Whether you’re new to the trade or have been a professional/amateur DJ for some time now, one of the most important pieces of equipment is your headphones.
While it would be great to go out and be able to drop 1000+ dollars on the best dj headphones in the world, most of us just don’t have that as an option. For the time being, making sense of the huge amount of options available in a saturated market is the most important aspect of getting the most out of your investment.
Although there are literally thousands of different styles and brands of headphones on the market, not all of them are suitable for DJing. While one pair might be the best headphones for listening to music at home (in your price range), they might not fit all of the criteria that really makes them the best dj headphones for you.
The majority of DJ’s are looking to spend roughly between $100 – $300. Our list below features mainly options within this price range.
|AKG K550 Closed Back Headphones||AKG||$299.00|
|Pioneer HDJ-2000 Professional DJ Headphones||Pioneer||$240.00|
|Sennheiser HD25-1 II Over Ear Headphones||Sennheiser||$199.95|
|V-MODA Crossfade LP2 Over Ear Headphones||V-Moda||$199.00|
|Denon AH-D1100 Advanced Over Ear Headphones||Denon||$199.00|
|AIAIAI TMA-1 DJ Headphones||AIAIAI||$159.00|
|Ultrasone DJ1 PRO Headphones||Ultrasone||$143.00|
|Audio Technica ATH-M50 Monitor Headphones||Audio Technica||$125.00|
|Sony MDR-V6 DJ Headphones||Sony||$68.00|
AKG K550 Closed Back Headphones
One of the most exciting releases in the headphone world came from AKG this year (2012) with the release of the AKG K550 closed back headphones.
Championed as a more solid version of the AKG K701 headphones from the same company, the AKG 550′s seem to just about have it all as a solid pair of DJ headphones – the sound quality is downright flawless across the entire frequency spectrum, blending together the lows, mediums, and highs in perfect harmony.
They’re durable too, coated with a solid metal body, a tough plastic headband, and a cable that you’d practically need a knife to cut through. On top of it all, they’re lightweight and comfortable enough to wear for hours on end.
- Constructed primarily of lightweight metals for durability and portability
- Ear cups can swivel back and forth, allowing for them to be laid flat and taking up little space
- 9 foot long durable cable included
- Soft and thick velour ear pads which are replaceable
- The AKG 550′s are completely sealed, closed back headphones that isolate sound well without leaking
- Numerical indicators on the adjustable headband indicate precise length
- Extreme accuracy and attention to detail with reproduction of sound
- Ear cups swivel for finding the perfect fit while allowing the headphones to lay flat for easy storage/transport
The AKG K550′s are a circumaural sealed closed back headphone, which makes their sound isolation properties excellent. Unlike some closed back headphones, the AKG K550′s avoid the common flaw of having too much of a “boxy” or closed in sound quality – quite the opposite in fact!
The amount of width and depth these headphones provide is impressive to say the least. Due to the extremely deep, spacious individual earphones and the closed back construction, there’s practically endless amounts of space and depth in the sound as well! Separation between all of the individual frequencies, instruments, etc. gives the sound out of these a very three dimensional, textured feel that can be hard to find without spending an arm and a leg.
Durability, as always, is very important for DJ headphones as well. The AKG K550′s were certainly built with this in mind – sporting a sleek, sexy all metal design across the entire exterior, you can tell just by the look and feel that these can suffer a lot of abuse without being damaged. The cable itself, too, is made from a durable material that feels like it’s made from tough, braided rope, and I can’t see this ever suffering damage without someone purposely trying to do so!
Sennheiser HD25-1 II Over Ear Headphones
In the fast moving world of headphones and audio equipment, it’s hard to find products that stand the test of time the way the Sennheiser HD25-1 II headphones do. For over two decades they’ve been a favorite among audio professionals as excellent studio monitoring and DJ headphones due to their clear, crisp, and analytical detail to sound quality and high tolerance for physical abuse.
Priced these days as a steal at just under 200 dollars, the Sennheiser HD25-1′s isolate sound surprisingly well – there are headphones at double the price who can’t come close to comparing.
- Closed back headphones design isolates sound and deflects external noise
- Tight, punchy bass accompanied by crisp and clear high and mid range frequencies
- Lightweight and comfortable compared to many similar high quality headphones, excellent for portability
- Just about every piece/part can be replaced if damaged
- Two sets of ear cushions are provided (velour and synthetic leather) which allows you to choose for preferred comfort
- Durable enough to take a lot of beatings without suffering physical damage
- Extra cable, two pairs of ear cushions and soft carrying case included
While keeping external sound and noise at bay is essential for effective DJ headphones, it’s the sound quality that really makes or breaks a pair for me. Thankfully the HD-25-1 II’s, as you might have guessed, don’t have any issues here! Higher and mid ranged frequencies are clear and crisp enough to effortlessly hear the separation between, and the bass is tight, punchy, and prominent without getting in the way of the others. Because of the ability of these headphones to reproduce sound so clearly, they’re just as effective as studio monitoring headphones too.
Especially when it comes to headphones for DJing, durability is an extremely important factor. Even the best headphones in the world are going to suck for live performances if they’re so fragile that you end up breaking a pair every few months, which is another reason DJ’s love these headphones – they seem practically indestructible! While I wouldn’t test that theory, the Sennheiser HD25 headphones are renowned by many for their durability – the extremely tough plastic that makes up the bulk of the design is difficult to even put a scratch on, and each and every moving part is replaceable as well.
The lightweight design certainly helps keeping them safe from hard drops on the ground while providing a lot of comfort too. Heavy and bulky headphones are a nuisance while trying to perform and there’s always the chance that they’ll break on a hard impact. In a world of fragile yet bulky headphones, models like these which remain lightweight while still delivering outstanding sound quality is a breath of fresh air!
V-MODA Crossfade LP2 Over Ear Headphones
V-MODA has been a favorite in the industry when it comes to the subject of headphones, and especially for those seeking DJ headphones – not only do their dual diaphragm sound drivers deliver amazing sound quality, but their construction and design makes them some of the best dj headphones in the industry due to their extreme durability.
Complete with an exoskeleton hard case, nearly indestructible STEELFLEX headband and Kevlar reinforced cables, these headphones have an amazing ability to take a beating! Even if you manage to damage them, most parts are interchangeable and replaceable at a reduced cost to owners.
- Crafted from lightweight metals in order to ensure portability
- V-PORT V3 Airflow System creates a unique 3D sound stage through regulation of air which goes in and out of each earphone for maximum audio quality
- BLISS memory foam ear cushions ensure maximum comfort
- Exoskeleton hard case for travel keeps headphones from any damage
- Extremely flexible “STEELFLEX” headband is virtually indestructible
- Most parts and pieces are interchangeable and replaceable
- Kevlar reinforced cables which pass over 1 million flex tests
- 50 mm Dual-Diaphragm drivers deliver amazing sound quality
- Customizable side plates allow you to place any colors, logos, etc. that you would like on the earphones!
V-Moda clearly knew their target audience when designing the Crossfade LP2′s – not only are the headphones themselves nearly indestructible, but the included carrying case is actually a HARD case, setting it apart from most modern headphones which MIGHT include a cheap soft pouch to carry them in if you’re lucky!
In order to prove just how tough their headphones were, V-Moda had a series of military grade tests administered to the Crossfade LP2′s. The tests and their results are as follows:
MIL-STD-810G and V-MODA Quality Tests:
- Headband Bend: Headband can bend 10+ times flat, not break and retain its memory and shape
- Cable/Plug Bend: Kevlar reinforced detachable cables and 45-degree plug strain relief can each bend over 1 million times, over 100x industry standards
- Concrete Drop: Survives 70+ drops on concrete from 6 feet, approximately three times the industry standard (major functions operational)
- Sound Variance: Virtually inaudible sound variances across the spectrum of less than 2dB from unit to unit versus 10-30dB+ of inferior products
- MIL-STD-810G Environmental: High and low temperatures, humidity, salt spray and UV exposure
If that doesn’t convince you that a pair of headphones can handle some action, I’m not sure what will!
Check Out Our Full Review Of The V-Moda Crossfade LP2 Headphones! Also Mentioned in our best over ear headphones guide.
Pioneer HDJ-2000 Professional Dj Headphones
Pioneer headphones (and audio equipment in general) have been known for their excellent quality for many years, and these headphones are no different from the rest of their products! Boasting a sleek, stylish design that screams “professional”, the Pioneer HDJ-2000 DJ headphones deliver precise and high quality sound contained within a durable build that makes comfort just as much as a priority.
Of course, top notch audio quality is to be expected with Pioneer products and the HDJ-2000′s deliver and then some! These circumaural or “over the ear” headphones are fantastic when it comes to their ability to reproduce sound so accurately. The bass is almost endlessly deep, lush, and wide without muddying any of the highs and mids, which come through with amazing clarity that can only be described as submersive due to the three dimensional soundscaping that provides so much width.
- Extreme durability; composed almost completely of metal (magnesium composite) ensures they can take a beating
- Over ear headphones design with memory foam cancels out outside noises and sounds while remaining comfortable
- Superb Pioneer Audio audio quality
- Magnesium alloy metal construction allows for high durability while remaining lightweight
- Included carrying pouch for portability
- 90 degree swiveling mechanism allows for more convenience when monitoring
- Can be folded into an amazingly compact configuration for convenient storage and transportation
While they’re lightweight enough to wear for many hours without fatigue, these rugged DJ headphones are durable as well. Constructed from a lightweight magnesium alloy metal, these can take a serious amount of punishment while still remaining lightweight enough to be quick on your feet.
Just as important as being lightweight is to comfort, the quality of the ear pads can make or break a particular model too. This isn’t an issue with the Pioneer HDJ-2000 headphones either – the ear pads are made from a soft memory foam covered in protein leather which completely covers and surrounds each ear, effectively canceling out the majority of external noise.
Transporting all of your gear around is difficult enough without having to worry about heavy, bulky, and awkwardly shaped headphones to find a place for in your bag, and Pioneer knows this – which is precisely why these portable headphones also can be completely folded into themselves into a small, lightweight bundle that fits perfectly into the included soft carrying pouch! This alone makes them very convenient for storing and using on the go.
AIAIAI TMA-1 DJ Headphones
Designed with input in mind from an impressive roster of audio professionals and DJ’s such as Flying Lotus, A-Trak, etc., these were designed specifically to be DJ headphones from the start. They’re extremely lightweight and are built with a durable, strong, flexible headband that can stand up to quite a lot of twisting, turning, and general abuse.
Unlike many other headphones marketed to DJ’s and audio professionals which tend to be big and bulky in order to accommodate a lot of bells and whistles, minimalism and simplicity are the cornerstones of the AIAIAI TMA-1′s design. Just because they don’t carry all of the bulk that these other headphones do doesn’t mean that they’re any less capable, however – with excellent sound quality right out of the box, a sturdy finish, AND the ability to change from on ear to over ear headphones with the included interchangeable ear cushions, it’s hard to go wrong with these!
- Interchangeable earphones allow switching between on ear or over ear headphones for different situations/environments with the click of a button
- Lightweight, minimalist design ensures portability and simplicity
- Designed with input from DJ’s, ensuring that they made the best DJ headphones according to professional recommendations
- Lack of metal joints and springs ensures no risk of mechanical failures
- Loose fitting, low pressure headband ensures comfort for long periods of time with use
- Includes carrying pouch for easy travel and portability
Instead of being constructed with an assortment of hinges, pivots and other moving parts that are prone to damage/breaking, the TMA-1 headphones are all one solid piece from the flexible headband to each individual earphone. This drastically reduces the chance of of fatal damage, considering the fact that the vast majority of headphones that break do so where two different parts meet.
Besides being resistant to most forms of damage, the AIAIAI-TMA-1′s provide solid sound quality which most users are surprised by due to the minimalist look and feel. The bass response is prominent yet not muddy, allowing the mids and highs plenty of room to show themselves. Although they don’t completely isolate sound the way that fully dedicated over the ear headphones might do so, their ability to keep the majority of external noise outside while keeping the sounds you want INSIDE is beyond good enough to make the AIAIAI TMA-1′s effective, durable DJ headphones that will last a long time!
See our full AIAIAI TMA-1 review!
Audio Technica ATH-M50 Monitor Headphones
The Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones are one of the most popular models in their price range, and have long been regarded as some of the best headphones (if not THE best headphones) available at such a great price. With excellent sound quality across the entire frequency spectrum (especially bass), a durable build, and big comfortable ear pads that you can wear for hours without a hint of fatigue, it’s easy to see why these are often a persons first experience with buying high quality headphones.
For bassheads like myself especially, the ATH-M50′s are great – although as I said all sound frequencies sound excellent on these, most would argue that bass and low frequencies are somewhat more prominent. There is a seemingly endless amount of depth and texture to low end sounds, and plenty of width where it needs to be. The over ear design certainly emphasizes this quality while allowing plenty of space for the highs and mid ranges to shine through as well.
- Comfortable closed back headphones with cushioned earcups provide comfortable listening experience
- Earphones rotate and swivel in multiple directions allowing for versatility when on the go
- Adjustable padded thick and durable headband allows for maximum control over pressure
- Available in black or white
- Exceptional audio quality; considered some of the best headphones for bass in the price range
- Comfortable closed back headphones with cushioned earcups provide comfortable listening experience
- Fold up into themselves for easy transportation/portability
As we all know, durability is key when it comes to headphones for DJ’s too, and thankfully the ATH-M50′s aren’t lacking here either. The extremely durable design is held together with a cushioned, flexible headband, the length of which can be adjusted to accommodate any head size. Literally any portion of the headphones that make contact with your skin is cushioned, resulting in a very comfortable experience no matter what you’re using them for.
The sealed closed back ear cushions do an excellent job of isolating sound, keeping external sound at bay while preventing almost any sound from leaking out. Audio Technica is a company that is rightfully held in high regard among many discerning audiophiles. With a reputation for some of the best headphones in the world for any and all purposes ranging from mixing/monitoring and DJing, you really can’t go wrong with the Audio Technica ATH-M50′s!
Denon AH-D1100 Advanced Over Ear Headphones
Denon headphones are known and renowned worldwide for their quality – not only in terms of sound quality, but with the construction and design as well. While some headphones might sound great at first, cheap design and construction which eventually causes even the best headphones to break within the first six months can destroy a brands credibility!
Thankfully, these Denon headphones are an excellent choice for DJ’s which need comfortable, effective, and portable headphones at a very reasonable price.
Durability is always a concern with DJ headphones, and the Denon AH-D1100′s are built with this in mind. While a majority of the material used is what seems to be a tough plastic, the rest is cast in a lightweight metal/alloy. Together these keep these headphones particularly light (only 6.3 ounces), which can make or break a pair that you’re going to have to wear for long periods of time.
- Extremely lightweight and portable headphones, weighting only 6.3 ounces
- Designed with comfort in mind – soft protein leather foam ear cushions
- Strong and heavy bass without being muddy, while refusing to sacrifice audio quality of highs and mids
- Included soft leather pouch makes them portable and easy to pack away
- Sealed over ear headphones design keeps external sound out and internal sound in
- Tough, durable plastic and aluminum construction ensures they can take quite a bit of abuse before succumbing to damage
Bass, especially, is solid and easily these headphones strongest attribute while not sacrificing the quality of highs and mid range frequencies whatsoever. Since they’re circumaural (or over the ear headphones) and create a sealed cup around your ears, sound is well isolated inside and out.
This makes the strong bass response particularly heavy – you’ll definitely feel the deep low end frequencies with these! Some even go as far as saying that the bass overpowers the mids and high ranged frequencies – I would say that that’s going a little far, but bass is certainly emphasized on the Denon AHD1100′s, so if that’s something that might be a turn off for you then you might want to look elsewhere!
Ultrasone DJ1 PRO Headphones
Ultrasone headphones have acquired what some might call an almost cult following among their users, and it’s easy to see why: boasting a solid record of durable construction and amazingly high sound quality, Ultrasone is a company that designs and manufactures headphones and only headphones. Unlike most of their competitors who often have a wide range of products, Ultrasone’s laser targeted focus on headphones alone allows them to make some of the most highly regarded products in the industry while ensuring that they only release the best of the best.
The Ultrasone DJ1 PRO S-Logic professional DJ headphones were also clearly designed with the needs and wants of professional DJ’s in mind – not only is it in the name of the product itself, but the specifications should be enough to make it obvious! Sound quality is amazing from the deep, wide bass/low frequency sound all the way up through the mids and to the highs. While the Ultrasone DJ1 Pros have excellent sound quality overall, the bass is really where they shine. With a seemingly endless amount of depth, space, and texture, bass heads are sure to love these for this quality.
- 50mm Mylar sound drivers ensure high quality volume and bass
- Includes DJ1 hard case for easy transportation and portability
- Over ear closed back headphones design isolates sound
- MU metal shielding technology reduces radiation up to 98% versus other DJ headphones
- S-Logic Natural surround sound technology provides the experience of three dimensional sound
- Earphones are removable and replaceable
- Can be folded up into themselves for easy storage and portability
- Extra leather ear pads included with purchase
These high quality headphones are equipped with S-Logic surround sound technology which gives sound through these headphones a three dimensional feel rather than hearing everything “inside of your head”. This three dimensional sound stage really gives you a clear sense of separation between each and every different sound which allows you to experience each and every aspect of your music on its own. The sealed closed back earphones offer a sound isolating listening experience where you can really “feel” the music in three dimensions while simultaneously cancelling out any external noise, even in a noisy club.
It comes with a number of extra goodies as well, including replaceable and interchangeable earphones, replaceable cables, and a HARD portable carrying case - pretty rare these days! The hard case itself is a bit large and bulky, but you can rest assured that your Ultrasone DJ1 Pro Headphones won’t suffer any damage while being transported. Ultrasone also includes a pair of extra leather ear pads just in case the original pads should suffer any damage over time.
Sony MDR-V6 DJ Headphones
In the fast paced world of audio equipment and technology, you’re lucky to have a product last more than 5 – 10 years or so, which makes the fact that the Sony MDR-V6 headphones have a history spanning over 25 years impressive to say the least!
With a history going back 25 years, these have been a favorite for many when it comes to DJ headphones. Relatively inexpensive at only around $70 – $80, they’ve been Sony’s entry level studio monitor headphones for some time now.
Sound quality, even for technology that many would consider ancient in this day and age, is impressive – even at low levels the bass response is full and deep, while mid and high range frequencies are clear and crisp.
- Relatively inexpensive at $70-$80
- Extremely durable – praised for their ability to take a beating without suffering damage
- Can be folded up and placed in an included soft carrying case for transportation
- 10 foot long coiled cord which prevents tangling
- Over ear headphones design prevents most sound leakage
- Comfortable ear pads allow for hours of use without fatigue
Praised not only for their sound quality, the Sony MDR V6′s are over the ear headphones which have a strong ability to cancel out external noises at an impressive level for such a low price. They’re also very portable/compact with the ability to be folded up into the soft carrying case that’s included with purchase.
The Sony MDR-V6′s are also well known for durability – even while being constantly folded up, tossed/pulled in and out of bags, etc., these headphones have been known to last an exceptionally long time without breaking or losing sound quality – something even some of the most expensive DJ headphones fail to achieve.
These were mentioned in our best over ear headphones list too as well!
Which Factors Contribute To Determining The Best DJ Headphones For You?
First and foremost of course is going to be the price and what you’re personally willing to spend.
As cliche’ as it may be to say, you really get what you pay for when it comes to DJ headphones. Although it might seem like the 40 dollar pair of headphones you tried out at the store sound pretty decent, you have to remember that you’re likely in a quiet, controlled environment when at the store.
On the other hand, doing live performance in front of a large crowd in a noisy, crowded club or venue is another story entirely! Trust me when I tell you that spending anything less than $100 or so is probably only going to result in you needing to buy another pair of headphones again in the future after yours eventually break or prove to simply be ineffective when you need to perform. Spend the money NOW and get the best headphones that you can buy without breaking the bank and you’ll likely save yourself money in the long run anyway.
The best DJ headphones wouldn’t be the best if they didn’t SOUND the best, right? What exactly do I mean by that? Well, sound quality can be defined in more than one way.
On one hand, the VOLUME has to be in place. Although simply being the loudest headphones doesn’t necessarily make them the best headphones (by any means), it’s certainly a contributing factor. When you’re trying to beat match or line up a double drop during a live performance and the combination of the crowd, monitors, and general mayhem all around you is too loud for you to even hear what your mix is sounding like, you definitely have what could potentially be an embarrassing problem on your hands!
In addition to having high volume potential, you also have to make sure that the quality of the sound is in place as well. In actuality, it isn’t THAT important that your DJ headphones have the ability to reproduce sounds precisely – this is a different story when it comes to headphones for studio monitoring, but realistically the best DJ headphones are those that allow you to hear the low and high end frequencies through everything else.
When performing, the beat and rhythm is really the most important part of the equation – punchy kicks and snares, crispy sounding hi-hats, etc. are the most important elements of headphones for live performances.
As I said earlier, you’re much better off paying more for the best DJ headphones you can afford versus constantly going through cheap headphones. Durability is arguably one of the most important factors to the longevity of your headphones in live performance scenarios.
During live performances, most DJ headphones suffer quite a bit of abuse. Twisting and turning each earphone, propping up one of them on your ear while the other hangs there around your neck or back, accidentally dropping them or worse, whipping them directly into the surface or floor in front of you are all common when performing live.
Being tugged on, thrown around, thrown into/pulled out of your backpack, sweated on/having beer/drinks accidentally spilled on them, etc. are just a few more destructive activities your headphones are going to have go through in any given performance as well.
Cheap headphones that don’t have a thick headband and tough hinges aren’t going to last long at all in these environments, so do yourself a favor and make sure they’re durable enough to handle this and more for at least a year or so! Otherwise, you’ll just end up spending more in the end on an inferior product. Proper DJ headphones are constructed with all of this in mind.
Obviously comfort is a big factor when it comes to headphones that you’ll be wearing for what could be hours on end.
Obviously putting them on in store is your best bet, even if you decide to purchase online (which I recommend). Making sure that they feel comfortable on your ears in terms of not being too tight or too big or small depending on your ears is important here. Take a look at some headphone reviews from other DJ’s too in order to get a feel for how people feel about wearing a specific model for long periods of time.
The comfort of your DJ headphones shouldn’t be simply reduced to how they feel on your ears, though – the way that they’ll feel and do what you want them to during a live set really needs to be considered. When not mixing into the next track, many DJ’s will wear their headphones around the neck so that they’re easily accessible the moment they’re needed. Make sure they fit snug around your neck enough that they won’t fall off, but also that they aren’t TOO tight.
Flexibility is a big deal too. Many of the best DJ headphones (and even most of the cheap ones) have hinges that pivot for each earphone, can be turned around and/or upside down, and a headband that can be extended or retracted based on head size. Make sure that this can all be done fluidly and comfortably BEFORE performing.
Portability is along the same lines as flexibility – the two go hand in hand.
Especially when it comes to your DJ headphones (those used specifically and/or exclusively for live events), being portable is a huge factor. Since you’re going to need to fit them in your bag/backpack along with laptops, controllers, mixers, and all of your other DJ equipment, making sure that they’re built for portability is important.
Thankfully, most DJ headphones are constructed with this in mind, and can generally be folded up or tucked away conveniently in some fashion. Many will even come with a carrying bag/sack and have the ability to fold up the earphones and wrap the cord around them in a way that allows for easy and convenient transportation on the go.
The best DJ headphones aren’t always going to be the same for everyone, and opinions are going to vary from person to person as with anything as subjective as determining the best headphones for DJing.
What it really comes down to is finding the best DJ headphones FOR YOU – and that is all determined by your own specific needs and wants. At the end of the day, the best ones for you are going to be those that allow you to put on the best live performance without getting in the way or limiting your ability to do what you do.
Below we’ll be offering some recommendations on some of the best dj headphones available right now, which I’ve split into two categories – those that are in the average price range and those that really are some of the BEST headphones currently available – and whose price ranges reflect it. Obviously some of the best headphones in the world are going to cost a ridiculous amount of money, but those truly seeking the BEST may be willing to pay that much. For average people like me, I’ve kept the first list of headphone reviews/recommendations within the $100 – $300 or so range.
Denon AH-D1100 Advanced Over Ear Headphones
Ultrasone DJ1 PRO Headphones
Sony MDR-V6 DJ Headphones
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