The Aviom personal monitor mixer system puts an end to the phrase “can you turn me up a little in the monitor?” Imagine never hearing those words again. Personal monitor mixing systems take the control away from the sound operator and pass it to the user.
Simply stated, personal monitor mixer systems are digital systems where all sound board mixer channels are routed into a digital cable. This cable then feeds individual mixers where each mixer controls the volume of the same channels for the output hooked into that specific personal mixer.
The monitor system is comprised of three pieces; an input component for routing all signals into a digital format and into a digital cable, small personal mixers which are feed the digital lines, and some form of speaker attached to the lineout of the mixer. The speaker takes the form of a monitor or headphones. The headphones are usually IEM’s (in-ear monitors) that sit in your ear canal, thereby not allowing outside sounds to be heard.
Personal monitor mixers allow each user (singer, musician, soloist, etc) to control the various sounds they hear. For example, a guitarist wants to hear the drums for establishing the beat and a bit of the singer to match the mood (laid back, intense, etc). Singers standing close together might not be able to hear themselves, so a personal mixer would be great for hearing their own voice with a little bit of volume of the other singers so they can harmonize.
Personal mixers, like the Aviom, are ideal for providing sound that is needed and eliminating the sound that is not.
Personal mixers are ideal for a variety of users. Worship teams with musicians and singers benefit from hearing only the sounds they need. Soloists benefit from CLEARLY hearing the accompanist or accompaniment track.
The mixers can be placed anywhere. Singers like them on a stand. The keyboardist might like a small stand or sitting right on the piano. They are only limited by the length of digital cable available. The cables can be plugged into a floor jack or straight into the rack unit. In the case of the optional Aviom distributor unit, the unit connects via a single cat5 cable to the rack input module in the sound booth. Otherwise, each mixer cable would have to come from the sound booth.
Aviom or Hearback?
In a recent upgrade at my church, we looked at the Hearback and Aviom monitoring systems. The Hearback system was a very good system that was significantly cheaper than Aviom. Also, the folks at Hear Technologies were very helpful in answering our questions. The Aviom system was a good chunk of money and based on that alone, we initially ruled it out.
Comparing the two systems, they both had their pro’s and con’s. However, the more we researched Hearback, the more limitations we found in developing a middle-to-large scale mixer system. Primarily, Hearback mixers allowed control for six audio channels – [note: they have recently increased this to ten]. We have a worship team that takes ten channels and we were expecting to add a couple more. Aviom mixers allow control for sixteen channels. By the time we’d configured a Hearback system to match our needs, the price was just under Aviom but still with the six channel limitation.
We’ve been using the Aviom personal monitor mixing system for a few months now and love it. Congregation members are saying our worship teams sound better. Those of use using the system are finding we are playing more confidently and blending better. Singers are saying “I can finally hear myself!”
The biggest benefit of the Aviom system is ease of use. During practice, we adjust our mixer levels and for good measure save the settings as a preset. Then, when it’s time to walk on stage, we just plug in our headphones and we’re good to go.
Additionally, you can have a worship team practice without a sound booth operator. As long as you can turn on a few components, all sound is going through the Aviom system which each person control.
One disadvantage of the system is it doesn’t include mixer mounts. If you want to mount your mixers on a mic stand, you must purchase the $25 mixer mounts. That’s $25 each.
Here is the base package you need for setting up the Aviom system.
Aviom AN016/i 16 channel input module
“The AN-16/i converts sixteen line-level analog audio channels into uncompressed, full bandwidth 24-bit digital data transmitted via Aviom’s proprietary A-Net protocol. A dedicated audio Thru is available for each input channel, allowing the AN-16/i Input Module to be inserted into an existing audio signal path.” from Aviom.com
Aviom A16ii Personal mixers (you need one for each person that will be using one)
“The A-16II Personal Mixer allows each performer to control his/her own mix including: volume, mute, solo, and pan for up to sixteen audio channels. Sixteen custom mix snapshots can be saved as Presets for instant recall. ” from Aviom.com
You’ll also need plenty of cat5 cable and headphones (IEM’s) for each user. Shure makes the E2 and E3 IEM’s ideal for this situation.
We opted to add the Aviom A-16-D Pro Net Distributor. It eliminates the need to daisy-chain personal mixers and simplifies stage setup. Additionally, if our sanctuary is ever enlarged, we only swamp in one longer digital cable instead of one for each mixer.
There are a variety of resellers of the Aviom equipment so shop around for the best prices. If you have a local audio company that performs sound system installations, consider contacting them as well for more information. They might let you demo the system for a week or two.
Since we purchased the Aviom system, Hearback appears to have beefed up their systems so they are more inline with Aviom but in my opinion, still a few steps short for medium-to-large set-ups. Study both systems and then determine which product would be best for your need.