Music Industry How To is supported by readers. When you buy via a link on our site, we’ll possibly earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.
If you’re a gigging drummer, the chances are high that you’ll play gigs where you need to use in-ear monitors. In the past, all the musicians would use wedge monitors on stage to hear what all the band members were playing.
While that still happens, in-ear monitoring is becoming more common, especially when bands use backing tracks when performing. Here’s a list of the best in-ear monitor options for drummers.
Shure SE425 – Best Overall
The Shure SE425 In-Ear Monitors (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) are an amazing pair of earphones to consider. They’re a solid choice to go with if you want something that will work perfectly for live gigs but also not cost too much.
They have dual high-definition MicroDrivers that make them sound fantastic. You’ll find the audio that they produce to be very balanced, making them great for monitoring all the instruments you’ll hear in a band.
The audio is also highly accurate to what everyone else is hearing, so you don’t get an isolated listening experience as you do with a lot of other in-ear monitors.
The earphones come with a detachable wire that is 64”. It’s incredibly long, making it the perfect length for drummers. You won’t need to worry about your cable being too short, even if you’re plugging these earphones into a physical source that is far from your drum throne.
The in-ear monitors also have Shure’s famous sound-isolating sleeves. That makes them even better suited for drummers, as they’ll protect your ears from all the loud drum sounds. You’ll find similar sound isolation no matter which tips you choose to attach to them.
Overall, these are one of my top recommendations for all drummers. They’re higher in quality than the popular Shure SE215s, but they don’t cost as much as other high-tier earphones.
Drivers: Dual High-Definition Drivers
Impedance: 22 ohms
Frequency Range: 20Hz – 19kHz
Cable Length: 64”
Shure SE846 – Premium Option
The Shure SE846 In-Ear Monitors (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) are one of the highest-quality pairs of in-ears out there that aren’t custom-made. If you want one of the best options available, I highly recommend checking these out.
The best thing about them is the sheer quality of the sounds that you hear. You get an amazing listening experience, as these in-ears cover every frequency brilliantly.
The quality of sound is due to the four balanced-armature drivers that are in a 3-way configuration. These in-ears come with three nozzle inserts that allow you to alter the frequency response. You can choose between warm, bright, and balanced.
Another great feature is the low-pass filter. It gives these monitors excellent bass sounds without making the higher frequencies sound muddy. So, you can get a very deep bass drum sound if you’re monitoring yourself, and you’ll love how clear and punchy a bass guitar will sound in your ears when you’re playing live.
These in-ears have the same sound-isolating sleeves as the previous Shure monitors, so you’ll also keep your ears protected whenever you play drums with them.
If you want to spoil yourself without having to go through the lengthy process of getting custom in-ear monitors, these Shure SE846s will be right up your alley. Just note that they’re very expensive.
Impedance: 9 ohms
Frequency Range: 15Hz – 20kHz
Cable Length: 45” and 60”
Behringer SD251-CK – Best Budget Option
The Behringer SD251-CK Studio Monitoring Earphones (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) are one of the most affordable pairs of in-ears that you’ll be able to find on the market. They’re undoubtedly the best budget option, as they still work the same as professional in-ears.
They have the same physical design, so they feel the same when you’re playing the drums with them. The big difference is their sound quality, which is naturally not as good as any of the other in-ear monitors on this list.
With that being said, I think everyone should check these things out. While their overall sound is quite thin, you still get fairly good distinctions between all the frequency ranges, making them perfectly usable for gigging settings.
If you already have a good pair of in-ears, these are great to get as a backup for those times when you don’t want to use your regular ones.
If you’re buying in-ear monitors for the first time, these are perfect for drummers who don’t have a big budget to work with.
Apart from the decreased quality, the other downside to consider with these is that they don’t last as long as high-end in-ear monitors. The internal wiring tends to be problematic after a year or two, so these aren’t a long-term option.
However, they’re so affordable that buying a new pair of them every year won’t hurt your wallet at all.
Impedance: 22 ohms
Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
Cable Length: 63”
The Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) are one of the most popular pairs of in-ears in the world. When you talk to anyone about in-ear monitors, these are always brought up in some way or another.
They’re loved by drummers everywhere for their incredible reliability and build quality. They also sound fantastic. All of that comes in a highly affordable package, which is the other reason for them being so popular.
These in-ears have a very lightweight design that makes them very comfortable to wear. You can wear them for several hours of drumming without feeling any discomfort with your ears. The low-profile shape also helps with that.
They have a single dynamic MicroDriver speaker, which is what you’ll find in many of Shure’s popular in-ear monitors. It gives these earphones incredibly clear audio.
The one downside that people don’t like about the SE215s is that they focus on mids and highs a lot more than the lows. This means that they lack a lot of bass, which is what many drummers love hearing in their ears when playing.
That’s not enough to stop these from being so high in demand, though. These are another solid option to consider. They’re the type of in-ear monitors that you want to have just for the sake of having, and then you can use them whenever you go out to play gigs.
Impedance: 17 ohms
Frequency Range: 22Hz – 17.5kHz
Cable Length: 64”
Westone Audio Pro X30
The Westone Audio Pro X30 Earphones (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) are another set of top-quality in-ears to consider. Westone Audio is one of the few brands to solely focus on making in-ear monitors, so these come from a long line of high-quality products.
The biggest standout feature of these is that they have triple-balanced armature drivers. This makes them a lot more powerful than many competing in-ears on the market, and you’ll be amazed at the clarity that they have.
The design is lightweight, so you can wear these for hours of drumming without fatiguing your ears.
My favorite thing about these earphones is the number of tip options that they come with. You get five silicone tips and five foam tips. This gives you a large choice pool to find the most comfortable fit possible.
The foam tips are also excellent for easy listening when you’re not sitting at your drum kit. The silicone tips are better for blocking out sounds, so I’d suggest using those when drumming.
Overall, these in-ears are another solid option to choose. If you want something slightly different from the popular Shure in-ears, you may end up loving them.
Drivers: Triple Balanced Armature Drivers
Impedance: 56 ohms
Frequency Range: 20Hz – 18kHz
Cable Length: 52”
The Mackie MP-240 Hybrid Dual-Driver Professional In-Ear Monitors (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) have quite a unique shape compared to the other options that I’ve mentioned so far, making them an attractive option to consider.
The reason for their unique shape is that Mackie has created them to be as ergonomic as possible, so they say that these will feel more comfortable in your ears than standard in-ears will. I’ve heard some drummers agree after trying these, while others still prefer the traditional fit.
The other big benefit of the design is that these in-ears block out more sound than most other in-ears do. They block up to 40dB, which is an incredible amount. That makes the Mackie MP-240s an amazing option for drummers.
The dual hybrid drivers give these very balanced sounds. All the frequencies are just as clear as each other, giving you a pleasant overall listening experience. I’d say that the sounds are very natural, which is an excellent quality to have.
In terms of cost, these are about double what you’ll pay for the Shure SE215s. You can easily feel the upgrade in quality when wearing them, so I’d say the price tag is very reasonable.
Overall, they’re an excellent set of in-ear monitors that may just feel more comfortable than anything you’ve tried before.
Drivers: Single Dynamic and Single Balanced Armature
Impedance: 16 ohms
Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
Cable Length: 59.1”
Sennheiser IE 400 Pro
The Sennheiser IE 400 Pro Monitor Earphones (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) are Sennheiser’s popular pro in-ears that a lot of drummers go for. These earphones sound a lot punchier than most of the others on this list, so they’re amazing for live gigging.
They use Sennheiser’s TrueResponse technology, which basically means that they have all the good qualities that you’d want from an audio tool. They have a great frequency response, they’re very powerful, and the audio quality is incredibly detailed.
These earphones are also quite comfortable to wear, having an ergonomic earmold design. That’s another reason why they’re a good option for playing live gigs with.
The final thing to mention about the IE 400s is their build quality and durability. They’re very well-built, and most drummers I know that use these have been using them for years without any issues.
They’re just another solid option to consider that will give you great sound quality and playability. Just note that they’re fairly expensive compared to other popular in-ears.
Drivers: 7mm Dynamic Driver
Impedance: 16 ohms
Frequency Range: 6Hz – 19kHz
Cable Length: 51”
Everything about these screams professionalism, and the design work that Audio-Technica has done is truly impressive.
There are several amazing features to take a deep dive into here, but I’ll just briefly mention the main ones so that you get a good idea of what these earphones are capable of.
The most impressive feature of these earphones is that you can adjust the amount of sound that they isolate. This means that you can choose to block out a lot of sound while you’re playing the drums, and then you can ease that up when you’re listening to music casually.
Another great function is that you can connect these to an Audio-Technica app where you can control the mix that you’re hearing. It’s highly intuitive and easy to use, and it will allow you to get the best sound quality possible.
The final thing to mention about these is that the audio quality is brilliant. Even if you don’t tweak anything with the app, you’ll get crystal-clear audio that sounds great in all frequency ranges.
These aren’t in-ear monitors that I’d suggest using for live gigs. However, they’re a great option for practicing drums at home without needing to worry about wires. You can then wear them to the gym after your practice session and feel just as comfortable when using them.
Drivers: Single 5.8mm Driver
Impedance: 16 ohms
Frequency Range: 10Hz – 40kHz
Cable Length: N/A
Sennheiser IE 100 Pro Wireless
The Sennheiser IE 100 Pro Wireless Earphones (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) are another good pair of Bluetooth in-ears to consider getting. However, these ones can be used with a wire as well. This makes them a lot more versatile than in-ears that are purely wireless.
They also have a built-in microphone, which none of the in-ears that I previously suggested had. So, that’s another selling point.
When it comes to audio quality, these earphones can be grouped in the same category as the Shure SE215s. They sound quite good, but the audio isn’t as clear and detailed as what you’ll get from higher-priced in-ears.
These in-ears also only come with one set of silicone tips, which is what you’ll need to wear to block the sounds out when playing drums. However, you can easily buy extra tips, and they’re very affordable.
I’d suggest getting these in-ears if you want earphones that you can use for drumming and casual listening. Not too many in-ears have dual Bluetooth and wired capabilities, so these are a standout option for this list.
I just wouldn’t suggest choosing these if you want the best earphones possible to play professional gigs with.
Drivers: Single 10mm Dynamic Transducer
Impedance: 20 ohms
Frequency Range: 20Hz – 18kHz
Cable Length: 51.1”
What To Look For In Good In Ear Monitors for Drummers
The first thing to consider when buying a pair of in-ear monitors is sound quality. This is the biggest determining factor of their overall quality, and it’s also a huge determining factor of how much they will cost.
When looking at sound quality, you need to check the frequency response, impedance, and sensitivity of the in-ear monitors.
The frequency response will tell you which frequencies the in-ears will cover. If you’re planning on monitoring your drums, you’ll need to get in-ears that have a wide frequency response to cover all the drums and cymbals.
If you’re just getting in-ears to listen to music, you may not need to get ones with a frequency response that is as wide. Some in-ears are more bass-heavy, while others sit higher in the mids and highs.
Impedance refers to how much power is needed to run your in-ear monitors. If the impedance level is high, you’re going to need a lot of power. Something like a smartphone will make your in-ears sound quite soft.
However, most drummers end up using in-ear monitors with big PA systems, so the impedance level won’t be the biggest thing to check out if you’re a gigging drummer. Just make sure to check that out if you just want in-ear monitors for causal reasons.
Another thing to consider when getting in-ear monitors for drumming is how much sound they block out. They need to block a considerable amount of sound, as drum kits are extremely loud.
When earphones don’t block enough sound, you need to turn the volume up to hear everything over the drums, and that will damage your ears over time. So, make sure that you’re getting in-ear monitors with significant sound rejection.
Most in-ears do block out a lot of sound, but it’s a good idea to read reviews to see if a pair you’re looking at block enough sound out for drummers.
If you want to get the most sound rejection possible, you’ll need to get custom-molded in-ear monitors. These are created to fit your ears perfectly, and that closes all the potential gaps that get to your eardrums.
None of the in-ears that I suggested above are custom-molded, but most of the companies create them. You also get companies that will create custom covers for you that you can place over in-ear monitors that you already have.
Since in-ear monitors are good sound blockers, it’s a good idea to wear them every time you play your drums, even if you’re not playing any music through them.
Comfort is a huge factor to consider, especially if you’re going to play gigs with your in-ear monitors or wear them for lengthy practice sessions.
You get two main types of in-ear designs. These are known as straight and over-ear designs. With straight designs, the cables fall straight down past your ears from the bottom of the earphones. This is the same design that all regular earphones have.
With over-ear designs, the cables point upward and fit over your ears. They get positioned along clamps that keep the in-ears secured to your ears.
Over-ear designs are far more common, and you’ll find this design with any in-ears over a certain price range. You’ll only find straight designs with affordable in-ear monitors.
I’d suggest sticking with an over-ear design if you can. However, some straight design in-ears are great for their price, so you may find plenty of value when getting a pair of those.
I just wouldn’t suggest using straight in-ears for gigging, as they become very uncomfortable when you move on stage. The energy levels are always a lot higher on live stages, and you need to have in-ear monitors that are gripping tightly to your ears.
Another aspect of comfort is the buds that come with the in-ears. Every pair will come with different shapes, and you just need to pick the shape that fits your ears the best.
Wired vs Wireless
There are a few things to think about when it comes to wires. Most high-end in-ear monitors will have detachable wires. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re wireless. These wires can just be detached so that you can replace them or store them somewhere.
If you’re buying in-ear monitors with wires, make sure that they’re detachable. I wouldn’t trust in-ear monitors with wires that aren’t detachable, as it makes the quality of them questionable.
If those in-ear monitors break, you’ll need to buy a new pair entirely, whereas you can simply replace the wires of in-ears that break if they have detachable wires.
Wireless in-ear monitors are a completely different product. These in-ears have no wires, and they connect to sources through Bluetooth. They are incredibly useful if you want to play drums without worrying about a wire.
However, I’d only suggest using wireless in-ears for casual use. They’re too inconsistent and unreliable to use for live gigs, and you’ll often get slight delays if you use them to make drum recordings.
Some pristine in-ear monitors have wires and Bluetooth functionality. With these, you can use the wires when you need to, and then you can detach those to use the earphones wirelessly in various settings. They’re great options for drummers who want to use earphones to listen to music on the go.
Durability and Build Materials
The type of material used to make in-ear monitors determines how durable they are. A lot of the time, it will also determine how comfortable they are to wear.
The most common materials used to make in-ear monitors are wood, metal, resin, plastic, and carbon fiber.
These materials play a big role in how much the in-ears cost as well. The most expensive in-ear monitors are often made from carbon fiber, metal, and wood. The most affordable ones are made from resin or plastic.
The best material is arguably carbon fiber, as in-ears made from that are very light, comfortable, and they never rust.
Metal in-ears are extremely durable, but they can become quite heavy if you wear them for too long.
Wooden in-ear monitors look amazing. There’s something special about having a pair of wooden earphones that have been finely crafted. However, they’re also costly compared to most other material types.
Plastic and resin in-ear monitors are also extremely light, but they’re not as durable as the other types. These are the in-ears that will break the most after frequent use. So, you’ll save money by getting them, but they won’t last near as long as top-tier earphones made from better materials.
Cable length is something that many drummers don’t think about when buying earphones and headphones. However, it becomes a huge issue when you’re sitting at the drum set with a cable that is too short.
As a drummer, you need to make sure that you’re getting in-ear monitors that have a very long cable. The drum kit is a huge instrument, and you’ll also be moving a lot. So, you need as much free space as possible to move, and a short cable will feel extremely limiting.
You could always attach it to a cable extender, but that adds an extra piece of gear to your setup, and cable extenders tend to break quickly.
So, make sure to get in-ear monitors that have a cable length of at least 50”. It would be better to have ones with a cable longer than that, but never get ones with anything shorter.
Long cables can become quite irritating if you use the in-ears for casual use, so the jackpot option would be to get a pair of in-ears with two cables where one is short and the other is a bit longer. Having a wireless option would be even better.
All the aspects mentioned above affect the pricing of every pair of in-ear monitors in some way or another. When buying a pair, you need to establish how much you’re willing to spend.
Buying audio products can become quite tricky if you’re not clued up on the ins and outs of audio quality. You may see a pair of in-ears costing $1000 and wonder how on earth anyone would be willing to pay that much, whereas seasoned audio engineers would consider that a reasonable price.
The great thing about in-ear monitors is that you don’t need to spend that much to have a solid pair. The most sold in-ear monitors on the market all cost around $100 or $200. So, you don’t have to break the bank if this is your first time getting a pair.
Just make sure to get the best pair for whatever your playing situation looks like. Also, it’s better to invest in one good pair than to get an inexpensive pair that will break shortly afterward.
Best In Ear Monitor Brands
While there are dozens of audio brands out there, there are a select few that most drummers tend to prefer. These brands sell excellent earphones that cater very well to what drummers need to hear when they’re practicing and performing.
Shure is the powerhouse audio brand when it comes to in-ear monitors. This company has all the top-selling options, and they’re all built incredibly well.
If you don’t want to do too much research, it’s always a good option to go with a pair of Shure earphones. Everyone loves them, so you probably will too.
Audio-Technica is a popular audio brand that sells various audio and production gear. However, the brand is most well known for their pristine selection of headphones and earphones. You can find some top-tier in-ears when browsing through Audio-Technica’s range.
The brand is particularly good when it comes to wireless in-ear monitors.
Westone Audio is one of the few audio brands that specialize in making in-ear monitors. They don’t make any other product types, so you can be sure that a lot of time and effort goes into making each product that they sell.
They’re also an amazing company to look into if you want to get in-ear monitors with a custom fit.
Sennheiser is another huge brand to check out. You may not find as many professional in-ear options as Shure or Westone, but the brand offers a few good ones. They also have a huge range of affordable earphones to consider.
It’s worth checking those out so that you can use some good in-ears when you don’t want to use your top-tier professional ones.
Top In Ear Monitors, Final Thoughts
There are so many good in-ear monitors to choose from. You’ll find that most of them produce fairly similar audio quality if they’re priced the same. So, look through every option and see which ones appeal to you the most.
Some may come with accessories that you prefer, or some may have Bluetooth capabilities that increase their sale value for you. You should also consider getting custom in-ear monitors.