Updated on 6/29/2023
Most electronic drummers are using headphones while playing. Sure, there’s a few of us playing over sound systems or PA’s every once in a while, but for the most part headphones are going to be the go-to listening option for most. Especially drummers who are apartment goers.
There’s quite a few headphone options out there and there are different types of headphones that will work better for electronic drumming than others.
Our Top Headphones For Electronic Drummers
We’ll recommend a few different options here in different price ranges. What we’re mostly looking at is overall quality, comfort and value. We consider closed-back headphones with more noise attenuation to be the ideal option for electronic drummers as well. We’re basing price levels on what they can typically be found at from various retailers as opposed to MSRP, which is usually much higher. Prices may change over time but this should be fairly accurate.
Headphones For $50 Or Less
For the first recommendations we’ll focus on the budget range under $50. You can get some decent headphones in that range if you have a smaller budget. Keep in mind though that it’s kind of hard to find headphones without faults for under $50. Usually something is going to be sacrificed between sound quality, comfort and build quality.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Headphones
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20X headphones are designed for studio tracking and mixing but sound good on electronic drums as well. They have good sound quality for their price that stays away from coloring the sound too much. They offer sufficient comfort. They have an over ear, closed back design to help passively block out some environmental noise. The cord is nice and long. They check more boxes in terms of positives than other budget headphones we’ve looked at. These can be found for $50 or maybe less if they are on sale.
Tascam TH-MX2 Studio Headphones
The Tascam TH-MX2 Studio Headphones are designed for mixing and tracking on a lower budget. They have a little more presence in the lower end though compared to many other flat frequency studio headphones. They can work for electronic drummers on a budget with their sound and their closed back design, even if they fall short for more demanding studio users. They are pretty cheap and can be found for around $30-40.
Headphones From $50-$100
If you can spend more than $50 you’ll start to find some higher quality headphones with a little better sound and comfort. There’s plenty of closed-back headphones to choose from in this range. Here’s our favorites.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones
The Sennheiser 280 Pro headphones offer a nice combination of comfort, sound and value. Their strong point is noise isolation, as they reduce external sounds by up to 32db with just passive noise attenuation. They are known to be very comfortable for longer sessions with nice, thick padding on the headband and the ear cups. The sound quality focuses on flat response for mixing purposes but it sounds great on electronic drums. These can be found for around $80 or less.
AKG K92 Headphones
The AKG K92 headphones are a basic, closed-back design that are comfortable for longer sessions. They have a nice sound considering their price point and sound good with electronic drums. They can block some external noise with passive noise isolation and an over ear design. These headphones can be found for $70 or less.
Headphones From $100-$150
The $100-$150 price range is a sweet spot where you can find many really nice sets of headphones for studio and other use that have good comfort, audio quality and noise isolation.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40X Headphones
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40X headphones are known for their flat frequency range and sound quality. They are designed for studio mixing purposes and their sound can work well for audio engineers. We also find that these sound great when plugged into a drum module. They produce a crisp sound throughout the frequency range and have a little more perceptible bass than the more expensive ATH-M50X headphones.
Shure SRH840A Headphones
The Shure SRH840A headphones are a refreshed version of the popular SRH840 headphones. These headphones have a very clean, crisp sound and can work well for studio use as well as casual listening and other purposes. With a flatter frequency response, you’ll be getting a clear picture of whatever you are listening to. They sound great when plugged into a drum module and have all the features we like for electronic drumming headphones.
Headphones Over $150
There’s going to be a lot of high quality options once you spend more than $150 on headphones. It’s kind of hard to find a bad pair of headphones when you spend more, but the value might not always be there for the price. Here’s some headphones that we recommend looking at which will sound very good with electronic drums and won’t get overly pricey.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Headphones
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones are well known for studio and DJ use. The qualities that make them good for those situations are what makes them good for electronic drumming as well. They are very comfortable and offer excellent noise attenuation. The sound is great when plugged into a drum module. They are also designed to be collapsible and portable, which is a nice plus.
beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Headphones
The beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones are designed for critical studio use. They can make a great option for electronic drumming due to their supreme comfort and sound quality. These headphones are available in 32, 80 or 250 ohm versions – so you can better match up with what your drum module or headphone amp can output and get the best sound possible.
Roland VMH-D1 V-Drums Headphones
The Roland VMH-D1 V-Drums Headphones are designed specifically for drummers with characteristics in the sound to bring out the nuances of electronic drums. They are fairly comfortable as long as they are big enough to fit your head, and the sound really does make electronic drums sound a little more present than some other studio headphones. They also include a long cable and some extras that could be useful for drummers.
What Makes A Good Pair Of Headphones For Electronic Drumming?
Believe it or not, there are some things to consider when picking a pair of headphones to use along with your electronic drum kit.
You will see us use the term noise attenuation when talking about headphones. Noise attenuation basically means the ability to passively block out environmental noise. If your headphones block out a lot of noise and you can’t hardly hear people talking around you, that would mean they have good noise attenuation. Not all headphones block out noise, and usually it’s by design whether they do or not.
If you practice drumming a lot, you will be wearing your headphones a lot. It’s not uncommon to wear them for an hour or more if you have longer practice sessions or practice more often. A comfortable pair of headphones is a must. What makes for comfortable headphones?
A softer or thicker headband and ear cup pads are a good start. You don’t want hard or thin padding that will fatigue you quickly.
Ear cups can vary. Larger ear cups that fit over the ears tend to be the most comfortable. Larger, thicker and softer ear pads are generally going to be better. Ear cup material can also range from harder to softer. The covering can also make a difference. Cheaper, fake leather materials can be less comfortable than something that’s higher quality.
Warmth is something to consider. Some headphones can get a lot warmer than others during longer sessions.
Tightness of the headband is another thing. You want the headband to be tight enough to keep the headphones on your head. If you move around a lot while playing drums or bang your head, this is something to consider.
With electronic drums a higher-fidelity sound is usually going to be better. And sound quality can range quite a bit through the various budget ranges of headphones. Generally the more money money you spend on headphones will equate to higher quality sound. However, in the world of headphones, there’s plenty of cheaper headphones that sound just fine if you don’t have a larger budget.
Sound quality can be subjective. You may prefer a certain type of sound and that could make certain headphones more preferable to you personally.
Clarity tends to be the biggest thing to contribute to perceived sound quality. Clarity is what allows you to hear the nuance and details in the sounds, which is what can make things interesting to listen to. For electronic drumming, if you have a higher quality sound module you will probably prefer headphones with better clarity.
Spaciousness and sound stage is used to describe how naturally spacious the sound feels or how wide the sound feels. When you are wearing headphones, the speakers are right next to your ears and the ear cups are probably covering your ears. That’s a very small physical space. Some headphones will do a better job of making the sound still sound naturally spacious as though you are listening on speakers in a room. Some will do a better job of separating the stereo field and placing the sound elements from left to right. Spaciousness is important when mixing and mastering, but may be a subjective thing for electronic drummers.
EQ curve generally describes how pushed certain parts of the EQ spectrum are. At the most basic level the spectrum can be broken down into lows, mids and highs. Some headphones have a fairly flat frequency spectrum with nothing sounding overly pushed and everything will sound more natural. Some headphones have more of a V shaped spectrum where they will emphasize lows and highs over the mids.
Harshness can be used to describe when certain frequency ranges on a pair of headphones are unpleasant to the ears. Harshness can be an issue with lower quality headphones at higher volumes.
Closed Back Design
Closed back design headphones are generally the most ideal for electronic drumming. The reason being that they will have higher noise attenuation. When playing electronic drums, this includes blocking the sounds of sticks hitting the drum pads. Most drummers would prefer to hear the sound module over the pad slapping sounds.
Drummers may decide they prefer a semi-open back design or fully open back design. Reasons for this might be that you want to hear the pads or certain environmental noises more easily. Or maybe you find closed back headphones to be too warm for your environment.
This might seem trivial but a longer cable is a good idea. Most studio level headphones will have at least a 3 meter cable (just under 10 feet). This is ideal. You’ll be moving around a lot while using your drum kit and having a longer cable reduces the chances of yanking the cable accidentally and damaging your headphones or the output on your drum module.