I am in a 4 piece band (banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass)
we have 2 vocalists.
we use 2 vocal mics (SM58's) and 2 instrument mics (57's or similar)
the bass plugs into an amp. (its an upright with a pickup under the bridge)
we run that through a mixer and into a single PA speaker.
we play in small venue so we dont have a lot of room.
the biggest problem we have is hearing eachother. we have used monitors before but always run into feedback issues.
ideally i dont want to lug around a lot of gear. i also hate having the volume increase and increase as people try to get more volume because they cant hear themselves. this just leads to a too loud mess.
i was thinking about looking into in ear monitors.
Ive used in-ear monitors with various groups and in some off broadway play productions too. My opinion of in-ear montiors are based on how good of a quality they are. All monitors are not created equally and price comes into play. The other factor is in who's setting the system up and running it. Sometimes the band has to run the system and one of the player has to be the 'ear monitor guy' and make adjustments to the mixes. The times that I have been really pleased with these ear monitors is when there is a real, dedicated sound tech giving each person a specific mix, the signal EQ'ed,etc. The corrections to the individual settings make all the difference between a crappy sounding monitor and good one. But theres something unnatural, for me, in having both ears plugged while playing. Its similar in feel to being in the studio, using headphones. Ive never been able to really get into a groove with both ears covered, no matter how good the mix. So, I usually partially remove one headphone to get some outside air/sound. I also like this with in-ear monitors-not having both ears completely plugged up with them. But some folks love the in0ear systems and seem to function fine. But theres definitely an advantage of having someone who can be out front as you play, mixing and adjusting things in real time, vs one of the band members trying to play, and also run over to do tweeks,and trying to play also. If you plan on getting these monitors, I'd say spend as much as you can afford.
The sound quality depends on the system you are using. You can spend thousands on pro in ear gear, and the ear buds, or you can get very budget consience models like the one I have. I bought a inexpensive Nady system with four wireless packs. It works well. We don`t use them all the time especially in small venues, as we can usually here each other good with out them. We play fairly close together. The bass player who is behind most of us has the most issues with hearing. They will definitly illiminate feedback. I think they are a great tool. They can take some time to get used to so practice with them in.
I use Shure SE 530's for both monitors and general listening with iPod and stereo. They've got three drivers and incredible sound. Obviously, there's no feedback, they cut out most extraneous sound and solve any problems with hearing the other instruments. Just be sure your sound person is careful with the levels. They'll blow the top of your skull off if someone pushes the volume too far!
Always be careful with the volume! It is very easy to turn up the volume loud enough to damage your hearing!
Admittedly almost everyone on this forum will have lost the ability to hear some frequencies, it's a fact of life that nearly all of us can't hear up to 20kHz. But don't damage them any more by listening to too high music!
I play at church, to monitor myself, oI use a Rolls PM-50s. I modified it to be portable by adding a 9 volt battery and home made belt clip. I'm also using an Audio-Technica Pro 35. Your mic plugs in, the mixer plugs in, your monitor feed plugs in, and your headphones. You control your volume and the monitor volume separately, so if you want to hear yourself louder than others you can. Since the signal is passed thru, you don't have to worry about the volume at the mixer being affected by your controls. I'll add some images to my home page to show the modifications.
I've used the Aviom system in various gigs. It's slick. And not cheap. But everyone in the band gets their own personal 26-channel mix that they can manage, so you don't need a 2nd sound guy to do it. It can also be run into a powered monitor if you want.