Drummers must wear headphones. Whether playing in a live setting to a metronome or backing track, recording with other band members, or practicing at home, the best headphones for drummers can significantly improve the playing experience. Not to mention that they are required if you play an electronic drum set.
Moreover, playing the drums – whether acoustic or electric – can be extremely loud, so it is crucial to protect your hearing. A pair of headphones designed for drummers will allow you to direct and control specific sounds directly to your ears. Some pairs can even shield against harmful frequencies.
Not sure where to begin? Visit the purchasing advice section for more information, or continue scrolling for our top picks.
Our Top Picks
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Why Drummers Wear Headphones
When practicing, rehearsing with the band, recording, or performing, it is common to see drummers wearing headphones.
However, why are headphones so prevalent, and why do drummers wear them? Is there something unique about them that distinguishes them from other drivers?
They result from the need to quiet the stage environment and precisely tune the sound. The majority of background noise from vocals, guitars, or a stage echo is typically eliminated by headphones. It is possible to create your own mix with headphones or in-ear monitors.
However, if you do not wear headphones or in-ear monitors, you may not hear your bass drum or toms loudly enough while performing. Historically, musicians used speakers onstage as monitors.
Similar to headphones and in-ear monitors, you can obtain a variety of instruments, with one exception. The speakers will not eliminate ambient noise, leaving only the desired instruments audible.
I will list nine reasons why drummers wear headphones in this blog. None of the items on this list are ranked, but they are all essential.
Click Track for Live Performances
For drummers, maintaining the beat is essential. A click track captures a click sound at the same tempo as the playing music. Drummers are, therefore, in time with the beat.
Nowadays, many touring bands utilize click tracks. As musicians play their instruments, their music is augmented by previously recorded sounds.
Typically, this is a keyboard track or backup vocals. In addition, it is possible to add special effects and different voice-overs.
The live band must perform at the same tempo as the recordings. Therefore, they play at the same metronome click using:
- Or IEMs (in-ear monitors)
They use the same instruments that were used to record the songs in the studio.
The use of conventional monitors is strictly forbidden.
Conventional monitors, also known as speakers, are situated in front of the musician, allowing the audience to hear a click, which will muddle the sound mix.
Using headphones or in-ear monitors, musicians can hear the click without the audience hearing it. The audience would listen to the clicks with any other method; therefore, headphones were required.
Moreover, sometimes only the drummer hears the click, while all live musicians do other times.
Track the Monitoring Mix
When performing, artists typically wear earphones significantly smaller than studio headphones. They resemble tiny earbuds that fit in the ear rather than over the head. Moreover, these headphones feature monitor mixes.
It will be challenging to hear your bandmates and the kick drum simultaneously as a drummer. Nevertheless, a solution exists.
All of the speakers must face forward, while the kick drum speakers must face away from you. In addition, you will have difficulty hearing your kick drum.
By pumping the monitor feed directly into the drummer’s ear with headphones, he can quickly hear what’s happening on stage. Moreover, the headphones reduce drum noise to enhance clarity.
Protect the Hearing
The hearing protection provided by drum headphones is at least 20 decibels.However, given how loud drums are, it is impossible to listen to them for more than a minute without experiencing hearing loss. You can suffer severe hearing loss if you perform for hours with drums, cymbals, and monitor speakers. Even the first collision is enough to damage your hearing severely.
Consequently, drummers wear these headphones to reduce drum noise. These headphones also make it possible to safely play the monitor mix, allowing the drummer to hear the entire band without endangering its hearing. You may now wonder how they can simultaneously play the drums and muffle their sounds. The drummer can always hear what they are playing because the earpieces block only high-frequency sounds.
An Alternative to Loud Stage Noise
The function of headphones for drummers is to eliminate the need for a loud stage. The stage becomes extremely loud when the band employs conventional monitors and massive amplifiers. However, if all bands switched to in-ear monitors, stage monitors would be quieter.
Therefore, in-ear headphones are not intended solely for ear protection but rather as an alternative to a significantly louder solution.
Onstage Instructions and Directions
Due to the chaos on stage, it isn’t easy to relay instructions. Headphones would significantly improve the accessibility of this. Headphones enable the drummer to hear the recorded instructions and directions, thereby supporting the drummer’s drumming.
Listening to a Backing Track
When practicing, drummers are typically utilized. They would use headphones to block out the drum sounds to hear the music they were playing. This is primarily for solo performances and not live performances. Live performances typically consist of a click track and a few support tracks.
A Better Recording Session
When recording a session in a studio, the last thing you want is a microphone that picks up sounds other than drums. If you choose to play music through your speakers, the microphones will pick up the speaker’s sound, which will interfere with the recording.
Testing the Audio for Recording
The operation of audio monitoring is intuitive. Simply put, you hear the recording as it is played. For instance, drummers desire to hear their drumming, and singers’ willingness to listen to their voices when singing. They track the sounds with headphones if they want to determine how much sound is recorded with a microphone.
Additionally, it is possible to test your microphone before recording. You are likely already familiar with the “1, 2, 3” check. Before recording, studio musicians do this to determine how much audio is being captured by the microphone. The gain can be adjusted accordingly if the microphone records insufficiently or excessively.
Checking the Headphone Mix
The headphone mix is the recording of a song using headphones. It is common for consumers to use headphones or earbuds to listen to music. Producers and musicians are aware of this fact, which makes it imperative to create music that sounds great on headphones.
The recorded song must sound flawless through headphones and speakers. This process can be altered during mixing and mastering but can also be changed during the recording phase.
10 Best Rated Headphones for Drummers in 2022
We estimated that our team spent over 63 hours researching and comparing the characteristics of drumming headphones and products that can meet your needs. We consulted experts and analyzed reviews and user feedback to compile the most accurate list of drum headphones. Utilize our comparison table to understand the units we are evaluating. You can find more information about each product in our in-depth reviews, and don’t forget to consult the buying guide to learn more about headphone purchasing considerations.
1. beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones
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Some equipment is so legendary that it can be considered an icon. Among such musical royalty are the Shure SM58 microphone, the Ludwig Supraphonic snare, and the Beyerdynamic DT770 headphones. The most apparent reason for the popularity of the DT770s is that they are priced affordably while providing some of the highest quality sonic performance on the market.
These classic cans are so well-rounded that it is challenging to find genuine fault with them. Drummers will be able to hear themselves clearly in the studio, allowing them to strike the ideal balance between playing with intent and overplaying. The 770s’ closed-back design provides isolation, which is helpful for all types of drumming, whether you’re sitting in front of an acoustic or electronic kit.
They include a durable 3m cable, mini and standard jacks, and a convenient bag for transporting them from home to the studio or venue. The frequency response of 5-35,000 Hz is suitable for various musical situations, and the 80-ohm version we’ve chosen here is ideal for all but the most dedicated audiophile producers.
- Closed over-ear headphones, ideal for professional recording and monitoring
- Perfect for studio and stage recordings thanks to their pure, high-resolution sound
- The soft, circumaural and replaceable velour ear pads ensure high wearing comfort
- Hard-wearing, durable and robust workmanship Made in Germany. Innovative bass reflex system
- Practical single-sided cable (3.0m cable) . Comfortable fit due to rugged, adjustable, soft padded headband construction
- Excellent sound deliver
- Solid price point
- High build quality
- Synonymous with recording studios the world over
- Bulkier than in-ears
2.Best in-ear headphones for drummers: SHURE Sound Isolating Earphones SE215
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In our experience, Shure is a highly dependable brand of musical equipment, and the SE215 budget in-ear monitors exemplify this. In particular, the dynamic micro drivers deliver rich, responsive sound for such diminutive headphones. This allows them to concentrate on a customizable, comfortable, and sleek design.
Many say in-ear headphones do not need to upgrade beyond the 215s. This depends on individual requirements and preferences, but hobbyist to semi-professional musicians could not go wrong with these. The 162cm cable is a bit short for drumming applications, but it can be easily removed and replaced if more length is required.
The included carrying case is sturdy and protective, the cable is reinforced with wire, and the additional earbud sizes and materials are ideal for customizing your pair to your comfort level. We recommend looking a little higher in the price for serious touring or recording options, but these are an excellent choice for everyone looking for in-ear headphones.
- Sound signature: Slightly warmer, minor boost in the low frequency response.
- The translucent blue which is full of a transparent feeling is adopted.
- High insulation design
- An attachment-and-detachment type cable and a wire form fit function Cable length: 46 inches
- Dynamic sound quality for the price
- Comfortable in-ear design
- Customisable earbuds
- Removable cable
- There are better in-ear options for pro players
3. Albeit pricier: beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X Closed-Back Studio Headphones
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Introduced late in 2021, Beyer’s DT 700 PRO X is an entirely new model that promises to improve upon the already-popular DT 770 PRO featured elsewhere in this guide.
The 700 PRO X retains the famously plush velour ear pads but adds a sleeker, more modern design, a choice between 1.8m and 3m detachable cables – the longer option is ideal for giving you freedom of movement behind the kit – and a new transducer architecture in the form of the STELLAR.45 driver that produces a detailed, vibrant sound.
The durable, closed-back design and thick padding provide excellent isolation for acoustic drummers, making these headphones a superb choice for the drum booth. Due to the low 48 impedance, the sound of electric drum kits is robust and punchy. The detachable cable system allows you to switch between the two easily included straight cables of varying lengths to match your setting.
- Closed studio headphones for recording and monitoring with a detailed, powerful and powerful sound
- Versatile applications on all devices thanks to Stellar.45 drivers with an impedance of 48 ohms
- Excellent comfort with outstanding passive cushioning
- Durable and robust workmanship
- Sustainable headphones: Made in Germany
- Great isolation
- Superb sound
- Extremely comfortable
- Costlier than the DT 770 PRO
4. Vic Firth Stereo Isolation Headphones V2
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The revolutionary original Vic Firth Stereo Isolation headphones were designed to protect drummers’ hearing when playing at loud volumes. This updated model features more transparent mids, more robust lows, and a more comfortable headband, all for significantly less than $100/£100.
Regardless of age, if you intend to do extensive home practice on an acoustic or electronic drum kit, you should protect your hearing as much as possible—the primary function of the Vic Firth SIH2 headphones.
But they offer more than just soundproofing. Once you’ve honed your skills enough to enter a recording studio, these puppies will provide you with the necessary sonics to hear yourself clearly and play with more remarkable finesse.
These headphones are constructed to last and are considerably bulkier than the majority of other over-ear options. Considering the highly affordable price, there is little to complain about, and we can recommend them to beginners, hobbyists, and electronic drummers.
- Reduces outside noise by 25 decibels
- 50m/m Dynamic Speaker Mylarcon
- Frequency Response: 20HZ – 20kHZ
- 1/4” and 1/8” plugs
- Aimed at protecting drummers’ hearing
- Built to last
- Long cable and adapter included
- There are better options if you're after premium audio quality
5. Professional in-ears of choice: Shure SE846-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones
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If you like the Shure SE215 Pros but believe you’ll need more firepower, this is the next set to consider. For their SE846 models, the stalwart brand has pulled out all the stops. With deep, bassy quad-drivers providing a rich low-end, and uncolored overall sound, these IEMs accurately represent your playing and enable drummers to play comfortably and accurately.
Speaking of comfort, the Shure SE846 headphones come with many extras, including 8 pairs of interchangeable sleeves (the part that sits inside your ear) and 3 filters that can be manually adjusted to achieve a more balanced, warm, or bright sound. In addition, they include a premium carrying case, a 1/4″ adapter, and precise cleaning equipment.
In general, the SE846s are a cost-effective alternative to custom-made in-ear monitors. They will serve professional drummers in most circumstances and can be considered an investment in your career. If you’re not ready to commit to custom earplugs, these are a pair of dependable earplugs with a two-year warranty.
- SOUND ISOLATING TECHNOLOGY
- CUSTOMIZED FIT
- SECURE, OVER-THE-EAR DESIGN
- STRIKING FULL-RANGE SOUND
- DURABLE REINFORCED CABLE
- COMPACT CARRYING CASE
- Impeccable, high definition sound performance
- Sturdy build quality
- Sound isolation up to 37db
- Tons of added extras included for customisation
- They're very expensive
6. Beyerdynamic DT990 Professional Acoustically Open Headphones
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The Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro is a popular headset among game streamers like Ninja. In terms of function, they are essentially the open-back alternative for those who dislike the DT770’s closed-backs. Due to the incorporation of ambient noise, the dynamic representation is more realistic for most listening experiences. However, the closed-back design is superior in a drumming situation because any additional sound isolation is a bonus.
However, sibling comparisons aside, the DT990s are an excellent pair of headphones with a very comfortable fit over the ears, deep, rich bass, clean, crisp highs, and perfectly balanced mids. These are, in our opinion, the best option for drummers playing electronic drum kits, especially those who dabble in production.
Similar to the DT770s, these headphones include a 3m cable, a convenient carrying case, a jack adapter, and a comparable price. Due to the incredibly high build quality, you shouldn’t have to worry about replacing them in a hurry. Overall, these are an excellent option if you’re looking for a pair of shoes that can be used for nearly anything.
- BeyerDynamic DT-990-Pro-250 Professional Acoustically Open Headphones 250 Ohms
- Professional version of the many times awarded DT 990
- Extremely lightweight diaphragm for superb impulse performance
- BUNDLE INCLUDES: BeyerDynamic DT-990-Pro-250 Professional Acoustically Open Headphones 250 Ohms
- 1 YEAR EXTENDED Protection in ADDITION to the Included FULL Manufacturer Protection
- Excellent sound quality
- Clear and crisp dynamic representation
- Open back, so slightly less insolation than the DT770
7. Bang for your buck: AKG Pro Audio K72 Over-Ear Studio Headphones
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The AKG K72 headphones are priced affordably enough for most beginner to semi-professional drummers. If that is all you seek, you need to look no further. Let’s elaborate on some of the specifics for those desiring additional information.
Included in the package is a standard 3.5-6.3mm jack adapter, and the headphones are equipped with a 3m cable, making them ideal for recording sessions. The K72s do not come with a flashy case, but they are a steal for the price. These headphones are excellent because they meet the needs of the majority. The sound is compressed so everything can be heard clearly, albeit without many subtleties. The construction is sturdy, and the intended function has been met. Everything is satisfactory.
However, as there are no extras, some may find the lack of specific sonic definitions somewhat lackluster. Using a jazzily-tuned drum kit as an example, it is unlikely that the playback through these headphones will capture some of the subtleties you are accustomed to hearing live. Although not a game-changer, this may be the deciding factor between purchasing these at a discount or opting for something with more detail.
- Precisely balanced response provides reference-monitor accuracy
- Professional drivers 40mm drivers for extended 16Hz – 20kHz frequency response
- Over-ear design and lightweight construction for exceptional comfort
- Closed-back design maximizes isolation
- Self-adjusting headband ensures perfect fit
- Cable(s) length (m): 3
- Excellent value for money
- Closed back design
- Comfortable to wear
- Slightly coloured mids might put some drummers off
8. Best on-ear headphones available for drummers: Sennheiser Professional HD 25 On-Ear DJ Headphones
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If you prefer on-ear headphones and are looking for something that will work in a real-world setting, we’re willing to bet that you’ll find these repeatedly in your research. Due to their sturdy construction, excellent dynamic sound, and capacity to withstand extremely high sound pressure, the Sennheiser HD25 headphones are a go-to pair for drummers (they also make fabulous DJ headphones).
Gigging drummers, particularly those in the electronic music genre, would do well to utilize these. Despite not being remarkably accurate or clean, their dynamic compression has a friendly vibe that improves most mixes that pass through it. Additionally, the lightweight design helps you feel connected to the performance, and the sound isolation is quite good.
The “plus” version amplifies all this by including a coiled cable and other valuable extras. Certainly a matter of personal preference, but the fact that coiled cables tend to last a bit longer may convince some drummers to spend a bit more. A carry pouch and extra cushions for the ear pads are also included, adding even more value to a set of headphones that is already a great value.
- High sensitivity due to lightweight aluminum voice coils
- Capable of handling very high sound pressure levels
- Very lightweight and comfortable, even if used for long periods of time
- Tough, detachable, single-sided cable
- Dynamic and responsive sounds
- Sleek design
- Closed back for good isolation
- Additional extras included
- Dynamic compression is not the most accurate
9. A solid, stylish option for drummers: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
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Let’s be honest. Style is essential. The ATH M50x headphones are available in three distinct hues, which is likely the first thing you’ll notice if you’re the type who finds blacks and grays uninteresting and prefers more vibrant options. Personal preference still goes to the Black, but the purples stand out from the crowd.
These are a solid pair of headphones that, while not as impressive as some of Beyerdynamic’s offerings in the same price range, have their own thing going for them. For instance, the ATH M50x headphones include three different cable styles, one of which is the coveted “coiled” design, which many drummers favor. In addition to being portable and collapsible, they are ideal for use on the tour bus and stage. In addition, since the cable is fully detachable and the headphones have a closed-back design with passive noise cancellation, they are also excellent as ear protection.
In terms of sound quality, they perform best when used for their primary function as monitor headphones. These are a pleasure to record due to their accurate sound reproduction and clear mids. In a live setting, they do an excellent job of representing drum tones while blocking some external noise; however, they are a bit uncomfortable for extended wear, so it may be prudent to give them a trial run before committing to them.
- Critically acclaimed sonic performance praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers
- Proprietary 45 millimeter large aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper clad aluminum wire voice coils
- Exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range with deep accurate bass response
- Circumaural design contours around the ears for excellent sound isolation in loud environments
- 90 degree swiveling earcups for easy one ear monitoring and professional grade ear pad and headband material delivers more durability and comfort
- Very sleek design. Also available in White and Purple
- Solid sound quality
- Detachable cable included
- A bit uncomfortable for longer sessions
10. In-ear monitors: Sennheiser Pro Audio In-Ear Audio Monitor
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The world of in-ear monitoring can quickly become very expensive. This is the problem that the IE400 intends to solve. Consider these a gateway pair of earphones for drummers who desire a customized on-stage sound but are hesitant to spend four figures on something they may not like.
Like the AKG K72s, Sennheiser offers a set of headphones that will do everything you need and nothing more for a reasonable price. The ‘TrueResponse’ driver system produces a deep, clean sound that provides all the instrumentation clarity required by a drummer on stage or in the recording studio. The bass is deep, the midrange is present, and the highs are as choppy as ever. The earbuds themselves are a little uncomfortable, but thanks to the six available adapters, most people should be able to customize them to their liking.
In addition, a transport case, a standard jack adapter, and a cleaning tool are included. These IEMs perform an excellent version of their intended function without breaking the bank. If you’re considering entering the world of in-ear monitoring, you should try them.
- Detailed and balanced in-ear monitor sound that packs a real punch
- Detachable, stage-proof Cable with break-proof connection (patent pending) and reinforced ear hook
- Perfect fit due to compact, extremely lightweight earmold in a superior ergonomic yet rugged design
- Highest flexibility and wearing comfort with silicone & memory foam ear tips in all sizes, individually adaptable to your ear canal depth
- Great value for money
- Clear, punchy sound profile will keep you locked in live
- Durable cables
- Known to be a little uncomfortable
Factors to consider when choosing the best drumming headphones for you
When searching for the best drum headphones, the first thing to consider is your specific requirements. Are you about to embark on a month-long tour and in need of some cans to play your backing tracks precisely? Perhaps you’re a hobbyist looking for something to use with your newly acquired electronic drum set. The answer to this question will determine the qualities you seek in headphones.
Drum headphones types
In the realm of headphones for drummers, three distinct categories exist:
- In-ear: In-ear headphones are, as their name implies, smaller earbuds that fit directly into the ear canal. Anyone who has used earbuds similar to Apple’s AirPods will be familiar with their comfort. When it comes to in-ear headphones, a cable connects the earphones, and this cable can be wrapped around your neck to make them more secure and prevent you from accidentally removing them while playing. In-ear monitors (or IEMs, for short) are earpieces attached to a monitoring pack for live performance. The technology employed tends to make these a pricier option, so they are probably only necessary if you embark on a lengthy tour with a highly sophisticated live setup.
- Over-ear headphones: These headphones cover the entire ear and block out a significant amount of ambient noise, making them ideal for recording situations. They can emit a wide range of sounds and provide detailed monitoring feedback in quiet environments. Over-ear headphones are considered a safe option because they provide good, accurate feedback at low volumes and do not require insertion in or over the ear, which may be the most comfortable option for some individuals. In addition to drumming, over-ear headphones are an excellent tool for music production at home or in the studio.
- On-ear headphones: On-ear headphones are similar to over-ear headphones in that they sit over the ear rather than inside but do not cover the entire ear. This again boils down to personal preference and comfort. On-ear headphones are a good option for home practice, mainly when using an electronic drum kit. Since they rest just above the ear, they won’t feel as isolating, which some drummers may find more comfortable; this allows for a combination of directed sounds and natural acoustics.
Now that we’ve covered the various types of headphones let’s examine some of the other details, beginning with the connector. Since the universal standard connection for most musical inputs is 6.5mm (also known as a “jack”), adapters are frequently included with headphones that have a 3.5mm “mini jack.” This may sit on the end of the headphones and must be twisted off to expose the 3.5mm connector underneath, or it may come disconnected and be twisted into the headphones.
Additionally, the length and durability of the supplied cable should be considered. If you’re using the headphones in a studio, you’ll need a long, durable cable that can withstand movement, possibly even one that is coiled. This is less of an issue if you only use them at home or in your studio. If you’re only looking for a pair of headphones to plug into an electronic drum set, you won’t want a cable that’s excessively long because it will likely get in the way.
Looking after your ears
When using headphones to create music, it is essential to keep in mind that you will still receive louder volumes than usual directly into your ears. Keeping this in mind, you should regulate the volume at which you listen to music. A good rule of thumb is to begin as quietly as you are comfortable and gradually increase the volume as necessary.
Second, please wash your ears! Earwax clogs your ear canals and can be harmful and hinder the transmission of sound to your ears. This can lead to loud listening volumes and possible infections. If you have the time, you should thoroughly clean your ears, especially if you’re considering purchasing in-ear headphones.
Perform for hours with drums, cymbals, and monitor speakers together, and you can experience severe hearing damage. As a matter of fact, the first crash is enough to gravely damage your hearing. Therefore, drum players wear these headphones to minimize their drum noise.
Noise-canceling headphones are great to use when traveling or drumming. As they block the ambient noise, you can hear the crispiness of the sounds you want.
Headphones make it easy for the drummer to actually listen to what’s happening by pumping the monitor feed directly into your ears. At the same time, the headphones will also suppress drum noise to improve clarity.
So, why do drummers wear headphones? Because it helps them and the other instruments stay on time during concerts (notoriously hard for rock bands) and also it serves as protection for their ears. Whether it be headphones or in-ear monitors, this is most likely the reason why drummers wear headphones on-stage.
Yes. If you wish to protect your hearing, reduce environmental distractions, and enjoy a better audio experience, then this technology will surprise you with its impactful results.
The short answer is, no, drums do not all sound the same. Several factors affect the sound of a drum, like how tight the drumhead is, the depth and diameter of the instrument, and how you play the drum. Most rock bands consist of at least one drummer, but percussion instruments are shared amongst all types of music.
While that may sound like a good thing, some IEMs are made to reach levels of up to 130 dB without distortion. These levels can permanently damage your hearing within seconds. How do you know if you are being safe? Only one company offers a measurement tool for their IEMs to monitor listening levels while in the ear.
This concludes our Roundup of drum headphones! I believe there is a great deal on this list, but we can still hope for more in the future.
Eventually, a company will emerge that offers an incredible pair of headphones that isolates significantly better than those we’ve listed.
I haven’t seen any other isolation headphones worth mentioning besides the ones we’ve mentioned, but perhaps I’ve missed them. Please let me know if I missed a pair of headphones that you believe should be on this list. Merci for reading! Cheers.