Headphones are an essential DJ tool: while DJing without your headphones is technically feasible, it’s any DJ’s worst nightmare to arrive at a gig and find out that you left your cans at home. Plus you wear these things on your head and around your neck all night long.
We often buy headphones and use them as is, and with good reason: with so many to choose from, we just pick out the one that we like the look, sound, and feel of, and that’s it. But you can take it a step further by personalising them through custom bits that you can purchase to give your cans a distinct look.
In this article, we focus on customising the venerable Sennheiser HD 25, which has been a staple in DJ booths. It’s well-loved, but the years are starting to show, especially in a market flooded with flash (eg Beats, Sol) and sleeker looks (eg Pioneer HDJ-2000 mk2, Sennheiser HDJ 8).
How I came to love the HD 25
I am also a sound engineer, and as such sound quality matters to me: I don’t like much “colouration” or unnecessary boosts in the lows and highs, so I wanted to get the Sennheiser HD 25 II, arguably one of the best headphones for both studio and live use, as well as DJing.
So in late 2010 I bought myself a brand new pair: and they have served me well. Now almost five years down the line, they still sound great and look almost as new as they did the first time I used them. Whenever I unpack my 25s from my bag, whether in the DJ booth or at a live sound gig, I get that knowing look of acceptance from people, as if saying “Welcome brother, you clearly know your stuff!”.
Despite their popularity and respect in the community, one thing the Sennheiser HD 25s have never been known for is their “sexiness”: when I use them in a casual setting like on a flight, I look like the old geezer I am, with passengers thinking I am probably listening to some “lame jazz” or old folks’ opera tunes.
Being vain as only DJs can be, this was getting to me and I felt like it was high time to do something about it. Turns out there’s something you can do to make these longstanding phones look sexy, or at least a little bit sexier than they originally were…
3 Steps To A Sexier Sennheiser
1. Go aluminium on your ear cups (if you can)
The Sennheiser HD 25 Aluminum 25th year anniversary edition has brushed aluminium shells and hinge covers. These already make a lot of difference in the looks department, and rumour has it that they sound even slightly better than the traditional plastic shells.
The first step is to sell your “old” HD 25s and pick up these HD 25 Aluminum phones if you can. As HD 25s easily last years if you take care of them, you can almost certainly find someone to take them off your hands for a decent price, kind of like the way a well kept, used MacBook retains value better than a plastic PC laptop.
If you don’t want to let go of your current HD 25 pair, or you’re fine with having the ear cups as is, then skip on over to the next step…
2. Swap out the straight cable and go curly
For us DJs the straight cable has to go: straight cables get tangled more easily and can get caught when we move around in the booth. The Sennheiser coiled cable replacement is a more practical consideration. Granted it doesn’t come cheap, but once you feel and use it, you begin to understand that the cable is a piece of quality gear too. It’s an easy mod, as well: two screws and two small colour-coded plugs are all you need to undo and redo, and off you go.
Ready for the booth… or are they? The result is already more updated compared to the regular HD 25s, but it’s still not there yet. There’s one last thing left to do…
3. Pimp those pads
Our friends at Zomo make velour pad upgrade kits for the Sennheiser HD 25s which you can order direct from the Zomo website. They come in various colours, each containing two ear pads and two self-adhesive padded strips that go on the headband for added comfort. I decided to go bold and got myself a nice, loud red colour pictured above.
My Sennheiser HD 25 cans are now looking fresh: the velour ear pads feel great, they still sound as good as they ever did, they don’t get accidentally yanked around when I’m DJing, and of course from now on, I look the part on a plane! Now, you be the judge – are these sexy cans or what?
Do you use HD 25s when you DJ? How do customise your cans to give them extra appeal? Share your tips with us below.