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Best DJ Headphones: A Buyer’s Guide in 2021

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Best DJ headphones

DJs are constantly looking for new and better ways to improve the quality of their music and mixing. One way to achieve this is by upgrading your headphones.

However, it can be hard to know which brand has the best DJ headphones because there are so many options on the market in 2021.

This article will provide a buyer’s guide that will help you decide which pair of headphones would work for you and your style of music.

Do DJ Headphones Make a Difference?

DJ headphones make a tremendous difference when you use them. Unlike other types of headphones, manufacturers of DJ headphones design them to maximize how effectively you can do your job as a DJ. Over the years, manufacturers of this specific type of headphone have made drastic improvements to increase their effectiveness for the job of DJing.

There are a few reasons DJ headphones make a difference. First, DJ headphones generally have a powerful noise isolation function. This function allows a DJ to hear the beat of a track in their headphones louder than they hear the music playing in the venue. With this function, you can mix more smoothly because you will hear the beats and cues louder and with greater clarity.

Second, makers of DJ headphones pay close attention to sound distortion. You will find you experience far less sound distortion on DJ headphones because the frequency response is flatter than it is with other types of headphones. The result is a fuller and more clear quality of sound.

Third, DJ headphones are more compatible with DJ equipment than other kinds of headphones. As a DJ, you’re probably using controllers, mixers, and DJ software. You will find DJ headphones have greater compatibility with this kind of equipment than other types of headphones. 

Fourth, DJ headphones have a physical design that makes your job easier in a lot of ways. You will find that many DJ headphones feature swivel and rotating ear cups. This allows you to better move along with the music or drop an ear cup from one side if you prefer. The physical design of DJ headphones is maximized for travel and working. They are overall more durable and comfortable than other kinds of headphones.

Finally, DJ headphones have overall better sound quality. When compared with other kinds of headphones on sound quality, you will find DJ headphones outperform their non-DJ counterparts. 

Can I Use Any Headphones for DJing?

The answer is yes, you can use any headphones you like for DJing. But, why would you want to? When DJ headphones offer better performance and sound quality than other types of headphones, you would do best to choose the DJ variety.

The other reason you want to choose DJ headphones over other types of headphones is their durability. As a DJ, you’re probably blasting music as loud as you can in your headphones. If you’re using non-DJ headphones, you run the risk of overextending your headphones’ volume capacity. This can lead to permanent sound distortion in your headphones and/or ultimately breaking them.

DJ headphones are also durable because they’re designed for working DJs. In the course of DJing, it’s not uncommon to drop your headphones, step on them, jostle them in transit to the venue, or even get them wet by spilling a drink. After all, as a DJ, you’re probably not sitting down and working calmly as you might in the studio. 

DJ headphone makers understand this and they design their headphones to endure rough treatment as a result. If you opt for DJ headphones, you’ll find they’re worth the investment simply because they will last you longer than other types of headphones.

Can You DJ Without Headphones?

Some DJs can work without headphones, but it is difficult. If you want to DJ without headphones, you will need lots of practice, preparation, and a thorough knowledge of the music you’re using.

Why would someone want to DJ without headphones? Most of the time, if a DJ works without headphones, it’s because they want better crowd interaction. Without headphones, you can hear the crowd better, move out from behind your booth to dance or interact, and look more approachable. Another reason some DJs work without headphones is to look more expert at their jobs. And it is no wonder because DJing without headphones takes a high degree of expertise.

If you want to DJ without headphones, you have a couple of options. First, you can extensively plan and practice your set. If you want to use this option, you will have to play your set just as you’ve practiced it without making changes at the moment (because you cannot monitor those changes in your headphones). This essentially means you need to memorize exactly what you should do with each song in your set. While this option may work, keep in mind that you cannot improvise or respond to crowd requests if you’re DJing in this way.

Your second option is to do what some DJs call visual waveriding. With this option, you’ll need to use DJ software that allows you to view the waves of the music you’re using so that you can visually match song beats by relying on the peak waveforms you see. With this option, you will need to be very familiar with your music, understanding any major shifts coming in what you are playing. You can do a little advanced preparation with this, marking cues in your DJ software.

While you can DJ without headphones, it will make your job a lot harder and requires a high degree of expertise. If you’re a beginner, it is best to work with headphones. If you are an expert, you can rely on the tips above to guide you in DJing without headphones.

What to Look for in the Best DJ Headphones

By now you may be wondering, what should you look for in the best DJ headphones? In short, you want to pay attention to sound quality, comfort, design, and durability. These four elements come together to make for the best DJ headphones.

Sound Quality

Perhaps the most important feature of your DJ headphones is their sound quality. The best DJ headphones offer superior sound quality when compared with other types of headphones. Headphones with a high sound quality can function louder, clearer, and more robustly.

One way to find headphones with superb sound quality is to try out several different kinds. If you’re lucky enough to live near a retailer that offers several varieties of DJ headphones, head into the store to give them a try. If you’re not so lucky, you can rely on your DJ community. Connect with other DJs in your area or who you may be friends with and see if you can try out their headphones.

Another way to determine the sound quality of headphones is to read user reviews. Get online and do your research. Read product reviews and user comments to get a sense of the sound quality of headphones at which you may be looking.

One indicator of sound quality is frequency range. You will find that headphones with a wider frequency range offer better sound quality. Another indicator of sound quality is impedance. For sound quality and equipment compatibility, you want to find headphones with an impedance of approximately 32-50 ohms.

Comfort

As a DJ, you want to be comfortable when you do your job. Most often, you will be DJing for hours and you’ve got to have a pair of headphones that feel good on your ears. Nothing irks a DJ more than headphones that are uncomfortable or ill-fitting. The good news is that most DJ headphone manufacturers keep comfort top of mind when designing headphones.

Most DJ headphones go over your ears. Manufacturers make them comfortable using padding, cushions, and comfortable leather or leather-like material. You will also find your headphones are more comfortable if they fit fairly tightly. This will allow you to move around and bop to the music without your headphones falling off. Many DJ headphones allow you to adjust the fit so that you achieve a level of comfort uniquely suited to your head and ears.

Just like with sound quality, do your research when it comes to comfort. You can talk to other DJs or head online to read reviews of headphone comfort. Also, check out pictures of headphones in which you may be interested. Do they look comfortable? Do you see plenty of padding? Do they look like they would fit well on you? You will want to answer these questions as you consider the best DJ headphones to purchase for you.

Design

You will find a variety of designs when looking for the best DJ headphones. One thing that greatly increases comfort, as noted above, is rotating ear cups. These will make your job easier and will increase your comfort as you move around during DJing gigs.

Another element of design to which you should pay attention is cable length. You want a cable that is long enough that you can move around while you’re working, but not so long that you run the risk of you or someone else tripping over the cable.

You will also want to look for headphones that are designed to travel well. Do the ear cups fold in to reduce the risk of breaking? Do they look fragile? Do they come with a travel case designed to protect them? Consider all of these travel-related questions when looking at headphone design.

Finally, many DJs care about the aesthetic of their headphones. After all, many eyes in the venue will likely be on you when you’re DJing. You want to choose a design that looks well on you. Consider the aesthetic you are going for and choose headphones that have a look you like.

Durability

DJ headphones are generally working headphones, so you want to make sure they are durable. The best DJ headphones travel well and can endure the physical rigors of DJing. Think about the DJing environment. There’s a good chance that if you DJ for a while, at some point you’re going to drop your headphones, maybe step on them, and even perhaps get them wet (like spilling a drink on them in the club). You want to choose headphones that can withstand this kind of beating.

In general, DJ headphones are more durable than other kinds of headphones for exactly these reasons. How can you tell how durable a set of headphones might be? First of all, do a visual inspection. Do they look durable? Do they look like they will last?

Second, check out online reviews. When DJs have headphones that break quickly or with little wear, you can bet a good number of them are going to go online to tell everyone about it. Read product reviews to get a sense of how durable a set of headphones might be.

Finally, just as we’ve mentioned, you’ll want to talk to other DJs about their headphones. If you know other DJs in your community, ask them about the headphones they use and how durable they are. You can also look for DJ blogs or social media accounts. In these places, you can find valuable information about headphone durability. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask. Many DJs you find online are open to questions and respond to social media comments about the equipment they use.

Over-Ear vs. In-Ear

As a rule, nearly all DJ headphones you find will be over-ear. Why do manufacturers make them this way? Because over-ear headphones allow you to better isolate the sounds you need to hear. As a working DJ, you’ll hear music in the venue at the same time you’re listening to music in your headphones. It’s important that you can isolate the music in your headphones to best match music and beats as you drop in new songs.

If you decide to opt for in-ear headphones, pay attention to the section above on what to look for in the best DJ headphones. Just like the over-ear variety, in-ear headphones that you use for DJing should have good sound quality, be comfortable, be designed well, and have good durability.

Another important thing to keep in mind if you’re choosing over-ear vs. in-ear headphones is whether or not you want corded or cordless headphones. Over-ear DJ headphones almost always come with a cord, because manufacturers design them to plug into your DJ equipment. 

With in-ear headphones, you’re more likely to find cordless options. You are likely to lose some sound quality when using cordless headphones. You also have to consider battery life. Most DJ gigs last for hours. Cordless, in-ear headphones just may not have the battery life you need to DJ an entire gig.

What are the Best DJ Headphones on the Market?

Now that we’ve considered all the factors you want to keep in mind when purchasing DJ headphones, let’s talk about the best headphones out there. For 2021, we’ve identified 13 headphones that come out ahead of the pack.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Preferred by producers and audio-engineers, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones are a superior choice for DJs. These headphones are stylish, comfortable, and designed for travel. You’ll find they have a great sound quality so you can work your best DJ set.

Pros

  • These headphones have plenty of padding and a closed-back design that makes them comfortable and durable.
  • They fold up and come with a travel pack so you can transport them around.
  • If aesthetics are important to you, these headphones come in a variety of colors. You can pick a design that uniquely suits your DJ personality.
  • At $149, these headphones are considerably less expensive than some of your other options.
  • Experts rate these headphones high in sound quality. Because sound quality is vital to a good DJ set, these headphones are a great option.

Cons

  • These headphones do not perform as well as others on noise isolation. 
  • You will find these headphones have a less accurate frequency response. But, for most DJs, the emphasis on low frequencies makes these headphones a highly attractive option.

V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition

These durable, wireless headphones easily come out in the top 13 for 2021. V-Moda designed these headphones with SteelFlex headband technology. The headband can be crushed flat and still bounce back. You’ll also find great quality and a stylish design with these headphones.

Pros

  • These are perhaps the most durable headphones you will find on the market. V-Moda puts a strong emphasis on producing tough products that can take a beating.
  • DJs will appreciate how lightweight these headphones are. This is a welcome and surprising feature given how durable they are.
  • These headphones come in a variety of colors and buyers can customize design down to the color of screws. For a very high-end look, opt for one of the precious metals on the headphone’s plates.
  • The wireless technology on these headphones supports two, very high-quality Bluetooth codecs, aptX, and AAC.
  • The battery life on these headphones can last up to 14 hours. You can be sure you’ll make it through your DJ set before the battery dies. 

Cons

  • The Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition starts at $350, making them considerably more expensive than other headphone options. If you opt for precious metals in your design, expect that price to jump by thousands of dollars.
  • Sound isolation is pretty low with these headphones.

Sony MDR-7506

These high-quality headphones from Sony have become a staple in the recording industry. It’s no wonder they have given their superior sound quality and affordability. If you’re looking for a tried and true set of DJ headphones at an attractive price point, these may be just the right thing for you.

Pros

  • These headphones are some of the most affordable you’ll find on the market, starting at just $98.99.
  • DJs rate these headphones very high in sound quality. You will find the sound isolation offered by these headphones particularly attractive.
  • For the DJ on the go, these headphones easily fold down for travel.

Cons

  • The Sony MDR-7506 headphones are made almost entirely of plastic, meaning they are far less durable than metal varieties. However, with such a low starting price, you won’t be hit too hard if you have to replace them.
  • These headphones come with a long, coiled cable. This might get in your way during your DJ set,.

Sennheiser HD 25

A leader in the audio industry, Sennheiser has been making headphones for over 75 years. You will find that their HD 25 variety is a favorite among DJs for good reason. You’ll get great sound quality, high durability, and a timeless look.

Pros

  • The isolation on these headphones is nearly unmatched. This is because the headphones were originally designed for air travel, where passengers wanted to block out noisy engine sounds.
  • These headphones are durable while still being very lightweight, leading to a highly comfortable design.
  • You can choose between three kinds of trim with these headphones, depending on your preferences. Trim styles vary concerning headband size, included cable, and ear cup swivel.
  • Starting at $99, these headphones are pretty affordable for most DJs.

Cons

  • Sennheiser designed the ear cups on these headphones to be on the small side. This means the ear cups are likely to sit on your ear rather than surrounding it. Some DJs find this a little uncomfortable.
  • The standard variety of these headphones does not fold down for travel. If you want foldable headphones, opt for the lightweight variety, which has folding ear cups.

Pioneer HDJ-X10-K

These state-of-the-art headphones from Pioneer offer some of the best sound quality you will find among DJ headphones. They are highly precise when it comes to sound, making them one of our preferred picks for 2021.

Pros

  • The frequency range of these headphones is 40kHz. That’s about 10kHz higher than you will find with most DJ headphones, making the sound quality highly accurate and superior.
  • These headphones easily fold down and come with a durable case. They are perfect for a DJ traveling between gigs.
  • The water-resistant nano-coating on these headphones means they are tough against sweat and spills.
  • Even though these headphones are a bit on the bulky side, they are well-padded and very comfortable.

Cons

  • Some DJs find that the precision of these headphones makes them less desirable than other options. This is because most DJ headphones tend to punch up the lows and low-mids; after all, they’re designed for a noisy club environment. You might lose some of the oomph you desire when mixing at a venue.
  • At $349, these headphones from Pioneer are significantly more expensive than some of your other options.

Behringer HPX6000

These compact, lightweight headphones are a favorite among DJs. They have a simple, understated design with great sound quality.

Pros

  • These headphones offer great isolation that you will most certainly appreciate when DJing in a noisy, club environment.
  • Starting at $69, these are the most affordable headphones on our list. They’re a great option for DJs looking for great quality without paying an arm and a leg.
  • With deep bass and great definition, you will love the sound quality of these headphones. The large drivers also really produce when it comes to volume.
  • These headphones easily fold up and are fairly durable. They are great for the DJ on the go.

Cons

  • These headphones come in one design only. If you want to customize the look of your headphones, these may not be the best option for you.
  • The leather cushion on the ear cups is a bit shallow. Some DJs find this particular aspect of the headphones less comfortable than headphones with deeper padding.

Pioneer HDJ-X7-K

Mid-range among Pioneer’s DJ headphones, the HDJ-X7-K is a great option for DJs. These headphones produce great sound quality and feature a durable design.

Pros

  • You will hear the music in these headphones loud and clear. You can set them at a very high volume while you work without compromising on sound clarity.
  • These headphones are highly durable, making them a very attractive option for traveling DJs. While the price may be higher than some other options, you’ll find you won’t have to replace these headphones any time soon.
  • These headphones are flexible and their ear cup swivel mechanism is great for one-ear listening.
  • Because the cable is locked into place, you won’t run the risk of it being yanked out as you bop around during your set.

Cons

  • While the earcup swivel mechanism is great for one-ear listening, you will have a piece of plastic pushing into the back of your head, making these headphones a bit uncomfortable.
  • While the sound quality on these headphones is great, the isolation is a bit lacking. For loud club environments, these may not be the best option.

Pioneer HDJ-2000MK2

These high-quality headphones from Pioneer offer excellent sound quality perfect for DJing. What’s more, these headphones are among the most durable you will find on the market, making them perfect for lugging from gig to gig.

Pros

  • You will find these headphones tops when it comes to durability. With a double-hinge design, you can flex and squish these headphones without breaking them.
  • These headphones offer good isolation. With a fairly tight fit, you’ll find you can hear what you need to without the music being drowned out by what’s currently playing.
  • The bass on these headphones is powerful. Many DJs prefer headphones with a strong bass sound while they’re mixing live.
  • The 90-degree swivel design makes these headphones perfect for listening with only one ear. If you need to drop an ear cup to talk with a club-goer or check your currently playing music, you’ll find these headphones remain comfortable without compromising on sound quality.

Cons

  • With an impedance of 32 ohms, you will find these headphones on the lower end of a DJ’s desired impedance range.
  • These headphones start at $349, making them more considerably expensive than some of your other options.

AIAIAI TMA-2

These fully modular headphones can be designed to precise specifications. DJs who want to personalize their headphone experience will love the AIAIAI TMA-2.

Pros

  • On AIAIAI’s website, you can customize these headphones down to each specific part. Once you’ve selected your options, you will see all details of your headphones down to speaker specs, sound profile, and weight.
  • You can order additional speaker units depending on the sound quality for which you are going. Each speaker unit comes as a set of two cups that you can attach to the headband without using any tools.
  • These headphones are highly durable while still being lightweight. You will find them comfortable, easy to travel with, and rugged.

Cons

  • Before customization, the DJ preset option of these headphones starts at $200. As you customize your set, expect this price to increase.
  • While there are many customization options for these headphones, some DJs find the amount of choice a bit overwhelming. On AIAIAI’s site, you can choose between thirteen cables, seven headbands, five speaker cups, and thirteen pads. If you don’t want to deal with so many choices, these may not be the headphones for you.

V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master

These highly durable headphones are tops among DJs for lots of good reasons. They travel well, hold up to tough use, and have great sound quality.

Pros

  • V-Moda’s proprietary Cliqfold hinges allow these headphones to fold down into a super compact form. Coupled with their durability, this feature makes the headphones great for travel.
  • These headphones come with a SharePlay audio cable that allows you to mix multiple sources at the same time.
  • With high-resolution certification, you can be sure you are getting the highest sound quality out of these headphones.

Cons

  • You won’t find these headphones to be bass-heavy. This might be a pro if you’re looking for accurate sound quality in the studio. However, for DJing use, professionals generally prefer more kick in the bass.
  • These headphones don’t perform well on isolation. If you’re looking for headphones with high isolation capability, these may not be for you.

Sennheiser HD-280 Pro

You will love how much comfort these headphones offer without compromising on quality. With the Sennheiser HD-280 Pro, you will find a solid set of headphones at an affordable price.

Pros

  • At $90 per set, these headphones can fit into almost any DJ’s budget.
  • The manufacturers of these headphones paid attention to comfort. You will find plenty of padding and a comfortable fit even after hours of use.
  • These headphones produce a high-quality sound with great mids.

Cons

  • While these headphones fold up into a fairly compact design, they do not come with a carrying case. This might prove to be a barrier if you plan to travel with them.
  • If the look of your headphones is important, these may not be the right option for you.

Sennheiser HD8 DJ

These top-of-the-line DJ headphones from Sennheiser are not to be missed. You’ll find great sound quality with kicking lows all wrapped up in a very sturdy design.

Pros

  • Sennheiser boasts sonic performance with these headphones. This means you can expect a highly clear sound with lush bass.
  • These headphones come with two cables, coiled and straight, that can be detached and reattached. You can plug them into either ear cup and they lock in place, so you don’t have to worry about them being yanked out as you perform.
  • If you’re looking for a very sturdy set of headphones with a pleasing aesthetic, these are great. They’ve got a sleek design that looks excellent and can stand up to the roughest treatment.

Cons

  • Because these are Sennheiser’s top-of-the-line model, expect to pay a hefty price. These headphones start at $389.95.
  • Some users report that the headband on this set isn’t the most comfortable and can be difficult to adjust for an ideal fit.

Shure SRH750DJ

These attractive DJ headphones from Shure offer a great sound quality for any DJ. You will love their fold and swivel design that is still tough and rugged.

Pros

  • The frequency range of 5-30,000Hz on these headphones is excellent. Keep in mind, higher frequency range usually translates into better sound quality.
  • The 40-ohm impedance on these headphones is nearly unmatched in the industry, making them a real standout from competitors.
  • The detachable click-lock cable that comes with these headphones is great for the performing DJ.

Cons

  • These headphones don’t offer as much of a bass kick as some of your other options. While they’re great for mixing in the studio, this can make them challenging to use when you DJ live.
  • While these headphones are durable, the carrying case isn’t. It is soft-sided and doesn’t protect the headphones well. If you opt for these headphones, you may want to invest in a more solid carrying case.

Final Thoughts on the Best DJ Headphones

Picking the right headphones for you can be such a personal choice for DJs. We’ve done our research to make sure we’re recommending the very best headphones for you in 2021. Weigh the pros and cons, make your choice, and then get that beat thumping.