There are so many factors that go into buying the best pair of DJ headphones. From the build quality to the frequency response and how you can transport them.
You could be a DJ learning the ropes, or a pro looking to replace their favorite piece of gear. The real test is when you bring them out for a live performance.
Within a few minutes of a live set, you should realize whether your headphones are up to scratch. If you are struggling to hear the bassline and those hi-hats, it may become tricky to line up the next track.
That struggle can mean a misstep, and the crowd would know instantly. Like a glitch in the system, it is obvious when beatmatching goes awry.
Your headphones should feel comfortable and provide you with the sounds you need to hear. With a snug fit and a build you can rely on, they should be treasured and looked after.
But not too much, they should be able to take a hit whether on your head or in your bag. This is one investment you really want to look after.
Best For All Round Performance And Reputation
If you are going to invest in a pair of DJ headphones, they might as well be the industry standard.
Take a closer look at the ears of a DJ or sound engineer the next time you go into a club or live venue. Chances are that they are wearing a pair of Sennheisers, if so they might as well be a pair of HD25s.
These have been leading the pack for years due to their comfortable on-ear cushions and lightweight build.
For a live DJ, you can enjoy single-ear listening and high sensitivity from aluminum voice coils which we liked in our testing. These cans are equipped to handle very high sound pressures and it is little wonder they remain so popular.
- Low Weight – A durable build that is still lightweight and comfortable
- Single Ear Listening – A rotatable capsule for suitably intimate single-ear listening
- High Sensitivity – Lightweight aluminum voice coils for extra high sensitivity and a no-nonsense sound
- Thick On-Ear Cushions – The closed-back ear cups and on-ear cushions make these headphones essential for blocking out ambient noise
- Great Reputation – From professional DJs to sound engineers, you will find these headphones all over a live venue as their reputation is that good
- Occasional Tight Fit – Some users have reported that the headphones are too much of a tight fit
Also available to purchase at Sennheiser’s website
Best For Customizing
V-Moda Crossfade M-100
You can make them stand out even further by customizing them yourself with replaceable side panels to fit your look.
Then again, the minimal design is that good you may want to leave it alone. Few headphones look this stylish and still provide an exquisite build quality, which we enjoyed in our experience of this product.
From the Ergosoft foam cushions that dutifully block out ambient sound to a versatile dual input cable setup. There are subtle changes from the already winning design of the original M-100 yet if it ain’t broke…
- Customization Option – Dual inputs for a versatile cable setup and replaceable side panels
- V-Shaped Sound Signature – Enjoy a punchy bass with a 3D soundstage you can dive into
- Ergosoft Foam Cushions – Feel the comfort and excellent noise isolation thanks to a tight grip
- Minimal Design – Formidable performance in a modern, minimal design
- Tight Fit On Large Heads – For those with bigger skulls, the fit may be a little too tight
Also available to purchase at V-Moda’s website
Best For Sound Isolation
When concentrating on your set, you need a pair of DJ headphones that you can rely on. With the widest frequency range, the Pioneer HDJ-X10 should oblige.
This is a pair of cans where you can expect a balanced sound, for the highs to be bracingly high and the lows as low as you could want them. That’s from 5 Hz all the way up to 40 kHz which should cover pretty much everything.
All that range would be wasted without the excellent sound isolation. Thankfully, these headphones have it with a reassuringly strong clamping force from outward angled ear cups and folding hinges.
There is also protection from sweat with a nano coating, and protection from everything else when you put them in their hardshell carry case. Few headphones offer any such protection from sweat so we really enjoyed that in our experience of this product.
- High-Resolution Sound Range – Enjoy the full range from 5 Hz to 40 kHz to hear frequencies other headphones cannot get close to
- Nano Coating – For DJing in the hottest of clubs, a nano coating will be sweat-resistant and protective
- Folding Hinges – Expect a solid clamp on your ears for that snug fit from outward angled ear cups
- Lack of Jack Versatility – These headphones only accept the L-type mini-jack which may prove difficult to get along with
Also available to purchase directly from Pioneer
Best For Live DJing
The balance of the sound is made with 45mm neodymium magnet drivers. The speakers are covered in foam and leather for a maximum comfort.
Add in 90° of movement in swiveling ear cups and single-ear monitoring becomes very easy. With both ear cups on, the circumaural design is ideal for sound isolation in a loud club.
When these are on your head, you should appreciate the headband material and professional-grade earpad. No wonder the sonic performance is critically acclaimed by audio engineers.
You should really be able to discern the bass response, making beatmatching a doddle which we liked in our testing. These cans are easy to transport too from a collapsible construction that means you can save space.
- Swiveling Ear Cups – Enjoy 90° of swiveling action which makes for simple single-ear monitoring
- Super Sound Isolation – Over-ear design to block out ambient noise in loud clubs
- Collapsible Design – Great for taking on the road as these collapse for excellent portability
- Excellent Headband Material – Enhancing a comfortable fit is the headband material which is also durable
- Decent Bass Response – Hear those thumping basslines easily for straightforward beatmatching
- Lackluster Sound Quality – This is a great mid-range option though several headphones have better sound quality
- Chunky Build – Lightweight yet these still feel a bit on the bulkier side
Also available to purchase directly from Audio-Technica
Best For DJs/Producers
You may have noticed that few headphones offer much versatility. They may be great for DJing but not much else.
If you want some cans that emphasize those mid and high frequencies then getting the MDR-7506 from Sony is a great option.
Sure, the bass may not stand up to the competition. However, that makes for a pair of headphones that work well in the DJ booth and behind a production desk.
Closed-back isolation surrounds your ears to cancel out any ambient noise which we enjoyed in our testing. These may be some of the oldest pair of headphones yet that tells you how renowned they are.
With a crisp sound quality and powerful drivers, you should want to keep hold of these for years to come.
- Versatility – These are ideal headphones if you listen out for mid and high frequencies while producing and DJing
- Active Noise Cancellation – Closed-back isolation really locks your ears in which helps for focusing on the sound itself
- Stunning Sound Quality – Savor the crisp definition of those mid and high frequencies
- Versatile Use – Reliable in a live environment, the studio, or at home
- Lacks Bass – While excelling at mid and high frequencies, that leaves the bass lacking
Also available to purchase through Sony’s website
Finding the best DJ headphones for you could be a case of knowing where you expect to use them. Headphones may come in largely the same shape but are all built differently to find their own niche in the market.
Some headphones are optimized for a live DJ while others are better to practice with at home or in the studio.
The durability and portability of your DJ headphones are also important factors to consider. Having a pair that lasts should be seen as a smart investment rather than buying a cheap pair that snaps easily.
Having the best sound quality matters little if you are only going to be listening out for certain beats and frequencies.
You may tend to go for basslines rather than mid and high frequencies so find the right frequency range to suit your tastes. For a set that could last hours, you should prioritize comfort if they are going to kept on permanently.
Perhaps the most crucial element in your DJ headphones is the isolation. Essentially, keeping the sound of your audience out so you can concentrate on your set.
That means a pair of closed-back headphones which lets you focus on the music you are playing. Of course, you can see if your audience is enjoying the set rather than listening to them making it audibly clear.
As soon as you put on your headphones, most, if not all, outside noise should be blocked out. Your main role as a DJ is to provide the songs and you may find that difficult if you cannot hear the breaks properly.
Being able to zone out into your headphones to prime the next track is crucial to keeping the party going. It should be pretty obvious how well your set is going down judging by how many revelers you have convinced to dance.
When looking at the isolation, try to ensure that you can hear the bass properly. That will likely suggest that the headphones emphasize the low end in the frequency response.
As long as you can hear that bassline clearly, you should be able to beatmatch properly (without the need for software).
When investing in a pair of headphones, you want to ensure durability. This is a key point for a DJ who plays live and embarks on weeks, even months, away on tour.
The last thing you want is having to buy a new pair of headphones halfway through a tour and then testing them out on a live audience.
If you cannot bear to them for very long you won’t be giving yourself much chance to look after the set. A tough build should be able to take a few hours of work and then look after themselves when the headphones are thrown in your bag or a case.
There is usually a compromise between how much you have paid for your headphones with how you treat them. Certainly, the more expensive designs should be looked after yet their build and durability should be factored into the price.
If you are willing to pay top dollar you could find yourself unnaturally giving your headphones a light treatment. You should be fully enjoying and embracing them through continued use, not leaving them in a carry case out of fear you will break them.
Due to how headphones are constructed with a hinge for folding and ear cups that swivel, you should expect some movement.
Those moving parts should be flexible but to a certain extent. A well-constructed pair of headphones should expect some spillage and a bit of heavy treatment yet stand up to it.
For anyone that has DJ’d for six hours on end with a pair of ill-fitting headphones, you really do not want to do that again. The headphones should be light and a close yet comfortable fit.
Headphones that deliver a formidable sound yet have your neck arching are likely not worth the bother. It simply is not worth the discomfort, no matter how ideal the sound quality is.
Also, a pair of headphones that are a strain to take off might mean you only wear them sparingly. It should feel like second nature to pull on a pair of headphones, not a chore.
There may be a decision on whether to go for on-ear headphones or over-ear. If it is comfort you prefer, on-ear headphones tend to place less pressure on your head.
However, for a better fit, you may want over-ear headphones for that reassuringly close seal. Over-ear headphones also fare better in loud environments should you wish to block out noise.
There are two essential elements to the sound quality of your DJ headphones. Each one is specific to where you expect to use those cans. For a live DJ in a particularly loud club or bar, you should expect the sound to be loud and punchy.
Definitive enough so you know how and where to factor in the next track and remain in the groove. You should be able to feel the bassline from the bass response and identify the hi-hats from the mid/high frequencies.
The sound quality for mixing at home or in the studio needs a different response.
Forgo the punch and look for a decidedly flat frequency response. In a somewhat more private environment, you want to ensure the sound is as clean as possible. That means finding a pair of headphones that refuse to color or embellish the sound.
How you transport your headphones says a lot about how you want to look after them. If you tend to leave them around your neck for long periods then that may be because you want them close at hand.
Even outside the DJ booth, the headphones are an extension of you and you do not want to part with them. That’s fine. However, headphones that can fold easily into a compact shape is a feature to look out for. Better still, if they come with a solid carry case included.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should DJs Be Looking For In A Pair Of Headphones?
Successful DJs are likely to be performing their set for hours. That is what they are paid the big bucks for. With little option for a break, they typically consider comfort their number one priority.
That can be from the padding in the headband to how snugly the earpad fits and how adjustable the headphones are to perfectly fit their head.
That comfort could also come from freedom of movement so coiled or detachable cords are a good option. Better still, wireless headphones so you can dance in the booth without fear of catching your cords.
Do You Need A High-Quality Pair Of Headphones To DJ Well?
In order to hear the songs clearly and mix them properly, the sound quality of your headphones has to be top-notch. That means being able to discern the hi-hats from the basslines so beatmatching is relatively straightforward.
Having headphones that have noise-canceling capabilities also means that you can be fully focused on your mix and getting the volume just right.