DJ headphones are enjoying a renaissance at the moment buoyed by the street smarts of the Monster/Beats range and a proliferation of cheap music-creation software on portable devices.
Now anyone can be a bedroom (or bathroom, or train, or elevator, or even club) DJ armed with just an iPhone and a $5 app. The dinky earbuds you get with your device can't even cut it for simply listening to music, so trying to check your new mix with them is just a joke.
Enter the Koss Pro DJ100 headphones, which cater to DJs on a budget while still offering many extra features. For example, the Pro DJ100s include a mono/stereo switch on the right earcup designed to give a full mix from one ear for monitoring purposes, DJ-style.
The headphones feature a foldable design, metallic cups (with plastic hinges), and a padded headband. A leatherette material lines the inside of the cups, but they don't completely engulf your ear the way more expensive cans like the Audio Technica ATH-M50s do. The Pro DJ100s are attached to an 8-foot coiled cord that lacks extra adornments like a microphone and remote for your smartphone, though these are featured in the Pro DJ200 step-up model.
We performed listening tests with the headphone output of a Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus and found that the headphones' sensitivity was also high enough to play content from an iPod.
In terms of sonic performance, the Pro DJ100s sound dry, analytic, and lacking in deep bass. Pendulum's "Salt in the Wounds" should make your head thrum, but the Koss can't reach down far enough to do it justice.
The lack of low-end detail also has a distancing effect on the soundtracks to music and games -- it's not as bad as listening to a TV from another room, but rather a hollower sound that what some might also call "airy" and lightweight. Considering the Pro DJ100s are pitched as DJ headphones, this top-heavy mix is certainly a misstep.
As befits a pair of studio cans, Koss is able to illuminate the darker corners of a recording in terms of surface background vocals and instruments. The sound is never irritating, though, and even steely keyboards are kept in check.
Are these true DJ headphones, though, or just gussied-up consumer cans? They'll do the job if you want a pair of headphones to excavate more detail than your stock earbuds, but their bass-shy response limits their attraction to serious DJs.