Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to make a pair of $300 practice/studio headphones for just 50 bucks

Practicing on live drums is pretty hard on your ears. Practicing on live drums in a small room for hours on end is just plain dangerous. So a good pair of isolating headphones is a really good idea if you want live drum response without damaging those irreplaceable hearing cells.

I tried a number of commercial and ‘drummers’ headphones but found them not isolating enough, too small, too uncomfortable, or too expensive. All I wanted was a decent pair of protective headphones with some means of plugging them in to a music player. The ideal solution -- high-end drummer headphones that were way too expensive -- looked suspiciously like off-the-shelf airport grade headphones, and that gave me an idea.

I picked up a pair of Peltor H10A “earmuffs” at a local safety supply for $35. They are large and comfortable (I have fairly big ears) and have a noise reduction rating of 29dB, plus they make my drums sound awesome. I cut two short pieces from a soft plastic hanger, and wedged a plastic ‘stick’ into each ear cup. All I had to do then was add something to produce some sound. I tried a few types of ear buds and settled on an inexpensive pair from Panasonic, although any decent unit will do. There you have it: gourmet hearing protection for under $50. I also picked up a $25 headphone amp, so I now have my own portable monitoring system that can tap into any sound source. Sweet!

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