The 5 Best In-Ear Monitors for Drummers (2022 Review)

In Ear Monitors for drummers

In-ear monitors (IEMs) are an essential part of any drummer’s arsenal. These nifty little things offer you vital hearing protection. They can help glue together a group of lost solo musicians to become a unified musical weapon.

In recent years, in-ear monitoring has been seen as a staple in the professional touring industry. They have also become more affordable and go a long way to helping any beginners get to grips with playing alongside other musicians.

There are two types of in-ear monitors for drummers. The first ones are universal or ‘off the shelf’ monitors. These are designed to fit all ears. The second ones are custom-molded in-ear monitors, which require an ear impression and custom manufacturing of the in-ear monitor.

My top recommended IEMs are the Shure SE215 PRO for drummers who frequently gig or record music.

My second recommended IEMs are the erjigo KZ ZSN Pro. They’re a nice pick if you’re looking for a pair of IEMs on a budget.

The 5 Best In-Ear Monitors for Drummers (2022)

1. Shure SE215 PRO
Top Pick - Isolating in-ear monitors, suitable for pro drummers.
2. erjigo KZ ZSN Pro
Budget Pick - Economic price, ergonomic design, and effective sound.
3. BASN Bmaster
Well-rounded IEMs for all drummers.
4. Shure SE425-CL
A trusted in-ear monitor pros can rely on.
5. CCA C10
An IEM with an affordable price and incredible performance.

Let’s compare these in more detail.

1. Shure SE215 PRO

Top Pick
Isolating in-ear monitors, suitable for pro drummers.
View Price at AmazonView Price at Guitar Center

For any gigging or recording musician, having a good pair of in-ear monitors is extremely important. It’s also much better if they are isolating ones. This is because with isolating IEMs, you can hear your instrument much better and subsequently stay in sync with the whole band.

The Shure SE215 Pro are industry-grade IEMs that deliver a clear, dynamic sound. The sound quality becomes even more immersive as these earbuds are sound isolating, blocking up to 37 dB.

Pros

  • Sound isolating
  • Great sound quality
  • Comfortable, over-the-ear wear

Cons

  • Has one driver

These are wired monitors. If you’re put off by the constant tangle of wires, then there is a compact case to store these nicely. The cable is quite durable and allows easy replacement or configuration.

While the sound sensitivity is great, the wear can be a bit uncomfortable after a long while. Also, the one single dynamic driver can be a letdown for many. You can rarely find IEMs with a single driver.

SizeSmall, Medium, Large
Impedance17 ohms
Frequency range22 Hz –17.5 kHz
Connector3.5 mm
Cable length5.3 ft.

If you’re unsure about your ear size, then these IEMs take care of that problem as well. They come in three sleeve sizes, so you can try them on to see what fits.

2. erjigo KZ ZSN Pro

Budget Pick
Economic price, ergonomic design, and effective sound.
View Price at Amazon

An ideal in-ear monitor for drummers who aren’t looking to spend a lot but also need a good-quality product. This KZ ZSN is a suitable option if you play small gigs or record at home.

The sound on this thing is quite nice, with a lot of character. You can hear your music in a well-balanced, detailed fashion. The listening experience is further enhanced thanks to the four-layered dual driver.

Pros

  • Dual driver for better listening
  • Great value for money
  • Eye-catching, durable design

Cons

  • Doesn’t capture the lows very well

With a very sleek, all metallic design, not only do these look good, but they also have a good life span. The cord is also pretty solid, transmitting smooth data back and forth. 

SizeCustom-fit (S/L)
Impedance24 ohms
Frequency range7 Hz – 40 kHz
Connector0.75 mm
Cable length3.9 ft.

The chord is detachable. So, when you’re not using the monitors, take the cord out. This will prolong its life and keep it tangle-free.

3. BASN Bmaster

Good Mid-level Choice
Well-rounded IEMs for all drummers.
View Price at Amazon

Another isolating in-ear monitor on the list, the BASN Bmaster is a very nice option. It’s great value for money, particularly for touring musicians. 

With isolation tech, a lot of the outside noise is blocked. This, added to the beautiful in-ear sound quality makes for a nice listening experience. You can hear the lows, clear mids and highs, and good treble.

Pros

  • Nice sound isolation
  • 9 custom-fit tips
  • Detachable cable

Cons

  • Don’t capture deep bass that well

From over-the-ear, ergonomic wear design to a whole lot of ear tip options, the Bmaster is incredibly comfortable. You can choose between silicone tips, triple-layer, or memory foam ear tips for the best fit. Bonus, they’re also sweat-proof.

Another great thing about these IEM is that the cable is detachable. So, not only can you upgrade to a different cable, but also replace a damaged one very easily. This makes them highly durable. 

SizeSmall, Medium, Large
Impedance18 ohms
Frequency range18 Hz-22 kHz
ConnectorMMCX; 3.5 mm jack
Cable length4.3 ft.

It doesn’t matter whether you tour extensively or record music at home, the BASN Bmaster is an ideal, all-around earbud for all drummers.

4. Shure SE425-CL

Professional option, good brand
A trusted in-ear monitor pros can rely on.
View Price at AmazonView Price at Guitar Center

Shure is a leading name in the sonic industry. The fact that this list features two Shure products should be testimonial enough. But don’t just go at brand value. The SE425-CL is really good and justifies its tag.

With dual high-definition drivers, the Shure SE425-CL delivers very nice, natural sounds to your ears. Pair that with their sound isolating capability and you’ll hear your drum set even better.  

Pros

  • Well-balanced sound with isolation
  • Detachable cables that pave the way for wireless connectivity
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Bass could be better

This is an over-the-ear IEM, which means it’s quite comfortable to wear. It also comes with three tip sizes, so you can always choose what’s best for you.

One of the best things about this is its detachable cables. In addition to the easy upgrade and storage, this particular IEM can also be converted to wireless. Using Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, you can pair this with your laptop, phone, or tablet and be free of wires.

SizeSmall, Medium, Large
Impedance20 ohms
Frequency range20 Hz – 19 kHz
Connector3.5 mm
Cable length5.3 ft.

While they’re more pricey than any other earbud on the list, they certainly deliver. 

5. CCA C10

Budget-friendly, beginner option
An IEM with an affordable price and incredible performance.
View Price at Amazon

The CCA C10 might be presented as a budget IEM, but its performance is comparable to some of the top-of-the-line IEMs. 

With 10-driver hybrid technology, these earbuds produce a well-balanced, capturing all three ranges beautifully. The details are well discernable. And although it is equipped with sound isolation, it’s best used for small to medium-sized gigs. 

Pros

  • Very affordable given its performance
  • Can be upgraded to Bluetooth
  • Natural sounding

Cons

  • Isolation could be better
  • Not the best cable

You can detach the cable from the monitors. There on, you can either upgrade to better wires or go wireless with a Bluetooth cable.

SizeSmall, Medium, Large
Impedance32 ohms
Frequency range7 Hz – 40 kHz
Connector3.5 mm
Cable length3.9 ft.

For a fraction of cost, the CCA C10 hold their own against high-end IEMs. This makes it a wise choice for most drummers. 

Why are In-ear Monitors so useful?

In-ear Monitors are not your typical headphones, headset, or earphones, so to say. They are more of a lightweight earpiece that ultimately gives more clarity regarding the sound a musician hears (on stage or while recording), for an all-around better sounding performance. They are an invaluable piece of gear and a good purchase!

Learning to play in time with a click is one thing, but playing in time with a group of other people who are often not functioning on the same wavelength is another thing entirely. This is where in-ear monitors can really prove their worth.

By allowing you to control exactly how much of each other instrument you can hear, IEMs can provide a straightforward solution for people wanting to solidify their performance as a timekeeper.

Also, protecting your ears from the harsh sounds of the stage is very important for any musician. As a drummer, it is something that should be considered from the first moment that you pick up the sticks.

Some may argue that any pair of earbuds, by cranking up the volume, will get the job done but this has proven to be very damaging to your hearing in the long run. In the same situation, a good set of in-ear monitors can be used at a lower volume that is safer for the user and will return a higher overall sound quality.

Along with user comfort, this is one of the main things that you should consider when shopping for IEMs.

What are custom In-ear Monitors?

Custom in-ear monitors are made to the exact specifications of your ears. These have added benefits of noise isolation and great fitting. However, they can be a lot more expensive and require ear impressions.

Ear impressions can be done in at least two ways:

  • Custom mold: This is where an audiologist inserts a quick-hardening substance into your ear, and down part of the curves of your ear canal. It’s a weird experience, but it is quite effective. This custom impression is then sent to the manufacturer for your in-ear monitors to get created.
  • 3D laser scanning: The brand ‘Ultimate Ears‘ started investing in laser scanner technology a few years ago to bring ear impressions into the modern age. These are now available in many locations.

It’s a matter of preference of choosing either universal monitors or custom-fitting ones. If your main priority is to have excellent sound isolation then custom monitors offer an advantage, however, universal monitors offer much better value for money in terms of sound drivers and audio quality.

However, if you have a very large budget, I’d recommend going for a top-end custom-fitted in-ear monitor. Also, a carrying case goes a long way, as well as having an adapter on site, and a couple of pairs of ear tips (extra foam tips, or silicone ear tips, whatever your choice is).

Are there alternatives to In-ear Monitors?

Do you really need a pair of in-ear monitors? You could also potentially get away with a good set of musician’s earplugs for live performances while using the usual wedge monitors. Read our article on musician’s earplugs for more information.

I think any musician should always have a pair of these in their pocket. If you’re at a concert or situation where the noise has gotten too loud, you can always reach for these. Your hearing is your most vital asset as a musician. Make sure to protect it.

How do I set up an In-ear Monitoring (IEM) System?

In almost every scenario, your live setup starts with the instrument and ends with the PA. In-ear monitoring stands somewhere between. There are several ways to monitor your playing, but the principle is always the same.

What you have to do is to split the signal from your instruments and make two roads – one to the PA and the other to your IEM system. You can often get the sound engineer to create separate mixes. Alternatively, you can use your mixer to create separate outputs.

One of the most important aspects of the setup is the in-ear monitor amplifier. This is a personal piece of equipment. In the past, these were quite expensive devices. These days, you can find lots of affordable products with decent quality.

How to create your own IEM Monitor and Metronome Mix?

You can easily create your mix of both a metronome and the live monitor signal. The Behringer Powerplay P1 has two inputs. Simply plug one monitor mix input and one metronome signal (from a metronome device or software on your laptop), click the ‘mono’ button, and turn the faders to adjust the balance between the two signals. Easy!

If you’re looking to use a click live then check out our guide on the best metronomes for drummers. They are a lot more reliable than using a phone app!

Wired or Wireless IEM Packs?

The next step would be to decide whether you want to go on stage wired or wireless. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. With wires, you can count on better reliability, but this also means that you should go for high-quality, more expensive cables.

Additional cables usually mean more trouble on stage. If you like freedom of movement, a wireless system is the one for you. You should stick to renowned manufacturers, to products that proved themselves to be reliable devices. This would mean renowned audio companies like AKG, Shure, etc. In practice, this also means a higher price tag.

Along with the receiver, you will need a quality transmitter. If you play in a band, you would need a transmitter that works on different frequencies and can be connected with multiple receivers.

I recommend sticking with a wired system unless you want a wireless one. Wireless interference with other on-stage devices can be a pain at stage time! Wired systems are also a lot cheaper!

Conclusion

In-ear monitors are necessary for drummers who either record in a studio or play live on a stage. They help you hear your instrument much better and allow you to stay in sync with the rest of the band members. 

My top pick are the Shure SE215 PRO IEMs. These are professional-sounding IEMs that block outside noise very well, giving you a more immersive listening experience. 

However, if you are running tight on a budget or don’t gig too much, you can go for erjigo KZ ZSN Pro. While they may not have sound isolation, they do deliver a nice, dynamic sound. 

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Mike O'Connor

Drumming has been my passion for over 18 years. I play quite a few different genres and I really enjoy experimenting with hybrid kits that blend acoustic and electronic drums. I love all things drumming!

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