DJ headphones competition

Make

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II $249.95 (MSRP), $199-249 (retail price range)
Ships with: 1/4-inch screw-on plug adapter, 1 pair of soft ear pads, nylon carrying pouch.
Weight: 4.9 ounces (140 g) (not including the cable)

Beats By Dre Mixr / $249 (MSRP), $249 (retail price)
Ships with: 1/4-inch gold plated snap-on plug adapter, cleaning cloth, a detachable 1/8-inch audio cable with an Apple-compatible remote/mic, a second detachable 1/8-inch audio cable with an extended-range coil, and a zippered soft-shell carrying case.
Weight: 7.4 ounces (210 g) (not including the cable)

V-Moda Crossfade LP2$230 (MSRP),  $199 (Retail Price)
Ships with: gunmetal shield kit, screwdriver, “Exoskeleton” case, carabiner, detachable 3-button remote/mic cable, detachable extended cable,
1/4-inch plug adapter, cleaning cloth.
Weight: 9.2 ounces (260 g) (not including the cable)

Pioneer HDJ-2000$450 (MSRP), $229-349 (retail price range)
Ships with: 1/4-inch gold plated, screw-on plug adapter, cloth carrying pouch.
Weight: 10.2 ounces (290 g) (not including the cable)

Wicked Audio Solus / $99 (MSRP), $59-99 (retail price range – this is this review’s “budget” headphone)
Ships with: 6-foot audio extension cable with 1/8-inch jacks, 1/4-inch gold-plated plug adapter, fabric carrying pouch.
Weight: 15 ounces (425 g) (including the hard wired cable)

Sound Quality

Probably the most important criterium, the headphone sound includes the quality of its bass response, frequency separation, stereo image, loudness, overall sound quality, and also its sound isolating ability (how well the headphones keep out external noise).

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II

Bass response: big and rumbly, similar to the Pioneer.
Frequency separation: defined; clear separation between all mids and highs.
Stereo image: wide, on par with V-Moda.
Loudness: very close to Pioneer and Wicked.
Overall: similar to the Pioneer, but a little less harsh.
Sound isolation: nowhere near as good as advertised. On-the-ear cup design let more external sound in.

Beats By Dre Mixr
Bass response: deep and smooth. Doesn’t muddy up the other frequencies.
Frequency separation: all frequency ranges are clearly defined, the high frequencies are not too sharp and piercing.
Stereo image: appropriately wide and well-defined.
Loudness: the loudest of the bunch.
Overall: a “transparent” sound, meaning it doesn’t seem to color music in any particular way; it just has an excellent overall mix.
Sound isolation: decent, but in the middle of the pack for this round-up.

V-Moda Crossfade LP2
Bass response: full and round. Not too hyped or rumbly. Really quite good.
Frequency separation: a little muted in the highs
Stereo image: nice and wide.
Loudness: lower than the rest.
Overall: smooth and warm, not raw and in your face. The most pleasing and balanced overall sound.
Sound isolation: The best by a small amount. Good fit over the ears.

Pioneer HDJ-2000

Bass response: deep, but not hyped. A little rumbly.
Frequency separation: much better than the Wicked set. Bright highs and defined mids.
Stereo image: not overly wide, but adequate.
Loudness: about the same as Wicked and Sennheiser.
Overall: a little raw, but definitely better than the Solus.
Sound isolation: 3rd after he Solus.

Wicked Audio Solus
Bass response: big bass- it sounds overly hyped. Clearly a priority for these.
Frequency separation: muddy between the mids and highs. Not as bright and crisp in the high-end, which may be preferred when listening at loud levels.
Stereo image: nice and wide.
Loudness: about same or a little louder than Pioneer.
Overall: a rather muddy mix.
Sound isolation: somewhere just behind the V-Moda.

Sound Quality Winner: Beats By Dre Mixr
Sound Quality Runner-up: V-Moda Crossfade LP2

Really, sound evaluation comes down to personal preference and personal needs. Just listening to music in general felt the best through the LP2 and Mixr headphones. Songs sounded as expected, and the overall smoothness of the sound contributed to prolonged listens without ear fatigue. I’d prefer to mix an original track through the LP2s, but with its louder relative signal, I gave the Mixrs the nod for DJing. If, however, what you want for DJing is a raw, gritty, loud but still accurate sound, it’d be a tie between the HDJ-2000 and HD 25-1 ii. The Solus cans sounded overly hyped in the bass and overly muddy everywhere else.

Build Quality

The more you practice and play, the more you beat up your headphones. It’s just inevitable. You’re more demanding than the average user. If you’re some kind of superstar, you may be showered with a promotional bounty of the latest pairs of stylish cans, but otherwise, the headphones you buy should be made with durability in mind for abusive demands of a busy DJ.

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II

Weight was a priority for Sennheiser on these headphones, so it’s made mostly from lightweight but tough molded plastic. They weigh only 4.9 ounces without the cable, a remarkably low weight. Yet the headband bends all the way flat and then backward if you need it to, so that’s more than sufficient.

Different from the rotating swivel of the Pioneer and Wicked Audio headsets, the ear cup of the HD 25-1 II moves backward or forward almost 90 degrees in each direction, for almost 180 degrees of total movement. That being said, this rotation is somewhat stiffer and more cumbersome than the other cups.

The cable of the HD 25-1 II detaches by unscrewing two small Philips-head screws and pulling cables out of the ear cups. It is a non-standard cable that sells for $46 on Sennheiser’s site, but one of the nice things about these Sennheiser cans is that every part of the model is completely user-replaceable, so instead of buying a whole new set of headphones, you can just buy the new part and be back in order!

The lightweight, flexible and easily repairable construction makes it one of the strongest candidates for resiliency over time.

Beats By Dre Mixr

Apparently David Guetta dusted off his post-doctoral industrial engineering degree to create these headphones with DJs in mind – but it shouldn’t matter who allegedly designed the Mixr. What matters is that these headphones have achieved something many others have tried but often fall short: They’re extraordinarily stylish, yet they don’t sacrifice durability or necessary features. The very flexible headband doesn’t twist quite as extremely as the V-Moda’s Steelflex band, but it’s clearly built for the long haul. You can bend it back and forth and twist it around at will.

The on-ear cups utilize a single hinge made of a strong metal alloy to offer both rotation and length adjustment. Each cup can rotate back 90 degrees and then forward 180 degrees in order to fold up into a compact ball for carting around in the included zippered case.

Guetta wanted some lightweight headphones, and he got ‘em. The Mixr weighs only 7.4 ounces, second lightest after the Sennheisers. Although physically small and light, they’re tough where it counts and should handle the physical tolls of your travels.

V-Moda Crossfade LP2

At first glance I was concerned about using the LP2 for one-ear monitoring, because its ear cups don’t swivel or rotate. However, V-Moda make their headphones with their Steelflex Headband, saying it is “virtually indestructible.” I wouldn’t go that far, but it is clearly built to last and extremely flexible. You can bend it flat and backwards at will, but perhaps more importantly, you can twist the Steelflex Headband liberally and without concern, so that you can quickly monitor with a single cup. It’s quite effective.

The LP2 also feels sturdy all around. Besides the steel frame, there are aircraft-grade metal cup shields, which you can replace and customize with different colors and laser logo engravings. The headband and ear cups are lined with leather with memory foam underneath.

The LP2′s detachable cables are standard 1/8-inch connectors — easily replaceable. The included cables are reportedly Kevlar-reinforced and seem ready for battle. With their impressive build quality, these V-Modas should give the HDJ-2000 a run for their money in durability.

Pioneer HDJ-2000
Although it’s not the only set I’ve been using, the 3-year old HDJ-2000 pair I have still retains the same level of flexibility and movement in all areas, and aside from a few cosmetic scratches and grime ground into the brushed metal of the outer ear cups, they’re none the worse for wear and seem ready for another few years of use at least.

The HDJ-2000 weighs just more than 10 ounces: not too heavy, and yet its moving joints are made of a magnesium alloy that makes them extremely solid. The ear cups rotate 90 degrees to one side for conveniently monitoring your cue mix, and with its metal hinges, and extremely flexible, yet solid headband, you can confidently twist and bend the HDJ-2000s with abandon as you perform.

Rather than an 1/8-inch mini jack, the detachable cord attaches to the headphones with a locking Mini XLR connection. It securely locks in with a button-press release, and the other end is an 1/8-inch audio plug with threads for the screw-in 1/4-inch plug adapter. The cable measures 1.2 meters coiled, and 3 meters when extended fully. This non-standard detachable cable sells for $27-43 online.

Wicked Audio Solus
When you take a look at the prices, it’s no shocker that the Solus phones are the least sturdily made here. Plastics take the place of metals, and the flexibility of the headband may be a concern. I stopped short of bending it backwards out of fear of breaking or misshaping it.

The ear cups swivel in either direction for 90 degrees, giving them 180 degrees of total mobility. That’s a welcome perk, but the plastic hinges don’t ready for the true rigors of the DJ lifestyle. In fact, while folding them up for storage, one of the screws holding together the two plastic halves of one of the ear cup hinges fell out, and a plastic panel broke off. Later, the 1/4-inch plug adapter fell apart when simply taking it out of the carrying bag! Given that this occurred after only about a few of hours of use (and not abuse), it’d be tough to recommend these to a working DJ, unless maybe as an inexpensive back-up pair.

The round ear cups and headband are generously padded and wrapped in a silicone type of pleather. The Solus’ audio cable is hard-wired to the right ear cup and includes an in-line volume control and mono/stereo switch, both potentially useful features.

Build Quality Winner: Pioneer HDJ-2000
Build Quality Runners-up: V-Moda Crossfade LP2, and Beats By Dre Mixr

With the LP2′s sturdy construction and crazy headband flexibility, and the Mixr’s innovative lightweight design, they come in at a close second-place tie behind the HDJ-2000. Ultimately though, the HDJ-2000′s build strikes me as the Parthenon of DJ headphone construction. The classic swivelling and collapsible cups combined with supreme durability stand the test of time. The locking, detachable cable with threaded connection for a screw-on 1/4-inch adapter seal the deal. The HD 25-1 ii’s unique construction breaks some ground and comes in as the lightest set, but it’s somewhat awkward to manipulate. And, well, two parts of the Solus broke in no time flat, so what else needs to be said?

Fit & Comfort

Some DJs wear their headphones more than others, but whether you have them on for most of your sets or just check them in one ear every once in a while, a good set of headphones ideally should maintain a tolerable level of comfort on your ears and head after a few hours of mixing or monitoring music. You may or may not use your DJing cans as your phones for making original tracks, as well, but it’s nice to have that option.

Key factors in this category include size adjustability, comfort of the ear cups, and comfort of the headband.

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II
These headphones are very light and put almost no pressure on your head from the headband. On the downside, the on-the-ear cups pinch a fair amount, causing discomfort from about as fast as the larger headphones that affected the head more. After about an hour on the HD 25-1 ii, my ears needed a break.

There’s a really long adjustable range of more than 2 inches to pull out the ear cups, but you also have to be careful that you don’t pull the ear cup entirely off the main unit, which can happen.

Beats By Dre Mixr
The Mixr’s fit in a similar manner to the Sennheiser pair: they put almost no pressure on your head from the headband. Instead, the on-the-ear cups hold them to your melon, and the resulting pinch took a toll on my ears within an hour. They weren’t intolerable until almost two hours, but if I were the type of DJ who wears headphones throughout an entire set, I’d try a different set or look into some in-ear monitors.

There’s plenty of adjustable length range for the ear cups to pull out, again using the cleverly designed single hinge that also allows the cups to rotate widely.

V-Moda Crossfade LP2
V-Moda touts its hexagonal ear-cup shape that comes from four years of R&D, and this time, the marketing claims ring true. I found the LP2s to be the most comfortable fit of all 5 headsets. The hexagonal ear-cups indeed fit very comfortably without pinching much at all, and the light pressure on the head was diffused from the light padding distributed across the entire headband. All headphones will eventually get on your nerves, but I was able to wear the LP2s the longest before feeling annoyed to the point of needing a rest.

For adjusting the length of the headband, the V-Modas had the shortest throw for pulling out the cups at just over 1 inch. However, the headband itself is also a little longer than the others, so I don’t see this as a problem.

Pioneer HDJ-2000
These are not the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn, but they’re up there as far as DJ-specific headphones are concerned. The round, over-the-ear cups have a soft leather outer lining, and squishy urethane pads on the inside. The top of the headband also sports a leather and urethane pad for your dome. The headphones sit pretty well, with their weight and pinching pressure distributed evenly. Some discomfort appears after about an hour of constant use, but it doesn’t become intolerable until after about three hours.

Of course, not all noggins were created equal. Each side of the HDJ-2000s pulls out about 1.25 inches to adjust for head size, enough to accommodate a larger cranium.

Wicked Audio Solus
Although it has similarly round, over-the-ear cups, the Solus ended up being quite a bit more uncomfortable after an hour than the HDJ-2000s, seemingly due to the ear cup foam not having as much give, and the headphones pinching the head more.

The Solus has a little more than 1.5 inches of pull-out for each side, so it’s enough for just about any case, until Sasquatch decides to learn beat-matching.

Fit + Comfort Winner: V-Moda Crossfade LP2
Fit + Comfort Runners-up: Pioneer HDJ-2000 and Wicked Audio Solus

After wearing all these headphones repeatedly, the winner of best fit has to be the LP2 due to the soothing relief I felt every time when putting them on after one of the other pairs. The hexagonal over-the-ear cups won out clearly over the on-the-ear design of the HD 25-1 ii and Mixr, as well as the round, over-the-ears of the HDJ-2000 and Solus.

Portability

How well equipped are the headphones to fit into cramped bags and survive the possible smooshing of overhead compartments? Do they collapse and fold up nicely? Is there a protective case?

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II
Not only are these headphones very light at 4.9 ounces, but they are also physically smaller than average due in part to the smaller on-the-ear cups rather than over-the-ear cups. They don’t fold in or collapse to shrink in storage size; you just push the ear cups in and stash them in the included bag. There is no hardshell case available.

Beats By Dre Mixr
The Mixr fits the bill for portability so well that when I first opened up the box and saw the grapefruit-sized case that held the Mixr inside, I thought “what kind of baby headphones are these?” That fear was quickly assuaged, though. You open the case to find a compactly folded set of lightweight headphones clearly designed for the road. Although they are quite light at 7.4 ounces, I wouldn’t sweat it if you accidentally sit on them a few times while trying to get comfortable in coach class.

V-Moda Crossfade LP2
They don’t fold up or collapse, but they come out of the box with a molded “Exoskeleton” hardshell case for excellent protection. The case includes cable organizers and a carabiner for hooking it to a DJ bag. At 9.2 ounces without the case or cable, the LP2s weigh less than the HDJ-2000.

Pioneer HDJ-2000
These cans collapse nicely into a folded-up crescent shape when you’re finished, which you can easily stuff into the included fabric carrying pouch along with the detached cable. Because the headphones’ folding parts are constructed with a strong magnesium alloy, you can fold them up and expand them again and again quickly without worrying about damaging them.

While many sets of headphones at this price come with a hardshell carrying case, the HDJ-2000′s companion zippered hardshell Pioneer HDJ-HC01 case sells separately for $39.

Wicked Audio Solus
The Solus folds up pretty well into a crescent shape for storing in its carrying pouch, although it doesn’t collapse with the same sort of care-free ease of the HDJ-2000. No hardshell case is available as an option, so given the proven vulnerability of its plastic parts, you’ll want to avoid stuffing these into a crowded DJ bag without regard to their safety.

At 15 ounces, these are the heaviest cans in this group, but we’re talking about a difference of just a few ounces — not a huge concern.

Portability Winner: Beats By Dre Mixr
Portability Runner-up: Pioneer HDJ-2000

The Mixr was the only pair that hit the sweet spot for portability: very light, foldable, and with a custom-shaped zippered case included. The Sennheisers are the lightest, but don’t fold-up and have no hard case option. The V-Modas come with a hard case but don’t fold up to save space. The Solus folds up but has no hard case. And the HDJ-2000 collapses nicely and has a rock-solid build that you can stuff into odd spaces without too much worry.

 Extras

Beats By Dre Mixr includes a detachable 1/8-inch audio cable with an Apple-compatible remote/mic, a second detachable 1/8-inch audio cable with an extended-range coil, and a zippered soft-shell carrying case. Special features include a dual input: each ear cup has an 1/8-inch audio connection, so you can share the music or simply pick which side to plug into.

Pioneer HDJ-2000 includes a1/4-inch gold plated, screw-in plug adapter and cloth carrying pouch. Only one special feature – the left ear cup has a switch for selecting a Mono or Stereo mix in the headphones.

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II has a 1/4-inch screw-on plug adapter, 1 pair of secondary soft ear pads, nylon carrying pouch. Special Features: headband can split apart from the center and widen out; this is to allow the cable to come out and possibly to help adjust it to your head. The cable terminates with a right-angle audio plug to stick out less from a mixer or controller.

V-Moda Crossfade LP2 has some secondary gunmetal shield kit (screaming to be painted/laser etched/customized), strong hardshell  ”Exoskeleton” case, carabiner, detachable 3-button remote/mic cable, detachable extended cable, 1/4-inch plug adapter, cleaning cloth.

Wicked Audio Solus includes a 6-foot audio extension cable with 1/8-inch jacks, 1/4-inch gold-plated plug adapter, fabric carrying pouch.The headphone cable includes an in-line volume control and a stereo/mono switch.

Winners: V-Moda Crossfade LP2 and Beats By Dre Mixr

This category is the least important, but with the LP2′s two detachable audio cables, hard case, customizable shield plates and other goodies, V-Moda has exceeded expectations. Same goes for the Mixr: you pay a bit more, you get a nice case, two detachable audio cables, and a handy snap-on 1/4-inch adapter — all of them beautifully designed.

Winners

What we have here is a very close competition between several worthy sets of headphones. All of them have their strengths and weakness, and one model might be perfect for one DJ, while not so great for another. Here are our recommendations based on their strengths:

Road Warrior

The Sennheiser HD 25-1 II has been built and tuned to withstand the rigors of stage performance and stood the test of time with DJs around the globe. This is largely due to the very light and flexible construction, with lots of flexibility and strength in key areas. This flexibility allows the HD to withstand getting crushed in DJ bags and bent around in a variety of positions on the DJ’s head. The articulating hinges make one ear’d monitoring easier by allowing the headband to rest behind the head.

Aural Indulgence

When you’re going in for a long listen while working on your own tracks or just listening for extended periods, the V-Moda Crossfade LP2 is hard to beat. It’s even-keeled, unhyped sound is the least fatiguing to the ears over time, and it’s also the most comfortable to wear at length. This may be the best double-duty headset in this group for both DJing and music production. V-Moda is supplying a high-caliber product at a reasonable price and with some fun considerations toward personal styling.

Most Impressive Overall Package

The Beats by Dre Mixr quickly proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s not just hype. It’s covered just about all the bases, giving you loud and accurate sound inside a robust, lightweight, collapsable and attractive design. It’s the loudest pair in this group, yet despite that loudness, it maintains an impeccably transparent sound that lowers the boom in the bass without impinging on the overall mix. The form factor and fit may not be right for everyone, but luckily these are easy to get a hold of in a shop and try before you buy.

Living Legend

With a classic and proven form factor, legendary durability, and a strong sound with just a hint of added bass rumble, the HDJ-2000 just about has it all. The HDJ-2000′s fluid bending and flexing design set a tone for DJing headphones years ago and still holds up now.

 

Upcoming events

Sendlak Tour Dates

Event location

Click to open a larger map

New & upcoming releases

Mix of the month by Lexlay

Please wait...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to be notified when our article is published? Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.