In the olden days, DJ’s would cue their next track using a telephone handset speaker, with no pitch control and maybe some EQ if they were lucky. Fast forward to 2013 and thankfully, times have changed, and headphone manufacturers have come up with many models with the twenty-first century DJ in mind.
Durability and portability are two key factors for any DJ. Even if you are just a beginner starting out, with any luck, you will soon be jumping at every opportunity to test your skills at house parties and local events, and you will soon know just how well your pair of headphones withstand being stuffed in and out of bags every weekend. A lot of DJ can fold down into themselves for protection in transit, and some have replaceable parts to prolong their life.
As a DJ, it’s very likely that you will be wearing your headphones a lot. With that in mind, your new pair needs to be comfortable to wear for long periods. The materials used as well as headband padding can affect. Some like phones that fully encase the ears, while others prefer on-ear pads that make the constant switching between ‘on head’ and ‘round neck’ modes. For anyone making music on the go, you’ll probably be using your cans as portable monitors. Therefore comfort will become even more of necessity.
Of course in this business, sound matters and there is quite a lot to look out for. In big DJ booths and rawkuss house parties, isolating the sound, you want to listen to and cutting out everything else is essential. This is called noise reduction. Loudness is also a key factor for the same reasons. You will want your cans to give you as much volume as possible before distorting. DJ headphones have a higher sensitivity and impedance than regular headphones to cope with the higher outputs that mixers have. Don’t try plugging your iPod earphones into your mixer and turning up full; they won’t be instrumental after…. For more info on terms such as sensitivity and impedance check out our jargon buster.
When available, the frequency response is also another important factor to consider. Every speaker performs differently at each frequency, what this means is that some phones will give you more bass than others whereas some will have greater clarity in the highs. If you plan to use your new purchase when making your tunes, a flatter response will be desired. The best time to use this data is when comparing models.
One other thing that’s worth mentioning is style. As a DJ, you have to look your best. No one likes a try hard, but turning up for a set of some Headphones held together by Gaffa tape doesn’t look too hot either. Style is a personal choice so that we will leave that up to you
Everyone is different, and this is not a one size fits all type of deal. Not one factor alone is most important above everything else for everybody. You’re looking for the best compromise for you, that Goldilocks zone where everything is just right, including the price.
Check out our tools to help you narrow down the search, and when you’re ready to buy, links to Amazon can be found for each model on the review page.
Good luck and happy mixing