Playing With Headphones: What Gear?

con struct

Platinum Member
Whenever I check out someone's drum cover, I see that a lot of the time they're wearing headphones and playing the drums as with a real band, dynamics, volume, everything.

I'd like to be able to do that, too. I have a MacBook Pro, and a good set of top-of-the-line Sony headphones. What else would you say I need to complete the whole rig?

Thanks.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
Sounds like you're set! Question is, "What do you want to play along to?" Also do you wish to record yourself?

For the longest while I would record myself with my iPhone then throw the video into iMovie and drop the track I was playing along to over the top of the video and Bam! Instant gratification! Of course once you get more familiar with this you'll want to upgrade your abilities to record yourself.

We use a Zoom R16 recorder to capture drums/bass/guitar for my band. The guitarist bought some of the cheaper CAD mics and uses those to get my drums. They're not the greatest but they make some decent reference tracks. We also use old camcorders and phones for auxiliary cameras to grab other footage. Raymond (guitarist) dumps it all into his Dell laptop and blends it all together. It's a bit ragtag and far from "pro level" but it allows us to share what we do and that's what's important.

We have the setup of this arrangement down to an absolute science so we end up recording everything we do, everytime we play.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbADNSchVHk

However, we are going in to record a new album on the 17th of this month and shall be using the "fine China" so to speak. Great studio, engineer and about 10 hours of time. We'll get everything done and then some.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
No, no, I don't want to record myself. It's just for practice, something to play along to. I hate playing by myself.

No, I suppose what I'm asking is: what gear is used when a drummer is seen playing along to a recording? Also, what are they playing along to, CDs, Youtube, what?

As to what I want to play along to, I'm thinking New Orleans funky, or Fela Kuti, or electric Miles Davis ala Agrartha, James Brown, stuff like that.
 
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BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
If you have a pair of isolating headphones, then (depending on the level of isolation) you can quite often just plug into the laptop and play away. I usually found that the isolation on my headphones was 'safe' for my hearing but enough so that I could hear the drums.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
No, no, I don't want to record myself. It's just for practice, something to play along to. I hate playing by myself.

No, I suppose what I'm asking is: what gear is used when a drummer is seen playing along to a recording? Also, what are they playing along to, CDs, Youtube, what?
Well practicing to a tune (usually a song on YouTube or a "minus one" track (the music without the drums)) is a great way to learn to play. And if you wanna get better faster I recommend that you record yourself. That's just the "fast track" to improving your game.

Had I known about recording everything I do years ago, I'd be so much farther along as a player. Just sayin'.
 

RickP

Gold Member
The suggestion for Isolation headphones is a good one. Two good models are :
If you are on a budget - Direct Sound EX29 - good isolation -29 DB sound isolation pretty comfortable, they do fit snug.

If you aren't on a budget the GK Ultraphones are superb, very comfortable , Sony Drivers, excellent sound isolation.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Well practicing to a tune (usually a song on YouTube or a "minus one" track (the music without the drums)) is a great way to learn to play.
Ha ha, Hey Billy, I've been playing for 48 years. I'm pretty good, I'd say. Just looking to get the right gear together, say if I want to do some drum covers.
 

groove1

Silver Member
Since the 1950's I have never worn hearing protection or anything on my ears when practicing or performing....I simply don't play in that loud of situation (and don't want to).
Over the years I have had the music source on my left so I could easily reach it with my left hand to adjust volume etc. It began with a record player with built in speaker, then a reel to
reel recorder again with built in speaker. These days I play the music I play along with through a small practice amp on a chair next to the hihat. All the music I play along with
is dumped onto an ipod so I can call up most anything I want right away. Because I also
play guitar, I have guitar amps from tiny up to owning a small PA etc. Sometimes after a
rehearsal, I will play the ipod through one of my acoustic guitar amps or PA even. I like to
hear the drums and the music clearly so wearing headphones is out for me. (I have worn them in recording studios though out of necessity).

The already mentioned concept of recording yourself while doing this is a great one. I do it from time to time and then listen and figure out what I do that annoys me when listening and
stop doing that. It has helped me a lot.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I use both an iPod with recorded music of all sorts playing on random so I get a variety of song and genre, and I also use my iPhone and use Pandora app to play. I just finished with 30 minutes of Creedance, but also thrown in the mix, is Johnny Cash, the Pretenders, etc.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I just ordered the Music Minus One for drums Funk CD. It has tunes by the Meters, James Brown, George Clinton and so on. I'm also ordering the Direct Sound EX29 headphones. Along with my MacBook Pro, will that be all I need to play along to recorded music?
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I use both an iPod with recorded music of all sorts playing on random so I get a variety of song and genre, and I also use my iPhone and use Pandora app to play. I just finished with 30 minutes of Creedance, but also thrown in the mix, is Johnny Cash, the Pretenders, etc.
Pandora's a great idea.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
That will do it. Put the CD in the slot, it may ask if you want to save them to your iTunes library, or just play away. I love Pandora. Its free, you get about six songs then a 15 sec commercial then back to the music. You make your own station. You may not agree with every song as belonging to the group, but it's still good variety.
 

Beam Me Up Scotty

Silver Member
Guess I'm the only one who really slums it!
I just use my normal iPod headphones, and place noise canceling earmuffs over them; you know, the $5 ones that you can get at any hardware store. There's a bit of bleeding, but I can still control the volume comfortably, without damaging my hearing.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Hi Jay, in addition to what you have ordered you may want to get an interface with 8 channels and a set of mics for your drums.
You can use garageband to mix the music minus one tacks with your drums and hear everything through your headphones in realtime.
here is a video to help. http://youtu.be/fXT5Qe9snGI
I also use a headphone amplifier to boost the output from my Mac a bit.
 
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BillRayDrums

Gold Member
Ha ha, Hey Billy, I've been playing for 48 years. I'm pretty good, I'd say. Just looking to get the right gear together, say if I want to do some drum covers.
You don't look a day over 24. ;)

I've been hanging out on Reddit too long...where it's the 14-30 crowd seemingly.
 
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PQleyR

Platinum Member
Guess I'm the only one who really slums it!
I just use my normal iPod headphones, and place noise canceling earmuffs over them; you know, the $5 ones that you can get at any hardware store. There's a bit of bleeding, but I can still control the volume comfortably, without damaging my hearing.
I used to do that, but now I use either my moulded in-ears or the Vic Firth isolation headphones which I find are really convenient.
 

MileHighDrummer

Senior Member
You don't need anything else. You are controlling your volume input and protecting your ears from the concussion. It's nice to not have ringing in your head for days after a gig. Sound damage (like radiation) is cumulative when you notice the problem, it's too late.
 
Yes, simply plug headphones into an ipod, or laptop. And play along.
BUT, when playing along to music, you need to consider 2 things; quality of sound going into your ears, and comfort.

I've played multiple sets of headphones for this situation:

Vic-Firth isolating headphones:
http://www.samash.com/vic-firth-stereo-isolation-headphones-vsihixxxx

These were good at canceling out noise, and just hearing your click or the track, but they physically hurt your ears after about 30 mins because they press so tightly against the cartilage of your ears. I only recommend if you don't mind your ears hurting. Also the coil/springy cord coming out of them is not very useful since it limits your headbanging potential or it knocks off the ipod it was attached to.

Sennheiser HD280 Pro DJ Headhpones:
http://www.samash.com/sennheiser-hd280-pro-headphones-shd280pro

These were more comfortable, and the foam goes all around your ears, isolating them pretty well from the world (as in, not pressing on your cartilage of your ears like the Vic Firths). They gave way better sound when listening to music tracks (whereas the Vic-Firths are really best with a click track).

JH Audio 10x3 Custom Molded In Ears:
http://www.jhaudio.com/product/jh10x3-pro-custom-ear-monitor

These have been by-far my favorite. I recommend any sort of custom molded in-ear monitors. They act as ear plugs (blocking out sound of your drums) and shoot the music directly into your ear drums (so you don't have to play the music as loud).
They're the most comfortable and you can keep them in for hours. I tracked my latest EP in 2 days of drumming (7-10 hours/day) and never once did my ears hurt physically. Can't praise these enough for sound quality and comfort.

That's my suggestion. Find the headphones you like the best by purchasing from guitar center, and returning if you don't like them. Try another pair, return, etc until you find the right ones. Places like GC and Sam Ash are really good with their return policy.

x CHRIS x
 
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