Top In Ear Monitors for Drummers
Finding the right in-ear monitor can be a daunting task. Any drummer with a little bit of perfectionist in him (or her) will tell you though that having a monitoring solution is integral to producing greatness. Fear not, as we’re here to break down the best in-ear monitors for drummers on the market.
Whether you’re playing live or in studio, it can be extremely difficult to hear both the click track and the rest of the orchestra clearly. Because electronic instruments have no built-in acoustic sound, solid monitoring is essential to hear them properly. So without further ado, your top 6 options.
Why Buy An In-Ear Monitor?
In-ear monitors serve a handful of purposes. First and foremost, they isolate you from loud external sounds that you find on stage or in the studio, thereby allowing you create crystal clear audio. Drummers, specifically, need to clearly hear what is going on around them to perform at their best. Ambient noise affects how well you play, both physically and mentally. If you can’t hear your own drums well enough, chances are you’re going to compensate by hitting them harder. If you start hitting the drum harder, your muscles will tighten up, essentially sending any possibility of finesse out the window.
Additionally, in-ear headphones are preferred over stage monitors due to their clarity and ability to provide a personalized monitor mix during a performance. Say you want a little less of the drummer and a little more from you — this is achievable with a personalized monitor.
Before we dig into the three best options out there, keep in mind that when it comes to in-ear monitors, brand matters. As you may have noticed from the chart above, Audio-Technica and Shure dominate the market. This is simply because their products are trusted and reliable. This is pretty advanced equipment that shouldn’t be trusted in the hands of no name knock-offs.
3 Best In-Ear Monitors for Drummers Reviewed
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20X dual Symphonic-driver in-ear monitor headphones offer the best mix of performance and price of all the in-ear monitors on the market. They are very reasonably priced compared to some of the other monitors on the list, but deliver everything you need.
Right out of the box, the stock tips offer roughly 50% noise reduction, which is much better a lot of stock tips, but you can easily find replacements. The seal with the ATM-IM70s is very high quality, however, a feature that can’t be said for many other in-ear monitors.
The dual symphonic drivers are housed in a hard hybrid plastic that’s rock solid. No matter how hard you are on your headphones, these will do the trick. The detachable cable is also ideal for future replacements. Any drummer will tell you its the wires that go first and being able to just replace that one portion instead of the whole thing will save you cash down the road.
If you’re looking for the best value buy, go with the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X.
Like the IM70s, the Audio Technica ATH-IM03 comes with detachable cables for easy replacements. The fit and seal within the your ear is also fantastic, providing ultimate in-ear monitoring. They also deliver smooth frequency coverage from bass to treble. The sound is warm and intimate. These balanced, analytical headphones deliver a very detailed and bright sound and tremendous transparency. You will not be disappointed.
Overall, however, the ATH-IM03s do not deliver enough, if any advantages over the IM70s to justify the higher price tag.
Shure’s SE846 are some of the priciest in-ear monitors you’ll find. They do not disappoint, however. With a rich bottom end and a smooth top end, they headphones are fun to wear all day long. And we can’t say enough about how comfortable they are too. Although a bit pricey, they are well worth the money.
The sound clarity is simply unparalleled in the SE846. The engineering that went into making these headphones clearly shows in the end product. You won’t find a more balanced or fulfilling sound from any of the products on this list. Percussionists will be able to hear every detail, every cue, and never miss a beat.
In spite of the excellent sound quality, the hefty price tag is simply too much to make this the best value buy. If you’re a professional drummer and have the cash, then sure, take the plunge, but for most people, the ATH-IM70s provide more than enough monitoring capabilities.