In the world where you can think of a product and get blasted with tens and hundreds, if not thousands, of choices, it’s important to think clearly. When looking for the best budget DJ headphones, the same thing happens – you get over 10 brands that claim to deliver the best performance for the price – so which one do you pick?
My guide can’t answer all your questions, but it can definitely point you in the right direction – trust me on this! We’ll go over the list of the DJ headphones for all budgets and needs, go over the most common things to consider when picking a pair, and answer the most popular questions beginner DJs ask!
Alright, are you ready to get to the list yet?
1) Pioneer HDJ-X5-S
If you are a DJ and aren’t quite familiar with Pioneer – you better get on it – they are the biggest and most popular brand in the DJ industry after all. The best part is that they don’t only focus on the DJ gear for professionals, but beginners with a modest budget as well. Pioneer HDJ-X5-S is an excellent example of that!
The build quality is outstanding for the price – you’ll have a hard time finding a competitor to these pair of budget DJ headphones. The headphones are also quite comfortable – they aren’t loose like some, and they don’t squish your head as Beats Pro sometimes do. HDJ-X5-S also come with a pouch and a cable to set everything up.
The earcups are adjustable and are perfect for monitoring – especially if you DJ at nightclubs and play at gigs. The only noticeable drawback is the strong equalizing on the lower end that boosts the bass way too much. It’s not a big deal when producing music because you can balance the output signal, but it’s a little harder for DJing, especially for beginners.
Besides the little con to buying these DJ headphones under $100, they will suit every DJ at the beginning of their journey – you can’t just go for $500+ headphones after all. And even if you can, there are so many other elements of a DJ setup, so you shouldn’t spend the majority of your budget on the pair of expensive DJ headphones!
2) Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Check out Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Review.
Oh Audio-Technica, what are you doing to the music industry? If you haven’t heard of the brand – it’s flooding the music production and DJ communities with various musical gear at the speed of light. Alright, I may be exaggerating, but AT is a company to respect. They deliver the highest-quality products on the market while keeping their prices reasonably low. One of the best bangs for the buck, if you will – aside from headphones they also make audio interfaces, microphones, and a lot more!
I’ve written about ATH-M50x over and over again – in the post about building your music studio, the list of best headphones for music production, and more. I’ve ever written an Audio-Technica ATH-M50x review – I adore these headphones and can’t believe how much the developers charge for them – these budget DJ headphones are worth every penny!
Besides the large 45mm drivers that deliver quality sound, the response delivered is also very neutral which is desirable for most producers and DJs over there. On top of that, the sound isolation is fantastic – I’ve noticed minimal bleeding when the gain knob is cranked up, but you have to try hard to make them bleed.
Lastly, ATH-M50x headphones are incredibly comfortable – the headband and earpads are both soft and durable – and you can even replace them once the material starts wearing off due to extensive use. Moreover, the earcups are rotatable – up to 90 degrees – which is perfect when you are playing at a club and need that one-ear monitoring to get the next track ready.
3) Sennheiser HD 25 Plus
These Sennheiser headphones have been the top pick for my DJ headphones in previous posts about DJing. They may not look the coolest – after all, you see small studio headphones that look a little fragile – how effective would they be during a gig at a club? Surprisingly to a lot of beginners underestimating HD 25 Plus – they are a gem for every wanna-be and professional DJ.
If you’ve ever played a gig you’ll know how important comfort is for a DJ – you don’t make beats in a calm and static environment of your home studio like most beatmakers. You work with and around people most of the time, plus everything is live – you can’t take a break in the middle of your set, can you? That’s why having light and comfortable headphones here is a must.
On top of being comfortable to wear for long periods of time, they’ll also ensure you won’t be hearing a ton of background noise – thank the developers for making them close-back. Clearly, you can’t expect complete silence, especially at a club. If you forget about quality, comfort, and durability, they are also fantastic when it comes to sound quality.
HD 25 Plus offer excellent frequency response from 16 Hz to 22 kHz, low contact pressure, and have a maximum sound pressure level of 120 dB. If you also make the tracks you play, they’ll do a great job at sound referencing and similar audio engineering tasks – you just have to EQ them right in your digital audio workstation (or DJ software, depending on what you are working with).
4) V-Moda Crossfade M-100
If you aren’t a DJ or an audiophile, there is a fair chance you’ve never heard of V-Moda headphones. You see, they aren’t the most popular or budget studio headphones out there. In contrast, they are actually quite pricey – but for a good reason in terms of both build and sound quality.
First of all, they are perfect for DJing – and that’s why they are included on this list. Dual Diaphragm drivers are custom made and designed to separate bassy lower frequencies from mids and trebles. Most DJs need their music to “pop” constantly – that’s when you need the clean bass and extended high-end to edit and mix everything properly. And that’s precisely what V-Moda Crossfade M-100 DJ headphones offer – developers really went above and beyond here.
Speaking of durability and comfort, everything is top-notch as well – as expected from V-Moda. The design in incredibly compact – the headphones won’t take much space so you can take them pretty much everywhere. As opposed to a lot of fragile headphones that should always be kept in a case – M-100 are built to last.
You also won’t notice any sound bleeding – the sound isolation is fantastic. While this won’t matter if you are DJing at a loud venue, even a minor sound leak can wreck your instrument or vocal take at a studio, so that’s definitely something to consider.
5) Sony MDR-V55
While Sony is more known for their musical instruments, this wouldn’t be a proper DJ headphones list without a mention of Sony in it. Luckily, I’ve got it all covered. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s look at Sony MDR-V55 – a pair of finest budget DJ headphones that every beginner who is getting into music production and DJing can afford! You can’t expect the same quality as the premium studio headphones on the list – but they sure are one of the best bangs for the buck out there.
You can’t rotate the ear cups, which may be a drawback for a DJ, but they sure are comfortable. You can still fold them up and carry them around, but being able to monitor the environment and the track simultaneously would’ve been amazing. And just look how stylish they are – put your MDR-V55s on and look like a pro for a fraction of what you’ll have to pay for a professional pair or DJ headphones (mostly a joke, of course).
Alright, it’s time to talk about the sound quality. The minimum frequency response stands at 5 Hz, and sensitivity is quite impressive for the price as well. The bass response is to die for – there isn’t any noticeable distortion even if the volume is cranked up – everything stays tight. As for mids, they are clear and defined – just the way you want them to be. Lastly, the highs are crisp yet isn’t equalized to the point where your ears hurt from listening after a few minutes.
A slight minus I’ve noticed is the sound bleeding. If you turn the volume up more than 50-60%, you’ll notice the sound leaking slightly. To sum up, they are a fantastic choice for every beginner out there, especially when keeping the price in mind – you won’t get a better bang for the buck here.
Things To Consider When Picking A Pair Of DJ Headphones
Why do you need a good pair of studio headphones? Because you don’t want to cheap out on one of the essential elements of your DJ setup. Without them, you won’t hear all the elements clearly, and this will result in poor mixing. The real question stands – how to choose a pair of DJ headphones? Well, here are a few factors that you should account for.
Clearly, most of us don’t have the same budget as star producers and DJs out there. So we are looking for the best bang for the buck – and it’s not as easy as it may seem. Should you spend another $100 and get a much better product? Will the quality of the more expensive pair stay the same, and you’ll be pretty much wasting your money?
Just remember that price isn’t everything when it comes to DJ headphones – take Beats by Dr. Dre, for example. A lot of the time you may be overpaying for the brand. However, when it looks too good to be true – it’s likely is as well.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, comfort is oftentimes the most crucial aspect here. If you spend hours playing a live set at a club – the last thing you’d want is a pair of bulky and heavy DJ headphones. You don’t want them to squeeze your head and should make sure the earcups fit your ears perfectly.
That’s why your number one goal is to try them on before buying a pair – you can spend $300 on the best quality headphones, but if they don’t fit – you’ll regret your decision for a very long time after the purchase.
While having the most comfortable headphones with outstanding sound quality is the ultimate goal, you don’t want to invest in a piece of gear that will break in a month. And trust me here, DJs abuse their headphones a lot – and not by choice.
You have to travel, take them out and put them back into your backpack, wear them for hours and hours, with a chance of dropping them here and there. If your DJ headphones are fragile – get ready to buy a new pair that will withstand a ton of stress – it’s a must-have.
When picking headphones, you want as much sound isolation as possible. And as you already know – closed-back headphones are the best at noise cancelling. That’s a common choice not only for DJs but musicians all over the industry spectrum. Why do you need closed-back headphones if you are a DJ?
Well, you’ll likely be working in noisy environments where people talk, and music plays at all times. If you happen to use your open-back headphones, you’ll find yourself increasing the volume a lot to hear all the elements of the track which in fact can hurt your ears. Not to mention the amount of stress something like this can add.
5) Sound Quality
You can buy comfortable and durable closed-back headphones for $20, so why spend more? The answer is sound quality. Each pair of studio headphones is built differently – some boost the bass, others dim the mids, the third mix every element into one muddy track. Investing in sound quality is the best thing you can do here – it’s not a one week hobby that’s you’ll give up after all.
There are hundreds of different headphones of all driver sizes, sound clarity, levels of sound isolation and more – for pretty much all the budgets out there. You’ll just have to make sure the pair you pick will suit your needs depending on the genre of music you are producing and where you play your music.
Probably the least important, but still a viable factor for a lot of music enthusiasts out there – so I’ve decided to include it into my best DJ headphones review. Speaking of Beats once again, the reason they are incredibly popular is because of their aesthetic look. The sound is good as well, but it’s way too bassy, and most music producers stay away from them.
If you are investing in the “look” of your headphones, make sure that all 5 factors above are considered as well before the purchase. This will save you the hassle of returning them back after they end up breaking after a week or mashing all the individual sounds in your track.
Commonly Asked Questions
A lot of people keep asking very similar questions, so this section should clarify a few things when it comes to DJ headphones.
Why are premium headphones so expensive?
We all are looking for the best pair of DJ headphones. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. If you want to upgrade the built quality and sound, you’ll have to pay extra to get the top-of-the-line premium headphones. And oftentimes you’ll notice that there is a good correlation between the price and quality, especially in the $100-$1000 range.
When you pay more, you get bigger and higher-quality drivers, steel as opposed to plastic built, replaceable and comfortable earcups and headbands, better sound cancellation, detachable cables, and a lot more. It’s hard to justify a big purchase, especially if you have a perfectly working pair of $20 headphones, but once you put them on – you’ll never go back.
Are expensive headphones worth it?
That’s a good question. Unfortunately, there is no short answer. I would say “no,” but there is a huge difference between cheap and expensive headphones, in terms of both built and quality. And I can’t say “yes” either because a lot of the time the brand gets popular, and its prices skyrocket because of the demand.
Always read the reviews from verified purchase users on Amazon, for example, before purchase to avoid the unnecessary spendings on a Neumann brand when Audio-Technica could’ve done 90% of the job for 10% of the price. Once again, just use your judgement.
How much should I spend on headphones?
To be frank, anywhere from $50 to $400 to begin with. There is no exact number. Audio-Technica and Sennheiser make good budget headphones, sometimes for under $200 that deliver the superb quality. There is no point to jump over $400, especially if you are just getting your feet wet. Often it’s best to find the middle ground of $200 for your first purchase, so you’ll have decent headphones to compare your next pair to.
Are noise cancelling headphones worth it?
As a rule of thumb, they are. You want sound isolation pretty much all the time. If you are playing at a club with loud music blasting in the background – you want to hear all the elements of the track (or at least most of them). If you are in a quiet studio, recording an instrument perhaps, the last thing you’d want is for your headphones to bleed and ruin your take.
As you can see, noise cancelling headphones are definitely worth it and oftentimes a must for a music producer or DJ who is serious about his or her craft.
Conclusion: Best DJ Headphones
Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about headphones for DJing and maybe even considered finally getting a pair. Just remember the key factors that we’ve spoken about earlier – find the perfect balance of all 6, and you’ll find what you are looking for! And don’t you dare give up after a month – it takes people years and years to get somewhere.
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Last update on 2020-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API