One of the most personal choices a DJ can make is which headphones they will purchase. These Headphones will be crucial for helping you DJ in loud night clubs each night.
With the right pair, you can continue with your job, enjoying the high energy and music, without having to struggle with headphones that don’t work.
To choose the right DJ headphones, it is important to pick some that deliver quality sound, provide good isolation of the sound, are comfortable, and made to last.
While there are many types of headphones out there to choose from, many do not provide the same quality.
With all the options out there, it is important to pick the right headphones for your career. You want something that lasts and something comfortable without breaking the bank. This article will help you decide which headphones are the best when it comes to good DJ headphones.
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What Are DJ Headphones?
One of the hardest things for a professional DJ to do during work is to monitor their mix of music in a really loud venue. In these situations, it is difficult to even hear the next track that is lined up.
Large, powerful sound systems will need more potent booth monitors, which will then increase the amount of SPL, or sound pressure level, in the booth with the DJ.
While these are important for helping those on the dance floor to hear the music, it can make it really hard for the DJ to hear what is going on. The DJ will need a higher output from any headphones they use to hear the next track over what the booth monitors play. This is what DJ headphones can help with.
To contrast these with studio headphones, which are tuned to work with flat and accurate sound, these DJ headphones will emphasize more of the highs and lows in the music. This is why these headphones will have larger drivers, usually 40 to 50 mm in diameter.
To help the DJ properly mix two of the tracks together, they need to hear even the smallest changes in the track they want to cue up. The larger diameter and the emphasis on highs and lows make this more possible.
The ear cups of these headphones are usually larger as well. This helps provide more comfort while wearing them while making it easier to isolate the individual sounds.
In addition to the larger ear cups, these headphones have more robust headbands and other components to make them stronger. These headphones can take a beating, allowing you to work with them in any situation.
While most DJ headphones can take a beating, there are a few that are designed with a little extra care in mind. These PIONEER HDJ-X10 headphones have an extra layer of protection with shock resistance for accidents and drops.
The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 headphone is another good alternative to consider.
Why Do DJs Wear Headphones?
There are many reasons why a DJ will wear headphones, but one of the main reasons is that these help them prepare the track they plan to play next. While one track is on at high volume through the speakers, the DJ is always busy selecting and setting up the next track.
They can then use their headphones to adjust both the volume and speed to make sure it works with the atmosphere.
The music from the first song is usually really loud. This is part of the atmosphere they try to create with their business. Being able to control that atmosphere can make or break their business.
Without the right headphones, it is impossible to hear the second track and get things lined up for a smooth transition.
The right pair of headphones makes this easier. They allow you to pay attention to the first track playing loudly at the venue, while also giving you a chance to hear the second track. This provides a smooth transition between songs your audience will love.
What to Look for When Picking DJ Headphones
Choosing the right headphones will make a big difference in how you can monitor any show.
Whether you plan to work as a club DJ, a remixer, or you spin at parties, having a good pair of headphones will make it easier to stay comfortable at your gigs, while also making sure you have a good feel for the sounds you want to set up.
There are a few things you can consider when it comes to picking out the right set of DJ headphones for your needs. These include:
You should always check out the sound quality of any pair of headphones you want to use. Unlike some of the audiophile headphones, you do not necessarily want a perfectly accurate reproduction.
Your goal is to find a headphone set that can really reproduce the deep bass and the clear highs. These are key elements to dance music, so they are the tones you want to focus on.
A bit of trial and error will help here, but a few specs and features you may want to consider for your headphones include:
For this spec, bigger is always better. For the most part, the bigger drivers, which means the speakers, the deeper the bass you will get. Look for a diameter drive of at least 40 mm, but if you can find some that are bigger in your price range, go for those.
Another clue you should look for concerning the quality of the sound is the maximum input rating. The higher you find this spec, the less distortion is present when you listen to music at a high volume. And as a DJ, most of the music you listen to is at a high volume.
If you get an input power rating of 3000mW, you should hear no distortion. This will command a really high price, though, so decide how much distortion is acceptable for you and stick with that. 3000mW is nice, but less can work well too.
Headphones that have a higher number here will produce more volume for you during your gigs. But you have to be careful here. You want to hear well, but the high volumes over time will start to ruin your hearing. Look for a decent sensitivity that wants to ruin your hearing in the process.
Frequency Range (Hz)
This is something you should look at, but it is less useful than some of the other sound features. Many headphones have big claims about their frequencies.
Remember that human hearing is between 20Hz and 20kHz, so if there are numbers on the headphones that are outside of this range, they don’t really provide you any benefit at all.
Each manufacturer will use a different method for establishing this spec as well, so it may not be worth your time to pay attention to this one.
Comfort and Durability
DJ headphones will take a beating; it’s an occupational hazard of the job. The best designs for these headphones will take this into account. Comfort is important because you will wear these headphones for longer periods.
Some of the features to consider when looking at the durability and comfort of a set of headphones includes:
The Design of the Headband and Earpad
Earpads should have some good padding to provide comfort. Look for swiveling or rotating arms that make it easier for single-sided monitoring and positioning. When you try on the headphones, make sure that they completely cover the ear and don’t rub anywhere.
The headband is important too. It should offer ease of adjusting that still maintains enough pressure on the side to keep a single side of the earpad secure when you try to monitor the cue and the room mixes at the same time.
If you often wear the headphones around the neck, check that the headband will allow this without chafing there.
Replaceable Cables and Earpads
Since these headphones take a beating, it is important that you can replace some of the parts as necessary, without having to purchase a brand-new set all the time. Many higher quality headphones will include an extra set of earpads.
Even those that don’t will often offer replacements to help the headphones last longer. Replaceability of the cable jack is also important as these often wear out the fastest.
Most headphones come with a ¼ inch jack to match the inputs on most mixers and controllers you will use. It is best to choose one of these headphones to avoid issues later.
If you fall in love with a set that has a different cable, you will need to purchase a converter to help with this.
You can choose between straight and coiled cables for your headphones. Most DJ’s like the coiled versions because these are less likely to snag on the other gear you have as you move around.
Many models come with both types of cable so you can choose the one you like.
While it isn’t too important what type of cable you get, the straight or the coiled, you should pay attention to the length. Most cables are somewhere between 4 and 12 feet (1.22 to 3.66 meters).
A cable that is too long is a bad idea because it will snag and trip you over. One that is too short will make it impossible to move around and will get yanked out of the input jack.
While it may be fine to choose a heavy pair of headphones for audiophiles, these will get uncomfortable when you wear them all night long as a DJ. Top designs will use titanium, aluminum, and magnesium parts to make sure the weight is easier to handle.
You want to go with a set that is compact and portable, one that is sturdy and made of high-quality materials, but not too heavy, and one that will help you get your work done.
Check the Mixing Stance
The way you will wear these headphones while doing your work is important. Not all headphones will lend themselves well for this, even if they promise to work well for this line of work.
One of the most common ways that a DJ would use their headphones is with one ear on, and one ear off. This is a simple technique for mixing because the off ear is listening closely to the monitor speaker and then the on ear will monitor the song that is about to come.
While most DJ headphones will have the ability to spin one or both of the earpieces out of the way while you are wearing them, it is still an important thing to look for when choosing a pair.
Without this turn, you may have to take the headphones on and off all the time to hear the sound that you want. It may not be an essential feature and you can still get your work done without it.
But being able to take one ear off while one is still on can make your work a little easier.
Not only is the weight of the headphones important, but the portability is as well. As a DJ, you will never set up your music in one area and leave it there night after night. You will have gigs all over the place, if your business is doing well, and you need to pack up your equipment each night before heading home.
A good pair of headphones needs to be portable to make it easier to pack up and leave.
Many headphones may be able to do the job and that has many of the features we explored above. But they are bulky and hard to move around. They take up a lot of space in your bag and make it almost impossible to move from one area to the next.
Find some portable headphones, ones that you can easily fold up and put away in a pocket of your bag at the end of the night, and make your life easier in the process.
Pay Attention to the Look
As a beginner, you may not be as worried about the overall look of the headphones. You worry more about picking out a set of headphones that works and fits in your budget. This is fine for a beginner.
But it won’t take long before you notice that the style of your headphones does matter. Those bulky and plain headphones may get the job done, but they may not provide the style that you are looking for.
As a DJ, you have to remember that this job is all about performing. You may not be the one singing the music on stage for your guests, but you are there to give them a good time.
And you spend most of the night standing in front of people. These people look up at and to you all the time. You may want to make sure that the headphones you use give off the appearance and the style you would like.
Luckily, there are many styles of headphones to choose from. Some of the more stylish options you can go with, without breaking the bank, include this Premium Over-Ear Headphone from Spadger and the Numark HF125 if you need a few ideas to get started.
While all the features and specs above are important when picking out a good pair of headphones for your job, the most important thing to consider is your budget.
If you can’t afford the most expensive pair of headphones on the market, that doesn’t mean you need to count yourself out of the game forever. There are many great lower-priced headphones on the market, ones that have decent specs and will still make it easier to do your job.
Before you go out and purchase a pair of headphones, consider what your budget is. You may not be able to purchase the most expensive headphones out there.
And because of this, some of the specs may not be as high as we recommend here. That is fine. Your goal is to get the best headphones for your job possible and the other sections are recommendations to help you get there.
Take some time choosing which features are the most important to you. Decide what you would like out of the headphones, and then go shopping. You can find a great pair of headphones for your DJing career on any budget. You just need to know what you are looking for ahead of time.
Picking the right set of professional DJ headphones is important to make your work a little bit easier. Keeping up with the tracks and hearing the different sounds between the music that is currently playing and the song you want to bring up next is hard enough.
A good pair of DJ headphones can take some of the hassles away and makes it easier to hear the music so you can create something your clients are sure to love.
- Musicians Friend: How to Choose the Best DJ Headphones
- Digital DJ Tips: How to Choose a Pair of DJ Headphones
- Guitar Center: DJ Headphones
- Amazon: PIONEER HDJ-X10
- Amazon: V-MODA Crossfade M-100
- Better DJing: Why Do DJs Wear Headphones? Passion or Fashion?
- Amazon: Premium Over-Ear Headphone
- Amazon: Numark HF125
- Guitar Center: Studio Headphones
- BeatMatch Guru: What is a DJ Booth Monitor?
- Wikipedia: Sound Quality
- Home Studio Basics: What is Sound Sensitivity?
- Wikipedia: Orders of Magnitude (power)
- Audio-Technica: What Do All of These Headphone Specs Mean and Why are They Important?