Isolation Headphones for Drummers

Headphones For Drummers: 6 Noise-Isolating Options For Practicing

We all know that headphones are pretty important to our daily life, whether it be your Apple iPhone earbuds or your favorite Bluetooth headphones. Some of these choices make terrible options for playing drums.

For starters, playing drums is very loud and these types of earbuds and headphones often won’t reduce the amount of volume that your kit puts out. Fortunately there’s a lot of options out there that reduce the level of volume both in your ears as well as from external sources like your drum kit

The main idea with these headphones is their ability to cancel out some of the loud noise from your drum kit. One of the great benefits of choosing a pair of headphones for drumming is that you can use these not only for drums but also in your everyday life.

I’ve used everything from crappy Sony headphones from the 1990s to noise cancelling ear muffs that you would see in a workshop.

Unfortunately, there aren’t that many great options available for drummers who need isolation headphones. We are going to weed through the list, but don’t be surprised if a lot of these reviews are negative. Myself? I use in-ear monitors because I believe they are far superior to isolation headphones.

That being said, let’s get into the list of best isolation headphones for drummers.

Splice Sounds

Beyerdynamic DT 770

Before I get started on this set of headphones there’s something I have to say. There are two options from Beyerdynamic that you can choose from.

The DT770 M is targeted specifically at drummers due to the fact that the headphones are noise cancelling. The other model that they sell is not much different in all honesty. depending on your needs you’ll have to decide which one is right for you.

beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones in black. Enclosed design, wired for...
428 Reviews
beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones in black. Enclosed design, wired for...
  • Closed over-ear headphones, ideal for professional recording...
  • Perfect for studio and stage recordings thanks to their...
  • The soft, circumaural and replaceable velour ear pads ensure...
  • Hard-wearing, durable and robust workmanship Made in...
  • Practical single-sided cable (3.0m cable) . Comfortable fit...

The DT770 almost resembles earmuffs like I had mentioned using earlier. They are an over-the-ear monitor headphone that is all black in design. The pair is marketed towards both drummers and even sound engineers.

From an overall design standpoint the set of headphones looks really nice very sleek and well-built. A major downside is the cost, of course. On the inner portion of the headphones you’ll notice a gray cloth that’s very soft to the touch: a nice feature.

Let’s talk about sound

Being at this set of headphones is a closed-back set, you’re going to really notice the increased quality in the sound of the music you’re listening to.

It’s especially noticeable in movies and games with great sound design. What I really like most about the design is how comfortable they are after long periods of time. One of the major issues with many isolation headphones is the fact that they become uncomfortable even only after, say an hour.

As I already said the sound is amazing. The bass sounds great, albeit a little over hyped, but not too much.

Other headphones in this price range, like the Audio Technica M50x, are more flat in terms of the frequency response. If you’re not mixing music and are just playing drums, I think you’ll like these a lot more. This set of headphones is also far more comfortable than the M50x.

Decibel reduction

One of the main gripes with this set of headphones is that the noise isolation is not as great as it is advertised. I have experienced this all too often.

I’ve had sets of headphones that when I go down to practice my drums that they’re just bleeding too much of the sound into my mix.

I’ve got a mixing board and bunch of microphones on my kit and I want to be able to hear the sound of the drums as if they were being recorded.

I don’t want to hear all the noise from the raw drums bleeding into my ears. Being that this is the case with these headphones you may want to stay away unless this type of thing doesn’t bug you too much.

Overall thoughts

While this might not be the greatest solution for those drummers looking for total isolation, I think it is a great set of headphones that are both comfortable and sound incredible.


KAT Percussion Ultra isolation headphones

KAT Percussion KTUI26 Ultra Isolation Headphones
88 Reviews
KAT Percussion KTUI26 Ultra Isolation Headphones
  • Passive isolation, no batteries required
  • Reduces external noise by 26dB. Frequency response 20 -...
  • Lightweight and durable construction
  • Adjustable padded headband & Large foam ear cushions for...
  • 1/8" stereo headphone jack with 1/4" adapter

Moving on, we’ve got a percussion company that I’m sure many of you heard of. The KAT Percussion Ultra isolation headphones are similar to that of other headphone makers like Vic Firth who target drummers specifically when they make isolation headphones. These are what I would consider to be the traditional drumming headphones.

Let’s talk about sound

This pair, like the Vic Firth isolation headphones that we will be looking at later on, has an issue that many headphones marketed at drummers have. The sound quality is not the greatest. To my years it’s almost like a tinny, lo-fi type of sound that really doesn’t have a full mix feeling to it. It almost sounds weak, like you’re listening through old radio speakers.

Now if your goal is to reduce outside noise coming into your ears while still maintaining a clear presence of your sound, say if you have drum mics in a mixing board setup like I have, this might work perfect. That being said I think there are better options available that will give you a better tonal quality.

Affordability

One shining benefit of these headphones is the price point. When it comes to buying headphones and other audio related gear, the cost can easily be a major issue for many of us who just need a cheap solution.

While they’re not the cheapest available, they do offer that kind of mid-range point between extremely low-end and professional.

Comfortability

The KAT Oercussion isolation headphones are extremely uncomfortable, I’m afraid. After wearing them for about an hour like the sides of my head are being clamped.

This is another glaring issue that many of these types of headphones face. If you’re just playing for a short half-hour, these might be perfect for you. However, for those of us who want a great solution for sound, comfortability, sound, price, and other factors, these may not win.

Overall thoughts

While I don’t think that these are the top of the line drumming headphones, I do think that they are okay for the price point. You won’t get the most comfortable feeling headphones or the best sounding, but unfortunately you pay for what you get. These to me are very much on point with Vic Firth set of isolation headphones.


CAD Audio drummer isolation headphones

Sale
CAD Audio DH100 Drummer Isolation Headphones
147 Reviews
CAD Audio DH100 Drummer Isolation Headphones
  • High output Neodymium drivers
  • Foam cushions for maximum comfort and sound isolation
  • Cut ambient noise levels by 19dB

It is time that we have reached the cheapest headphones on our list. CAD’s drumming headphones feature high-output Neodymium drivers. I’m not even going to pretend to know what that means exactly. Similar to the KAT headphones, CAD has a similar design, though a bit smaller.

Let’s talk about sound

Being that these headphones are one of the cheapest on the list, you have to know that the sound quality is not going to be the greatest.

The low-end is okay and the mid-range is relatively clear, however, the high-end treble range is completely missing (at least to my ears).

Your cymbals are not going to shine and your snare drum will not have any bite. That being said, the sound itself is not exactly muddy.

Sound isolation

The sound isolation from the CAD headphones is decent but it’s not as great as some of the other options available. They’re rated only at 19 decibels of reduction. When playing the drums there is still going to be some bleed coming into your ears from your drums.

There’s a lot of people online saying that you can’t hear anything when you have these on, but I find that hard to believe.

You definitely can hear what you’re doing and it will be clear, but your drums are going to bleed in.

Overall thoughts

If you’re a new drummer and you need some sort of ear protection, you really can’t go wrong with these.

They’re not going to be the highest quality sound, but they will get the job done. There’s no point in comparing these to more expensive headphones as they’re just not in the same category. If your primary use is practicing your drums these are a perfect fit.


Direct Sound EX29 Plus isolation headphones

Now here’s a prime candidate for a winner of our list. I’ve had my Direct Sound isolation headphones since 2010 and they’ve held up over the years.

They are a little bit more expensive than the CAD and Vic Firth options, however, I believe the investment is well worth your money.

Let’s talk about sound

One of the great benefits of the EX-29 is in fact the sound quality. They are not going to be top-of-the-line headphones when it comes to sound, but they are far superior to any of the isolation headphones that are marketed towards drummers.

Similarly to other headphones on the list, the high-end is not as bright as you would expect. The headphones are very warm sounding; your cymbals will not have that sheen you may be looking for.

Sound isolation

The Direct Sound EX29 features 29 decibels of passive isolation (fitting for the name).

What is passive isolation you may ask? It means that the headphone is not powered by a battery to artificially isolate outside sound. Speaker companies like Bose have released active isolation headphones that really work well. In this case, you won’t need to charge these as there’s no battery.

While 29dB of isolation does seem like a lot, they don’t isolate as much as you would think. When I compare these to my Vic Firth isolation headphones, there’s no comparison.

I can easily hear the sound of my kit out in the room underneath the music and the mix that I have going. This is a downfall, however, you’re getting a great sound whereas with the Vic Firth headphones, you won’t.

Overall thoughts

While these isolation headphones are a little bit pricier than our last two options, it is most certainly worth it. Sure, you’re not going to get as much isolation as with other options, but the sound quality does make up in this area. They’re not the greatest sounding headphones in the world, but they are far superior to CAD and Vic Firth.


Alesis DRP100 extreme isolation drum headphones

Alesis DRP100 | Extreme Audio-Isolation Electronic Drum Reference-Headphones with 1/4' Adapter &...
80 Reviews
Alesis DRP100 | Extreme Audio-Isolation Electronic Drum Reference-Headphones with 1/4" Adapter &...
  • Created and voiced for electronic drum monitoring
  • Over-ear design provides extreme isolation and comfort
  • Sweat-proof silicone headband for fit flexibility and...
  • Powerful 40mm full range drivers
  • Alesis DRP100 | Extreme Audio-Isolation Electronic Drum...

These things look like something straight out of a Tron movie. The Drum isolation headphones from Alesis are also on the more affordable end of the spectrum.

Now, they’re marketed towards those using electronic drums, however I think you can still use these with an acoustic kit. You know, I wonder why they even bothered to market these isolation headphones if the target demographic is drummers who play electronic kits. They’re already quiet!

It’s important to note that user reviews of The DRP100 are less than favorable. in fact,  a solid quarter of them are very negative.

Let’s talk about sound

Unfortunately, being that these are very cheap headphones, the sound is pretty dull. don’t expect to be blown away when you first put these on.

The sound isn’t the only issue with these isolation headphones either. A majority of users on the internet have reported that one of the two headphones will stop working after just a few months.

Shoddy wiring and poor build quality are probably two of the reasons why this pair of headphones is so cheap.

Of course if you’re handy, you can easily re-solder the wire that connects a faulty speaker. Should you have to though? Maybe. I mean it is such an affordable product. With cheap pricing comes cheap build quality.

Comfortability

Surprisingly, the headphones are relatively comfortable. I really do like the way that they look and they feel pretty good when you’re wearing them. You can easily play your kit for hours with minimal annoyance from these cans.

Overall thoughts

While I might not be one to purchase these, they are a decent pair of headphones for a beginner player. The only thing that really worries me, though, is the fact that so many people have had issues with the speakers cutting out after only a little use.

Your headphones should not go bad after a few months. Now, it could just be that this large number of people are all terrible when handling their gear.

That being said we move on.


Vic Firth stereo isolation headphones

Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2 (SIH2)
30 Reviews
Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2 (SIH2)
  • Reduces outside noise by 25 decibels
  • 50M/M dynamic speaker mylarcon
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20Khz
  • 1/4" and 1/8" plugs

I think we found a winner for the best overall drum isolation headphones. Vic Firth has been making this style of headphones for as long as I can remember.

They were the first set of isolation headphones I got when I was learning how to play the drums. The newest version, the V2, reduce is outside Noise by 25 decibels. Has a frequency response of 20 Hertz to 20 kilohertz.

Let’s talk about sound

When I originally owned my pair Vic Firth isolation headphones, I never thought the sound quality was that great.

The newer version has improved the quality of sound a bit, but it’s still not incredible sounding. Despite that being the case, I still believe these headphones to be far superior to every other product we’ve listed thus far.

Sound isolation

This is where these headphones truly shine. Despite only being rated at 25 decibels of reduction, the Vic Firth headphones managed to isolate far better than any of the other headphones on the list.

I think it has something to do with how the headphones make contact with your ears and your head. For some reason there’s just a better Tight Seal allowing less sound to intrude your ears.

Comfortability

As I stated earlier I do like using in-ear monitors far more, and this is one of the reasons why.

With any set of headphones, there usually will be some fatigue on the part of your ears and head.

This is one of the things that drove me nuts about these when I was learning drums so many years ago. The headphones put a kind of pressure on your ears and head that can really be a major annoyance when you’re just trying to practice the drums.

Overall thoughts

These isolation headphones are a winner in my book and I believe that they are the best and value quality of anything on the list.

They aren’t too expensive for what you get. If you’re just going to be using headphones for practice purposes this is the way to go.


Conclusion

That is our Roundup list of headphones for drummers! I think there’s a lot in this list that we looked at, but there’s still more we can hope for in the future.

A company will eventually have to come along that offers an incredible set of headphones that isolates far better than any we’ve listed here.

Now, I haven’t seen any other isolation headphones worth talking about other than the ones we’ve mentioned here, but maybe I’ve just missed them. Please let me know if you have a set of headphones that you think should be on this list that I missed.

Thanks for reading! Cheers.

Hey there fellow drummer, thanks for reading the post. I’ve got a private Facebook group called Drum Junkies. It’s made up of people just like you and me who are sharing pictures of their drum kits, talking about industry trends, and sharing tips about drumming. I’d love for you to join! Here’s a link to the group; we’ll see you on the inside.

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