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Best DJ Headphones

Updated: Jul 29, 2022 3:59 pm

If you want to buy a pair of DJ headphones, who better to ask than real DJ’s with years of professional experience under their belt? Our extensive survey of DJ’s from all corners of the world helped us come up with a list of best DJ headphones, and we are more than happy to present you the results.

The headphones on the list vary in terms of their price, construction, sound signature, and the type of music they will be best suited for. By following our recommendations, you are sure to end up happy with your purchase and elevate your stage presence to the next level. We advise you to take things slowly and read each description and review with the greatest care. After all, your headphones connect you directly with your music and your audience.

1. Pioneer HDJ-2000MK2-K

The Pioneer HDJ-2000MK2 monitoring headphones strongly inherit from their predecessor and use its already successful design as a solid base upon which they innovate and improve. The result is a pair of DJ headphones with superb clarity and extremely comfortable construction.

The HDJ-2000MK2s take many design cues from their predecessor. Their key characteristic is a minimal design that doesn’t try to impress with flashy colors and over-the-top branding. Instead, you get a simple, sleek black exterior with a matte finish. We can confidently say that the headphones look amazing, and they didn’t fail to attract attention to everything we took them outside. There’s just something about the stealthy look that makes people wonder.

It should go without saying that headphones for DJs have to be able to withstand some serious abuse. That includes everything from stage use, transportation, and accidental drops and bumps. The Pioneer Pro DJ HDJ-2000MK2-K are sufficiently rugged to meet high…

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2. Sennheiser HD25-1 II

The Sennheiser HD25-1 II Closed-Back DJ Headphones are an industry standard when it comes to DJing and live monitoring. They offer a rugged, all-purpose design that users can depend on under all circumstances.

The Sennheiser HD25-1 II Closed-Back DJ Headphones are as simple as headphones can be. Their matte, black finish looks very professional and gives the headphones an appearance with a serious piece of audio gear, which they definitely are.

The rotatable capsule for single-ear monitoring works as expected, and the joint is smooth and doesn’t emit any nasty sounds that would disturb your listening experience.

Designers over at Sennheiser know that the best way how to make something durable is to keep it as simple as possible. Indeed, these headphones sacrificed collapsible hinges…

3. Pioneer HDJ-1500-K

Headphone made by Pioneer are universally loved in the DJ community. The Pioneer HDJ-1500-K Professional DJ Headphones build on the success of the HDJ-1000s, and offer many important improvements to appeal to new generations of DJs around the world.

If you have the pleasure to own the classic HDJ-1000, you will notice where the basic shape and construction comes from. However, unlike the HDJ-1000, these headphones have completely abandoned the outdated 90’ design in favor of something more contemporary.

They are low profile and look remarkably good on the head. The black version has almost no branding, which just adds to their image.

When not in use, the Pioneer HDJ-1500-K Professional DJ Headphones neatly fold into a small package for easy and safe transportation and storage.

One thing that plagued the 1000s was their atrocious build quality. Those things broke like nothing. That was simply unacceptable for headphones that were…

4. AKG M220 PRO

AKG M220 PRO is now an almost legendary pair of headphones that can be found in recording studios all around the world. You can expect excellent performance, timeless design, and great value for your money.

AKG M220 Over-Ear Headphones have semi-open design and use a self-adjusting headband that greatly simplifies the process of finding the best fit. All you need to do is to put them on and the band will in the right position completely on its own. The removable cable plugs into the left earcup, where it stays firmly secured.

The large circumaural pads can easily fit even larger ears and offer a very good comfort. You can forget that you have them on your head and just get lost into the music. The leather headband is slightly thicker than it seems to be on pictures and the black and white color combination is attractive and timeless.

Even though these are technically semi-open headphones, they performed much more like…

5. Pioneer DJE-2000K

The Pioneer DJE2000K In-Ear DJ Headphones are designed with professional DJs in mind. The main goal is to allow them to travel lightly without making any compromises when it comes to the sound quality of their audio gear. These portable in-ear headphones pack a powerful sound reproduction into a small package. That is something that many people besides DJs will appreciate.

The DJE200K are available in either black or white color, and they feature a rotatable earpiece for maximum comfort. It allows users to choose between an over-ear and a regular style of wearing. This means that you can get the best out of both worlds, by choosing an over-ear style for maximum security and an in-ear style for fast insertion. Pioneer wisely decided to stay away from flashy colors and…

How to Choose DJ Headphones

Selecting DJ headphones is very similar the selection of a musical instrument. You need to really know yourself as a musician before you can decide what your needs really are. The genre of music you are going to play is just as important as your personal take on it. Some headphones will feel strange and make you feel disconnected from your music, while others will be a love at first sight. It all depends on a number of factors and your personal preference for each of them.

After you are finished reading this guide, you should have a good understanding of all the individual factors that together make for a great pair of DJ headphones. You will be able to narrow down your selection to just a few pairs, which you can try in person at your local store before ordering them online for a much better price.

Sound Quality

DJ headphones differ from just about any other type of headphones in one crucial thing: the sound quality doesn’t matter nearly as much as you may think. Why? Because live performances take place at loud venues that leave little to no room for the appreciation of small details. Instead, what matters the most is the sound clarity. You need to be able to hear the music through the background noise and distinguish it from everything else that goes on around you.

Two things contribute the most to how clear any pair of DJ headphones is: the bass and the loudness. In practice, the bigger the drivers are, the punchier the bass is. Large 50mm drivers are almost always guaranteed to deliver “larger” sound than much smaller 30mm drivers. Most full-sized over-the-ear headphones will feature adequately large drivers, but the same cannot be said about on-ear headphones.

The takeaway from this is to forget about specifications and the chase after the so-called audiophile sound quality. Both of these things matter when you want to buy a pair of headphones for home listening; not for DJing. Your intuition and online reviews are your most reliable guides.

Loudness

Loudness is often called “sensitivity” and is measured either in decibels (dB) or milliwatts (mW). The higher the sensitivity, the better changes the headphones have for outplaying loudspeakers and the crowd of people in front of you.

You should always test the loudness with the same equipment you are going to use during your live performance. Not all audio sources are created equal, and your controller could make the headphones sound much less grandiose than your home DAC.

It should go without saying that listening at high volumes can cause permanent ear damage. While it may not seem like something to worry about now, you will thank yourself for taking proper steps to protect your hearing, when you get older. A good pair of closed headphones will mute the sound around you, allowing you to keep the volume at reasonable levels.

Bass

The bass is often the star of the show, and your DJ headphones should allow you to hear it to its full detail. Look for headphones that sound punchy and powerful. The bass should cut through other frequencies and hit your eardrums with clarity and precise delivery.

All of this is doubly true for the mid bass. We are talking about the sound between 100 and 300 Hz, which is right above the point where you start to actually hear the sound, rather than just feel it. This range encompasses drums, piano, guitars, low strings, and many others.

The sub-bass should extend as low as your music requires. There’s nothing worse than listening through headphones that are not capable of reproducing the full frequency spectrum used in your songs. Many manufacturers like to boast that their headphones have no problem reproducing frequencies as low as 20 Hz, but statements like this don’t always pass real-life testing.

Open vs Closed

Open headphones are the construction type of choice for home listeners who appreciate their airy presentation, wide soundstage, and accuracy. Their biggest downside – the complete lack of sound isolation – hardly matters when you are alone at home listening undisturbed by anything and anyone. Unfortunately, DJs don’t perform in an environment that favors the appreciation of subtleties found in your favorite song.

DJs want to accomplish two main things: hear what they are playing and limit the negative impact of the external bass on their ears. The only type of headphones that can accomplish both of these tasks is the closed-back construction. The hard, sealed casing around the earpieces isolates external sound, giving the DJ the ability to focus on the mix and not get distracted by what goes on around him.

Construction

Construction plays a big role in how the particular pair of DJ headphones is going to serve its purpose. DJs need to frequently check how their mix sounds compared to stage monitors. A solid pivot that enables the earcups to rotate in all directions is very helpful for this exact reason.

The headphones should also come with hinges for folding. Models that fold flat are preferable to those that cannot be neatly stored in a bag or a hard-shell case.

We also recommend that you pay attention to the cable. Most DJs prefer a coiled cable, as opposed to a straight one, because it doesn’t get under their feet and is less likely to hang onto something. The ability to remove the cable and replace it with another one is a standard part of the vast majority of DJ headphones, but you should always double-check to avoid disappointment.

Comfort

If you are completely new to DJing, you’ve probably noticed that DJs spend a lot of time with their headphones around their neck, as opposed to having them on the head. This is, indeed, true. Which means that DJ headphones have to be just as comfortable around the neck as they are on the head. Headphones that dig into the jaw and restrict head movement will become uncomfortable much faster than headphones that put a bit too much pressure on the ears. Since you’ll take the headphones off your ears quite regularly, you get enough rest not to feel any irritating discomfort or pain.

Unfortunately, comfort is really one of those things that need to be experienced in person. Furthermore, it’s very unlikely that a few minutes in the store would tell you the whole story. You need to use the headphones for, at least, a few days to notice just how comfortable they’ll really be for long-term use.

Weight

Lighter pair can feel more comfortable after an entire day of use, but the lightness may also indicate inadequate robustness and excessive use of plastic materials. As such, all headphones should be judged on an individual basis. Testimonials of long-term users are the most reliable way how to tell when headphones are a bit too heavy, or when they are just right.

Design

Let’s face it: design matters. It matters to you, and it matters to the crowd in front of you. Just like the t-shirt you are wearing or the shoes on your feet, your DJ headphones are an integral part of your image. Cheap-looking, ugly headphones will make an unfavorable impression on your audience and make you seem like an amateur.

These days, you can select between countless different manufacturers, all of which produce headphones in different colors and design variations. If you shop around, you can easily get something that fully matches your style and the type of music you like to play.

Durability

You can expect that your headphones will receive some pretty harsh treatment. Cheaply built headphones can easily fall apart after a single drop to the floor, which is completely unacceptable. The model you select needs to use a generous amount of metal to reinforce the most critical parts.

The best case scenario is if your headphones ship with an extra pair of earpads. You can bet that you are going to have to replace them sooner or later, and having one on hand will be very useful when that time arrives. It’s also a good idea to check the availability of spare parts online. Some popular models are compatible with many aftermarket parts, which greatly extend customizability and allow you to make the headphones truly yours.

It’s safe to say that DJ headphones are generally much more robust than their consumer counterparts. Some models, such as the excellent Sennheiser HD 25, are particularly well-known for their reliability and durable construction.

Price

The question of how much you should spend on your new DJ headphones is a tricky one. Generally, the more you spend, the better quality you get. DJs are professionals who pay for top performance first and foremost. They know they gear in and out, talk about it in real life and online, and are the first in line to point out when something doesn’t perform up to their high expectations. Audio gear manufacturers know this and act accordingly. As such, you hardly ever pay for the brand name alone.

On the other hand, if your budget restricts what you can get, budget headphones will almost certainly do the job just as well. You might have to sacrifice certain premium features or rugged design, but there are many exceptional models that offer value that goes far beyond their affordable price tags. After all, your equipment is just as small part of a much larger equation, and it never does you any good to focus on it too much.

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