As a drummer with a home studio, I’m always looking for ways to upgrade my space in the “sub-$300 price bracket” and in that quest, decided it was time to begin collecting isolation headphones. Not just as a hobby (we all have our quirks) but also to accommodate other musicians who come over and record/rehearse with me. My drums are quite loud, so having a somewhat sealed aural environment would make for a better experience for everyone. Plus, they also help to protect the wearer’s hearing.
This is not a review; that’s a forthcoming story, but rather a piece to help you discover some new gear, and upgrade your drumming experience.
Behringer DH100 Professional Drummer Headphones– $39, Sweetwater
These are a late addition to the list; I do not own a pair of these. When I published this story to Facebook I began seeing offers for headphones in my SM feeds and these appeared. Immediately I felt compelled to share to this lineup, because they are at a lower price point and while they’re not “Extreme Isolation” (<-25db) still they’re a viable solution. Apparently these clock in at -19db and offer ample protection. I cannot speak to how they sound, since “own a pair I do not”.
Vic Firth Drummer’s Cans– $99, West Coast Drumshop
Vic Firth is one of the world’s greatest drumstick manufacturers, and they’ve also hit it out of the park with their very affordable “Drummer’s Cans”. These come in both Bluetooth and Wired versions. If you’re just jamming along to stuff on your phone, the BT will suffice. However, if you’re serious about recording, you’ll want to use a set of wired headphones to ensure a proper connection and avoid latency. The cord is the shortest of all the headphones, and it comes with an adapter for 1/4 and 1/8 inputs.
Get these at West Coast Drum Shop in Bellevue.
Direct Sound EX29 Plus Extreme Isolation Headphones– $130, Sweetwater
Direct Sound’s EX29 Plus are a great set of cans at an affordable price point. They’re large and fit my head very well (I’m 6’4″) and the cord is long and quite possibly the most beautiful braided cord on a set of headphones. Very well engineered. They also have a few other models worth looking into. I’d use these more but my wife keeps stealing them. 😀 They also come with an inline microphone so you could use them as a headset. The end comes with an adapter to accept 1/4 or 1/8.
AC Gear AC Specials– $150-$200, ACGear.com.au
A new player to the table of iso headphones is a gentleman named Andrew Cole from Perth, Australia. He sent me a pair of cans he’d painted up in the Puerto Rican flag (my “Puerto Ri-cans”) and they totally live up to their name of extreme iso cans! The best part is you can custom order them in whichever color you’d like. The cord is straight and comes with both 1/4 and 1/8 ends. If you want true personalization, Andrew’s the guy to talk with.
GK Music Ultraphones– $270, GK-Music.com
Last but certainly not least are the GK Ultraphones. They’re the most expensive because they use higher-end audio drivers. They come with a nice coiled cord that is tangle-free and easy to manage and it’s plenty long. It comes with an adapter to connect to 1/4 or 1/8. These certainly do live up to their name and price point!
Non-review aside, I hope this helps you find a suitable upgrade for your need to “zero out” your aural environment. Remember that you can still damage your hearing on the inside of the cans, so don’t turn them up too loud!