Spending so much time up close makes headphones a DJ’s most intimate tool, choosing the right ones, therefore, deserves some attention!
No matter a DJ’s style, these are a mixing must-have. For selectors carefully lining up rare gems from dusty archives to performance DJs firing out fresh jams every 21 seconds. Cutting, cueing, mixing and EQing; the magic all takes place in the headphones.
Here we score some well-tested, leading models against several categories and compare results to help with this important purchasing decision.
Find out who reigns supreme across sound quality, value, durability, adaptability, comfort and design!
The DJ Headphone Range
With such a wide price bracket for DJ headphones, we have separated our review choices into 3 tiers:
Oneodio Studio Pro 10 – $35
Hercules DJ60 – $69
Pioneer HDJ Cue 1 – $69
Oneodio Monitor 60 – $79
Sennheiser HD 25 – $149
Aiaiai TMA-2 DJ – $200
Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 – $369
Comfort is the first requirement for a good match. DJs spend most of their time wearing headphones so it makes sense that they wear well and allow the ears to breathe.
Winner: Oneodio Monitor 60 – Super soft and plush with a soft headband, these lightweight headphones feel as though they’re barely there and cause no discomfort, even after a 5-hour set!
Runner up: Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 – Just as comfy as the Oneodio but at 4 times the cost!
Loser: V Moda Crossfade M-100 Master – Made of robust but heavy materials like metal, they are by no means uncomfortable unless worn for hours on end, after which they leave the ears feeling cramped and the squeeze on the head can be a little tight.
It’s easy to think of this as the obvious category to test as a priority but not all DJs need the utmost sound quality. Some just want their headphones to audition tracks and beat-match kick drums.
DJs who do want good sound quality may also use their headphones to monitor mixes as they have no access to a booth audio output. Or they may want them to serve multiple purposes like being used to produce music.
Joint winners: V Moda Crossfade M-100 Master / Pioneer HDJ-X10 – Both offer an incredible sound response with high impedance and low distortion even at a very high volume. They can easily serve as a hybrid pair for studio tasks, just not for any mastering as the sound response is not flat enough.
Runner up: Oneodio Monitor 60 – Honourable mention with these as the sound quality is almost as good as the winners’ at only a fraction of their cost!
Loser: Aiaiai TMA-2 DJ – With heavy EQ colouration, the sound quality is very different to all the other DJ headphones in the lineup. They’re tuned with an overly heavy bass rather than for club-focused clarity.
Could be your headphones are repeatedly flung over your head and then slammed back down onto the mixer in a quick-fire sequence. Or perhaps they live adjacent to your ears with nothing moving for entire sets but their swivel cups!
We have fully tested the flex, movement and mouldability of our selection to figure which will allow the most flexibility for the wearer.
Winner: Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 – Can move and fold in any direction you like, with an instant spring-back function immediately resetting the headphones to their original form as soon as they are taken off of the head.
Runner up: Hercules DJ60 – Fold away and mould almost as well as the X10s but don’t have the same instant spring-back. They also don’t feel as sturdy as our winner but that’s not surprising considering their price bracket.
Joint losers: Sennheiser HD 25 / Aiaiai TMA-2 DJ – With regard to folding and moulding, they don’t do it! The only movement on these sets is the headband-cup adjustment for head size adjustment and the earcup swivels on the HD 25s.
The design of your headphones can really play into your personal brand. Being the first thing people associate with DJs, a striking pair can set your style off.
Joint winners: Aiaiai TMA-2 DJ / V Moda Crossfade M-100 Master – With a sleek minimal look and jet black colour scheme, the TMA-2s look the part on any DJ’s head, it’s no wonder these are seen in booths up and down the country!
With the V Modas, an additional cost will get your brand logo plastered onto the ear shields. There’s not much more of a personal touch than that!
Runner up: Pioneer DJ HDJ Cue 1 – These have a smart enough look out of the box but the standard black can be accented with a colour of choice from several options for the earcups and cables.
Joint losers: Oneodio Studio Pro 10 / Oneodio Monitor 60 – Although their functionality is superb, they are some of the most chunky on the market with a plasticy appearance so may not be favoured by those going for a stylish minimal vibe.
DJs can be heavy-handed, and if not, baggage handlers definitely can so it pays to get a strong pair!
Winner: Sennheiser HD 25 – Most of the parts are replaceable, and being the most popular DJ headphones on the planet for decades means sourcing those parts is a breeze.
Runner up: V Moda Crossfade M-100 Master – Being built like a tank gives a clue that these are in it for the long term!
Joint losers: Oneodio Studio Pro 10 / Oneodio Monitor 60 – Mass produced with cheap components for value, these feel less sturdy than the others and click when twisted into position suggesting a limited life span.
Do your headphones contribute to landfill or help fight against the ever-growing problem with high repairability and low waste packaging and shipping?
This category is one we hope will be implemented for reviews of all things tech!
Winner: Aiaiai TMA-2 DJ – Made completely from recycled plastics such as old vinyl and bottles, the packaging and assembly line are also eco friendly with a whole section of their website dedicated to sustainability.
Runner up: Sennheiser HD 25 – With every peripheral part being fully replaceable, nothing short of a catastrophe would cause these headphones to be written off!
Joint losers: Oneodio Studio Pro 10 / Oneodio Monitor 60 – As with anything that is mass produced with the cheapest materials, these have not been made with even minor repairs in mind.
Considering the whole package, who offers the best overall value for the money paid?
Winner: Pioneer HDJ Cue 1 – Looking good, sounding better and with a cost which is even more attractive! These sub-$100 headphones are reached for time and time again in the Crossfader studio as they feel the best. They’re not too big or heavy and have a strong low-end kick for beatmatching. They also come out very well averaged across our whole board of categories so represent a true middle-road, do-it-all solution for DJs!
Runner up: Oneodio Monitor 60 – For sound quality nothing comes close in its price range, the fact that it holds its own in this regard against a pair costing 4 times as much speaks masses to its value proposition.
Joint losers: Sennheiser HD 25 / Aiaiai TMA-2 DJ – Perhaps benefiting from a legacy reputation, these now have stiff competition from reputable brands offering the same features for less cost. Despite this, they are both some of the most popular DJ headphones on the planet. Perhaps people just don’t want to mess with a proven formula!
We hope this review gives a helpful insight into the categories worth considering when choosing the right headphones for you.
Watch Our Review Video For A Deeper Dive!
For help putting your perfect pair to good use, learn how to DJ with Crossfader! We offer a large range of courses to suit everyone from beginners to experienced DJs wanting to take their skills to the next level.