When it comes to modern instruments, it seems that drummers always get the short end of the stick. Not only do you have to put down a sizeable investment for your instrument but you also have to worry about trying to keep your noise levels down to a minimum. That’s why it’s one of the hardest instruments to get vested in.
But thankfully, with the advent of electronic drums, this has all changed. And now you can enjoy practicing fast tempo blast beats without your neighbors having anything to complain about. However, no electronic drum set is complete without an output for your sound. If you decide to opt for speakers or studio monitors, you’re back to square one with your noise issues. So, the only logical solution is a good pair of headphones for your drumming sessions.
Picking a decent set of headphones for your electronic drums is a pretty big dilemma for most people. There’s such an abundance of brands and product lines out there that it can become hard to narrow it down to one. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide so that you can have all the necessary information to get the right pair of headphones for your electronic drums.
Types of Headphones You Can Use for Electronic Drums
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to the types of headphones you can buy and use for your drums, there’s more than one type. One won’t necessarily always be superior to the other but there are always hallmark differences between each type. You’ll find that each type of headphone you can buy has its strengths and weaknesses when being used for drumming. Here are some of the most common types you’ll come across:
This is one of the more popular choices when it comes to drumming or any audio work in general. Over-ear headphones are great if you’re looking for some degree of sound isolation. As the name suggests, these headphones sit right over your ears ensuring a secure fit. These types of headphones are generally preferred for their comfort and fit. You’ll find that even the most aggressive movements won’t knock these headphones out of place. Another major advantage is that they can accommodate large sound drivers than most other types of headphones out there giving you a bigger frequency range.
Of course, over-ear headphones have their disadvantages as well. For one, they tend to be the bulkiest of the lot. This generally makes packing them and transporting them a bit harder. Another major gripe is that their closed nature tends to create a more booming sound in the bass range. And if you’re working in a hot or humid environment, expect such headphones to get you sweating near the ear cups.
Although not the most obvious choice when it comes to drumming, you’ll find some studio musicians preferring on-ear headphones for longer sessions. In contrast to over-ear headphones, on-ear headphones have smaller cups that rest on top of your ears rather than going over them. This has its benefits in long-term comfort. You’re less likely to experience ear fatigue with these headphones if you’re practicing or playing for many hours on end. They’re also a bit smaller and easier to carry than a pair of full-sized over-ear headphones.
On-ear headphones do lack in terms of having a definitive fit on your ears. If you’re looking to play aggressive or move around a lot, then you will find them slipping away. Another thing to keep in mind is that their open nature allows air to leak out which may lead to a less pronounced bass range.
In-ear headphones and monitors are famous for being the working musician’s tool of choice. These headphones fit inside your ear. There are many benefits to this, the most obvious being that you can get a great degree of noise isolation. Additionally, you get the most secure fit for your headphones without fear of having them fall off. They’re also small enough to fit in your pocket which makes them the most portable type.
In-ear headphones typically don’t have the capability to accurately reproduce a large frequency range due to their small drivers. This is why you’re going to find them being used by drummers on stage or in the studio to listen to clicks and backing tracks. They’re usually not preferred for normal use if you’re just practicing or playing at home.
What to Look for in Headphones for Electronic Drums
When picking between headphones for use with electronic drums, you have to know what features to look for. You can distinguish some of the most similar headphones out there if you focus on a few details. Here are some of the most key aspects you should be looking at:
No matter what kind of instrument you play, the frequency response is the factor that separates a professional pair of headphones from a pair of standard headphones. Most consumer-grade headphones are limited to a frequency range of 20-20,000 Hz. While this is acceptable for things like listening to music or watching movies, it’s a far cry from the full experience.
As a drummer, you can benefit greatly from having a pair of headphones that can manage a range of 10-22,000 Hz. This will benefit you by helping you hear more details in your sound. It will also be helpful for recording, mixing, and mastering your drum tracks or setting up the EQ for a live session.
Let’s face it, there’s always a tendency for things to move around when drumming. Whether you’re practicing your rudiments or going all out on your blast beats, there’s an expectation of things getting shuffled. Things like your cord getting snagged somewhere, tripping up on the cord, or your headphones falling off your head. Incidents like these can make short work of a pair of headphones that aren’t up to the task.
This is why you should make sure that the headphones you’re getting are durable enough to handle any major abuse you can throw their way. You should always look for headphones that have durable cups that won’t crack after a few falls. It’s also handy to have a pair of headphones with a detachable cord so that you can swap it out if it ever goes bad.
Type of Headphones
The type of headphones will play a crucial role when it comes to your drumming. Different types of headphones will net you different results and will affect your experience accordingly. Over-ear headphones are generally preferred for all-purpose use and are typically the go-to for playing and practicing at home.
On-ear headphones will suit you for lengthy practice routines or jam sessions. And if you’re looking to play to backing tracks or click tracks live, then nothing can beat the simplicity of in-ear headphones. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you’re looking to use your headphones for.
One of the biggest things that will affect the way a pair of headphones sounds is the driver in them. The size of the driver plays a big role in being able to reproduce a frequency. Bigger drivers are capable of capturing a wider spectrum of sound than small drivers. This is useful especially in the low end when you’re listening out for your kick sounds. For most drummers, 40-50mm is considered a respectable driver size for getting the most out of the sound of your drums. Smaller in-ear headphones will noticeably suffer in this regard.
Drumming can be physically taxing as it is and you shouldn’t have to worry about any external factors. The last thing you need is a pair of uncomfortable headphones that force you to end your session short. Ideally, you want your headphones to be as comfortable as possible, especially if you’re playing for long periods of time. Things like proper fitting cups and comfortable pads can do a great deal in making you feel comfortable while drumming.
Having adjustable headbands and rotating cups can be really helpful when you have to get the right fit for yourself. Another thing to consider is the cord length. Most headphones come with 3-5 feet of cabling, but it might be worth it to look at headphones that stretch out with 6-9 feet of cabling so that you don’t have to worry about pulling on anything.
With electronic drums, it’s not just about reducing the sound made from the kit, it’s also about reducing sounds coming in from the outside. The last thing you want is your drum solo to be interrupted by the sounds of construction noises, passing cars, lawnmowers, or chirping birds. That’s why you need to have adequate sound isolation to prevent any outside sounds from leaking into your playing.
Headphones with bigger cups that wrap around your ear do a better job at this. They can usually create a nice seal so you don’t have to listen to any external sounds. In-ear headphones are also very useful in sound isolation because of the way they can stick to your inner ear.
If you travel with your kit to shows, practice sessions, or jam sessions, then portability of your equipment is an important factor. Carrying an electronic drum kit on its own can be a burden let alone worrying about your headphones. You should make sure that you have a pair of headphones that can be easily taken from place to place. Detectable cups, headbands, and cables are always preferred for this kind of thing. Having a portable carrying case or bag with your headphones can be a nice bonus as well.
Misconceptions to Avoid When Buying Headphones for Electronic Drums
Although you can typically find helpful information out there with regards to buying headphones, not all of it is true. Sometimes you’ll find that things aren’t always accurate and that there are common misconceptions and rumors about headphones for drums. It’s best to clear these misconceptions and avoid them when you’re out buying your headphones. Here are some common misconceptions:
Normal Headphones Aren’t Good Enough for Electronic Drums
You get to hear these kinds of opinions a lot when you’re shopping for drumming headphones. The general assumption is that headphones sold for general use aren’t fit for use with electronic drums.
However, this couldn’t be further from reality. There are plenty of brands out there that make great consumer-grade headphones that are as good if not better than professional headphones. The real things you have to look out for are the actual specifications of the headphones, such as the frequency response, impedance, and drivers. If everything matches up, you’re probably fine buying them.
Wireless Headphones are Better for Drumming
For some people, the thought of playing the drums with headphones on is beyond them. This stems from the fact that you will have to deal with a cord getting in your way when drumming. This is why a lot of people suggest going wireless as being the superior option. However, wireless headphones are far from perfect and you can even expect to get latency from them. This is especially bad for something as rhythmically strict as drumming.
You Should Only Get Headphones Designed for Drummers
Another common misconception is that only specifically designed drumming headphones are good for drummers. While it’s true that there are manufacturers like Vic Firth that design headphones specifically with drummers in mind, that doesn’t mean it’s the only choice. Some of the specialized ones can be better than conventional headphones, but it all comes to the specification of the headphones themselves. It’s always helpful to keep an open mind and look at the details rather than a simple label.
Hopefully, by now, you have understood the differences that separate a good pair of electronic drumming headphones from the rest. When all is said and done, it comes down to your specific needs and preferences. You should also check out this article’s best headphones for electronic drums. At the end of the day, that’s what should really matter to you. You may want to check out the video below for the comparison between on-ear, over-ear and in-ear.