“A new way to hear music” – 3DME reviewed
May 26, 2022
I HEARD THAT!
I love being surprised - it is my happy place, and I can't tell you how happy I was to experience the 3DME Active Ambient In-Ear Monitoring System by ASI AUDIO x Sensaphonics. When I unboxed the unit, I was expecting the typical in-ear monitoring system. Wired body pack for review (usually wireless for actual use), middle of the road earbuds, normal stuff. The 3DME Active In-Ear Monitoring System is nothing like that. For me, it has opened up a new way of hearing music.
There are three components to the system. The 3DME Active Ambient Earphones, Bodypack Mixer / Amplifier and ASI Audio Smartphone App. I noticed the unit had no connections for external sound and I was curious as to how this would work in a real-life situation. The packaging on the box showed an app to download, which I was able to get with no problem.
The app itself is straightforward and intuitive. It has three menu items: Main, Equalizer, Options (which I'll get to shortly). Everything syncs via Bluetooth. What I love about this product is how easy it is to get up and running. Instructions aren't really needed (but are available), and I was able to get everything operational within a few minutes. The unit comes in a nice, compact carying case which is great fro someone like me who carries everything I need in a backpack.
A NEW WAY TO HEAR
Then, I put them on...oh my. I decided to do an initial test at home. My wife likes to listen to the television set at sub-sonic levels that only babies and animals can hear. Instantly, I was able to hear everything with great clarity. The sound was crystal clear. There's no other way to describe it. I loved them so much I didn't take them off for the rest of the night. This really got my curiosity peaking so I took a closer look.
The in-ear monitors are headphones with built in binaural microphones. You might remember the "Dummy Head" with binaural microphones in each ear. It was used to replicate how the human head hears sound, and the results were stunning. Well, imagine your head is the "Dummy Head" with binaural microphones in each ear enhancing every sound in the room. The full frequency, dynamic-ranged microphones were designed to capture the natural ambience of a room with accurate 3-D directionality.
The 3DME IEM System uses Active Ambient Technology, a proprietary technology developed by the founder of Sensaphonics, Dr Michael Santucci, According to asiaudio.com, Dr. Santucci was able to master embedding tiny binaural mics into headphones to bring room ambiance to your monitor mix as a discrete signal, while also enhancing sound quality. You can really hear this when you're playing an acoustic instrumrnt and singing with it.
The body pack is designed to provide distortion free ambience up to 135 dB-SPL. The volume was amazing, and I found myself turning the unit down before I experienced distortion. The body pack is small and easy to use, intuitive, and has a battery that can last up to seven hours.
POWERFUL CONTROL IN YOUR HAND
The ASI Audio App was another happy place for me. For starters, it's FREE and if it's FREE it's for ME! It works with both Apple and Android devices and is very simple and easy to understand. The main menu shows the Mic Level and Limiter dB-SPL Threshold. The mic level allows you to determine the sensitivity of the microphone which increases the volume. The Mic Level Control provides up to 12 dB boost over the ambient sound of the mics, and this is also controllable at the body pack. The left and right channels can be adjusted together or separately. I didn't have a use for this function, so I left everything linked together. I imagine if you are standing next to a drummer, and you want to limit the side the drummer is on more than the other side you have the flexibility to do that. But what surprised me was the EQ...
USING IT WITH A BAND
My immediate thought was this was perfect for an acoustic set up with ambient sound, but not for a live band where I need a monitor mix. I was mistaken. I discovered the power of EQ. The EQ is a simple seven-band EQ. However, using the EQ I was able to boost the bass guitar, cut the drums, push the vocals - all the tricks studio engineers have been doing for years - and I was able to do this all with the app. You will want to play with the settings to find the sweet spot that works for you, but for me I had better results when I ran the Limiter at a lower level and the Mic level at around +2. Because the app is a sound enhancer, I was able to run the monitors at a lower level and dial in what I wanted to hear using the EQ. AND I could talk to the band while playing without having to talk over a separate band channel or over a live mic. I never missed the monitor mix, and I was able to hear myself better and clearer than when I did have a monitor mix.
I was able to hear myself well, and was able to sing in tune and play in sync with the band because I was hearing what everyone else was hearing - and that's the power of ambient sound. However if you need to have a monitor mix, there is an input mini-jack (3.5mm) on the left side of the unit that will receive the monitor signal. A stereo jumper cable is provided to plug into the body pack from a headphone extension cable. The input is pre-EQ and Limiter, but the volume is set at the source of the external monitor. What you hear is a mixed signal that goes through the 3DME EQ and limiter.
USE IN CHURCH
Our church is smaller and I often have to pull double duty. I lead worship and then I teach. One of the constant complaints is my inability to hear the congregation. Traditional IEM's isolate you and put you in your own world and this is where the 3DME is a game changer. Not only can you hear the band, but you can hear the people sing. No longer do I have to feel disconnected from the congregation. It also is a good product for those who need audio enhancement to hear the message. Did I menton no wires, no wireless router crashes (for those who know), no hassles with someone dialing in your monitor mix? It is a complete self-contained system.
Retail is $699.00. This is in line with most quality IEM systems. Higher quality ear buds can run up to $1000.00. For those who want a custom-fit soft silicone ear tip, Sensaphonics offers this option. Personally, I believe the 3DME Active Ambient In-Ear Monitoring System by ASI AUDIO x Sensaphonics is a must have, especially for smaller church buildings with sound limitations. This takes the concept of the "quiet stage" to a new level. Now you hear the actual stage and the people singing in the congregation in a small self-contained unit.
Holland Davis is a teaching pastor, veteran worship leader, composer of the awar-winning song Let It Rise, and the author of a book entitled "Let It Rise: A Manual For Worship." He is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel San Clemente and CEO of worshipsong.com. You can follow him on twitter or Instagram @hollanddavis