A few weeks ago I decided to set out on a challenge to find the best DJ headphones I could find. After days of reading every review imaginable, scouring music stores, conducting interviews with various DJs a few winners became clear. Below are the best DJ headphones categorised by the most affordable, the best high-end headphone, and the best mid-range pair of DJ headphones.
Pioneer HDJ 2000’s / Pioneer HDJ1000’s
Pioneer have long been the leaders in audio visual equipment, especially in the DJ market. Their headphones are no exception being second to none, although they do have a rather hefty price tag. If you’re willing to invest in the most luxurious combination of sound quality, comfort, style, and durability, then the Pioneer HGJ 2000’s will likely set you back around £250.
The HGJ 2000’s little brother, the HDJ1000 is a bit cheaper at £150, and still provides a similar level of top notch sound and design quality. These are the bee’s knees when it comes to DJing headphones and are used by many world-famous disc jockeys.
If you don’t want to go for the Pioneers, Denon also offer an ultra high quality set of cans called the DNHP1000’s, which are on par with the Pioneers, and sell for approximately the same price as the HDJ1000’s (at time of writing they’re going for £149 on Amazon).
Alternatively, Allen & Heath XONE XD53’s are another popular option on the ultra high-end for djing headphones that you may want to consider, and can be bought for around £139.
|I personally used to own a pair of Sennheiser HD255’s and I DJ’d with them for approximately 2 years. All I can say is they’re surprising. I would have never bought them (I was given them by a friend) but after using them I quickly fell in love with them.
Despite their flimsy looks, you quickly realise that these headphones are incredibly durable, sound awesome, and do everything you need a pair of headphones to do without the bulky design of most conventional headphone designs. For just £80 these headphones are an absolute bargain and a definite good choice for any DJ performing from semi-professional to professional level.
Other great alternatives to the Sennheisers in the mid range price (£50-£90) are the Shure SRH750DJ’s, which have everything you’d look for in a well-designed pair of headphones – folding design, rotating ear cups, detachable twisted cable, great sound quality, and a comfy fit. You can pick up a pair of these for under £85 from Amazon. Another great alternative is the Ortofon 02′s, which are roughly the same price and design as the Shure’s, but a little bit more highly rated due to their durable construction. Interestingly, there’s almost no negative reviews on these headphones anywhere on the net, and the people I’ve spoken to who have worn them said that they’re incredibly comfy.
If you’re looking for a great sounding durable set of headphones on a tight budget, the Behringer HPS3000′s are your best bet. Despite being described as studio headphones, i’d recommend these over Behringer’s ‘DJ headphones’, which are actually open, opposed to these closed-cup headphones. For just £24.99 you can’t go wrong with these!
If you’re looking to spend a little bit more, but not too much, then for £60 the Sennheiser HD215’s are a safe bet. They have everything you’d look for in a top of the range pair of DJ headphones, such as detachable cables, rotary ear cups, excellent sound quality, and a durable design but for a fraction of the price.
If you’re going to be djing for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time, you’re going to need a comfortable set of headphones. When you’re buying a pair of headphones, it’s often best to choose a design that has a large foam padding around the cups and an adjustable head strap to ensure that you’re not going to be getting ear sores or other kinds of blisters whilst mixing.
Closed vs open
While some DJs do prefer open design headphones, almost all choose closed designs – that’s because they form a seal around your ear, helping you to focus entirely better on what’s being played in the headphones better than if a seal hadn’t been formed. If you think you may prefer open headphones, I recommend trying them in a club or noisy environment to see if they stand up to the test.
Regardless of how good you are at looking after your gear, your headphones will go through some tough times, whether it’s drunk girls accidentally spilling their drinks on them whilst in the DJ booth, or the general tough love they receive whilst rattling around in flight cases on the way to gigs. It pays to get a durable set of headphones built out of hard molded plastic or even better, metal. The best way to determine whether a pair of headphones are durable or not is to feel them, do they have a lot of moving parts? Do they feel as if they would snap if you dropped them on the floor? If so, move on to the next pair.
A lot of headphone manufacturers brag that their headphones go 5 or 10hz lower in the bass frequency range than other brands. Don’t buy it – as long as your headphones can accurately deliver between 20hz and 20khz, you’re fine. Anything else is just a waste. It’s also worth looking at how ‘neutral’ the headphones are – do they have a kind of built in equalizer that boosts the bass or the mid range?
This is not necessarily a huge problem for DJs as with all the background noise you don’t need a 100% true pair of headphones. However, if you were hoping to also use the headphones for music production, recording, or listening to music generally, then you may want to consider choosing a pair of headphones that are more natural sounding.
Often overlooked is the quality of your lead. One of the most annoying things with headphones is getting the cable tangled or even worse, catching it in a flight case or car door. It’s only a minor detail, but if you can get a pair of headphones with a bulky detachable cable that feels like it could survive some hard wearing, it’s a plus.
Another neat feature of some of the better headphones is the ability to fold up, making them easier to transport and less likely to get damaged. Headphones by nature are not a great shape to resist knocks and abuse, so features like folding can make a real different to their lifespan.
To wrap this post up, I’d like to share a tip that took me two years to work out ☺ buy a headphone case. You can get one like the one to the left for just £20 and it will fit virtually any pair of headphones and it’s bound to save you money and damage in the long run. Especially if you’re planning on buying a nice pair of headphones like the Pioneer HGJ 2000’s, don’t skimp when it comes to protecting them.
Image Credit: Hector Lazo