why drummers use headphones

Why Do Drummers Use Headphones?

Have you ever seen a band live or in the studio and noticed that the drummer was wearing headphones? All band members may wear headphones at some point or another, but drummers are way more likely to wear them than other musicians. This begs the question, why do drummers wear headphones?

Drummers wear headphones for a variety of reasons. They may be using them to hear a click track; they may be using them to listen to a mix of the instruments during a live performance or use them to protect their hearing. While these are some of the common reasons a drummer wears headphones, there are various others.

Read on to solve the mystery of why drummers wear headphones.


Main Reasons Drummers Use Headphones

To Listen to a Click Track

The drummer is responsible for keeping the entire band on time. Drumming on time is not easy to do, especially during live performances where there is a lot of adrenaline, making everyone wanting to speed up a bit.

That’s where a click track comes in handy.

A click track can be a metronome, or there may be other instruments on the music to provide some guidance. Its purpose is to give drummers a template to play along with to keep them on time. The clicks are fed through the headphones so the audience cannot hear them.

In today’s music world, when everything needs to be perfect, most professional drummers play with a click. However, this is not always possible in the chaos of live music.

To Hear the Live Mix

Drummers play on a loud kit where there is a lot of noise and cymbal wash. These loud kits make it challenging to hear their fellow musicians.

In some instances, headphones send a mix of the other instruments straight to the drummer’s ears. This way, they can make sure everyone is on the same page and can take instrumental cues if they need them.

To Protect Hearing

All musicians should be using some hearing protection when they are on stage.

While earplugs are effective in minimizing noise, headphones can absorb even more sound. They are also more likely to stay in place during vigorous drumming activity.

A good pair of headphones will also block out high-frequency sounds, so they protect the drummer’s hearing without eliminating sounds they need to hear. Cheap foam earplugs can also accomplish hearing protection.

Recording Audio

All musicians use headphones during an audio recording, and drummers are no exception.

Drummers use headphones during recording for a variety of reasons. These are as follows:

Click Track

While drummers need to stay on time during a live performance, it’s even more critical during a studio performance.

When you’re in a live setting, music played at an accelerated speed may not be that noticeable. But once it’s down as a recording where people concentrate on the music, timing discrepancies become more apparent.

And if bands are looking to shop their recordings or make them available for public consumption, obvious timing mistakes will be a lot more detrimental.

Getting a Live Mix

If drummers record tracks live, meaning if they are playing along with their bandmates while recording, they will want to hear a mix in their headphones during the process. Listening to the mix allows them to listen to the music in real-time. As timekeepers, this will enable them to stay focused on the music.

Listening Back to Tracks

Drummers will also use headphones to listen back to tracks and see how they sound. While tracks can be played through speakers to everyone in the room, listening through headphones provides a different perspective on the sound allowing for more focus.

A drummer will want to use headphones to listen back to their tracks to make sure they sound okay before moving on to the next.

Mixing and Mastering

After musicians finish the recording, it goes through a mixing and mastering process.

Mixing involves getting all the instruments in a song sounding good and level with one another. Mastering is the process of getting the entire album cohesive, so all pieces are at an even volume with one another, and there is a fair amount of buffer between songs.

Find out more about mixing and mastering by reading this article.

The band members typically have a lot of input during the mixing process. It will be up to them to suggest effects that can be added post-recording and make sure all the instruments are even level.

During the mixing process, bandmates will be listening through speakers and through headphones to get different takes on the mix to make sure they sound good.

After completing the mixing process, the engineer masters it. The band may not be present during this process, but they will want to listen before the music is released. Musicians should do this final listen via headphones and through speakers.

For instance, my band likes to listen to our music through headphones, computer speakers, and car speakers before giving it final approval.

Best Headphones for Drummers

Shure SE215 Pro

Shure SE215 PRO Wired Earbuds – Professional Sound Isolating Earphones, Clear Sound & Deep Bass, Single Dynamic MicroDriver, Secure Fit in Ear Monitor, Plus Carrying Case & Fit Kit – Clear (SE215-CL)
  • ROAD-TESTED BY PRO MUSICIANS – The SE215 provides detailed sound with enhanced bass for personal listening or professional monitoring.
  • STRIKING FULL-RANGE SOUND from a single, vented balanced armature driver. Hear music the way it was meant to be heard.
  • CUSTOMIZED FIT – Includes three sizes (S, M, L) of the flex and black foam sleeves. Experiment with the size and style that creates the best fit for you.
  • SOUND ISOLATING TECHNOLOGY – Blocks up to 37 dB of noise to eliminate distractions. Enjoy the most immersive listening experience with a design that keeps earphones in and noise out during exercise or travel.
  • SECURE, OVER-THE-EAR DESIGN – Wireform fit ensures earphones stay in place and cables remain out of the way.

The Shure SE215 Pro is a professional-grade in-ear monitor (IEM) designed for musicians, particularly drummers. It features a single dynamic driver that delivers detailed sound with enhanced bass, providing an immersive listening experience that is essential for drummers.


  1. Sound Isolation: The Shure SE215 Pro excels in sound isolation, allowing drummers to focus on their play, even in noisy environments. This is crucial for live performances and band practices.
  2. Enhanced Bass: The enhanced bass response is particularly advantageous for drummers, as it allows for better perception of the kick drum and other lower frequency elements.
  3. Durability and Build Quality: Known for its robust build, the SE215 Pro withstands the rigours of regular use, making it a reliable option for drummers who often have intense playing sessions.
  4. Detachable Cables: The detachable cables add to the durability and longevity of the earphones, allowing for easy replacement if needed.
  5. Comfortable Fit: With a variety of ear tips included, users can find the perfect fit for secure and comfortable wear during prolonged sessions.


  1. Single Dynamic Driver: The single dynamic driver, while delivering clear and detailed sound, might not offer the same level of sound separation and detail as multi-driver IEMs.
  2. Price: For some users, the price point might be a bit steep, especially when compared to other options available in the market with multi-driver configurations.
  3. Learning Curve for Fit: Some users might find a bit of a learning curve to achieving the perfect fit and seal, which is crucial for optimal sound isolation and bass response.
  4. Cable Microphonics: The SE215 Pro can exhibit cable microphonics, where movements of the cable can cause unwanted noise.

Roland VMH-D1 Headphones

Roland VMH-D1 V-Drums Headphones | Designed by Roland & V-Moda for V-Drums & All Electronic Drum Kits | Immersive Sound | Long Cable for Tangle-Free Drumming | Customizable Shields, Black
  • Premium headphones designed for use with V-Drums and all electronic drum kits
  • Jointly developed by Roland’s V-Drums team and V-MODA
  • Specially tuned for the dynamic transients, wide frequency range, and rich overtones of electronic drums
  • Large memory foam earpads and cushioned headband deliver extended comfort for long playing sessions
  • Form-fitting earpads provide excellent isolation from acoustic pad noise and other outside sounds

Alesis DRP100 Headphones

Alesis DRP100 – Audio-Isolation Electronic Drums Headphones for Monitoring, Practice or Stage Use with 1/4″ Adapter and Protective Bag, Black
  • Stay Focused on Your Performance – Over-ear design provides extreme audio isolation and comfort, perfect for studio, practice and stage use.
  • Superior Comfort – Sweat-proof silicone headband for fit flexibility and stability while performing, even during extended sessions
  • Built to Last – Rugged, lightweight design withstands the rigors of daily use
  • Hear Every Detail – Powerful 40mm full-range drivers provide wide frequency response
  • Universal Connectivity – 6-foot (1.8m) attached cable with 1/8-inch (3.5mm) stereo mini-plug; 1/4-inch (6.3mm) headphone plug adapter included

The Alesis DRP100 headphones are explicitly engineered for electronic drum monitoring, known for their clarity, isolation, and robust construction. With a design that emphasizes comfort and sound isolation, these headphones are tailored to meet the unique demands of electronic drummers.


  1. Sound Clarity and Quality: The Alesis DRP100 headphones deliver clear and detailed sound, enabling drummers to hear every nuance of their performance, which is essential for both practice and performance.
  2. Excellent Sound Isolation: Designed with electronic drummers in mind, the DRP100 offers superior sound isolation, minimizing ambient noise and allowing drummers to focus on their playing.
  3. Comfortable for Extended Use: The over-ear design and padded headband ensure comfort during prolonged use, making these headphones ideal for lengthy practice sessions and performances.
  4. Durable Construction: The DRP100 headphones boast robust construction, designed to withstand the rigors of daily use, providing reliability and longevity.
  5. Affordability: Compared to other electronic drumming headphones, the Alesis DRP100 is relatively affordable, offering good value for its price.


  1. Bass Response: Some users might find the bass response to be less powerful compared to other models in the market, which can affect the perception of lower frequencies.
  2. Bulkiness: The over-ear design, while comfortable, can be a bit bulky for some users, especially during more active playing sessions.
  3. Non-Detachable Cable: The cable on the DRP100 is non-detachable, which could be a potential point of failure and might affect the headphones’ longevity.

KBEAR KS2 In-Ear Monitors

KBEAR KS2 iem, in Ear Monitor Headphones Hybrid 1BA 1DD Wired Earbuds Stereo Bass HiFi IEM Earphone Noise Cancelling High Resolution with Detachable Cable for Running Gaming Sport (with mic, Black)
  • 【Translucent Resin Cavity Stylish Design】The cabinet cavity of KBEAR KS2 iem is made of imported high-density PC material which can well suppress the diffuse reflection of sound waves inside the cavity. Through the optimization of the internal cavity acoustic structure, the overall sound is more warm and charming, and the soft and mellow audio performance is reproduced as the real picture. Translucent resin material, bright streamer, full of beauty and technology!
  • 【1BA + 1DD 10mm Composite Diaphragm (PU+biological diaphragm) Unit】 ts powerful low frequency response and transparent and mellow midrange performance, wide sound field, shocking sound quality.The mid-to-high frequency uses customized moving iron units, which can effectively improve the vocal resolution, the mid-frequency density is balanced, the sound is more mellow, the high-frequency is transparent and smooth, showing richer instrument details and delicate music which performed.
  • 【Comfortable Wearing & Excellent Sound】 The mid-low frequency has rich infectant power and relaxed and natural characteristics. The mid-high frequency has nice resolution, transient and ductility. KBEAR KS2 iem earphones is equipped with a combination of BA DD through electronic frequency division processing, so that each unit can give full play to its performance and achieve accurate and delicate performance.Reproduce the sound effects loyal to the original sound, bring charm and dynamic.
  • 【Removable Cable & Aluminum Alloy Nozzle】4 strands of 6N OFC high-quality wires not only effectively improve the transparency, separation, sound field, making the sound bottom crystal clear, vocals and musical instruments are more beautiful and beautiful, but also reduce signal transmission lost. Exchangeable 2PIN wire design improves the playability. KBEAR KS2 in ears monitors adopts aluminum alloy nozzle, which making the mid-bass clean and smooth.
  • 【What You Will Get? 】Package includes 1 pair headset, 1* earphones cable, 3 pairs of silicone ear tips, and a user manual. you will get one-year protective time and friendly customer service from the date of purchase. If there are any problems, pls feel free to contact-us to help you. thanks. Yinyoo Audio has Formal authorization from KBEAR company, all products are original.

The KBEAR KS2 In-Ear Monitors are recognized for providing a remarkable audio experience at a budget-friendly price. With a hybrid driver setup and ergonomic design, they cater to users seeking quality sound and comfort in in-ear monitors, making them suitable for a variety of applications including monitoring for musicians, especially drummers.


  1. Hybrid Driver Setup: The KS2 features a hybrid driver configuration, combining a balanced armature driver and a dynamic driver, offering a balanced and detailed sound signature with punchy bass, clear mids, and crisp highs.
  2. Ergonomic Design: The ergonomic design of the earpieces ensures a comfortable fit and a good seal, making them suitable for extended listening sessions and reducing ear fatigue.
  3. Affordable: Priced competitively, the KBEAR KS2 offers excellent value for money, delivering performance that rivals more expensive models.
  4. Detachable Cable: The inclusion of a detachable cable is a welcome feature, increasing the longevity of the monitors by allowing for easy replacement if necessary.
  5. Versatile Use: While suitable for drummers, the KS2’s sound signature and design make it versatile for various music genres and applications.


  1. Sound Isolation: Some users may find the sound isolation to be less effective compared to higher-end models, which could be a drawback in noisy environments.
  2. Build Quality: The build quality, while decent, might not be on par with more premium models, which may affect the durability in the long run.
  3. Cable Quality: The included cable, despite being detachable, might be of lesser quality and could be prone to tangling and wear over time.
  4. Bass Emphasis: For users preferring a flat or neutral sound signature, the bass emphasis of the KS2 might be overpowering in some scenarios.

What to Look for in a Pair of Headphones

If you’re a drummer, a pair of headphones will be as essential as your drumsticks. With that in mind, here are some things you will want to look for when picking out a pair that’s right for you.

Type of Headphones for Drummers

The three main types of headphones are as follows:

  • Over-Ear: These are the most common type of headphones. These headphones envelop your ear in sound without letting ambient noise get in. This style is best for noise cancellation.
  • On-Ear: These are lighter and less bulky than over-ear headphones, but they do not cancel out ambient sound.
  • In-Ear Monitors: These go directly into the ear. Musicians can only use them for listening to music or clicks and are not useful for noise cancellation. Of all three models, they will let in the most ambient sound.

Closed or Open Back

The “back type” refers to the casings around the earmuffs. Some cases are concrete, while some have vents.

Closed-back headphones have no vents and are ideal for bringing in sound while shutting out the outside world. They are also great for noise cancellation.

Open-back headphones have vents that let air in and out provide a more spacious sound that some prefer because it is more natural.

Wired or Wireless

It is obvious why people may prefer wireless headphones. They provide more freedom of movement, making them a must for drummers playing live on stage.

Wired headphones, on the other hand, provide better sound quality. That’s why they are preferable in a recording studio setting.


Now that we have solved the great mystery of why drummers wear headphones, here are some other drummer-related FAQs and answers that may satisfy your curiosity.

Why do drummers sit behind plexiglass?

Check out the video here to see when plexiglass does not work as it’s intended.

In some venues, you may see the drummer playing surrounded by plexiglass. The plexiglass contains and reflects the sound of the drums. That way, the sound will get to the audience as reflected sound rather than the direct sound.

Essentially, it turns the volume down on the drums when no volume knob is available.

Plexi-glass is better in smaller venues and areas where there are sound restrictions. It helps reduce noise to provide more balance among the instruments….and so as not to disturb the neighbors!

Why do drummers wear wristbands?

While all musicians are prone to carpal tunnel syndrome and other hand and wrist-related problems, this is most likely for drummers.

With all the vigorous activity, the movement can take its toll on a drummer’s hands. The vibration that occurs when a drummer hits their drums and cymbals travels up the nerve endings in the hands, wrists, and forearms, causing them to stretch out of shape.

Wristbands work to absorb vibration and compress the wrists to keep the nerves and tendons from getting strained.

Why do drummers cross their hands while playing?

 When you watch a drummer play, you will see them switch from an open-handed playing style to a cross-handed playing style.

Drummers will cross hands to allow them to play different drums and cymbals more comfortably. This position usually occurs when they play the hi-hat.

The hi-hat has a pedal at the bottom and can hit the top as a regular cymbal. It is typically placed on the drummer’s left side to allow the drummer to play the bass drum with their right foot and control the hi-hat pedal with their left foot.

Because drummers typically lead with their right hands, they will want to cross arms to play the top of the hi-hat with their right hand and the snare, located in the middle of the set, with their left.

Of course, this can vary depending on how the drummer feels most comfortable and whether the drummer is right-handed or left-handed. But when you see a drummer cross hands, it is typically for this reason.

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