EQ & Limiters - DJ Gear & Headphones - Tinnitus

I have been producing music at hobby level for some years and I’m interested in sound/acoustics, trying hard to find gear that translate well what the original track was supposed to sound like. And also I have had some bad experiences with listening to sub bass, sine wave, that is hard to hear well still damaging your hearing if turned up, without pain. Suddenly just some faint nausea. Now ears ringing all day, for life.

For me it’s stunning that there is a lack of EQ(phones) and limiters in DJ gear. I know that pro venues have installed PA limiters so the DJ don’t have to bother about blowing up the speakers. But the DJ can blow up his own hearing, over time. I visit Oratory’s Headphone page frequently and have not to this date found any headphones that is overall good out of the box and healthy for your ears; crazy translation, lack of bass, excessive bass, muddy mids, harsh mids, stupid treble peaks and so on, google “mount beyer” for instance. There may be some descent models that aren’t killing your ears, let me know if there’s a good trade off one for DJ:ing. And by the way I use mostly DT990 Pro 250 Ohm with quite heavy EQ when producing. But I won’t use them with DJ gear(or any gear) without EQ.

There should be some internal EQ for the phones output in DJ gear, better a simple 3 band EQ than nothing, and preferably a peak limiter. All mobile phones have EQ, I guess, and I believe there’s now regulation for consumer products and volume level, in EU. And DJ gear for practising at home with your expensive speakers should have at least a software master output limiter. Now as a welcome update in Denon Prime OS there’s adjustable EQ range for the FX, try set it to about 136Hz avoiding the stacking of the sub frequencies in the kick and bass when experimenting with different FX.

Lastly, a budget tip for practicing at home, I dusted off my old Boss LM-2 Limiter, and have set the master output to mono on the Prime GO using only one channel/cable, then into my outboard mixer, into the power amp. It can be hard to find the old Boss, but the Boss LMB3 should work too(these stompboxes are made for instrument level and I don’t know if LMB3 is compatible with line level from the DJ mixer). Finding a reasonable priced stereo limiter is difficult. The cheapest quality one I have in mind is the FMR RNC Really Nice Compressor, but don’t know if it works well as a limiter. Or do you good people mainly use active monitors with built in overload protection and hammer on until they shut down?

Save your hearing, your ears are your tool!

Been to the clubs a lot many years ago but I have never visited a DJ booth, I guess the volume is excessively loud there too which makes some of my arguments being hairsplitting in the context. Though for all you young people that will never be a pro DJ, or don’t want to, take care!

[Edit: added a link to the Oratory headphone page, scroll down to see the list.] [Edit: added ‘tinnitus’ to the topic]

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Personally im not buying that DJ Gear should be responsible for DJs not damaging their ears, the headphone volume is an easy way to avoid it and the person should be responsible enough to control it. A decent pair of cans will balance the sound.

What I will say however, I try and mix on the percussion and not a lot else when im DJing, and after gigging for over 20 years, and a 35 mile drive to work with a Bang and Olufsen sound system in the car my hearing is still in pretty good order. One thing ive noticed is every single DJ ive ever been on the decks with has the headphones at least 1/4 of a turn higher than me, and thats on every single mixer, controller, standalone unit ive ever used… its actually insane how loud people have it, and thats on them imo. You don’t need the track you’re cueing to be blaring out in your ears before its being played, you can listen to it when the crowd are.

Finally, give Sennheiser HD-25s a try, I spent the first 11 years of my DJ journey with about 6 pairs of various Sony and Pioneer headphones, ive since had the same pair of HD-25s for about 12yrs+, they still sound clear and precise with good isolation.


You seem to manage things well!

One of my points was that only a volume knob isn’t enough if you have cans that have massive peaks in certain areas, or severe dips in others. Listening at a nice volume the peak is there. And a lot of people talk about ear fatigue when using the phones I use, and this can’t be good. At first you may think the sound is crisp, then what in the longer run? I believe the fatigue is an indication of something really bad.

My findings are that there are no balanced headphones. The Brand you mentioned have some popular classic models that are very good in the mids and have no excessive peaks in the treble but they suffer in the low end.

If you have cans with dips in, some for you important area, you turn up the volume and then you have other frequencies too loud. On the other hand if you don’t need to hear an overall good representation of the track, only the area that is important for the work and this area is the loudest then, I guess, adjust the volume to your liking.

I will have a closer look at the HD-25s, thanks!

i guess the only issue with a headphone EQ is its not actually going to solve anything for people who don’t take care of their ears or the volume level as they will likely just ramp the EQ up, making the problem worse, not better.

What ive found is a lot of DJ headphones are quite bass heavy (DJs are obsessed with bass), but the Sennheisers are quite neutral. There is a company called AIAIAI who make modular headphones where you can choose the drivers dependant on what type of sound you’re looking for.

There is no issue with having an EQ option(except for the manufacturer, it could be a selling point though), and those who don’t care much aren’t the main target, those who care are. It could also be default set to disabled.

I couldn’t find the HD-25s, is it discontinued?

Dismissed the AIAIAI before but will have another look, thanks!


Thats the UK link for them, not sure about anywhere else but should be available most countries.

Sennheiser HD 25 – Professional Monitoring Headphones

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Dear @LM-2 and @STU-C,

SENNHEISER’s HD 25 will still be built. It’s a classic since 1976. It started from Wennebostel in Wedemark [52.531505946934345, 9.750652811864555](https://52.531505946934345, 9.750652811864555)



Most DJ’s loved this headphone, as the wight was only 25 g (to wear all night long), powerfull impedance and an open system for excellent listening to the floor and prelistening simultanously.

The earcaps have been in yellow synthetic and you could wash them ha ha

And the price were about DEM 45,00 :innocent:

btw: Here is another post from my side regarding prelistening and UpDate to v3.1.0


Enjoy the day and proper pre-listening

Brgds BeatMaster


Dear @BeatMaster, it’s a real classic then! But I don’t think this is the right thread to discuss history, start a new topic. And the post is all over the place, shorten the links please!

Don’t know if this is the same model as in STU-C:s link in the post above(can anyone confirm this?) but regarding the measurements in my link it seems like a descent trade-off for the job. Quite a hump in the 100-200Hz, and a big gap in the treble(but not peaking above the harman curve, I guess, thus not earpiercing). I’m interested, and they look good!

Oratorys measurements of the HD25-1 II (good seal) is not that good, frankly not good at all, scary +6dB at about 8KHz, and a massive hump in the lows, is this the same model as in the link in the post above?

Just grab it and try it, these are the best and time tested headphones for DJs.


HD25 user here. Had them for years & they’re great. The sound is very neutral, so they’re not big & boomy like Beats or Pioneers. …that’s why they’re also popular with On location audio guys & other similar pros. They’re also the “triggers broom” of headphones, as everything is replaceable (nobody outside the UK will get that reference!). :wink:

Used for football commentary and punditry on Sky Sports and the BBC too.

I am a long term user of HD25s too. I also have a pair of V-Moda that are very good.

Recently I started using IEMs and have the headphone volume lower now (because they’re in my ears rather than on them, or they’re more sensitive - or both).

I don’t believe that DJ mixers need headphone EQ. If there’s an issue with freq resp then the headphones are the cause. Tackle the problem at the source rather than try to correct it.

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The benefit of limiters is… ahhh… limited, and it’s not all benefit, of which there are only few, anyway. By limiter, I mean a compressor with an infinity to 1 ratio at -1dbFS (or lower) threshold versus just the brick wall already on this gear due to its digital nature. You can do a search for the subject on this forum for my multiple prior explanations (or someone else can post links to those posts) unless you want me to get into it in-depth here again.

And on the headphones processing subject, see these feature requests:



Personally, I’d also like the ability to turn the headphone attenuation down further than -10dB. I may have had a feature request for that at one time on earlier iterations of the forum structure. Too many experiences with DJs either leaving the headphone jack at max when I plug in, or messing around with my stuff while I’m in the bathroom. Not fun blasting your ears, or returning from the bathroom to find some idiot turned your headphones up to max such that you can now hear them over the speakers when they’re laying on the table upon return. It takes a toll on your ears, and I’ve had some expensive, custom headphones degraded from that.




Thanks for sharing your views, and tips!

Trying to clarify my mixed subject I added ‘tinnitus’ to the topic, initial post.

Since, there’s not much talk about tinnitus, and hearing loss, in the music business, from my little research, I hope that putting it on the table help people not being ashamed of it. And hopefully new generations can enjoy their ears for a longer span than I did, when the problem is exposed. Rick Beato, a wellknown musician/youtuber, talked about the lack of discussion in this matter not long ago.

I’m not here trying to regulate or banish whatever one likes, I myself love heavy bass and music most often have the strongest positive impact when loud. I just want to warn those who are not aware of what’s happening, before it’s too late. And I ask the manufacturers to implement tools for music lovers and DJs that care about themselves.

I’ve had tinnitus for about 30 years but I manage to cope. My hearing has took a battering over the years but this last 15 years I’ve been wearing moulded ear plugs I had done with an impression.

I have a few pairs of HD25II phones and don’t use anything else but being on-ear they do seem to crush my ears a little after a few hours of usage.


I only trust my Beyer Dynamic’s: DT770 Pro, DT880 Pro and for gaming MMX300 :wink: . No wear fatigue on those and not too loud.

I’ve never liked the on-ear Sennheiser HD25 with way too loud and harsh sound. Sometimes I do use my in-ear Sennheiser IE500 Pro.

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I’m sorry to hear about your long time troubles, really!

I have thought twice about software limiters and I’m not sure it’s a good idea. In DAWs limiters need latency to work well soundwisely. And latency is not a good thing when DJ:ing or other doing live performances.

I still want hearing(phones) and speaker protection but if my assumption is right, the solution needs hardware applications. For the speakers, as said earlier, I have my outboard LM-2 limiter. For the headphones I don’t have any idea.

Another thought(maybe should be a new topic?), some live guitarists use wireless systems(bluetooth I guess) and since you would not accept any percievable latency at all when playing the guitar I guess the gear work satisfyingly, and then bluetooth works, right? Phil Morse says bluetooth delay(speakers) is bad when it comes to DJ:ing… Any thoughts?

Data via Bluetooth is quick over HID. It’s when audio is processed that we get the inherent delay.

Game controllers have very low latency over Bluetooth but as soon as audio is involved the perceived lag is much much greater.