Why Do Drummers Wear Headphones?

The musical industry is a very robust one, full of its own set of rules and niches. Seemingly, musicians do things while performing or practicing that do not get questioned often. but let us tell you why do drummers wear headphones

For example, have you ever noticed how a guitarist tends to adjust their strings after playing just about every song? Or how vocalists often cup the mic when singing? Well, just like these mysteries, today we will talk about a similar one. Drummers, and their headphones!

Why is it such a rare occasion to come across a drummer who does not wear earphones, headphones or ear buds of some kind when performing? What is the mystery to this? One might wonder if this is for safety reasons, or because they are listening to something else.

And while these may not be false for all drummers, there is a standard reason for why drummers do this more often than not. Let us talk about that today. Why do drummers wear headphones?

A Drummer’s Point of View

Why Do Drummers Wear Headphones?
Photo by: Cottonbro

The fact that a drummer’s ears are absolutely crowded, overwhelmingly, by all sorts of sound is probably an understatement. First there are the crowds, possibly cheering on in case of onstage.

Then there are the other instruments that may be taking the drummers focus away from their own playing. To adjust to these things, drummers have, since earlier stages of music, tried to find ways to deafen the noise that may be “unnecessary” to them.

What Kind of Headphones?

It should be taken note of before we dive deeper into this, but the headphones that a drummer usually wears are not the same kind of music you or I may listen to music with.

These are specialized for the purpose of onstage performances. While an ordinarily designed headphone may provide you with outstanding quality of sound, the levels of bass, treble and mids present on stage are at a whole different level. 

There are multiple kinds of headphones of this kind, therefore, that are made for the purpose of live musical performers. They are usually called monitors. There are mainly two types of monitors that drummers have used widely.

Wired in ear monitors

Over-the-head monitors

The reason these devices are called monitors is because they help musicians on stage perform better. While on stage, the monitors let them “monitor” the level of sound they should be playing in accordance to the other performers on stage. Let us take a look at the types of monitors that we have mentioned above. 

Wired in-ear Monitors

Why Do Drummers Wear Headphones?
Photo by: blaz erzetic


In-ear monitors are, to describe in simple terms – earphones with some of the best sound processing going on in them. They go in the ear blocking out most sounds on a lesser range and letting the drummer focus only on the parts that matter to them. The “deep”, ‘bassy’ sounds of their drums as well as whatever other instruments they might be playing alongside with. 

Sound Quality

A wired in-ear monitor will definitely provide you with supreme quality sound, far better than that of an ordinary pair of earphones. It is also a known fact that in-ear monitors cancel out any noise a performer may be facing on stage.

Needless to say, it can be very distracting performing on stage due to all that is going on. This is a reason why a lot of drummers tend to listen to the songs that they are playing live, to stay in synchronization with what they are originally meant to play.

The experience is without any doubt made better by the fact that these are monitors and not just ordinary earphones. In fact, if drummers wore ordinary earphones on stage, there is a high possibility that the audio devices would end up being damaged. This is caused by the insurmountable bass and treble that resonate while on stage.


This one is pretty obvious, but in-ear monitors are usually a better choice for drummers who do not like distractions. Having a headphone sitting on your head and covering your ears as you play one of the loudest instruments such as the drums may be uncomforting to some. And that is why the portability of in-ear monitors is definitely a selling point while you sit behind the hi-hats and cymbals. 


Price wise, professional in-ear monitors are definitely not on the low price range when compared to ordinary audio equipment. With the high demand, thanks to musicians, audiophiles and recording studio staff, in-ear monitors are definitely worth the buy if they can serve their purpose to you.

If you are a drummer, it may be wise to use a pair of these when you are performing on stage. If you are not, and just love music as it is, it may be something that suits your boat too!

Over-the-head Monitors


Without any doubt, over-the-head monitors are far superior in comparison to in-ear ones. These headphones are usually of pristine quality. Usually sold as luxurious products, you will probably not find it a common usage for regular people. Even amongst professional drummers, this is not seen often.

And the reason for that is simple. Over-the-head headphones/monitors nowadays use the noise-cancellation technology.

Noise-cancellation in short is the concept of creating sound waves in anti-phase which cancel out incoming sound waves, thus, overall reducing the total noise. It is not 100% efficient at all times, but it definitely helps drummers focus. 

Sound Quality

The sound quality of a set of professional over-the-head monitors, or headphones, especially the ones made for drummers – are probably the best pieces of audio engineering in the world. This is the most supreme form of sound quality you will be able to find in the market. There is simply no competition against these beasts. 


These may not be very portable. That may be the disadvantage of using over-the-head headphones onstage as a drummer. It may not be the most comfortable thing to have on while performing on the drum set. 


Over-the-head headphones or monitors cost a significant lot more than your usual earphones. They are made of the best raw materials available and are engineered by the most experienced audio scientists. It’s best to approach the market to buy one of these when you have more than your usual budget for spending on an electronic.



We hope this article has been helpful, and that we have been able to explain the issue at hand properly. The simplest way to answer why drummers wear headphones is that they want to perform at their best, and keep their ears protected from unnecessarily loud noises or sounds. If you are a drummer, happy drumming! And if you are not, happy audiophile-ing!


You can also read: In Ear Monitors vs. Earbuds: Know the Difference

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