If there’s one thing a DJ relies on it’s their headphones. You can have the best vinyl collection this side of Endtroducing, but if you can’t hear what you’re lining up to play next then you’re heading for disaster. Thankfully, we’re here to help. In this guide we’ll highlight some of the best DJ headphones on the market today, with options for all styles and budgets.
From premium noise-cancelling models to cheaper, portable options, we’ve rounded up a selection of top-quality headphones which will suit any DJ of any level.
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Best DJ headphones: MusicRadar’s Choice
Everybody will have their own requirements from a set of DJ headphones, be that sound quality, durability or price. In this product guide we’ve covered a few different options, but as an all-rounder we’re still drawn to the venerable Sennheiser HD 25. There’s a reason these are so well-loved by the professionals, as they hit the sweet spot between price and performance so effortlessly, and have rightly earned their place at the top table.
Special shout to the Campfire Audio Cascade which can be used for live performance but are better suited to the studio, where their extra quality and sweet sound rewards the user immensely. They’re expensive, sure, but they sound darn-near perfect to us. Take a look at Campfire Audio.
Best DJ headphones: Buying advice
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.
On the whole, DJ headphones differ from standard listening headphones in a number of ways. For starters, each individual DJ is different and has their own preferences. It could be you require something you can throw on and off your head every couple of minutes, relying only on the key frequencies you need to match your beats. Alternatively, you may prefer to keep them on permanently during your set, making comfort a priority. Or perhaps pristine, crystal clear audio is your key driver when you’re in the studio?
As with any music tech, there is a big difference in price and quality. You’ll know yourself the budget you have to work with but what we would say is that a quality set of headphones is an important investment. You can get away with cheap models to a point, but nobody who invested in a decent set ever regrets it in the long term. Now, let’s explore some of the best DJ headphones around today.
Best DJ headphones: Product guide & reviews
While everyone will have their own personal preferences and tastes, the Sennheiser HD 25 is as close as you’ll find to a universally well-loved set of cans. The HD 25s are designed specifically for monitoring, providing high levels of attenuation over external noise and the ability to cope with extreme volumes with ease.
They feature a rotatable capsule for single-ear listening, and while the leatherette pads aren’t the most comfortable in the world, they certainly perform better than others in the same price bracket.
Read the full Sennheiser HD 25 review
At the top end of the selection today, at least price-wise, sits the Campfire Audio Cascade headphones. While their cost and appearance would indicate you’d want to wrap them in cotton wool, they are extremely well made and deliver outstanding audio results. The Cascades are classed as monitor headphones, so are arguably better suited to studio use where their wide frequency range will ensure mixing and mastering are accurate.
On a design level, the Campfire Audio range are all among the best in class too. Attention to detail is high throughout the range, as evidenced in the sheepskin earpads on the Cascade range and in the custom drivers which deliver the sound. They are expensive, sure, but you certainly get what you pay for here.
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While they might look like something from the last century, the Technics RPDJ1210 favour robust design and strong build quality over fancy aesthetic touches. And it’s in the trenches where they excel, with a number of features designed specifically for professional DJ use, as you’d expect from one of the biggest brands in the DJ world.
We like the coiled cable, which means you have more room to roam around the booth, while making them resistant to perspiration – or, sweat proof – means they’re ideal for work in hot, busy venues.
Danish brand AIAIAI delivers a bit of Scandi design flair with its TMA-2 range, with a catch. While there are off-the-shelf versions, the real hook with this range comes in your ability to design your own dream setup. From the types of drivers employed to the headband and cable – everything is up for customising here, depending on your requirements.
There is a selection of models available as ‘presets’ if you’re not interested in the process of choosing your own, but for us it’s worth the extra time to find the right pair for you and your needs.
Audio-Technica is well-respected in the DJ world, and the ATH-M50x’s do a great job of showing why. They’re well-built headphones, for a start, which look like they could survive years of service before they give out. We also liked the over-ear design which, when combined with the closed back, means isolation from external noise is great.
There are a couple of DJ-specific tricks too, like swivelling earcups and interchangeable cables, making for a solid mid-range choice all round.
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Another big brand in the DJ world, Pioneer has as much heritage as anyone so you’d assume its upper-mid range headphones would be good. You’d be right too! The Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 are over-ear closed back headphones with what Pioneer claims is the widest frequency range in any DJ-specific headphones. Quite a claim, but we can attest to the great listening experience we had from them. The highs were high, the lows were low, and everything was a balanced and clear as you’d hope.
Pioneer also says the HDJ-X10 were subjected to ‘military grade’ testing while they were being developed, so you’d imagine they’d stand up to small to medium sized venue use pretty well.
In this best DJ headphones list so far we’ve focused mainly on pro-grade, high quality headphones that will serve the working DJ well under a host of situations. Sitting right at the bottom of the price range, however, we have the Numark HF125 which can be picked up for a little under $/£20. Cheap must mean rubbish, right? Actually no; these are some of the best-selling DJ headphones on the planet, adding in features like swivel earcups and an extra-long cable to make them an interesting package for any aspiring DJ.
As you’d expect, sound quality isn’t the same as the Campfire Audio set, and they’re not as well made as the Pioneers, but as a cheap (or backup) set they’re pretty near faultless.
Rounding off the list is the V-Moda Crossfade 2, which provide a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to headphone monitoring. On one hand, the Crossfades can be wired to provide zero latency feedback, and a wide frequency range, making them ideal for studio work. On the other hand, they boast Bluetooth so can double up as ‘regular’ headphones for the walk to and from the studio. Ideal.
There are specialist headphones on this list which, for a similar price, offer a purer DJ experience, but if versatility is important to you then the V-Moda Crossfade 2 set are superb.