* Prices may differ from that shown
After the experience of buying quick-use ear phones to practice before gigs, one of my students parents phoned me to ask if I could get a pair of over the ear headphones for their children who currently have a digital piano at home. My own set of DJ headphones are currently at work and in use by other pupils, so it made sense to try and research online to see what the cheapest earphones-with-a-band exists and to buy two pairs since one would be for my pupil and the other to use at work so that my cherished, and better quality sounding Sony DJ headphones can be returned! With the plea from a parent and my own experience of Philips SHP 1800s now sitting on a shelf looking lonely, I decided to look for a different style for durability and returning to the large over sized cup headphones, or "over the ear," as they are now known by most owners and buyers even if they are also known as "large cup," "DJ headphones," or simply "headphones," since the design is given away in the name! Whatever they're called, these types are not exactly favoured by all, with an increasing amount of owners complaining about sweaty ears (wipe them, then!) to the ear canal being too close to the pads due to the design of the cups, to short term comfort problems at the detriment of the owner. Well, I've already been hurt by Philips SHP too-thin-padded 1800 headphones that don't even have pads that cover my entire ear, and having had the experience of Sony and Sennheiser being far more comfortable and better designed, I had a fair idea of what to look for.
Claimed as an ideal beginner set for musicians and DJ artists I was attracted to the low cost price of Numark professional headphones as well the promise/claim. I know of Numark quite well having used some of their audio mixing equipment but I was not aware they made headphones.
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
* Model: Numark KF-125 DJ Professional Headphones.
* Lightweight & double banded with a leatherette top headband.
* Adjustable 7-height control & 40mm Mylar speaker cups.
* Separate DJ cups fold inwards for use of specialised ability.
* Rubberised, comfort sponge padded ear cups & able to mould to the head and ears quickly.
* Single 2 metre length cord and small headphone jack with larger jack adaptor also supplied.
* My cost price £8-95 from EBay seller (£4-95 from Gaz.co.uk, up to £10, £12 online elsewhere.)
General Design & Quality
For the cheap price I paid (and I've just noticed that a UK company are selling these headphones for nearly half the price to what I paid for) I wasn't expecting a great stride in quality and design - not after the similarly priced Philips SHP 1800 "Flight" headphones. However, I have been pleasantly surprised with the sheer durability and robustness that Numark have produced these headphones with.
From a distance, they could look like my Sony MDR V300's with the way the silver painted ear cups and black contrasting plastic trim has been organised here and the company brand is proudly stamped on each cup as well as the black stretchy-feel leatherette headband. Numark are evidently proud of this product for all that they've gone to the bother of adding details that mimic other rivals on the market. You'll find "L" and "R" on each side of the headphone where the pull up/down ratchet 7 position height adjusters are located and in general the headphones feel substantial and far more pricier than they cost!
The cup hinges that allow each headphone cup to fold inwards could do with a bit more quality though. Though oval shaped and look quite organic in their approach, they feel quite flimsy and initially I felt they could break at any time, especially if amateur DJ artists are relying on using just one ear cup when mixing music. There are supposed to be designed fit for purpose, but a thicker plastic arm would suggest better durability with long term use.
To fully test how good these headphones are, I've set my Numark headphones with quite a mammoth task of usage, from listening to quite a few different styles of music, from mono-1940's Christmas songs to the classically entertaining "Armed Man," by Karl Jenkins to rock music, disco music and lots of R'n'B to get the bass speakers moving to the beat. My Numark HF 125's have also been used to practice on a neighbour's nearly new, but seldom played digital Yamaha Clavinova I have my eye on as an early Christmas present to me! So, it has had its work cut out where using other devices are concerned and early on I can see why these headphones are better suited to beginner and amateur DJ artists.
This is because the sound quality is generally good where stereo imaging is concerned but it really depends on the music where the Numark HF 125's shows up some lack of quality when it comes to listening in general. For example, with classical music which is largely absent of bass unless you have music that has been purposefully written with plenty of Timpani and double bass string or brass instruments coming in also helped by an expanse of acoustics, I find that there is too much treble and not enough grounding that gives classical music, an imperious, rich and inviting quality.
Where R'n'B style of music is concerned, which I'm including acid jazz bands like Incognito into the mix here, I find there just isn't enough body to the sounds that the music imparts. The Numark's are great for general use, but if you're looking for thumping thick bass that doesn't distort and a wall of sound, you won't find it with the Numark HF 125's claimed output. For most of the time, the sound is muffled and too dry for my liking.
Tinny brightness is usually associated with pop music, and I found another downside to the HF 125's where they just don't seem to be bright enough with much needed bass added, almost imparting the kind of sound tinny in-earphones give off despite the girth of the ear pad rings. Numark may claim that their speakers are "40mm Mylar," types but it goes completely without notice when no bass or mid gain is present - to the point that it takes away the warmth and bouncy fun aspect when listening to pop music, making you usually feel involved when listening.
Although clarity isn't an issue with lyrics or the notes that singers are ad-libbing without actual words or certain notes, I find that there is an issue with clarity where the other instrumentals are concerned. Sometimes depending on the music involved, there simply isn't enough power for other instrumentals to come through cleanly enough.
Thus, whilst the Numark HF 125's look good, they lack a suitable bass warmth that adds gloss to generally most styles of the music I've put these headphones through and whilst other premium headphones are able to manage music and offer a different sound with a thicker dampness and more body, Numark's HF 125 won't set the world on fire where its sound for listening to music devices and built in sound settings are concerned.
However, where the Numark HF 125 seems to be more at home is with my digital electronic music instruments, from my drum machine to digital keyboard and digital piano. Generally with GM sounds, there's a good electronic reverb built in and I've been impressed with these headphones for being able to impart the quality intended. It is a pity though that at the top end, noise will happily leak out of the headphones and thus not exactly the best if you want headphones to practice in peace but without annoying anyone else present, in the process.
Although it is good of Numark to install a single and thicker cord than normal with these types of larger headphones, the HF 125's suffer from a cord that is too short when using with any other device other than a player or sound mixer that is close to you. I found it extremely difficult using these headphones with devices where the headphone socket is sadly fitted to the rear. Restriction in being able to play a keyboard or listen to music with older units can therefore be a major pain! This is probably at best to why the Numark HF 125's are more suited to DJ's where their equipment is directly in front or to the side of them. But, when used with other devices where the headphone socket is placed farther away, you may feel quite restricted.
Numark also claim that the HF 125 headphones has a cord that is "tangle-resistant," but in such a short time I've owned the headphones, the cord can become tangled up quite easily if using with computer devices and mixing equipment. It isn't as tangle free when winding the cord up around the headband to minimise damage, after use either.
Another issue that I have found is with the leatherette style foam rings that surround the speaker cups. They are comfortable up to a point, and though the adjustable speakers have a claimed 7-point of heights available with its seamless mechanised ratchet built in, I find that comfort can be compromised. They're not as sore as the thinner pads fitted on the Philips SHP 1800s though, which is saying something, but at the same time the rings can feel too clamped onto my ears and head regardless of the height adjustable settings available. Set at a higher position, the Numark HF 125's can't seem to get a closer fit to my head, sliding downwards and not at ear level. When set at the right height though, there's still a heavy feeling of being clamped in and it isn't before time that my ears are beginning to get hot without any air passing through from the speaker sponge.
I would love to award these headphones with five stars on price alone reflected by the cost price I paid and several different cost prices online that show this product isn't that expensive and quite a bargain. However, Numark's promise of a first time, ideal beginner set headphones for an aspiring DJ have got the job half done here. If there is any kind of device that these headphones work well on, it is solely with digital pianos, electronic synths and other digital music instruments that have a headphone facility.
Whilst these headphones seem to be well-designed on paper and not at all heavy to use or carry in use, the sound quality needs a lot more thought when it comes to listening to music. Bass fitted headphones don't require a thumping vibration to prove that they are powerful, but with DJ style headphones, one can easily assume that bass vents and bass has been added to such a product. Sadly for Numark, they may have met their mark on a cheap cost price, but when it comes to actual sound quality and bass, it's more of a case of a black mark against them. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2012.
The Numark HF125 are probably one of the cheapest pair of "useful" DJ headphones and what I mean by this is they serve their purpose quite nicely for less than £10 delivered to your door!
They are by no means on the same scale as professional makes like Technics, Pioneer, Sony etc but for around £7 each you have to ask yourself what you are expecting in terms of quality and durability.
The HF125 look rather cheap and on average do not last very long whether this be that the speakers end up detatched from the frame, the frame breaks in half or they give up full stop where one or both speakers just stop working. Until spending over £150 on reputable headphones I owned several pairs of the HF125's some of which came free with Numark turntables and mixers purchased at different times.
Considering the price tag they do have a fairly reasonable sound, not a great deal of bass but they manage to do the job, they are perfect for home use for simply listening to music, or watching a film etc but when it comes to the sensitive user "professional dj" or "music producer" then these are probably not for you!
They are quite comfortable to wear and consist of soft padding around the top and ear pieces and have several
slots to adjust the size of the frame to the users head. The wire is aproximately 1.8 metres in length and comes with 6.3mm headphone jack. These are very lightweight aswell at only 9grams!
So all in all you get what you pay for, if your planning on purchasing and using on a regular basis then you may find that you will need a couple of pairs.. So it may be worth just investing in a pair which you know will survive for lengthy use, however on the other hand if your just after a cheap pair of headphones that gives you an average fairly decent output then the HF125 are for you..
I do also believe that these have been one of the best sellers in DJ headphones over the last 5 years, could it be the low price or the constant replacements???
I first came across the Numark HF-125 headphones when they came free with a mixer I purchased many years ago. Initially I thought they looked the part, with the heavy branding, however it was only when I started using them, unfortunatly I realised that this was not the case. When playing loud, at large venues for example these headphones struggle to isolate the outside music, making it difficult to cue, resulting in the headphone volume having to be turned up, ultimatly leading to distortion. Also, the headphones do feel very cheap and plastic, and mine actually broke, after gigging only a few times. This is where I learnt a very valuble lesson... never skimp on headphones! DJing without headphones is like DJing blind, you never quite know how the next song is going to start, when to move the crossfader, or the volume of it. As a result It's always worth investing in a decent pair.
When I first started out DJing some years back I was a student on an incredibly tight budget; I made sure I bought myself a decent pair of decks that would last a good few years, this therefore meant that I had to compromise in other areas however. When looking for a cheap pair of headphones there are quite a few models out there on the market from various different companies; Numark's HF125 headphones were the ones that caught my eye however and this is a budget pair of entry-level headphones still being bought by many today. When I bought my pair I believe they cost a price of roughly £12, today however they can be picked up from Amazon.co.uk for the mere price of £7.99; an absolute bargain in my opinion and absolutely perfect if you're just starting out as a DJ and looking to purchase a cheap pair of headphones. These are not the best headphones that money can buy, they are however extremely cheap and for £7.99 you can't really go far wrong.
- The Appearance -
The headphones are black and silver in colour and come with adjustable padded ear cups also; quite similar in appearance to many headphones out there on the market and for their price extremely aesthetically pleasing. When I first bought these headphones there were a few other entry-level options to choose from, Numark's HF125 model was the most pleasing on the eye however and that's how I came to own these headphones.
- Quality of Sound -
In terms of sound quality the headphones could be better, they're okay and they do their job; the sound isn't exactly crisp however and if you're working with bass heavy dance music then they're often a little prone to the slight element of distortion. Regardless of what you're listening to with them on the bass is always quite heavy in its sound; this can therefore sometimes weaken the impact of the mid and top notes and spoil the overall sound output. These headphones are bearable to DJ with though and as long as the volume isn't put up too high then the sound output is generally of a reasonable enough standard and the bass element of the music is not too overpowering.
- Length of Cable -
The Numark HF125 headphones feature a 2 metre long tangle-resistant cable, the wire is of an excellent length but I'm not too pleased with the 'resistance' of the cable getting tangled it must be said. Over the years my cable has been tangled on many occasions, it's not too much of a problem really but given that the cable is marketed as being 'tangle-resistant' it doesn't really live up to its name too well. As I say though; the 2 metre length of the cable is ample, there are headphones out there with longer cables than this, then again though you can sometimes pay a lot more than the £7.99 asking price for these headphones and receive a lot less in the way of cable length. The headphones come complete with a 6.3mm (1/4") jack adapter and I have to say that I've been more than impressed with the length and durability of the cable over the years.
- What They're Like To Wear -
My main complaint with these headphones is the comfort of wearing them; in short spells they're fine, when wearing them for longer however then they do start cutting into the ear cartilage a little. I'd say you can wear these headphones for a couple of hour tops, after this though they do start cutting into the ear and this can actually become incredibly painful making the headphones unbearable to wear for any longer. If you're intending to use these headphones for some long DJing sessions then I'd suggest you think again, they're not at all good for long periods of wear and although fine in short spurts; over longer periods of time they will cause great pain to the wearer.
The headphones actually adjust to seven different positions to suit the head size of the individual that is wearing them; they're quite good in this respect, once adjusted they remain in position fairly well and for this I really can't fault them. The adjustable headband has been strongly constructed here, they may not be particularly comfortable but at least they're open to adjustment.
- Problems With the Headphones -
Something I personally experienced with Numark's HF125 headphones was that after around a year I started having problems with the right headphone cutting out; the left earphone has always worked fine but the right earphone has now long since stopped working. For around a further year or so a bit of twiddling and eventually the right earphone would work just fine, obviously the wiring isn't too great with these headphones however and whilst the left headphone lives on the right earphone has long been dead. I still find use for these headphones from time to time, they're definitely not my first choice of headphones any more but it certainly provides for quite an interesting listening experience only hearing the music through one ear.
So the two problems I've noticed with these headphones are their comfort and also their life. They're very cheap, don't expect them to last for too many years to come however as due to their low price the quality of build is therefore a little lacking. The comfort factor is a definite downside also, they're fine in short spells but certainly be aware of the discomfort that can be caused through using these headphones over long periods of time.
- Final Thoughts -
If you're looking for top of the range sound quality then that's really not something you're going to receive with a £7.99 pair of headphones, if however you're looking for a fairly decent cheap pair of headphones then Numark's HF125s could well be absolutely perfect for you. Even if they do cause you a few problems after a year or two; at this price it's hard to knock these headphones and for the price you certainly can't find a better quality pair of headphones than these. They're not perfect, they're definitely cheap though and if you're gong to wear them for purely short periods of time then I'd definitely recommend investing in Numark's HF125s. If you're looking for a pair of headphones that you'll be wearing for prolonged periods of time though then these HF125s just wont cut it, after a couple of hours they become incredibly uncomfortable and therefore are fairly unsuitable for wearing for too long at a time. So, depending on what you'd be using these headphones for would definitely decipher as to whether or not Nukark's HF125s would be suitable for you; a perfect pair of headphones for wearing over short periods, but not such a great pair if you're intending to be DJing/watching movies etc. for absolute hours on end.
Current Price: £7.99 (Amazon.co.uk including free shipping)