isolation , or finding a brand of eartip that works for you . These come with the standard foam tips , which don ’ t fully block out all the sound , and in my opinion aren ’ t very comfortable . If you want to get the most out of ASI Audio ’ s design , or really any IEMs , having good tips is important .
This design , I feel , is the future of IEMs . With the rise and normalization of using backing tracks , performers are becoming more and more isolated . Live music is becoming less spontaneous and more heavily arranged . Don ’ t get me wrong , this is not necessarily a bad thing ! However , the trade-off is that in doing so , we musicians give ourselves fewer opportunities to play off each other , communicate with each other , be in the moment , and react to one another on stage . This is where some of music ’ s most magical moments can occur . It ’ s through designs like the 3DME that we can merge the world of musical spontaneity with that of rigid pop arranging . It ’ s such an obvious solution - put mics directly on our ears . That way we can hear our surroundings as we ’ re used to hearing them , while still keeping all the benefits of IEMs . I ’ ll say it again — live music doesn ’ t exist in a pair of headphones , it lives and breathes in the room with the audience , and performers should
feel like they ’ re in that room . This is a fantastic product that I look forward to incorporating into my own live performances .
Benjamin Josh is a Canadian singer-songwriter , pianist , producer , and music director based in Prince Edward Island . He was the winner of Music PEI ’ s 2022 Musician of the Year award .
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