(Noob Question) - Practicing With a Bluetooth Speaker or Headphones?

Jeremy Crockett

Well-known Member
Hello, and thank you for taking the time to click on this thread.

First, a confession and some self-castigation -- my practice habits need to improve. I played along with a loop track for the first time this weekend and while it was great fun, it highlighted the fact that I should have been doing this for weeks now. Thus, I have committed myself to practice more with both metronome and loop track beginning immediately.

Now, to the point of my post: While practicing I used (at differing times) a set of closed-back headphones and a Bluetooth speaker along with the loop tracks. During this time, I had a couple of observations.

1. I really appreciated being able to hear the volume of the click and music tracks with the headphones. They're way budget so I would like to possibly get a better pair. However, since they are closed, they sort of "interfered" with the sound of the acoustic kit. By that I mean it was hard to gauge my playing and how it "fit in" with the music, if that makes any sense?

2. When using the Bluetooth speaker, I was less able to hear the "click" in the looped music track. Additionally, the volume was too low due to the fact that the speaker is only 16 watts. But, using the speaker, it "felt" more like playing music as I was able to gauge better how I was fitting into the music.

All this leads me to wonder whether or not to purchase a more powerful Bluetooth speaker or a better pair of open-back headphones. The third option is to live with what I currently have and learn to deal with how either one or both sound while practicing. Thus, I come to you guys with more wisdom and experience to get your input on the best way to proceed.

Should I get a better pair of open-back headphones or is a more powerful speaker the better idea? Is there another option that I am missing?

With what do y'all practice? And why do you prefer the method that you do?

All comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated, and I thank you (again) for reading my post.
 

organworthyplayer337

Active Member
For one, I always advise hearing protection. Headphones is better than nothing covering you ears and using a bluetooth speaker.

Do you have a budget in mind? My first thoughts are that you want to mic your kit. Not difficult to do. To get started, you would only need a couple of mics and a small, cheap mixer. This will allow you to hear what you're doing AND the music at the same time.

I am a proponent of in-ear monitors. You can find introductory-priced pairs that work good for the purpose, and you will be getting better hearing protection from those (as long as you keep the signal going into the in ear monitors at a reasonable level).

I would look into those things; Mics, small mixer, and in ear monitors.

If you do not want any of that; I would advise against a bluetooth speaker and look for some better headphones. As it pertains to open vs closed back, I am not completely sure which one is preferred for drummers as I have only used IEMs. I would guess closed for hearing protection, open for hearing more drums (?). Someone else will definitely have to correct me on that. Good luck!
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
As mentioned micing up your kit solves the problem and you don't need much. One or two overheads + bass drum is all I ever really use for practice. It doesn't have to cost much. Any mixer, porta or interface with 4 mic inputs would do the job.

Open back sounds better, but I'd never use that on drums if you want to keep your hearing.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
As mentioned micing up your kit solves the problem and you don't need much. One or two overheads + bass drum is all I ever really use for practice. It doesn't have to cost much. Any mixer, porta or interface with 4 mic inputs would do the job.

Open back sounds better, but I'd never use that on drums if you want to keep your hearing.
This is the way. You can adjust your volume, get a good idea of the kit sound, and clearly hear everything you need to hear in your mix (click and/or music). This is the only way I have practiced for the past seven years, and I have made more progress in that time than all the twenty-five years prior.
 

Jeremy Crockett

Well-known Member
Do you have a budget in mind? My first thoughts are that you want to mic your kit. Not difficult to do. To get started, you would only need a couple of mics and a small, cheap mixer. This will allow you to hear what you're doing AND the music at the same time.

My budget is very slim. Although, after considering the advice given here, I am toying with expanding it a tad.

I am a proponent of in-ear monitors.

Unfortunately, I am not. I dislike things stuck in my ears. So, I suppose that relegates me to the improved quality closed-back cans.

I would look into those things; Mics, small mixer, and in ear monitors.

What specific features should I be looking for on the mixer? I am a bit befuddled by the choices I have looked at. Few seem to have the 3.5mm input for a tablet/smartphone/etc. I did find the Mackie ProFX10v3.

As mentioned micing up your kit solves the problem and you don't need much. One or two overheads + bass drum is all I ever really use for practice. It doesn't have to cost much. Any mixer, porta or interface with 4 mic inputs would do the job.

I have been looking at YT videos regarding the differences and am still somewhat perplexed. Thinking about home studio gear overall, would I be better off getting both a mixer like the Mackie and an interface such as a Focusrite? Or this that over-kill? Would a digital multi-track recorder be a substitute for both?

Meanwhile, as I consider all of this the little accountant in my head is getting ready to jump out of a window. I suppose that the used marketplace would be the best alternative and accumulate these things slowly.

My thanks to all y'all for your input.
 

Icetech

Gold Member
I don't know how long you have been playing, i am not experienced enough to really give advice other than a lesson i had to learn the hard way... hearing protection.. i thought i had done enough but i didnt and now i get some fun random ringing now and then. I finally had to mic my kit and bought GK ultraphones (on advice from a lot of people on this forum) it won't be cheap (my setup was about 1k total) but how much is hearing worth? i know it's prolly not what you want to hear but hearing damage is for life.

P.S. going louder isn't the answer, after going miced i can hear the music better, i'm no longer cranking things to hear them and actually am hearing things in songs that i never heard in the years i spent turning things louder and louder which means better playing and less fatigue. :)

I ended up with a focusrite 18i20 (overkill for 4 mics but gives me room to grow) 2 lewit 140 overheads, a shure 62b kick and a shure 57 snare mic, the learning curve sucked and was frustrating but now i just sit down and go.. also i used reaper to mix/control things. Another upside of micing is if you learn to EQ you can pretty much make any kit sound amazing.

P.P.S. i just read above about the budget, you could get away with just 2 overheads and a 2input mixed WAY cheaper.. but the gk ultraphones are the way to go, with those on they block so much sound you can hammer away and barely hear your drums at all (when not miced) the headphones aren't cheap but after buying X sets of cheaper ones to end up with gk's eventually.. it's less expensive in the long run :)
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I have been looking at YT videos regarding the differences and am still somewhat perplexed. Thinking about home studio gear overall, would I be better off getting both a mixer like the Mackie and an interface such as a Focusrite? Or this that over-kill? Would a digital multi-track recorder be a substitute for both?

Meanwhile, as I consider all of this the little accountant in my head is getting ready to jump out of a window. I suppose that the used marketplace would be the best alternative and accumulate these things slowly.

My thanks to all y'all for your input.


A multi-track recorder does both is easy to use and you can pick one up that does the job at a pawn shop for next to nothing.

If you don't need to record and mix things afterwards then a mixer might do the job. Older analog gear is noisy though, so it depends.

An interface with preamps and mic inputs e.g. Focusrite Scarlett stuff can do it all, but you need a computer thatt can handle it, you need some sort of DAW(recording software)and there's a bit of a learning curve. Possibilites are endless then, but it's a question of if you need the possibilities or the hassle.

If you e.g. have an iPad there's outboard gear that's made to work seamlessly with that.

If you just need one mic for practice and have a phone with Garage Band or someting you can get a Shure VM88+ for about $100 and work with that.

Many possibilites depending on what you need, how much you want to spend and how deep you want to go with recording and editing.

Personally, I have a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 because even though it don't usually use it's full potential the diference in price between that and the 4 channel one was miniscule. I still use mostly BD mic and two budget overheads. You get a free mini version of Ableton there which is enough to start. As said, there's a learning curve in going this way. The only limitation then though is the power of your computer. The general upside of this setup for practice is that it sounds way better than any analog mixer I've used for this purpose previously. The quality of sound of these preams for the price is so far ahead of what you could get on this budget just a few years ago. If you know what you're doing you can do pro quality recordings with it.
 
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Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Diamond Member
My budget is very slim. Although, after considering the advice given here, I am toying with expanding it a tad.



Unfortunately, I am not. I dislike things stuck in my ears. So, I suppose that relegates me to the improved quality closed-back cans.



What specific features should I be looking for on the mixer? I am a bit befuddled by the choices I have looked at. Few seem to have the 3.5mm input for a tablet/smartphone/etc. I did find the Mackie ProFX10v3.



I have been looking at YT videos regarding the differences and am still somewhat perplexed. Thinking about home studio gear overall, would I be better off getting both a mixer like the Mackie and an interface such as a Focusrite? Or this that over-kill? Would a digital multi-track recorder be a substitute for both?

Meanwhile, as I consider all of this the little accountant in my head is getting ready to jump out of a window. I suppose that the used marketplace would be the best alternative and accumulate these things slowly.

My thanks to all y'all for your input.

just get these;


I have been using these for years and LOVE them...perfect for your situation

and I noticed the J bass avatar....fellow bass player here too!!!
 

Nictarine

Silver Member
just get these;


I have been using these for years and LOVE them...perfect for your situation

and I noticed the J bass avatar....fellow bass player here too!!!
That's what I use as well. I use mine with my electronic kit, but they would work just as well for an acoustic kit, just plug them into the sound source and adjust the volume to match your playing.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Has anyone tried using bone conduction headphones for the click, so nothing's covering the ears and interfering with hearing the kit?
 

Neal Pert

Well-known Member
My recommendation-- if you have the budget for it-- is to get a Zoom LiveTrak L-12 (or an L-8 if you're confident you won't need to expand). Mic up your kit with a few mics and run them through the L-12. It's a hell of a machine given the price-- it's a mixer, recorder, and control surface for a DAW. You can record your mixes onto an SD card and you get both individual .wav files AND a master .wav file of your mix. It's been an incredible rehearsal tool and practice tool. Add a set of closed headphones and you're set for just about anything.

I always practice through the L-12. I can easily play along with music or a click and I can record my practices by just hitting record. I can send the mix to a video camera as needed. I record rehearsals for the bands I'm in and just drop the masters into a shared Google Drive folder.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
My budget is very slim. Although, after considering the advice given here, I am toying with expanding it a tad.



Unfortunately, I am not. I dislike things stuck in my ears. So, I suppose that relegates me to the improved quality closed-back cans.
Honestly, I would consider your budget for your hearing and monitoring to be as high a priority as possible - even more important than new cymbals, a nicer snare drum, etc. I spent years throwing money away on cheap earplugs, filtered earplugs, universal in-ear monitors, custom-moulded earplugs, cheap headphones over the top of earplugs. Would have saved more money and had better results in the long-term if I had just bought custom in-ear monitors to start with.

I know you say you dislike things stuck in your ears so a pair of studio quality isolating headphones may be the go for you (the Vic Firth ones would be a good choice). But honestly, a good set of custom in-ear monitors will be extremely comfortable and you barely notice they're there. I use a set of Alclairs which were the best within a reasonable budget (AU$600 I think). I would strongly suggest you see a hearing specialist about simply getting some ear impressions done, and see how you go with it. From memory you'll spend about 10 minutes waiting for the silicone solution to cure inside your ears, and that may give you an idea of what to expect from the in-ear monitors if you choose to have them made.

But I do understand, if you have sensory issues then that may totally rule out the idea, and over-the-ear headphones may be the way to go for you.
 

Jeremy Crockett

Well-known Member
Well, here I am again.

After careful consideration, I decided to go with a used mixer (Alto ZMX122fx) and a new Shure DMK57-52 kit.

Now, admittedly, it has been over two decades since I've even touched anything remotely resembling an analog mixer. But, I was under the impression that one did not need a headphone amplifier to get a signal to the cans. Thus my extreme dismay when everything that I mic'd was nearly inaudible. Ditto the line in from my tablet for practice/click tracks.

This was with the gains cranked all the way up and volumes maxed out.

I did try a different pair of headphones and the level was only moderately improved.

So, I am guessing that the mixer is bad? I mean do they go down all at once? Do they decline gradually with different functions failing at different times? Is there a way to test the mixer to determine for a certainty that IT is, in fact, the problem?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I would like to avoid throwing good money after bad.

The mixer in question:

Alto_ZMX122fx_01.jpgAlto_ZMX122fx_05.jpg

Thanks, again, for reading.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
There is no reason an analog mixer shouldn't produce a good headphone signal. I would be contacting their support and explaining the problem. It may be as simple as the headphone port itself may be incorrectly soldered.

Be very, very careful pumping the gains up, you'll just end up with huge amounts of clipping.
 

nunez.drummer

Junior Member
I like to play without headphone because I like to hear the real sound of my drumset, it is good for practice dinamics for example. For metronome I use a speaker. But when I play over records I use a headphone and also I record to listen to after my practice. Of course for practice hours and hours fills for example I use a headphone.
 
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