How to Choose Headphones for Electronic Drums

A traveler’s lifestyle is about everything lightweight and easy (except for mastering the art, of course). While every city, province, and district I’ve been to has its distinct rhythm, I always bring my own with me, sometimes literally. One of the best ways to feel a place is to feel its beat by joining it. That’s why I’m so into drums, and electronic drums are much easier to carry around. That’s to dare you to try it.

While a portable set by, say, Alesis is not much larger than a regular laptop, there’s an issue you should be aware of when it comes to electronic drums: the headphones. Only with good drumming headphones, you’ll feel that immersion that makes you choose your rhythms when watching the sunset on a beach or meditating at the foot of a mountain. Anyway, it’s a good investment if you like music and drumming. So, let’s start.

Wireless or Wired?

You might be a traveling star and a cord-cutter. You might have already tasted the comfort of your AirPods Max and only wish they had a bass as great as that of the Sony WH-1000XM5. But as great as they are for listening to music or for conversations, forget about any wireless headphones if you want to play the drums with them.

The reason is latency. When playing acoustic drums, you immediately hear the sounds you make, with no delay at all (or rather with milliseconds that can be dismissed). With Bluetooth headsets, the delay is significantly longer: It’s up to 100-300 milliseconds, which is simply unacceptable when playing music. That’s why they are also no good for deejaying. Some premium Bluetooth models, though, have wired mode; the sound might be not that stellar but quite acceptable. When wired, they are okay for playing the drums.


Though digital music instruments are always a bit of a compromise, today’s electronic drums cover a wide range of their sounds, from the lowest bass to the highest treble that a human ear can perceive. To enjoy all these highs and lows, you need headphones capable of reproducing it all.

Most of today’s headphones support a nominal range of 20-20,000 Hz. But you can opt for those going lower in terms of bass or higher in terms of treble. Such a purchase only makes sense if you are physically capable of hearing beyond the usual range. So you better have a test before wasting money on high-range headphones.

Construction: Open or Closed?

While simply finding good wired headphones with a decent range is not an issue, the question gets serious when you choose between open-back and closed construction. Both types have their pros and cons, and both have fans. As a traveler, I’d prefer closed-back ones, and here are the reasons why:

  • Closed-back headphones don’t let sound in and out. This matters when you don’t want anyone to hear what you’re listening to… or what exactly you’re playing. It’s hard to hide the sounds with drums, even with electronic ones, but if you’re trying to match the beat, you’d want to keep your failures to yourself;
  • Closed-back headphones are more durable. Open-back construction allows for moisture to get in, and while it’s okay in a studio or at home, it’s a problem when you constantly change your environments;

Closed-back headphones have more uses. You can listen to the music or have a conversation with them, without anyone hearing what you hear. I have several pairs at home, but when traveling, you better pick one that’s the most versatile.

If you enjoy your electronic drums at home, you can dismiss these considerations. Take advantage of your open-back pair simply because it sounds better for the same price.


As for other qualities, here are some that matter to me (and maybe, for you too):

  • Portability. As a traveler, I value portability a lot as it enables me to avoid overweight luggage, and it is easier to place them in my bag. So I would always choose portable foldable ones over studio giants that can do anything except fold;
  • Comfort. If you only have one pair, make sure it sits well on your head. No recommendations but one: try it on before buying;
  • Bag in the kit. It’s usually designed for this particular model, making carrying it easier;
  • Coiled cord. It’s a great solution that automatically adjusts the length of the cable;
  • 1/8” native connector with a 1/4” adapter. For portable devices, it’s the default now, while studios and hi-end home equipment stick with a more professional 1/4”. It’s my nomadic lifestyle that defines priorities;
  • Not too expensive. Who knows what might happen to your luggage!

Below the 20 Hz

Thanks for reading this! I’d like to emphasize again that my recommendations are biased, and I don’t even try to hide it. I don’t just share my experience of choosing the best headphones (by the way, it’s also Sony, but a less expensive model than the aforementioned WH-1000XM5). I hope my experience will help you find your best headphones for drumming.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.