DJ headphones are an intensely personal thing. They’re the only weapon in a DJ’s arsenal directly in contact with the body during their work, and as such, concerns of fit, comfort, sound, and style all have a part to play in choosing them. One design has risen above the fray, as unarguably the most consistently popular single model in the DJ world – the Sennheiser HD 25. More recently four other models of headphones with a very similar look and feel have come onto the market, most notably the brand new Pioneer HDJ-C70. This begs the question: what is the best HD-25-style pro DJ headphone?
Born around the same time as the Second Summer of Love in 1988, the HD 25 design has remained largely unchanged in over 25 years on the market. There have been some refinements, of course, and Sennheiser are now on the HD 25-II model, versus the HD-25-1, but you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart. They released a metal edition for the 25th anniversary, and there’s an Adidas edition too, but fundamentally, an HD 25 is an HD 25 is an HD 25.
WHY ARE HD-25’s SUCH A POPULAR DJ HEADPHONE?
Firstly, durability. The all-plastic construction means they’re very lightweight, and can be worn comfortably for a long time, but is also pretty much indestructible in normal use. My first pair are now over a decade old, and aside from a few cable and pad replacements, are still going strong. They don’t last forever, of course, and the bits inside the slider mechanism along with other elements do tend to wear over time.
That brings us to the second reason they are so revered. Every single part on the HD 25 is user replaceable; and easily, too. You can have them completely stripped down to component parts in about 2 minutes, and reassembled in not much longer. And as they’ve been around for so long, and are so popular in other fields like video production too, spares are readily available in most parts of the world.
The final reason they’re so enduringly poplar, in so many industries, is the sound. The on-ear design offers superb levels of isolation from outside noise, and the sound is remarkably flat, with no particular emphasis on any frequency range. This means that the clarity of the HD 25s is up there with the very best headphones, in the harshest of environments (like DJ booths).
HD 25s aren’t ‘perfect’, of course. No product is. The straight cable is a little thin and spindly, although they also offer a coiled variety today. The shiny ‘pleather’ pads tend to lose their outer coating rather quickly in sweaty conditions, so if you aren’t a fan of the velour type, which have inferior isolation, you’ll be replacing those fairly regularly.
If you are a fan of the HD 25 ‘style’, but fancy trying something a bit different, there are a number of competing headphones from different companies trying to steal the king’s crown.
OUR TESTING METHOD
As headphones are such personal items for DJs, it didn’t seem appropriate to have just one pair of ears involved with the testing here. As such, all the following headphones were used for gigs not only by myself, but by a couple of other DJ colleagues, both of whom have used HD 25s for a long time, so could easily compare with the ‘originals’. Thanks to Jonathan Heskett, and Gentleman Jonny for their help, and also to Steven Slater for contributing his thoughts on the Nocs NS900s.
The first thing that springs to mind when seeing the NS900 is the word ‘retro’. The construction is very reminiscent of classic 70’s Hi-Fi headphones, with the stainless steel headband arching right over the outside of the cups. It’s undoubtedly a classy, stylish look, and with my rather large head, I end up looking rather like a cyberman from Doctor Who when wearing them.
The build quality is top-notch all round, with every element oozing quality. The steel headband feels like you could run it over with a truck and it would keep rocking. It does have a kind of ‘springy’ quality which means that they can feel a little tight after a while, but other testers didn’t seem to have that problem. The cups actually pivot on the headband in all directions, which means there’s plenty of movement to ensure the NS900s remain comfortable in all wearing positions.
The cups slide up and down on the headband and are locked in place via big silver allen bolts; there was no allen wrench included, which I would like to have seen, as I’d like to be able to really lock them in one position, and hand tightening didn’t seem quite enough.
All the parts are replaceable, and although they won’t be as readily found in stores around the world as HD 25 spares, that should ensure a long life. I like the ease of replacing the secondary cable which goes from one cup to the other; it’s on little jack connections and is extremely simple to swap out.
Sound-wise, there is a definite increase in bottom-end thump over the HD 25s. That’s not to take away from the clarity in the higher frequencies, which is crisp, but these are undoubtedly the most bass-heavy headphones in the line-up. That fact garnered mixed reviews from the other testers; one absolutely loved it, one wasn’t a fan. Personally I lean towards a more neutral sound for DJing, but I can see the appeal of a fatter sound for many.
Isolation was a small concern for me with the NS900s; they did not seem to keep external noise out as much as the other headphones. That could be down to something as simple as the size of the pads vs the size of my ears, but it was noticeable in a loud club.
Overall, the NS900s are extremely well engineered headphones, with a touch of retro class which will appeal to a lot of DJs. They wouldn’t be my choice, of this bunch, but yet I can still wholeheartedly recommend them. A lovely product.
I watch a lot of Boiler Room shows on Youtube (and would suggest anyone interested in dance music do the same, but that’s another story). Amongst the house and techno consignetti seen on there, I’ve noticed two types of headphones appearing more than any others; the HD 25s, and the TMA-1s.
Since their release in 2010, the TMA-1s have made a huge splash in the market. This was my first chance to spend serious time with them, and I now understand why they’ve taken off, although I do have some reservations.
The aesthetic of the TMA-1s is overwhelmingly minimal. Aiaiai have stripped down the headphones to a very pure form with no extraneous design flourishes. The all-plastic construction has a matte, rubberized finish, which feels great in the hands, and things like the large holes which the cups click into for adjustment mean that everything is reassuring to use. One complaint Dj TechTools has noticed is that the finish does tend to wear over time.
A lack of repairability is the price to pay for all that minimalism, however. Aside from the main cable, which is on a locking mini-jack, and the ear pads, there’s very little the end-user can do to repair the TMA-1s. There’s also very little to go wrong with them, of course, so it’s not a massive deal, but you’ll be relying on Aiaiai’s customer service, rather than your own ingenuity, if something goes wrong down the line.
The one elephant in the room with the construction of the TMA-1s is the durability of the headband. As well as internet reports, I’ve seen a couple of snapped TMA-1 headbands in person. That was a while ago now, and the pair on test seem to have a strong headband (I’ve given them as much abuse as possible, with no problem), so those issues may have been a manufacturing problem with certain batches in the past, not a fundamental design flaw.
Comfort-wise, the TMA-1s were my absolute favourite in this test. I could happily wear them for hours on end with no discomfort. The other testers reported similar satisfaction with the comfort though, so it seems Aiaiai have definitely got something right there. Isolation is excellent, with the TMA-1s blocking out noise very well indeed.
What the testers were not so enamoured with, across the board, was the sound quality. Aiaiai include a note in the box advising buyers to run the TMA-1s at low volume levels for 24 hours prior to use, to ‘burn them in’. I found that rather curious, as it begs the question as to why that isn’t done at the factory before shipping, really, if it’s so essential. None of the other headphones on test require such a process, all sounding great out of the box, even if the sound did improve slightly over time.
In my case, I ran them for roughly 11-12 hours before heading out to my first gig with them. They’ve now been used for way beyond that 24 hour period, and I’m afraid the sound still just isn’t up to par with the other headphones on test. It’s hard to describe exactly what the problem is; it’s about the midrange though, almost as if the mids are out of phase with the rest of the frequencies, very wooly. It’s weird, but the other testers reported similar dissatisfaction, so it’s not just me.
Now, these things are used by countless international DJs, so it may be that by not following the instructions to the letter, I’ve somehow failed to burn this pair in correctly. But DJs are not generally known for being the type of people to read instructions at all, and I can’t escape that my overall takeaway of the TMA-1s sound is ‘mids, mids, mids’.
And that’s a real shame, because there’s so much to love about these headphones. They’re beautifully engineered, supremely comfortable, and stylish. If you’re a user of the TMA-1s, please do share your thoughts on the sound in the comments below.
There’s no escaping it – The C70s clearly owe a massive debt to the design of the HD 25. From a distance, you’d be hard pressed to tell the two apart. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course; nobody is going to fault turntable manufacturers for taking cues from the Technics 1200, for example. If you’re going to design on-ear headphones for DJing, why not draw inspiration from the most successful model on the planet?
Pioneer have made some refinements of their own, which in some respects put the C70s ahead of the HD 25s. The cups are thicker, with the same air chamber design as the HDJ-1500s, and that means the isolation promised to be excellent, and indeed it was; just edging out the HD 25s and the TMA-1s to offer the best isolation on test.
The payoff for that extra thickness in in extra weight. All of these headphones are light, compared to big over-ear designs, but the C70s are a touch heavier than the HD 25s.
The way the cups attach to the headband is basically the same as on the Sennheisers, and the ear pads are roughly the same size, so comfort is otherwise pretty equivalent. The headband has a rubber pad, rather than foam, and of course it’s a single headband rather than split, but they’re still very comfy to use, and I’ve rarely seen any DJ take advantage of the split headband on the HD 25s.
Repairability is another aspect of the HD 25s which has made it to the C70s. The cable is in all-in-one job, splitting to go across the headband, but the exit hole is on the bottom of the left cup, rather than on top, which should make the replacement process a bit less fiddly. Pioneer promise that all the parts will be available as spares, which is great; the only question will be how readily found those parts will be found.
Whereas the other headphones on test come with a coiled cable for DJing, the Pioneers come with two ‘DJ’ cables; a straight one, and a coiled one. They’ve got a ribbed outer finish, which helps prevent tangles, and feel plenty durable. One possible down-side is the straight cable jack. Every other model here (including the HD 25) includes a right-angle jack , which is often preferred in many dj setups.
Coming back to positives; sound quality is excellent on the C70s, with them being the only headphones on test to match the neutral, flat sound of the HD 25s. Crisp, clear, and balanced, no tester had anything bad to say about the sound of the C70s at all.
And that was really the theme of all feedback on the C70s – nothing bad to say about them. Aside from the jack thing, which is a personal bugbear of mine, anyone who gets on well with the HD 25s should get on equally well with the Pioneers. Which is kind of the point of their existence, I guess… They’re well engineered, with great sound, and very comfortable. Absolutely recommended.
SO WHAT DJ HEADPHONE WINS THE PRIZE?
What I haven’t talked about above is pricing. Going off Amazon pricing where possible, the TMA-1s are currently the cheapest here at only $170. The Nocs are the most expensive, at $266. I wouldn’t complain about that, really, as they do feel like a really premium product.
The interesting one is the HD 25s vs the C70s. The HD 25s are currently on Amazon at $205, whereas we have the C70s for pre-order in the DJTT store at $199. That’s aggressive pricing from Pioneer, who once led the way in pushing DJ headphone prices higher with their HDJ-2000s.
Whilst that puts the two models at roughly the same buy-in price, the C70s do come with the second, coiled cable in the box. So if you don’t mind alternating cable styles when you kill the first one, that’s quite a big saving in the long-term, as HD 25 cables are not especially cheap.
The C70s are so, so close, and in a number of respects I prefer them over the HD 25s, but what can’t be disputed is the availability of spare parts for the HD 25s and a history of reliability. It’s doubtful there will ever be another headphone which approaches the ubiquity of the Sennheisers, so there will never be another ecosystem like it. But if you want something a little bit different from the ‘standard’, don’t be afraid to step outside the box, because, as we’ve found in this test, there are plenty of quality alternatives to be had.
Do you own any of the models here and have feedback to give? ? Let us know in the comments below.
[…] subjektive Fresse flog, strebte ich die sichere Nummer an. Ich las, während der Nocs zu mir kam, diesen djtechtools Artikel und verglich etwas sorgfältiger mögliche Modelle. Der Aiaiai flog aufgrund der […]
[…] a customized calibrated pair, I’ll even go away my Sennheiser HD-25’s (which I’m a diehard user of) at dwelling subsequent time I’m making an attempt to get some manufacturing time in on the […]
Completely agree with the article’s analysis and everything that’s been said in the comments, especially regarding the lack of mids and how they can distort the mix (I initially thought my pair was defective until doing a google search). Best DJ Headphone
A DJ is not a DJ if he/she doesn’t go with a perfect set of DJ headphones.Only the best Dj headphone can create an awesome environment among the crowd. djheadphonereview.com
[…] Sennheiser HD 25: Still the King of On-Ear DJ Headphones? […]
[…] Sennheiser HD 25: Still the King of On-Ear DJ Headphones? […]
BRIL REVIEW ! THANK YOU!
Mines: SENHEISSER HD 25 SP
Bought hd 25 second hand, but just slightly used, in great (near to new) condition after I broke/glued/broke again my sony mdr v700 about 7 years ago. Still love it. I changed just a cable and earpads and they are still like new, despite they fell hard few times. They are really light. Sound quality is perfect. I have a coiled cable and one thing i would change, is that the jack could be right angled, like it’s on the straight cable. Legendary 🙂
My hd-25’s and my laptop were in my bag when i ran over it with my car (I forgot to put the bag in the trunk and left it on the ground). The laptop screen cracked and had to be replaced. The cans came out unscathed. Quality.
Have had 3 different models of TMA-1. All of them broke in the headband after about 6-8 months. And my one of my friends have had a pair break recently.
If the HD25 parts are so plentiful, why is it so hard to find a coil cable for them in the USA?
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Looks pretty cool to me
I think it is interesting that you and your DJ buddies found the Aiaiais to be extremely comfortable, because comfort-wise they remind me of my very first pair of Dj headphones, the Pio SEDJ-5000, that had one major flaw: The poorly cushioned headband.
Maybe it has to do with me being a baldhead, but I can feel the pressure of the headband on my scalp pretty quickly. The ear pads and the weight aspects are pretty nice. Yet, those cans are a no-go for me thanks to their headband…
I still prefer Pioneer HDJ 2000. Not exactly in the same league with pricing… But, so comfy and sound great.
Oh and AIAIAI just for the record. Maybe hook your customers up with an upgrade option. After all my troubles, sending me a pair of the young guru models would have been a good gesture. I backed out of send my first tma-1s back and upgrade them to the studio edition thinking that was going to make me a happy end user. Now I’m curious to know if I should have jumped a little higher with my upgrade
My tma-1’s headband snapped. Being a clever person I managed to exchange them for tma-1 studios. The heAdband cusion came off and super glued it back on and then one of the ear pieces started tearing up. I contact AIAIAI and they replaced them. In less than a year I’m on my 3rd pair of tma-1’s. The sound quality is amazing, but from my experience they aren’t rugged enough for everyday DJ use. I’m in the market for a rugged pair of cans I can trust will come out my bag like I put them in. If you want great sound they have it. If you want a good construction they arent for you. Would purchase something else knowing what I know now, yes.
I have a pair of HD25 and 2 pairs of HDJ-2000s (HD25s are my backup). I prefer the 2000s for DJing. The comfort, the look, and the sound. I like how the 2000s have more bass, which make it easier for me to mix. The HD25s have better isolation and are a bit lighter.
Missing Beyerdynamics DT-1350 in this comparison.
I use TMA-1s for DJing and love their sound-signature, it’s like they tell me how to mix in keys and match the beats.
HD25-1 II are my Allround-Headphones, simply love them – they never let me down.
But you should give the DT1350 a try – they are so clean and the bass-response is very impressive – they are more analytical than the other two.
Heil Pro Set 3
I love both my Sennheiser HD 25-1 II and my AKG 181’s, although I find myself using my Sennies more often due to weight, comfort and the fact that I usually play in either a radio studio or small to medium venue… the AKG’s are great for large rooms and loud clubs.
honestly, I stopped watching the video after 34 seconds when I had to hear that the HD-25 has a “very neutral sound”.
The sound of the classic Sennheiser is far far away from being neutral. It’s mids and highs are a pain in the ass and that’s why they are the perfect DJ-headphone.
All those bassheavy modern headphones do only one thing on stage: they damage your ear. In an environment where typically you have monitors already damaging you ears because they have to be louder than the PA (which is floating the room with bass and -surprise- damaging your ears) bass on the headphones doesn’t help you that much with mixing because usually they can’t top the bass from PA and monitors. So the only thing the bass from the headphones does is banging against your eardrums.
That’s why i love the HD25. It let’s you monitor the mids and highs very well which is what they should do.
I think it’s better to have the headphone response match the PA with some low and presence/treble emphasis for the kick and the snare, and then wear some MusicSafe neutral earplugs underneath your headphone.
I am on my third pair of TMA-1’s I love them, the first pair was the original that didn’t have the locking mini jack, and those just broke somehow… they replaced no problem. 2nd were lost at Burning man, and the third are epic.
can you guys do an update video review of some in ear monitors? The last review article on them was from 2010 so it would be nice to see if there are any new options on the market and some recommendations.
Damn… Am I the only person that still uses Sony v700s anymore? Had over 10 years no probs… oh well.
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I know they are not similar sort of headphones and headphones are a personal preference but for those who have tried them, what do you think is the better headphone, the HDJ 1500 or the HDJ C70?
@DJtechtools Great review. Could you also do the exact same style review but for over ear headphones? Maybe you could use the Pioneer HDJ 2000 as the bench mark and compare other models? That would be perfect.
I’ve blown through maybe 7 pairs of TMA-1s, but fortunately their support team was always ready to ship out a replacement pair the next day. I recall reading something about a faulty production batch, which seems to ring true since I’ve had no trouble with my current pair.
It’s also worth noting that AIAIAI now offers replacement headbands which are, quite frankly, a Godsend. My last snapped headband was repaired at my desk quite easily, and continues to serve me well. Ultimately, it’s been a good experience, even in spite of the frequent replacements in that first year. I’m curious to get my hands on a pair of the Studio model.
What about the Beyerdynamic DT1350?
I’ll give a quick review once I get my HDJ-C70’s. They are set to ship on 10.22.14. I’ve always been interested in the HD-25’s and TMA-1’s. and have checked out friends, but never bit the bullet because I felt they were just not quite right. Pioneer seems to have taken the best of both of those two, added their own twist, and made them DJ specific so I bought them.
We’ll see how they work. Been using the traditional DJ-style cans (HDJ2000 for the last 3 years, RP-DH1200’s for the 6 years before that, MDR v700 for the 6 before that, MDR v600’s before that even) and I wear them around my neck more than on my head so the lack of swivel on these might be an issue. Or maybe I’ll switch to a new style I will wish I had been using all along?
Interested! Where (and when) could i read it? 🙂
AIAIAI great customer service. Stepped up their game as far as I can tell between my two pairs of TMA1s
I have 2 pair of HD25s. And it is the best headphones I ever bought?
It’s hard to part from the HD-25s, I love the feel and the lightweight. It really is a complete package. For overall, mixing the 2000s are my personal go-to headphones.
I can’t wait to try the C70s
11 years of intense usage with the HD-25…replaced the cable and one cup recently and I’m good to go for another 10 years. Say no more…
AiAiAi’s customer support has been very solid. My TMA’s snapped by simply removing them from my head. It was a flaw in the older models that they’ve spent 6+ months retesting and ensure it is no longer an issue. They are shipping me a replacement as we speak, free of charge. As far as the headphones…they are great/comfy & do the trick…
This article is literally pointless….The HD-25 for soooo many reasons are the best all round headphones you can get. Anyone who doesnt realise this is crazy!
I have the TMA-1 Studio versions which were bought by my wife for me Xmas 2012. I would’ve been happy with the regular TMA-1’s but she just had to go above and beyond.
I love mine, never had any issues with the headband, but the locking mechanism can seem a bit problematic at times not seeming to lock firmly. I kind of blame it on the ear cup being a little bunchy in that area.
Sound wise, I don’t find any issues at all. I’m assuming the drivers are better than the flagship TMA-1s. They are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn for DJing.
The larger cups are great for sound isolation. For the price they are well worth the $200+ price tag but saw a serious sale at local Computer store earlier in 2014 for $150. I was going buy them out and sell them for a profit but meh, would rather be doing something else.
While I love my TMA-1’s the headband does suck, on my second pair, about to be third pair. However these are not DJ headphones. They are production headphones that have a near flat response for monitoring mixes. While I also use mine for playing out they do not excel in that department. they are not very loud when it comes to the club environment. They do however excel when it comes to production. The midrange is low on purpose because human hearing is sensitive in that region. I usually get very good results mixing down tracks with just these headphones. If you use the other ear cushions they provide, it has a different effect on the eq response curve. Maybe I’ll try those for playing out.
The TMA are not near flat at all, they’re coloured as all piss. They’re more coloured than the new recently introduced Beats 😛 I’m not even joking.
And you can go ahead and say something about not being a DJ headphone about Sennheiser HD25 – they are originally developed as a studio recording monitor headphone. In comparison with most DJ headphones, they’re like a benchmark of neutrality, even if they aren’t perfect in absolute terms.
The reason the midrange would be recessed on TMA-1 is because it’s designed mostly like a DJ headphone, it takes advantage of having snare and kick stand out. Music however is mixed and mastered for flat-response speakers, and headphones which match that response in a room most closely (on your head/with your ears, everyone is different!) will give the most honest listening experience.
Also keep in mind that when you wear your headphones for a few weeks, especially if they’re always on your head and you use high-quality speakers very little, you get used to the sound however coloured it may be, and you get used to it even more over the years. Then whenever you put on another pair of headphones, the pair you try will seem coloured. What you can’t get used though is power/frequency masking. There are a number of relationships discovered in human hearing, where signal at one frequency makes identifying a weaker signal at another frequency harder. These are called masking. Masking is the foundation of MP3 and other lossy method sound compression, where for each range, the compressor decides which frequencies to keep and which to convert into ambient energy, based on energy in other frequency bands.
So settling on a more neutral headphone, while initially it may be jarring, should lead to a higher ability to enjoy detail in music due to lower degree of masking. Then again, i myself haven’t made that step towards neutral yet, so it’s not something i will criticize.
It is to be said though that a lot of DJ headphones are very very very far from neutral, and TMA-1 is not even close to being the worst offender.
My HD25s with me for 9 years already.
My dogs have eaten cups/headband/cables – but I’ve replaced them with ease.
Perfect DJ headphones for my ears and my neck.
And I’ve used a lot of other ones – Technics RP-DJ 1200A, RP-DH1200, Pioneer HDJ-1000/2000, Ultrasone DJ1 Pro, AIAIAI TMA-1 – they all just were not good enough.
Some were falling apart (Pioneers), some were to bass-heavy (or just literally heavy – like Technics RP-DH1200), AIAIAI had the most terrible sound I ever heard in DJ headphones.
So I am extremely pleased with HD25s, and I remain faithful to my favourite headphones – highly recommend them to everyone to try.
8 years mine. Dropped, stomped, bend, pulled, overall everything happened to them. Just replaced pads. Basically indestructible. Sound is amazing. Very comfortable. Best headphones for DJ’s in my opinion.
And they are TV and Radio industry standards. Just look at reporters or sports broadcasters, camera operators, etc.
What about HD 26 Pro?
I have the HD 25 and I love its just one of them is losing sound every now and then. Unless i press on the red cable that plastic part popping out for the sound to come back. Its a bit annoying. Whats the solution??
I have the same issue, have had mine for 5 years and lately (last 2 years) have been messing with the cable that goes into the earpad to get a better connection. Any help?
just replace the cable
c/p-ing my reply on the ra article:
to anyone having the problem of having to wiggle either connector to get a good signal, you have two options for a fix, both free.
disassemble the earcup, and locate the point where the cable terminal meets a small spring. the spring has 3 ‘slots’, the middle one being the one the terminal runs into. you either compress the middle one (and slightly extend the exterior ones), or apply a touch of solder to the terminal to make it a bit more fat.
that’s the only glitch of the headphone, but easily remedied
I have both the HD 25 and Nocs. and i love them both equally. The Nocs to me are very comfortable and i think they will last a life time. Plus they sound great. They definitely have more bass. I got lucky on Ebay and got them for $200.
I got lucky again on Ebay with the HD 25 also. Got the Adidas for $135. It pays to shop around. I contacted Nocs to see when replacement parts will be available out of curiosity and they got back to me with in a few days. Sometime in the 4 quarter of this year. So we’ll see what kind of pricing they’ll have. All I really can say is both of these kill the Beats.
Fake or real HD-25s? eBay has a lot of fakes 🙁
I am aware that there are lots of fakes out, but these are authentic. Both brands. Everything down to the packaging was legit. I did my research. I just got lucky. I waited a long time for the right deal.
Very good deal, then.
I’ve been using TMA-1s for about 3 years now. The headband on my first pair snapped after a year and a half, so AIAIAI gave me a 60% discount on a new pair. Customer service was really responsive, which was nice, because I was freaking out about being flat broke with no headphones. My second pair has had no issues whatsoever.
The mids are muddy on these headphones. For sure. Whenever I spend too long producing in them, my mix comes out thin and bright, to compensate for the muddy mid range and under-hyped highs. The highs make sense: when you’re driving these things super loud in a club, the highs sound nice and balanced, not too harsh. So it follows (Fletcher–Munson and all that) that at lower volumes they’d be duller. The mids are annoying. For casual listening and even DJing, though, I don’t notice at all (now that I’m used to them). And the TMA-1s were never meant to be a producer headphone, so whatever.
tl;dr: the TMA-1s definitely have a weird mid range, but not to the extent that I found myself regretting spending $200 on them, which is saying a lot.
Completely agree with the article’s analysis and everything that’s been said in the comments, especially regarding the lack of mids and how they can distort the mix (I initially thought my pair was defective until doing a google search). Aesthetically, I LOVE the TMAs, but I may have to opt for the HD-25s eventually since I’ll be relying on them for mix-downs while at school due to terrible studio acoustics.
Definitely cannot rely on them for mixdowns. Not any headphones, really, but certainly not the TMA-1s. Might want to check out the TMA-1 Studios though?
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My love for Sennheiser is strong. Excellent products. That said, I use HD280 Pros for both production in the studio, when traveling, and if I’m doing DJ-style performance. Their sound is the best for me.
Even tried a pair of NuMark Redwaves on special, and with all the bass boosting going on, they mostly collect dust.
Sennheiser HD8 and call it a day. HD25’s were great for the past 10+ years. HD8 craps all over those other phones.
The HD8 are an over-ear design, so weren’t suitable for inclusion in this test, which is aimed purely at people who prefer the on-ear HD 25 style.
Next time we look at over-ear cans, the HD8 will be on the list for sure.
Sennheiser will win that too, as long as the HD280 Pro unit also makes it in, best bang for the buck, best flat sound, same Sennheiser quality awesomeness.
Great text review and video of on-ear DJ headphones, Mr Chris Brackley a.k.a. @Mojaxx:disqus .
If you conduct a similar test for over-ear headphones, is there any chance you could include the Sony MDR-7520? Given its magnesium body, I’d be interested to see how it compares in build and sound quality against the Aluminum / Aluminium variant of the HD25 that you touched on (which is supposed to have slightly superior performance to the regular variant, a gulf which is widened if purchased in ‘Uber’ Edition from CustomCans in the UK).
i have the hd 25’s…(had two pairs) and the one thing i really dislike is how loose the cups are on the arms, the slightest touch make the cups come down, it wont stay on size really annoying..anybody ever seen how much djs have taped them off so its stays on size? im going to check the c70’s and hope these dont have that issue..
I don’t often chime in on these discussions but I thought I would here just so I might spare someone a big waste of money.. the TMA-1s are absolute garbage. I had three headphone bands snap within a year, all during normal use. To their credit, they replaced each one with a new pair of headphones, but I finally gave up. Also they sounded muddy as described.. Terrible design, obviously the cheapest components used in manufacturing, 100% hype.. stay away from those consumer garbage pos’s.
Noticed in the comments below that they said they’d corrected the issue.. apologies if they have done so, but that doesn’t change the overall impression that they were going for form over function, using the cheapest components and just going for style sales… if you are in that school and these don’t break the way they used to then go for it.. they do have good customer service.
I think there are better headphones to be head if you want style over substance. The Zinken by Zound/Urbanears is more neutral than TMA and quite inexpensive, but the damn flake coating comes off and the band… eh it will probably not snap, being probably made of Nylon (which is why the coating comes off!), but it will eventually deform.
From the look of the break, and i have seen broken TMA headbands, that loooks like they were hoping to sell like only a few hundred of these headphones before they go bankrupt, which might have affected the choice of the material 😛
If you ever have any sort of problems with any of the headphones from AIAIAI their customer service is absolutely incredible. I had my headband break on my tma-1 studios a while back and after I contacted AIAIAI they immediately responded on social media and got me in contact with there warranty department. After that they send me a new pair of headphones directly from the manufacture in Hong Kong with two day international shipping (I live in the US). I couldn’t be more pleased with their costumer service and would recommend their products to anyone. They also do sell replacement headbands, ear pads, and cables on their website, so they are actually fixable.
Sennheiser phones sound amazing but they blow too much. I burn them it seems like every 6 months. I will be looking at other phones.
I find it incredible that you can “Burn” your headhones every 6 months. The fact that you are driving them so hard that they blow I would be more concerned about your hearing. I have been using HD25s for over 20 years and only once had to replace the drivers after the previous DJ left the volume level up so loud. (I now always turn the level down BEFORE I plug my cans in). The HD25s are capable of producing 120db of sound level which is insane. To be exposed to those levels for any length of time will have serious health issues. There is no second chance with your hearing, once you lose it, it is gone.
RE: snapped headband on TMA-1, this relates to a product issue which took a long period to correct but has now been fixed, official statement here:
Full info on our 3 year warranty and customer service info can also be found here:
thanks for sticking with us
I have a pair of TMA-1s. Only complaint is a clicking I get when pivoting the ear cups. I get a pronounced click when move them the first time then it quites down. I returned the first pair I got for this issue but the second pair had the same problem. I’ve got use to it but its still an annoyance. Anyone else experience this?
Hey, this is not something I have come across before but please hit up our customer service team with any issues or questions on product you have: http://www.aiaiai.dk/customer-service
they’d be happy to help.
Yeah, I have notice this same thing with my Beatport edition as well. I like my TMA-1 though and the “Mids” sound is very true but the comfort of it makes me tolerate it
Thank you Caroline. Its not a deal breaker at all and if I lost mine tomorrow I would buy the same pair again.
TMA-1 headband were problematic at first -damn headband!!!- but since getting my third replacement I can say they are up there with my Pioneers HDJ 2000 regarding build and personal sound. Strangely enough I do prefer the slight midrange “malfunction” because simple put I beatmatch off the second beat and not the first -please, don’t ask- so it is easier for me to identify the second beat. ps. Interesting fact with the TMA-1s: regardless of how many times they broke, me and all of us who had a pair just had to get another set -instead of switching brand- I think that says a lot about how much love we have for the TMA-1.
thanks Ricardo, this is very nice to hear. glad you like the product so much and thanks for sticking with us through the product issue. Your support means a lot 🙂 – AIAIAI
We love them, we all have 2 pairs. Even after loosing the receipt for my emergency pair i just had to run and buy another one! great product
If the cup slides down, wrap one or two rounds of electrical tape around. Fixed, and it’s barely visible.
Would have loved to see the Shure SRH750DJ but I guess they are not in the same class as the others here (and by that I mean design, not quality)
I’ve had my tma1’s since right after they came out, and have been very happy with them. they have had beer spilled in the ear cup, been stepped on and any other shenanigans that go on in the dj booth. All of my dj buddies have replaced their headphones at least once since then and mine are still going strong
I own a pair of HD25’s and have mixed a few times with my friend’s TMA-1. For me it all comes down to sound quality. When monitoring two records to check phase and eq, things get muddled very quickly with the TMA-1, whereas with the HD25’s the sound is very defined so you’re clearly hearing the effect of nudging forward/backward and eq’ing the incoming record for the mix. Especially in a loud environment that’s a real bonus that’s kind of overlooked in this review. Overall I’d have to say that the TMA-1’s are a little more comfortable to wear, although even with my big head they are bordering on being a little too loose.
[…] Read the full review with all details here:http://djtechtools.com/2014/10/14/sennheiser-hd-25-still-the-king-of-on-ear-dj-headphones/ […]
re: TMA-1s I’ve had my pair (technically 3 – 1 headband broke and 1 backup) and I agree with the overall assessment and my personal opinion is they are a young company that will only improve these finer issues in the next iteration. My experiences as follows:
(1) Headbands: I experienced the headband issue first hand and observed it among others.
(2) Locking cable: I must have had a bad batch because the cable didn’t lock snug and would lose contact. They kindly replaced it.
(3) Dependency on repair: The dependency on their service is a tricky one. While they kindly replaced the parts my experience for their turn around is far longer than what they state (it took almost 2 months due to a manufacturing snafu in Hong Kong). I think they have a small team and as they grow they will get better at some of these logistical issues.
(4) Sound Quality: There is something about the mids and I’ve noticed the difference between 25-IIs; however, I have not experienced it to be very pronounced.
(5) Comfort: They’re super comfy. I wear them everyday for extended periods (>2 hours)
(6) Look: A personal preference. I like minimal – so this suits me well.
I’m on my fifth pair due to 3 headband snapping and 1 speaker failure. This latest pair have been good so far, The company were amazing as far as replacing the headphones were concerned, and I never waited longer than 10 days for replacement. I love the way they look too, TBH it’s probably why I haven’t switched even though they were falling apart on me on a regular basis. The major upside is I now have oodles of spare parts! =) I doubt I’ll need to buy ear pads or headphone cables for a very long time!!
glad you like the product enough to stick with us through the headband issue and thanks for your continued support!
Personally I’ve been blown away about how gracious you guys were considering how much stress you must have been under due to this manufacturing issue. These headphones are strapped to my head nearly 20 hours a week! And I’ve had no problems since, And they’re damn sexy. My head needs all the help it can get ! =)
thanks for understanding, we’re very happy to have TMA-1 back to original standard and it feels like there is still strong support from the pro djs out there. Big ups!
Any chance of someone over the 3 years getting some help? I have to look in my box again and check… but im pretty sure it might be over that time or ive lost the receipt. The only problem is the left side is having some distortion and my ear cups are hurting(do you offer/can I get replacements?). There is a slight crack on the headband as well but after seeing it this summer nothing has changed since so that’s fine. P.s – You guys rock and I think I might be getting the Studio pair very soon. =)
something that i miss from the post, was the itemized ranking/opinion that you said (1,2,…and so on).
that way is easier to compare.
I’m on my second pair due to broken headband as well!
Though I really love the minimal design, I find them really uncomfortable after an hour or so, they give me a headache. I’ts almost impossible to constantly wear them for more than an hour in home use, but while DJing taking them off and on it’s alright.
I’ve done a couple years with the TMA-1s as well, with 3 broken headbands in that time. The first two were complete replacement original box headphones, the last was just the part itself without all the extras. In all cases turnaround was less than a week. I brag on their customer service to all and sundry.
As far as the midrange goes, the frequency response curve is printed right on the box, and has a distinct peak in the mids where the company believes the snare is located (if I remember promo materials correctly) as well as another in the highs where the hi-hat is, bass where the kick is, etc. I’ve always taken that as added value, helping drums cut through the mix being fairly conducive to DJing.
I’ve had mine for 3 plus years. No issues love them. I wonder what people are doing to break the headband? I have a big ass head and have never had an issue.
The snapping headband with the TMAs was for sure not a bad batch or it was a very big batch. Every DJ I know that works regularly and has used the TMAs has gone through at least one pair due to a snapped headband. AiAiAi have been very good at replacing them though as far as I know but still…
the snapped headband on TMA-1 relates to a product issue which took a long period to correct but we are confident has now been fixed, official statement here:
Full info on our extended 3 year warranty also here:
thanks for your support,
Thats good to know. Glad you guys sorted it out as the Capital headphones you guys gave me are great.