I enjoy having a selection of musical instruments in my studio. My piano, my guitars, my cello and violin – and my acoustic drum set!
The problem with the drums however is that they are simply too loud. It hurts my ears to play.
So for practice, the solution I found was a pair of industrial ear defenders, as used in the construction industry and at airports.
They cut down the sound level by around 30 dB, which is just right. I can hear my playing clearly and at the right level.
But recording is still a problem. I want to be able to hear my guide track while I am playing. Conventional headphones simply do not offer enough isolation. Not only are my drums uncomfortably loud, but I have to have the backing track even louder, which hurts.
I did consider using in-ear monitoring underneath the ear defenders, but before I tried that I came across a marvellous pair of headphones. I saw them in a magazine ad and ordered a pair straight away.
The headphone in question is the Extreme Isolation model by Direct Sound. You can see their website here.
Although the sound quality isn't the best I have ever experienced, which you don't expect from closed headphones anyway, the isolation certainly is.
In fact, I would say that they are as good as my ear defenders. And of course they work as headphones too.
There are several applications where headphones with good isolation are useful – recording in a single room for instance, so you can hear the sound from the microphone without being influenced by the sound source itself.
Live sound is another important application, so you can solo a channel and hear it clearly, without hearing too much of the sound from the PA.
DJing too, where you need to cue up a track while the previous track is playing.
Having headphones that provide very good isolation allows you to work at a lower level in the headphones, which will protect your hearing for your old age.
You can order Extreme Isolation headphones direct from the manufacturer, or there are several other suppliers.
You can see a supplier with a low price here… – the website might look a bit cheesy but the price is good.
And the headphones are damned good.