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Finding the right headphones for drumming is a must for hearing the clarity of a backing track
Although, it can get confusing when options like active or passive noise isolation are introduced
We break down the 7 best headphones for drummers of all skill levels and budget requirements
Getting a reliable pair of isolation headphones is a must for any serious drummer. This is because they look after your ears by blocking noise and allow you to bring your backing track down to a reasonable level.
Today we’ll break down the best headphones for drummers with great isolation. We’re evaluating the headphone’s on isolation strength, value, comfort, and audio quality.
What are the Best Headphones for Drummers?
Our Pick for the best noise-isolating headphones for drummers is the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO, which packs 32 dB of noise attenuation and clear, flat response.
When you're trying to iron out the fine details of your mix, there's no substitute for a good set of headphones. Sennheiser's HD 280 Pro headphones give you exactly what you need: expressive lows, clear-cut mids, and focused highs.
Drum stick gurus Vic Firth have released great value drumming headphones here. You can pick up the Vic Firth SIH2 Stereo Isolation Headphones for under $90 (USD), making them the best value choice on the list.
The quality control is consistent despite the low price, so if you want a budget solution that lasts, these are a great bet.
There’s 20dB passive isolation on tap here, so these will have you covered for most drumming situations.
20dB isolation has limits, though, so if you work in super loud environments, you’d want to save up and get something with higher isolation specs.
The Vic Firth Isolation Headphones have 50mm drivers that deliver a standard 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response.
The sound quality is good, but these are designed mainly for playing instruments so you won’t find a studio headphone under the hood here.
There SIH2 has an integrated cable with a 1/8″ plug and 1/4″ adapter. The 1.6m cable is a bit on the short side.
All in all, the Vic Firth Isolation Headphones are an excellent, no-frills choice for the working musician on a budget.
The GK UltraPhones are a big ticket item at around $250, but they are a rock-solid investment. They utilize SONY 7506 Studio Monitor headphone components in a 29dB passive isolation set of ear muffs.
They are very roomy, so they’re quite comfortable over long sessions, which is important for drumming headphones.
The 29dB ambient noise reduction is impressive and will let you hear your backing track easily over background noise, making these great for tracking drums in the studio.
The ear muff design also cuts down the bleed of the track into the mics.
The GK UltraPhones are wired and have a 1/8″ plug with a 1/4″ screw attachment.
The SONY 7506 has a respectable frequency response of 10Hz – 20 kHz and is known for being a reliable, flat headphone for mixing. So the GK UltraPhones can also double as general-purpose pro audio headphones for production and other tasks.
They wouldn’t be my go-to choice for casual listening due to the bulky ear muff build, but that didn’t factor into my research when looking for the best headphones for drummers..
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 M is a closed dynamic headphone designed especially for drummers. Due to its high SPL capability and excellent ambient noise attenuation, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 M is also suitable for monitoring PA systems (FOH), live on stage, and in studios.
These come from the same line as the classic Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, which is renowned for its comfort and audio clarity. However, Beyerdynamic designed the DT 770 M specifically as passive isolation drumming headphones.
The DT 770 Pro has 18dBA of ambient noise reduction, while the DT 770 M has a hefty 35dBA. The Pro is enough for most applications, such as electronic drum practice, but if you’re working in a loud environment, you’d definitely want to go for the M.
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 M are superbly comfortable and are a great fit for practice, live shows, or any kind of pro audio work that calls for clear audio and solid isolation.
The DT 770 M is not quite as accurate as the Pro in the audio department. Both are capable as studio headphones, but if you’re doing loads of mixing work, then the DT 770 Pro comes out ahead in that area.
Both 770 versions are around the $150 (USD) mark, although the M is slightly more expensive.
The Pro and M models have a generous 3 m straight cable with a 1/8″ jack and 1/4″ adapter.
You won’t get drumming headphones with isolation for much cheaper than the Alesis DRP100, which sits in the sub-$60 bracket.
Electronic kit manufacturer Alesis designed the DRP100 specifically for electronic drum kit monitoring.
The DRP100 has a broad 10Hz – 30kHz response with its 40mm full-range drivers. However, it’s voiced for drum monitoring, so they are not a great option for general pro audio applications.
The DRP100 will work as isolation headphones for an e-kit and do the job for acoustic drums in a pinch. However, if you mostly play acoustic drums, your ears will thank you for saving up and getting a model with stronger isolation.
Your mileage may vary with durability. You can’t expect these budget cans to put up with a lot of roughhousing.
The Alesis DRP100 has a hard-wired 2 m cable with a 1/8″ jack and a 1/4″ adapter.
KAT Ultra Isolation Headphones make practicing acoustic drums sound like a studio mix. They are great for long studio sessions, because they all but eliminate ear fatigue and are perfect for recording or tracking with minimal bleed.
The strong passive isolation allows you to hear your backing track or click easily, and it won’t bleed the track into your mics.
The 20–20 High Precision Audio (HPA) drivers provide a flat response, so the EX-29 Plus can also double as a headphone for mixing. The 20 Hz – 20 kHz response is pretty standard, though.
These drummer headphones aren’t great for casual listening, as they feel like a pair of earmuffs that have been turned into headphones.
The Direct Sound EX-29 Plus has a detachable 2.4 m cable with a 1/8″ jack and a 1/4″ adapter. The cable (and all the other parts) can be replaced via the Direct Sound website store if there are any issues.
The older versions of these headphones were built like a tank, but the quality control has been less consistent in recent years. So if durability is a major concern, then the GK UltraPhones or Beyerdynamic DT 770 M is a safer bet, although both these models are pricier.
Passive isolation or active noise cancellation?
Passive isolation headphones block unwanted noise by physical means and are definitely the best choice for drummers. Good passives will effectively block out drumming noise, so all the headphones on this list are passive.
Active noise cancellation, which blocks noise by electronic means, is good at blocking droning noise like traffic or a plane engine but is less favorable at blocking high volume, high peak sounds like the crack of a snare drum.
Do you need special headphones for electronic drums?
You can use any headphones with electronic drums as long as they have the right connection for the drum kit. Electronic kits usually use 1/4″ jacks, although if you have a headphone with a 1/8″ jack, you can use an adapter.
It’s better to use pro audio headphones (designed for musicians and audio engineers) as they usually have the right connections and reproduce the kit’s sound better.
Consumer headphones designed for regular music listening might not have the right connections, and if they do, they may not function properly or can sound strange and tinny.
That said, if you have consumer headphones lying around already, you may as well try them and see if they meet your needs before rushing out to buy pro cans.
What should I look for in headphones for electronic drums?
Beyond what we addressed in the previous question, the best headphones for electronic drums are comfortable and light enough to wear for long sessions.
Noise-isolating headphones are unnecessary for electronic drum practice as the drum pads are not that loud. So any headphones with the right connections will do the job.
That said, if you play electronic drums in jam situations where the other musicians pump out a lot of volume it’s a good idea to get noise-isolating headphones to protect your ears.
Can you use wireless headphones with electronic drums?
Electronic drum kits cannot usually connect with wireless headphones. So the best headphones for electronic drums have a 1/4″ jack (the most common e-kit jack type).
Connecting wireless headphones to electronic drums is technically possible by plugging a Bluetooth wireless transmitter into the electronic drums and connecting it to the headphones.
This is not a great idea, though, as wireless headphones have a degree of latency that will trip up your timing while playing.
For the price of a Bluetooth wireless transmitter that will fit into an e-kit jack, you could find a pair of budget-wired headphones that would do a much better job than a jury-rigged wireless setup.
Now that you’re covered for headphones, check out the five best drumsticks for electronic drums (for all types of heads) here.