A Guide to Isolation Headphones for Drummers

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For drummers, there are other important things apart from having a good drum set. You need to buy other accessories that make your drumming experience more admirable.

You want to be part of a band, right? This is a good thing. Among the most important chores will be creating, implementing, and maintaining the beat of the song.

And because you want to perform to the best of your abilities, you may want to pick the best tools in your arsenal. It does not matter the level of experience, as we all want the same thing, to have the perfect performance.

So, you will need to look at what you have in your bag and ask yourself if it is indeed the best. Just like with any hobby in your life, you don’t want anything to stand between you and your performance.

A quality set of isolation headphones for drummers is among the most important accessories you need to have. Drummers are exposed to higher levels of noise all around. Hence, ear protection is paramount.

I have seen many drummers who lost their hearing because they were not keen on keeping their health safe first.

It will even be worse if you don’t have a good set of headphones. The pair has to fit comfortably around your ears while protecting you from ear damage.

Unfortunately, there is too much information about these products out there. It might therefore take forever to browse through and get exactly what you need.

But don’t worry, in this guide, I will be summarizing everything you need to know about these headphones.

I will also be reviewing some of the best products on the market to make choosing easy for you.

Come along.

What are noise isolation headphones?

Before we go any further, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce to you what noise isolation, commonly known as noise-cancellation, is all about.

This is a term used anywhere with a loud noise, and the need to protect people from its exposure. There is passive noise isolation and active noise isolation. They both work in different ways to block ambient noise.

In passive noise isolation, headphones block out ambient sound physically. They come with extra ear cup padding to minimize unwanted noise. Such barriers are very important, although they can also prevent the people around you from hearing your music.

Active noise cancellation is a technology associated with highest end products from Beats and other brands. It is also referred to as Pure Adaptive Noise Cancellation (Pure ANC). It uses digital approaches to reduce unwanted sounds.

Consider that the internal and external microphones on your headphones measure excess ambient noise, and the internal circuitry generates sounds at a counter-frequency that gets rid of it.

Active noise cancellation becomes a default setting for headphones that have the feature. It is always important to consider the brand of headphones you are buying if you want to get the best.

Beats, for instance, have been my favorite manufacturer. There Pure ANC applied advanced technologies to monitor all sounds around you so that they can fine-tune the frequency levels for noise cancellation according to your surroundings.

The feature also examines fit and adjusts the intensity of noise cancellation, accounting for any noise that may escape past your ear cups. In other words, the algorithm used in such active noise isolation is so perfect that it will tell you why you are not getting maximum noise cancellation. Some of the causes for this may include hair, glasses, ear shape, head movement, and many other physical aspects.

Apart from noise cancellation, Pure ANC also compares the primary audio file to the audio with noise-cancellation and removes anything else that may reduce its quality. This is the best function you can get from these products.

As you can see, noise-cancellation headphones are more than just regular headphones that you use to listen to music. They are among the top line of headphones and earphones, which also means they are the most expensive.

If you are serious about achieving maximum protection for your ears, I would advise you to invest in these products. They will help you improve and take your drumming to the next level.

Why Do Drummers Wear Headphones?

This question may have as simple an answer as “to listen better to their music.” But for experienced drummers, it goes beyond this simple function to offer much more help than meets the eye.

Basically, we can say that drummers wear headphones for noise-isolation—this better than the initial assumption, yet, not enough to offer justification.

So, here is what you need to know. Too much noise can lead to hearing loss. There are a lot of scientific facts that have proved loud music leads to hearing issues.

To explain this further, I will discuss a few things that are linked to noise and how it can be avoided.

This is the only best way you can understand what you need headphones as a drummer.

Decibels

We can summarize everything by explaining what decibels (dB) mean. This is a term used to explain how powerful the sound is.

The dB scale is described as logarithmic in nature. This means every increase by 10dB is a representation of a force increase to the power of 10. Besides, any increase in the perceived level of loudness by a factor of 2.70dB is ten times as powerful as 60dB, but it only doubles in loudness. The same effect happens with a decrease with the same level of loudness, which reduces to a similar percentage.

Let’s think about our smartphones. Consider that their sound tends to range between 30dB at low volume and 110dB at the highest volume. This means increasing the volume on your headphones subjects you to too much force.

This is why it is advisable you listen to low volumes. Which pauses another question, “how low is safe?”

It depends on how long you listen to music through these headphones. If you use them for more than eight hours, keep them at less than 85dB.

Casual listeners who only use headphones for about 45 minutes can keep them much higher.

Your ears

The human ear on the outside is much stronger; this is why it may not matter very much what happens here. But the inner ear is much more delicate than you may ever imagine.

This section consists of the eardrum, the incus, the cochlea, malleus, stapes, and the eardrum. And it is extremely easy to damage these parts.  

The weakest parts are the tiny hairs inside the cochlea. If they bend, break, or fall out, then you may not hear well. This is because they are responsible for sending signals to the brain, which is interpreted as sound.

Well, they get weaker, and even fall out as with age, and don’t grow back, we can take care of them to last longer. Once the damage is done, you can never easily go back to rectify.

This is what happens to drummers who are exposed to loud music for long hours. Having said that, here are the reasons why a drummer must wear headphones.

Why Noise Isolation Headphones?

To get the click track in live performance

Drummers are responsible for keeping time and rhythm. And when they are playing with a click track, which is basically just a recording of a click that runs at the same tempo as the piece being played, they need to be at par. Headphones help them keep in sync.

Click tracks have become a common thing with modern touring bands. If you want to perform well and have your audience on their feet, headphones are one of the tools you should never miss.

To get the Monitoring Mix

Many artists, not only drummers, wear headphones at live concerts. Most of them are usually smaller than those used in the studio.

Headphones are more suitable for providing monitor mixes. As a drummer on stage, you will not hear your bandmates and your kick drums easily, unless all your speakers are facing you.

Other band members on the bass and other instruments can be annoyingly competitive in loudness.

Besides this, the chances of getting everlasting hearing problems are very high. With headphones, a drummer can listen to what is happening by pumping the monitor feed directly into their ears.

As if that is not enough, the headphones suppress drum noise, delivering more clarity in their sounds.

This feature can be hard to achieve if you are not focused well on what is happening at any given time.

Ear protection

Drumming, mostly when playing in bands, can be really loud. And we have seen above the effects of loud music on the ear.

Drummers sit at the foundation of the noise, which can be a big problem for your ears. Research has shown that many people lose their hearing sense due to loud music than they do with anything else.

Drum headphones offer perfect hearing protection. Even though there is never clear information online on exactly how much noise is reduced, most can absorb at least 20dB of the sound.

You cannot listen to loud drums, even for a minute or less, without affecting your ears. Now consider when you are performing for hours on a complete set with cymbals. This can lead to severe and irreversible hearing drumming. The first crash of a drum set is more than enough to give you this problem.

Wearing headphones helps reduce the noise to secure levels. You can also use the same headphones to play a monitor mix.

A drummer controls most of what happens on the stage. But this should not come at the expense of your hearing abilities.

A better alternative to louse stage noise

In-ear monitors are also good at keeping you safe from some loud noise. However, they are not designed to protect you from a loud stage, but just an alternative.

A stage becomes really loud when bands use both conventional monitors as well as large-scale amplifiers. Headphones will keep you safe from these noises.

Listening to backing tracks

It is no secret that most bands today play with backing tracks. You may have seen many YouTubers do this as they listen to and play along some tracks.

Headphones block out the sound of the drums so that only the song you are playing is heard. Such is important mostly in solo gigs, and not live application.

Isolation is of the most important factors for music quality

Human biology is quite complex. But no one has microphones for their ears or a computer in their brains. This means the meat, the bones, and the nerve tissue are imperfect.

This is not necessarily a problem though, yet, it does not mean we all don’t have shortcomings that we need to overcome.

In music, there are some people who have a condition known as auditory masking. This case is quite complex, but generally, if there is a loud sound present or a “masker,” any weaker sounds with similar frequencies are masked out. For instance, someone can struggle to hear another person over a vacuum clear, or where there is too loud music around them.

This same effect is applied in music, which has very considerable consequences. Outside noise is said to cause a masking effect to some notes, but not to others. This may mean little noise like drum attack, string attack, and whispers can be muted out automatically in the presence of louder music. Also, you may notice that more other sounds are quieter than you may have expected.

So, in order to listen to those small yet meaningful fills, drummers use noise isolation headphones, which offer the perfect solution. These items have become one of the most important accessories for drummers.

The Best Noise Isolation Headphones reviewed

Now that you understand what noise isolation is, and why you need good headphones, you may be wondering where to get the best products. As said earlier, many manufacturers today offer different solutions that may be hard to know the best ones.

But don’t worry, I have picked a few of the best noise isolation headphones for you.

Sennheiser HD280 Pro  

sennheiser hd 280 pro headphones
sennheiser hd 280 pro headphones

Sennheiser is a market leader in producing top-end headphones solution for many musicians. And here is one of their products, which you can wear for a long time during your drumming sessions.

It comes with a stable, strong, and high-quality material. It is also accurate with excellent noise cancellation functionality.

Besides, it features rotating ear cups, which makes it perfect for any situation. It is one of the best headphones money can buy.

The headphones themselves are made of a high-quality plastic that is quite tough and highly durable. A user can also change the headband padding to make it more appealing and comfortable.

It is one microphone that fits all. I have used in the past headphones that are painfully annoying because they do not fit. The versatility of this microphone makes it fit for all user situations.

This is the headphone that will help you keep that loud music in check in terms of sound quality. It features advanced technology that offers high-quality sound isolation features. This a primary benefit to help in reducing the noise effect on your eardrums while enhancing your experience.

It delivers a low and flat response, with a clear, crisp sound, maximizing rhythm and beat from your drums. Combine these headphones with your speakers, and their 60 40 HM impedance will not disappoint.

It can deliver up to 32dB sound isolation, which makes it a functional unit. You can barely hear yourself if you put these headphones on.

Pros and cons

These headphones are very comfortable, with a durable cord that will connect up to 3 mm. It also comes with excellent noise cancellation.

The main issue, however, is that you cannot replace the cord. If you lose it, you will be forced to buy a new microphone altogether.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

beyerdynamic dt 770 pro 80 ohm over ear studio headphones in black. enclosed design wired for professional recording and monitoring
beyerdynamic dt 770 pro 80 ohm over ear studio headphones in black. enclosed design wired for professional recording and monitoring

Here is another headphone that does not only look great but sounds great. The quality of its speakers is everything you will need to get great sounds.

There are two options you get from these Beyerdynamic headphones. The first model is the DD700, which is targeted for drummers because of their noise cancellation features. The other model is not very different either, as it performs almost the same functions.

The DT770 looks more like earmuffs. They feature over-to-ear monitor functionality, all black in design.

 It is the overall standpoint of these headphones that makes them stand out. Their nice, sleek, and well-built design delivers an incredible look.

The biggest downside of this headphone is its price. But for those who need the highest quality and functionality, this may not be an issue. A very soft cloth can be noticed inside, which is a nice feature.

The sound quality you get from these headphones is unlike anything you may have ever experienced. It is especially noticeable when drumming loud music.

Besides, their design makes them more comfortable even with long periods of use.

However, you may notice they become uncomfortable sometimes. This is normal, with many noise isolations features.

The bass sound is one of the best. I have used some other headphones on this price range and found them flatter in frequency response.

You will find these headphones particularly important if you are mixing music and playing drums.

But the noise isolation is not as great as they are advertised. I have used them many times when practicing, and they bleed too much sound into the mix.

I like hearing raw sound from my drums, and this can be a big issue.

If you are looking for total isolation, therefore, this may not be the best solution. However, it is still a wonderful choice, with comfortable noise reduction functionality.

Pros and cons

One of the biggest advantages of this product is the sound quality and comfort. They are also made from high-quality and durable material.

But they don’t have the best noise reduction functionality, hence not recommended for acoustic drums. 

KAT Percussion Ultra Isolation Headphones

kat percussion ktui26 ultra isolation headphones
kat percussion ktui26 ultra isolation headphones

KAT Percussion is one of the biggest companies in the music industry. They are known for their high-end technological products.

These Isolation headphones are similarly constructed as earmuffs from the site. KTUI26 is a pair of headphones that will reduce outside noise up to 26dB with a 20 to 20,000 Hz response.

Let’s talk about the sound. The headphones resemble the Fic Firth isolation headphones, which makes them a great option overall.

Despite their low-price tag, you get an incredibly great sound quality. In my experience, they give something close to a lo-fi type of sound that doesn’t have that feeling of a full mix.

If your goal is to reduce the outside noise while keeping clarity in the original tone, this option might be all you need. I am not saying it’s the best option, but it will not disappoint.

Pros and cons

This is one of the most affordable headphones with high-quality functions I have ever seen. While they are no the cheapest in the market, they are lower than most.

But they are not very comfortable. Many of these kinds of headphones have this issue. It may not be an issue if you are playing for only half an hour or so.

Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2

vic firth stereo isolation headphones v2
vic firth stereo isolation headphones v2

Vic Firth is the best manufacturer for headphones. And I think this pair is the best overall winner in the world of best drum isolation headphones.

The original version was the original noise-cancellation headphone for drummers. And now Vic Firth has redesigned it with even more useful features.

The V2 offers 25dB of noise isolation and has a frequency of 20H to 20 000kH.

In terms of sound quality, I have never seen anything else that could be better. I owed the original Vic Firth isolation headphones and their sound quality was out of this world. It has been improved a bit.

They are far superior to many other products out there.

They truly shine in sound cancellation. Even though they are listed at only 25dB, they do the job better than most others in this price range.

Besides, they are not bad either in terms of comfort. Even though most headphones are not very comfortable, these ones are among the best.

Pros and cons

These headphones are the winner in noise isolation. And they are not overly expensive, compared to what you get.

However, they are not very comfortable. Perhaps you will need to use them for a very long time before they give you the quality you need.

Roland RH-300

roland rh 300 stereo headphones
roland rh 300 stereo headphones

Many of us understand what Roland stands for in the world of electronic music instruments. These headphones are considered the best in sound quality.

They feature a sensitivity of 101dB, nominal impedance of 45ohms, and a frequency response of 10 to 25,000 Hz.

This unit is particularly great for electronic drummers as it offers flat and accurate sound quality.

They are great products right from their look and performance.

They deliver 45mm dynamics and a wide frequency range, which makes them highly functional. Roland has a great reputation in the industry, and hence, you can rely on these products.

Audio Technica ATH-MX50X (renewed)

audio technica ath m50x professional studio monitor headphones black professional grade critically acclaimed with detachable cable
audio technica ath m50x professional studio monitor headphones black professional grade critically acclaimed with detachable cable

If you are looking for the most comfortable headphones for drummers, pick this product. It features a sensitivity of 99dB, a nominal impedance of 38ohms, and a frequency response of 15 to 28,000 Hz. Besides, it has 45mm large-aperture drivers, excellent sound isolation, and a comfortable design that is suitable for all situations.

Audio-Technica designed these products to be the best studio headphone any drummer would wish to have.

They are incredibly versatile, too, as they can deliver balanced sound quality, with great highs. They come with three different cables for more versatility and ear cushions for comfort.

Pro and cons

These are comfortable headphones you can wear for hours without feeling any fatigue. They are well-balanced in sound and come with three different cables.

However, they are very bulky and may not be good for traveling.

Isolation headphones buying guide

What to consider when buying noise isolation headphones

When it is time to get the perfect solution for your drumming needs, pick one that delivers clear, crisp, and well-balanced sound. Think also about how much noise cancellation you need.

Low-quality products will harm your ears even worse. Consider also that you will be using external amplifiers; therefore, invest in a good cable, long enough for your comfort.

The list above has six of the best isolation headphones you can get for the money. They are selected according to these features.

What Do Drummers Hear in Their Earpiece?

The drummer uses an earpiece to listen to their own performance. These components cancel the outside noise from other musical instruments, leaving them with only their instruments.

Why Do Drummers Wear Headphones at Concerts?

Concerts get very loud. Drummers wear headphones in these environments to protect their ears as well as keep their performance in check. Other reasons include what we have mentioned above.

Conclusion

Drumming can be great fun. However, many people don’t know that they can face serious injuries playing the drums.

This should not scare you but educate you to take proper precautions. Isolation headphones for drummers are among the main accessories you should never miss. I hope this guide has been helpful.

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