What would real drummers - musicians, who perform on stage, record in studios, play tv shows and / or are experienced drum teachers - answer if you ask them the following question:
What are the best in ear monitors for drummers?
I am pretty sure that the answer is quite different from those you can find on websites which are not written by (real) drummers or from people who haven't tested the products to review them properly.
I am so mean! 🙂
My favorite in-ear monitors
First I'll show you my favorite in-ear monitors - the Shure SE215 - so that I can explain why I really like them and which features are important (to me) and should be considered when buying a pair of iem headphones.
And you will never guess my favorite budget iem headphone solution anyone should have!
Let's take a closer look at this beauty!
I bought my Shure SE215 ear headphones several years ago, and I don't regret it!
I would say, that these are the best iem headphones for the price. They cost between $79 - $100 depending on the color you choose.
The great thing about this product is, that nearly all parts can be replaced in case of damage or loss. If you prefer a wireless system of this model, you can find it here.
You don't know which version to choose? You can decide later since the cable and wireless adapters are compatible with any version of this product.
Shure SE215 Features
The Shure SE215 is an isolating earphone which sounds good and also protects your ears. It's no problem at all to wear these ear headphones while playing drums. It reduces external noise up to 37 dB which is similar to conventional ear plugs. The sound isolation capacity depends on how tight they fit your ear canal. You can optimize the fit of the ear buds using different ear tips which are included in the package. I personally prefer
I have to admit that I had to get used to the Shure SE215 first. The flexible memory cable is quite stiff, and it took me some time to figure out on how to put the in-ear monitors into my ear canals. After a while it was easy to put them on, and I even wear them while running and in the fitness center.
Okay, now that you know all the advantages and features of my favorite product, let's jump to the table of contents of this blog post to let you know what you can expect from reading.
You can also jump to the in-ear monitors comparison table directly by clicking this link.
What features do You expect from an in ear monitor?
I have been playing drums for almost 30 years now.
When performing live on stage, rehearsing with a band or practicing on my own it all boils down to one thing:
Sound quality and a great listening experience!
Therefore, the most important features in-ear monitors for drummers need to have - at least in my opinion - are:
What does that mean?
Great & accurate sound
On stage, you need to hear your fellow musicians.
As a drummer you are lost, if you don't hear the bass player properly. Your performance significantly depends on an accurate listening experience and a high quality sound of your colleagues' instruments.
I always want a bit of everything to listen to while playing on my drum set. So my in-ear monitors need to deal with a wide frequency range to make all instruments like bass (low), guitar (mid & hi), my drums and higher frequencies like female singers, trumpets and so on sound great.
That's not easy to accomplish in such a tiny device like an iem earphone.
So professional in-ear monitoring needs to be able to handle a wide frequency range from low to high and handle all frequencies evenly.
Don't mess around with your ears!
You need your hearing ability until the end of your life and listening to noisy music again and again can lead to hearing loss & non-reversible damages.
And that's why many musicians suffer from severe tinnitus which can be avoided using proper ear protection.
A tinnitus can mean the end of musicianship.
Don't take the risk!
High-end in-ear monitors come with adequate noise isolation. Noise isolation means that you don't hear much (if anything) of what's going on outside.
That's really important because you only want to listen to what's important:
When practicing drums on your own or rehearsing with your band you have to rely on great sound quality and a comfortable fit. Your in-ear monitor must not distract you from playing drums and listening to the music you are playing to.
A comfortable fit can be achieved by interchangeable ear tips, which fit your ear canal. So a professional in-ear monitor comes with several ear tips to choose from and to ensure a secure fit. It should also allow choosing between foam tips and silicone ear tips.
Interchangeable spare parts
A professional in-ear monitor system does not only convince in terms of sound quality, frequency response or design. Most importantly all spare parts need to be replaceable to avoid total loss in case one component is lost or damaged.
The more parts are replaceable the better.
Of course, you want to change the ear tips now and then when cleaning doesn't work anymore.
When the in-ear monitor cable gets damaged you need to replace it without having to buy a complete new in-ear monitor system. It's just too expensive! So a detachable cable is a must.
Okay, now let's have a look at the products which really deserve the title "the best in-ear monitors for drummers".
The best in-ear monitors for drummers
THE BEST SHURE IN-EAR MONITORS
As mentioned and explained above: For me the Shure SE215 is the best in ear monitor for drummers for the price. It's available in several colors and most parts are replaceable. Sound isolation capacity is great, and it will protect your ears while practicing or performing on stage. Compared to the SE535 Pro and SE846, the SE215 includes a single high-definition driver only which shouldn't bother most semi-professional drummers at all.
If you need more drivers, please continue with the more expensive Shure earphones - SE535 & SE846.
Shure SE535 Pro
The Shure SE535 Pro is the big brother of the SE215. It includes triple high-definition drivers for clear bass-, mid and high frequencies.
It isolates from outside noises and up to 37 dB. Furthermore, it protects your ears, and it's an ideal addition to
The Shure SE846 is a real behemoth (price wise) and one of the most expensive in-ear monitors available at the moment.
It includes four high-definition drivers for the best sound possible in such a small device. The frequency response is customizable and made for professional musicians and audiophiles.
THE BEST Sennheiser IN-EAR MONITORS
Sennheiser IE 40 Pro
The Sennheiser IE 40 PRO is a direct competitor of the Shure SE215 (price wise & features). It also includes a single driver for homogeneous sound and several ear tips for a snug fit. When wearing the perfect ear tip the outside noise can be reduced up to 26 dB which isn't as much as the Shure models promise to do.
The cable can be replaced in case of damage or loss.
THE BEST BUDGET IN-EAR MONITORS
Panasonic Ear Buds
If you are looking for the cheapest way to get a good sounding and ear protecting in-ear monitor for practicing drums, then get these cheap Panasonic Ear Buds in addition to the 3M Earmuffs which follows below.
You just need to plug your ear buds into your ears and wear the 3M earmuffs on top of them and voilà that's it.
They are not beautiful. But they do their job.
I wear them several hours per week playing drums and giving drum lessons. It's by far one of the cheapest and most efficient products to protect your ears while playing drums. Get this in addition to the Panasonic ear buds mentioned above.
My final thoughts on in-ear monitors for drummers
Everybody perceives sound subjectively.
That's why it's impossible to make an absolute recommendation in terms of buying the best in-ear monitors for drummers.
Some musicians like a more bass oriented sound with warm range of frequencies. Others prefer a linear and neutral sound quality. That means that you will have to try different products until you find the top in-ear headphones for yourself.
I chose the Shure SE215, although I had the chance to compare it directly to the SE535 and the SE425 which cost nearly 3-4 times more than mine.
I like the SE535 a lot, but the sound is very neutral. My favorite songs felt strange to me when listening to them wearing the SE535. Well, that's many years ago when I last tried this product and I would love to make another attempt with a later version of the iem. Maybe the bluetooth adapter set changes the sound? Maybe the ear tips do? I suppose yes, because a snug fit increases lower frequencies compared to a loose fit when the ear tips are to small for my ear canal.
Can I Use the Shure SE215 as in-ear sport headphones?
I don't only use them when playing drums. I also wear them while running & meditation. As noise isolating earphones they work pretty well for such purposes.
As I mentioned above, you can also get the Bluetooth version of the SE215, which you can find here. This will give you a more hands-free version which should be better when doing sports.
So, what's your choice?
Which earphone is your favorite? Will you choose a wireless system or one with cable? Will you only use it while playing drum tracks or in other occasions too?
Please let me know in the comments.
Cheers and talk soon!