"It's difficult when you’re a DJ and a singer. I'd have ringing in my ears after every show." – Koven why they created their custom in-ear monitor setup

(Image credit: Future)

As both a vocalist and DJ, Koven’s Katie Boyle presents DJ sets that are a little different – and more technologically demanding – than a lot of electronic artists. Her on-stage setup is tailored around a need to both mix and monitor tracks, as well as sing over the top of the mix, with the ability to properly hear her own vocals as well staying tuned into the room and crowd reaction.

When it comes to monitoring, there are plenty of live or DJ setups tailored to one or other side of this – DJ gear that makes it easy to cue up tracks in a mix, or live monitors that let a vocalist hear their own bespoke mix – but not a lot that allows for switching between the two.

Earlier this year we met up with Boyle at the HQ of Patchwork London, the company behind Koven’s new custom in-ear monitoring system, which is designed to overcome these technical needs.

“The reason for the new monitoring system, mainly is for my hearing protection,” Katie explains. “Everybody has earplugs, which are very important, but they’re really, really difficult to wear when you’re both a DJ and a singer. If you imagine singing with your fingers in your ears, you can't really hear your voice properly, as well as hearing the pitches and the levels and everything. I wasn't wearing any hearing protection when I played, which long term is not going to do me any good, and I was finding I'd have ringing in my ears after every show. That's why we created this specifically for DJing and singing.

“The problem that I was having was finding something that allowed me to hear what was going on within the mixer – like what I would normally hear through my headphones – but also being able to hear what's going on in the club and what's coming out through the microphone when I'm singing. I need it to all be in my in-ears. This has a switch to go from DJ mode to singing mode. When it's in DJ mode, that's when I hear what I would have heard in the headphones – whatever, I'm cueing up, whatever I've got ready to go. Then once I start bringing the track in, I go into sing mode, which is basically live. Then I hear what's coming out into the club, I can hear myself in the microphone. And that's when I can hear exactly what the crowd is hearing.”

I wasn't wearing any hearing protection when I played, which long term is not going to do me any good, and I was finding I'd have ringing in my ears after every show.

Steve White, Managing Director of Patchwork London, filled us in on the challenges of creating the setup: “In terms of challenges building this rack, what we needed to make sure is that we achieve the functionality that Katie needs so that she can listen and monitor in the best possible way, at the same time as giving her something that she can pack into a smaller case because she's taking this on aeroplanes.

“We also needed to just make sure that when she arrives at a show of this equipment, it's as simple and accessible for the in house sound engineers to get up to speed with and start using quickly. Obviously, a DJ changeover is a seamless thing. It's not a band where we're sound checking, and then having a 15 minute changeover. So this piece of equipment needs to be able to be integrated with absolutely no drama at all.”

Koven & Circadian – The Outlines is out now.  

Find out more about Patchwork London

Si Truss

I'm Editor-in-Chief of Music Technology, working with Future Music, Computer Music, Electronic Musician and MusicRadar. I've been messing around with music tech in various forms for over two decades. I've also spent the last 10 years forgetting how to play guitar. Find me in the chillout room at raves complaining that it's past my bedtime.

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