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In-ear monitors are essential for any live musicians, especially drummers. They let you hear your fellow bandmates over your loud drums and howling crowds. They are critical if you use a click track. However, in-ear monitors are not limited to live performances. They can still be instrumental while recording and practicing as they reduce ear fatigue and the risk of hearing loss.
To help you find the perfect pair, we have listed the seven best in ear monitors for drummers available in the market right now. There is even an FAQ and buyers guide section if you are unsure of what to get. No matter which ones you choose, these in-ear monitors will be a great supplement to your audio needs.
7 Best In Ear Monitors for Drummers
1. MEE audio M7 PRO – Value for Money
The M7 Pro is the newest update to MEE’s widely popular M6 Pro. It uses a hybrid dual-driver setup that lets it deliver above and beyond similarly priced monitors. The mids are pretty good but could have been a little more focused. The highs are quite excellent and respond well to digitally recorded songs. However, the bass is where the M7 Pro truly shines. It is balanced and powerful and, for the lack of better words, simply perfect. The powerful bass and rich sound allow it to be ideal in ear monitors for drummers. However, the overall sound balance is unconventional and is not everyone’s cup of tea.
You get a whole lot of accessories with the M7 Pro. You get two pairs of foam and silicone ear tips which provide good comfort and are better than any of MEE’s previous offerings. You will also get two shirt clips, two detachable cables, a 6.3 mm adapter, and even a carry case. One of the cables includes a microphone; however, the non-microphone one delivers the best sound.
2. Sennheiser IE 40 Pro – Runners-Up
Sennheiser is quite well known for its consumer audio electronics, and this is a great affordable in-ear monitor from them. The IE 40 Pro sounds quite natural and has clear highs and powerful lows. However, the high can get a little too bright when the volume is turned up to max.
The place where the IE 40 Pro truly excels is in providing a comfortable fit. It has a medium-sized in-ear module and comes with plenty of replaceable tips. You just need to spend a few minutes finding the right pair, and you will be able to practice for hours comfortably. You simply won’t find a more snuggly fitting in-ear monitor at its price point. The only disadvantage is that the cable is just 1.3 meters long, and there aren’t any cable extenders. With a great sound and comfortable fit, the IE 40 Pro is a killer deal for someone who wants in-ear monitors without having to break the bank.
3. Mee Audio MX2 Pro – Best Under $100
The MX2 Pro is Mee’s mid-ranged in-ear monitor offering. While it costs nearly twice as much as their more basic MX1 Pro in-ear monitor, you get a vastly improved sound quality. The MX2 ships with two drivers, a moving coil subwoofer, and a balanced armature. The subwoofer can deliver emphasized bass frequencies, which at times gets a bit overpowering. The balanced armature delivers the highs and mids just perfectly.
The mid and highs have excellent dynamics and are quite articulate. The only issue is that sometimes a powerful bass signal can much subdue mid-frequency, which is not ideal for in ear monitors for drummers. The soundstage is excellent except for this one aspect. The overall resolution of the MX2 Pro is incredible, and it can deliver vocals properly without any loss in texture. The only problem is that the included cable is a proprietary 2 mm connector; while the manufacturer claims that it is more reliable than the standard MMCX connector, it does make replacing the cable hard.
4. Clear Concept Audio CCA C10 – Most Affordable
The CCA is a pretty brand new company that has only existed since 2018. However, they have been steadily getting more popular because they have been releasing well-built products at budget prices. The CCA is a sister company of Knowledge Zenith, which has a long history of making reliable budget earphones.
The C10 has an acrylic body that is available in red, purple, and cyan. The back cover is made of zinc alloy that gives it a premium look and feels. The overall fit is quite comfortable, and the finish is excellent. The sound isolation is average, and there is no bleeding. You could get better ear tips to give you excellent sound isolation and quality.
The C10 comes loaded with ten drivers, an insane number of drivers for such an affordable in-ear monitor. The bass is thundering and powerful but is never overwhelming. Therefore it feels rich and satisfying. The mids are also quite remarkable, and you can hear each instrument properly. The treble is also solid and doesn’t feel too harsh. The sound stage is average, but the instrument separation could have been a bit better. Overall, if you have a tight budget and want an in-ear monitor that can be used as your daily audio device and as a pair of in ear monitors for drummers, the CCA C10 would be a great bargain.
5. Shure SE315 In-Ear Monitors
Shure is known for making some of the best in-ear monitors globally, and they are widely popular among drummers and general users. The SE315 is a pair of in-ear monitors that have been built exceptionally well and is the successor of the immensely popular Shure SE215. They are incredibly portable, and they are stable enough even to play sports while wearing them. This allows them to be great in ear monitors for drummers as you can play wildly without worrying about them falling off. Sadly, the sound quality of the SE315 is mediocre at best.
The SE315 uses just a single driver. The bass is optimized quite well, but it can sound quite boomy at times. The midrange performance is unexceptional, and vocals can seem a bit honky at times. The treble is partially bad as the balance is quite off and high frequencies are quite underemphasized.
The overall design of these monitors feels premium, and you get angled earbuds and an ear-hook design that makes them look good. Even the audio cable is quite thick and properly rubberized, making them quite durable. The cables are also detachable, and you can replace them if needed.
The monitor is available in black and transparent versions. You get a wide range of different sized tips that can fit in your ears snuggly. Their small size makes them quite portable, and you even get a sturdy carrying case.
6. Knowledge Zenith KZ ZS10 Pro
The KZ ZS10 Pro is an incredibly stylish in-ear monitor that is sure to catch the eyes of many. The stainless steel faceplate on looks very premium, and the overall build quality is also quite good.
The ZS10 Pro uses a hybrid configuration that includes four balanced armature drivers and a dynamic driver. The dynamic driver can deliver pretty sweet lows. The sub-bass is especially good. The bass has a good kick to it and is entirely separated from the other frequencies. The mids are quite crisp, especially considering the low price pint of the ZS10 Pro. The highs are properly emphasized and accentuated. While the tones are nowhere near perfect, you cannot find anything better at this price point. The overall sound stage is quite impressive, and you can be assured of consistent good sound from this pair.
The fit and comfort of these monitors are ok, and there aren’t any serious complaints. The included silicone tips provide pretty good isolation. You get three pairs of different sizes, and they all are quite comfortable and can deliver a good seal. The cable is braided and detachable. It is quite flexible and has a two to three inches long section towards the ear that allows you to shape it according to your preference. The only issue is that the cable is quite long and gets tangled quite quickly. The Y splitter is local about 5 cm down the cable, which most people are not comfortable with. While the ZS10 Pro is nowhere near the consideration for the best in-ear monitor in the world, they give an excellent bang for your buck.
7. Etymotic Research ER4P-T
The ER4P-T is one of Etymtic’s premium offerings that deliver a lean and uncolored sound. The sound is excellent for a single driver, but since it has only a single driver, the bass is notably lacking. The highs are also slightly bright. However, the mid-range texture and detail are exceptional. While there are plenty of dual-drivers at its price point, the sound stage’s sophistication at mid-range makes it a good option for audiophiles and drummers.
The overall build of the in-ear monitors is sturdy, and the plastic is of high quality. While they might look a bit primal and simple, they are sturdy and robust. The ER4P-T ships with foam tips that deliver excellent isolation. The only possible issue with the ER4P-T is that it lacks a cable with a built-in remote and a shirt clip, so you won’t be able to use it during your daily commute comfortably. The cable also tends to have a slight microphonic effect, so you should get a clip to hold it in place. The cable is also quite fragile. Many users have reported that they break quite quickly from regular use; however, Etymotic does offer replacement cables at a discounted price.
In-ear Monitor Buying Guide
Whether you are looking for in ear monitors for drummers or if you simply want ones for everyday use, there are various things you need to consider before making the purchase—everything from the build quality to the clarity of the sound matters. In-ear monitors are more expensive than your consumer earbuds, so finding the right one is essential.
What Are In-ear Monitors?
In-ear monitors are audio listening devices that are used by musicians to monitor various audio sources. For example, a drummer can use them to listen to his drums and his fellow band members’ sounds. They are known as in-ears because they are positioned inside your ear canals to give improved sound isolation. This allows them to have the sound isolation and quality of headphones combined with the portability of earbuds. While in-ear monitors used to be restricted to only professionals, they are now more widespread and are available to everyday consumers.
Straight or Over-ear?
Straight IEMs have cables that hang straight down from the ears, while the over-ears have cables wrapped over the ear’s back. The cable of over-ear IEMs are closer to your head than straight ones, and therefore you are less likely to tug on them by mistake. This has led to the majority of performers using over-ear IEMs. However, for people not comfortable with over-ear IEMs, straight IEMs are a simple solution without any audio-related disadvantages.
Which Ear Tips Are Best?
Ear tips are typically made from one of the following materials: silicone, foam, and rubber. Avoid rubber tips at any cost, as they tend to be quite hard and uncomfortable.
Silicon tips are more suited for active performers as they use suction to remain in place. This suction ensures that even drastic head movements do not cause them to come loose. While their isolation is inferior to foam ear tips, the improved stability and reduced weight make many prefer silicon tips.
Foam ear tips are denser than silicon ones and have better isolation. However, they tend to place a little pressure on the ear canal, making them a little uncomfortable. They also cannot handle sweat too well. It also affects the sound a little as it can make the bass more pronounced.
Find one with Removable Cables
If you have decided on buying a wired In-ear monitor, then the cable is something you need to think about. If you get an in-ear monitor without a removable cable, you will have a harder time untangling the wire and moving around. Also, if the wire gets cut or damaged, you will have to replace your expensive monitors.
Using in ear monitors with removable cables, you can easily detach them if you feel like it. You will also be able to replace the stock cable with higher quality cables if you need to. In case the cable snaps or gets damaged, you only have to replace the cable and not the entire in-ear monitor. Overall, removable cables have significant advantages over permanently attached cables.
How Many Drivers Are Enough? (one, two, three, or beyond three)
Your typical consumer earbud has only a single driver per ear, but a premium in-ear monitor can have even eight small drivers in each ear. It is pretty easy to conclude that more drives provide better sound, but you might be wondering why that is and how many drivers would be enough for you.
An in-ear monitor with a single driver has to use that one driver to create the entire frequency bandwidth of sound. While you can get a pretty great sound with one driver, there is a limit to what you can achieve with it. Bass is typically handled quite poorly.
A standard monitor usually has two drivers, with one being used to produce the lows while the other produces the high and mids. These usually are separated by a passive crossover that lets each driver work to their best. Three driver monitors have individual drives for low, mid, and highs. This allows the in-ear monitors to sound articulate, powerful, and clear. If you are just starting, dual-drivers in-ear monitors should be sufficient for you. Avoid single-driver monitors unless you are strapped for money as they cannot deliver sufficient musical clarity. If you are a professional musician or drummer, three drivers should be sufficient, but you will be able to benefit from in-ear monitors with more than three drivers.
Universal Fit or Custom-molded
A good fit is essential in getting the best out of your in-ear monitors. Universal fit IEMs are designed for everyone and will suit most people. Unless you have had comfort issues in the past, you should probably stick with IEMS as custom molded ones are expensive and take a lot of time to get delivered.
If you are someone who has faced issues with universal fit IEMs in the past, or if you are a professional who needs the utmost comfort, then custom-molded in-ear monitors would be great for you. These IEMs are built by taking highly accurate measurements of your ear and making a custom in-ear monitor perfectly fitted to your ear canal. Therefore, they offer you exceptional comfort, and you will be able to play for hours together without any fatigue. The improvement is not limited to comfort and isolation, you will also experience better headroom and clarity. Typically you also get to choose the color, logo, cable type, and various other design aspects of the monitor. Custom-molded ones are the best in-ear monitors you can get. The only drawbacks of the custom-molded ones are that they are expensive, and you will need to wait for them to be built.
FAQ’s about In-ear Monitors
Are in-ear monitors worth it?
If you are someone who performs regularly, then in-ear monitors are totally worth it. They are an industry standard for musicians, and there is an excellent reason why they became an industry standard. Previously, musicals used to use massive and heavy stage monitors to listen to all the sounds of their performances. An in-ear monitor is able to deliver all the advantages of a studio monitor in a compact manner. They provide fantastic sound quality, and their noise isolation is a boon to drummers as it reduces the chances of hearing loss.
Are in-ear monitors safe?
Yes, in-ear monitors are entirely safe as long as you keep them at a reasonable volume. However, if you crank the volume too high and hear for a long duration, you risk temporary and permanent hearing damage. In-ear monitors are better than your standard headphones. Their improved isolation allows you to hear at lower volumes as you are no longer competing with ambient noises.
Why do drummers use in ear monitors?
Drummers use in ear monitors as they can allow them to listen to their drumming without any disturbances from ambient noises. It will also provide good hearing protection while drumming. Most of the drummers use them when they need to monitor their bandmates, play to a click, or play along to the music.
In ear monitoring will allow the drummer to hear himself and all the other band members clearly during live performances. This is very important as the drummer is the backbone of any band, and he needs to have a clear picture of what’s going on. The in-ear monitors will also protect you from the loud noises from the speakers and audiences. Even if you are recording in a studio, the in-ear monitors give you the same advantages.
However, noise isolation isn’t that useful in this scenario. Drummers also use in ear monitors while practicing at home. They can play along to songs using them. You can also use them as ear protecting devices when playing with no songs. Therefore, in ear monitors for drummers is crucial.
How do you mic drums through in-ear monitors?
Once you have positioned your drum microphones, you will need to connect them to either an audio interface or a mixing desk to hear them through in-ear monitors. If you are performing live or are in a recording session, a sound in gender will typically have a mixing desk through which he will be controlling all the sounds of your band. He will then send the drum sounds through your in-ear monitors.
If you are practicing at your house, you will need an audio interface to achieve this. You simply have to plug in all the mics into the interface and connect your monitors to the output port. This way, you can hear the drum sounds picked up by your microphones.
What kind of in-ear monitors do professionals use?
There is a wide range of models and brands of in-ear monitors, and each professional tends to have his/her preference. That said, most professionals use in-ear monitors that fit snuggle and can isolate all the ambient sounds properly. This allows them to hear the sounds from the in-ear monitors very clearly. Many of the biggest stars use custom-molded in-ear monitors that deliver supreme comfort and allow long performances with minimal fatigue. However, these custom-molded ones are quite expensive.
What is the difference between in-ear monitors and headphones?
A headphone is any audio device that has a headband to rest on top of your head. These are much bulkier and heavier than in-ear monitors. This bigger size has its advantage, and a headphone can have more and bigger drivers than an in-ear monitor. They can offer a better quality of sounds, from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. Their ear cups also provide a fair amount of passive noise cancellation. However, the bulkiness makes them less portable, and moving around while wearing them can be a little troublesome.
You can also read our article about best headphones for electronic drums.
On the other hand, an in-ear monitor is positioned inside your ear canals and can offer a tremendous isolated listening experience. They are incredibly portable and usually come with an assortment of different ear tip sizes. Even though they are small, they can still deliver audio quality that is far greater than standard consumer earbuds. However, the small size limits the number of drivers, and they tend to be a little worse off than headphones.
Well, this concludes our assortment of the best in-ear monitors in the market right now. In-ear monitoring has become more accessible in both the professional and consumer markets, and this has resulted in a wide variety of options in the market. KZ and CAA are great options for someone on a limited budget, while Sennheiser and Etymotic Research provides excellent premium pairs. While none of our listings are wireless in ear monitors, you can easily use a Bluetooth adapter to achieve that.
Finding the perfect in-ear monitor will be a long process; you will have to consider your budget, your needs, and even your ear sizes. Use the above guide wisely, and you will be able to find the perfect pair for you.