One thing every DJ has in common is a pair of headphones which they use to mix beats and cue up songs. The biggest question is, “What are DJ headphones and how are they different from normal headphones?” The honest answer is that other than some convenience features, DJ headphones are still headphones so their primary function is to playback music. In this article I will go over the primary features of DJ headphones which should help you pick out a pair that is right for you.
Closed Ear Design: A closed ear design creates a seal around your ear that helps block out ambient noise which will interfere with your beat mixing. Most DJ headphones are designed in this way, but some take it a step further with larger ear cushions or leather cushions which not only increase comfort but block more noise. The more noise that is blocked the less you have to turn up your headphones to hear cues from the PA system. Larger and better cushioned headphones have a tendency to stay firmly on your head which is important if you move around a lot.
Foldable/Swivel Ear Cups: Headphones with folding ear cups are great for storage because of their space saving design. To step it up a notch, some ear cups can swivel which allows you to listen to your music cue and the dance floor without removing your headphones. Removing one ear cup and placing it around your neck while craning your head to keep the other ear cup on becomes extremely uncomfortable after a while and can cause long term injury. A swivel cup simply rotates one ear cup so you can either hold it up to your ear or move it out of the way.
Lightweight/Durable Design: The club scene can be rough on any DJ and his equipment. It is important that a pair of lightweight yet durable headphones are purchased because it will reduce listening fatigue while being able to withstand some damage. Having unbreakable headphones is great but you won’t want to wear them for very long. The constant wearing, removing, folding and swiveling of your headphones will take its toll so durability is just as important as weight. These two factors go hand in hand so read reviews and see which headphones can stand up to the challenge.
Frequency Response: It is very important for DJ headphones to have an excellent frequency response and sound quality. At the club there is an emphasis on low frequency music primarily hip hop, rap, electronic and dance songs. Having headphones that can reproduce the notes in your mixes accurately is crucial for any DJ. Music played out on the dance floor should have similar nuances to what you hear in your headphones, if they don’t you might need to upgrade headphones.
Coiled/Detachable Cord: Some headphones come with a coiled cord which helps prevent it from getting tangled on other equipment. This feature is completely a preference as some DJs prefer standard cords. To combat that, some headphones come with detachable cords which allow you to easily switch your cable for any length or style you need. A detachable cord also helps when storing your headphones.
Active Noise Cancellation: To go a step further and push the envelope of technology some DJ headphones feature active noise cancellation technology. When activated, these types of headphones can reduce as much as 20 decibels of ambient sound leaving your music clean and crisp. Active noise cancellation often requires batteries or an alternate power source but it is often more than worth it many DJs say. Read our article on “How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?” for more information on this technology.
These are the primary convenience features found on DJ headphones in any different combination. Some headphones will have all of these features and more so do your research before making the plunge.