Cleaning In Ear Monitors (How to clean IEM’s)

Sound Nerds Unite JodiVac How to Clean IEM

This quick post will show you how to clean in ear monitors, in ear monitor molds and how to clean earwax from earbuds quickly with just a few tools and a bit of time to take care of IEM earwax. Great for monitor engineers, FOH engineers, audiophiles and musicians!

Ensuring In Ear Monitors (IEM’s) are clean, holes unclogged and all drivers are working can save you precious troubleshooting time and gain some confidence in your mix — although not the most glamorous daily task.

In Ear Monitor Cleaning Kit! NEW! 

I put together a handy in ear monitor cleaning kit that includes everything you need to test and maintain your in ear monitors!

Sound Nerds Unite In ear Monitor Cleaning Kit

My tools & steps to clean in ear monitors

IEM Listening Tube!


Sound Nerds Unite In ear Monitor Listening Tube Black

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to listen and test each IEM driver?  I simply play pink noise into the IEM in question, then “probe” each hole to listen for proper function. This tool has saved me so much troubleshooting time when an artists says something is “wrong” with their ears. You would be surprised how many IEM drivers are blown and the artist tries to compensate not knowing the failure. Buy your simple & affordable listening tube!

Tip: The fine folks at Sensaphonics in Chicago also offer a nice molded version for their customers.

The Jodi-Vac In Ear Monitor Vacuum

Sound Nerds Unite JodiVac How to Clean IEMPrimarily used to keep hearing aids clean, friends at JH Audio and many others recommended the JodiVac in-ear monitor vacuum. I use the consumer model which seems to work just fine yet the pro model is also a great choice. Just be sure to keep the tip clear and verify suction. 

Buy your JodiVac from Sound Nerds Unite!

New! The IEM LED Cleaning Tool

Sound Nerds Unite In Era Monitor LED Cleaning ToolI’ve always wanted to combine a flashlight with the traditional wax loop tool.  I developed a simple product to help see the in ear monitor ports much easier! 

Order your own LED Cleaning Tool!

IEM Cleaning Solution

This concoction was recommended to me by my audiologist for flushing out ears — equal parts 91% isopropyl alcohol and white vinegar. I dip a lint free rag into this and wipe down each IEM before attempting to clean out any impacted holes.

IEM Cleaning Tool

This tool, often included with your IEM’s, has a small loop and a brush. I dip the loop in the cleaning solution and clean out the holes. The brush is good for hard to reach places. I’ll then use the Jodi-Vac to suck out the remaining wax.

Silica Packets Desiccant for IEMs

After the show, try to let your IEM’s air out a bit before putting them back in a case. I tend to throw a Silica Gel Packet (Desiccant) in the case. This helps combat moisture. Quick and easy. Tip: Grab the “Indicating Packs” if you would like to keep an eye on when the pack no longer is absorbing moisture.

Flashlight to see the wax

This process is best done in the daylight but the take away is you want to have plenty of light to see any other issues BELOW the hole opening. IEM’s come in many different colors— some easier than others to see the “tubes” within the IEM.

I hope sharing my workflow is helpful to you. Please let me know if you have some other tips for cleaning IEM’s.

Time needed: 10 minutes.

How do you clean IEM? How to clean In Ear Monitors Step by Step:

  1. Clean the shell of the IEM

    Clean the outside of ear bud using a link free cloth a safe cleaner (check with what your brand manufacturer recommends). I use a 1:1 solution of 91% isopropyl alcohol and white vinegar.

  2. Use the IEM cleaning tool 

    Use a simple IEM cleaning tool to remove some of the outer wax from the holes. I dip this tool/loop in a bit of the cleaning solution to loosen up the hard wax. I’ve always wanted to combine a flashlight with the traditional wax loop tool.  I developed a simple product to help see the in ear monitor ports much easier! 
    Affordable and simple! You can now order your own LED Cleaning Tool!

  3. Use Jodi-Vac to clear deeper wax in IEM

    Use an in ear vacuum like the Jodi Consumer Hearing Aid Vacuum Cleaner. Be careful to not insert the probe too far into the holes. You don’t want to push the wax deeper. Take your time here. 

  4. Test the In Ear Monitor using a IEM Listening Tube

    This tool has saved me so much troubleshooting time when an artists says something is “wrong” with their ears. You would be surprised how many IEM drivers are blown and the artist tries to compensate not knowing the failure. Buy your simple & affordable listening tube!

Other resources for how to clean your in-ear monitors (IEM’s):

JH Audio

How to clean your UE Pro IEMs

Need some help choosing the IEM model that works best for you? is a great place to start!

Editors Note: This post was originally published in 2016 and I try to update as often as possible for accuracy and helpfulness.

My Favorite RF/Wireless Links

In addition to my favorite wireless tools, Here are of my favorite and most helpful wireless/RF resources I mentioned recently in the Live Sound Summit Webinar hosted by Nathan Lively of Sound Design Live.

Of course staying close here and subscribing to my YouTube channel is a good start…

Software and online calculators:

Shure Wireless Workbench Coordination software.

600 Mhz is being activated every day! This map shows you where!

Easy web tool to calculate wavelength (and fraction of) of any frequency. Great for audio AND RF!

Another great calculator to help with free space loss!

Need to know if you have the right Shure gear for the location? Find out fast with this tool!

Quick ‘n dirty intermod calculator from Audio Technica!


Need some great coax wire? I recommend #118!

Easy tool from Times Microwave to quickly calculate cable loss of MANY different brands and types of coax!

Tips and Best Practices!

NYC Scans AND a great free IMD excel file!

Excellent resources and also a wonderful app to help calculate many common RF challenges.

The group over at RF Venue have really put together some great products yet also offer very helpful short blog posts on common RF challenges and best practices.

Professional Wireless has been the game a long time and deservedly so. Aside from offering powerful software and coordination services, they offer perfect tools to help with those more difficult days.

Whoa, You Can’t Do That!

Wonderful resources and services from some of the best in the biz!

Great collection of tips and best practices from Shure!



Live Sound Webinar!

A great opportunity to learn a BUNCH of sound goodies by some of the industries best leaders! The Live Sound Summit Webinar! PLUS you can do this from your couch! I’ll be presenting, too! Mention the code “SUMMIT30” for $30 OFF! Big thanks to Nathan of Sound Design Live!

Looking for some live sound resources, tips and tricks?


Test your IEM’s for blown driver fast!

A common challenge when trying to troubleshoot your own or others in ear monitors is the inability to hear individual drivers in order to test for blown drivers.

Simply play some pink noise or music and probe the holes to verify all drivers are working properly. Easy. Quick. Affordable.

Order your IEM Listening Tube now!

Radina IEM Listening TubeRadina IEM Listening Tube


Learn monitor mixing and career tips with Nicholas Radina!

Big thanks to Nathan Lively of Sound Design Live for the opportunity to share my career, gear and knob turning advice. I address a few of my monitor mixing tips, learning to say no in order to do more of the work you WANT to do, wireless coordination and IEM tips as well as a little history on my career path. Plus some cowbell smacking music interludes on the podcast! Enjoy! Interested in my additional live sound tips and tricks?

Affordable Wireless Microphones

Taking the plunge to free yourself of wires and enjoy the freedom of wireless microphones is quite tempting. Although if you’re not careful, the wireless path can bring about challenges not seen before.

The wireless landscape for our entertainment world has some twists and turns. The “chunk” of bandwidth allotted for wireless microphones and wireless in-ear systems shrinks every year. Tip: Be sure to double check the range of the unit. Stay within the 470Mhz – 614Mhz. Avoid anything in the 700 Mhz range.

Although I’ve written more complex articles tacking the wireless beast, this short article aims to recommend some quick wireless microphone best practices and affordable recommendations for the wedding DJ, singer or simple corporate gig.

Static and Drop Outs!

The two most common complaints I hear when helping troubleshoot budget friendly wireless is “static” and “drop outs“.  Both problems are closely related to poor reception from transmitter to receiver and channel selection.

How to make it better!

  1. Line Of Sight – keep the receiver off the ground and high enough to “see” over people.
  2. Antenna Orientation – Orient the antennas in a 45 degree “V” shape.
  3. Fresh Batteries — wireless transmission needs proper power — low batteries are no help. I recommend quality alkaline batteries like [amazon_textlink asin=’B00GTYF1ZU’ text=’Duracell ProCell ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’70c63ca6-d96a-11e7-b8d1-7d81815708a8′] or [amazon_textlink asin=’B00006LHDI’ text=’Energizer Industrial’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’75cf2ce4-d967-11e7-8d57-b7a497af35db’].
  4. Scan – If available, use the scan function every time you set up and use your microphone.

My Recommendations

(Tip: Be Sure to check out Amazon’s used options to save some $$!)

  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B01NAS7Q9Q’ text=’Sennheiser XSW 1-825′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2414ef77-d967-11e7-97b8-272eb99d518b’]
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B074F3GYGN’ text=’Audio-Technica ATW-2120b ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8c3ad9bd-d969-11e7-b592-abce019d03d7′]
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B01CIUS1IM’ text=’Shure BLX24′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c1a74e27-d969-11e7-b24b-61544bb9f37f’]

[amazon_link asins=’B00BRQ5AK6,B074F3GYGN,B01NAS7Q9Q’ template=’ProductGrid’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’183e5b30-d96a-11e7-8fb9-19f75a2d3055′]

Waves F6 review re-cap

Recently I wrote a quick review of the Waves F6 plugin for ProSoundWeb/LiveSound International Magazine.

This plugin seems to quite easily marry both fully parametric eq and frequency dependent compression in one nice, easy to use interface.

Waves F6 Nicholas Radina ProSoundWeb
Waves F6 Plugin Interface

Some key features:

  • M/S band mode for mid/side processing
  • Compression and expansion
  • Split/Wide side chain modes for processing flexibility
  • Internal and external side chain h Low CPU consumption
  • Zero latency
  • Parallel processing
  • Side chain solo

Waves F6 Screenshot Nicholas Radina

Check out the thorough user manual.

A great walkthrough of some key features of the Waves F6 by mix engineer Brad Divens.

Have you tried the Waves F6? Let me know what you think!

Watch my wireless coordination steps!

Do your wireless microphones, wireless guitars or IEM’s dropout unexpectedly or make strange sounds or static? Proper scanning and frequency choice (coordination) is key!

Watch my quick 2 minute video explaining my workflow using Shure’s free Wireless Workbench software, PSM1000 and UR4D’s.

A few quick tips for wireless success:

  • Antennas have line of sight and away from walls and metal
  • IEM antennas are in front of receiving (wireless mics and packs) antennas.
  • If unable to use coordination software, be sure to stay within the coordinated “GROUPS” of your respective wireless unit(s).

RF Explorer to manage wireless!

Nicholas Radina Red Rocks

This summer I’m headed out again to spend a few months turing knobs for my O.A.R. friends playing a ton of shows here in the U.S. Yet this time around, we will be joining big talents Train as well as Natasha Beddingfield — a great line up!

A bit different this summer

Usually I’m coordinating around 30+ channels of wireless daily. This breaks down to around 20 or so inputs (instruments and vocals) and 12 channels of IEM’s/ears plus spare packs as well as backup frequencies.

Nicholas Radina Guitar Straps

When O.A.R. is the headliner, much more control can be realized in regards to wireless. I often will coordinate wireless for the opening/support act also.

I’ll write a detailed post soon of how I generally coordinate using Shure’s Wireless Workbench, yet in the meantime this video briefly explains my workflow.

Working together

One difference this summer and this format is O.A.R. will be performing after Natasha and before Train which means there will be plenty of wireless to navigate each day.

A common courtesy with multiple band bills is acts will turn off their respective wireless when another act is on. This practice is quite helpful, and many times, essential.

Yet time is never on our side and being able to get a jump start on wireless coordination earlier in the day can be a huge help. In addition, often changeover times are brief and much can happen in those sacred minutes leading up to showtime. Being able to confirm your wireless is good ahead of time without stepping on another act is crucial.

Get to work early

I’ve found that being able to scan in realtime during an acts sound check can be quite reveling and helpful for my own coordination. Often my own gear will not be in place quite yet to perform a proper hardware scan. Using a tool such as the  the affordable [amazon_textlink asin=’B01EWSJP7Y’ text=’RF Explorer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8579365a-3144-11e7-b450-115e156f68a7′] can be quite a powerful compromise.

Nicholas Radina RF Explorer

Using this hardware scanner along with the free (PC only) and very powerful RF Explorer Software gives you the ability to see the RF environment in realtime plus export the data into Wireless Workbench!

Here is a wonderful tutorial by fellow sound nerd, Diogo Nunes Pereira on how to properly load [amazon_textlink asin=’B01EWSJP7Y’ text=’RF Explorer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6dc91af9-3145-11e7-a72e-efec096be40a’] data into Wireless Workbench.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll detail a bit more of my process in an effort to help you be more comfortable tuning in Tokyo! In the meantime, check out the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01EWSJP7Y’ text=’RF Explorer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ddb401cd-3147-11e7-ac10-f54061f8353c’]!

New live sound classes!

By popular demand, I’m developing a series of smaller hands-on classes covering one specific topic such as:

  • Wireless/RF
  • Monitor mixing
  • FOH mixing
  • Live Sound for Musicians
  • Digital and analog console training.

If helpful to you, fill out the short form below and I’ll keep you in the loop on when registration will be open!


Take control of your multiple keyboards on stage!

If you play multiple keyboards, a common challenge is not having enough control over your monitor levels and the FOH mix. My solution may just help you!

I want control!

It can be quite challenging having to rely on changing your monitor levels at the PA mixer usually on the other side of the stage or relying on your busy sound engineer. (if  you even get your own monitor mix!)

The big, heavy keyboard amp

Often multiple keyboards may be going into a keyboard amp such as the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0002D0OP6′ text=’Roland KC350′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’75fc1635-1563-11e7-8d2c-5b843d039615′]. The KC350, and the like,  allows you to mix your keyboard levels, provide one “mix” to a line output and speaker in one convenient package. YET, if you would like to have control over the volume of each keyboard in your monitor, you need to find another solution.

Your own tiny mixer!

This solution simply submixes all keyboards using a small, inexpensive mixer, such as the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0027B41P0′ text=’Behringer Xenyx 1002b’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’03e70a9a-1566-11e7-84b3-4ba6aa0337b8′]. This solution would combine each of your keyboards and send one mono (or a stereo) line to the FOH mixer and a separate line to a powered speaker for the your individual mix. This monitor mix is independent of the levels going to FOH — excellent! Just be sure whichever mixer you choose has at least one prefader aux send and as many line-inputs as you need. (tip: depending on your keyboards, you may be able to simply add a little [amazon_textlink asin=’B003CEXPSA’ text=’velcro’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’55af0712-156a-11e7-9488-71db1e53846b’] to the mixer and keyboard to keep the mixer handy and secure!)

Hear yourself!

Add a nice powered speaker like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00CE0VLXO’ text=’Electro-Voice ZLX12P’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6fd0d79d-1564-11e7-abb3-7940afa31df4′]  or the smaller powerhouse, [amazon_textlink asin=’B0037WGVTC’ text=’Electro-Voice ZXA1′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cca04dec-1564-11e7-b3d0-6ba7fc86c9fe’] and you have a powerful, small and lightweight solution to keep you in control of your mix! Hear even better by using a simple speaker/amp stand like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HWRDSVM’ text=’Gator Combo Amp Stand’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’531fb701-156f-11e7-bba5-bbba54de8661′].

Tip, you could also add your own vocal microphone line to your mixer but throw a simple [amazon_textlink asin=’B000068O59′ text=’XLR “y-cable”‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’soundapi-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’38f33600-1566-11e7-999c-f36d70f6dbcd’] (one side to the FOH mixer, the other to your mixer!)

New live sound classes!

By popular demand, I’m developing a series of smaller hands-on classes covering one specific topic such as:

  • Wireless/RF
  • Monitor mixing
  • FOH mixing
  • Live Sound for Musicians
  • Digital and analog console training.

If helpful to you, fill out the short form below and I’ll keep you in the loop on when registration will be open!