Drummers don’t exist in a vacuum. They occupy the center of the musical storm with everything swirling around them. Guitars, keyboards, tape loops, singing and crowd noise all combine to form an aural stew that can be as disorienting as it is exciting. How does the contemporary drummer stay focused on their job while being bombarded with so much ancillary noise? The answer: headphones. The best headphones for drummers allow the drummer to stay in the mix instead of being overwhelmed by it. They also provide much-needed protection against the scourge of decibel overload that can damage your ear drums. Below, we’ve brought together the best headphones for drummers on the market today.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Headphones
The Beyerdynamic DT770 Headphones are built to please. They’re comfortable, light, do a great job blocking out ambient clutter and won’t wear you out during a long session. They create a calm, quiet space where clear, high-resolution sounds can tickle your ear drums. And because they’re corded headphones, you don’t ever have to worry about them dying on you in the middle of your drum solo.
There’s really very little to dislike here. The minute you slip them on you’re going to be impressed with the way they coddle your ears. At the same time, you’re likely to notice the rock-solid feel and appreciate the easy adjustability. They may not have the market visibility of Bose, but they’ll stack up pretty well against whatever the competition has to offer.
There’s a 10-foot connecting cable that features in-line volume adjustment. That cable is tipped off with a gold-plated stereo plug and also has a 1/4 inch adapter so you can easily hook it up to most all of today’s headphone amps. The dynamic range produced by the DT770s is impressive. With crystal clear highs and lows that resonate but never get jiggy.
We only have two real issues with these otherwise outstanding headphones. First, in very noisy environments, especially when the stage monitors are cranked, there will be some leakage at the high end. And second, if you’re an active drummer who attacks the skins, you’re going to find your ears get pretty sweaty by the time you take them off.
- There might not be a more comfortable set of plug in over-ear headphones for drummers out there.
- Their ability to block ambient noise is impressive.
- Almost as impressive as the quality and range of the sound reproduction.
- The inline volume adjustment is logically placed for quick fixes on the fly.
- The carrying case is both handsome and durable.
- The cable is long enough to allow you to be as physical and involved as you want.
- They lack the ability to produce sub-bass effects.
- They can sometimes start to leak if the stage monitors are cranked too loud.
- You might find yourself sweating inside them.
Simgot EN700 Pro Headphones
High-end ear buds (sometimes euphemistically called “in-ear monitors”) have some real advantages when compared to over-ear headphones. Most obviously they aren’t anywhere near as heavy. And that can be important during a long show. They’re also not as hot as wrap-around earphones can be. And, if you wear them out in public you A) won’t be such a target and B) will probably be able to hear that car approaching as you cross the street.
The same thing that provides that safety advantage, however, can be a detriment on stage. When you’re trying to focus on your music you want your headphones to eliminate as much white noise as possible. And for that, there’s no denying that over-ear headphones will do a better job.
All that said, however, the upside of these Simgot EN700 Pro Headphones outweighs the potential downside in our books. That upside includes a wide dynamic range, remarkably clear and crisp delivery, outstanding comfort for an in-ear headphone and build quality that just won’t quit. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention that they’re handsome enough to pass for jewelry. Should that kind of thing matter to you.
There’s no plastic here. Instead, the shells are fashioned from aircraft-grade aluminum, the diaphragm is titanium plated and the stabilizing ring is solid brass. This makes them heavier than other in-ear buds. Which is another potential drawback. But taken as a whole, we can live with it.
- All metal (i.e. plastic-free) housing for longevity.
- Clear, crisp sound across the entire audio spectrum.
- Ultra high-quality 6N silver plated 400D DuPont Kevlar cable.
- Could easily be mistaken for jewelry when hanging over your shoulders.
- Shells fashioned from aircraft-grade aluminum. They won’t break if you drop them.
- 1-year limited warranty with 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
- They might be a bit heavy for those used to plastic ear buds.
- They’re not as good at blocking ambient noise as some over-ear headphones.
- If you push the available volume to the max, you’re going to hurt your ear drums.
Sennheiser HD 25 Professional DJ Headphone
The Sennheiser HD 25 DJ Headphones actually make really good drummer headphones. While they don’t produce the kind of custom fit we’d like to see at this price, their lightweight nature goes a long way toward offsetting that. Of course, that light weight is the result of replacing metal with plastic but remarkably the headphones retain a rock-solid feel that’s very pleasing.
Those minor quibbles out of the way what really makes these such a reliable choice for drummers is the outstanding sound reproduction. The HD 25s exhibit a wide dynamic range with no loss of quality at the all-important bottom end and only a tiny bit of breakdown at the top. That fuzziness is no doubt a product of the less than spectacular aluminum cable. But again, you really have to be pushing things on the top end to notice.
Sound leakage is something we noticed other reviewers complaining about but our experience was that they held their own, regardless of conditions. They also allow you to be as active as you like. And in that regard, if the included 10-foot cable isn’t long enough, you’re able to easily purchase a longer upgrade.
All in all the Sennheiser HD 25 headphones are stylish, lightweight and well built. They provide outstanding sound at all volume settings and noise reduction is good to very good. They’re middle of the road when it comes to comfort. But the sound mitigation and reproduction qualities make you forget pretty quick about the less than perfect feel.
- They’re surprisingly light for such well-make over ear headphones.
- Faithful reproduction across the audio spectrum.
- Well balanced sound regardless of volume setting.
- Do a good job blocking out most ambient noise.
- A handsome and effective carrying case.
- Single ear listening option.
- Don’t adjust quite as easily as some other over-ear headphones.
- Probably not bass heavy enough for some.
- Not as comfortable as some others. Especially when wearing more than an hour.
- We’ve seen higher quality cables.
BASN Professional in-Ear Monitor Headphones
We’re not big fans of wireless headphones for drummers but lots of people swear by them. And we can see why some would be attracted to these BASN Professional in-ear Monitors. To begin with, they’re very well built end to end. Very stylish and light. And very ergonomically pleasing. The Bluetooth component slips around your neck and can be placed inside your shirt collar. While the ear buds themselves adjust comfortably to your ears and weigh almost nothing.
All the cables in play here are both detachable and replaceable. You also get 4 pairs of ear buds of different sizes, so one is sure to fit you to a T. Even at their best though you’re not going to get great coverage above 35 decibels. But that’s to be expected from this type of in-ear monitor. Still, even with a bit of background seeping in you’re going to be impressed with the quality of the sound generated by the neodymium magnet-driven micro speakers.
It’s impossible to ignore the 600-pound musical gorilla in the room here too. And that is these generally outstanding pieces of audio tech can be had for about 1/3 or even 1/4 what a pair of over ear, wired headphones will cost you. So if you’re just getting started on your musical career and need to watch your budget, the savings may make the less than stellar noise reduction worth putting up with. But of course, only you can decide that.
- The fully adjustable ear hooks make it easy to get the most comfortable fit.
- Does a decent job blocking out noises below 35 decibels.
- The Bluetooth connection is one of the best you’ll find for wireless earphones.
- Very light so you can wear them all night with minimal wear and tear.
- Build quality is very high throughout.
- A great product at a great price.
- They are wireless, so don’t expect sound reproduction to be flawless.
- They are in ear headphones, so there’s going to be ambient sound leakage.
Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2
The last item on our list of best headphones for drummers are these cans from Vic Firth. Designed specifically for drummers, they provide 25 decibels of passive noise reduction across the board. Allowing you to sort the aural wheat from the chaff and stay connected to the music.
While we’re not head over heels in love with the design of the V2, we can’t deny that they adapt easily to just about any shape head and are very comfortable even after a couple of hours of high-intensity performance. The V2 lives up to its name with regard to sound isolation. But of course, that kind of near-vacuum seal is going to trap heat. So we’d recommend taking them off for a few minutes here and there.
The V2 version comes with 50 mm drivers. A significant upgrade from V1 (for the uninitiated the driver is the part of the speaker that vibrates to create the sound). The stock cable has a 1/8 inch standard stereo plug but a 1/4 inch adapter is also included, just in case.
- 25 decibel across-the-board noise reduction.
- You get heavy bass and full mids from the 50mm drivers.
- They adjust easily to your head and stay put.
- Designed specifically to meet the needs of drummers.
- Attractive carbon grey finish.
- One of the more reasonably priced over ear headphone options.
- Noise isolation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
- Workmanship is surprisingly mediocre in places.
How to Choose the Best Headphones for Drumming
The drummer is the beating heart of any rock band, pop band, jazz ensemble or rap outfit. Without the drummer laying down, the foundation under the music it all falls apart. But while drums are where live performances begin and end the drummer typically exists in the aural equivalent of a wind tunnel. Direct and indirect sound is swirling all around him, bouncing off the walls, ceilings and floor and mixing with what’s coming out of the stage monitors.
Because of this, headphones are a must. But how do you choose the right headphones for drumming when there are so many headphones on the market all vying for your attention? Here’s how to narrow down the field and find the right headphones for you.
Things to Look For
There are a number of features that you always want to see in headphones for drummers. They include:
- Noise cancellation – The whole point of using headphones while you drum is to filter out as much of the background noise as possible so you can just go about doing your job. So your headphones should provide outstanding noise cancellation.
- Crisp, clear sound – Now that the headphones have eliminated most of the garbage noise bouncing around the stage, you want to make sure the sound they’re delivering to your ears is clean and clear. With crisp highs and deep, multi-textured lows.
- Comfort – You’re going to be wearing these things for hours. It’s important that they conform to the shape of your head and ears. You don’t want them pinching or rubbing your scalp or inner ears the wrong way. That will create a major distraction when you’re trying to perform.
- Reliable sound transmission – For reasons we’ll get into in more depth below wireless headphones are not typically the best choice for drummers. Which, of course, means you’ll want to narrow your search down to wired headphones. This isn’t etched in stone of course. But for drummers just starting out, it’s usually a good idea.
- Price – Like most pieces of high technology headphones for drummers run the price gamut from budget-friendly to budget-busting. And, as is the case with most other techno gadgets, you often get what you pay for. Often, but not always. There are still some outstanding values out there and we always have our eyes open for them.
The Wired vs. Wireless Debate
These days everyone is gaga over wireless technology. We want and expect our new electronic devices to free us from the tyranny of the power cord. And from a convenience standpoint, this is totally understandable. But there are some circumstances in which the wireless choice may not, in fact, be the best one. And headphones for drummers is one of them.
Now we’re not saying that all wireless headphones are a waste of time for drummers. But consider these 3 important things:
- Your wireless headphones need to be battery powered. So what happens if you’re in the middle of a song in front of a packed house and your battery dies?
- In most cases, Bluetooth isn’t going to deliver the same quality of sound that high quality wired headsets can. Wireless technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, sure. But it’s still not up to the standards of wired technology.
- Finally, with wireless headphones, you’re not only likely to get lower sound quality, but you’re also likely to pay more for that lower quality.
So think about those things before deciding on wireless headphones.
There are so many high-quality headphones on the market today whittling the field down to the one set that’s perfect for you might seem like a daunting task. But if you keep the above considerations in mind while shopping chances are good that you’ll find a pair that will serve you well in any circumstances.
While we tend to believe that novices, in particular, are better served with wired headphones, the choice of course is entirely yours to make. We would simply caution that if you have no experience with wearing wireless headphones while drumming that you ask around to see what your fellow drummers have to say. Some may even have some wireless ear buds that you can try to get a better idea about how they perform.