Headphones are an absolute necessity for any DJ. Sure, you can get away mixing with iPhone ear buds or consumer headphones – you can even just “ride waveforms” if you’re mixing on a laptop or tablet – but you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage. That’s because consumer headphones don’t have the necessary bass response, clarity and noise isolation that DJs rely on to zero in on sonic details when mixing in a crowded, noisy venue.
That’s why DJ headphones are a specialist piece of monitoring gear, and one that us DJs take seriously. Headphones that are not up to task can make beatmixing more difficult because you aren’t able to properly hear what you’re cueing up next, and it also ruins your hearing in the long run because you keep cranking up the volume just so you can hear your headphone cue mix above the venue noise.
In this piece we list five of the best DJ headphones – if you’re thinking of trading up to a better pair of cans, you can’t go wrong with any one of these picks.
Five Best DJ Headphones
1. Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10
The Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 is the newest pair of headphones in this list, and it’s one of the best out there today. The overall comfort and noise isolation provided by the cushy ear pads are second to none, and we love the deep bass and clear highs that the onboard speaker drivers deliver.
Pioneer DJ markets these as “high-definition” headphones capable of playing Hi-Res audio files, but even if you just spin with normal MP3 files you’ll appreciate the clarity and tight sound of these phones. The only downside is that they’re on the chunky, bulky side, so you might skip these if you prefer smaller on-ear cans.
2. Sennheiser HD 25-1 II
Debuting in 1988, the iconic Sennheiser HD 25 is the oldest out of all the headphones on this list, but it’s a model that continues to be favoured by professional DJs the world over. It’s revered for its lightweight build, making it ideal for extended DJ use.
Tweaks have been made to its design over the years, and today’s HD 25-1 II model features a split headband that can be adjusted for comfort without adding significant heft and weight to the headphone. Of course, the sound is still as good as ever, with a tight bass signature that punches above its speaker driver size class. This is the headphone of choice for many travelling techno and house DJs, and one that won’t go out of style anytime soon (or ever).
Buy it now: Amazon
3. TMA-2 AIAIAI
The modular TMA-2 from Danish company AIAIAI continues to improve on the original, adding different speaker driver models and ear cup sizes that you can pick from when building your own headphone pair. The latest innovation includes a Bluetooth headband that gives any TMA-2 headphone model the ability to be used wireless with smartphones and tablets. You can still used them with a cable since each speaker driver has a jack for wired connections. A digital DJ favourite that’s well-loved by music producers and clued-up listeners too.
4. V-Moda Crossfade M-100
V-Moda has been quiet on the DJ front these past few years, but we reckon it’s because the company still sells its Crossfade M-100 headphones in droves. The V-Moda M-100 has a unique hexagon ear cup design that helps it stand out from all the other DJ headphone models out there. Though it’s pushing six years since its introduction into the DJ world, it’s still worn and used by EDM and big room DJs because of its low-end response and killer looks. You can even 3D print or have your logo laser etched on the ear cup shields for added branding.
5. Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT
The Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT is an update to the original, this time with added Bluetooth wireless connectivity for on-the-go use. While not primarily a pair of headphones for DJing, the ATH-M50x is favoured by DJ/producers because it’s excellent for music production use and critical listening applications. It’s got a tight low-end and an excellent reproduction of the stereo sound stage making it a great monitoring alternative in a home studio that already has a pair of desktop speakers. The noise isolation is its weakest point though, and you may find yourself turning up the volume in a crowded bar or DJ booth.
Buy it now: Amazon
Your choice of DJ headphones boils down to preference and budget. If you’ve been DJing for a while and have outgrown your beginner pair of headphones, our recommendation is to buy the best that you can get for the money that you’re willing to spend. All the headphones on this list are reliable and built to last, so if you’re thinking twice about spending, it’s worth considering that you’re going to be using them for a long time anyway.
What’s your favourite pair of DJ headphones? Which of these would you like to add to your collection? Let us know in the comments.