Why Do Drummers Wear Headphones?

The drum is one of the coolest musical instruments out there. It is really fun to play and provides a fantastic physical workout. Playing drums can not only relieve one’s stress but also help in the improvement of muscle coordination.

I have been playing drums since I was in school. Since I know my way around drums, I have a knack for subtly sliding that topic into conversations. While in a similar kind of situation, I was asked a very important question – “Why do drummers wear headphones?”

Since it felt like a very common question to pop up in our minds, we decided to explain the reasons behind that.

Turns out, drummers wear headphones to decrease drum noise to a far more tolerable level and to stay in sync with the band. The earpieces only block high-frequency sounds, allowing the drummers to hear what they’re playing at all times.

One might ask how the drummers can play the drums while still suppressing the noises they create.

In this article, we will try to cover everything about the topic of drummers wearing headphones while playing. In addition, we’ll try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the topic as well.

The Main Reasons for Wearing A Headphone While Drumming

Drummers are commonly found wearing headphones during practice, band rehearsals, recording, and live performances. But why do they wear that? Let’s look at some of the major reasons drummers wear and should wear a decent pair of headphones below:

To Listen to A Click Track To Stay In Sync With The Team

Rhythm is the foundation of every music, and the drummer’s beat creates the foundation for the rest of the band. If the drummer’s timing is off even slightly, the song’s tempo will go wrong. During concerts, drummers generally use a click track and may have a metronome in their headphones to guarantee that their timing is accurate. A click track is simply a loop of click sounds played at the same pace as the music.

The click tracks used in live performances are usually the same as those used in studio recordings. This guarantees that the live performance’s tempo matches the recordings. During both recordings and live performances, they’ve grown quite common. While some may see this as cheating on the part of the musicians, it does reduce a couple of mistakes made during concerts, improving the audience’s overall experience. Whether you like it or not, click songs are here to stay.

This necessitates the use of a headphone. You can’t play a click track via conventional monitors since your audience would hear it, ruining their overall concert experience. It allows the drummer to hear the clicks without disturbing the audience.

The click is sometimes heard by the entire band, while other times it is just heard by the drummer. This is most commonly done when bands record using a drum machine yet perform live with a real drummer. They need the drummer to keep up with them rather than follow him in this scenario.

Headphones Help Listen to Monitors on Stage

While performing on larger stages, a drummer needs to listen to his bandmates and instruments. But he will have a hard time hearing his bandmates and kick drum over the loud noise on stage.

A drummer may listen to his bandmates and kick drum with headphones. Each instrument can be heard when the monitor feed is played directly through headphones. In order to improve the quality of sound, the headphones will also reduce external noise and drum sound.

So, headphones are really important for drummers to wear during the drum session. They can increase their playing time without caring about the noisy environment. I wear both isolation headphones and an in-ear monitor during my drum session.

Headphones Help Protect Your Hearing System

Drums are one of the loudest musical instruments available to any band. They are loud enough to permanently harm a drummer’s hearing. Loud bangs and toms’ high-pitched screaming are just a couple of the things that can cause permanent ear damage. Playing on drums without protection might cause tinnitus and other permanent hearing loss.

Drummers use noise cancellation headphones to keep the drum noise to a safe level so that they can practice and perform for long periods of time without experiencing any hearing issues. Headphone causes noise reduction of at least 20db.

If you’re a bit concerned that drummers won’t be able to hear themselves play because of noise cancellation, no worries. Noise-canceling headphones only block out high-pitch sounds which damage our hearing the most. They’ll still be able to hear themselves play but at a reduced volume level. Wearing a pair of headphones may also help in reducing crowd noise.

They could also listen to their monitor mix through the headphones at moderate volumes, allowing the drummer to hear himself and his band members without causing any health problems.

An Effective Replacement for Loud Stage Noise

If a band uses conventional monitors and massive amplifiers the entire stage becomes a hazard to the audience’s hearing. There will be no excessively loud stage monitors if drummers and other band members wear headphones. This means that headphones are more of a replacement for a much louder solution than hearing protection.

Easier to Follow Onstage Directions and Instructions

It’s a difficult task to pass on instructions because the stage becomes incredibly loud.  But headphones will allow the concert management and musical director to send onstage instructions and directions to the drummer and other band members, which will effectively support the entire band while playing, without the audience being aware.

To Get a Headphone Mix

The recording of a song with headphones is known as a headphone mix. A typical consumer is likely to use headphones to listen to music. This is something that both professional musicians and producers are aware of, which is why producing music that sounds nice through headphones is incredibly valuable. When they record audio, they make sure that the sound can be heard clearly through headphones.

Of course, this procedure can be improved later on during the track’s mixing and mastering. They may, although, wish to do it while recording music.

Listening to A Backing Track Without Disturbing Anyone

YouTubers typically do this while listening to a track they can play along to, blocking out the loud sound of the drums so they can hear the music they’re playing to. This is mostly for solo performances with no live application. When performing live, it’s usually only a click track and a few more tracks to help the band out.

Using Headphones Can Make You More Efficient During A Recording Session

When you’re recording in a recording studio, you don’t want any microphones picking up noises other than your drums. If you want to hear loud music from a speaker while recording the drum kit, the mics will pick up the speaker’s sound, interfering with the recording. Using headphones is the best option to prevent that from happening.

Easier to Test The Audio for Recording

Audio monitoring is a straightforward idea that is easy to grasp. You’ve probably monitored audio before. Listening to the recording while it is playing is referred to as audio monitoring. For example, a singer might wish to hear his or her own voice while performing. They use headphones to monitor the noises when they want to know how much sound the microphone is recording.

If you’re a passionate drummer like the REV from A7X and looking to put some vocals along with your drumming, using a headphone will definitely be a huge help.

Do You Need High-Quality Headphones to Play Drums?

Drummers can use generic classic headphones. But you can’t really expect regular headphones to give the same sound quality as high-quality headphones. High-quality headphones offer far better audio quality than classic headphones. And drummers need better audio quality for better performance.

While beginners can start with basic headphones, you need to focus on the comfort and sound quality for professional purpose

Types of Headphones Drummers Generally Use

Classic Headphones

Classic Headphones don’t mean that any headphones from a dollar store. There are a lot of manufacturers out there who specialize in creating headphones just for the sole purpose of drumming. While the classic headphones for drummers provide better noise cancellation, some musicians don’t prefer it as they make their ears sweat. Also, some people are just not comfortable with the humongous size of the headphones.

Similar to classics, studio headphones are also used by drummers – especially during recording sessions. A good studio headphone can really make a difference to your performance.

In-Ear Monitors

This is the ultimate accessory for professional drummers. In-ear monitors, also known as in-ear headphones can be custom designed according to your necessities. There are 1-6 built-in drivers and each of them is tuned by an audio engineer to serve your purpose.

Obviously, the custom ones come with a pretty hefty price tag. These types of monitors are largely used by world-renowned professional drummers.

Relevant Questions

Can You Drum with Air Pods Pro?

Absolutely not. The Air Pods Pros are vented; therefore, they don’t have the finest seal. It will definitely leak sound. So, I won’t recommend you to wear air pods while drumming.

What Do Drummers Listen To?

Drummers listen to a rhythmic clicking sound that is matched to the beat of the pre-recorded parts with each piece of music. This allows the entire band to perform live music alongside the pre-recorded recordings while maintaining perfect synchronization.

Can You Use Headphones with Electronic Drums?

Electronic drums are made to operate with headphones or amplifiers; therefore, headphones are about half of the equation when it comes to playing them. Headphones can be plugged into every electronic drum kit’s headphone connection. If you want to use regular headphones, you’ll need a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter.

But I won’t recommend you to use regular headphones because you won’t be able to get a good sound quality using this type of headphones.

Do You Need Special Headphones for Electronic Drums?

Electronic drums require a decent pair of headphones to reflect all frequencies to get a detailed sound. Some headphones have a better bass frequency response and others have a better mid-frequency or high-frequency response. An excellent set of electronic drum headphones will fall in the middle.

Final Words

Drums are crucial in a band because they contribute melodic, dramatic, and rhythmic elements. These qualities will make the drummer valuable to any band or performer with whom they choose to collaborate. So, staying in sync with the band is very important. And headphone allows you to do that.

A pair of headphones would help drummers to hear the monitoring on larger stages and it will reduce the noise level to protect their hearing. Also, it is a better replacement for loud stage noise. Drummers won’t be able to listen to directions and instructions on larger stages without a pair of headphones. It also saves a drummer from a loud environment.

These are the main reasons drummers use headphones. There are more reasons why drummers wear them, including listening to backing tracks and keeping their ears warm.

Now that you are familiar with them, you won’t have to wonder why a drummer is wearing headphones the next time you see one.

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