Do in ear monitors provide any protection?


Junior Member
I have a pair of vic firth over ear monitors and they're doing ok but i was wondering if any in ear buds monitors offer any protection of cut out the noise of the drums. If so, any recommendations?


Platinum Member
Sure. I've seen lots of guys use un-plugged decent in-ears as emergency ear plugs. Better than nothing.

Most of the actual good ones for live music are designed to isolate. For the cheaper ones you have to sort of trial and error it... Look for buds that will fit well without leaking.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
If you are using over-the-ear headphones, and don't have the sound up too loud, they will block unwanted sounds from your drums yes. If you are using them just to block drum sound and don't have music coming through them the answer is still yes. To what degree depends on the type of head phones. I use over-the-ear headphones for music and they block some decibels but they also change the sound of the drums, so be prepared for that. Ear buds like those from iPhones etc or other mini plug ear buds will block sound as well, but again the type will determine how much. In the past I have used cheap ear buds that provide good music sound and then put my shooting ear protectors over them.


Platinum Member
I showed up to a band practice last week and forgot ear plugs. I did have s set of isolation earbuds though. Worked as good as any. This was a new band I sat in with and they were real loud. No issue at all, ringing or otherwise. The only issue was I couldn't barely hear my playing...

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
Universal fit In-Ears provide some volume reduction. The Vic Headphones would probably block more sound though.

Custom mold In-Ears provide the most isolation and protection. They are expensive, but worth every penny. I use Ultimate Ears UE4's. Depending on the setting they can block almost everything, leaving you to only hear whats feeding through your mix. Stage or Studio, I won't use anything else.
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Senior Member
Custom mold In-Ears provide the most isolation and protection.
I got fitted for LiveWires a few years back, and they definitely provide some good protection. They even let me keep a set of the ear molds to use as custom ear plugs. I got the dual drivers, which were somewhere around $300, but last I looked you could spend way more on ones that are more fancy.
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Junior Member
i dont think youre talking about monitors...youre just talking about noise/frequency cancelling buds arent u...
Perhaps. I thought there were earbuds that i could plug into my ipod to play along but would also muffle the sound of my drums so as not to be over powering like the vic firths i have.


Junior Member
I'm using isolation headphones that i plug into my ipod or tablet etc to be able to hear music while its not drowned out by the drums. I thought that there were earbuds that did the same. Am i misunderstanding what drum monitors actually are i guess.


Platinum Member
i dont think youre talking about monitors...youre just talking about noise/frequency cancelling buds arent u...
The "earbuds" that are specifically made/marketed for musicians are often referred to as in-ear monitors, or IEMs for short.

OP: Even budget IEMs like the M6 Pro Audio or the Shure SE215 do a good job of cancelling harmful frequencies, if you use the right selection of eartips. The more money you pay, theoretically, the better the protection.


I use Shure SE-535s for monitoring and SE-215s for listening to music on the move.

I find that protection-wise, it's entirely dependent on the bud you choose. There are so many to choose from though that you should be able to find ones that fit your ears.

Personally, I have spacker ears and so I have had to improvise. Every single bud slips out of my right ear except if I take the expanding ones, turn them the opposite way round on the monitor and then stick them in. As they expand they give a perfect seal to the outside.

Unfortunately, if you sing as well, it makes it very problematic for even that to work.

Even when not using IEMs, I still take along and old pair of sennheiser in-ear earphones and use them as noise "reducers". You still get lots of the sounds you want to hear, with the majority of top end reduced.

The Vic Firth over ears give a very weird kind of compressed sound which makes me hammer the drums too hard.

What I find is that if you cut out too much of the sound, you don't end up using your ears to control the velocities. But that's just me


Platinum Member
I'm using isolation headphones that i plug into my ipod or tablet etc to be able to hear music while its not drowned out by the drums. I thought that there were earbuds that did the same. Am i misunderstanding what drum monitors actually are i guess.
In ear monitors do provide hearing protection if they're fitted correctly.

With in ears, you'll often find that a sound engineer is giving you a monitor mix at and controlling what you hear, you will hear very little of what is actually going on around you and your sound stage will be controlled. You request what you want in your mix (e.g. bass drum, snare, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, vocalist), request adjustments during a sound check (a little more rhythm guitar please, etc.) and then play.

They are designed to protect hearing, provide a clearer monitoring environment for the musician and to lower stage volume (thereby preventing feedback potential). Reasonably good systems can be bought for relatively little money now, compared to fifteen years ago, when in ears were very much for professionals.

If all you want to do is lower the sound around you and hear what is going on, then you don't need in ears, you want some kind of ear plug or ear defender.

The Vic Firth headphones are essentially ear defenders with a pair of ordinary ear phones in them for listening. You can still use them as you would in-ears (requesting different mixes from sound engineers) provided you can hook them up to the mixer(s) but they won't isolate as much as true in-ears. With that said, provided you don't push the volume in the Vic Firth headphones too high then you are probably protecting yourself against hearing damage.


Senior Member
For little $ the Sony EX15lp does a good job. But get the one with out the mic. It picks up the snare and cuts the music for a couple of beats (if playing along to tunes on a iphone).


Platinum Member
I have two pairs of Shure 215's. They work great, as long as you change out the pads to the more firm grey ones. As opposed to the "foamy" black ones that come on it. The firm grey ones come with them.

The ones at the bottom are the ones that come on them. I use one of the middle two options.



Gold Member
I have 2 sets - first is a set of custom molded "musicians" ear plugs that are nothing more than a mold of my ear with a hole in it - and in that hole is a 25dB filter. They work great for bar gigs and/or practice. Cost = 100 bux at a local audiologist. I also have IEMs - JH-16s which again are based on an ear mold and offer 26 dB of noise reduction - couple that with a volume control on my body pack and I can drum in complete comfort and hear everything and everyone in the band. Cost - 1K+



Gold Member
I recommend the Shure 215s and Comply tips. It is quieter playing with my band with them than it is playing my drums with no other music without them.


Platinum Member
I received my Ultimate Ears UE5's yesterday. going to do a full review soon but. WOW.

I had them in, my phone volume on 1 or 2 and could not hear a thing my friend was saying right in front of me.. With the sound off even they provide WAY WAY WAY more isolation that I was expecting.

The sound is on another level and I don't think I have ever heard anything this clear and crisp. My drums actually sounded "better" with the Vics as these are more honest, have more low end, and exposed some overtones from my bad tuning jo b (that is a bad thing for the vics as if your gigging you don't sound as good as you think you do) Once I tune them these are going to be a game changer..

Music is a treat on them too.

What is not awesome is the price of them.