Buyers Guide: How do I Choose the Right DJ Headphones?
Up until about a decade ago, it was fairly easy for a DJ to choose a good pair of headphones. That's because back then, there wasn't really much choice. Things have definitely changed since then, however. These days, the competition is fierce in the world of DJ headphones. To make it easier to choose the right set, we've put together this comprehensive Buyers Guide which outlines the best DJ headphones in various budget categories, just for you! We've included some classics on our list, but also some newly-released models that feature a fresh and innovative design. First of all, we'd like to touch on a couple of important aspects to keep in mind while choosing the right DJ headphones.
Accurate audio reproduction with emphasis on low and high tones is extremely important. While mixing, the user needs to be able to hear the kick, clap, drums, snares and hi-hats loud and clear. In general, a DJ isn't too concerned with subtle sonic details. Here are some technical guidelines to follow:
- a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz is the standard If you want a set of headphones with a broader frequency range:
- the drivers need to be at least 40 mm to produce a clear, audible low
- impedance: a model with 25 ohms or more is recommended
On the head, around the neck, or one-ear monitoring, DJs are constantly twisting their headphones every which way. A durable set of headphones should be able to withstand this and last for a year or two at the very least. Before purchasing, pay close attention to the quality of the materials; the ruggedness of the hinges and headband in particular, as these components experience the greatest amount of wear and tear.
This is possibly the most important factor. Seeing as DJs wear their headphones for hours on end, comfort is extremely important. DJs wear their headphones about 50% of the time, so they need to fit the head and ears snugly and not chafe the neck. It's a good idea to pay close attention to the lining of the headband, the quality of the ear pads and how adjustable the headphones are.
Single-sided cord design
If you come across a set of headphones with a dual-entry cord, meaning a cable is attached to both ear pads, then it is not a set of DJ headphones. A single-sided cord design helps prevent awkward or unwanted scenarios like getting tangled up in your cables while mixing.
When considering a set of headphones, ask yourself: Can they collapse into a compact size that's easy to transport? Does it fit easily in your bag? Headphones that are not collapsible tend to break sooner because of their shape, and the fact that their vulnerable components are exposed during transport, making them susceptible to damage.
Regardless of whether you're a fan of vinyl, swear by CDs, or are a part of the digital revolution, a good set of headphones is essential to your DJ setup, helping you to better sync your tracks and adjust their volume levels. With the increasing number of headphones on the market today, it can be extremely difficult to choose the right set. Now that we've covered the bases as far as what to look for in a good set of DJ headphones, we've compiled a list of some models that are considered best in price, audio quality and functionality, (ranging from low to high in price.)
These Sennheisers for DJs on a budget are often overshadowed by their more expensive counterpart, the Sennheiser HD 25 headphones. These Sennheiser HD205s, however, offer excellent quality at an excellent price. They have a closed-construction design that features rotating ear pads so you can listen to your monitor speakers and your headphones at the same time. The HD205 headphones are popular among users of compact systems (like budget DJ controllers). They have a frequency range of 14 - 20,000 Hz with prominent bass and clear highs and mids, are equipped with neodymium drivers, and they're collapsible. This set comes with an impressive 3m-long cord and a carrying pouch with a mini jack - jack adapter. Some users have indicated that the headband is somewhat tight, which could require some getting used to. All in all, it's an excellent set of headphones that performs better than many more expensive models.
The Pioneer HDJ500 headphones have borrowed a lot of the same features from the HDJ2000, a more expensive model from the same brand, such as their rotating ear pads for one-ear monitoring. They're equipped with 40mm dome-type drivers that boast a frequency range of 5 to 28,000 Hz and a headroom of 30,000 Hz. Most DJs look for strong low and mid tones, which these HDJ500s definitely provide. They also deliver a very high output volume. This set comes with a jack adapter, a 1m-long cord for use with mobile devices and a 3m-long coiled cable for DJing. It's made of magnesium alloy wrapped in plastic and weighs a little under 200 grams. One drawback of the Pioneer HDJ500 is that it's not a collapsible model.
The Sennheiser HD25 headphones are considered the industry standard in DJ headphones. This particular CII model is without a doubt the most widely-used set of headphones in the professional industry. Its components are completely replaceable, which means it has a very long lifespan. The frequency range of these headphones may look less impressive when compared to the competition in the same price class, but their lightweight dynamic drivers ensure well-defined bass, tight mids and crystal-clear highs, which all adds up to an outstanding listening experience. When it comes to ergonomics, these headphones provide hours of comfort thanks to their ultra-soft velours ear pads. The CII comes with a jack adapter and a 3-metre coiled cable. Their unbreakable, lightweight design has crowned the Sennheiser HD25 CII the industry standard in DJ headphones, and it looks like it won't be stepping down from the throne any time soon.
When the relatively new brand AIAIAI launched their TMA-1 headphones, many couldn't contain their curiosity. These headphones were designed specifically for busy, touring DJs, as they feature a frequency response that prevents long-term hearing damage that can occur as a result of extended periods of use at high volume levels. The TMA-1 is a straightforward, no-nonsense set of headphones with only the essential features on board. It's got only the crucial components that a good set of headphones needs, including a flexible, nylon headband that's fully adjustable for one-ear monitoring and two very comfortable ear pads. The TMA-1 comes with two detachable cables, one of which also has a handy inline microphone and remote control for use with mobile devices, as well as a jack adapter and a carrying pouch. AIAIAI's TMA-1 is a high-quality set of headphones with a minimalistic design that provides all the features a professional DJ could possibly need.