What Are The Best Headphones & Speakers for Music Production?

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What is a DJ without a means to share their music? And if they can’t hear their music to begin with, how do they create? If they can’t listen to the upcoming song and tempo, how can they adjust the speed of the playing song to beat-match it? Can’t do that without the proper tools, and those tools are speakers and headphones.

Speakers

Speakers are important. Without speakers, the crowd hears nothing! Without speakers in your home studio, you can’t get a good read on what the music will sound like for real. Headphones can only carry you so far. 

If you don’t intend on gigging and just want to create music at home then we recommend studio monitor speakers. For a home studio, active (powered) speakers are a good choice. The amplifier is built in and they often have frequency control.

While Hi-Fi speakers produce high-quality sounds compared with inexpensive audio equipment, they also amplify certain frequencies that can make it difficult for beginner DJs to hear what the mix actually sounds like.

When you start playing gigs, you’ll find that most venues will have their own sound system that you can use. Know about it beforehand, just in case there are issues. Also, unless you’re big enough to rely on a sound or audio engineer, you need to be sure your system will work with the PA (public address) system they have. As a gig DJ, you may actually want to invest in your own PA system, that way you know it’s quality and reliable and will work perfectly with your set-up. There are things to think about when choosing these things. 

Don’t use your at-home speakers. Why? They aren’t designed for party use and therefore the sound quality will not be there. Also, they are very vulnerable, having very little protection over their main parts. And in a loud party scene, you will inevitably push these kinds of speakers too hard and blow them. 

Having your own PA means you don’t have to rely on the unknown of the system at the venue. You can go to venues others might not be able to – because you have the speakers! Not to mention, if there are multiple DJs at an event and you’re the owner of the PA – guess who gets to call the shots? Having the PA system along with the other tools of the trade, means you can be a mobile DJ and make back some of that spent money. 

Some of the best PA systems for DJing are the Bose L1 Compact. These run anywhere from $899 up to $1000. For  an all-in-one with great quality and battery life, try Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position PA System with the battery pack included for $499. For the lower price point ($250 – $300), but still good quality and decent portability, there’s the Rockville RPG122K.

Headphones

These are absolutely essential for being a DJ. Most DJs will wear the headphones half-off and half-on so that they can hear what their audience hears as well as what they are queuing up for the next effect, transition, or fade. Unlike headphones for enjoying music (that usually intensify the bass or isolate background noise), DJs choose headphones that allow them to hear songs as the producer intended. They need to fit your head well, be durable, and have excellent sound quality. Once you find the headphones for you, take care of them!  

A good set of headphones allows you to practice at home and make decisions before you go out into the live arena and allow you to produce music without disturbing anyone else. At a gig, they allow you to hear both decks independently so you can mix and transition with ease. Basically, your headphones are one of the most important tools for determining the right timing to play songs rhythmically. 

The equipment you use is based on your preference, but it is important to consider comfort as one of the main factors in choosing your headphones. You’re going to be wearing headphones for hours on end, so you want to use a pair that not only reproduces sounds accurately, but is also comfortable to wear.

They should also be capable of handling high sound pressure levels of up to 120 decibels, which allows it to perform well in loud environments.

A lot of music producers (those that are beatmakers) and DJs are now promoting their own lines of headphones and gear. I mean, cool for them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean these are great for an actual show or studio work. They are made for fans and for listening to the music as intended – not for working the mixes. So I looked some stuff up and noticed a lot of pictures that showed these same DJs and producers wearing specific brands. Then I compared those to a few lists out there. Usually the desired headphones have closed backs with a true-sound quality and rotating cups. 

The brand most often used by DJs for their true sound quality is Sennheiser (Sennheiser HD 25)  which is usually $150 – $200. Those are followed closely in popularity by V-MODA (Crossfade M-100) which are about $250. AKG gets an honorable mention as a less expensive at around $70 but great quality brand. 

In Summary

Without the use of speakers and headphones, you can’t enjoy or produce music. These are essential tools used in the industry and are extremely important for entertaining your fans. Be sure to take your time to research the ones that will fit your needs best.

Rachel Adams

I would have previously thought of myself as an audiophile. But by gaming and listening to my children and their friends, I've been introduced to an entire realm of artists that are not on the radio.