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.
- How to Choose DJ Headphones
- What Headphones Pro DJ’s Recommends?
- DJ Headphones to Suit all Budgets
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.
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 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.
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 ear pieces isolates external sound, giving the DJ the ability to focus on the mix and not get distracted by what goes on around him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now you know what key factors determine how a particular pair of headphones is going to perform for DJing, you can go ahead and start narrowing down the list of available models to just a few that interest you the most. Don’t forget that each reviewer has different expectations, and that yours may differ. The Internet allows you to get multiple different perspectives in a very short amount of time, so use this to your advantage.
What Headphones Pro DJ’s Recommends?
We have interviewed several DJs to find out what headphones would they recommend to anyone who is interested in purchasing a pair of high-quality DJ headphones that were tried and tested by someone who knows what it takes to play in front of a live audience. You’ll be surprised to read some of their responses and recommendations.
However, don’t forget to keep in mind that we all have our individual preferences and requirements. What works great for one DJ may not work at all for another. Just because someone prolific in the area of your interest says something doesn’t mean you should immediately follow his or her example. Independent reviews, such as those on our site, should be your number one source of information and help you make your own, independent decisions.
From his origins in France, where he played at various up-scale parties, restaurants, hotels, yachts, beaches, and even weddings, Yannick Le Roux, aka DJ YANiC (formerly known as DJ Yannick), has ended up living in Brooklyn, New York. YANiC is a great example of a man who stubbornly refused to give up on his dreams. In fact, he always carried his dream with him everywhere he went in form of a box of CDs that he could use in case the actual DJ got sick. This amazing perseverance finally paid off in 2010 and the rest is history.
Hi, please tell us who you are and how old are you?
Yannick Le Roux, 35 yo
It’s great to have you here, Yannick. Where do you currently reside?
Brooklyn, New York
We assume that you DJ alias has a lot to do with your real name, correct?
My first name, just spelled easier
Tell us a little bit about your musical career and how it all started.
I’ve been a musician since 12yo, later working in recording studios. So when I was 26, as I was working in holiday resort as a sound engineer, I’ve been asked if I could take care of the DJ job. I had no experience in DJing prior to that, rather in music production.
Working in a holiday resort doesn’t sound bad at all. What kind of headphones were with you during your beginnings?
Not sure, probably a cheap Sennheiser. I quickly switched to the HD-25
A very popular model, indeed. What do you use now?
Sennheiser HD 25 II
Oh, you are still using the same model of headphones? What are their greatest qualities?
Comfortable, light, sounding clear and precise. It was and still is a standard.
As a long time user, did you find any problems with design, sound quality, cable or plug?
This model has a weak point where the cable connects to the right ear. Due to a lot of moving, the connection become weak with the time and you lose one side of the stereo. A bit annoying but you just have to push on the connection to make it work again.
Why would you recommend this model to DJs who are just starting to get their name out there?
It’s light so good for long sets. Not too open, not too closed, good balance so you can hear your next track well and the room still, even with the 2 ears on. Great sound quality.
Besides the Sennheiser HD 25 II, what are the top 3 best DJ headphones by your opinion?
I always used the HD-25 II. I had 2 in 7 years.
It’s nice to see someone stick with a proven headset and not keep chasing the next best thing. What advice would you give to up and coming DJs when buying headphones?
Comfort comes first specially during long sets. Avoid noise canceling ones because you need to hear the room always.
Danyell Abston, aka Fathom DJ, is a talented female DJ with an astonishing musical knowledge that allows her to keep the vibe going no matter what kind of crowd is at the dance floor. She’s based in Chicago, where she gained more than 10 years of experience working at venues as such BBar, Darkroom, Sinibar, Lava Lounge, The Shrine, and many others. We are very glad for the opportunity to talk with her and get to know a bit more about her as a person and as an audio gear enthusiast.
Hi there, Fathom. Would be so kind and tell us your real name and age?
Danyell Abston .. Age? Who does that?! My auto answer is old enough to know better and younger enough to try again.
You look young enough not to get offended by that question. Could you, at least, tell us where do you live?
Danyell, where did the alias Fathom DJ come from?
I used to do graffiti and that was my tag name. Originally I was inspired by a hip hop classic called “saying nothing” by Divine Styler “check out my lyric fathom … Fathom”.
We were hoping for a story involving naval experience, haha. So how and when did it all begin?
I was underage but, I was at a club called Medusas. The Dj named, Lil Louis played an amazing set. At the end of the night I looked up at him and thought, I want to make people feel like he made me feel that night. Not long after I met friends who were djs and begun collecting records.
Back in the day, what headphones were with you on the stage?
Some realistic radio shack “Dj” cheap dates.
We bet that you are currently using something a little bit better, would you mind telling us what’s your current model?
Nice. Why did you choose that model?
They were different looking. Durable and light. The replaceable cord and design was definitely a factor.
Any problems so far?
No problems at all. I’ve had them for about 4 years and have only replaced the cord once.
They really look great. Our readers will be please to know how reliable they are. Would you recommend them to someone who’s just starting out?
Yes! Sound is excellent, they are durable and each piece is now replaceable. You can keep one pair for years!
Given what’s available on the current headphone market, what would you consider to be the top 3 best DJ headphones?
I really only have 2. Aiaiai, Sennhieser and hopefully Sony has stepped their game up.
Before we say our goodbyes, what advice would you give to up and coming DJs?
Play everything, make it a point to spin on vinyl for true skill and always try to tell a story through your sets.
Born in Philadelphia, Steven Hardy (aka DJ Pesty) is a cutting-edge DJ who likes to experiment with different music genres, like EDM, Techno, Psy Trance among other styles, to push electronic music into new, uncharted territories. He received his musical training from San Francisco State University and used it during his diverse musical career, which ultimately, led him to Budapest and its underground music scene. There, he produced music before transitioning into DJing. He has recently released his first album, keeps himself busy with his weekly radio program “THE RUSH” and can be heard on over 40 stations worldwide in cities such as Chicago, New York, Ibiza, London, Paris & Kingston Jamaica to name a few.
Hi, thank you so much for your time. To start off, could you, please, tell us what’s is your real name and how old are you?
Steven Hardy and I’m over 40.
Nice to meet you, Steven. Where do you currently live?
Is there any story behind your alias?
It’s interesting as I am American and living in Hungary, for me it was a no-brainer – Cause PESTY means annoying in English and it means from Budapest in Hungarian.
I would call it a change for the better, haha. Our readers would be excited to read a bit the path you’ve walked on to become a DJ. Could you take us on a tour of your musical past?
I was classically trained at University in Music Theory playing a number of instruments mainly Piano & Guitar, During the 90`s I was the Lead singer and songwriter of an alternative rock band with 3 albums. During that period, I was drawn to electronic dance music: vocal House to be exact. Interestingly enough my first remix was made out of a bet with one of the band members. I thought it would be easy and got a rude awakening. Nevertheless, I finally got it done after a few months and started producing dance music. DJ Pesty was born in 2013 and I have been going just with that ever since then.
What kind of headphones were with you when you were just starting out?
Well, the first one worth mentioning would have to be Philips Fidelio L1.
And what could we found on your ears if we were to hang out with you today?
Wow! Those are some stunning headphones. Why did you choose that model?
I had shopped around for a while and when I heard the quality I was hooked. I have a weekly radio show that prides itself on being diverse playing different styles each week. The Ultrasone was the best fit for me as the highs mids and lows are all crystal clear.
Are such high-end headphones plagued with any annoying problems?
No not really at all in the past I have tried every type of headphone with metal hardware to textile cords and so on. The Ultrasone fits my needs best.
Is there any main reason why you would recommend this model?
I guess cause of its ability to be diverse in its frequencies.
Besides the Ultrasone Signature, what are the top 3 best DJ headphones by your opinion?
At around $500 – Shure; at $1000 Ultrasone; at $1500 (which I have only tried not owned) Fostex TH900.
Finally, what advice would you give to up and coming DJs when buying headphones?
Either ask advice from a trusted sound engineer or simply know the equipment you want to use it on and test it out on that equipment. Remember if you go into an upend shop they are going to have extremely professional equipment which will make any level headphone sound better. So stick to your own equipment and style of music to help you choose responsibly. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as we all live and learn – that’s what makes us human.
Omar Meneses, also known under his company brand name “DJM”, can trace his love for DJing all the way to his childhood. He used his entrepreneurial spirit to start his own DJ business when he was just 16 years old. The business took off, and is now the leading provider of music for social events in Mexico, where Omar lives. This goes to show that, through persistence, dedication and passion, dreams can really become the reality.
Omar was kind enough to our questions regarding his choice of DJ headphones and tips for aspiring DJs who would like to follow in his footsteps.
Hi, can you please tell us what’s your real name and how old you are?
Omar Meneses, 47 yo
Nice to meet you Omar. Would you mind sharing with our readers where do you live?
San Pedro Garza Garcia, NL, Mexico
So, how and when did it all begin?
1986 in Monterrey Mexico, I begin to play music in private parties with my father’s living room speakers when I was 18 years old.
Do you still remember what was your first pair of headphones?
Oh, the good old models from Sony. They seem to last a lifetime. What model do you use now?
Is there any particular reason why did you choose that model?
Recommendation and comparation over the most used for dj’s.
Did you find any problems with design, sound quality, cable or plug?
What are some of the most important aspects that would make you recommending this model to others?
Comfort , weight , frequency range , external noise insulation , durability.
According to your own personal experience, what are the top 3 best DJ headphones available on the current market?
Technics RPDJ1210, Pioneer HDJ-1000, Sony MDR-V700DJ
Would you like to share any advice that could benefit up and coming DJs when buying headphones?
Comfort, materials that are made, and most importantly the weight, a DJ who will play more than 1 hour can not use weighty headphones.
Located in the Boston Metro Area, Michael Halloran, aka DJ Real One, is a professional DJ with many talents and years of industry experience, as well as the founder of M.K.H. Music Studio. He specializes in mixing, production of remixes, DJing, and collaboration with many other influential artists from the area. The man was kind enough to free up a little bit of time in his busy schedule to answer our questions regarding the path he took to get to where he is today, and the equipment he used along the way.
It’s great to have the opportunity to talk to you. How about we start with a short introduction? What’s your real name and how old you are?
Michael Halloran, 40 yo
Nice to meet you, Michael. You currently live in the United States, right?
Where did the alias “DJ Real One” came from?
It’s an old graffiti name.
That was our first guess when we saw your website. When did your career started?
Started DJing when I was 12.
The long passion for the craft seems to be a common theme among DJ’s. At the time, what kind of headphones were you using?
Probably a dingy pair that came from a Walkman.
Poor you. What model do you use now?
Beats By Dre.
A popular, mainstream model. Why go with Beats over more traditional audio manufacturers?
They were the best sounding.
Did you find any problems with design, sound quality, cable or plug?
No, I use and extension wire so that I can have more mobility in a booth.
It sounds like you would wholeheartedly recommend these headphones to young, aspiring musicians, is that correct?
Yes, I would.
And what are your top 3 favorite headphones brands?
Beats, Sony, Pioneer.
Thank you for your time. Last question: What advice would you give to up and coming DJs when buying headphones?
Buy the kind that fits your hearing and fits your needs.
When someone manages to get on the air at the age of 14, you know you have the pleasure to talk with a rare talent. Indeed, Matt Candelaria, aka MQ Party, has been around music for his entire life. From working as a music director for Kiss 97.3 radio to DJing at wedding ceremonies, birthday parties, and just about anywhere else, this highly rated DJ can tell us a lot about his craft and the gear he uses.
Hi, what’s your real name and how old are you? Do you go by any alias?
Matt Candelaria and I go by “MQ Party”. I am 30 years old.
Great to talk to you, Matt. Where do you live?
I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
Can you tell us a little bit about where “MQ Party” comes from?
I was really into hip-hop and graffiti when I was in High School…MQ was one of my aliases.
I see. It seems like your love for music has been with you since the very beginning. At what point did your career really start?
DJing for me began when I watched my uncle on the radio in El Paso, Texas when I was nine years old. I was hooked to radio and mobile DJing, DJing my 1st dance in 8th Grade for my schools Valentines Dance and making my on air debut at the age of 15.
You were quite young. What was your first pair of headphones? Did you buy them yourself?
My uncle who was in radio bought me the Sony MDR-7506 headphones when I starting volunteering at local Albuquerque radio stations.
The good old classic, haha. What model do you use now?
I have continued to use the Sony MDR-7506 headphones.
Really? Most DJs would probably switch to something a bit more contemporary at some point. Why made you stick with that model?
Over my 15 years as a professional I have tried many different brands and models…non of them, even the expensive $250+ ones satisfied me. I have always loved the way the Sonys feel on my head and sound. They have never let me down from the radio to the club and mobile gigs. The only reason I have to buy a new pair is if I break them or the wire splits.
You’ve been using them for so long; you must be familiar with all problems that users might encounter when using them. Would you mind sharing them with us?
The only problem I have had is the ear pad gets worn out but luckily I can order replacements pretty easily.
Considering how old the MDR-7506 are, why would you still recommend this model?
Great sound quality when you just want to hear the music the way it is supposed to be heard with out extra bass etc. Durable and always dependable.
And what are the top 3 best DJ headphones by your opinion?
Sony MDR-7506, Allen & Heath Xone 53, Calvin Harris edition from Sol Republic.
As always, we have one final question for you: What advice would you give to up and coming DJs when buying headphones?
Don’t get caught up in the hype of big name artists endorsing specific headphones, I got the Calvin Harris editions because they were free since I worked in radio but I would’ve never bought those on my own. I listen to the beats by Dre and they sound good but I would never spend that kind of money when my Sony headphones (in my opinion) sound much better for a lot less. Ultimately find something that sounds good to you and is comfortable to wear for long periods of time!
DJ Headphones to Suit all Budgets
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. Read More
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. Read More
3. Pioneer HDJ-1500-K
Headphones made by Pioneer are universally loved in the DJ community. The Pioneer HDJ-1500-K build on the success of the HDJ-1000s, and offer many important improvements to appeal to new generations of DJs around the world. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
6. Skullcandy Mix Master Mike
Skullcandy Mix Master Mike Over-Ear DJ Headphones are the result of collaboration between the popular audio equipment manufacturer Skullcandy and hip-hop DJ Mix Master Mike. Read More
7. Sony MDR-7506
With a history dating back all the way to 1991, the Sony MDR7506 has a proven track record among audio enthusiasts and sound engineers alike. It offers a balanced sound for the great price and will definitely appeal to all audiophiles and DJs on a budget. Read More
8. V-Moda Crossfade M-100
The V-Moda-Crossfade M-100 have a generous set full of exceptional features, having a robust construction but very sleek hexagonal shaped design with very detailed sound with deep bass. V-Moda headphones are favorites for high profile DJs, including Avicii, Deadmau5 and Eric Morillo. Read More
9. Numark Red Wave
Numark Red Wave Over-Ear Headphones were designed with professional DJ use in mind. They feature an eye-catching looks and set of features that should grab the attention of audio professionals and casual listeners alike. Read More
10. Behringer HPX2000
The Behringer HPX2000 Over-Ear DJ headphones are a very good choice for just about everybody from casual listeners to professional DJs. They are among the very best budget headphones that you can buy. The sound quality, build, and comfort are all way above what you would probably expect given their incredibly low price. Read More