Feel the Beat: The 5 Best Headphones for Drummers

Best headphones for drummers

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Setting the time and rhythm for the rest of the band to follow, drummers have one of the most important jobs in an ensemble. Your instrument also happens to be the loudest phone by far which can cause problems for both you the drummer and the band mates around you. 

While this advice applies to all musicians in general, hearing protection is especially important if you’re a drummer. After all, you’ll be dealing with your drum kit’s noise while you’re practicing at home just as much as you’d be when you’re performing live or tracking in the studio. 

In short, you’re going to need a good pair of headphones.

So that’s what will be covered in this guide today—five of the best headphones for drummers that we can find. All of our picks should cover the bases for what you need as a performing musician, as well also being pretty great-sounding headphones in general. 

And with that, here are our picks:

OneOdio A10 - Headphones for Drummers
OneOdio A10 headphones | Make Life Click

What do the best headphones for drummers have?

As people who share a love of great audio, we, at Make Life Click, do put audio quality as a high priority in our selections. But the environments that surround drumming add their own demands on top of that. So to get the best experience from a pair of headphones for drummers, we have to account for these needs first.

And for the most part, it comes down to two things: noise isolation and comfort.

The comfort aspect should be pretty obvious. Whether you’re on a stage or in the studio, you wouldn’t want to feel an itch or pressure point from your monitors while you’re in the middle of a performance. 

But comfort is more than just having soft materials and smooth surfaces. While you won’t be moving across the stage or anything, you will still be moving a lot on the drum kit. As such, you’d want to make sure your monitors fit on your head or in your ears securely. 

Headphones vs. In-Ear Monitors for Drummers

Finding this balance between a secure fit and good comfort is why a lot of people prefer headphones over earphones. 

If you asked me for a quick recommendation, I’d likely point you to a pair of in-ear monitors for drummers. All else being equal, the earphone form factor is just better to use as a musician. Compared to headphones, IEMs are smaller, lighter, and less likely to get in the way once you’ve routed your cables right. 

More importantly, earphones usually provide better noise isolation than headphones of a similar class as they seal your ear canals directly. 

While this is the main reason why I’d recommend them over headphones, I understand that the in-ear fit just doesn’t agree with a lot of people – that, and having custom-made IEM molds take quite a bit of time and effort. 

The best headphones for drummers, though, should be able to achieve comparable noise isolation while being in a larger but more comfortable form factor. 

Noise Canceling Headphones for Drummers – and Why They Don’t Work

Now, there has been a misconception floating around among beginner drummers when it comes to their monitoring solutions, which is that they could use headphones with active noise canceling or ANC for their sessions. 

If that heading doesn’t already make it obvious, noise-canceling headphones don’t work as hearing protection. To understand why, let’s first look at how ANC works in the first place. 

Installed in a typical noise-canceling headphone is an array of microphones that pick up audio from your surroundings as well as the space inside the earpads. A computer of sorts inside the headphones then takes the sound waves of the outside, inverts them, then pipes the inverted waves into the headphones, canceling the outside noise to give you the impression of silence.

But as that last sentence implies, the silence you hear is just an impression – active noise canceling isn’t a viable substitute for hearing protection. Whatever outside noise you’re trying to block out is still entering your ears; you just aren’t perceiving it because ANC is also pumping out the noise to cancel it out. 

Noise isolation (or noise reduction) is just that: a reduction in the noise that enters your ears. 

How it works is much more simple – just cover your ears with your hands and voila, that’s noise isolation. Headphones with proper noise isolation ability usually have well-sealing ear pads and a lot of insulation inside the ear cups so that less outside noise reaches your ears.

So with this base knowledge established, let’s get to our recommendations.

The Best Headphones For Drummers Reviewed

editorspick

Beyerdynamic DT150

Workhorse studio monitors with solid noise isolation and sound quality you can take beyond the studio

4.5/5
Price Range: $$
Brand: beyerdynamic
Beyerdynamic DT150 - best headphones for drummers

The Download

Our editor’s pick for the best headphones for drummers was a toss-up between this and the Sennheiser HD 25, both of which are excellent headphones in their own right. However, for this final guide, the DT150 eventually won out because of its over-ear form factor.

To handle the demands of protecting your hearing while moving about a drumset, I found the DT150 to be much more consistent for more people because the earcups can completely surround the ears on even the largest heads – although they do feel quite bulky as a result. 

And because they were designed as studio monitors, they also sound quite good. There’s a boomy quality to its bass response but they manage to sound pretty clean and engaging through the rest of the frequency range. I definitely wouldn’t mind spending listening sessions with them.

Only their power requirements stand out to me as an issue in practice; with 97dB sensitivity and 250 ohms of impedance, they’re definitely made to be used on studio equipment. This shouldn’t be a problem if your monitoring setup already accommodates this, but the DT150 may sound pretty quiet when you try to run it off of your phone. Something to keep in mind, but ultimately doesn’t matter too much for what is otherwise an excellent drummer’s headphone. 

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Closed-back over-ear headphones
  • Driver Type:  Single 45mm dynamic
  • Frequency Response:  5 – 30,000 Hz
  • Max. Input Power:  100 mW
  • Sensitivity:  97 dB
  • Impedance:  250 Ohms
  • Weight:  ~250 grams (without cable)

What’s in the Box?

  • Beyerdynamic DT 150 headphones
  • 3m coiled cable (proprietary 3-pole to 1/8″ TRS)
  • 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter

Stuff I like

  • Clean and lively sound
  • Soft and well-sealing earpads
  • Surprisingly comfortable despite clamping pressure

Stuff I like less

  • Bass is a bit boomy
  • Might be too large for some heads
  • May need an amp to get to volume
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
contender

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

A new and improved version of a broadcast staple, but not by much

4/5
Price Range: $
Brand: Sennheiser
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

The Download

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t aware that Sennheiser updated the HD 280 Pro in 2018; but having seen this, I’m more than happy that they did. Made specifically for the loud and hectic broadcast field, all of the qualities of the HD 280 Pro translate well to the life of the performing musician, and it’s become one of the best headphones for drummers as a result. 

The changes made in the new version are subtle at first glance but definitely noticeable. While these over-ear monitors for drummers still clamp with a vice grip, plusher padding throughout the headphones makes them feel a bit less of a pain on the skull. 

And all the while, the core of the headphones themselves remains unchanged. So on one hand, you still get that clean and well-balanced (if a bit boring) sound that makes the HD280 Pro the trusted pair of monitors that they are. But on the other, you also get that same annoying coiled cable that’s supposed to be a “more convenient” design but instead is an annoying weight that you may have to dance around a bit.

All in all, it’s still a very competent and reliable pair of headphones that will last you through sessions both on the stage and in the studio. 

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Closed-back over-ear headphone
  • Driver Type:  Single 40mm dynamic
  • Frequency Response:  8 – 25,000 Hz
  • Max. Input Power:  500 mW
  • Sensitivity:  113 dB
  • Impedance:  64 Ohms
  • Weight:  ~285 grams (without cable)

What’s in the Box?

  • Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones
  • 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter

Stuff I like

  • Cushier headband pads with no hot spots
  • Excellent isolation
  • Light but tough plastic build
  • Well-balanced sound signature

Stuff I like less

  • Clamping force is still strong
  • Fixed, coiled cable is unwieldy
  • Sound is a little boring
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
premiumoption

GK Music UltraPhones

A studio headphone inside a hearing protector—effective but feels a bit too DIY for nearly $300

4/5
Price Range: $$
Brand: GK Music
GK Music UltraPhones

The Download

As we’ve already established, the best headphones for drummers are those that have good sound while also providing great hearing protection. So why not just take the guts of studio headphones and chuck them into industrial-grade earmuffs? 

Gordy Knutdson had that exact idea when he created the GK Music UltraPhones. Essentially, they’re a pair of Sony MDR-7506 studio headphones stuck inside the shell of 3M Peltor earmuffs (specifically the Optime 105 model). 

The 3M Peltor shell is practically unchanged from its original, non-audio form, providing noise isolation that works as well around loud crowds as it would have around power tools and heavy machinery. 

Now, do keep in mind that the UltraPhones are a hearing protector first. While they sound pretty good on account of that MDR-7506, they still sound like an MDR-7506 – well-balanced, punchy bass, but easily outclassed by headphones in this price range. 

Despite being the “premium option” in this list, there’s definitely a bit of a homemade feel to the UltraPhones, which makes it a bit difficult to justify paying $270 for the thing before shipping and taxes. That said, you do have to understand that GK Music is basically just one guy’s small business, so the limited production does factor into the $270 you pay to get the best sound in any industrial earmuff that’s being sold anywhere. 

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Closed-back over-ear headphones
  • Driver Type:  Single 40mm dynamic
  • Frequency Response:  10 – 20,000 Hz
  • Max. Input Power:  1,000 mW
  • Sensitivity:  106 dB
  • Impedance:  63 Ohms

What’s in the Box?

  • GK Music UltraPhones
  • 1/8″ to 1/4″ screw-on adapter

Stuff I like

  • Best-sounding hearing protector out there
  • Industry-grade noise isolation
  • Could be upgraded to gel pads

Stuff I like less

  • Limited production = expensive
  • Not sold through retailers
  • Cable feels flimsy
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
budgetpick

Vic Firth SIH2 Isolation Headphones

A decent hearing protection solution on a budget, but the sound isn’t quite mixing-ready

4/5
Price Range: $
Brand: Vic Firth
Vic Firth SIH2 Isolation Headphones

The Download

On the other end of the price spectrum is… a pair of earmuffs with headphone drivers stuffed into them. But while you might think that that ruins the value proposition of the GK Music UltraPhones we covered earlier, the Vic Firth SIH2 noise canceling headphones for drummers are proportionally cheaper and less good. 

For the budget-conscious, this is probably the best headphones for drummers you could get right now – they’re certainly better sounding than 3M WorkTunes while also providing comparable levels of noise protection. But if you’re looking to mix on these headphones, I’d suggest otherwise as the bass is a bit annoying and it does get a bit too hot in the treble, which will affect how your music mixes will turn out. 

This kind of sound signature does allow the SIH2 to cut through any noise it hasn’t blocked out (which isn’t much) and keep your monitoring loud and clear even through demanding jam sessions and live performances. 

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Closed-back over-ear headphones
  • Driver Type:  Single 50mm dynamic
  • Frequency Response:  20 – 20,000 Hz

What’s in the Box?

  • Vic Firth SIH2 headphones

Stuff I like

  • Big, spacious earcups
  • Comfortable clamping force
  • Decently long cable

Stuff I like less

  • Mediocre sound
  • Cable is not removable
  • Plastic parts in critical places
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
alsoconsider

Sennheiser HD 25 Plus

Arguably the best on-ear headphones for pro audio, for better and for worse

4.5/5
Price Range: $$
Brand: Sennheiser
Sennheiser HD 25 Plus

The Download

And so this brings us back to the other pair of headphones I’d have chosen for our editor’s pick as the best headphones for drummers. As I’ve covered in other guides before, the Sennheiser HD 25 Plus is probably the headphone to beat for use in pro audio environments, combining utility and sound quality in a super compact package. 

Its isolation is easily the best of any on-ear headphone, which is helped by a very strong clamping force that makes sure the earpads press into your ears. Since the pressure is directly on your ears, this will feel a lot more uncomfortable over long sessions compared to over-ear headphones. But if the way it fits works for you, you’ll be treated to a fun, engaging, and powerful sound that’s especially great for tracking drums. 

The Plus version of the HD 25 throws in a nifty accessories package for about $50 over the standard model. Whether that’s worth a carrying pouch, extra cable, and extra pair of earpads is up to you, but personally, I’d take it as it means I already have a set of replacements for the two most common points of failure on the headphones.

The Specs

  • Headphone Type:  Closed-back on-ear headphones
  • Driver Type:  Single 40mm dynamic
  • Frequency Response:  16 – 22,000 Hz
  • Max. Input Power:  200 mW
  • Sensitivity:  120 dB
  • Impedance:  70 Ohms
  • Weight:  ~150 grams

What’s in the Box?

  • Sennheiser HD 25 headphones
  • 1.5m cable (proprietary 2-pin to 1/8″ TRS)
  • 3m cable (proprietary 2-pin to 1/8″ TRS)
  • Carrying pouch
  • 1 pair of extra earpads

Stuff I like

  • Light but tough
  • Stage-ready isolation if you get the right fit
  • Fun sound for any situation

Stuff I like less

  • Getting the right seal is tricky
  • On-ear fit doesn’t work for everyone
  • Clamping force feels stronger than it is
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Final Verdict

Although earphones for drummers are often better in a lot of ways, you still have a lot of choices for headphones if the in-ear form factor just doesn’t work for you. 

We’ve taken a look at five such options in today’s market for the best headphones for drummers you can get in a variety of price ranges. Out of all these, my personal picks are the Beyerdynamic DT150 and the Sennheiser HD25.

As an audiophile, I do place audio quality in pretty high priority and while the other options in this list may provide better noise isolation, I’ve found these two headphones to provide great sound while also having enough noise protection to handle the demands of the drummer’s lifestyle. 

Do keep in mind that these are by no means the only options out there, but at the very least, we hope these recommendations will help you narrow down what you want in your perfect pair. 

A musician with over 2 decades of experience in studio recording. Audiophile, always in pursuit of the perfect set of headphones. King Crimson fan.

Tech enthusiast since childhood with a passion for finding the perfect gadget or accessory for the job. Always happy to share knowledge on electronics and digital trends. Music lover, 5K runner, instinctive optimizer. Impressed by fit and finish. Inspired by art and engineering.

This post was last updated on 2024-02-29 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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