Every DJ has their unique blend of equipment - some prefer a classic, old-school analog setup, while others favor a more modern, digital approach. Whether your setup revolves around a turntable or a tablet, you always need a good pair of headphones.
A solid pair of closed-back studio headphones will generally be a decent option, but there are a couple of things, in particular, that you'll want to look out for. The best DJ headphones have either swiveling ear cups or a flexible headband so you can monitor your set from one ear and the club's mix with the other. A long, coiled cable will help you move around freely on-stage, and if it's replaceable you can swap it on-the-spot if it breaks during a set.
While we've yet to review some of the more popular and iconic DJ headphones from brands like Pioneer and Cymantics, we've still tested over 400 headphones. Below, you'll find our top recommendations for the best DJ headphones that we've reviewed so far. See also our recommendations for 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 balanced sound and versatile design make them well-suited for a wide range of gigs, from an upscale wedding to an underground rave. Their design is comfortable enough for long sets and they feel quite well-built, especially since they come with three different detachable cables right out of the box.
Sound-wise, they have a neutral sound profile. They accurately reproduce the deep thump of bass, while still keeping well-balanced mid and treble ranges. No matter the type of music you're playing, you should have an accurate sound, which should please your crowd. Also, the ear cups can swivel, which easily allows you to listen to the headphones with one ear while the other is monitoring the party.
Unfortunately, even when folded, they aren't the most portable headphones, but you should still be able to put them in a backpack without issue. Additionally, if you plan on using your DJ'ing headphones on a daily basis, they don't have an in-line remote to control your mobile phone. Nevertheless, these are notable headphones that have an amazing performance for the price, and a 1/4 inch adapter is even included for optimal compatibility.
The best DJ headphones we've tested so far for portability are the Sony MDR-7506. They're very popular in the studio for mixing and mastering, but they're also very well-suited for DJs on-the-go thanks to their compact, lightweight design. They can tightly fold up into a neat compact format, even with their integrated cable, and won't weigh down your equipment bag too much.
These over-ear headphones have a well-balanced sound signature, which makes them suitable for a diverse set. Some people find them a bit bass-light, especially during louder live club performances, but this isn't an issue for everyone. If you play a variety of different gigs, you'll likely prefer their fairly neutral sound profile compared to all the bass-heavy options out there.
While they feel durable enough to withstand being tossed into your bag a couple of times a day, their cable isn't detachable. This can also be a pain if the cable breaks during a gig - since it's not replaceable, you'll need to use something else for the remainder of your set. They also don't have the most secure fit, so if you tend to really get in the groove when you spin, you might want to keep a hand on them to make sure they don't go flying off your head. That said, if you're playing a tamer gig, you shouldn't have any issues.
If you play a lot of loud gigs and are looking for something that can help protect your hearing, then go for the JBL CLUB ONE. Although they don't sound as neutral right out-of-the-box as the Sony MDR-7506, they have an active noise cancelling feature that can help cut down some of the noise around you so that you can better focus on mixing. If you don't like their sound, their companion app also comes with a graphic EQ plus presets. They're wireless, too, and can be used with a Bluetooth connection or if you prefer a wired connection, by using their included coiled TRS cable. They last just over 24 hours on a single charge, and they're comfortable enough to wear throughout long DJ events. However, their bass delivery can vary if the ear cups are flush to your head.
Go for the Sony if you're looking for wired over-ears that are slightly more portable, but if you like the freedom of a wireless connection or if an active noise cancelling feature is becoming more of a necessity for work, get the JBL.
The Beats EP are the best on-ear DJ headphones we've tested so far. Although we haven't reviewed the Sennheiser HD 25 DJ headphones just yet, the Beats are lightweight and comfortable on-ears. They also have fairly balanced and neutral audio reproduction that's suited for a variety of audio genres.
They feel decently well-built, and they come in a few colors such as red or blue as well as black, making it easy to find a look that suits your style. They have a decently performing in-line microphone so you can take calls between sets, which helps to make these headphones a little more versatile. If you like to move along to your music while you mix, they're also fairly stable on-ears, thanks to their tight fit.
On the downside, some people may also find them to be a little too tight, which could be uncomfortable for long mixing gigs. Their design is also prone to inconsistent bass delivery across re-seats and individuals. Still, if you prefer the look and feel of on-ear headphones, these are solid and stylish DJ headphones.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are the best DJ headphones in the budget range that we've tested to date. If you're looking to save a few dollars here and there, these over-ear headphones can be an alright choice. Although their design is fairly simple and you won't stand out wearing them, they're fairly comfortable, and they even resemble the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x a bit too, which is nice.
They have a slightly punchy bass as well as a neutral and balanced mid-range, which helps them to reproduce lead instruments and vocals clearly. While their treble range sounds quite dark, some DJs may prefer this sound. It can help keep their overall sound profile from sounding too harsh or even piercing at higher volumes, and this is particularly handy if you're playing bass-heavy sets at noisy parties. For their price point, they also have satisfactory build quality, and they should be able to survive a few accidental drops without getting damaged.
Unfortunately, these headphones feel a little cheap otherwise, and they use a thin audio cable that isn't detachable, which is a bit disappointing. Unlike other more premium models from Audio-Technica's M-Series lineup, they also lack swiveling ear cups, and they aren't the most portable either, as they can't fold up into a more compact form.
07/15/2020: Moved Shure SRH 440 to "Notable Mentions" and added JBL CLUB ONE as "Wireless Alternative with Active Noise Cancelling".
05/21/2020: Verification for accuracy; text refresh to keep things up-to-date.
02/21/2020: Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO and V-MODA Crossfade moved to notable mentions, Audio-Technica ATH-M20x added.
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.