When a DJ has their headphones on, they are listening to the next song they are going to play, before the audience . This gives them an advantage over the audience because they can prepare and mix the next song before they play it to the crowd. Headphones let the DJ listen to all the elements together ,or to single source/ music element .
There are usually two main controls labelled “level” and “mix”. Level is the volume in the headphones and mix refers to how much of the “main mix” is present in the headphones. The main mix is signal going to the audio out of the master left and right outputs. This is handy if you are mixing solely in headphones and allows you to practice without annoying your roommates or neighbors. DJ’s will usually adjust the “mix” when they are having trouble hearing the main output.
The DJ can use the functions on the mixer to select what they want to hear in the headphones independently of what is playing on the speaker, allowing the DJ to beat match the records by ear using a DJ mixer to route the audio to wherever they please. An example of this is the DJ can use the channel buttons on the mixer to select which source they want to listen to. So if source A is playing aloud, you can listen to source B in the headphones to compare and get the next song ready. You can then use the mixer to send both signals into the headphones to ensure that the songs will go together when u bring song B in.
Headphones are so important to Dj’s because it gives the Dj the power to monitor the songs before they decide to play them through the speakers. Dj Headphones are very flexible to allow a DJ to comfortably listen to only 1 headphone. When a DJ listens to only one side of the earphone they are generally listening to the next song and comparing it to the sound they are hearing coming from the speakers to make sure they fit well together.
The best Headphones for DJing are efficient (can produce most of the frequencies between 20-20000 Hz without too much colouration or emphasis on any particular frequencies giving an accurate representation of the music. DJ headphones are usually coloured in a bass heavy way, meaning that they slightly emphasize the low frequency content of the music allowing you to better hear the “beat”.
DJ headphones have rotating hinges to allow flexibility. Allowing you to listen to one headphone without using your hands. This allows you to use both of your hands without having to hold the can to your ear. This is common practice as you would generally want to hear the main mix and make sure that the song you are “cuing” is in time and is going to mix smoothly.
The “Driver” is the actual speaker inside the headphone. Bigger drivers are generally better and comfort is key because sometimes you will be wearing them for prolonged periods of time.
One trick with headphones is that the driver can also be used in reverse. If you plug the headphones into the microphone input, you can use your headphones as a microphone if need be because the transduction process applies. Transducers are devices that converts one form of energy into another. Speakers are transducers as they change electrical impulses into mechanical movement of the speaker cone. A Microphone uses the principle but in reverse as it changes mechanical energy of your voice into electrical impulses that can be measured and recorded.