We cover a lot of studio focused headphones here since they tend to sound the best with electronic drums. However, you can use any type of wired headphones with your electronic drum kit in most cases.
Studio, Consumer and Gaming Headphones
Studio headphones are usually designed to provide a more flat frequency response and high amounts of clarity for audio analysis during tracking and mixing. They are designed to help you hear what really is going on in the sound, good or bad. They often will lack consumer level features such as wireless connectivity, phone connectivity, phone control and active noise cancelling. They are usually designed for comfort over style, and might not be as portable or sleek in design as consumer level headphones. These types of headphones are preferred by musicians and audiophiles who want a high fidelity listening experience.
Consumer headphones usually have features that affect the sound in ways that are undesirable for studio mixing and analysis. They often enhance the low end and smooth out the high end to sweeten the sound, to help make everything sound better, and to overcompensate for potentially bad audio production. They can sound less detailed than studio headphones. They can also often have features for connecting to smartphones, taking calls or using microphones. They are designed to be visually sleek and stylish. You will find more active noise cancellation in this space.
Gaming headphones are usually designed to be comfortable for longer use sessions, to work with a mic, and to produce detailed sound stages to help you with directional sounds in games. They can produce a nice sound with electronic drums. Of course not all gaming headsets are equal, and many are wireless which is not ideal for drumming. But you might be surprised how good some of the better wired gaming headsets can sound on an electronic drum kit.
If You Already Have Headphones and Are Buying Some Electronic Drums
Most people already have some type of headphones or earbuds around, especially if you’re a musician or a serious music fan. Even if they aren’t geared for studio use with a flatter frequency spectrum and enhanced clarity, they might sound perfectly fine when connected to a drum module.
If you like how a pair of headphones sounds with music that you listen to, chances are they will sound fine when plugged into an electronic drum kit.
If you are buying some electronic drums and you aren’t sure if the headphones you already own will work well enough, it’s worth it to at least try them out before spending the money on another pair of headphones. That way you won’t unnecessarily spend money on headphones that you maybe didn’t need.
Wired Headphones Are a Must For Electronic Drums
We can maybe get into more detail here in in the future, but for the most part you’ll find that wired headphones are what you need for electronic drums.
Wireless headphones tend to have too much latency and you can notice a small delay from when you hit a pad to when the sound plays. That is not ideal for drumming at all. So it’s not really worth it to try to make wireless headphones work with electronic drums unless you can invest in some wireless gear that is specifically designed for low latency.
Your best option for electronic drums is going to be a wired pair of headphones with a long cable that doesn’t restrict your movement.
Characteristics of Good Drumming Headphones
A good pair of drumming headphones, regardless of if they are designed for studio or consumer use, should have the following characteristics.
- You personally like the sound. If you like the way they sound, that’s what matters over what anybody else is telling you.
- They are comfortable. You should be able to wear them while drumming for an hour before they start to feel uncomfortable.
- They provide some passive noise attenuation (noise reduction). If you hear less of the tapping on the pads and more of the drum module, that is better for an immersive drumming experience.
- They have a long enough cable to stay out of the way. Ideally you want to be able to position the cable behind you during play and it should be long enough that you can stand up and move around your kit without jerking the cable out of the input jack. Any pair of wired headphones can be run through headphone extension cables if the cable is too short.
That doesn’t seem like too crazy of a list. There are certainly many studio headphones and consumer level headphones that can fit that bill, and even some wired earbuds.
Personally, I’ve used on-ear headphones from Monster, cheap earbuds that came packaged with a smartphone, some really cheap non-name headphones I found at a thrift store, and a wired headset I bought for my Xbox. All were used on electronic drum kits out of necessity at one point, and they were all quite different in style compared to the studio headphones I use now. I didn’t find any major issues with them at the time, even though I knew I wanted something different eventually. It came down to a “make due with what you have” philosophy and they worked fine.
So, as you can see – you very well could be happy with some normal headphones and not need to upgrade to a more higher quality studio set.