Why Do Drummers Wear Headphones?

Have you ever wondered why drummers wear headphones when they are onstage performing live or even while practicing? Is it just about preference, or is it a necessity?

Generally, headphones are for monitoring mixes, especially in live performances. However, you’ll discover as you read in this article that there’s more to headphones than just a monitor. In addition, there are also types of headphones especially for drummers only. Enjoy!

Reasons Why Drummers Wear Headphones

There are a number of reasons why drummers need to wear headphones, but here are the vital six. They aren’t arranged according to importance, feel free to rearrange the sequence depending on which is your priority.

To Monitor Mixes on Live Performances

Especially when performing live, there are tons of noise from every direction – from vocalists, other instruments, and from the audience. Without headphones, it’s very hard for you to hear your bandmates and how well you’re playing the kick drum. When all the stage monitors are facing forward and the kick drum speakers are far away from where you are sitting, you’ll have a serious problem.

With headphones, you’ll be able to monitor directly into your ears. In addition, it also gives more clarity, as it helps suppress the drum noise. With these benefits, you can easily do some ad-libs when necessary or do some interesting combos to make your performance more remarkable.

Listening to Click Tracks and/or Backing Track

Every single person in the band needs to stay in the rhythm. Hence, in live performances, they use click tracks, which is an audible metronome, so musicians can stay in sync. It’s usually a recording of click sound (hence, the name) fed through the headphones. Without headphones, it’ll be very difficult to be in sync with the beat.

Protect Ear from Damage

It’s pretty obvious that the stage is loud. Even when you’re just practicing at home or recording in studios, drums could be very loud. From the snare to the kick and the crash, nothing in the drum set is safe to listen to with bare ears. Hence, you need headphones.

Most drummer headphones are designed to absorb at least 20dB of sound. You must be wearing headphones in order to reduce noise to a safer level. Yet, if you wear headphones, how can you play the drums well? The answer to this is only the high-frequency in being blocked. This means the drummer can still hear his performance and his bandmates well without the risk of damaging his/her ears.

To Receive Instructions and Directions

On stage, especially when it’s a big performance, there are prerecorded instructions and directions for the players. Drummers need headphones in order to listen to these instructions to be able to play the music harmoniously with the rest of the band. The atmosphere during concerts and live performances can be very loud. Passing on instructions by just talking is hopeless at these moments. You don’t want to interrupt the performance? Hence, wearing headphones is the best.

Great At Recording Sessions

We’re done talking about the advantage of wearing headphones on stage performances. Let’s now go to the recording. While recording, you also want to hear how it is going. If you have a speaker, your microphones may pick up the sound from the speaker, interfering with the sounds from your drums. So, the best way to listen to the output is to use headphones.

Practice Silently

If you want to practice playing the drums at home, it’s no exception, you can be very loud. Your family members or neighbors don’t want to hear your banging all day. In order to practice silently, you need headphones. Some electronic drum sets have a headphone jack that lets you directly plug in your headphones. Otherwise, you need quite a setup in your practice room.

Can Drummers Use Any Headphones?

No. You can’t use just any headphones, even the ones you used to listen to music from your computers. Regular headphones aren’t designed to process information, especially in live performances. Normal headphones are designed to carry clean and process signals, while drummer headphones are for raw signals. Another thing is, the driver used in drummer headphones is really designed to process signals from live performances.

Types of Headphones

There are three types of drummer headphones – classic headphones, in-ear monitors, and custom in-ear monitors.

Classic Headphones

These are the large headphones you usually see in-home and studio recordings. However, some drummers don’t like it because they can be very large and can cause too much sweat. An example is Vic Firth SIH2.

In-Ear Monitors

These headphones are a bit expensive because of the number of built-in drivers they have. The theory is, the more drivers, the better and clearer the sound output is. Check out Shure SE215 to see if it has a quality output.

Custom In-Ear Monitors

While they are built with more drivers, these are designed just for your needs – the most expensive of the three. You’ll have more control over how it looks, how it sounds, of course, you can decide how many drivers you want onboard. It can reduce/eliminate unwanted signals, which allow you to mix your drums and other instruments without any interference. You can see the most expensive models from Ultimate Ears.

Conclusion

Drummers do wear headphones not because they just want to, or it adds to their style and signature look. They must wear it for a few reasons. One importance of wearing headphones is to protect your ears from the damaging loudness of the stage setup – especially when the speaker monitors are proximate to you.

Everything has been discussed about why drummers wear headphones – from the reasons down to the type of headphones available in the market. As bonus information, you also know that regular headphones can’t be used as drum monitors because they aren’t designed to process raw signals.

This article mentioned all the important reasons why drummers need headphones. From the list, which is your reason why you are wearing headphones when playing the drums? Or, are there other reasons why drummers wear headphones? Why don’t you share it with us?