Headphones are an essential tool for DJs. They are almost synonymous with the image of DJs. In live performances, you can always see them wearing headphones around their neck. However, this isn’t for fashion purposes. Headphones allow them to monitor and queue tracks for seamless transitions. So if you want to be a professional DJ, then you need to have headphones to work efficiently.
However, choosing the best DJ headphones is not a simple task. It can get confusing due to the number of models and brands that are available in the market. Both respectable audiophile manufacturers such as Sennheiser and Audio Technica, as well as consumer brands such as Beats and Sol Republic, are offering models that are used by different artists such as Skrillex and Steve Aoki.
If you are a beginner who’s looking to get into the DJ scene or if you are a professional who’s looking to upgrade your pair of headphones, then we have the perfect list for you.
Just for a sneak peek, we recommend both the Sennheiser HD25 and Pioneer HDJ-2000 MK2 as the top performers in this list. But if you have a lower budget, or if you have different preferences, read on to see the other models worthy of being your next DJ headphones.
Best DJ Headphones
Headphones in this category are the most affordable ones that you can get. These are for beginners who are still learning how to DJ or amateur DJs who still have to buy the rest of their equipment. Headphones in this category do not have the best sound quality nor the best build quality, but these will be adequate for the job.
Status Audio CB1 – Best Budget Headphones
Status Audio isn’t instantly recognizable like Audio-Technica, Sennheiser, or Pioneer. The CB1, however, is a headphone that deserves to be in the same category as those brands. It can match the features of their much more expensive offerings at a lower price.
The CB1 rose to popularity as an Audio Technica ATH M50X alternative. This means that it is primarily a studio monitoring headphone, but it can easily work as DJ headphones. It features swiveling earcups, a detachable cable, and a foldable design.
The swiveling earcups are already perfect for DJing. The build quality is also on par with much more expensive headphones. So you can expect this to survive a few drops or any kind of crazy stage moment. Noise isolation is also very good for these headphones. It blocks out most of the sound and lets you hear the music you are queueing.
As a bonus, the CB1’s sound excellent. It is more detailed than its competitors for its price range. While it is going for the more neutral sound, the bass remains punchy and full, which is perfect for DJing.
Overall, the Status Audio CB1 packs all the qualities of a good DJ headphone in an affordable package. This will suit both beginners and professionals who are on a tight budget.
- Foldable design
- Swiveling earcups
- Detachable cable
- The best sound quality in its price range
- No case included
- Warranty isn’t as strong as other known brands
Audio Technica M20X
Audio-Technica’s M series is primarily built for studio monitoring. However, the versatility in their design allows them to be used in a wide variety of applications.
The Audio Technica M20X is the budget model in Audio Technica’s M series. It shares a lot of similarities with the flagship M50X most notably with its design.
It looks similar to its higher-end counterparts. However, the materials used are notably inferior. This also leads to an uncomfortable experience for prolonged use. It still feels very sturdy and should survive accidental drops.
However, take note that the M20X is non-foldable, and the earcups only swivel up to 15 degrees. This can be a downside when you want to use one earcup only since it isn’t as convenient as fully rotating earcups. The cable is also non-removable, which can affect the long term use of the headphones. It is also quite long at almost 3 meters, which can be good or bad depending on your setup.
With that said, its sound isolation is on par with the more expensive models. While the sound quality isn’t as good as the more expensive studio monitoring headphones, the bass is stronger in this entry-level model, which is better for DJing.
Overall, despite the few downsides, the M20X is a solid entry-level option for DJs on a budget.
- Good noise isolation
- Good sound quality for the price
- Non-removable cable
- Non-foldable design
- Not the most comfortable
The last headphone in this category is the Tascam TH02. Tascam is a name that is more associated with field recorders than it is with DJ equipment. Nevertheless, it manages to enter our list as the cheapest DJ headphones that you can buy. It has good aspects in some of its design elements but has a few downsides when compared to the other two in this price range.
In terms of build, it is predominantly built of plastic. Out of the three, this feels the cheapest and reflects its price point. Luckily, it has rotating earcups, which can help with single earcup DJ monitoring styles. Just be careful not to throw this pair too much if you don’t want them to snap into two.
The noise isolation is actually decent on this pair. Again, it isn’t as good as the other two, but it fairs a lot better than typical budget headphones. Sound quality is also acceptable. You won’t get the same thumping bass as the M20X or the same clarity as to the CB1. This is a budget headphone that doesn’t really punch above its price point. However, if you really have a tight budget, then this pair should serve you well until you can upgrade to the others on this list.
- Swiveling earcups
- Not the best build quality
- Not the best sound quality
Headphones in this category are a significant step above the budget headphones but are still not as good as the high-end picks. This category is a perfect middle-ground for users who do not want to invest too much on headphones but still want a quality pair,
Sennheiser HD25 Light (Midrange Pick)
The Sennheiser HD25 Light is a trimmed-down version of the highly acclaimed Sennheiser HD25. The HD25 Light manages to capture the same appeal of the original by keeping most of its key features intact. There are, however, a few differences specifically in the build quality and the drivers used.
The most notable difference between the HD25 series and the HD25 Light is the new headband design. It is simpler than the split headband design of the HD25, which was originally designed to adjust the clamping force. Despite the headband being thin, it doesn’t seem to be fragile.
In fact, the overall build quality is very good. The cables are also removable and replaceable in case it gets broken. This is a pair that can be abused and would come out without a scratch.
Aside from those, the HD25 Light manages to keep the key components of the HD25. While utilizing different drivers, the HD25 Light manages to achieve a similar sound signature to the HD25. The bass is full and punchy, which is perfect for DJs. Its impedance of 70 ohms makes sure that it won’t distort at loud volumes. The HD25 Light also manages to reproduce the same sound isolation as the HD25. Putting these on will significantly cut the noises in most venues.
The legendary HD25 has been the go-to headphones for DJs for decades. With almost the same features, the HD25 Light is the headphone to beat in this price range.
- Same design and form factor as the higher end HD25 and HD25 Plus
- Detachable cable
- Build quality that’s designed to withstand abuse
- On-ear design may be uncomfortable for prolonged use
- Different headband from the original HD25
Audio Technica ATH PRO5X
The Audio Technica PRO5X is the brand’s attempt at a DJ specific headphone. It is not as popular as the other models in this list, mostly because it was previously exclusive to the Japanese market. However, we believe it’s worth a look, especially for those who are not a fan of the HD25 Light’s on-ear design.
The ATH PRO5X has an over the ear design, which is more comfortable for longer sessions. Despite its size, it is actually lightweight, which further increases its comfort. Like the HD25 Light, several parts, such as the cable and earpads are user-replaceable in case of damage.
With an over the ear design, sound isolation is just as good or even better than the HD25 Light. In terms of sound quality, it delivers a bass-heavy sound while still retaining several characteristics of Audio Technica’s signature mid-frequency sound. It is comparable to both the M30X and M20X, but it has a more solid bass response. It has less bass than the HD25 Light, but it has a better separation in the frequencies. The better sounding pair is up to your preferences.
However, the area where the PRO5X falls short is in build quality. Audio Technica is infamous for various issues with the leather material of their headphones. Both the pleather material on the headband and the earpads crack over time.
The hinges on some units also fail over time. What’s worse is that if you do not have a local Audio Technica retailer in your area, chances are you won’t be able to easily replace those parts. Audio Technica has been working on improving these aspects, but this is something you should keep in mind when considering their more exclusive products.
However, if you can keep up with those issues, the ATH PRO5X can be a better choice for the midrange price bracket. It has a better form factor than the HD25 Light and a better sound than the M30X and M20X for DJ monitoring. Despite the concerns in the build quality, this should be able to hold its ground against the HD 25 Light. If you want an over the ear DJ headphone for this price range, check this one out.
- Over the ear design
- Good sound isolation
- Good sound quality
- Build quality concerns
Audio Technica M30X
The M30X is the upgraded version of the M20X. It significantly improves several aspects of the M20X, specifically the build quality and the sound. Like the M20X, the M30X still doesn’t feature a removable cable, nor does it have swiveling earcups.
The most notable improvements that it has over the M20X is the foldable design and improved sound quality. With the foldable design, the M30X is more portable compared to the M20X.
Despite not featuring swiveling earcups, the M30X features metal side adjustments, which will make sure that they do not suddenly snap during use. The overall build quality has seen improvement with better materials used. They are also more comfortable to wear than the M20X.
The sound signature between the two is similar. However, M30X is clearer and more detailed. The bass is also fuller and more punchy compared to the M20X. Overall, if you like the M50X form factor and you like a headphone that is versatile for more use cases, and you have a bit more budget, then you should get the M30X over the M20X. Otherwise, the other two options are better for DJ use specifically.
- Foldable Design
- Good sound quality
- Non-swiveling earcups
- Non-detachable cable
Headphones in this category are the best of the best. You can’t go wrong with any models on this list. It will all depend on your personal preferences on which one to get. If the price isn’t an issue, definitely go for these pairs.
Sennheiser HD25 – Best On-Ear
The Sennheiser HD25 is the most popular DJ headphone. Since its release back in 1988, the HD 25 has been the go-to headphones for a lot of professionals from DJs to professional broadcasting companies. The reason for this is because of the tanky build quality, isolation, and sound quality.
The HD25 strikes a perfect balance of lightweight and sturdy. The plastic that was used has a very good quality. It is quite flexible, specifically on the sides of the headphones, which make listening with one ear easy. The HD25 has been known to be an indestructible headphone after surviving countless abuse from professional DJs. Replacement parts are also user-replaceable and sold by Sennheiser in case anything goes wrong.
Another popular aspect of these headphones is the sound isolation. The HD25 significantly cuts out most of the noise in venues. This is, however, and on-ear design, which is known to put more pressure on the ears. Most users find this uncomfortable, so keep this in mind if you plan to use this on longer sets.
In terms of sound quality, the HD25 is one of the best in its category. The bass is upfront and very clean. Also, at 70 ohms, it can be easily powered by most sources. With 70 ohms, the sound does not get distorted even at higher volumes.
Overall, the HD25 checks all of the boxes of a good DJ headphone. It’s a reputable headphone that is recommended by professionals around the world. If this is within your budget, then this is the best one you can get.
- Very good build quality
- Excellent sound quality
- The on-ear form factor may not be comfortable for extended periods
Pioneer HDJ-2000 MK2 – Best Over the Ear
Pioneer is another company that is well respected in the DJ community. They are well known for manufacturing CDJs, MIDI controllers, and other DJ equipment. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that they are also producing headphones to complete your arsenal of equipment.
The highlights of this model are the build quality and sound quality. The HDJ-2000 MK2 is mostly made of metal. The overall build gives a very premium feel to the headphones. The design is also very well thought out.
The swiveling earcups and flexible headband make sure that it can adapt to any DJing style. You could use a single earcup only while wearing it or while hanging on your shoulders. The frame of the headphones is very sturdy, and you can be sure that these won’t snap even if you have an odd DJ monitoring style.
In terms of sound, these are almost similar to the HD25. They both have a clear, clean, and detailed bass reproduction. The HD25’s bass is a bit more forward compared to the HDJ-2000 MK2. Overall, their sound signature is similar. The small differences are a result of the different designs of the HDJ-2000MK2 and the HD25. Speaking of the design, the HDJ-2000MK2 has an over the ear design, which many people find more comfortable than the on-ear design found on the HD 25.
The main difference between the HDJ-2000MK2 and the Sennheiser HD 25 is sound isolation. Despite the on-ear design, the Sennheiser HD 25 seems to isolate more sound compared to the HDJ-2000MK2. This doesn’t mean that the HDJ2000MK2 has bad sound isolation. It just means that some sounds, especially in loud venues, may leak into your headphones.
Another difference is that the parts of the headphone are not replaceable apart from the earpads. Unlike with the HD 25, there’s pretty much nothing that you can do. You shouldn’t worry about it too much since the metal build quality is very excellent.
Overall, the Pioneer HD-2000MK2 is a solid headphone for professional DJs. If you prefer an over the ear form factor, then these are the ones that you should get.
- Good bass reproduction
- Removable cable
- Included carrying case
- Solid build quality (metal construction)
- Flexible design
- Limited replacement parts
Audio Technica M50X
The Audio Technica is the best headphone in their monitoring line. It has the best build quality and the best sound quality among the ones mentioned in this list. It is also the most versatile and has been used in different fields outside DJing.
In terms of isolation, it’s roughly similar to the other two, which is a good thing. It isolates most of the sound in small to medium venues. For larger venues, you may hear a bit of external noise, but it should still be tolerable.
The build quality is also superior to the other two. It features the same foldable design found on the M30X but now has rotating earcups, which means this can be safely used with various DJing styles. The cable is also now removable. The plastics used also have a higher quality feel, which is a good sign.
The M50X, however, is noticeably heavier compared to the other choices in this list, including both the M30X and the PRO5X. It’s still a comfortable headphone, but some people may find this uncomfortable for longer sessions.
There are also still reports of the infamous issue with Audio Technica’s leather material. The quality is better than the older and lower-end units, but it can still occur if you are not careful with your headphones.
In terms of sound, the M50X packs a solid punch in the bass region. It is, however, not as powerful as the other DJ headphones on this list. Since it is primarily designed to be a studio monitor, the sound is going to be a bit more balanced than the rest.
Overall, if you are looking for a versatile headphone that can be used in a variety of different applications, the M50X is a solid choice. However, if what you need is a pair that is purely made for DJs, the HD25 and the HDJ-2000 MK2 will suit you better.
If you are considering either the M50X vs M40X click here for our detailed headphone comparison.
- Balanced sound makes this a versatile pair not just for DJing
- Good build quality
- Foldable design
- Rotating earcups
- Not the most bass-heavy in this list
- Build quality concerns (specifically on the leather)
V Moda Crossfade M100
The V Moda Crossfade M100 is another popular headphone. It has been used by famous EDM artists such as Martin Garrix and The Chainsmokers. Despite its popularity in the DJ community, it is not advertised as a DJ headphone.
The M100 is similar to the ATH M50 in which it is meant to be a versatile pair. It can be a consumer headphone that’s intended for portable casual listening, it can be used for monitoring, and it can be used for DJing,
It follows the same trends that are seen in this price category. It has a foldable design, the cable is removable, and it is lightweight. The M100 is on the smaller side. Even though it has an over the ear design, the earcups can be a bit too small for some users.
The M100 is mostly built of metal, with a few parts being built out of plastic. The unique aspect of the M100 is the customizability of the faceplates. This allows you to customize the style of the headphones to fit your taste or to integrate your branding.
Despite the customization that it provides, you can’t replace any part of the headphone such as the drivers or the hinges if they break in the future. Build quality is excellent, but having the ability to swap out different parts gives you peace of mind.
In terms of its sound, it’s a lot more bass-heavy than the M50X, but it is more balanced compared to both the HD25 and the ATH PRO5X. Overall, the M100 feels like a good all-rounder headphone. If you want a headphone that’s good for DJing and good for general use, then the M100 is a good fit. Otherwise, both the HD25 and HDJ-2000MK2 are still better for DJing.
- Foldable design
- Good build quality
- Good sound
- Detachable cable
- Modular faceplates (shields)
- Non-replaceable parts
- Smaller size of the earcups which can be uncomfortable for some
Important Things To Consider When Buying DJ Headphones
Before we get into this list, we have created a few guidelines that you should always consider when buying your new pair of DJ headphones.
Build quality is the most important aspect of a DJ headphone. Performances are unpredictable, and accidents could happen. There are a lot of things in the environment that could potentially damage a pair of headphones.
Even the DJs style of using headphones is a major factor. DJs take on and off their headphones in between tracks. They twist the headphones a lot, which stresses the headband. And sometimes, they even drop the headphones. That is why DJ headphones must be built well to survive these scenarios.
Headphones that DJs use have a closed-back design. This ensures that there will be no external noises that would get into the headphones. Venues like clubs are very noisy during performances, so sound isolation is a must.
Just remember that not all closed-back headphones will have the same amount of noise isolation. The differences in the design of their earcups and the different materials used for the earpads can determine the amount of noise they reduce.
Low Impedance/Easy to Drive
DJ headphones should have a low impedance. DJs already have a lot of equipment that they use on stage. Therefore, the headphone setup should not be complicated. Headphones should be easy to drive and should not require external equipment, such as amplifiers. Read more about headphone impedance here.
This might be surprising to beginners or to those who are not DJs but, DJs actually do not care about the sound quality of their headphones. As long as you can hear the bass on the headphones, they are already good enough for the job. Of course, having a good sound quality is a bonus, but DJs prioritize the build and the isolation more than the sound quality.
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s