Why Do Drummers Wear Headphones

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why do drummers wear headphones

Is it just a cool trend? It looks good on your head? Why do drummers wear headphones? It comes from a need to quiet down your stage environment and adjust sound exactly how you prefer. Headphones tend to kill a lot of background noise that comes from vocals, guitars, or a stage echo.

Not wearing a pair of headphones or in-ear monitors may cause that while on stage, you don’t hear your bass drum or toms loud enough. In the past musicians used on-stage speakers as monitors. 

Same as the headphones and in-ear monitors, you can get a mix of instruments, but one thing is different. The speakers will not kill the environment noise and leave just the instruments you want.

With headphones, you can turn the volume up and down for any instrument you want. Now, when you know why drummers did make a switch, let’s go through the options you have when you decide to wear headphones.

  1. Classic headphones
  2. In-ear monitors
  3. Custom in-ear monitors

Before I dive into all three of these, I want to emphasize that you can’t use regular computer headphones for this purpose and let me tell you why.

When you listen to something on Youtube or just a regular mp3, the signal that gets to your headphones is clean and processed. Quite the opposite signal on stage is raw. 

If this signal comes into your regular computer headphones not built for this purpose, it can damage them and the drivers. So the main difference is in the driver they use. Headphones for musicians have drivers built for the purpose of live performance.

Two factors that will influence your decision about which type of headphones for the drummers you will us is:

  • Personal preference
  • The budget

The price range for Classic headphones and commercials in-ears is from $60 up to 400$ and more. For custom in-ear monitors, prices go from $200 up to $2200 or even more depending on you preference. If you want 6 drivers in-ear covered with freaking diamonds, it may cost a lot.

We did and article about Best isolation headphones for drummers under $300, you can find a lot of useful info there.


Some drummers wear only these, while some hate them cause they may be too large, uncomfortable, and cause too much sweat. We analyzed a few models in this category, and here is the one that beats the competition.

Vic Firth SIH2 Best isolation headphones unde $100


  • Reduces outside noise by 25 decibels
  • 50M/M dynamic speaker mylar con
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20Khz
  • 1/4″ and 1/8″ plugs


  • Price
  • Sound
  • Durable (well built)
  • Easily adjustable


  • Too big
  • Heavy

What I like

These kinds of headphones can easily be found for under $100. That makes them the cheapest type of drummer headphones.

The sound quality is excellent, while the volume you can achieve is very high. You will get what every drummer needs, and most likely, you will be pleased with the overall sound quality.

They are well built with high-quality materials. If we compare them with the previous model from Vic Firth, they are improved and much better made. 

Check out some reviews of the previous model here. SIH2 cable is thick and solid, very durable the same as the jack.
It is easily adjustable to every head shape and size.

What I don't like

Not just the Vic Firth’s SIH2, but all the drummers headphones this kind are not comfortable for long sessions. Depending on the person but it is more likely to get all sweaty with big headphones.
The noise reduction is lower than with in-ear and custom in-ear monitors.


The reason behind “the drummer’s headphones” is only marketing, I would say. These headphones are made by Vic Firth (a well-known company that makes drum sticks. With that on mind, their customers are drummers, so the headphones for the drummers sound like a perfect name.

The fact is that they sound great; they are comfortable and well built. I don’t see anything that makes them the “drummer headphones” but great headphones for musicians, gamers, freelancers, and all other folks who tend to work in a loud environment and want to lower the noise.

Among a significant number of this kind of headphones, Vic Firth’s new model stands out with the built quality and durability.
The value for the money ration is perfect, and it is an excellent set of headphones overall.

In-Ear Monitors

Many companies nowadays make these. What causes the price to go up is the number of built-in drivers — they go from one up to six or more. The theory is that the more drivers a headphone has, the better, more clear sound you get.

You can find pretty good in-ear monitors on the market, but here is the model that provides the best value for the money ratio. 

Shure SE215 Best noise isolation in ears under $100


  • Detailed sound with more enhanced bass
  • Sensitivity (1kHz)  – 107 db spl/mw
  • Impedance (1kHz)  – 17 Ω
  • Noise Attenuation Up to 37 dB
  • Frequency Range 22 Hz – 17.5 kHz / 21 Hz – 17 kHz (SPE)
  • Color Options: Black, Blue, Clear, White


  • Real drummer headphone
  • Noise cancellation
  • Comfort
  • Sound
  • Durability


  • Cord detachment spot

What I like

Pretty solid headphones for just one driver. Durability is really something. They can take a lot without breaking down. Having an option to take off the cord and buy a new one is excellent, but sometimes it is challenging to find just the cable, or it’s not payable to buy a cable separately. You can also buy separately in ear sleeves. The cleaning is straightforward. You take off the sleeves and wash them with water. 


Regarding a sound, the bass is a little bit boosted, and the sound overall is pretty good. My idea of the sound on headphones is to get exactly the same sound the instruments producing. With these in-ear monitors, you get that. They are made mostly for drummers. They choose them because of the enhanced bass and easy cord replacement.

What I don't like

The weak spot is the place where the cord attaches to headphones. If you detach it too often, it may cause the part on the end of the cable to crack or even fall off. In that case, you would have to buy a new one. This is the downside of detaching a cable.


Having all said, these in-ear monitors are a perfect choice for drummers. As for professionals also for the amateurs because of the low price. These in-ears have the best value for the money ratio on the market currently.

I would compare them to a legendary mic from Shure the sm57. This mic costs a little over 100 bucks, and it works perfectly in every situation. You can find this it in the best studios in the world. All professional musicians are using it and all that for little over 100 bucks. 

Big companies don’t make high quality products for this amount. I think these in-ears will have the same impact and live on the market as a legendary model. The Shure SE215 is just too good for the price. Behind it,you can easily find the reason why do drummers wear headphones.

Custom In-Ear Monitors

What makes this category the most expensive is that these in-ear monitors are made exclusively for you.  Also, with these in-ear monitors, you can customize the shape, the number of drivers, and the look. When you kill all the unnecessary sounds, you can mix your drums, and all other instruments without other frequencies interfere. 

Check out the specs of one of the most expensive models on the market the UE-Live from Ultimate Ears  with the price of $2,200.00





NOISE ISOLATION  -26 decibels of ambient stage noise

IMPEDANCE  10 Ohms @ 1kHz

INTERNAL SPEAKER CONFIGURATION  6 balanced armatures, 1 True Tone Plus driver & 1 6mm neodymium dynamic speaker.

INPUT CONNECTOR  1/8” headphone jack; compatible with all systems



This is how it works when headphones have only one driver.

best in ear for drummers
One driver In-Ear monitors

Now lets take a look how the system works with several drivers.

in ears for drummers
Several drives In-Ear monitor

Here is how that process of making a custom in-ear monitors look like.

There are ways to convert your regular in -ear monitors into custom made in-ears. Check out this video and see do these tips will work for you.


What I like

What not to like with these beauties, custom made only for you. You can choose the sound based on the number of drivers; design the look of in-ears how you want.

Every custom in-ear monitor is a piece of art. If you still asking yourself why do drummers wear headphones, after having one of these, you will definitely find out.

What I don't like

The only bad thing about a custom in ears is the price. It goes from $200 for a model with only one driver (the same as the Shure SE215) up to $2,200.00 and more.

Do they worth that much? I leave for you to decide.
It’s a shame that noise cancelation doesn’t change that much from Shure SE215 ($100.00) to UE LIVE or similar model ($2,200.00) but the price does.


This type of headphones is for true professionals who desire and can afford a set of custom in-ear monitors.
With the customization and brand, the price goes higher, but the sound does not change that much in comparison to some Shure in-ear monitors or Mee Audion monitors with similar specs.

The thing is when you want to level up with equipment, at first if you double up the money, you will make long jumps, but afterward, you need to double up your money just to get a few percent better sound.


Let’s wrap up!
It’s time to compare all three models that I reviewed.

Vic Firth SIH2


  • Noise Attenuation up to 25 dB
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20Khz
  • 50M/M dynamic speaker mylar con
  • 1/4″ and 1/8″ plugs
Price $80

Shure SE215


  • Noise Attenuation Up to 37 dB
  • Frequency Range 22 Hz – 17.5 kHz 
  • Detailed sound with more enhanced bass
  • Sensitivity (1kHz)  – 107 db spl/mw
  • Impedance (1kHz)  – 17 Ω
Price $100

UE Live


  • Noise Attenuation Up to 26 dB
  • Frequency Responce  5 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Input sensitivity 105 dB @ 1 kHz, 1mW
  • Impedance  10 Ohms @ 1kHz
  •  Speaker configuration  6 balanced armatures, 1 True Tone Plus driver & 1 6mm neodymium dynamic speaker.



Price $2200

Now when we have all three types side by side, we can see that the best noise cancelation you get from commercial in-ear monitors. That’s probably because of the sound isolating sleeves that do a better job than the silicon on custom in-ears.

The price of the regular headphones and commercial in-ears doesn’t differentiate much, so it’s all about your preference. Also, the pair of custom in-ear monitors with one driver cost around $200.

The custom in-ears will have the best sound caused by a frequency range and number of drivers. Imagine having six instruments playing together. Every one of them is producing a tone in another frequency range. Now, imagine having that sound perfectly sorted in your ears. That’s what you get from a six drivers in-ear monitors.

It’s up to you but if you ask me I would go with commercial in-ear monitors like Shure SE215 or Mee Audio M7 PRO. I like the level of noise cancelation along with the quality of the sound and durability for a resonable price.

Find out what are the best headphones for electronic drums.


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