Drummer Dopers, help me find the ear protection I can't find anymore

I used to sell drum gear at a national chain of music stores, but no longer do. I find myself in need of sound dampening “headphones” that don’t really need to be wired at all.

I remember a Vic Firth set that was blue IIRC, that was purely made for dampening sound, for drumming specifically. I’ve located a kids version, but I’m no longer a kid.

The model I remember, from waaaay back in the 90’s seems to be out of production.

What I need is sound dampening that suits playing drums in a small space, earplugs are effective, but not what I want. Sound dampening headphones are good, but I don’t really need to be plugged in to anything ATM.

Long story short, I have a VERY small practice space that I’d like to practice in. I’d also like to be able to hear for as long as possible. I can buy a $100 pair of noise cancelling headphones, but I’m looking for the analog version of that.

Maybe I should just get a pair of noise cancelling headphones, and play along to a click or metronome, but I really only want the sound dampening.

Does anyone know of anything that might fit my needs?

I know a bunch of musicians IRL who have some pretty fancy earplugs – custom molded (need to see an audiologist) etc. for on stage, but I have a thought.

A buddy has these ear-cans for shooting which uses some kind of active battery-powered circuit to allow midrange (i.e., talking and so forth) to come through and cuts the really bad stuff out. He said they weren’t very expensive (I think around $20) and he got them at a gun shop.

Something like that might be cheap and effective.

I hear you (heh) about losing hearing – I’m only 36 and haven’t played all that loud jobs but I still have some hearing loss and some tinnitus occasionally in my left ear. I think it’s more the cumulative exposure to constant sound that did it for me.

That and when my fucking drummer set his crash or splash right next to my goddamned ear – even though these are low-volume, good jazz musicians, I learned to be careful where I set up really quick.

I meant to mention shooting range protection, thanks for reminding me. Does anyone know if that type of hearing protection is well suited to protect hearing for musicians as well?

I would think so – those loud percussive “shots” are probably what’s going to drive your tympana into submission PDQ. Exactly what you get on a shooting range – low thuds and high cracks.

But since this is just an experimental hypothesis – I’ve never used this type of active sound-dampening system – you might as well stick with what at least one generation of stage musician has used.

Get fitted by an audiologist, then use some earplugs that are designed for the purpose. One guitar player I’ve worked a lot with has some crazy ones custom made out of wood, with kind of a little hole in the middle of each. He’s proud of them, but other people I know just use general custom-made plugs made for letting mid-volume, mid-range stuff get through.

Like I said, I think cumulative exposure to high SPL is what can do it, but I don’t know the state of the art – just what other people do. FWIW when I was playing loud jobs I just used regular plugs I got from a hardware store – just needed to hear myself and enough of the others plus visual cues to get through the night. Probably not recommended for a drummer – I could always turn myself up in my own monitor, but you’re an acoustic instrument by definition.

BTW out of curiosity – what are you doing in your practice box that needs a click track? If it’s a recording thing, the obvious answer is just get the mic feed from the main board and use straight earplugs plus cans – you can adjust (obviously) the volume in your cans to give you what you need.

Not trying to be a Needle-Nose Nancy, but re-reading your OP it sounds like you have some specific thing you’re trying to go with, and I don’t know what that is.

There is a company called Direct Sound that has a line of hearing protection headphones that they call Extreme Isolation. Their web site is www.extremeheadphones.com

Apparently invented by a studio session drummer. I read about them on guitarist Paul Gilbert’s web site. I have no experience (or association) with them, but Paul uses them to protect his ears from further damage.

I just did a search, and Musician’s Friend has a speaker-less model (which sounds like it might be up your alley) for 40 bucks online.

Good luck!

Those look very close to what I’m looking for, and the suggestions that come with those will likely lead to what I ultimately end up getting. My Google-fu was not working for me when I first started looking but this gives me a great jumping off point. Thanks!

Jaledin, there’s no recording gear in the space, it’s a small office. I was mainly just going to practice and shake some rust off, but a few friends expressed some interest in me recording a few loops for them to work with. I’d probably use one of those dual mic compact recorders and either a metronome connected to cans or just watch the light for that.