Headphones sound better than ever. There are so many choices in feel and sound, and while most studios have headphones for musicians to wear while they’re tracking, I really suggest you find a pair of your own to bring to every studio/session you go to. Getting used to the feel on your head and the sound that the headphones deliver can go a long way in making your studio experience more productive and pleasant. “Cans,” as they are sometimes known, are your direct connection to the music and other musicians you are playing and interacting with, so having a pair that you can trust is a huge thing.
Everyone has different tastes and requirements when it comes to how much isolation they want from their headphones in the studio. As a rule, drummers like more isolation than other players, but that depends on if they are in the same room with the other players or if they are all separated into isolation rooms or booths. For great isolation, the Vic Firth SIH1 headphones and the Pearl PDM-250 Precision Drum Monitors really work, as do the Direct Sound EX-25 and EX-29 headphones. For less isolation but a more full-range sound, the AKG K271 MKII, and the Shure SRH840 headphones are just a few more of the many great options. I have tried all of them while tracking drums in the studio, and they all worked well.
Some musicians have started to use in-ear monitors as their “headphones” in the studio, and once again, there are many great options to choose among. For custom in-ear monitors, you can go to your audiologist and get molds made of your ears to ensure a perfect fit. Custom in-ears can also provide great isolation and, depending on the model you buy, sound amazing. But there are also off-the-shelf in-ear options that sound great, give you the isolation you need, and don’t require a trip to the doctor. The Westone UM Pro 30, the Shure SE425, and the Sennheiser IE 80 in-ear monitors are just a few. In-ear monitors are also nice because you can use them while playing live, so they can serve double duty.