#1
Why do drummers sometimes wear headphones live?

Also this might or might not be a related question but why do people wear headphones when recording / playing on youtube?
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#2
My guess is so they can hear the other instruments better.
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#3
The headphones are just moniters as they are not able to hear over there own playing
#4
well to the human ear, we can hear up to 22000 hz (hertz)
and concerts even have a legal volume limit because it would be too hard on someones ears so when drummers wear headphones/earplugs, the less hertz the better the sound
#6
I think it's also sometimes because they are playing to a click track so that any backing tapes or sequences that are going to be played won't be out of sync.
#7
ive played drums for 12 years an theres plenty of reasons to wear headphones, to play along to something, to moniter yourself like fallout girl said, to listen to a metrenome better or to have ear muffs if you wanted? drums can get pretty loud =]
#8
On youtube, I'd imagine they wear headphones so they could here the song they're playing to, without us hearing it.
#9
fallout_girl, Hz is pitch, the human ear can hear pitches from 200Hz to 2 kHz (aprox.). Those are pitches, for example, A is 440 Hz. Sound pressure (loudness) is measured in Db's (decibles). For a referacne, rubbing your thumb and forefinger togeter gently generates about 1 Db, a jetliner taking off is aprox. 100 Dbs. Anywho, the drummers wear headphones so they can hear everybody else playing, the guitarist wear headphones because they want to look liek they are actually in a recording studio.
#10
To keep their ears warm?? No i dunno . the reasons above seem pretty likely especially that metronome thng. in fact yeah i read about them doing that to hear a metronome dont remember where just no i did.
#11
All of those make sense except for that metronome one. Like if you are a drummer, you should be able to keep time. If you cant, well then somethings not right, cause you are the drummer, thats your job.

Just throwing that out there.
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#12
^ Keeping time by yourself is incredibly hard. I know people who've trained for decades and can't do it. The more complex the rhythm, the harder it is also. Humans just aren't machines, and we tend to speed up or slow down when we're doing something.

There's a two way relationship between the drummer and the band. The really good drummers I know get this, either intuitively or because someone's explained it to them: The drums aren't for keeping time. A percussionist doesn't keep the beat for other musicians, the percussionist plays a beat in time with them. In other words, if you've got something simple that's just a guitar and a drummer doing something, and the guitarist ****s up on the timing, it's the drummer's job to cover it -- NOT to play through it and throw the guitar out of time. The flip side to it is that when you've got someone else holding a consistent beat, it's a lot easier to stay on spot with your timing.

If you've got a band that's speeding up or slowing down (this is more common than you think, even professionals do it, and it's hard to notice sometimes) the drummer should be staying with them. In contrast, the drummer should be holding a strong enough beat that the band stays with him in time. That's especially true for the bassist and the rhythm guitar (or section).

The problems that come up for the drummer then are whether or not to play behind the band, and let them change tempo (which they will), or to play against the band and force them into time. It's also hard to hear the band from behind them, and it's pretty common for a drummer to sit between or behind the amps, away from the monitors, near a wall where crowd noise is reflected, right on top of his own instrument.

Playing with a click track or metronome then makes a lot of sense when you see it from the drummer's perspective. They often don't have anything solid to keep time against, it's easy for them to lose their place, and they can queue in drum fills and changes (from a click track), without having to keep track of the band. And it's easier on their ears.
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#13
Quote by fallout_girl
well to the human ear, we can hear up to 22000 hz (hertz)
and concerts even have a legal volume limit because it would be too hard on someones ears so when drummers wear headphones/earplugs, the less hertz the better the sound

The human ear can't hear much past 5000 Hz.
#14
Corwinoid is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.

its not humanly possible to be perfect. Your going to speed up, and your going to slow down, unless you really do have something to play along with. Everyone benefits from click tracking.

I would say most of the time when a drummer is wearing Headphones hes listening to a click track.
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#15
yup. It's a click track, helps keep in time. Thats all there is to it :]
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#16
Well for live drummers im not sure, could be a click track. but drums are very loud and can give some super headaches, trust me. But most youtuber's do it because they are listening to a track to play along with the headphones block out the drums so you can hear the song you are playing to. im sure they do it live too.
#17
Quote by justin_fraser
All of those make sense except for that metronome one. Like if you are a drummer, you should be able to keep time. If you cant, well then somethings not right, cause you are the drummer, thats your job.

Just throwing that out there.


It's useful for making sure you're on track without speeding up or slowing down, as the feel of playing live may prompt you to do. It's also good for clicking in the other members of the band and in case there's a tempo change in your song.
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#18
Quote by fallout_girl
well to the human ear, we can hear up to 22000 hz (hertz)
and concerts even have a legal volume limit because it would be too hard on someones ears so when drummers wear headphones/earplugs, the less hertz the better the sound


WRONG!.... sorry XD its actually 20Khz and that has nothing to do with volume btw, thats decibels
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#19
Quote by justin_fraser
All of those make sense except for that metronome one. Like if you are a drummer, you should be able to keep time. If you cant, well then somethings not right, cause you are the drummer, thats your job.

Just throwing that out there.


The problem is if your band needs to play and keep time with a sequencer that flies in samples - whether they be backing vocals, synth textures, sound fx, etc. Those things are triggered at a precise time, and the band needs to be there, in that exact spot at that exact time, because those sequencer's just play stuff... they can't hear when they're on or off. The only possible way to keep the drummer starting the song and keeping it going at exactly the right precise tempo all the way through the song all the time, is with a click track.

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#20
Quote by axemanchris
The problem is if your band needs to play and keep time with a sequencer that flies in samples - whether they be backing vocals, synth textures, sound fx, etc. Those things are triggered at a precise time, and the band needs to be there, in that exact spot at that exact time, because those sequencer's just play stuff... they can't hear when they're on or off. The only possible way to keep the drummer starting the song and keeping it going at exactly the right precise tempo all the way through the song all the time, is with a click track.

CT


Dont forget about FX Chris. I believe bands liek U2 play alog with the delay, and if thats off tempo it sounds like ****.

But indeed you beat me 2 it.

So remember kiddies, click tracks are not necesarily to stay tight, its to make sure your on the correct tempo
#22
Quote by justin_fraser
All of those make sense except for that metronome one. Like if you are a drummer, you should be able to keep time. If you cant, well then somethings not right, cause you are the drummer, thats your job.

Just throwing that out there.


The bands with a drummer playing to a click are almost always tighter.
#23
what about in a recording situation, when the drummer records first? Surely this would be difficult for him to play a song without any references from other musicians as I know it would be for us guitarists.
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#24
Quote by turtlewax
what about in a recording situation, when the drummer records first? Surely this would be difficult for him to play a song without any references from other musicians as I know it would be for us guitarists.

yeah....but
in most recording situations, bands have been rehearsing for months before they go into a studio...so they generally know the material quite well i would hope

i would say nearly all of the time bands do pre production before they go into the studio to do the real take.....and these pre production songs are done at the same tempo etc

so they would just play along to that...

also think about how many songs you can play just by yourself, and you would know exactly when every part comes up etc....its not like a drummer cant play a song with no other musicians...
#25
Quote by turtlewax
what about in a recording situation, when the drummer records first? Surely this would be difficult for him to play a song without any references from other musicians as I know it would be for us guitarists.


A drummer should know every part of the song inside out like the rest of the band.
Infact, he should know it more than the others, since he/she has to (in almost all cases) record first, without the rest of the band.
#26
When I record bands, I have them all play together in the same room, but I make sure the only sound in the room is the drums. (guitar amp in the basement, singer in the bathroom or singing really softly so his/her voice will be picked up in his/her mic but can't be picked up in the drum mics, bass going direct, maybe other guitar going through a POD or something). I then record the drums and the bass together at the same time, but everyone is wearing headphones, so everyone can hear those guitars and that bass and that vocal that isn't being picked up in the room. It also results in a recording with a nice 'live' feel.... because it's live.

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#27
Quote by fallout_girl
or something like that.
i dunno i learnt that in class =]

Nothing like that. :p
#28
just to clarify

a human ear can hear approx 20Hz to 22000Hz - seeing as an octave is a doubling in frequency - that's about 10 octaves

decibels are a measure of sound intensity - 0dB is defined as the minimum volume an average person can detect (1*10^-12 Wm^-2 if you're interested) other sound intensities are scaled from there. A doubling in the amount of decibels is equal to a 10 times increase in the sound intensity

single exposure hearing damage happens at roughly 110dB medium exposure at 100dB and long term exposure around 80dB.
EDIT: the pain threshold of the ear is around 140dB

headphones help the drummer hear the rest of the band better (especially important when they play behind a shield to prevent sound bleeding) and also to an extent to reduce the damaging noise effects of his own drumming by muffling it. The main focus is the monitor though to hear the rest of the band
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Last edited by doive at May 24, 2009,
#30
Quote by doive
just to clarify

a human ear can hear approx 20Hz to 22000Hz - seeing as an octave is a doubling in frequency - that's about 10 octaves

decibels are a measure of sound intensity - 0dB is defined as the minimum volume an average person can detect (1*10^-12 Wm^-2 if you're interested) other sound intensities are scaled from there. A doubling in the amount of decibels is equal to a 10 times increase in the sound intensity

single exposure hearing damage happens at roughly 110dB medium exposure at 100dB and long term exposure around 80dB.
EDIT: the pain threshold of the ear is around 140dB

headphones help the drummer hear the rest of the band better (especially important when they play behind a shield to prevent sound bleeding) and also to an extent to reduce the damaging noise effects of his own drumming by muffling it. The main focus is the monitor though to hear the rest of the band


if your interested
120-140 dB - threshold of feeling
140+ threshold of pain


thank god for audio classes :P
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#31
Another note on hearing, ears are by far the most acute sense we have, and can rapidly become damaged by ignorance. The pain threshold may be around 140db, but listening to 100db for 5 minutes, or 80db for 10 minutes can absolutely damage your ear. So don't buy in-ear headphones, turn your volume down, wear earplugs, and take breaks between long or intensive listening sessions. Your future 50 or 60 year old selves will thank you.
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#32
Quote by fallout_girl
well to the human ear, we can hear up to 22000 hz (hertz)
and concerts even have a legal volume limit because it would be too hard on someones ears so when drummers wear headphones/earplugs, the less hertz the better the sound


It is possible someone has already corrected this error, but I will anyway.

1. The full hearing range of a human ear is 20Hz to 20kHz (20,000 Hz), not 22kHz
2. Hertz are not a measure of volume they are a measure of frequency (i.e. a "high" note will be at a higher Hz rate and a "low" note will be at lower Hz (Frequency). However it is true that musicians wear specially designed ear plugs on stage to reduce the higher end frequencies, as they are more damaging to the ear.

To answer the original question, drummers listen to headphones/earphones to hear their metronome
#33
though i dont play the drums
one my friends does for the click, and if he is playing a cover so he can hear it better then blasting through external speakers that are like 10 feet away

i wear the headphones so i can hear all of hte guitar parts so i can pick up on soft parts or little bits of tech parts that are a little more difficult then listenin to off my ihome speakers



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#34
Because in the case of a metalcore band, the drummer can listen to something better lol.
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#35
Drummers wear headphones to hold their brains in. True.
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#36
i think the guy ment on stage?? but if not then i agree with everyone else... nuff said