Drummers need headphones. Whether it’s for playing along to a metronome or backing track in a live setting, recording with other band members, or getting in some practice hours at home, a pair of the best headphones for drummers can make for a significantly better playing experience. Not to mention they’re a necessity if you’re playing on an electronic drum set.
Moreover, playing the drums - whether electric or acoustic - can be incredibly loud, so taking care of your aural health is ultra important. Having a pair of drummer-friendly headphones or in-ears will enable you to direct and control which specific sonics you need, right to your ears. Some pairs will even help protect you from harmful frequencies.
So, in this guide we have options that will cover all the scenarios above, with over-ear, on-ear and in-ear options, depending on your needs. And we've got choices for every budget, too.
Not sure where to start? Head to the buying advice section for more guidance, or keep scrolling for our top choices for any budget.
Jai is a drummer and producer, who has worked with Afrika Baby Bam, Jay Z, Tyler the Creator and more. When he's not in the studio or away on tour, Jai writes for MusicRadar, specialising in drums, touring and mental health within the music industry. Outside of music he enjoys coffee, video games, sports and dogs. For this guide Jai delved into his knowledge of drummer-friendly headphones.
Best headphones for drummers: Quick list
Want to get to the good stuff without reading walls of text? Well, here you'll find a roundup of our very top pick of the best headphones for drummers, with links to read more if you like what you see.
Best option overall
Beyerdynamic DT770 headphones sit at a perfectly affordable price point whilst delivering some of the highest quality sonics on the market. In a studio situation, drummers will be able to hear themselves cleanly, enabling them to strike that perfect balance between playing with intent and not overplaying. The closed-back design also gives the 770s some isolation, which is useful for all types of drumming.
Best budget in-ears
The budget-friendly Shure SE215 in-ears feature dynamic microdrivers to deliver deep, responsive sonics. This enables them to focus on a customisable, comfortable design that feels sleek. As far as in-ears go, many swear by the 215s and say there’s no need to upgrade further. We’d recommend looking slightly higher up the price bracket for serious touring or recording, but for everyone else, these would be an excellent choice.
Best for comfort
The durable, closed-back design and thick padding offers superb isolation and comfort for acoustic drummers, making these a great fit for the drum booth. Meanwhile, the sound from electric kits is punchy and powerful due to the low 48Ω impedance, and the detachable cable system means you can easily swap between the two included straight cables of different lengths to match your setting.
Best for isolation
Vic Firth Stereo Isolation headphones are geared towards helping drummers protect their hearing when playing at loud volumes and the new version includes cleaner mids, heavier lows and a more comfortable headband, and all for well under $/£100. If you’re looking at doing a lot of home practice on an acoustic or electronic drum kit, the SIH2 headphones are the best way to protect your hearing without sacrificing sound quality.
Best in-ears overall
With deep, bassy quad-drivers providing rich low-end and an uncoloured overall sound; these IEM’s give a true representation of your playing and will allow drummers to play with comfort and precision. They're a generous alternative to custom-made in-ear monitors at a fraction of the (admittedly high) price and will serve professional drummers in most situations.
Best for e-drums
If the main scenario you’ll be wearing drumming-specific headphones is sat behind an e-kit, then these cans, designed in collaboration with Roland and V-Moda, should fit the bill. They're built to handle the crisp punch of a bass drum or the deep rumble of a floor tom, while lending some pleasing clarity to cymbals at the top end. The come with two cable lengths in the box, plus a handy spring-loaded clip for hanging your ‘phones off a nearby stand.
The best headphones for drummers in 2023
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Here you'll find full write-ups for all of the best headphones for drummers. We test the products featured in our guides extensively, so that our recommendations deliver for your specific needs.
The best overall
Some gear is so legendary that it has a sort of iconic status. The Shure SM58 microphone, the Ludwig Supraphonic snare and the Beyerdynamic DT770 headphones are amongst such musical royalty. The most obvious reason that the DT770s get so much love is that they sit at a perfectly affordable price point whilst delivering some of the highest quality sonic performance on the market.
These classic cans are so well rounded that it’s hard to find anything genuinely critical to say about them. In a studio situation drummers will be able to hear themselves cleanly, enabling them to strike that perfect balance between playing with intent and not overplaying. The closed-back design also gives the 770s some isolation, which is useful for all types of drumming, whether you’re sat behind an acoustic or electronic kit.
They come complete with a durable 3m cable, mini and regular jacks and a handy bag for carting them between home and the studio or venue. The frequency response of 5-35,000 Hz will suit a wide range of musical situations and the 80 ohm version we’ve opted for here is perfect for all but the most serious of audiophiliac producers.
Read the full Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro review
Best budget in-ears
In our experience, Shure is an exceptionally reliable brand when it comes to musical equipment, and the SE215 budget in-ear monitors epitomise that. They feature dynamic microdrivers to deliver deep, responsive sonics, particularly for such small headphones. This enables them to focus on a customisable, comfortable design that feels sleek.
As far as in-ears go, many swear by the 215s and say there’s no need to upgrade further. This of course, is down to personal needs and preference, but hobbyists to semi-professional musicians certainly couldn’t go wrong with these. The 162cm cable is a little short for drumming applications, however it can be removed with ease and replaced if you find yourself needing more.
The included transport case is sturdy and protective, the cable itself is wire enforced and the extra ear bud options - different sizes and materials are supplied - are perfect for customising your pair to your level of comfort. We’d recommend looking slightly higher up the price bracket for serious touring or recording options, but for everyone else looking at in-ears, these would be an excellent choice.
Read the full Shure SE215 Pro review
Best for comfort
Introduced late in 2021, Beyer’s DT 700 PRO X is an entirely new addition to their model line-up that promises to improve upon the already successful DT 770 PRO listed elsewhere in this guide.
Retaining those famously squishy velour ear pads, the 700 PRO X adds refinements like a slicker, more modern design, a choice between 1.8m and 3m detachable cables - the longer option is ideal for giving you freedom of movement behind the kit - and a new transducer architecture in the form of the STELLAR.45 driver that delivers detailed and vibrant sound.
Ideal for general studio use, the durable, closed-back design and thick padding offers superb isolation for acoustic drummers too, making these a great fit for the drum booth. Meanwhile, the sound from electric kits is punchy and powerful due to the low 48Ω impedance, and the detachable cable system means you can easily swap between the two included straight cables of different lengths to match your setting.
Read the full Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X review
Best for sound isolation
The original Vic Firth Stereo Isolation headphones were revolutionary, geared towards helping drummers protect their hearing when playing at loud volumes. This updated version includes cleaner mids, heavier lows and a more comfortable headband, and all for well under $/£100.
If you’re looking at doing a lot of home practice on an acoustic or electronic drum kit - regardless of your age - you’ll want to protect your hearing as best you can. This is the main purpose of the Vic Firth SIH2 headphones.
But there’s more to them than pure sound isolation. Once you’ve got your chops in good enough shape to get into the recording studio, these puppies will give you all the sonics you need to hear yourself cleanly and play with more finesse.
These cans are built to last and are significantly chunkier than most other over-ear options. Considering the very modest price point, there’s not much to complain about here, and we can highly recommend them for entry level, hobbyist and electronic drummers alike.
Best in-ears overall
If the Shure SE215 Pro’s look good to you but you think you’ll need more firepower, this is the next set to look at. The stalwart brand has really pulled out all the stops for their SE846 models. With deep, bassy quad-drivers providing rich low-end and an uncoloured overall sound; these IEM’s give a true representation of your playing and will allow drummers to play with comfort and precision.
Speaking of comfort, the Shure SE846s come with a boatload of added extras, including 8 different pairs of interchangeable sleeves (the bit which actually sits inside your ear), as well as 3 different filters which you can manually change to achieve a more balanced, warm or bright sound. On top of this they come with a premium carry case, 1/4” adapter and accurate cleaning equipment.
Overall, the SE846s are a generous alternative to custom-made in-ear monitors at a fraction of the (admittedly high) price. They will serve professional drummers in most situations and can be seen as an investment in yourself and your career. With a two year warranty, if you’re not ready to commit to moulded ear plugs just yet, these are a workhorse pair you can rely upon long-term.
Best for e-drums
If the main scenario you’ll be wearing drumming-specific headphones is sat behind an e-kit, then these cans, designed in collaboration with Roland and V-Moda, should fit the bill. Whether you play Roland V-drums, or e-drums from a different brand, the VMH-D1s have been tuned specifically to deliver a faithful recreation of your electronic kit.
The frequency response of these cans is 5 to 40,000Hz which is enough to handle the crisp punch of a bass drum or the deep rumble of a floor tom, while lending some pleasing clarity to cymbals at the top end. That said, we did find the bass to be a little quieter than on some other models listed here.
Aside from the audio quality, these have been crafted with drummers firmly in mind, with two cable lengths provided in the box, plus a handy spring-loaded clip for hanging your ‘phones off a nearby stand. And if you want to avoid the usual tangle of cable as your arms flail, you also get a cable restraint to guide the cable down your back when in use.
Read the full Roland VMH-D1 headphones review
So those are our top picks, but there are may more great options to choose from that offer something a little different in terms of features and performance. We've selected some more of our favourites below.
The Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro is a famous headset because video game streamers such as Ninja like to use them. In terms of purpose, they essentially serve as the ‘open-back’ offering for those who don’t like the idea of the DT770’s closed backs. What this means is that the dynamic representation is more realistic for most listening experiences, because they take into account ambient noise. Now, while this is better for mixing, in a drumming situation the closed-back design wins out because any extra sound isolation is an added bonus.
Sibling comparisons aside though, the DT990s are an excellent set of cans that feel very comfortable over the ears, have deep rich bass and clean crisp highs, as well as perfectly balanced mids. In our opinion, these are the best option for drummers playing on electronic drum kits, especially if also dabbling in a little bit of production.
As with the DT770s, these come with a 3m cable, a handy carry case, a jack adapter and a very similar price point. The build quality is incredibly high so you shouldn’t need to worry about replacing them in a hurry. All in all, if you’re looking for a pair that you can use for almost anything, these will make an excellent choice.
Read the full Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO review
A relative newcomer to the scene from online drum lessons gurus Drumeo, EarDRUMS have been designed specifically for drummers and deliver everything you'd want from a pair of affordable in-ears, including 2x active drivers and a balanced armature, a nice long cable and loads of accessories.
Each pair comes complete with 3x single-layer silicone tips, 3x triple-layer silicone tips, 3x memory foam tips so you can find the right fit for you, plus a cleaning brush to keep the wax build up to a minimum, a clothing clip to attach them to your shirt collar, plus a jack adaptor and carrying case.
In our tests, once we'd worked out which of the supplied tips was the most comfortable, we found the seal to be excellent and the clarity and punch was great, delivering a similar experience to our go-to over-ear cans - so these could become your do-it-all pair of headphones. Their low impedance also means you don't need to crank them to hear the detail you're after. Your ears will thank you long-term.
Read our full Drumeo EarDRUM review
The AKG K72 headphones come with everything you need, at a good enough price for most beginner to semi-pro drummers. If that’s all you’re looking for, look no further. For those wanting a bit more information, let’s elaborate on some of the specifics.
Included in the box is the standard 3.5-6.3mm jack adapter and the ‘phones come with a 3m cable attached, which is nice and long for recording sessions. There’s no flashy case included here, but for the price the K72s are still a bargain. What these headphones do so right is they cover the bases that the majority will need. The sound is compressed in such a way that everything can be heard clearly, albeit without many subtleties, the build quality is solid and the purpose is fulfilled. Everything is good enough.
However, as there are no frills included here, some might find the absence of specific sonic definition a bit lacklustre. For example, if you are playing with a very jazzily-tuned kit, the playback through these headphones will be unlikely to capture some of the subtlety you’ll be used to hearing live. While not a game-changer, this might be the deciding factor between spending the bargain price on these, or going for something a little more detailed.
Read the full AKG K72 review
If you prefer the idea of on-ears and are looking for something that will suit a live scenario, we would wager these will come up time and time again in your research. The Sennheiser HD25 headphones are something of a go-to pair for drummers (they work as great DJ headphones, too) due to their sturdy build, excellent dynamic sound and ability to withstand very high sound pressure.
A gigging drummer - especially one in the field of electronic music - would do well to utilise these. Their dynamic compression; whilst not the most accurate or clean, has a really nice vibe that enhances most mixes sent through it. The lightweight design also really helps you feel connected with the gig, not to mention there’s actually some pretty solid sound isolation on offer here, too.
The ‘plus’ version amps all of this up a notch with their inclusion of some useful extras such as the coiled cable. Definitely a matter of preference, but this alone will be enough to make some drummers want to spend a little extra, as coiled cables tend to last a bit longer. Also included are a carry pouch and some extra cushions for the ear pads, adding even more value to an already great value set of cans.
Read the full Sennheiser HD25 review
Best headphones for drummers: Buying advice
How to choose the best drumming headphones for you
The first thing to consider when shopping for a pair of the best drumming headphones is what your specific needs are. Are you about to embark on a month-long tour and need some cans to kick out those backing tracks with clean precision? Perhaps you’re a hobbyist who’s just looking for something to use with the electronic drum kit you just bought? Working this out will inform the type of qualities you’re looking for in your headphones.
What types of drumming headphones are there?
In the world of headphones for drummers, there are three distinct categories:
In-ears: These are, as the name suggests, smaller earbuds that go directly into your ears. Anyone who’s used a pair of earbuds like Apple’s AirPods will know what to expect in terms of comfort. When it comes to in-ears, a cable connects the earphones together, and this can be wrapped behind your neck (and sometimes clipped to your shirt collar) to make them extra secure and avoid you accidentally pulling them out as you play. Some in-ears specifically designed for live performance are attached to a monitoring pack and are known as ‘in-ear monitors’ (or ‘IEMs’ for short). The technology used tends to make these a more expensive option, so these are probably only essential if you’re embarking on long tours with a very sophisticated live set-up.
Over-ear headphones: These will sit over your whole ear and thus block out quite a lot of external sound, making them ideal for recording situations. They are able to kick out a deep sonic range and can give very accurate monitoring feedback in quiet environments. Over-ears are considered quite a safe option as they can give good, accurate feedback at low volumes and do not need to be inserted in or over the ear, which some might find the most comfortable option. As well as drumming, over-ear headphones make for an excellent tool for producing music at home or in a studio.
On-ear headphones: These are similar to over-ears in that they sit over the ear instead of inside them, except on-ears won’t cover the entire ear. Again, this comes down to preference and comfort. Largely speaking, on-ears are a good option for home practice, especially with an electronic drum kit. Since they sit just over your ears, they won’t feel so isolating, which some drummers might find more comfortable - it allows a combination of directed sounds vs natural acoustics.
So, we’ve covered the different types of headphones, now let’s look at some of the other specifics, starting with the connector. Most headphones will come with a 3.5mm “mini jack” as standard, but since the universal standard connection for most musical inputs is 6.5mm (also known as a “jack”), often there will be an adapter included. This might sit on the end of the headphones and will need to be twisted off to reveal the 3.5mm connector underneath, or it might come disconnected and will need to be twisted on.
What do I need to know about headphone cable length?
Another thing to consider is the length and durability of the supplied cable. If you are going to be using the headphones in a studio setting, you’ll want a long and strong - possibly even coiled - cable, that will be able to withstand some movement. If you’re just using them at home or in the studio, this is less of an issue. In fact, if you’re only looking for a pair to plug into an electronic drum kit, you won’t want an extensively long cable because it will likely get in the way.
Looking after your ears
If you’re using headphones to make music, it’s important to remember that you’ll still be receiving higher volumes than normal directly into your ears. With this in mind, you should be conscious of regulating the volume that you intake music at. A good guideline is always to start as quietly as you are comfortable with and then only increase the volume incrementally as you need.
Secondly, clean your ears! Ear wax clogging up your ear canals can be quite harmful and impede the actual levels of what’s being sent to your ears. This can result in higher-than-necessary listening volumes and possible infections. When you have the time, ensure to clean your ears out; especially if you’re thinking about getting in-ear headphones.
How we choose the best headphones for drummers
Here at MusicRadar, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing, creating and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything music gear related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.
When choosing what we believe to be the best headphones for drummers available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.
First and foremost, we are musicians, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best headphones for drummers on the market right now.
Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.