John Pickford tries Pioneer’s flagship DJ headphones to see how they fare at home… Headphones, like loudspeakers, are designed and marketed for both professional and domestic use. Domestic equipment often has a more relaxed, musical sound, bringing out the best in whatever music it’s asked to reproduce; it loves all of your records.
Paradoxically, pro headphones usually offer anything but an accurate or musical sound, instead going for a hyped mid-bass presentation designed to make kick drums go off into the stratosphere at 100Hz. This is to disguise the fact that they’re unable to reproduce proper, grown-up bass below 50Hz or so. Not so the new flagship HDJ-X10 headphones from Pioneer.
Designed with input from professional touring DJs, the HDJ-X10s sit at the top of Pioneer’s new HDJ range, offering an unprecedented (for DJ cans) frequency response of 5Hz to 40kHz. They’re solid enough to withstand the knocks inevitable with life on the club circuit, yet look smart enough to be used at home or in a recording studio. They come finished in black or silver.
Durable enough to withstand the US Military Standard Shock Test, the HDJ-X10s are the only headphones to feature a nano coating on the polyurethane leather earpads and headband, making them resistant to sweat and easily wiped clean. The outer casing is textured to improve grip when handling, while the headband is flexible enough to be twisted without breaking. The clever swivel mechanism ensures they remain comfortable however they’re worn, while the over-ear fit is snug and effectively blocks out external noise.
The headphones are housed in a smart-yet-tough black carrying case, complete with a handle and internal pouch. The supplied cable is detachable (how many cans are junked because of a broken fixed cable?), with a secure push-button locking mechanism. The review pair came with a 1.2m coiled cable (3m extended length), though a 1.6m straight cable is also supplied, so you have both a choice according to your preference and a handy spare. These cables, and the earpads, are available from Pioneer as replacements. A 6.3mm jackplug adaptor is supplied and it’s a threaded type to ensure you have a secure connection.
Avoiding the hyped bass sound of most DJ headphones, the HDJ-X10s possess a refined sound usually found only with similarly priced or more expensive audiophile designs. I used them to listen to iTunes on my Mac and plugged into my old Vestax mixer; however, when used with a top-end Naim headphone amp playing vinyl via a Rega RP10 turntable, the HDJ-X10s really started to sing. Bass response is deep and rich, mid frequencies clear and detailed, and the upper treble is crisp with plenty of air and sparkle.
The Pioneer HDJ-X10s are a classy product, offering the best to DJs, music producers and just about anyone who appreciates high-fidelity sound.