Music Connection’s Steve Sattler checks out the ASI 3DME GEN2 Bluetooth Active Ambient In-Ear Monitoring System
Aug 18, 2022
by Steve Sattler, Music Connection
First released in October 2020 during the height of the pandemic, ASI Audio x Sensaphonics’ 3DME Active Ambient in-ear monitoring system is based on technology created by audiologist, lifelong musician and Sensaphonics founder, Dr. Michael Santucci, who designed his first IEM in 1982 and whose companies have been leading innovators of advanced in ear monitor technology ever since.
According to Dr. Santucci, the ASI Audio 3DME project came to life as an extension of the active ambient technology he had developed to help working musicians keep their hearing safe. With traditional IEM technology, the goal is to isolate the user from the environment. However, one of the unintended consequences is the tendency for the user to remove one IEM removing one ear of an IEM to “hear what’s going on in the room” which can lead to a variety of hearing problems for the user. To solve this problem, the Active Ambient technology introduced the ability for the musician to blend local stage sound with their IEM monitor signal.
This primary design goal of the ASI 3DME Gen2 is to incorporate ambient room sound into the monitor feed of the IEM to give the user a reduced feel of isolation. To accomplish this, ASI Audio x Sensaphonics came up with a unique design incorporating a sub-miniature, full bandwidth MEMS microphone built into each earpiece which feed preamps in the belt pack. The ASI Audio App is used to set a user-controlled blend of the ambient sound of the stage (including dialog between musicians) with the monitor mix.
The ASI Audio 3DME Gen2 builds on the already impressive feature set of the original 3DME and features a high-resolution signal path running dual-driver in-ear monitors (IEMs). The ASI 3DME Gen2 Monitoring system consists of the IEM Monitors, belt pack preamp/mixer/processor and the free ASI Audio App, which is available for download for Android or iOS devices.
The microphones are capable of handling up to 130 dB SPL of sound pressure level without clipping, making the 3DME Gen2 useable in the loudest acoustical environments. Dr. Santucci’s technology is patented, and the patent extends to include a belt pack and the recently upgraded app.
The ASI 3DME Gen2 Bluetooth Active Ambient In-Ear monitoring system costs about one-third of the price of the Sensaphonics touring IEMs, though the system can now be upgraded to include tour grade custom earpieces.
With the 3DME Gen2 App, users can EQ their mix via the seven band EQ and then save their presets for future recall. The App EQ settings can be controlled by step (manual) mode or present mode. Once the App is connected to the belt pack via Bluetooth, all your saved EQ presets automatically port over to the belt pack. The second page of the App shows your equalizer settings from which you can create, save, and recall multiple EQ settings for whatever rooms or spaces you may be currently working in.
There is also a built-in brick wall limiter built into the App on which you can separate the level on one or both ears. With the App, you can turn up one ear and adjust the EQ and control the volume of each earpiece and compensate for any hearing loss the user may be expiring in one of both ears. The App allows you to always compare with a flat response via a compare function, a Seal Test to make sure your 3DME Gen2 earpieces are properly fitted into your ears as well as a battery level readout.
The belt pack has volume plus and minus controls to set the overall level of the ambient mix and can be optionally used to toggle two different saved ambient microphone settings. Also on the belt pack is a Mini USB port for charging the device’s internal battery (which has an extended life in the 3DME Gen2).
The 3DME Gen2 system brings some significant advancements over the original 3D-ME technology. For pro users, the internal EQ and limiter can be bypassed to return control to the monitor engineer. Microphone Levels on the IEMs can be set individually for your left ear or right ear or together. The Input sensitivity can also be adjusted, and you can set the App’s brick wall limiter not to exceed a given threshold for each ear. With newly enhanced limiter performance. If you have any kind of hearing disorder that affects your ability hear yourself on stage, the 3DME Gen2 will in most cases allow you to compensate for your hearing loss. For users with significant hearing loss in one ear there is a CROS feature that allows you to hear a stereo mix in one ear. The 3DME can also be used as high-end ear plugs with the added advantage of being able to EQ and control the overall listening level.
The 3DME Gen2 ships with universal fit earpieces in several sizes that should accommodate most users Custom molded ear tips are also available, along with the new pro earpiece option and an app selection to optimize the belt pack performance for the type of earpieces in use.
The 3DME Gen2 from ASI Audio x Sensaphonics is fundamentally different from any other in-ear monitor technology currently on the market. The 3DME Gen2 is not cheap, but for what you’re getting and the problems the 3DME Gen2 solves over traditional IEM technology, for any professional, touring or church musicians, any working musician dealing with hearing loss or a musician who just wants to be more in touch with what’s happening on stage, it’s more than worth the cost.
The ASI 3DME Gen2 Bluetooth Active Ambient In-Ear monitoring System is available now for $799.00.