Midi Nation is supported by our great readers. We might get a commission if you buy gear through a link on this page [at no additional cost to you].
As a drummer, your headphone requirements are different than casual listeners. You need them either to monitor your own drumming (in a live setting). Or you need them to reduce noise (during practice or live performance). For both these uses, you need specific qualities – strong noise reduction, high-fidelity monitoring (especially in the low end). To help you buy the right set of headphones, we've put together this list of the best headphones for drums you can buy in 2020.
Our Top Picks
Best in-ear: Shure SE215-CL
“The industry standard for a generation still performs as expected”
Best budget: Alesis DRP100
“No bells or whistles but the DRP100 does its job for cheap”
Best noise isolation: Vic Firth V2 (SIH2)
“Comfortable and reliable headphones that will last you years”
As any seasoned drummer would know, drums are a) hard to mic up, and b) hard on your ears. If you're practicing indoors, you need something to reduce the noise – else you can say goodbye to your ears in two decades.
At the same time, when you're playing live, you need a way to monitor what you're playing without losing fidelity.
This essentially leaves two use cases for drumming headphones:
- To monitor the sound output when drums are mic'ed up, or when you're using electronic drums
- To reduce noise during practice or live sessions
Most serious drummers I know use different headphones for both these purposes. They might use an in-ear monitor in a live setting (since the acoustics of a live arena are usually not as harsh as small indoor spaces). At the same time, they might have a pair of noise reducing headphones to protect their ears and still listen to drums while practicing.
Given these constraints, it can be hard to zero-in on the perfect pair of headphones for durmming.
Which is why we put together this guide to buying the best headphones for drums in 2020.
About your reviewer
Ryan Harrell is the founder of MIDINation and an experienced producer/DJ. His first experience with electronic music production dates back to Cubase 3.0 in the summer of 1997, and he's been a fan ever since. He prefers Ableton as his primary DAW these days, though he is still partial to Cubase and Pro Tools. He lives in San Diego and freelances as a producer and part-time DJ.
The Best Headphones for Drums
We'll look at drumming headphones for both monitoring and hearing protection below. We'll start off by sharing our favorite (and affordable) in-ear monitors – perfect for live settings. We'll also share a few headphones for protecting your ears during long practice sessions.
Let's start with our top pick for drumming monitors:
There are better in-ear monitors than the Shure SE215, but none can truly beat its value for money. These are proven performers with a long history and offer extremely reliable, high-fidelity. flat sound. They do a great job of lower frequencies so you really get a feel for the thump of your kicks. The sharps are handled nicely as well so you know exactly how your drums sound.
For live settings or even for monitoring your own playing during practice sessions, the Shure SE215-CL is easily the best headphones for drumming.
The first of the best headphones for drums on this line up is the Shure SE215-CL. These excellent mid-range earphones deliver wonderful performance at a bargain. Shure is renowned all over the world for the high quality nature of its products, especially headphones and similar products. These models are not an exception.
These headphones come with several design features in order to fit more hardware that improves your sound experience. Unlike typical ear buds, these earphones slip into the ear much further. With what result? Well, I found them to offer better noise isolation than most other options on the market.
It comes with modules that are made like the large cavity just outside the ear canal. Therefore, they rest in the outer ear comfortably. It features an acoustic seal that serves to prevent noise from getting in.
It comes with detachable cables, which make it easier to repair in cases of damage. When it comes to drumming, the detachable nature of the cable means that you can drum as hard as you want without fear of tangling your drumstick with the cable. Even if you choose to use the cable, the over-the-ear design will keep them out of your way. The earphones feel rather hefty, but this is offset by the shape and design. Hence, they do not slip out of the ear as you wear them.
While the design might not be especially appealing, the performance is what really takes my breath away. The excellent audio performance that these earphones pump-out rivals even the performance from more expensive options on the market. I enjoyed the rich bass and clear trebles that emanate from the model.
The earphones are made from high-quality materials that are sure to last for a long time despite heavy use. You can choose from three different colors.
Whether for monitoring or for listening, you can rest assured that this product will give you the rich sound experience that you crave.
What I don’t like:
I particularly disliked that there are no in-line controls. It also takes some time to master how to wear the earphones – a minor quibble.
Recommended for: Drummers of all expertise levels will love these earphones. If you are looking for in-ear earphones, these are the best you can buy right now.
- Built to last
- Rich sound
- Comfortable for long sessions
- No in-line controls
- Higher-tier Shure monitors have better fidelity
Best Headphones for Isolation: Vic Firth V2 (SIH2)
- Reduces outside noise by 25 decibels
- 50M/M dynamic speaker mylar con
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 20Khz
- 1/4″ and 1/8″ plugs
For folks with sensitive ears, the Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2 (SIH2) is a god-send. It is designed to satisfy even the choosiest of drummers as it comes with stunning noise cancellation properties.
Using these headphones, you will receive protection from noise, perforation, and other problems that occur during drumming. The near-constant noise from drums is a dangerous issue for drummers since it can cause different types of hearing issues. With this headphone, you will be protected. From my testing, it is the overall best headphone for drummers.
It is somewhat heavy, but after some time testing, I got used to the weight and even had a good time wearing them without feeling weighed down.
The construction of the headphones underlines its quality. While at first glance, it might seem to be cheap or flimsy, closer examination reveals that it is made from high-quality materials that can last the rigors of everyday use. It has thick cushioning ear pads that help it with the insulation value of 25 Db. This model comes with a 6′ cable, which is certainly long enough to reach your monitor or phone.
Performance is where these headphones excel. With the ability to reduce noise by up to 25 dB, these headphones rival dedicated noise-cancelling headphones that are even more expensive. The noise-cancelling ability might make it tough to hear your own drumming. Therefore, I recommend that in live performances, you should ensure your drums are in the sound mix entering the headphones.
It delivers a really impressive wide dynamic range. It should be noted that the sound produced is not excessively loud, and I put this down to the isolation properties. The sound quality delivered is quite impressive.
For the price, you will be hard-pressed to find a better option on the market.
What I don't like
I personally don't have any issues with performance. The issue I have is with the design. It comes with plastic material under the soft cushions. This material makes the headphones uncomfortable to wear after a while. Therefore, if you will be wearing the headphones for extended periods, you should note that you might get uncomfortable wearing it.
Recommended for: I recommend these headphones for any drummer looking for a pair of headphones that balances price with performance. It is simply stunning, and I am pretty sure wearers will have a great time using them.
- Excellent sound system for drumming
- Great noise isolation
- Can be uncomfortable after long periods
- Sound output lacks fidelity of in-ear monitors
Best Premium In-Ear Monitors: Shure SE425-CL
- Frequency range: 20 H – 19 kHz
- 22Ω impedance value
- Dual High-quality MicroDrivers
The next option on this list is the best premium in-ear monitor. It is very similar to the 425 we reviewed above, coming with similar features. The main difference between the two products is that this doesn't come with the in-built Bluetooth capability. However, if you still desire Bluetooth use, you can get the Bluetooth enabled cable sold separately.
Shure has some of the best products for sound lovers on the market today and continues with these excellent in-ear monitors.
The design is simple but looks and feels good. Although it features a plastic body like the model reviewed above, it offers similar sturdy construction. While made of plastic, the joints feel very solid. Hence you can use them for a long time without damage. They are built to last and feel comfortable. Considering that these cost more than most options on the market, it isn't very surprising that it is made of durable, high quality materials.
The wire or cable that comes with these in-ear monitors is made of similar high-quality materials. It can be detached for a Bluetooth enable cable. However, if you aren't interested in Bluetooth, you will find this cable to feel just great. It comes in a design that ensures that it doesn't slip or cause any disturbance during your drumming sessions. You can rest assured that it will last for long without breaking.
As earlier pointed out, it doesn't come with innate Bluetooth capabilities; however, it can be converted to a wireless monitor with a Bluetooth cable sold separately. Therefore, you can pair it with laptops, and other Bluetooth enabled devices easily.
As with the similar model reviewed above, it comes with three different sized tips you can choose from to find the best fit. It is very comfortable and will not slip out of your ear as you drum.
The accurate and balanced sound is really impressive. With its wide frequency range, I found it to deliver clear sound.
Sound isolation is quite impressive with these monitors. It comes with sleeves that can block noise up to 37 dB. Therefore, you can enjoy performances or rehearsals without external noise disturbing you.
Overall, I found these in-ear monitors to be a great choice. I especially love the detachable feature of the cable. It allows for several connectivity options from Bluetooth to USB-C. It comes in clear and silver colors to offer some variety in design.
What I don't like
While these in-ear monitors sound good, the high price is a drawback. It is simply too expensive and does not fully justify the price tag in my own opinion.
Recommended for: Drummers who want a premium option will find these in-ear monitors to fit the bill.
- Great IEM
- Impressive sound isolation
- Comfortable to wear
- Takes time to get a good fit
Best Bluetooth In-Ear Monitors: Shure SE425
- Dual High-Definition MicroDrivers Speakers
- Sensitivity (1kHz) : 109 dB SPL/mW
- Impedance (1kHz) : 22 Ω
- Noise Attenuation up to 37 dB
- Frequency Range: 20Hz – 19kHz
This is the second Shure product to be reviewed in this roundup, and for good reasons. The company has some of the best products for audiophiles on the market, and this model is no exception. It is a Bluetooth compatible model that gives really great sound.
The design is quite understated but has a quiet elegance. The body of the earphones is all plastic, but the joints feel really solid, so you don't have to fret excessively about breakage. I personally like the design and the overall aesthetic of the product.
It comes with a detachable cable, which is great for drummers since cables can get in the way of drumming. Furthermore, as the joints and sockets are well made, you won't have to worry that you will lose drivers when they are about your neck. The cable mentioned above is quite thick and comes with a clip to keep it behind your ear. It feels great and looks like it will last for a long period.
The Bluetooth functionality means that you can pair it with your phones, laptops, and other devices.
There are three different types of tips that are found in the packaging. Once you find the best tip for your ear, you will find they are quite comfortable and does not slip out even as you bob your head to the beat of your drum.
The sound quality on these bad boys is excellent. It sounds great due to the tweeter and woofer that have been tuned to deliver better sound. If you are using these in a noisy place, these earphones provide decent sound isolation that ensures a distraction-free session.
Overall, it is an excellent sounding pair of earphones that provide all the details that you want to hear. I love the soundstage that makes almost every genre of music sound really good. If you pair them with the right amp, you will get even better sounds.
What I don't like
These earphones are somewhat expensive, and the sound it produces might not, at least for some, match the relatively high cost. Plus, Bluetooth is generally not ideal for monitoring – even though I can understand why people choose it for the convenience.
Recommended for: I recommend this for drummers with money to spend and who want a wireless option.
- Decent sound quality
- Comes with carrying case
- Good sound isolation
- Bluetooth bandwidth limitations
Best Budget Headphones for Drums: Alesis DRP100
- 40mm range drivers
- Silicone headband
- Over-ear design
- Made for electronic drum monitoring
When mixing drum sounds, you need headphones that will give you great sound since each drum set possesses its own tone. If the sounds of the drums cannot be easily differentiated, they won't sound clear. The Alesis DRP100 is an excellent option that helps to isolate drum sounds and is great for drum monitoring.
These headphones are not just passive isolation pair, but they also serve as monitor headphones.
The design of these headphones is quite interesting. It features a clamp on the top that isn't too tight to be uncomfortable. It also features a silicone headband which is anti-moisture. Therefore, you can wear them for extended periods without getting fatigued or uncomfortable.
Aesthetically, I found these to be a good-looking pair of headphones. The black and blue hues look really good.
The Alesis DRP100 comes with a detachable cable; which is great in case it ever gets damaged.
To be honest, considering the relatively low price of these headphones, it is quite impressive that they feel so good to wear.
These headphones are great for drummers since the noise isolation properties ensure no sounds pass through and disturb the drummer. They can reduce noise by up to 32 dB.
Additionally, this product comes with a carrying case. Therefore they remain safe when not in use.
Overall, I really had a good time using these headphones. The design is very comfortable, and I could use them for hours on end without feeling tired or uncomfortable around the ears.
What we don't like
Sound quality isn't especially great, which is not surprising considering the low price. However, if you will be using them for your electronic drums, you will likely be satisfied with the overall performance.
Recommended for: These headphones are highly recommended for drummers on a budget. They help with recording and stage performances as they help with noise isolation.
- Excellent for drum monitoring
- Comfortable to wear
- Very affordable
- Not good for general listening
- Sound quality is average at best
Best Earmuffs for Noise Reduction: Howard Leight by Honeywell
- Noise reduction rating of 22
- AUX input
- 3.5mm cord
- Low profile earcups
The last option that we will consider on this list of the best headphones for drummers is one that is usually found on the shooting range. The Howard Leight by Honeywell is an excellent pair of earmuffs that serve to reduce noise levels and offer decent sound quality when used with drums.
Noise isn't good when it is high as it can obviously cause hearing problems.
It comes with low profile earcups that help with its noise reduction and directional microphones that amplify ambient sounds up to 82 decibels.
Most of the other options on the market, including some of the options that we have reviewed so far, can reduce sound from the environment by up to 25 decibels. These headphones go up a notch by providing noise reduction of up to 30 decibels.
This noise reduction is the main attraction of these earmuffs. It is even more impressive when you consider how cheap they are.
Therefore, while they off good isolation from noise, they are still useful when having conversations or issuing and receiving commands from band members.
The design of the earmuffs, aside from being great at reducing noise, also feels very comfortable. The headphones weigh around 15 ounces, which means that you can wear them for extended periods without being uncomfortable. When not in use, you can simply fold them and place them in a safe place. The comfort derived is also enhanced by the padded headband.
I found them to fit my head well, and since they come in one size with adjustable parts, anyone will be able to wear them.
For drum monitoring, you can connect these headphones to your drum set. It comes with a cable port that is compatible with 3.5 mm cables.
What we don't like
From my testing, I observed that the volume and fidelity of sound leaves a lot to be desired. They are at best back up headphones and shouldn't be your main option. Fortunately, their low price makes them good backup options.
Recommended for: I believe that casual drummers looking for a cheap pair of headphones will find this an adequate choice. They're not great in terms of sound quality but offer far superior ear protection when compared to competitors.
- Superior ear protection
- Comfortable to wear
- Actively reduces noise
- Poor sound quality
- Large size might not be ideal for some people
Over to You
Buying the right pair of headphones can be tough when you're a drummer. You need something that protects your ears while also helping you monitor your sound output – without compromising on the fidelity.
Hopefully, our list of the best headphones for drums will help you zero-in on the right choice.
For more recommendations and advice, don't hesitate to reach out to me here.
- Our guide to the best electronic drum sets
- Need studio headphones? Check out our top selections here
- Want cheap earbuds you can use anywhere? Then check out this list
- Shure (Official website)
- Honeywell Howard Light Ear Muffs (Official website)
- Alesis DRP 100 (Official website)
- How to Mic-Up Drums (Sweetwater)
- Vic Firth (Official Website)
- April 17, 2020: Article first published
- September 18, 2020: Minor updates