Would drumming to song with headphones on be equal to singing in the car?

RinkRat

Member
You know how awesome your voice sounds when you have the music cranked in the car, and you are really screaming along? Then, you try the same thing in your living room, at a much lower volume(or try to record yourself!)... well, you know how well that ends...

Would that be the same concept, when wearing headphones and playing along to songs?

Why I ask:
Prior to this past month, I have been practicing about 60-90 minutes per day. 10-20 on rudiments, and the rest practicing my 200+ song "set list" of MP3s. I played using my stereo at MAX volume, and wore earplugs. I felt like I sounded "OK" for a beginner. But noticed a TON of mistakes, etc...

For the past 3-4 weeks now, I have been on the same schedule. But instead, I'm using a set of cheapie Winchester Ear Muffs, and modified them to fit some Sennheiser 202 guts inside. Let me tell you, that I feel like I can play anything, and sound good right now.

My guess is the headphones/earmuffs account for a large percentage of my perceived improvement at this point.

Logically, I should probably find Drumless tracks to play with, to really prove this.
 

Brian

Gold Member
You know how awesome your voice sounds when you have the music cranked in the car, and you are really screaming along? Then, you try the same thing in your living room, at a much lower volume(or try to record yourself!)... well, you know how well that ends...

Would that be the same concept, when wearing headphones and playing along to songs?

Why I ask:
Prior to this past month, I have been practicing about 60-90 minutes per day. 10-20 on rudiments, and the rest practicing my 200+ song "set list" of MP3s. I played using my stereo at MAX volume, and wore earplugs. I felt like I sounded "OK" for a beginner. But noticed a TON of mistakes, etc...

For the past 3-4 weeks now, I have been on the same schedule. But instead, I'm using a set of cheapie Winchester Ear Muffs, and modified them to fit some Sennheiser 202 guts inside. Let me tell you, that I feel like I can play anything, and sound good right now.

My guess is the headphones/earmuffs account for a large percentage of my perceived improvement at this point.

Logically, I should probably find Drumless tracks to play with, to really prove this.
I would guess it is part illusion, but also a little easier to play-along to with the new setup. playing along to recordings of other drummers in open air isn't easy.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
OR - get yourself a small PA system so you don't have to wear headphones. My whole life as a kid coming up, I had my own stereo and had the speakers set up on either side of me, so I heard the song, and heard myself while playing. The only difference now that I'm an adult is that I've graduated to a 1500 watt PA system, and life is good. Headphones do keep you from hearing yourself really well, and your body doesn't react right if your head is hearing things differently. Try getting one of those little Harbinger PA's at the Guitar Center for $200 - you will be much happier.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
I would guess it is part illusion..........
Totally agree.

I'm guessing your voice is just not as awesome as you think it is. If you can hold a note then you can hold a note, regardless of if it's in the car with music blaring or in the quiet of your bedroom.

I'd make a point of ensuring my drumming doesn't follow suit. Make it solid. Whether you're playing along to a pre-recorded track, playing along with other musos, or just laying down time on your own.
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
For a long time all I did was play along to CD's... and then at some point completely stopped. I revisited that recently and I realized it's not that great for a few reasons.

1. It's pretty hard to hear yourself and what you're doing
2. Some part of you isn't able to separate you from the drummer you're listening to
3. All the volume you need coming from your headphones to overpower the drums is a tiny bit disorientating
4. On the other side, really muffled headphones allow you to turn the music volume down but make it harder to hear yourself and what you're doing.

I still think it was a good way to practice but ideally you should get drumless tracks played through a speaker/PA and get yourself some moulded musicians earplugs.
 

pinoydrummer

Senior Member
My suggestion is to record your playing and listen to the playback. You can always find
some things to practice after listening to yourself.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
I've been drumming along to music with headphones for years, and more recently with in-ear monitors.

I don't see that there is any reason not to play as well with or without a foldback, filtered earplugs vs non-filtered, in-ears, or headphones. What it really boils down to is what you're comfortable with and what you are used to.

I haven't had the chance to play with my new in-ear monitors at a gig yet but I am looking forward to it. I don't mind playing with a foldback, but decreasing on-stage noise is a key element of producing a good sound out front, and it also helps eliminate snare buzz.

As far as timing and dynamics go, if you are worried about it then record yourself playing. Whether you use headphones or not. Then you can make adjustments to your playing. Once you're operating with muscle memory you're 'feeling' more than 'hearing' anyway.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
This is a great question. I actually think you might be on to something. I will play along to songs from my ipod on occasion and I have always assumed that I am nailing them. I think today when I get home I will do the PA thing and see how it sounds. Could be an interesting experiment.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
You know how awesome your voice sounds when you have the music cranked in the car, and you are really screaming along? Then, you try the same thing in your living room, at a much lower volume(or try to record yourself!)... well, you know how well that ends...

Would that be the same concept, when wearing headphones and playing along to songs?

Why I ask:
Prior to this past month, I have been practicing about 60-90 minutes per day. 10-20 on rudiments, and the rest practicing my 200+ song "set list" of MP3s. I played using my stereo at MAX volume, and wore earplugs. I felt like I sounded "OK" for a beginner. But noticed a TON of mistakes, etc...

For the past 3-4 weeks now, I have been on the same schedule. But instead, I'm using a set of cheapie Winchester Ear Muffs, and modified them to fit some Sennheiser 202 guts inside. Let me tell you, that I feel like I can play anything, and sound good right now.

My guess is the headphones/earmuffs account for a large percentage of my perceived improvement at this point.

Logically, I should probably find Drumless tracks to play with, to really prove this.
Best thing about my E-Drums....I can play along to the tracks I normally play along to, and record my drums in isolation and listen back to them in isolation.
Very helpful. I picked up a few things I was doing and really don't like....such as a really annoying little 'skip' i'd occasionally make on my snare (is this technically called a ghost beat....I'm not sure).....which actually sounds shit.
So I've eliminated that nonsense from my playing.
 

RinkRat

Member
OR - get yourself a small PA system so you don't have to wear headphones... Try getting one of those little Harbinger PA's at the Guitar Center for $200 - you will be much happier.
I appreciate the suggestion, and think it is probably the best way to go in the near future.
But I know I'd probably be happier, the wife will be far less happy spending the $200+ right now. (*puts in Amazon wishlist...*)


For a long time all I did was play along to CD's... and then at some point completely stopped. I revisited that recently and I realized it's not that great for a few reasons.
1. It's pretty hard to hear yourself and what you're doing
I think it sounds ok, provided the music is at the same level as the drums. It actually sounds better with the earmuffs, since the kit is in a basement surrounded by cinder block walls, & concrete floor. (12' X 20' noise box)

2. Some part of you isn't able to separate you from the drummer you're listening to
This is what I'm getting at. If I miss any part of the song while playing, the "other drummer" will mask the mistakes. Since he never misses, I hear it played correctly, and think I am playing better than I really am.

3. All the volume you need coming from your headphones to overpower the drums is a tiny bit disorientating

4. On the other side, really muffled headphones allow you to turn the music volume down but make it harder to hear yourself and what you're doing.
Took a few days to get these two issues ironed out. But while I agree, wouldn't it be the same when using a PA? As long as the drum track is playing, it would still be difficult distinguishing between me & the recording, no?

This is a great question. I actually think you might be on to something. I will play along to songs from my ipod on occasion and I have always assumed that I am nailing them. I think today when I get home I will do the PA thing and see how it sounds. Could be an interesting experiment.
I'm real curious how you make out. Please let me know!
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I'm thinking that if you are playing music to the MAX through earphones, in a few years it won't matter because you will be deaf. Turn down the volume and find another way to hear yourself and the music
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
You know how awesome your voice sounds when you have the music cranked in the car, and you are really screaming along
Would that be the same concept, when wearing headphones and playing along to songs?
Yes. Wear a seatbelt, & play Mapex Saturns whilst drinking milk. Solves pretty much everything ;) ;) ;)
 

RinkRat

Member
I'm thinking that if you are playing music to the MAX through earphones, in a few years it won't matter because you will be deaf. Turn down the volume and find another way to hear yourself and the music
I'd say you were correct. But I'm not doing that though.

I was previously playing while wearing earplugs, and my stereo at MAX volume.

Then for the last 3-4weeks, I switched to gun range earmuffs, and modified some over the ear speakers to fit inside.
* I can still hear the drums, and keep the music level much lower.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Try playing the music in your headphones as quiet as possible .that way, you only use it for "reference". The play along and see how you suck !!! (FYI, I suck as well). Trick is toto try to match the energy/drive of the song without it being blasted in your ears. It makes you work on the "leader" part (as opposed to the "follower" that you are playing along the track).
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
I use sound offs so I cant hear my drums and use headphones. I know what im hitting, I want to hear what the drummer on the record is doing. that's how ive done it for years and when I finally go to practice, I know the song.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
The difference between following along to play-along tracks or songs, and driving a band -- it's huge.

Where the material is pre-recorded, it leads you along. When you make a major or minor mistake in timing, nobody else in the "band" flinches or reacts -- they all just continue to play perfectly, as if you had made no mistake at all. No one is giving any cues or instructions mid-song. No one else ever makes a mistake that you must plow through. It's a musical kindergarten: a very, very forgiving scenario, and not very realistic.

Within a live band, your mistakes, feel, and even your body language can (and probably will) influence the overall sound of the ensemble. You'll likely have to watch the bandleader for visual cues, rely on your internal clock for pacing, and be responsible for remembering the song form and other musical structures.

And then there's the whole getting-along-with-a-bunch-of-crazy-musicians thing...

The point is: get into a band. If you still have tons of time for play-alongs, join a second band. Get out there and play! :)

If you want a real challenge, listen to the click, and play along to it and the band at the same time (be the only one who can hear the click).
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Just as with practicing with a metronome, you have to bury the original drummer. I like doing this to pick up different feels. When I can't hear the original part I'm no longer following the drums, I'm with the song. And I'm getting some of the vibe from the original.

Then the other thing is using some song in headphones as a click track to work out things. As in this Mike Johnstone video: http://youtu.be/YjWVWAtgtuo
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
I've never successfully been able to use headphones without earplugs in. If it's loud enough to hear over your drums, you're gonna go deaf in about 30 seconds.

So what I used to do was wear filtered earplugs and some good quality headphones over the top. It worked reasonably well for me for a long time, but switching to in-ear monitors (initially some Samsung earbuds buried in giant blobs of silicon modelling putty, and now proper WestOne UM1 monitors with custom fittings made from DIY earplug silicon) has been the best thing I've ever done as far as hearing myself and backing tracks is concerned.

If you play drums without hearing protection, you're insane no matter what you're doing (unless your drums are totally muffled). My hearing is as good at 29 as it was when I was 13.
 

TheDrumster

Senior Member
I plug my i (phone, pad, tunes) into noise canceling headphones. It works like a charm. I can keep the music input low, yet still hear my drums. To me, drumless tracks are better than tracks with drums. And recording and listening to yourself is the most accurate way to know how you're really playing.
 
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