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8 best DJ headphones 2021: step into the booth with confidence

8 best DJ headphones 2021: step into the booth with confidence
(Image credit: Witthaya Prasongsin)

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.

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: Product guide & reviews

Best DJ Headphones: Sennheiser HD 25

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

1. Sennheiser HD 25

A classic of the genre

Specifications
Price: $149/£129/€128
Type: On-ear
Frequency response: 16Hz -22kHz
Connection: Wired
Reasons to buy
+Reliable+Designed specifically for DJ use 
Reasons to avoid
-Genuinely not much 

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 

Best DJ Headphones: Campfire Audio Cascade

(Image credit: Campfire Audio)

2. Campfire Audio Cascade

Premium headphones for studio and live use

Specifications
Price: $799/£699
Type: Over-ear
Frequency response: 5Hz – 33kHz
Connection: Wired
Reasons to buy
+Top-tier sound+Stunning design  
Reasons to avoid
-Quality like this costs! 

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. 

Best DJ Headphones: Technics RPDJ1210 DJ headphones

(Image credit: Technics)

3. Technics RPDJ1210

Rugged and reliable DJ cans

Specifications
Price: $205/£139
Type: On-ear
Frequency response: 5Hz -30kHz
Connection: Wired
Reasons to buy
+Tough as they come+Sweat proof!+Coiled cable 
Reasons to avoid
-Look a bit dated 

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.

Best DJ Headphones: AIAIAI TMA-2

(Image credit: AIAIAI)

4. AIAIAI TMA-2

Modular design offers scope for customisation

Specifications
Price: From $139/£130/€139
Type: On-ear or Over-ear
Frequency response: Various
Connection: Wired/Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Literally design your own cans+Core product is solid 
Reasons to avoid
-Not everyone needs that much choice 

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.

Best DJ Headphones: Audio Technica ATH-M50x

(Image credit: Audio Technica)

5. Audio Technica ATH-M50x

Great mid-range cans for live use

Specifications
Price: $149/£109/€129
Type: Over-ear
Frequency response: 15Hz – 28kHz
Connection: Wired
Reasons to buy
+Swappable cables+Decent isolation 
Reasons to avoid
-There are better sounding headphones out there 

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.

Read the full Audio Technica ATH-MX50 review

Best DJ Headphones: Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 DJ Headphones

(Image credit: Pioneer)

6. Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10

Superb closed-back cans with wide frequency response

Specifications
Price: $349/£299
Type: Over-ear
Frequency response: 5Hz – 40kHz
Connection: Wired
Reasons to buy
+Wide sound+Solid construction  
Reasons to avoid
-Not a great deal wrong with these! 

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.

Best DJ Headphones: Numark HF125

(Image credit: Numark)

7. Numark HF125

Cheap but perfectly cheerful. The best budget DJ headphones out there

Specifications
Price: $20/£17.99
Type: On-ear
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Connection: Wired
Reasons to buy
+Great value+Genuine DJ headphones 
Reasons to avoid
-Hard to criticise considering the price… 

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.

Best DJ Headphones: V-Moda Crossfade 2

(Image credit: V-Moda)

8. V-Moda Crossfade 2

Hybrid headphones for mixed-media use

Specifications
Price: $199/£244
Type: Over-ear
Frequency response: 5Hz – 40kHz
Connection: Wired or wireless
Reasons to buy
+Versatile+Great sound  
Reasons to avoid
-Perhaps more lifestyle than specialist 

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.

Best DJ headphones: Buying advice

Hands on a DJ controller

(Image credit: Future)

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.

Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar gear and synths, to microphones and music production hardware.