It takes more than two turntables and a microphone to be a good DJ — you also need a good set of headphones. It doesn’t matter if you are a full-time, professional DJ or just do the occasional gig. The right headphones make the job easier and make a difference in the quality of your mixes.
The challenge is finding the right headphones. Not just because everyone has their own preferences, but because there are a ton of headphones to pick from. You could get by with a good set of regular headphones, but eventually, you’ll want ones that are professional quality and not just for casual listening. If you’re not sure where to start or are looking for some quick recommendations, we’ll cover what to look for in a good set of DJ headphones as well as our picks for the best ones.
— Best Overall: Sennheiser HD 25
— Most Versatile: Audio Technica ATH-M50X
— Best Wireless: V-Moda Crossfade 3
— Best Budget: Pioneer HDJ-CUE1BT
— Best Noise-Cancelling: Korg NC-Q1
— Most Comfortable: AKG Pro Audio K371
How We Picked the Best DJ Headphones
Professional DJs make their name by how they entertain and excite a crowd. Sound quality plays a large part in that, but what really separates a pro from an amateur is the quality of their playlists and how they mix tracks together. It’s a craft that takes practice — and the right headphones.
To compile this list, I first looked at the qualities professional DJs look for in a good set of headphones and the brands they use. Then I researched the top 10 to 12 headphones for those brands and reviewed them based on sound, comfort, durability, features, and price. I gave extra consideration to specific models used by professional DJs. Finally, I applied my experience with audio equipment and working as a radio DJ in my mid-20s.
You can buy a set of DJ headphones for less than $20 to get started or if you want to DJ as a hobby. But to be taken seriously you need the right equipment, including the right headphones. Fortunately, there are a lot of great options for less than $200, including some that even the top DJs use.
Best DJ Headphones: Review and Recommendations
Best Overall: Sennheiser HD 25
Why They Made The Cut: Combining features professionals look for with good isolation and loud output for a great price, the Sennheiser HD 25s are the best choice for DJ work.
— Type: On-ear
— Connection: Wired
— Frequency Response: 16Hz -22kHz (hertz)
— Good isolation
— Loud output
— Rotating ear cups
— Ear padding could be better
— Cord could be longer
Sennheiser has a longstanding reputation for high-quality, commercial-grade audio products and the HD 25 headphones are no exception. These headphones provide great sound output and isolation to handle the extreme external sound volume.
The HD 25s are lightweight and comfortable, featuring rotatable ear cups for single-ear listening. The on-ear padding could be better and the cord could be longer but they are durable, well-made, and should hold up to years of use.
There are headphones with better sound quality and there are cheaper headphones, but none that are as ideal for DJ work for the money. That’s why if you’re looking for a good set of professional-quality DJ headphones, the Sennheiser HD 25 is the top pick.
Most Versatile: Audio Technica ATH-M50X
Why They Made The Cut: The ATH-M50x headphones are extremely versatile, offering great sound and frequency response, making them the best-all around professional headphones.
— Type: Over-ear
— Connection: Wired
— Frequency Response: 15Hz – 28kHz
— Versatile with great frequency response
— Very durable and well made
— Not the best for DJ-specific use
The Audio-Technica brand is highly respected in the music industry and the ATH-M50x headphones show why. Not only are they extremely well built, and comfortable with their over-the-ear design, they have some features that are useful for DJs and music professionals, like swiveling ear cups and interchangeable cables.
13The ATH-M70X headphones offer a good frequency range and isolation as well as great sound quality. In fact, they provide the best sound reproduction of any headphones on this list and respond well to equalizer adjustments. That makes them the best all-around set of professional quality headphones and is why they are used by studio engineers and forensic sound technicians.
However, the great sound quality means the ATH-M50x headphones aren’t the best for live DJ work. It’s not that they can’t handle it, but they prioritize overall clarity over high- and low-frequency responses needed for mixing. If you want DJ headphones, get the Sennheisers. But if you want the best sound quality and need headphones for a variety of uses, the ATH-M50xs is the best choice.
Best Wireless: V-Moda Crossfade 3
Why They Made The Cut: V-Moda's Crossfade 3 Wireless headphones sound great, last a long time, and have a wired mode in case you need to plug them into your system.
— Type: Over-ear
— Connection: Wireless Bluetooth and wired
— Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
— 30 hour battery life
— 3.5mm output
V-Moda's Crossfade 3 is a solid pair of Bluetooth headphones for DJs both on and off the stage. The headphones feature Bluetooth 5.1, a new version of the wireless standard that offers almost no latency (lag), which is essential if you want to use them while making song transitions with pinpoint precision. They also support the latest audio codecs, so you can listen to high-resolution audio with far less compression. We've tested the Crossfade 3 headphones for ourselves, and liked using them a lot
At 11 ounces, the Crossfade 3s were light enough to wear for extended music listening sessions without developing neck strain. This bodes well for DJs who need to wear them during a multi-hour set. Their oval-shaped ear cups had a generous amount of padding, and fit around our ears comfortably. The diamond shape on the outside of the Crossfade 3s ear cups was more visually interesting than your typical headphones, but V-Moda didn't only focus on aesthetics.
The Crossfade 3s are equipped with a giant 50mm dual-diaphragm driver, and are tuned for deep bass that doesn't interfere with the mids or highs. In our experience, the company's default tuning was designed for listening to club or dance music. You can adjust the EQ on this set of headphones with V-Moda's, and dial in the right sound based on the music you're planning to spin.
One of the downsides to using Bluetooth headphones is having to recharge their battery, but that's less of an issue with the Crossfade 3s because they last up to 30 hours per charge. We found ourselves reaching for the charger about once a week. One of the reasons for their longevity is the headphones' lack of active noise cancellation, which isn't necessary for DJs, but may be missed if you're listening to music on them casually.
If the headphones do start to falter mid-set, don't worry, you can use them as a pair of wired headphones by plugging a cable into their 3.5mm audio jack. V-Moda includes both a 3.5mm audio cable and a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter, so you can plug them directly into a computer or mixer right out of the box. If you keep the headphones and their accessories inside V-Moda's carrying case, you'll never leave them behind.
The versatility of V-Moda's Crossfade 3s, combined with their wide frequency response and futuristic look make them a great fit for DJs who don't want to be tethered to their rig with a cable. These headphones are pricy but well worth the investment.
Best Budget: Pioneer HDJ-CUE1BT
Why They Made The Cut: Not just a great budget set of DJ headphones, the Pioneer HDJ-CUEBT are the best overall headphones for under $100.
— Type: On-ear
— Connection: Wireless Bluetooth and Wired
— Frequency Response: 5Hz – 30kHz
— Lightweight with customizable ear pads
— Good build quality with rotating ear cups
— Bluetooth and detachable cables
— Slow micro USB charging
— Not the best sound quality
— Short cord
Pioneer makes some of the best audio equipment around so it’s no surprise they have a solid lineup of headphones. The Pioneer HDJ-CUE1BT is a good pick for DJ work because they combine the functionality DJs look for at an affordable price. They offer sturdy, lightweight construction with comfortable, rotating on-ear cups, and DJ-level sound quality.
Pioneer claims the battery lasts an impressive 47 hours on a single charge. The downside is the micro USB charging is slow. It would be nice to trade battery life for faster charging or the ability to easily swap out batteries. The other drawbacks are a short cord which makes it hard to move around when plugged in, and the sound quality is not as good as other headphones on this list.
But those are minor quibbles. The HDJ-CUE1BTs are well-made and a great choice for DJ work. They can get loud, peaking at 104dB, and offer great frequency response. Plus, the sound quality is good enough for personal listening. In fact, if you just wanted Bluetooth headphones, they are one of the best options for under $100.
Best Noise-Cancelling: Korg NC-Q1
Why They Made The Cut: The Korg NC-Q1 headphones offer great sound quality and noise-canceling features in a quality, well-made package.
— Type: Over-ear
— Connection: Wireless Bluetooth and Wired
— Frequency Response: 10Hz-25kHz
— Great monitoring features
— Good noise-canceling
— Strong sound
— Requires charging to use smart features
— Complex to use
Korg’s NC-Q1 offers good sound quality and active noise-canceling in a well-made package. The over-the-ear cups are comfortable and do a great job of blocking out background noise. They also offer Korg’s Smart Monitoring, allowing you to de-activate noise-canceling for one or both ears.
In theory, Smart Monitoring lets you turn off one side so you can mix music without taking the headphones off. The problem is this feature doesn’t work intuitively and takes time to get used to. If you’re working a gig it can be distracting if you’re mixing and fumbling with the controls of your headphones. Additionally, the active features are battery-powered and while the battery life is good, if it dies during a gig, you’re left with a regular pair of wired headphones.
The NC-Q1 is Korg’s first foray into the DJ headphone market and it’s a good one. If the quality of their other sound equipment is any indicator, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the DJ headphone market.
Most Comfortable: AKG Pro Audio K371
Why They Made The Cut: The AKG K371 provides top-notch comfort in a headphone set that’s easy to use.
— Type: Over-ear
— Connection: Wired
— Frequency Response: 5Hz - 40kHz
— Very comfortable
— Long cable and lots of features
— Replaceable ear pads
— Okay sound quality with leaks / poor isolation
— Build quality is hit or miss
Comfort reigns supreme with the AKG K371 headphones. The plush ear pads and soft headband make them easy to wear for long sets. The ear cups also rotate 180 degrees so you can listen to your surroundings and are comfortable in any position.
Frequency response is similar to other DJ headphones, meaning high and low frequencies are amplified more than mids. But it’s harder to discern the notes compared to other headphones on this list. Most of this issue stems from poor noise isolation, so the outside sound leaks into the headphones. But the sound quality is also not that great which adds to the problem. Additionally, some reviews have commented on the “hit or miss” build quality which is surprising for AKG.
On the positive side, AKG provides a 3-meter coiled cable which is longer than most of the others on this list. It terminates with a 3.5-millimeter plug and a mini-XLR connector for the headset. A 1/4-inch adapter is also available for your audio interface. Plus the headset is compact and easy to ball up and drop in its drawstring pouch.
Things to Consider Before Buying DJ Headphones
Let’s get one thing out of the way first — the qualities that make a great set of headphones for listening to your favorite music are not the same qualities you need to DJ. Sound quality is important, but not as important as being able to identify key track elements necessary for mixing jams. To do that, you need to consider the following:
The loudness and quality of sound are important as is sound isolation. You need to hear over the crowd and your sound system to cue up the next song. Your headphones should be loud and let you hear cymbals or bass so you can seamlessly mix in the next track.
If you’re providing music for three or more hours, comfort will be important. Headphones that don’t sit right or pinch your ears will get old fast. For this reason lots of people like over-the-ear headphones but there are some comfortable on-ear models as well.
Simply put, you want headphones that can handle abuse. Your headphones need to handle being taken on and off constantly. They will get dropped, smashed between speakers, and stepped on if they fall into the mosh pit.
Every DJ has their own style and opinion on headphone features. Do you want wireless headphones or one with a cord? Are fixed ear cups better or ones that rotate? What about noise-canceling? Features are not as important as sound, comfort, and durability but can still make a difference.
Q: Are DJ headphones good?
DJ headphones are better made and more durable than regular headphones but don’t always offer the best sound quality. They prioritize isolation, volume, and high-end and low-end clarity over the overall sound.
Q: Do you need DJ headphones to DJ?
A decent set of on-ear or over-the-ear headphones will work if you’re an occasional amateur DJ, just don’t use earbuds. But if you plan to turn pro, you will need a good quality set of DJ headphones.
Q: What’s the difference between DJ headphones and regular headphones?
Most DJ headphones have longer cords and ear cups that swivel and be worn on one or both ears at a time. They can also play two different tracks in each ear which helps listen to the current and cue tracks simultaneously for mixing.
Q: Can you use wireless headphones for DJing?
In short, yes — but with any wireless headset, there is some latency or delay in sound. To use wireless headphones they must be low latency and you’ll need a Bluetooth transmitter with aptX low latency, no audio delay, and an audio cable that connects to your DJ controller.
Q: Do DJs use noise-canceling headphones?
Not always—noise-canceling is a preference but not required. The key thing headphones provide is ear protection and the ability to mix tracks.
Q: What headphones does Martin Garrix use?
Many top professional DJs use Sennheiser HD 25s. Martin Garrix is known for using the V-MODA Crossfade M-100s.
Final Thoughts on the Best DJ Headphones
The Sennheiser HD 25 is the best overall pick, offering the best combination of features, sound quality, and durability for a good price. The Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones aren't far behind and are a great choice for a variety of uses. So are the V-Moda Crossfade 3 and the Pioneer HDJ-CUE1BT, which also include Bluetooth capability. Finally, for a good set of noise-canceling headphones, check out the Korg NC-Q1.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
Share This Article