A few years ago, drummer-producer Robert Biesewig was on tour with the reggae band Orange Grove when he met doctor of audiology Julie Glick, who changed the way he listened to music. Backstage before a Los Angeles show, the group was fitted for in-ear monitors -- earphones often custom-designed from impressions of the ear canal -- that pump in music while blocking out background noise so musicians can hear themselves play without damaging their hearing. The $1,500 pair of JH Audio JH16 monitors that Glick recommended, recalls Biesewig, “sounded better, and I didn’t have to turn up the volume so high anymore.” He liked them so much, in fact, that they ultimately became his go-to when listening to music on his smartphone, since they also fit into standard headphone jacks.
He’s hardly alone. Using in-ear monitors to listen to music on mobile devices has become a growing trend among musicians and, increasingly, producers, executives and fans. “I have people in here every day buying monitors as custom earphones,” says Glick, who makes house calls for dozens of clients from Beyoncé to Bruce Springsteen -- and even the New York Yankees, whom she fitted for monitors when Derek Jeter bought them as gifts for some of his teammates. “And why not? The sound quality is at a professional level,” she says. “Don’t you want to hear music the way your favorite artists hear it?”