Buying Guide: Comparing 5 DJ Headsets
Whether you’re a die-hard vinyl advocate, or a part of the increasingly popular realm of digital DJs, having a good pair of headphones is essential to make sure the mixes you mash up are cued in on time at the proper volume. With so many different types and models of headphones to choose from, where do you even start?
This round up includes some of the best DJ headphones available, and provides a comparison to help you make the right buying decision when on the hunt for a solid pair. In this comprehensive review, we’ll take a look at 5 sets of headphones out there:
- Pioneer HDJ-2000 – $349 retail price
- Sennheiser HD 25-1 II – $249 retail price
- Beats By Dre Mixr – $249 retail price
- V-Moda Crossfade LP2 – $199 retail price
- Wicked Audio Solus – $99 retail price
In this review, we’ll judge each set of headphones based on the following criteria:
- Sound quality
- Fit & comfort
Among all the features to look at when shopping around for a good quality pair of DJ headphones, among the most essential is their sound quality. After all, it, what you hear in the headphones that helps you establish a good mix and helps you crossfade from one song into the next without disruption. If the sound quality of your headphones is poor, this could have a negative effect on your spins. Headphone sound quality includes components such as frequency separation, bass response, loudness, stereo image and the overall sound quality.
So how do each of these 5 sets of headphones measure up?
Frequency separation: Excellent, with nicely defined mids and bright highs.
Bass response: Nice and deep, but not overly hyped.
Loudness: Average level of loudness.
Stereo image: Adequate, and not overly wide like some of the others.
Overall sound quality: Adequate, and a little raw.
Sennheiser HD 25-1 II
Frequency separation: Clearly separated between all mids and highs, and nice and defined.
Bass response: A good rumbly, big bass, similar to the Pioneer.
Loudness: Average level of loudness.
Stereo image: Nice and wide, similar to the V-Moda.
Overall sound quality: Comparable to the Pioneer, but not as harsh.
Beats By Dre Mixr
Frequency separation: Clearly defined frequency ranges, with the high levels not overly sharp or piercing.
Bass response: Smooth, deep, and doesn’t muddy up other frequency levels.
Loudness: The loudest of them all.
Stereo image: Well-defined and adequately wide.
Overall sound quality: An impressive overall mix.
V-Moda Crossfade LP2
Frequency separation: Somewhat muted in the high levels.
Bass response: Very good, full and round.
Loudness: Lower than the rest.
Stereo image: Appropriately wide.
Overall sound quality: The most pleasing sound overall, smooth and warm.
Wicked Audio Solus
Frequency separation: Not as crisp in the high-end, which may be a good thing when listening at loud levels. Somewhat muddy between the mids and lows.
Bass response: Big bass that sounds overly hyped.
Loudness: Slightly louder than Pioneer.
Stereo image: Appropriately wide.
Overall sound quality: Somewhat of a muddy overall mix.
When factoring in all the components looked at for sound quality, Beats By Dre Mixr comes out on top, with V-Moda Crossfade LP2 close behind.
How durable the headphones are is a important factor to consider when shopping for a good pair. Especially if you’re a busy DJ who is constantly putting your headphones to use, and transporting them from one gig to the other, you want to make sure that they’re built to last, and to withstand all the wear and tear that inevitably comes with DJing. You may land a pair that is very stylish and even produces a great sound, but if they’re apt to breaking down sooner rather than later you’ll find yourself replacing them far too often.
When it comes to the level of construction and material quality of headphones, here’s how the five contenders rated.
Pioneer HDJ-2000 – Experienced DJs who own a pair of Pioneer HDJ-2000 headphones will most likely tell you that, aside from a few cosmetic scratches here and there after years of use, these headphone are constructed with high quality materials and workmanship. They’re not too heavy, and feature magnesium alloy at the joints which allows them to bend and flex easily without a high risk of damage. The ear cups can rotate 90 degrees to make monitoring your cue mix rather convenient. It’s very flexible, yet has a solid headband that you can twist with confidence. Overall, the Pioneer HDJ-2000 is a solid pair of headphones built to last.
Sennheiser HD 25-1 II – These lightweight headphones are made of tough molded plastic, with a headband that bends all the way flat and then backward if necessary. The ear cups move forward and backward nearly 90 degrees each way, yet the rotation is a tad stiffer compared the cups on the other headphones. Every part of this model is completely replaceable, which means you can buy these components separately without having to go out and buy a completely new set should some part of it break down. These headphones are a top candidate for strength and resiliency.
Beats By Dre Mixr – These headphones are incredibly durable, and definitely built for the long haul. The headband is extremely flexible and is able to twist around and bend back and forth. The ear cups feature a single hinge that’s made of a tough metal alloy that offers length adjustment and rotation. Every cup rotates 90 degrees and forward 180 degrees to be able to fold up into a little ball for portability. These headphones should be able to withstand all the travels of a DJ.
V-Moda Crossfade LP2 – These headphones are also built to last, though some may be concerned that the ear cups don’t rotate or swivel. The headband is very flexible, and can be bent backwards and flat, and can be twisted with little worry that it will break. The steel frame and aircraft-grade metal cup shields make this set feel sturdy all around. These are giving the Pioneer HDJ-2000 a run for their money.
Wicked Audio Solus – It’s no shock here that the Wicked headphones are the least durable of the bunch when you factor in the relatively cheap $99 price tag. These are made of plastic while most of the others are constructed out of metal, and the headband is not nearly as flexible. While the ear cups can swivel in either direction, the fact that the hinges are not as ready for the wear and tear that is to come may be of concern. If you’re planning on being a busy DJ, you might want to consider the Wicked headphones as a back-up rather than your main set wen it comes to durability.
When it comes to the overall construction and durability of DJ headphones, the Pioneer HDJ-2000 comes out on top, with V-Moda Crossfade LP2 and Beats By Dre Mixr coming in as runners up.
Fit and Comfort Level
It wouldn’t be very pleasant to have to wear a set of DJ headphones all night while working the audience if they’re uncomfortable and even inflict a certain level of pain. No matter how long you wear them for, you want to ensure that they fit properly, and have a tolerable level of comfort on your ears after a few hours of spinning tracks.
Here’s how the 5 headphone contenders are rated based on fit and comfort level.
Pioneer HDJ-2000 – The ear cups feature soft leather and spongey urethane pads on the inside, making these quite comfortable in that department. The headband also has these same materials for a comfortable cushion on your head. Overall the headphones sit on the head quite well, and they don’t get to the point of feeling intolerable after a couple of hours of use.
Sennheiser HD 25-1 II – These lightweight headphones put very little pressure on the head. However, the ear cups tend to pinch a great deal, making these headphones somewhat intolerable after an hour or so of wear.
Beats By Dre Mixr – Similar to the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II, the Beats By Dre Mixr are lightweight and place very little pressure on the head. The ear cups are held nice and snug against the head, which tend to pinch. However, they’re not as intolerable as the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II.
V-Moda Crossfade LP2 – These headphones are probably the most comfortable of all 5 headphone sets. The hexagonal ear cups fit nicely against the head without pinching and the light pressure is diffused from the light padding on the headband.
Wicked Audio Solus – After about an hour of wear, these headphones need to be taken off to get a break. Most likely this is due to the fact that the ear cup foam doesn’t have much give, which tend to pinch.
Overall, the V-Moda Crossfade LP2 is the winner in the fit and comfort category, with Pioneer HDJ-2000 coming in close behind.
Considering the fast paced life of a DJ on the road, the portability factor of your headphones is important. How easy is it to stash your headphones when you’re hopping from one gig to the next? Are they oversized and unable to fold up properly? Or do they fold up nice and neatly for easy portability?
Pioneer HDJ-2000 – These headphones collapse nicely into a compact crescent shape when you’re done with them, and can be easily stashed into the fabric carrying pouch that they come with. You don’t have to worry about damaging them because of the strong magnesium alloy at the hinges.
Sennheiser HD 25-1 II – In addition to their incredible light weight (at 4.9 ounces), these headphones are also physically smaller than the others. All you need to do is push the ear cups in and store them in the bag they come with.
Beats By Dre Mixr – These headphones are so compact that they fold up into nothing greater than the size of an orange. These are clearly designed for a DJ on the road.
V-Moda Crossfade LP2 – These headphones do not collapse or fold, but they do come with an “Exoskeleton” hardshell case that provides impressive protection while being transported.
Wicked Audio Solus – These headphones fold up not too badly into the shape of a crescent, which can then be stored in the pouch included. However, they don’t collapse with the same type of ease as the Pioneer HDJ-2000.
The winner for portability is Beats By Dre Mixr, with runner-up Pioneer HDJ-2000.
Just about every set of headphones on this list has its own benefits and drawbacks. The road warrior is clearly the The Sennheiser HD 25-1 II with its incredible durability, and the V-Moda Crossfade LP2 is tough to beat when it comes to comfort. The Beats by Dre Mixr is quite impressive overall, and the Pioneer HDJ-2000 is simply a living legend that will not disappoint. Of course, judging headphones is highly subjective, so what may be less than par for one may be perfect to the next. It’s just a matter of sampling to come up with your own personal verdict.