The Vic Firth Bluetooth Isolation Headphones (model name “VXHP0012”) are specialists: They attenuate ambient sound by a whopping 20 decibels to protect musicians – especially drummers – from their own sound. They do this extraordinarily well, and these hefty over-ears are also convincing in terms of sound.
The Vic Firth brand should be familiar to drummers in particular. The company, which now belongs to Avedis Zildjian and was founded by Everett Joseph “Vic” Firth, who died in 2015, is the world’s leading producer of drumsticks and percussion mallets. So it’s not entirely surprising that they have headphones in their range that are specially designed to meet the requirements of drummers. Inevitably, this means you get a pair of closed headphones that offer a high degree of external noise attenuation. On the one hand, to protect the drummer’s hearing from the loudness of his own drum kit, and on the other hand, so that they can be fed a monitoring signal that is as isolated as possible during rehearsals, as well as in studio or live situations.
The VXHP0012, developed on the basis of their predecessor SIH-2, make this possible with an external noise attenuation of a whopping 20 decibels. What’s more, the latest version tested here offers all the benefits of modern headphones, such as Bluetooth connectivity with an integrated hands-free kit, media control and volume control. And if you forget to charge the built-in 500 mA battery, which provides up to 20 hours of operation, the headphones can still be connected the traditional wired way to vibrate the two 50 millimetre Mylarcon drivers.
Aircraft deck, shooting range, pit lane? No: drumbooth!
Visually, the Vic Firth are certainly an impressive sight: with their red driver capsules which have an effective fibreglass texture look, eye-catching hinges and physical dimensions of around 12.5 cm in width and 18 cm in height, these headphones look decidedly bulky. The wearing experience can also be described as quite robust: To get the headphones on your ears at all, you have to pull the pods slightly apart and place them from above your head onto your ears, whereupon the earpieces slide out of the hinges and the headphones press against your skull with a very distinct feeling of pressure. Surprisingly, these headphones are quite comfortable to wear despite the powerful grip. Of course, not as comfortable and inconspicuous as a pair of airy, open headphones, but for half an hour – that’s all a normal drum take should last – you can wear the Vic Firth without any discomfort. After that, the strong contact pressure and the inevitable heat build-up become noticeable. But while wearing the headphones, they do full justice to their claim of providing effective, passive attenuation of external noise. Moreover, there is not the slightest worry that the headphones will fall off your head, no matter how artistic your movements are. The attenuation is chosen in such a way that you have a significant (20 decibels) reduction of external noise but not complete silence. So even with headphones on, it is still possible to play your drum kit and hear it without any monitor mix – just much quieter.
With cable or without
The Vic Firth Bluetooth Isolation Headphones VXHP0012 can be connected to music via Bluetooth 5.0 using the AAC or mSBC codec or via the supplied 1.5-metre audio cable.
When using Bluetooth, three buttons on the left side can be used to switch them on and off, control the volume and skip back and forth in playlists. In addition, a microphone that can be used to make phone calls has been integrated. However, the voice quality on the other end of the call is poor, so it is unlikely that you will want to hold extended meetings with the VXHP0012. It was also noticeable that with a Bluetooth connection at high volume, a very minimal hiss could be heard just before the audio was sent to the earpiece.
Of course, in a band context, if the monitoring or playback material is fed through the headphones, you need a pretty good sound stage, as due to the strong external noise attenuation, what the speakers transmit is the main source of information. This is where the Vic Firth really steps on the gas, both in terms of sound and the volume that the headphones are able to deliver. It’s really amazing what an extremely balanced and linear sound comes out of this rather chunky device. In fact, I had almost nothing to complain about here: The music was reproduced full-spectrum over the entire listening range with impressive linearity, which is something that is more familiar from studio and monitoring headphones. It was only in the highs that I would have wished for a little more sparkle and shine – but that’s perhaps just as well, considering the foreseeable higher working volumes at which these headphones will be operated. In any case, when it comes to getting really loud, the VXHP0012 were in their element. I’ve never had Bluetooth headphones on my ears that can be turned up as loud as the Vic Firth.
Sometimes you just need a little bit extra. In the case of the Vic Firth Bluetooth Isolation Headphones VXHP0012, it’s all about providing the most effective passive external noise attenuation possible to protect the performing musician’s ears – drummers in particular- from their own sound. These Vic Firth headphones do this exceptionally well, attenuating ambient sound by a whopping 20 decibels. What the diaphragm then delivers to the ears is absolutely convincing in terms of sound quality and maximum volume. With their distinctly linear characteristics, the Vic Firth are an exemplary match for the ideal sound for good monitoring, and their immense volume potential predestines them for use in band and stage contexts. In the end, it is only their unavoidably high pressure on the ears that limits the maximum time you can keep the Vic Firth on your ears.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance34 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)101.35 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head1,602.5 g
- Weight with cable370 g
- Weight without cable328 g
- Cable length150 cm
What's in the box
- Mini jack cable
- USB charging cable
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- BT codecs: mSBC, AAC