A quality set of headphones is one of the most important pieces of gear that a DJ needs.
The worst thing that an aspiring DJ can do is to step into the arena wearing some cheap and nasty headphones that don’t permit him to hear how the beats are playing together.
In this article, we will help you to ensure that that nightmare scenario never happens.
We’ll go in-depth on the 5 best DJ headphones on the current market. You’ll also find a comprehensive DJ headphone FAQ below our product reviews.
Best DJ Headphones
BEST OVERALL: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
- Type: wired
- Jack: 3.5mm
- Frequency Response: 15-20,000 Hz
- Cable Length: 3 m
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones is an updated version of the ATH-M50, which was designed for professional DJs. That model was extremely popular with everyday users.
Audio-Technica responded by producing this version which is geared more toward non-pro users while still retaining the high specs that made the original ATX-M50 so popular.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones do not feature an iOS remote.
The noise isolation on these headphones is ok, rather than outstanding. The bass is also a little bit overpowering.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones provide you with 3 interchangeable cables. You get the same outstanding sound reproduction that you get with the original headphones. These are large over-ear headphones, making them bigger than on-air headphones.
These headphones are made from hardy plastic, yet are still durable and sturdy. There is some metal involved in the construction, including a ring of metal inlaid into the ear cups and there is a band of steel that runs through the head band. The finished effect is a sleek, slimline look that pleases without trying to be pretentious.
Unlike the original M50, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones provide you with a removable cable. It makes use of a standard 2.5mm socket that features a twist to lock mechanism.
You get three cables with your purchase. This includes a coiled cable, which is great for DJ work, as it is easy to work with and less likely to cause you to trip up. The variety of cabling makes these headphones very versatile for both in-home and mobile applications. They are even foldable for ease of transport.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones provide a good deal of room for your ears, which enhances user comfort. This will be appreciated when you’re into your third hour of a DJ gig. The headband of this set does a great job of evenly spreading the pressure over the head.
The sound produced by these headphones provides you with a solid bass, that is matched with the control, separation and expansiveness that all DJ headphones aspire to. For the relatively low price of these headphones the sound quality is exceptional. If there was one complaint, it would be that the bass is a little bit overpowering.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones deliver an excellent sound quality and are a comfortable wearing headphone that is ideal for DJ applications.
It comes in at a good price point and provides you with some nice extras to sweeten the deal. This one stands out as our favorite set of headphones for DJs.
RUNNER UP: V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone
- Type: wired
- Jack: V-Port V3
- Frequency Response: 5-30,000 Hz Cable Length: 1.4m
The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone is the fourth in a line of specialist DJ headphones created by V-Moda.
These models have all been crowdsourced using feedback from professional DJs, producers, and artists in order to craft the most functional, DJ friendly headphones on the market.
The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone is an expensive set of headphones, coming at twice the price of our top-rated product.
The passive noise isolation is not that effective at high volumes. At higher volumes, you will also get noise leaks from these headphones.
The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone features some unique innovations, such as dual inputs and collapsible earcups. The product is available in black, matte grey or white and features striking diamond-cut earcup plates that you even have the option of customizing.
These headphones are supported by a steel frame. The earcups are made of sturdy plastic, while the headband is covered with leather. It all adds up to a high level of comfort. You get a Kevlar cable with these headphones which features a 24 karat gold 3.5mm plug.
Your purchase of the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone comes with an exoskeleton carry case. You also get a one button mic cable, sharply cable and a ¼ adaptor and V corks to plug up one of the inputs as needed.
The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone sound quality is impressive. You get a powerful bass without compromising mid range and treble performance.
This is an improvement on previous models in which the bass tended to drown out the mid range sound. These headphones also feature passive noise isolation.
This works well up to about 75 percent volume but struggles to shut out exterior noise beyond that level.
The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone provides some nice extra features such as dual inputs and collapsible earcups that make them especially useful for DJs.
They are quite expensive but deliver a very good sound level, despite the noise leaks at higher levels.
ALTERNATIVE: Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
- Type: Wired
- Jack: Gold, stereo unimatch plug ¼” and ⅛”
- Frequency Response: 10-20,000 Hz
- Cable Length: 3m
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones deliver a pristine sound level that is free of distortion, powerful and balanced.
This is largely due to the strong 40m drivers that power this little unit.
The earpads on the Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone tend to overheat the ears after about an hour of use, proving a tad uncomfortable.
Also, you may feel some uncomfortable pressure on your ears if you have a large frame.
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones capture a broad range of frequencies with a range between 10,000 and 20,000 Hz.
The clarity of the bass, which is the bane of many headphones’ existence, is exceptional. It is clear and strong without overpowering the mid range and treble.
The solid build of the Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones, which is supported by a steel frame makes them durable enough to handle many years of wear and tear.
In addition, these are extremely dynamic headphones, able to bring out the full richness of the music being played.
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones come with a 9.8-foot long coiled cord, making them ideal for DJ work. You also get a gold plated connector and a ¼ inch adapter. This opens up the world of connectivity to include your TV, iPhone, iPad or other electronic entertainment device.
The closed back fit of these headphones reduces external noise coming in as well as sound leaking out.
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones are a fantastic set of headphones that come in at a very affordable price range.
They provide super clear crystal sound, do a good job of preventing noise leaks and are impressively durable for long term use.
BEST FOR THE MONEY WINNER: OneOdio Adapter-Free Closed Back Over-Ear DJ Stereo Monitor Headphones
- Type: wired
- Jack: 3.5mm/6.35mm stereo
- Frequency Response: 20 hz – 20,000 H
- Cable Length: 1: 2m-3m 9.8ft 3.5mm to 6.35mm coiled cable
OneOdio Adapter-Free Closed Back Over-Ear DJ Stereo Monitor Headphones are a beautiful looking set of headphones that are also very functional, produce great sound quality and come in at an unbeatable price point.
OneOdio Adapter-Free Closed Back Over-Ear DJ Stereo Monitor Headphones have a slightly overpowering bass.
OneOdio Adapter-Free Closed Back Over-Ear DJ Stereo Monitor Headphones feature an adjustable and stretchable headband to ensure that you get just the right over your head fit.
This is important when you are DJing for hours on end, preventing the discomfort that often comes with less forgiving headbands. High quality padded ear cups provide a high degree of comfort while also reducing noise leakage.
A key feature of these headphones for DJs is the ability of each ear cup to swivel to 90 degrees. That makes it a piece of cake to adjust the cups so that one ear is exposed as needed.
The sound quality of the OneOdio Adapter-Free Closed Back Over-Ear DJ Stereo Monitor Headphones is top of the line, thanks to the large 50mm speaker unit drivers in conjunction with neodymium magnets.
The result is a very powerful bass, crystal clear mediums and crisp vocals. The overall sound is very balanced. These headphones are foldable allowing you to carry them with you wherever you go.
OneOdio Adapter-Free Closed Back Over-Ear DJ Stereo Monitor Headphones represent great quality at a great price. These headphones are extremely comfortable with a stretchable headband and 90-degree swivel ear cups. Highly recommended!
BEST FOR THE MONEY RUNNER UP: Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Headphones
- Type: wired
- Jack: 3.5mm and 1/4 inch has both sizes
- Frequency Response: 10-20,000 H
- Cable Length: 1.4m
Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Headphones are professional DJ headphones that are offered on the marketplace at a great price. These are the updates to the original Pioneer DJ headphones that were released around five years ago.
Larger wearers may find that the Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Headphones are a bit tight on the sides of the head leading to discomfort after more than an hour of use. You do not get a coiled cable with these headphones, so you’ll have to contend with a straight one during your DJ gigs.
Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Headphones are overear headphones that provide a crisp, clear sound and deliver wearer comfort and style at n impressive price point. The headphone has a mini XLR connector so you can connect the cable.
The headband is somewhat oblong and not as wide as some of the other DJ headbands in the market. This ergonomic design does a great job of hugging the curves at the top of your head.
This is both comfortable and aesthetic, adding to the sleek slim-lined look of these headphones.
Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Headphones is pretty lightweight, which is a little surprising considering that the housing is almost completely made of metal. The foldable earcups swivel toward you 90 degrees as well as folding out.
They allow the unit to fold down into a compact ball for easy storage when traveling. The rotational ability of the earcups also offers a lot of options in terms of wearing style when you just want to cover one ear.
The ear pads of this headphone are made of memory foam. These add to your comfort level while also providing a decent amount of sound isolation. This is important when you re DJing in a noisy environment.
Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Headphones provide you with a great sound quality. The highs are crisp and detailed without sounding overly bright or tinny.
The mid range is full and clear with a nice degree of separation among instruments. The low end sound is rich, full and detailed without sounding overly bumpy.
These headphones provide you with a degree of sound isolation thanks to the ear pads. That means that you don’t really need to turn them up in a noisy environment. However, if you need that extra volume the Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Headphones can get very loud.
If you are after a premium, top of the line set of headphones then the Pioneer Pro DJ DJ Headphones may well be the product for you. They sound good, look great and are well built.
DJ Headphones FAQ
Why do radio DJ´s wear headphones?
DJ headphones allow the wearer to more precisely hear the nuances of the music that he or she is mixing.
It will allow the DJ to hear a quality, solid bass thump and prevent the mid range frequencies from drowning out the rest of the music, preventing him from finding the cue points for his rock tunes.
The better the quality of the headphones, the better able the DJ will be to mix and beat match.
What type of headphones do DJ´s use?
Professional DJs look for six specific things when buying headphones. Let’s consider them;
Weight/Comfort – the best headphones for DJing are lightweight so that they don’t hurt the ears once they’ve been sitting on the head for hours on end.
However, the lightest might not be the best. If they are too light, they could potentially fall off your head when you lean forward to look down at the mixer. They may even be so light that they don’t sit tightly over the ears.
This could cause them to let in external noises sources, which is the last thing that you want.
You want the ear cups to be soft and to sit comfortably on your ears. The headband should be comfortable when worn in a normal position on your head – and just as comfortable when you twist the band back to free up one of your ears to hear the monitor in the DJ booth.
Closed-back – closed back headphones have seals around the outer parts of the ear cups to prevent external noise from getting in and corrupting the sound that you are focusing on. The best headphones for DJs will be closed back and will sit nice and tight in your ears. In fact, they should feel a little like ear mufflers with speakers inside them.
Wide frequency response – human hearing is in the range of between 20 Hz and 16,000 Hz. A good set of DJ headphones will cover frequencies from 5 Hz to 30,000 Hz.
Low impedance – impedance relates to electrical resistance. You need to match the impedance of your headphones as closely as you can to the impedance of your mixer. A significant mismatch between the two can result in distortion, unwanted noise and even a lowered maximum volume. These things are not good to the future of your DJing career!
High sound pressure level – sound pressure level tells you how loud the headphones can play. They need to be able to play loud so that you can cope with noisy DJ booths but they don’t have to be mind blowingly loud.
Single-sided coil cables – coiled cables provide DJs with a lot more length without the hassle and potential danger of having long, dangly straight cables that are likely to bunch up on the floor and be a stumbling block. Single-sided cables are attached to just one earpiece and travel to the other ear cup through the headband.
Swiveling ear pieces – swiveling ear pieces allow you to pull the ear cup behind your ear without pulling the headband from its normal position across the middle of your head. This makes it more comfortable and reduces the stress on the head. Cheap plastic headphones may snap after you twist them backward too many times.
User-replaceable parts – the best quality DJ headphones such as Sennheiser’s HD25 and HD25SP, are designed to be completely modular, with each piece user-replaceable. This gives you peace of mind knowing that you can replace one part if it breaks and then carry on mixing.
Can you DJ without headphones?
Yes, you can DJ without headphones.
However, you will need a decent audio software package such as LogicPro in order to reset the tempo. After you have mixed the same tracks over and over you will get to know how they mix with other tracks.
Before long you will know the exact cue point in which to add a new track. Obviously, you will not be able to cut out external noise when you are DJing without headphones.
What is the best way to connect DJ headphones to your studio equipment?
Connect your headphones to the headphone output on your mixer.
When you play music, make sure that the headphone level is low to keep from hurting your ears. Ideally, it should be less than half.
Can you use DJ headphones for gaming and vice versa?
Yes, you can use DJ headphones for gaming.
However, to get the best performance from each application you should be selective in the type of headphones that you use.
Gaming headsets, whether for console or PC, many require voice commands or for the gamer to communicate with team-mates.
This will mean that you will need excellent reception so that messages can be clearly relayed and received. Another important feature for gaming headphones is noise cancellation functionality.
Gamers do not want any external sound that may interfere with their gaming experience. This is the same for DJs who need to cut out all of the blaring noise going on around them in the club in order to focus on the job at hand.
Comfort is another important consideration for gamers as they will most likely be playing for many hours at a time. Again this is the same requirement as for DJs.
Extra headphone requirements for DJs include the ability to use one ear at a time, so that the DJ is able to listen to the monitor with one ear and the incoming track with the other.
As a result, the earphones should feature earcups that twist and swivel. The DJ will also want a set of headphones with a coiled cable that is less likely to be tripped over.
As we can see from the above, quite a few of the requirements for DJing and Gaming headphones are similar – while those that are not do not cut either one out. For those reasons, you should find that your DJ headphones will work very nicely for gaming.
Should I save up for the most expensive DJ headphones I can get?
When it comes to headphones, the general advice given by DJs is not to look for bargains, but to push the boat out and get the best you can afford.
Good headphones will make mixing easier as the sounds will be crisper and they will last longer. The five products we have reviewed here represent the best of medium to low market segments .
When it comes to the premium market, the top three are Sennheiser HD 25-ii, AKG K81 and Sennheiser HD25 MKii.
The beauty of Sennheisers is that you can buy parts for them separately at very reasonable prices so potentially they could last a lifetime (link to Sennheiser review article).
Should I use earplugs when I’m DJing?
Yes, you should definitely get into the habit of wearing earplugs, not only when you are DJing, but also when you are practicing at home. By the time you do your first gig slipping in your earplugs should have already become an ingrained habit.
When you are DJing you may want to only wear one plug, that being the one that listens to the music from the monitor. The other ear will get some protection from the headphone that is covering it.
Because the decibel level in a club can get as high as 100 dB, you need to take the protection of your hearing seriously, especially if you are working there several times per week.
So, even though you should wear just one earplug in the ear that is open to the monitor when you are mixing, you should put the other earplug in when you take your headphones off.
The earplug reduces the loudness of the sound that enters the ear that is open to the monitor. This allows you to reduce the volume at which the headphones are playing.
When it comes to buying earplugs, don’t go for the cheap foam version that you pick up for next to nothing at your local pharmacy. These will effectively cut out high volume levels but do a poor job of retaining the quality of the music you’re listening to.
Some good options for earplugs that will retain the integrity of the music you are listening to are Elacin Er-20s or Hocks Noisebrakers.
Noisebrakers embrace the laws of physics to bounce the sound coming into the earplug back out again, which has the effect of not letting anything over 80 decibels into your ears without sacrificing the quality of what you’re listening to.
They cost considerably more than the basic foam earplugs, but they do work well, and save your ears while still making it easier to mix your music.
How do you use your headphones as a microphone when DJing?
Sometimes when you are DJing and the crowd’s getting into it, you get the urge to grab a microphone and shout out to the audience. The only problem is there’s no mic in sight.
Never fear – here’s an old-school trick you can use to turn your DJ headphones into an instant microphone. Simply unplug your headphones from the headphone socket and plug it into the microphone input, turn on the mic, and bring up the level.
Now speak into the earcups and check which one is louder. Adjust the volume on that earplug and then speak into the ear cup.Obviously, this won’t work as good as a real mic, but it will work in a pinch.
What are the controls on a DJ mixer for?
A DJ mixer will have three main controls: headphone volume control, cue mix and cue buttons.
Of course, there will also be an input for your headphones. The headphone volume knob will control all volume levels to your headphones. This will not affect the volume of the main speakers.
The cue mix will either be in the form of a rotary knob or a mini crossfader.
When this control is in the central position, you will be able to hear both channels. When it is moved to the left, you will hear the left channels, which are 1 and 3. Then, when moved to the right, you will hear the right channels, being 2 and 4.
Adjusting the cue mix will allow you to blend the channels in the headphones. The cue channel will allow you to select the channels that you want to hear in your headphones.
More expensive mixers will also provide you with cue buttons for effects, samplers and a booth monitor.
The best headphones for DJs on the current market are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones.
Coming in as our second best DJ headphones is the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone.
Rounding out our top 3 professional DJ headphones is the Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone.
The best DJ headphones for the money are the OneOdio Adapter-Free Closed Back Over-Ear DJ Stereo Monitor Headphones.
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