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 lengthy gigs and need more comfortable headphones to help you get through your longest performances, then get the Shure SRH 440. They're not quite as compact as the Sony MDR-7506, so they'll take up more space in your bag, but they're a lot more comfortable. They have larger ear cups with much better padding to help distribute pressure more evenly. They clamp down on your head just enough to fit more securely without feeling uncomfortably tight. Their sound profile can vary a lot from person-to-person, though, depending on how well they seal around your ears. If you wear glasses, you might find they lack quite a bit of bass, but if you have a wider head they can sound a bit boomy. If their sound profile works for you, they're a decent choice.
Get the Sony if you care more about portability, but if long-term comfort is more important to you, you'll want to go for the Shure.
The best on-ear DJ headphones we've tested so far are the Beats EP. Some prefer on-ears due to their lightweight design, which can be a bit more comfortable for long sets. While we haven't yet reviewed Sennheiser's iconic HD 25 DJ headphones, the Beats perform surprisingly well for the price and are a solid choice.
They sound very well-balanced and have accurate sound reproduction, which is great to assure a good DJ session. This is also quite surprising for headphones coming from Beats, as they're usually known for a very bass-oriented sound signature. They're quite comfortable and decently well-built as well. It even has an in-line remote with a surprisingly decent mic for you to call clients when you're not performing.
Unfortunately, since they don't perform quite consistently on different users. Their bass reproduction can fluctuate quite a lot between individuals. Some people also find them a bit too tight, which can get a bit uncomfortable after a while. That said, if they fit you well and you like the way they sound, they make for surprisingly solid DJ on-ear headphones.
The best DJ headphones in the budget range we've tested so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x. Whether you're a beginner getting ready for your first gig or a seasoned professional just looking for an inexpensive backup pair, these studio-inspired headphones are an alright option. They're fairly comfortable, have a simple, professional look, and are very reasonably priced.
These headphones have great punchy bass and a very well-balanced mid-range. They reproduce instruments and vocals clearly, but their sound signature is on the darker side. While this can be problematic if you try and compensate by EQing too much brightness into your mix, it can actually help them from sounding too harsh or piercing at higher volumes. This is especially important if you're playing a bass-heavy EDM set at a noisy party and need to crank up the volume.
On the downside, unlike the more premium models in Audio Technica's M-Series lineup, these headphones don't have swiveling ear cups, and they can't fold into a more compact format. They also feel pretty cheaply made and have especially thin cables that aren't detachable. That said, this is to be expected at this price point, and if they do break, they won't cost an arm and a leg to replace.
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.