What headphones do DJs use? How to choose a pair of DJ headphones?
DJs are often pictured out with headphones on and turntables because these items are essentials when DJing.
Headphones, in particular, are not just accessories. While it’s true that you can perform without it, for me, it’s something that you shouldn’t forgo. They are a must!
Yes, one can play without a headphone, but mind you, it’s either the DJ has to put his ear next to the needles and listen to the hi-hats to beat match, watch the waveforms on the screen and beat match manually, or he is not mixing at all just playing a prerecorded set.
If you are new in the DJing world and you need a complete guideline in choosing the best one then you are on the right page. In this article, I will discuss why headphones are essentials, why you should not perform without it, and how to choose the best DJ headphones in the market.
- 1 What Are DJ Headphones
- 2 Why Do DJs Wear Headphones?
- 3 Why Do DJs Hold Their Headphones?
- 4 Do DJs Use Wireless Headphones?
- 5 Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Good For DJing?
- 6 How To Choose The Best Headset?
- 7 Best DJ Headphones
- 8 Conclusion
|Best DJ Headphones||Price Check||Earcup Style||Frequency Response||Impedance (Ohms)||Weight (g)||Features|
|Audio-Technica ATH-M50x ||Click Here To Buy||Closed Back||15Hz-28KHz||38 Ω||283g||Great build, high quality. Excellent sound. Long cords. Offers noise cancelation. Detachable cables.|
|Sennheiser HD 25||Click Here To Buy||Closed Back||16Hz – 22KHz||70 Ω||140g||Versatile. Lightweight. Small and portable. Decent isolation quality. Solid build quality. Replaceable parts.|
|V Moda Crossfade Wireless||Click Here To Buy||Open back||5Hz - 30KHz||30 Ω||292||Powerful bass. Great soundstage and battery quality. Excellent Bluetooth.|
|Pioneer HDJ01500||Click Here To Buy||Closed Back||5Hz - 30 KHz||32 Ω||285g||Impressive sound quality. Lightweight and comfortable. Removable and replaceable cable. Collapsible design. Has memory foam.|
|Tascam TH-02||Click Here To Buy||Closed Back||18Hz – 22KHz||32 Ω||425g||Very affordable. Great audio quality. Lightweight and portable.|
What Are DJ Headphones
DJ headphones are specifically designed for a purpose – DJing!
They are created with the highest sound quality, and highest noise cancellation quality. Moreover, they are more durable than the usual headphones.
DJs need a higher level of noise isolation than what on-ear or in-ear headphones offer. The headphones for DJ offer better audio and sound quality because they have bigger drivers.
Most importantly, DJs headphones have the ability to play different tracks in different ear cups to help DJs cue up music. They play the current track in one ear and the next track in the other.
Moreover, they are extra flexible because you can swivel them. They are designed that way because DJs often use one ear cup only.
Considering the qualities mentioned above, expect DJ headphones to be at the higher end of the price spectrum because they are specifically constructed for professionals, in particular, music production and mixing, which make them perfect for DJs.
They are often more expensive than audio headphones, and yes, you can use them to enjoy music or for gaming. However, using them for normal use or gaming is impractical.
Why Do DJs Wear Headphones?
We often picture out DJs with headphones and they look cool.
However, many still wonder if headphones are essential when DJing or if they are just plain accessory.
Do DJs need it or they just want it to look cool?
DJs can actually perform without headphones, but I tell you, it’s very difficult and as a DJ, I won’t do it. Here are some reasons why a good pair of headphones are a need and not just a want.
Headphones are particularly useful for cuing. DJs do not need to hear the sounds of the crowd because what’s more important for them is to listen to the next track into the mix.
DJs will incorporate the tracks into their mix as smoothly as possible. The DJs will increase the volume of the next track so that both tracks play at the same time and crossfade the two so that the transition seems smooth. The process is called cuing and it’s the main reason DJs need headphones.
DJs use headphones to cue their next song on the desk before they bring it into the mix. They listen to only one cup because they beat match the next song to the one playing on the speakers.
A typical DJ mixer has a cue button for each channel that lights up when pressed. When it is active, it will send the audio from the channel to the headphones even if the channel line fader is completely down. In that way, the DJ can still hear the music, but the audience can’t.
DJ mixers also come with headphone controls, including split cue function, a mixing knob, and a level knob.
🎧 Split cue function. When this is set to mono split, the mixer will send the cue signal in mono to the left ear cup of the headphone and the master (actual sound heard by the audience) signal to the right. In this way, DJs can match up to the upcoming track tot he playing track in the headphones.
🎧 Mixing knob. When the split cue function is set to stereo, the knob will determine the amount of cue (sound coming into the channels) that have the cue button activated versus the master signal heard in the headphones. If DJs are using an external monitor to mix, the knob will be all the way to the left, set to CUE.
🎧 Level. It refers to the volume of sound you heard in your headphones.
DJ headphones are more powerful and yes, they are special.
You can fold the left or the right ear to have one ear covered by an earcup and one ear free to listen to the master sound (what’s playing through the monitors).
They can also be used to hear the cue sound.
Although they offer so much more than a regular headphone, they can be used to for listening, but for both
In a typical DJ setup, you will see big speakers which are critical in big venues or stadiums because the actual speakers can be far from the DJ.
In order to properly mix the incoming track with the one currently playing, the DJ needs to hear the playing track with the least possible delay using stage monitors and headphones can do the same job.
4. Other reasons
The stage volume can get dangerously loud. A good pair with a quality noise cancelation feature can block out the ambient noise coming in from the crowd. When one performs It’s also useful to block out the bass coming in from the music played from the speakers.
Why Do DJs Hold Their Headphones?
If you notice, most DJs are often photographed holding their headphones to one side. So, why do DJs do this?
As mentioned above, headphones are used for mixing and cuing up music.
They put one side of the headphones against their ear to listen to the next track that they are about to mix.
One side of the headphones plays the incoming music for DJs to beat match, but the crowd does not hear it.
By holding only one side of the headphones next to their ears, DJs can listen to both the music played out of the speaker and the next track on their set. In this way, cuing up and mixing music become easier for them.
DJs will match the beat of the songs playing and coming up on the playlist. This makes the headphone volume knob on the mixer very helpful because it helps DJs listen to the upcoming track when they wish to by simply adjusting the volume.
Do DJs Use Wireless Headphones?
The idea of DJs using wireless headphones has received mixed reactions from various from DJ community. My opinion here might not be the same as what you hear from others.
If you are wondering if DJs can use wireless headphones, the answer is “yes.”
It’s actually cool to mix and DJ using wireless headphones because it gives you more freedom to move as the headphone is not connected to the mixer or the laptop.
Do I recommend it? There are fabulous wireless headphones on the market but they are pretty expensive. Even if you can afford it, I still suggest that you get the one with a direct wire connection.
Why do I prefer wired headphones? Wireless headphones usually connect via Bluetooth. Some models connect via Wi-Fi as well. However, wireless headphones have high latency compare to their wired counterpart by about several hundred milliseconds. The duration is enough to create a lag between the headphones and monitors.
When there is lag, it will be more difficult to match the beat, queue the next track, and mix. Actually, it doesn’t just make mixing extra challenging, it makes the job almost impossible to do especially for beginner DJs who have trouble beatmatching and mixing in the first place.
Remember this, high lag is equal to impossible mixing and most wireless headphones have high lag. So, in most cases, wireless headphones are not really great for DJing.
But if you have the extra money and you want a more comfortable and convenient DJing experience, go ahead and invest in a really good wireless Bluetooth headphone.
Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Good For DJing?
Noise-canceling headphones are very helpful because they reduce the noise from the outside world.
They are perfect in a DJ both because it lets DJs monitor music at a much lower volume and protect one’s hearing too.
However, they also come with some disadvantages. For instance, active noise-cancelling headphones use battery power.
Some models just cut the sound completely when the battery dies which is not a risk worth taking for a gig.
Also, microphones in noise canceling headphones would not withstand the volume in a loud environment especially bass that’s why some don’t find them suitable for DJing.
How To Choose The Best Headset?
You have to consider a lot of things to choose the best DJ headphone for your set.
There are tons of headphones available on the market and choosing the best one can be confusing.
So, I created this guideline to help you choose what suits you best.
For newbies, before buying your first headphone, I urge you to see the checklist below.
Each headphone offers different sound quality and this is among the first things that you should identify. What do you want to achieve?
Do you want loud and thumping bass music or do you want that feeling of watching an opera? Another thing that might affect your choice of headset is your musical preference. You should get a headphone that can deliver the full range of notes and tonality.
Among the items that you should consider for these categories are the driver diameter, maximum input, sensitivity, frequency range, and its design.
It is vital for a headphone to have a noise isolation feature. When DJing, you will realize that it can be noisy, so a headphone with good noise isolation will give you a better experience. It will block out the sound coming from the club speakers or booth monitors.
When you are working with a quieter headphone, you will appreciate how it can make you perform better and make the whole experience more enjoyable.
You will be performing for an hour or more, so you better make sure that you are getting one that you can wear comfortably for the whole duration of your setup.
Remember, you may perform for a couple of hours, so it is important that your headphone is comfortable.
One of the things you have to look out is the earpad and headband design.
Padded earpads are more comfortable to wear, but make sure that it encompasses your ears. Also, the headband design should be easy to adjust while it maintains enough side pressure to keep a single ear cup secure when you are monitoring the cue and room mixes.
Also, if you wear your headphone around your neck, the headband should allow you to do so without chafing.
DJs usually twist and forcefully form fit their headphones, so get one that is durable enough to survive the abuse at least for a year or two. Of course, you do not want to perform and suddenly have your headset snap in the middle of your set.
So, when you buy a headphone, take the time to check the joints and hinges. Also, check the quality of the materials used.
Portability and Weight
Again DJ headphones are essential and once you start DJing, you are more likely to perform in different venues and locations. Thus, it is important than your headphone is lightweight as possible and portable, too.
Top-rate DJ headphones that excel in this department are made of aluminum, magnesium and titanium. So if you want a portable headphone, consider these headphones designed with any of those materials.
Best DJ Headphones
There are a lot of great headphones in the market and choosing the best can be confusing and challenging. I’m here to help you, so I listed the top brands that really stood out for me considering their build, quality, performance, and price. Here are my top 5 favorites.
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
The Audi Technica is very popular among DJs because it is a good value for money. It is lightweight and portable, but sturdy and durable at the same time. It is not prone to breakage because of its sturdy built. So, you can bring it along wherever your gig is without worrying too much if it will break or snap because it will not.
When it comes to comfort, you will love this too. It is very comfortable to the ears because it has properly contoured ear pads and 90-degree swiveling ear cups. It looks stylish too thanks to its black rubberized PVC exterior finish and velvety lining.
Aside from its impressive and beautiful built, it comes with 45 mm large-aperture drivers with rare earth magnets connected and powered by copper-covered aluminum wire voice coils to give you clear, crisp, and flat responses.
Audio Technica ATH-M50X is also equipped with a 15 Hz and 28 kHz frequency response which are more than what you need for an average mix. Aside from the aforementioned, it delivers a lively and vivid sound with added weight to the bass and detachable cable system.
Considering its sound quality, noise isolation capability, and price tag, Audio Technica ATH-M50X is the best starter DJ headphones for beginners.
2. Sennheiser HD 25
Sennheiser HD series are very popular because of their quality and performance. Sennheiser HD 25 is a pair of an on-ear set of DJ headphones with a clean and simple design.
If you are a minimalist you will love its design because it is so simple even its split headband design is straightforward. It is the definition of the no-frills approach to design.
But others might find it boring because it’s too simple. It is all black with no accent colors and rounded earcups. You can’t personalize it, but it is very functional and it is tough.
Yes, it excels in the durability department. At first glance, it appears lightweight and breakable. But I tell you, looks are deceiving. You can throw this around without fear of breaking it. I’m not saying that you don’t look after the headphone but you need not treat it like a breakable glassware.
When it comes to comfort, you won’t be disappointed. I love its headband because it was very comfortable. I can adjust the two headbands to find the sweet spot easily. It also includes a good amount of padding for comfort and enough clamping force to stick in your head even when you are bopping away.
In fact, when I slid one ear cup it felt smooth and natural. The headphones were on a great place, it didn’t feel like it would slip off my head.
As for the sound quality, it’s impressive. It has amazing passive isolation. It is very clear and detailed with more emphasis on bass, clear and neutral Mid, and clear High without sounding bright.
Overall, Sennheiser HD 25 is a ready good pair of headphones. It’s not very cheap, but it is built to last, so yes, it’s worth it.
3. V Moda Crossfade Wireless
V Moda is a popular brand when it comes to headphones. I’m including V Moda Crossfade Wireless on my list to let you know that yes, there are good wireless DJ headphones out there, too. V Moda Crossfade has a good sound quality, impressive Bluetooth performance, long battery life and satisfying durability.
Its design is customizable, you can choose from four different color options, design the shields that cover the ear cups and provide a design or structure that will be laser etched or 3D printed on the headphone. V Moda really impressed me on this part happy because the personalization experience is something not every brand offers to you.
As for the build, V Moda Crossfade uses lots of metal, so I cannot say that it is light. However, it has well-designed headbands and ear pads that do not feel heavy at all. In fact, it sits comfortably on the head.
And as I mentioned, it is customizable, you can even adjust the ear pads to cover your ears comfortably. V Moda is the brand to go if you want to use a customized pair of headphones
Also, this is both wired and wireless. When you use the wire it switches into “passive mode” and you won’t need batteries. When use as wireless it works via Bluetooth and I’m very impressed because it’s Bluetooth is very reliable.
As for the sound, it has impressive soundstage, punch and tight bass, clear and detailed highs, and open sounding mids. It sounds better than the previous models.
I’m super happy with V Moda so, I highly recommend it.
4. Pioneer HDJ 01500
Pioneer HDJ-1500 is a great headphone from the first time I look at it, I know, it is great for DJs because it is lightweight, has solid built and evolutionary. By just looking and feeling it, I know it is durable and functional. I have confidence in it even before I use it.
When I put it on, I was satisfied because it was a good fit for me. And it is easy to adjust, the earcups aren’t too tight and can be twisted 90-degree forward and 180-degree up and down giving you more freedom to work around for single-ear monitoring.
The earpieces and headband are made of urethane padding with memory foam inside which offers extra comfort during short and long performances. It also feels comfortable when you dangle it around your neck. So, it’s a yes, in terms of comfort.
As for durability, the design looked sturdy. The headband is flexible, the cable is detachable and replaceable, and the hangers that hold the actual earcup is made of tough and durable magnesium alloy to deliver a durable product while saving on weight.
Meanwhile, the sound quality is fantastic. It has deep and vibrant bass while delivering crisp highs and accurate mids.
Another thing I love about it is its closed back and collapsible design. It is designed to be foldable and collapsible for convenient storage. It also comes with a lot of features, so yes, this is something to beat. I really love it.
5. Tascam TH-02
The Tascam headphone brand really surprised me because it is very affordable compared to most headphones. But don’t be fooled because it offers all the basic features and more.
So, yes, this is pocket-friendly making it the best choice for beginners or those who want a good headphone without spending too much.
Its frequency response is between 18Hz and 22 kHz which covers the entire spectrum. It has a decent sound handling too at 98 dB. But it has a low impedance.
In terms of build and design, it includes cushioning for ear cups and headbands. I wouldn’t say it’s very comfortable but it is good enough for the price. I managed to use it for a couple of hours without discomfort except for the first few minutes or hours the first time I used it.
When it comes to sound quality, I must say I’m very impressed. In the first place, I didn’t expect so much from it because it is very cheap but when it comes to this department, it is very competitive.
It offers a crisp and clear sound regardless of the genre of music. Don’t expect it to perform like the high-end headphones, but they offer tough competition.
I included this on my list because I am very impressed with its quality, performance and price. So, I highly recommend this pair to beginners who are on a tight budget.
DJ headphones are very useful when performing your set. While it’s possible to cue and mix without a headphone, I highly recommend all beginners to get a pair of quality headsets.
If you are learning, headphones will help you learn faster and perform better especially if you are still developing your beatmatching and mixing skills.
When it comes to choosing the best headset for you, I suggest that you select one that fits your budget without compromising the quality, durability, and performance.
Also, make sure that it is comfortable because you will be using it for hours and as I said, it is very useful. You can’t just dish it in the middle of your performance because it is too tight in your head or too loose. So, make sure to get one that could match your performance.
If you wish to learn more about DJing, I suggest that you check our homepage.