My conga practice is hurting my ears. I foolishly tried foam earplugs, but the -29dB renders practice useless--can't correct my slaps if I can't hear. My solution idea is a microphone and a pair of headphones, with something in between the two that has a volume control on it. The sound in the headphones has to be close enough to reality that I can tell crappy conga playing from less crappy conga playing . I have no clue as to what "close enough" is, nor how to specify it. I don't know what kind of device can, should or needs to go between the mic and headphones (duh...I assume it's an amp of some sort). Other extraneous info: someday soon I'd like to record me on congas, me on bongo, me on shaker (it's all about me) and put it all together in a single recording. So I'm thinking one of them nifty $600-800 4-track digital units. I mention this because I'd like the solution for my immediate problem (protect my ears yet allow me to hear myself play at a controllable volume) to be as reusable as possible in the recording environment of the future--capital preservation as it were. In other words, $500 in reusable gear is more attractive than $300 in non-reusable gear. That's about all the better I can do for a question--my ignorance would astound you. "Ample headroom" to me means I don't mess up my hair when I get in the car.