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 you'll want to look out for a couple of things in particular. 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 test some of the more popular and iconic DJ headphones from brands like Pioneer and Cymatics, we've still tested over 530 headphones. Below, you'll find our top recommendations for the best DJ headphones that we've tested. Also, check out our recommendations for the best headphones for music, the best wired headphones, and the best audiophile headphones.
The best DJ headphones that we've tested 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 with one ear while the other is monitoring the party.
Unfortunately, even when folded, they aren't the most portable, but you should still be able to put them in a backpack without issue. Additionally, if you plan on using your DJ'ing headphones daily, they don't have an in-line remote to control your mobile phone. Nevertheless, they have an amazing performance for the price, and a 1/4 inch adapter is even included for optimal compatibility.
The best portable DJ headphones are the Sony MDR-7506. If you're a DJ who needs to travel fairly often, these wired over-ears are a good option since their ear cups fold inwards to reduce their footprint when not in use. They're also decently comfortable and somewhat breathable, so your ears should sweat a little less compared to some other over-ears.
While their underemphasized low-bass range may be a little disappointing for EDM and hip-hop-heavy performances, this may not be an issue for all users. These are a popular choice for mixing and mastering due to their well-balanced sound profile, so it should come as no surprise that they're a good match for musically diverse sets.
Unfortunately, their audio cable isn't detachable, which means that if it gets damaged, the whole unit needs to be replaced. They do a middling job of staying on your head, so they may not be the best choice if you like to move around a lot while playing. Otherwise, their relatively portable design and well-balanced sound profile make them a good fit for DJs on the go.
If you play a lot of louder sets and want a pair of over-ears that block out more ambient noise, consider the JBL CLUB ONE Wireless. These Bluetooth-enabled over-ears are bulkier than the Sony MDR-7506 and have a less neutral sound profile, but they're equipped with an ANC system that lets them filter out far more ambient noise. Their wireless design and more stable fit also make them a better option for more active sets, where you may be moving around a little more and don't want to have an audio cable snag on something. They're also comfier and more sturdily built. They have enough battery life for nearly 25 hours of continuous use but come with a 1/8" TRS cable that allows for passive audio playback if you do run out of charge. That said, they don't deliver audio as consistently as the Sony.
Get the Sony if you want slightly more compact headphones with a better-balanced sound profile, but consider the JBL if you want something that blocks out more ambient noise and are better suited for casual use.
The Beats EP are the best on-ear DJ headphones we've tested. They have a lightweight and breathable design, which should keep your ears from sweating too much during long sets. They're also available in a fairly broad range of color schemes, so you can find a pair to suit everything from a country wedding to a dance hall rave.
These on-ears have a fairly well-balanced sound profile, making them suitable for playing a pretty wide variety of genres. That said, their treble response is slightly recessed, which some DJs may prefer to avoid any harshness or piercing notes when playing at high volumes, though it shouldn't be that noticeable for most. They also have a surprisingly decent in-line mic, which is handy when you need to take a call during a break at your next gig.
Unfortunately, their fit can feel a little tight during longer playing sessions, especially if you have a large head. Their on-ear fit can also result in a somewhat inconsistent listening experience, particularly in the bass and mid-treble ranges. They also don't have a detachable audio cable, so you'll have to replace the entire unit if it's seriously damaged. Still, if you're a fashion-conscious DJ who prefers the sleekness of an on-ear fit, the Beats are a good choice.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are the best DJ headphones in the budget range that we've tested. They have a lightweight design and don't clamp your ears too tightly, so you shouldn't experience too much fatigue during a long set. They also have a simple, understated look that shouldn't draw too much attention, regardless of where you're playing.
These over-ears have a mostly well-balanced sound profile, with remarkably neutral mids and a mostly accurate bass range, resulting in full-bodied, present, and clear vocals and lead instruments. That said, they're lacking a bit of thump and rumble due to their slightly underemphasized low-bass response and have an uneven treble range, which results in a slight loss of brightness in some higher notes. While they don't block out too much noise, that may be helpful if you want to keep tabs on your set and the venue's mix at the same time.
They aren't the most well-built option on the market, with cheap-feeling plastic construction and exposed audio cables. They're also quite bulky and don't fold into a more compact form, which can be annoying if you're taking these headphones on-the-go. That said, they're a solid option if you're looking for a pair of budget-friendly over-ears with a somewhat well-balanced sound profile.
12/17/2020: Slight changes to the text for accuracy and clarity; no change in product recommendations.
07/15/2020: Moved Shure SRH 440 to Notable Mentions and added JBL CLUB ONE as 'Wireless Alternative with Active Noise Cancelling'.
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.