Drumming is one of the most difficult instruments to learn and requires a lot of time and practice. It's also well known amongst drummers that all of this practice can cause serious damage to hearing and can even lead to permanent hearing loss and conditions such as tinnitus.
Some drummers use earplugs or simple everyday headphones to try to counter the volume of drum practice, but these are often ineffective or inadequate, as they are not designed with drummers in mind. They also don’t reduce ambient noise very well making it harder to focus on maintaining your beat.
To make sure you protect your hearing and improve the quality of your drumming practice, it may be time to consider a purpose-built and designed pair of isolation headphones. These headphones are designed to be used by musicians and in professional studios to protect your ears, as well as provide a host of other features to help ensure you get the most out of your drum kit.
If you’re looking for your first pair of drumming headphones or have questions about isolation headphones and their features, feel free to check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ at the bottom of this article, where we will be able to explain what to look for in a good pair of isolation headphones and how to make sure you’re getting the best (muffled) bang for your buck.
OUR TOP PICK
Vic Firth is one of the longest-standing manufacturers of drumming accessories so it’s no surprise that these headphones are one of the best all-around performers available, with great sound isolation, decent sound quality, and a well-designed and comfortable shape.
They reduce ambient noise by a considerable 25 decibels, which gives a serious level of insulation and prevents you from damaging your hearing.
This also prevents the sound of your drumming from bleeding through when you’re trying to focus on the music. Part of the reason these headphones isolate so well is because of how well they fit around your ears. They seal very tightly around them and feel very secure even while moving around a lot.
They also have a frequency response of 20HZ to 20kHZ, as well as improved drivers which provide fairly good sound quality, while the visual profile is neat and sleek.
- Noise Isolating - 25 Decibel sound reduction
- Good audio quality
- Long cable
- Secure fit
- Can become uncomfortable over a long period of time
The Direct Sound EX-29 are another over-ear closed-back headphones that are a little less bulky than some others on this list.
They have a noise isolation rating of 29dB, which is achieved using passive isolation which essentially means there is no battery or power required to reduce ambient noise.
They use large 40mm drivers to produce a surprisingly good quality sound and have a frequency response of 20-20000Hz. While these headphones are not dedicated to producing high-quality audio given their noise-isolating focus, this level of audio quality is really superb.
The drawback is that despite the attested 29dB of noise isolation, these headphones don’t seem to block out noise quite as well as some others such as the Vic Firth option.
- Great audio quality
- Passive isolation - no power/battery required
- Easy folding for storage
- Comfortable padding
- Isolation properties lacking slightly
These bulky provide extremely comprehensive noise isolation but as is common with these types of headphones, the audio quality suffers a little bit despite the full range 40mm drivers.
These headphones are specifically geared towards electronic drumming in particular however it is possible to use them with a normal acoustic kit. However, they don’t have the highest build quality and as mentioned, the audio quality may be disappointing.
They are pretty good value for money, giving decent isolation at a lower price and coming with a surprisingly comfortable fit thanks to a well-designed headband and comprehensive cushioning.
While not the highest quality, they would make a great set of backup cans or work well for a beginner just getting into drumming for the first time.
- Good Sound Isolation
- Comfortable Headband
- 40mm Full-Range Drivers
- Designed for Electronic Drumming
- Poor sound quality
One of the simplest and basic headphones on this list, the CAD Audio DH100’s make a great introductory set of headphones, providing decent performance for their cost.
Featuring high output Neodymium drivers and a 10Hz response time, the sound quality isn’t as high quality as some of the others on this list. The lows and mids are ok but when it comes to high-end treble these headphones really struggle.
The sound isolation is also a little lower than some other headphones on this list, with around a 19dB reduction in ambient noise.
The plus is that these headphones are a lot less bulky and cumbersome than some others, making them easier to store and carry, and comfortable to wear over long periods of time.
- Neodymium drivers
- Sound quality could be better
Beyerdynamic’s DT 770 headphones come in two different variants, but we recommend the M version thanks to its noise-canceling credentials and high-resolution sound that makes them a great choice for drummers or sound engineers who want to protect their hearing without losing out on sound quality.
These headphones are closed-back over-the-ear headphones giving amazing noise isolation, reducing ambient sound by 35dB, one of the highest noise cuts in this list. This will provide serious protection against hearing damage and tinnitus.
The sound quality is one of the best on this list and the long single-sided cable is 3 meters in length and has volume control for easy adjustment on the fly.
Despite their slightly larger size, these headphones are comfortable and the headband and ear cushions are soft.
- Great sound quality
- Great noise isolation
- Basic looking and quite bulky
These headphones are percussion focused as the name suggests, meaning they will provide great protection against external noise while allowing for functional recording and playback.
Using passive isolation, these headphones cut ambient noise by 26dB, a respectable and significant reduction that will reduce ear fatigue whether you’re in the studio or the practice room. The passive isolation design means that they will need to be seated correctly and have a relatively tight seal around your ears.
Luckily the adjustable headband and large ear cushions make fitting these headphones super easy and also extremely comfortable thanks to their ample padding.
The actual sound quality is decent, with a frequency response of 20-20000Hz.
Despite being a fairly large headset it is light and comfortable to wear, as well as durable. It can be fitted so well that it won’t move around even while you’re entering intense drumming sections which is important for experienced drummers.
- Good sound quality
- Good noise reduction
- Easily adjustable
- Although good, the noise reduction could be a little better for their size
No list of headphones could be complete without an entry from Sennheiser, one of the industry-leading designers and manufacturers of headphones.
The HD280PRO offers a dynamic closed earphone with up to 32dB of sound attenuation protecting you from a large amount of ambient noise while also providing outstanding sound quality thanks to their 8 - 25000Hz frequency response and excellent drivers.
Sennheisers extensive experience has also been used to make these headphones extremely comfortable, thanks to ample padding on the headband and the ear cushions, which allow for an excellent seal around the ears.
High-quality finishing and cables as well as excellent sound reproduction make these some of the best drummer focussed studio headphones available.
- Excellent sound quality
- Excellent ear protection
- Great frequency response
- The coiled cable may annoy some users
Best Headphones for Drummers Buying Guide
Buying headphones as a drummer can raise a lot more questions than it answers. This can even be true of experienced drummers who are only purchasing ear protection for the first time or who are only just starting to work in a studio.
There are many different types of headphones and a lot of variation in the technology they use which can have a major impact on the quality of the sound the headphones produce as well as the ear protection they provide.
There are also other important factors to consider when buying headphones such as comfort, portability, design, and how easy it is to find replacement parts.
In this guide, we’re going to highlight some of the important features to look out for when buying drumming headphones and explain some of the jargon surrounding them.
If your question isn’t answered here check out the FAQ below for a little more information answering common questions about drumming.
One of the most important aspects of the design of your headphones will be how comfortable they are. This can depend on a lot of factors such as the design of the headphones, the shape of the headband and ear cups as well as whether they are padded.
The size and shape of your head will also determine how comfortable you find headphones, so your mileage may vary depending on this.
Generally, you want to make sure that there is good padding on the headband to prevent soreness on the top of your head, as well as adequate cushioning on the ear cups to provide a nice comfortable seal.
Other features such as a long cable and a low overall weight will improve how easy headphones are to use over long time periods. Always make sure that your headphones fit correctly too so that they don’t fall off when you start moving around and really working the drums.
Sound isolation refers to how much a pair of headphones dampens external audio and ambient noise. This is measured in decibels (dB) and the higher the decibel reduction your headphones achieve, the more sound they will be able to block out.
This in turn will help protect your ears from ear fatigue or tinnitus and permanent hearing loss. The other benefit of sound isolation is that you are able to focus more easily on the audio playing from your headphones without being distracted by the sound of your drums leaking into your headphones, which can be a great feature for drumming in the studio or using electronic drums.
One of the most important features of any headphone set is the quality of the sound they produce. There are various different ways to determine how good your sound will be, but you should always look out for good quality drivers, good frequency response, and ideally high-quality wiring materials.
Most established headphone manufacturers will detail these specifications to help you make an informed decision. Be aware that drumming headphones may not necessarily have the highest audio quality due to their focus on protecting your ears from ambient noise and reducing ear fatigue.
There are several designs including over-ear headphones, in-ear headphones, and even active and passive isolation.
All of these design features will impact how well your headphones are able to function so make sure to check these before making a purchase as there are positives and negatives to each design choice.
Best Headphones for Drummers - FAQ's
Can drumming cause tinnitus?
Yes, drumming, particularly acoustic drumming is a very loud activity that can cause irreversible damage to your hearing.
Tinnitus and hearing loss is a very common problem among drummers, so do not underestimate the damage you can do without proper ear protection.
What is ear fatigue?
Generally, this is a phenomenon that occurs with prolonged exposure to sound and can cause discomfort and sensitivity in listeners.
Are over-ear or in-ear headphones better?
It’s hard to say without knowing your particular requirements, but over-ear headphones will allow a large amount of noise reduction which is why this design is so prevalent among drummers.
What’s the difference between noise-canceling and noise isolation?
Noise-canceling headphones use batteries or another power source to actively minimize ambient audio, whereas noise isolation is generally passive noise reduction that isn’t powered and is achieved solely by the design, shape, and material of the headphone.
Unfortunately, some brands use the terms interchangeably which can make things confusing.