With their 20db isolation, the SuperPhones may let in a little more noise, but they also feel lighter on the head. The reduced isolation actually turned out to be a benefit during practice, as the sound of the bass drum gained fuller presence, even as the balance between the music inside and the drums outside remained very comfortable and workable. My snare and hat came through with the most crispness, with the ride now seeming to be the hardest to hear well. As with the UltraPhones, SuperPhones took practicing with CDs to a whole new level. For the first time I really felt like I was truly playing with The Roots, without worrying about what they thought of my mistakes or creative explorations around ?uestlove’s rhythms.
Although DrumPhones bring up the rear on price, they do a perfectly good job. The performance from it’s Walkman-type speakers was noticeably less satisfying when listened to alone, but once I started playing my drums, the reduced sound quality was barely an issue. Interestingly, the DrumPhones were the only unit where I could clearly figure out how to adjust the headband – the other two either were not adjustable, or I simply couldn’t find the adjustment.
My only other complaint about the three units was the lack of a Left/Right designation. There are other markings on the outside of the phones, but this basic piece of information appears to have been omitted.
All told, all three DrumPhones models have the rugged construction and performance that make them ideal for all levels of players. If you aren’t practicing to CDs very much because you’re concerned about your hearing, DrumPhones will make it fun, exciting, and safe again. If you are practicing to CDs without them, well, you probably need them. For the best balance of performance and value, the SuperPhones seem like they’ll be ideal for most people. As a tool for improving your technique and expanding your musical universe while protecting your incredibly precious ears, I highly recommend them.
Model: DrumPhones II, SuperPhones,
Prices: DrumPhones II, $69.95; SuperPhones, $179.95; UltraPhones, $219.95
Extras: SuperPhones and UltraPhones both come with vinyl carrying case