The latest DJ headphones from Technics take a defiantly old-school approach. We find out how they sound and how they compare to rivals from AIAIAI and Sennheiser.
Although the name is virtually synonymous with their industry standard SL-1200 DJ turntable, Japanese brand Technics has always produced other audio gear, with one of their biggest success stories being the RP-DJ1200 headphones, a staple of DJ booths since the 90s. The RP-DJ1200s feel like they’ve been around forever, and in a way they almost have. Originally launched in 1996, Technics claim to have sold more than half a million pairs over the intervening 24 years. That’s an exceptionally long lifespan for a pro audio product, and it’s a credit to Technics that the original design was good enough not to need updating for nearly a quarter of a century.
At first glance the EAH-DJ1200s look similar to the old RP model, but with closer inspection it’s clear that almost every detail has been changed in some way. They very much follow the same design ethos as the old model, but in practice it’s more of an all-new design rather than an update, in the same way as the new MK7 version of the SL1200 is a fresh design in a very similar style to the older models.
As such, the features are very similar to the old model: plastic construction, 40mm drivers in swivelling earpieces, artificial leather headband and the classic on-ear, closed back design used by most DJ headphones. There are some notable differences to the RP-DJ1200s, such as neat little sliding buttons on the pivot points, which allow you to lock the earpieces in place. There’s also now a removable cable, which is good news in terms of quick replacement. The headphones are supplied with a coiled cable and a straight option, both with gold-plated 3.5mm plugs. A ¼-inch adapter is also provided, along with a carrying pouch. The new model folds up into a neat package for portability in much the same way as the old version did.
In use, the DJ1200s are just as loud and punchy as their predecessors, but there’s a newfound smoothness to the sound. The old RP model was famously bass-heavy, and while there’s a similar low-end power to the EAH version, it’s much more balanced with the high end. You could use these for studio monitoring as well as DJ headphones, which you couldn’t really say about the old model.
The lockable earpieces also work really well, allowing you to find the most comfortable position and hold it in place. With a bit of practice the position of the button becomes second nature, allowing you to lock and unlock the earpieces easily while wearing them. In terms of comfort, there’s another big difference when compared to the older model: the RP-DJ1200s were famously – perhaps notoriously – tight, squeezing onto your ears with what some people found to be an uncomfortable amount of pressure. The new model are much less tight, which does sacrifice a bit of isolation, but personally I think it’s a worthwhile trade-off, making them comfortable to wear for extended periods.
On that point of personal preference, it’s crucial to remember that headphone choice is a matter of taste. My own go-to option is another long-established model in the form of a pair of Sennheiser HD25s, but I also occasionally turn to a pair of AIAIAI’s modular TMA-2s (shown above). In a lot of ways the EAH-DJ1200s take a somewhat old-school approach compared to contemporary models like the TMA-2s, which focus heavily on sleek looks and modular design. That’s nothing to be ashamed of – they are, after all, an update of a model designed more than two decades ago – but it’s interesting to compare the two. The looks and design philosophy couldn’t be further apart, the sound is also notably different, but both are very good DJ headphones in their own right. Whether you’re looking to replace a much-loved pair of the original RP-DJ1200s or you’re a complete newcomer to the Technics range, the new EAH-DJ1200s represent a very solid option indeed.