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 we've tested so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. These closed-back over-ears are quite popular, and it's no secret as to why. They have a sturdy, durable design that's built to handle multiple gigs in a row and they're comfortable enough to help get you through long sets without too much fatigue.
These headphones can sound a bit different depending who's wearing them, but most people find they have a punchy yet balanced sound profile that's versatile for all kinds of gigs, whether you're playing at a wedding or a rave. Their swiveling cups make it easy to keep one ear on the pulse of the party while the other monitors your mix, and they come with a couple of different cable options, one of which is coiled, so you can move about with the beat without having to worry about your mixer flying off its station.
On the downside, they don't have the most stable fit. This shouldn't be much of an issue most of the time, but if you tend to get really into your sets and know you can't control your moves when the bass drops, you'll want something that fits more securely, like the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. They have a rigid design that's less portable, though, and their ear cups don't swivel, so the Audio-Technica remain the headphone of choice for most DJs overall.
If you’re drawn to the iconic look of Sony's MDR line-up 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’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 between sets.
Their sound profile is surprisingly well-balanced and neutral, which isn't necessarily common since Beats usually have more bass-heavy headphones. However, due to their on-ear fit, their bass delivery isn't quite consistent throughout different users. On the upside, they're decently well-built, but might not be the most comfortable option as they can be quite tight, especially for people with larger heads, and this can cause listening fatigue.
Unfortunately, they don’t feel as well-built as other premium on-ear headphones we’ve reviewed, like the Beats Solo Pro Wireless. 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.
If you're a DJ on a budget but aren't going to let that stop you from getting the best gear you can find, then you'll want to check out the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x; they're the best budget DJ headphones we've tested so far. As the entry-level model in Audio-Technica's studio headphone line-up, 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.
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.
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.