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 400 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 to the headphones 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.
When it comes to portability, the best DJ headphones that we've tested 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-ears 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 tend to play loud sets and want to reduce the chances of damaging your hearing, consider the JBL CLUB ONE Wireless. These Bluetooth-enabled don't deliver audio as consistently as the Sony MDR-7506 and have a slightly less well-balanced sound profile overall, but they do block out a lot more outside noise thanks to their ANC feature. They're also substantially better-built and more comfortable too, with a tighter fit that should allow them to stay on your head if you like to move around while on-stage. They supply roughly 24 hours of continuous playback on a single charge but do come with a coiled 1/8 inch TRS cable if you want to use them on a wired connection.
Get the Sony if you want a better-balanced sound profile and more consistent audio delivery, but consider the JBL if you want a broader feature set and prefer the freedom of movement that comes with a wireless design.
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.
10/23/2020: Minor in-text updates to improve accuracy and clarity; no change in overall 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.