Every DJ needs a good pair of headphones; something portable yet durable enough to quickly stash in a bag without having to worry that they'll break. You most likely also want a headphone that sounds good, with rich, deep bass and a sufficiently neutral mid and treble range to reproduce instruments and vocals accurately. The best DJ headphones are comfortable to wear for long sets and have rotating cups for you to easily monitor the party for the right time to drop the bass. A wired design also helps, since you don't want any delay or latency while mixing.
While we have yet to review some of the more popular and iconic DJ headphones from brands like Pioneer and Cymantics, we've tested more than 400 over-ear and on-ear headphones, and below are our top recommendations for the best DJ headphones that we've reviewed so far. See also our recommendations for the best studio headphones, the best headphones for music, the best wired headphones, and the best audiophile headphones.
The best DJ headphones we've tested so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Their sturdy, durable design is built to handle back-to-back shows while still staying comfortable enough to last through long sets without causing too much fatigue.
These headphones have a well-balanced sound profile with just a touch of punch in the bass, making them versatile enough for most gigs, from birthday parties to raves. Their swiveling ear cups allow you to keep one ear monitoring your mix while the other one checks out the party. These headphones also come with three detachable cables including a coiled cable, so you can move around a little more freely without worrying about taking your mixer with you.
Unfortunately, they don't have the most stable fit. While they should stay put, those who like to really get into their sets won't appreciate these headphones sliding around their head. As they're also fairly large, they're a bit harder to transport: they only come with a soft case, which might not be ideal if you're running from set to set. However, their balanced sound and durable design still make them a great choice for most DJs.
The Sony MDR-7506 are the best portable DJ headphones we've tested so far. Their foldable design and swiveling over-ear ear cups make it easy to take these headphones with you wherever you play.
Although simple in design, these understated headphones pack a punch. They're well-balanced for most music, while their extra touch of bass and treble produces an excited sound well-suited for dynamic sets featuring heavy bass with vocal-centric content. If you're playing extended shows, you should also be able to comfortably wear these headphones as they're fairly lightweight and decently padded.
On the downside, these headphones aren't as well-built as other headphones on this list. If you like to headbang during your sets, you might also want to be careful: their cable can get snagged, increasing the risk of damage to your headphones.
If you want a portable pair of headphones but need something more comfortable for long gigs, get the Shure SRH 440. They're a bit heavier and bulkier than the Sony MDR-7506 but are more comfortable with large ear cups and a nice lightweight overall design. While their sound reproduction is impressive, they have poor consistency in the bass range with certain types of glasses or long hair causing a break in the seal of the headphones, which could cause a significant drop in bass for some people. While this is probably fine if you're the only one using the headphones, it's worth noting if you'll be sharing them with other DJs at a show. On the upside, they have a detachable cable and a nice carrying case, which is great for bringing them around to shows with you.
If you want a good overall pair of portable DJ headphones, get the Sony, but if you play longer sets and want a much more comfortable pair of headphones for extended use, get the Shure.
The Beats EP are the best on-ear DJ headphones we’ve tested so far. If you’re not a fan of the bulky design of over-ear headphones and prefer more compact on-ears, then these on-ear headphones are sure to please.
They have a simple, lightweight design that’s more breathable than the over-ear options on this list, and their audio cable also features an in-line microphone, which is great if you need to call clients between sets. Their sound profile is surprisingly well-balanced and neutral, which isn't common since Beats usually have more bass-heavy headphones. They're decently well-built and sturdy, and as they come in several colors, you can also find the right variant to suit your aesthetic tastes.
However, due to their on-ear fit, their bass delivery isn't quite consistent throughout different users. They might not be the most comfortable option, as they can fit quite tight on people with larger heads, which can cause listening fatigue. They also don’t feel as well-built as other premium on-ear headphones we’ve reviewed. That said, they're still a decent option for DJs who prefer on-ears, thanks to their good sound quality and straightforward design.
If you're trying to save money where you can, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are the best budget DJ headphones we've tested so far. As the entry-level model in Audio-Technica's studio headphone lineup, they're similar in design to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x but are a fraction of the price.
While these headphones don't sound quite as balanced as some of the more expensive options recommended, they still perform well-enough to be suitable for most gigs. They lack a bit of treble, so you'll want to make sure you don't overcompensate too much in your mixes or it might end up sounding a bit harsh to your audience, but they should be fine if you keep this in mind.
Naturally, they feel more cheaply made than the other Audio-Technica, and they're a bit less comfortable too. Their cable isn't detachable either, so if it breaks you'll need to replace them entirely. That said, if you take care of them you shouldn't have a problem, and they still provide great value for DJs on a budget.
03/20/2020: Minor text and structure changes. No change in recommendations.
02/21/2020: Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO and V-MODA Crossfade moved to notable mentions, Audio-Technica ATH-M20x added.
01/23/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
10/23/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best DJ headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for closed-back headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.