One of the most common problems for touring musicians is losing the seal on their custom acrylic in-ear monitors. The result is a loss of low frequencies – obviously a huge issue for bass players.
Téja, the bassist for Janelle Monae, knows this from personal experience. “It’s a real distraction on stage, because we depend on our in-ears,” she says. “It was frustrating, because they sounded good when the isolation was there, but the seal would always pop when I was singing, or even just smiling too big.”
Before a summer Janelle Monae show in Chicago, band and crewmembers met with Sensaphonics personnel Claudia Pyne (artist relations) and Dr. Laura Sinnott, Au.D., about hearing health and in-ear monitors. During the discussion, Téja brought up some of her questions and concerns, especially regarding her difficulty in maintaining a seal on stage. She was excited to learn about the flexible soft silicone in Sensaphonics earpieces, which provide significantly more isolation and a stronger, more persistent seal.
“When Claudia showed us these soft, pliable molds that extend deep into the ear canal, I was like, ‘this is what I’ve been wanting!’ Until that moment, I didn’t even know that soft molds existed,” says Téja.
After listening to and loving the accurate, neutral response of a Sensaphonics dual-driver sample, Téja ordered the 3MAX triple-driver, single crossover model designed to deliver a little extra bass sound. She reports that both the isolation and sound quality are everything she had hoped for.
“With Janelle, I’m singing background as well as playing bass, so it’s very important for me to have both bass clarity and vocal clarity, and the 3MAX have given me both,” she says. “They’re very balanced, and the mid-register is great. And since I never lose my seal now, I can actually hear what I’m playing. I’m really excited about it.”
The other thing that Téja appreciates about Sensaphonics is the company’s focus on hearing health. “Ear health has always been a secret panic of mine,” she admits. “As a musician, the possibility of losing your hearing is just a horrible thought. So knowing these monitors support healthy hearing really matters a lot to me.”
Asked about how the 3MAX affects her during a gig, Téja explains: “First, they’re very comfortable – like I forget they’re in my ear. And my bass sounds great. I use my amps on stage and can feel the bass through the the cabs, but now I can hear my bass through my ears, and the isolation means I don’t have to turn up my volume as much. Our monitor engineer is always like, ‘Really? You’re volume is so low!’ And I’m just like, ‘But I hear it really well!’ And I do. With my old system, after a two-hour show, my ears would be ringing. Now, when I take my monitors out, my ears aren’t ringing and I don’t feel so fatigued. It’s a blessing.”
When she’s not on the road with Janelle Monae, Téja is usually in Atlanta, working on her own music. “A couple years ago, I put out an EP of covers, just for myself,” she explains. “It’s called The Hopeless Romantic, and I posted it online so you can download it for free. Now I’m in the process of working on original music, which I hope to release next year. It’s a new direction for me, just growing as an artist and moving forward. And I can tell you, whatever the future brings, my Sensaphonics will be with me.”