If you’re shopping for DJ headphones, but not exactly sure what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
Because in this ultimate guide, we’re going to take a look at exactly what makes a good set of DJ headphones different from regular headphones…
As well as show you our list of the 7 best models currently on the market, and how they compare.
So here we go…
What Do DJ Headphones Need to Do?
Compared to studio or consumer headphones, DJ headphones have a very specific set of demands they need to meet.
They need to:
- Isolate Well Enough – so you can hear them even next to a PA system
- Be Super Loud – for the same reason
- Withstand Rough Handling – which is common on stage
The 5 Most Important DJ Headphone Features
There are 5 features virtually every DJ needs in a pair of headphones:
- Closed-Back Design – which offers better isolation and has a less open and natural sound. DJs need headphones with good isolation to hear the track they’re cueing up next and over the noise of the track that’s currently pounding through the club’s main speakers and subs.
- Single-Cord Design – It might seem like a gimmick, but having a single cord as opposed to a double one actually prevents many accidents, some that could lead to irreversible damages.
- Foldability – pretty much an imperative, if you’re going to travel a lot from one venue to another you’ll want to be able to fold your headphones. Furthermore, foldability dramatically increases durability by decreasing the risk of breakage.
- Driver diameter (mm) – the bigger the drivers (speakers), the deeper the bass they will reproduce. You will need at least 40mm diameter drivers.
- Swiveling Ear-Cups – DJs generally only use one ear-cup to hear the next track while their other ear is focusing on the tracks running through the PA. Having swiveling ear-cups is a must in terms of comfort.
You’ll read a lot that DJs only care about the beat and the bass…
And while it is true to some extent — mainly because the primary role of the DJ is to BEATmatch — it not always is.
For example in harmonic mixing — which is the practice of mixing songs based on their key/chords rather than solely relying on their rhythm…
You want clear mids and highs as well.
Now, you may or may not know it already, but the human hearing range is 20Hz to 20.000Hz (20kHz) meaning ANYTHING above or under that is useless since you won’t be able to hear it.
And yet, high-end headphones will sometimes advertise crazy frequency ranges such as as low as 5Hz all the way up to 40kHz.
If you browse through audio forums you will end up with essentially 2 conclusions:
- It’s all BS and it’s purely marketing
- It actually DOES matter and gives more headroom to the headphones — imagine a car struggling to reach 100MPH vs. one that can drive there easily.
Some argue you can actually hear the very deep low-end if you drive your cans with a powerful headphone amp.
But whatever the reason, the fact is that all high end heapdhones offer a wider frequency range than the human hearing reaches.
The more replaceable parts, the more durable the headphones, that’s the rule.
If one part breaks, you can replace it without having to throw the whole headphone away.
Which is why higher end models come with AT LEAST one replaceable part — most often the cable…
While some models offer more replaceable parts such as:
- The headband
- The drivers
- The ear cups
So keep that in mind. If you think you’re getting a good deal on a pair of headphones, double-check which part are replaceable.
If none of them are, move along.
The 7 Best DJ Headphones
So now that we know what to look for, let’s get to the list, starting with…
1. OneOdio DJ Headphones
It would probably never cross your mind to buy a less than $30 pair of headphones for DJing, right?
And in most circumstances you would be right, simply because it’s virtually impossible to find a model offering:
- Detachable chord
- Swiveling ear cups
- 50mm drivers – which produce rich bass and low-ends
On top of that, with tens of thousands of rave reviews, it seems this (very) cheap headphones truly is a good bang for your buck.
For beginner DJs, OR as a second pair I highly recommend them.
- Click here to compare prices – (Amazon)
2. Numark Redwave Carbon
Numark is known for products that combine classic feel and performance capabilities.
The brand is famous for their innovating approach of DJ equipment, and is known for producing the first mixer with a built-in sampler, as well as iOS compatible DJ systems.
Their Redwave series is specifically directed towars DJs,
The best thing about the Carbon model is that it’s nearly up to the standard of more expensive K267s…
While actually performing decently well when used to monitor house or studio audio.
Moreover, it offers:
- A fully foldable design
- A headphone case
- A detachable cable
- A 6.5mm to 3.5mm headphone adapter
All in all a great compromise between affordability, durability and sound quality for beginners.
3. Sennheiser HD 25
Here’s a fun little story about the Sennheiser HD 25…
They used to be handed out to passengers in the flights of the Concorde airplane back in the 80’s because of the plane’s loud engine noise…
Which should give you an idea of how good they actually are are cancelling noise.
Anybody who’s ever so much as taken a glance at headphones or microphones knows the company Sennheiser.
They produce some of the industry standards in both these areas, and others too.
And guess what? The HD-25 is an industry standard for DJs. Let’s see why:
- Impressive noise cancellation – if you’re performing in loud environments, you’ll need this
- Rugged design – generally when a product becomes an industry standard, its build-quality and durability have a lot to do.
- Replaceable parts – this is the first model of this list to actually offer fully replaceable parts – meaning the cable, ear pads, headband and clamp.
For their most recent updates, Sennheiser decided to release their HD-25 in 3 different forms:
- HD-25 Light – which has a simpler, less durable headband
- HD-25 Light – which has what Sennheiser calls a “splayed” headband which povides increased comfort and durability
- HD-25 Plus – which essentially comes with an extra chord, extra ear pads as well as a protective case. But the main difference is its coiled cable as opposed for a straight one for the 2 previous models.
Now, all these 3 models have the SAME sound signature, so what you end up paying for is essentially increased durability.
Check them out:
4. Shure SRH750DJ
Some manufacturers like to include the letters “DJ” in some of their models just for marketing reasons…
While other do it because their models were actually specifically designed for DJs.
And this is the case of one of the most popular models in this last category is the Shure SRH750DJ.
More than a decade old and still produced and sold by its manufacturer, the SRH750DJ simply delivers on EVERY SINGLE need DJs usually have.
- Durability – many DJs state they’ve been using these headphones daily for years — some for over 10 years — and they’ve never broken.
- Sound – most users report incredible bass, which is for most DJs the most important frequency range.
- Replaceable earcup pads – no need to worry about damaging them since you can replace them
- Detachable cable – not only that, but the chord is capable of withstanding serious stress
- Price – let’s not forget this small detail. Priced under the the $150 mark, they’re affordable too.
So if comfort, sound and build-quality are important for you as a DJ (which they should) and your budget is limited…
The SRH750DJ are most likely your best bet.
Check them out:
5. PIONEER HDJ-X10-S
When it comes to DJ equipment, Pioneer is kind of a household name.
So what exactly is so great about the HDJ-X10-S?
First off these are probably the most rugged headphone son this list.
They are extremely well built and should serve you many, many years.
Second, they sport an insane frequency range: 5hz to 40kHz (remember what we talked about earlier?)
Sound is detailed on the highs and mids — but not too much and very deep on the low end, more than what you’ll find on flat monitoring headphones.
Good thing since that’s what you should be looking for in DJ headphones, remember?
Set at around $350 these cans are no beginner toy…
In fact, they’re Pioneer’s flagship DJ headphone.
You can also replace all of its major components to extend its life span for many years.
All in all one of the very best investment you can make a serious DJ. Check it out:
Now on to the very high end, let’s see the…
6. AIAIAI TMA-2 DJ Headphones
If you’re unacquainted with Denmark-based company AIAIAI (yes, that’s their name)…
Know that they’re a rather young company — created in 2006.
With a strong emphasis on design (they are Scandinavian after all), they managed to work their way to the top…
Eventually ending up endorsing international DJs such as Charlotte de Witte or Bonobo, among others.
But what truly makes the brand special and uique is modularity. That’s right, their model is fully customizable.
So how does it work? Well, you start by choosing:
- The speaker unit – 5 options ranging from neutral sound to “punchy” or “vibrant”, each of these emphasizing a given frequency range.
- The headband – with 4 wired types and 2 bluetooth, you can choose between fabric types, size and durability.
- The earpads – 4 options ranging from cheap microfiber to more noble alcantara leather
- The cable – last but not least, you’ll have to choose between no less than 14 different options of cables, with features such as straight/coiled, plug type, length and other options such as magnetic and radio frequency interference protection or integrated microphone to use with your phone.
Apart from the possibility to build your headphones “from scratch”, AIAIAI also offer what they call “preset” models, which are already built models, one of them particularly well suited for DJs.
Check them out:
- AIAIAI TMA-2 DJ Preset – (Amazon/ )
- AIAIAI TMA-2 Studio Preset – (Amazon)
- AIAIAI TMA-2 Move Preset – (Amazon/B&H/ )
- AIAIAI TMA-2 Comfort Preset – (Amazon/B&H/ )
And finally, for our last pick of this list…
7. KORG NC-Q1
For the final pick of this list here’s a pair of headphones with a ton of useful features for DJs.
Brand new from Korg, the NC-Q1 might be one of the very best headphones for DJs, but not only.
Before I list some of the most useful and impressive features on these cans, let me just say these headphones are the “best of all worlds”, and here’s why:
1. They’re hybrid ANC headphones
First of all, ANC stands for Active Noise Cancelling as opposed to PNC, Passive Noise Cancelling, which aren’t as efficient.
ANC headphones have a microphone on the outside or the inside of the earcup and create an out-of-phase soundwave which cancels out the ambient noise, thus isolating fully the listener.
The NC-Q1 are actually both a PNC and a ANC headphones, with a structure that allows it to cancel noise even when ANC is off.
But where the NC-Q1 stands out is with its “hybrid” technology, meaning it has not one but two microphones, one on the outside AND one on the inside of each earcup.
The result is a next-level noise cancellation but more importantly, where other ANC headphone will distort when ambient noise is too loud (i.e. clubs)…
The NC-Q1 can withstand the loudest environments, making it IDEAL for DJs.
2. They’re “smart”
The NC-Q1 has a couple of features that will make your life as a DJ easier, such as:
- Tap to mute – want to mute one of your earcups? Simply touch it with your finger and it will be muted
- Automatic pause – your cue track will automatically stop when you take your headphones out
- “Smart Monitoring” – no need to remove one of the earcups anymore, you can cue and monitor external sounds without taking your headphones off thanks to various EQ presets.
All in all this is probably the best headphones you can currently get as a DJ. The fact that you get added noise protection is definitely something worth considering.
Of course they’re slightly pricier than the other models on this list, but they’re definitely not overpriced considering their features.
Check them out: