For the record, let it be known that I have tested, reviewed, worked with, broken and discarded a ton of headphones in nearly four decades of DJing.
From the early days with my brown, plastic Koss Pro 4AAA models to my current favorite—Allen &Heath’s XD-53, going on five years of service—I am a headphone junkie. So when the folks at Pioneer DJ sent me the press release for the company’s latest line of DJ cans, I was excited to finally get them around my neck.
The Goods: The HDJ-X10 headphones offer innovative features including 50-mm HD drivers, making them the world’s first DJ headphones to reproduce sound from 5 Hz to 40 kHz, according to the company. These cans have undergone rigorous stress-testing, are crafted with durable metal casing and a flexible headband that is surprisingly resilient.
To top it off, the ear and neck pads have been built with a water-repellant coating that resists deterioration, as well as sweat and dirt. It’s apparent that there are lots of forward-thinking going on over at Pioneer DJ…
First Impressions: Opening the box, DJs are presented with a gorgeous piece of gear – and a ton of accessories including straight and right-angle cables (with mini-XLR connection) and a sturdy case for keeping them protected on the road. My pair is silver-on-black – honestly, it looks amazing and feels even better. The cushioning is plush, the adjustable joints are strong and thick, and they feel substantial without being too heavy. Overall, these headphones just scream quality.
The Test: In the end, however, no set of features can overcome headphones that don’t sound good and don’t perform well in the real world – so any review has to begin and end there.
In my first test, I plugged the HDJ-X10 into my controller and began to play around. Off the bat, they sounded good… really good. I am not sure that the boasted 5 Hz-to-40 kHz of reproduction makes much sense, as most people (especially veteran DJs) cannot reliably hear the extremes of that range. But, to my ears, the efforts that Pioneer DJ engineers put into this unit certainly bore fruit.
In fact, as I moved onto playing with stems and deconstructed samples, I actually felt like these headphones almost sounded “too accurate,” as every blemish was on full display. Not sure this is always a benefit for in-the-mix DJs, but in a studio setting, this kind of precision can be amazing.
Taking these cans on the road, I noticed another minor issue – at least for a DJ like myself, who often mixes with my cans around my neck. The accuracy of these headphones means the bass is true, as opposed to enhanced, as with most DJ headphones. This made it necessary for me to turn up the volume on the HDJ-X10 and lean into them more than usual in order to mix using basslines. If you wear your headphones over your ears or prefer to mix off mids and highs, you will have no issues here. But, to me, the bass reproduction, while accurate, may be a bit underwhelming in a loud nightclub. Each DJ is different, of course, so perspectives may vary.
Conclusions: Nonetheless, if I had a 10-point scale, Pioneer DJ would have hit it out of the park in 8 or 9 of those sections. The headphones look great. They sound great. They are comfortable for long sets. They are easy to clean and are super durable. Perhaps, bass monsters will want to road test these first, but for everyone else – the Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10s ($349 MAP) are as good as DJ headphones get.
A big thumbs-up for this set of cans.
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