Those that know me, know that I don’t have a problem with spending money once I can hear the benefits in my rig. In ear monitors, as many of you know are not something you can try then buy, you have to read reviews, learn from your friends experiences and trust the company you are purchasing from. I have been playing guitar on worship teams for just over 12 years now and not once felt the need for in ears.
I grew up playing mostly small churches with wedge monitors and the dreaded “hot spot” monitors that sounded like complete trash. In the past few years most of the churches I have played at use aviom or similar systems with either wired or wireless in ears. I have used everything from $9 Skull-Candy ear buds to most recently the Shure SE215 in ear monitors. I loved these monitors and these were enough better than the other stuff I was using that I decided to start researching in ears.
Alclair had been on my radar for quite some-time because they advertised in a few other Christian publications and were fairly new. They also had the most affordable prices, starting at $249 for their Versa in ears. I reached out to them with the intent of ordering the Versa or the dual drivers. After chatting with them for a bit, they recommended that I go with the Tour Triple Driver or the RSM Quad Driver, both of which had been used by David Crowder and his band. In the end, Alclair recommended the Tour, since I rarely sing and mostly play electric guitar. Below are the specs for the Tour Triple Drivers:
- Three Drivers
- 2-Way Crossover
- Dual Bore
- -26dB Noise Reduction
- 36 Ohm Impedance
- 110 dB SPL Input Sensitivity (@100mV)
- 22 Ohm DC Resistance
Next, I went through deciding what I wanted them to look like which was no easy feat. Out of all the custom in ear manufacturers Alclair has the most design choices, allowing you to customize your in ears to your exact specs. As most of you know by now I love orange so I did orange shells, white faceplates, clear cables and two different Alclair logos so I could tell which was left and right easily.
Fast forward to delivery. The in ears were made on time with no delays and were shipped professionally to my doorstep in a super durable Pelican case. Many of the other companies charge extra for cases but Alclair includes them with every set of in ears. Since I got mine they have switched to Hand-Crafted Leather cases made in Haiti.
First use of them was very smooth. They fit in my ears perfectly and the chord was the perfect length, which was a great improvement over the other in ears I was using which were way too long.
Upon plugging my guitar in before rehearsal I noticed an immediate difference. So much so that I had to go and re-eq my Aviom unit. There was a ton more clarity across the entire frequency range. I was hearing things in my guitar tone that I hadn’t been able to hear before.
When the entire band arrived and we began practice I again made some adjustments to my Aviom mix and eq on the Aviom unit, but again the Alclair in ears clarity helped me to hear things I hadn’t been able to hear before. It took the harshness out of the high end and made vocals, guitar and keys extremely clear in the mix. The only comparison I can give you is that it sounds like you are in the room listening to the band instead of being on stage listening through in ears.
The second thing I noticed but took longer to appreciate was that my ears never hurt, I never have discomfort in my ears. The Alclair’s fit perfectly and I can play for hours with any ear discomfort or pain.
Upon arrival I did have some concern regarding the wound clear cord and whether it would be durable enough because there isn’t a rigid coating over top of it like what Shure does. I have been using them for 6 months now and have had no issues, so my concerns were debunct. Alclair also sells replacement cords at super affordable prices so even if they didn’t last replacement wouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
The other thing that I noticed was that the orange color was not as bright orange as what I saw in their designer. Upon inspection and trying the designer on a few different screens I realized that it was an issue with my Dell monitors. Alclair clearly states that there can be color differences depending on your monitor, in their editor but I wanted to include the warning her too. The orange color I got is still appealing and the sound and build quality made up for any disappointment regarding the color. That said make sure that when you design your monitors you know that there could be some variance in color.
As someone who went into this process as a skeptic, I remain absolutely blown away. While I tried to stay objective throughout this entire review, I feel that I should state how much I now believe in custom molded in ears. Not only do I have a new appreciation for in ears but I couldn’t think of a better company to order from than Alclair. They were informative and responsive during the entire build process. Additionally I give them massive credit for delivering the in ears on time. Many new companies and “custom” built products end up taking months over when they are promised. This was not the case with Alclair.
I am an amp guy. In the past I have spent all my money on amps and guitar gear, ignoring what I was actually hearing on stage. Take it from me. You can have all of the high-end gear in the world but if your in ears are junk it is always going to sound like junk. The $499 investment, in my eyes was worth about $10,000 because, now I can hear all $10,000 of my stereo guitar rig!