A lot of my students (and their parents) ask me what kind of hearing protection is best to use while practicing drums. Let’s explore this topic. We have two choices: earplugs or earmuffs. Personally, I use earplugs when I perform with a band and earmuffs during practice in my studio. The choice is quite obvious: aesthetics :).
So, what kind of earmuffs are the best? Most drummers will answer: “Just go to your nearest drum shop and buy a pair of Vic Firth (“Vic Firth DB22 Drummer's Isolation Headphones” model). My experience with those earmuffs was actually not that great. While they look good and sit nicely on your ears, the construction is rather flimsy. The wire, which pushes the muffs against your ears, is rather thin and after a few months it bends and doesn’t have a good pressure on your ears (you don’t have the same level of protection anymore). It will break after a few months of everyday use (in the past two years I went through a few pairs of them). Also, the lining around the wire is made of a cheap soft plastic, which rips overtime. One more interesting thing: the Vic Firth earmuffs are actually made by Peltor (“Optime 101” model). Vic Firth simply buys those earmuffs from Peltor, puts his name on them, and resells for about 50% more :) .
So, what would I recommend? For everyday practicing my advice is to go with Howard Leight (“L1 model”) earmuffs. They fit well, have a good build quality and will last for a long time. If you’d like to play along with recording, I recommend going with Howard Leight “Sync Stereo Earmuff” model. It’s basically the same design as L1 model, but comes with a cord and has built-in earphones inside. Just plug it in your mp3 player, I-pod or phone, and you are good to go. You will have a decent sound quality and adequate hearing protection.