The best DJ headphones are an essential bit of kit, whether you are an up and coming DJ or you’ve already made it and are looking for new toys to play with.
DJ headphones are one of the most important pieces of gear you will own. The amount of time you spend with them on your head will be massive. Owning a pair of pro DJ headphones is an investment all DJs should make, even if you are a beginner.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products. You can learn more about our review process here.
This is a list of the best headphones of 2020 so far. For a DJ, the quality of your headphones can make the difference between the next hit and just another track in the millions being made every year.
How to Choose the DJ Headphones?
When shopping for the best DJ headphones, you should first take into account the following features so you can buy the right pair of headphones to suit your needs.
- Sound Quality: Right off the bat, your main concern should be the sound quality. Your DJ headphones aren’t the same as audiophile headphones, which means you’re not looking for flawless reproduction.
- Comfort: Since you’ll most likely be wearing your headphones for extended periods during long mixing sessions or live gigs, you need them to be as comfortable as possible. This means that the ear cups should be covered in ample padding and cushioning foam to avoid itching, redness, or anything that may hurt your ears.
- Weight: In line with the previous comfort feature, you should also consider the weight of your headphones. Not only are lightweight headphones more comfortable to wear for long-term use, but they’re also easier to move around with, transport, and store.
- Design: Finally, you can’t forget about how your headphones look! After all, these headphones will mirror your style and how you want to present yourself. So, the most important tip in this aspect would be to just pick something that you like!
5 best dj headphones of 2021:
These headphones aren’t the absolute best for live gigs. However, they’re highly useful for DJs. They’re studio-level headphones which can help you mix your set and prepare for a live show.
The tonal profile is a lot more balanced than what you would get from most live headphones, as is the case with most other Audio-Technica headphones. The frequency response is extended on the low end. The sound isolation is also very nice due to the design and size of the ear pads.
Clarity aside, the headphones are affordable and durable. The ear cups swivel 90 degrees, which means you can use multiple mix monitoring approaches. This could be very useful if you’re a beginner and not set in your ways yet.
The ATH-M50X can also handle some live performances if you’re deejaying on a tight budget. The noise cancellation is good enough to let you mix in small venues. Of course, you may not even need that if you’re mixing with just one ear cup.
- Budget option
- Swiveling ear cups
- Comfortable fit
- Good low frequency response
- Average high end
- Not the best for live gigs
There are on-ear rather than over-ear headphones, which can be just as good; it simply depends on preference. They are definitely one of the more comfortable pairs of headphones on the market which makes them great for longer periods of use like live performances or marathon sessions.
Thanks to the way Pioneer designed the ear pads, the very same thing that makes them comfortable also works well for sound isolation.
Another thing to note is the sound quality.
It has just the right amount of bass and still clearly audible mids and highs. The sound engines on each side are both able to swivel and rotate, making them more convenient than some competitors. Given the sound quality and other features, the price of these headphones is fantastic.
- Provides a brilliant level of comfort
- Clear definition of mids and highs
- There’s a good price attached
- Thes on-ear design can result in a little bit of sweating and are prone to wearing out
For pro headphones, it’s important to try to compare popular models back-to-back, if you have the means. A set of headphones we had access to first-hand were the CB-1s by Status Audio.
These headphones sound shockingly good, really for any price. But when you factor in that they come in well under $100, then it’s even better. The CB-1s, by looks alone, seem to be trying to compete directly with the Audio Technica ATH-M50s, only for about half the price. But when we ran some quick studio tests with these, they passed every one with flying colors.
The drivers on these are 50mm, so that’ll give you enough bass, but they handle the full spectrum well with a crisp, clear sound perfect for studio reference monitors. They cover 15 Hz all the way through 30 kHz on the frequency spectrum, so they go toe-to-toe with all the biggest names on this list. They operate at 32 ohms and push out right around 97 dB at peak.
Most reviews out there will give these the headphones a bit of a ding for the feel of them in your hands (the plastic seems a bit cheap). And while that’s fair, they feel great on your head. The ear pads are super thick and super soft, and the plastic construction actually works to their advantage because the headphones weigh only 13 ounces.
Finally, they come standard with two separate detachable cables (one straight and one coiled), which offers a good deal more versatility than many of the other headphones on this list.
- Shines in the Mids
- Good Isolation
- Solid Build
- The Highs and Lows
- Heavy Cable
The best DJ headphones we’ve tested so far for portability are the Sony MDR-7506. They’re very popular in the studio for mixing and mastering, but they’re also very well-suited for DJs on-the-go thanks to their compact, lightweight design. They can tightly fold up into a neat compact format, even with their integrated cable, and won’t weigh down your equipment bag too much.
These over-ear headphones have a well-balanced sound signature, which makes them suitable for a diverse set. Some people find them a bit bass-light, especially during louder live club performances, but this isn’t an issue for everyone. If you play a variety of different gigs, you’ll likely prefer their fairly neutral sound profile compared to all the bass-heavy options out there.
While they feel durable enough to withstand being tossed into your bag a couple of times a day, their cable isn’t detachable. This can also be a pain if the cable breaks during a gig – since it’s not replaceable, you’ll need to use something else for the remainder of your set.
They also don’t have the most secure fit, so if you tend to really get in the groove when you spin, you might want to keep a hand on them to make sure they don’t go flying off your head. That said, if you’re playing a tamer gig, you shouldn’t have any issues.
- Good Mids and Highs
- Powerful Drivers
- Cord Length
- Translates to Production
- Lacking in Bass
- Outdated Design
Technics is, of course, a brand best known for turntables. The Japanese company continues to make the definitive DJ turntable in the form of the SL-1210 MK7 but over the years they’ve also put out a decent range of mixers, headphones and other DJ-related kit.
The RPDJ1210 is one of the brand’s tried-and-tested headphone offerings, very much in keeping with the no-nonsense approach of the turntables.
The RPDJs have a slightly old-school look to them when compared to the sleek, smooth aesthetic of the AIAIAI model above, but it’s very much a case of function over form here, with a focus on durability and comfort to match the powerful, clear sound.
Given that DJ headphones are inevitably subjected to harsh working conditions and occasional abuse, durability is a huge concern, without the ability to withstand the rigours of the DJ booth, it doesn’t matter how good a pair of headphones sound. The RPDJs are reassuringly solid and clearly built to last.
- Fantastic Sound Quality
- Solid Bass
- Color Choices
- Good Build Quality
- Not Great For Studio Use
Best DJ Headphones Buying Guide
When you’re looking to buy a new set of DJ headphones, there are a few questions and considerations you should take into account. Headphones are not all created equal, after all. Some strive to deliver an elite listening experience, which is perfect for those silent home or studio sessions when you’re auditioning your next setlist.
Others cater more towards live use, where you can reasonably expect to contend with huge amounts of external noise. Build quality is also hugely important; we’ve all seen those cheap headphones which look like they’d snap in a heavy wind. Investing in a well-made, robust set of cans gives you confidence they’ll last for years to come yet.
Can you use DJ Headphones for Gaming?
DJ headphones can indeed be used for gaming and they also come with some distinct advantages. The first is that the sound quality of headphones can further immerse you in the rich tapestry that modern games provide in story modes. On top of that, the same sound quality can be used to increase performance in FPS games.
DJ headphones can be tuned differently to further amplify certain sounds, depending on the model and the monitoring hardware tuners that they come with.
Other than that, there aren’t too many other benefits of having DJ headphones over regular gaming headphones.
If you’re a DJ and you already need DJ headphones, they’re just as useful as gaming headphones. If you need both and you can only pick one, then pick DJ headphones.
You’ll have a pair of headphones that is useful for both endeavors. If you’re very into gaming as well and you like to game with friends, then make sure you get yourself headphones with a microphone built-in or you’ll have issues communicating with teammates.
Why You Should Trust Us
We know the demands of DJing and we test all the gear ourselves to make sure it passes our rigorous standards before recommending it.
In most cases we purchase the headphones ourselves. In the case a manufacturer sends us a pair, we’ll make a note of it in the review, but that in no way influences our decision to include the headphone on this list or omit any of its shortcomings.
Your choice of DJ headphones boils down to preference and budget. If you’ve been DJing for a while and have outgrown your beginner pair of headphones, our recommendation is to buy the best that you can get for the money that you’re willing to spend.
To keep it simple, the type you should buy depends on you. If you like to produce on the move on-ear is the way to go, but even with on-ear headphones, you won’t be able to produce music to the same quality as someone sat down with over-ear headphones.
If you want to focus purely on sound quality then the isolation from over-ear is definitely a winner in comparison. Buy headphones that suit all your needs.
All the headphones on this list are reliable and built to last, so if you’re thinking twice about spending, it’s worth considering that you’re going to be using them for a long time anyway.