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 230 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 that we’ve tested so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. These highly revered over-ears have been the go-to headphones for many studio engineers and DJs. They're not the flashiest headphones out there with their functional aesthetic, but they're comfortable and they sound very good. The large ear cups are well-padded, albeit a bit stiff, and the headband isn't too tight, which is great for those long listening sessions. The overall build quality is great, which is a mix of metal and high-quality plastic.
These headphones have a remarkably neutral sound profile. The bass is deep and punchy, while the mids and treble remain neutral and well-balanced. However, there's some inconsistency in the frequency response, as the bass delivery can vary from one person to the next. They come with three cables of different lengths, but none of them have an in-line remote for portable use, and the lack of portability is made more apparent by their poor performance in noise isolation. They can be folded for easy transport, though, and they also come with a soft carrying case.
If you're looking for a good pair of headphones for your next gig, try the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.
If you want a pair of headphones with even better build quality than the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, check out the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. The rigid metal headband and bulky ear cups feel very sturdy and durable; however, it's also the reason they're less portable, as there aren't any foldable hinges to make them more compact. They still sound good, though. The bass is well-extended and their mid-range has a slight bump to emphasize vocals and lead instruments, but the treble is a tad sharp, especially on tracks that are already bright or poorly recorded. Unfortunately, they don't fare much better when it comes to noise isolation and they also leak a lot, which can be an issue if you want to use them in a noise-sensitive studio.
Overall, if your primary concern is audio reproduction, you should go with the Audio-Technica, but for a pair that can take a few beatings and still sound good, get the Beyerdynamic.
If you’re drawn to the iconic look of the Sony MDR line and want the most portable over-ear headphones that perform well for DJs, then get the Sony MDR-7506. They have a foldable design with swiveling ear cups like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, but are much lighter. They do feel a little cheap, and they aren’t as comfortable as the Audio-Technica, but they’re a great lower-cost pick for DJs looking for a simple, timeless design.
These headphones slightly emphasize both the bass and treble ranges: the result is an exciting sound that may feel overhyped to some, but just right to others. Though they have a less neutral sound profile than the Audio-Technica or the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, they’re good headphones for a dynamic set that features a mix of bass-heavy music with more vocal-centric songs.
Unfortunately, these headphones don’t feel as well-built as some of the other recommendations on this list. Although they come with a nice long coiled cable, the cable isn’t detachable, which increases the risk of damage to these headphones. Fortunately, they’re not super expensive, so replacing them if they do get worn down shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Overall, they’re a good choice for DJs looking for lightweight, portable headphones that deliver versatile sound.
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 Sonys, but if you play longer sets and want a much more comfortable pair of headphones for extended use, get the Shure.
If you want better-designed headphones that have a lot more flair and style than the other recommendations on this list, then get the V-MODA Crossfade M-100. They don’t sound quite as balanced as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, but they look and feel a lot more high-end, premium, and fashion-forward than the Audio-Technica or the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. They have a flexible, sturdy headband and look great whether you're in front of an audience or just walking down the street.
These headphones have a simple wired design that looks cool, feels well-made, and stands out in a crowd. They’re sturdy yet compact headphones. They come with a great hard carrying case, which makes them easy to carry around from set to set. They sound decent overall and have good bass. They also have customizable backplates for the ear cups that you can engrave with your logo to add a bit more personality to your headset or to further push your brand.
Unfortunately, they’re not the most comfortable headphones to wear, especially over longer periods. Their ear cups are a bit shallow and their headband tends to feel rather tight. They’re well-padded in general, so this may not be an issue for shorter sets, but they may cause some discomfort if you’re planning a longer performance. That said, they’re a good option for the more fashion-oriented DJ interested in creating a memorable visual identity.
If you’re not a fan of the bulkier design of over-ear headphones and prefer more compact on-ears, then get the Beats EP; they’re the best on-ear DJ headphones we’ve tested so far. 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 in-between sets.
They have surprisingly great audio reproduction, especially at this price point. They have deep bass with good thump and punch which makes them great for those who prefer heavy bass, though they're still well-balanced enough to be suitable for most genres. While they're well-built headphones that use high-end materials, they unfortunately aren't the most comfortable due to their tight fit, and may not be the best option for longer sets. On the upside, their more casual design makes them great for people who want headphones that can be used in everyday life outside of DJing as well.
Unfortunately, they don’t feel as well-built as other on-ear headphones we’ve reviewed, like the Marshall MID ANC. They also don’t have a detachable cable, and theirs is a bit on the short side. You may need to purchase an audio cable extension if you want to use these headphones comfortably while performing. That said, they're still a decent option for DJs who prefer on-ears, thanks to their good sound quality and straightforward design.
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.
12/19/2019: 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.