Studio Headphone are recognised due to their qualities and characteristics of a professional and regular use.
If you are looking for a suitable studio headphone, you should have some idea of what exactly you want to do with it, as the application possibilities in the studio can be very diverse and the required characteristics can therefore be very different.
Working animals under the studio headphones are the so-called monitor headphones that you wear as a musician, singer or speaker during a recording. The most common way to do this is to use headphones of a closed design to minimize crosstalk to the microphone. Although a professional headphone should sound basically neutral, a certain playback character can be quite advantageous here.
Some professional singers prefer models with a more present representation of the mids to better judge their own vocals. Drummers tend to headphones, which reproduce painless and distortion-free even at high volume. Since in professional studio operation such headphones often change the user, it is advantageous if the body-upholstery are easy to clean and, if necessary, are easy to change.
In contrast, there is the trend segment of the headphones, which serve as an alternative or in individual cases even sole interception for editing, mixing and mastering. Such headphones compete with studio monitorsand accordingly require the most accurate reproduction of frequencies, transients, spatiality and dynamics. In this area of responsibility one often uses the open or semi-open design.
For a final purchase decision the following points have to be examined individually:
- Does the design fit the desired application?
- Does the headphones fit well and comfortably?
- Does the equipment (interchangeable parts, cable length, etc.) meet my requirements?
- Does the sound match my expectations and preferences?
Headphones with the best possible sound quality and equipment, offering real high-end enjoyment and thrilling audiophiles as well as mix and mastering with powerful bass.
The SRH1540 is the top model among Shure’s closed headphones and in the high-price segment on the road. Let’s see if the SRH1540 is burning money or investing well:
The black and silver SR1540 features a lightweight aluminium alloy construction with a scratch-resistant carbon fiber backing on the outside. The matte finish of its steel metal temples supports the high quality look. A faux leather-covered, padded hanger holds the earpieces on the head. A real highlight are the exceptionally soft Alcantara earpads.
A fully cloth-lined and bulging carrying case accommodates the headphones, a gold-plated screw adapter, two spare earpads and two cloth pouches. In them are two headphone cables with mini-jack plug.
The Y-cable of the SRH1540 is designed to ensure long life. It has gold-plated contacts, is Kevlar-reinforced and reinforced at the plug ends by anti-buckling. The unfortunately only 185 mm measuring cable is plugged in by two connectors on the earpieces.
Not only the padding on the underside of the headband provides comfort. Sweaty ears or headaches are not expected due to the ear-enclosing Alcantara upholstery. The headband system can be infinitely varied and – once adjusted – the brackets keep their position. The contact pressure is balanced, but the interchangeable pads can unfortunately slip a little during handling.
Exceptionally wide transmission range
Due to the low nominal impedance of only 46 ohms, the audio signal sounds with raw power from the earpieces of the SRH1540. On the other hand, so many sonic subtleties are audible. The exceptionally wide transmission range is according to advertising promises from 5 Hz to 25 kHz.
And indeed: low bass and bass are reproduced exemplary and full. If the music signal is overloaded in this frequency range, the SRH1540 acknowledges this, however, with a slight roar. Mid-range playback, on the other hand, is the most balanced I’ve ever heard of in a headset. This applies both to the lower centers supplying heat and to those remaining important for meat and presence. The heights of the SRH1540 sound silly and – I think I’ve never said so before in a review – “beautiful”. The tonal openness in the super high-frequency range allows a very good signal evaluation, as required in recording studios. This also benefits the differentiated stereo image of the headphones.
Perfect for almost all music styles
Anyone listening to pop / dance tunes or traveling in the hip-hop / black music genre with this headset can literally feel the bass pressure of their tracks in their stomach. For rock and metal songs, however, the SRH1540 reaches its limits. For double bass drums, »Mulm« is spreading. Acoustic music still benefits most from its frequency response. Here, low-bass parts are rarely pushed on the production side, so that they can be wonderfully worked out by the SRH1540.
The SRH1540 sets high standards
According to Shure, the closed headphone ensures “high-end in the living room” and should also be suitable for “professional mastering”. I agree. The SRH1450 delivers is also a good mix working fluid for low-bass blends.
Not for nothing does Shure advertise the SRH1540 as the spearhead of its closed headphones. With high-quality materials, large scope of delivery, practical handling and very good wearing comfort, the device sets standards.
A buyer recommendation is the headphone mainly because of its excellent sound. Apart from the amazing bass range, its sound is great and exemplary. With the purchase of the SRH1540, money will not be burned, but invested in quality and incredibly good sound reproduction.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro
With the DT 880 Pro reference headphone, audio professionals will not miss anything: errors, clicks, annoying frequencies – everything is detected. But you can also enjoy the beautiful sides of the mixes – with every frequency facet!
Who puts the DT 880 Pro headphones touches Beyerdynamics studio experience. For more than 20 years, sound engineers have fallen under this headphone design into their mix as in a noble lounge chair. At just under 300 grams, the headphones are not light and the pressure on the head is noticeable. Due to the soft earpads, the comfortable ironing padding and the ergonomic arrangement of the adjustable spring steel headband, everything cushions well. Overtime? No problem.
The built-in material mix of metal and sturdy plastic give hope for listening sessions right up to retirement. The DT 880 Pro is sustainable in this respect: almost every part, from the stirrup construction to the handset parts and cables, is interchangeable. The robust spiral cable ensures sufficient strain relief. The overall design looks sophisticated overall and so it is not surprising that the headphones play for years in the top 10 of the headphone legends.
One of the big strengths is the great stereo image for a half-open headphone. This might be a bit strange for one or the other listener at the beginning, if you often listen with punchy, closed or special DJ headphones. The DT 880 Pro transports dimensions and only completely open headphone models go one step further.
The Beyerdynamic headphones unfold their full sound even at less loud settings. I myself have caught myself, that I mix much quieter through the finely tuned stereo separation and the transparent overall sound, listen and enjoy music. If you close your eyes for a moment, it sometimes feels like you are sitting in front of two monitors.
Despite the wide stereo resolution, the overall sound breathes rhythmically. The transients are very tight. While listening in, you’ll be surprised at how jagged snares and bass lines are in funk tracks or playful hi-hat patterns in their perfect groove.
The DT 880 Pro is not a bass-monster, which runs over the mix voluminously, but he reproduces bass and bass in an honest and neutral relationship to the rest of the overall mix. So one can analytically judge, how it stands around the deep areas to him to the sub in the mix.
The DT 880 Pro is professional in the neutral-resolution mids: Individual instruments and voices of a recording can be located in perfection in the stereo image and, if necessary, adapted specifically. Whether voice recordings for broadcast, acoustic instrumentals, classical or beat-oriented material, the DT 880 Pro “records” the midrange and the heights accurately as on millimeter paper in its frequency response.
Heights and even the super high-pitch range are crisp and exemplary, they never appear sharp or overdone. The DT 880 Pro can be recommended as a routine player for mixing, mastering and as the 2nd reference listening in the studio.
The DT 880 Pro is a quirky one of the frequencies that, when it comes down to it, like a good friend honestly says that a mix sounds like scrap. That’s why he’s been a reliable tool for audio specialists for years. Everything is in tune with the mix, letting one of Beyerdynamic’s headphones stand out in its classy frequency universe. So people, make an effort mixing.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro LTD 80 Ohm
The closed DT 770 comes with built-in limiter and is primarily intended for DJs and live use, according to the manufacturer.
Headphones are needed in many different situations, such as irrigation in public transport, in the recording studio and during recording, but also in noisy places such as discos or concert arenas. The DT 770 Pro LTD 80 Ohm with Limiter should be exactly for this area of use: So that the DJ can listen to the next song or listen to concerts with individual musicians and the man at the mixer.
Basically, this headphone has the typical Beyerdynamic sound, with the silky highs and a decent resolution in the middle. But the upper bass range is a bit too strong for my taste in this model. Titles that sound balanced in bass with comparable headphone models have developed an unmistakable tendency to roar. This sound defect limits the use of the DT 770 Pro LTD 80 Ohm in a professional environment.
The built-in limiter keeps the live musician and the DJ from harmful levels on the ears. As soon as the volume limit (99 dB) is reached, the volume increases in the source result in distortions, but it does not get any louder. This is a real plus in hectic stage life.
Good workmanship with a sense of detail
The large earcups are very soft padded and the headband is provided with a buttoned, very soft artificial leather cover. The brackets themselves are made of very robust metal, only the outer shell of the earcups is made of plastic. Nice detail: The markings for the left and the right channel are not only written on the outside of the temples, but also marked in braille with the typical humps. On dark stages, this detail also helps the viewer to put the headphones on the right side.
The DT 770 Pro LTD 80 ohm weighs 350 grams with cable and is therefore a real piece of luggage for use on the road. However, a robust construction and a certain stability are also required in the area of application intended by the manufacturer. The three-meter-long connection cable including gold-plated jack adaptor is firmly wired to the left auricle and would rather interfere with use on the smartphone. How loud the 80-ohm model could actually sound on mobile players, can not be determined, because the limiter is not switched off.
A real peculiarity of the DT 770 Pro LTD 80 Ohm with Limiter is only the protection function of the Limiter. Sonically he likes me worse than comparable Beyerdynamic models like the DT 990 Pro 250 ohms.
Highend for sound fans. The AKG K550 wants to convince in the middle price range with extremely wide frequency response, good damping and high wearing comfort.
The K550 with its 50 mm diaphragms offers full bass and a voluminous, slightly undifferentiated low bass. His (still) warm, but quite present mids can be helpful in the mix of middle critical material (guitar music, rock, pop). It offers a good connection of treble and super high-frequency range, although its sound does not seem too open here. However, compared to other reference headphones, it has a somewhat shallow depth graduation.
Due to its soft transient image and its good, sufficiently wide stereo image, it is equally suitable for studio mixes and hi-fi enjoyment. For classic enjoyment a bit too musty, but strong for pop and rock in the middle. If you want to hear nuances of the guitar sounds of the Foo Fighters or enjoy a decent portion of thrust “downstairs”, then the K550 in Mix and HiFi is not wrong. Due to its good insulation, it can be used as a recording headphones, due to its folding mechanism wonderful on the go.
Handling and feel
Matt black dominates the K550. Brushed metal and soft imitation leather create Mad Max flair. On the metal headband are located next to the AKG logo also units for adjusting the headband.
The 380 gram headphones are among the top 10% in terms of contact pressure. That is, his gridded adjustable bracket packs properly. A highlight is the joint system, through which his earpieces can be placed parallel to each other. Thus, the headset not only optimally adapts to the shape of the head, but can also be stowed to save space.
The processing of the K550 is 1 a. Hard to imagine that a component should not withstand years of use. Replaceable upholstery complements the positive image. Surprisingly, even the frosted surfaces withstand light scratching.
The fixed cable brings it to 2.75 m in length. Not bad! In order to use a mini-jack connection, the standard gold-plated adapter can be unscrewed. Other accessories are not included.
Its strengths are the AKG K550 in the middle. Whether pop or rock – as soon as vocals and guitars come into play, the noble black sound subtleties that many other headphones only hint at. High wearing comfort and a noble finish complete the positive image of this handset, which is particularly suitable for mix tasks and hi-fi enjoyment.
Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro
Lightweight, closed over-ear headphones for the studio and mobile recording. The DT 240 Pro by Beyerdynamic is intended to cause a sensation as a closed monitor headphone in the studio. Read in the test how the offspring from the DT Pro series beats in practice.
The Beyerdynamics DT Pro series headphones are likely to be familiar to most studio audiences. Especially the open DT 990 Pro (for the test) , but also its half-open and closed brothers DT 880 Pro (for test) and DT 770 Pro (for test) are undoubtedly among the classics for recording and monitoring in the studio. Can the DT 240 Pro also hope to become a monitoring classic?
Appearance & delivery
The Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro is a simple closed headphone in over-ear design. What strikes at first glance, are its compact dimensions. These headphones immediately make it clear that they want to play a role not only in the studio but also on the go. All visible components are black. Only when adjusting the headband is its steel strut silver visible. Here also the serial number is engraved. All this works for the called purchase price more than adequate.
Although the delivery does not include a pair of removable earpads, but there is a closable by drawstring transport bag made of cloth on board. A screw-on 6.35 mm jack adapter is also included. An alternative cable is not included.
Processing & Technology
The headphones are made robust. Both the artificial leather of the earpads and the headband are sewn. The forks of the headband are made of aluminium and therefore stable and light at the same time. The neuralgic points of the headband mechanism are screwed maintenance friendly. Its cable is reinforced according to the operating manual to avoid abrasions or cable breaks along the way. In practice, however, this is not obvious visually or by weight. For the quality of the headphones also speaks that the 3.5 mm jack plugs of the supply line and the adapter for corrosion protection are gold plated.
The DT 240 Pro is powered by dynamic drivers that cover a wide frequency range from ultra-low 5 Hz up to 35 kHz. Due to its low mean impedance of only 37.7 ohms, the DT-240 Pro is suitable for use on mobile / smart devices, since their headphone outputs usually have a lower output power than studio devices.
Handling & Usability
The earpads of the DT 240 Pro are interchangeable. Due to their very soft texture they are hardly noticeable when worn and close well around the ear. Unfortunately, velor upholstery is not (yet) available. But even with imitation leather ear cushions, the wearing comfort is pleasant for a long time. Since the headset with cable is just 234 g heavy, it comes with a low contact pressure. This promises fatigue-free wearing comfort even over hours. Another thing that makes wearing the DT 240 Pro comfortable is the soft padded headband. His size adjustment is done on both sides rasterized, so that he remembers the last fit.
The preinstalled spiral cable is (unstretched) with just 1.30 m to the mobile use on portable handheld devices, such as smartphones or mobile recorders tailored. In studio mode, it comes by extension to the proven 3 m length, which also offer other headphones in the DT Pro series. Who stands with spiral cables on a war footing, can be happy because the preinstalled cable is changeable. Freedom of movement is achieved by the user in that the supply line takes place on one side and the cable can optionally be attached to the right or left earpiece.
The fact that the thread for the screw adapter was kept very narrow, the headphones can easily plug into smartphones and tablets, which are located in a protective cover. Here the manufacturer proves that he has an eye for detail and has designed his headphones for the requirements of mobile recording. With twisted earpieces, the headphones can be stored space-saving in the included transport bag. The torsional rigidity of the headband also allows a slightly staggered wearing of the earpieces. If you only want to monitor a recording signal on one side in order to have the other ear free for the on-location sound, you can easily do that with the DT 240 Pro. The headphones are still safe then.
Sound & Compatibility
In the data sheet of the headphones Beyerdynamic promises us “studio quality, even in mobile applications”. The spatial representation is satisfactory, the very large stereo width is missing and also the tonal differentiation of the depth graduation can not quite convince me. However, the DT 240 Pro also does not appear as a reference headphone, but offers in studio everyday and on the road an absolutely sufficient differentiation for the monitoring of recording signals. And also with the signal transients the headphone shows rather good-natured than fine-drawing. Incidentally, with its maximum sound pressure level of 101.91 dB measured by us, it is significantly louder than its big siblings from the DT Pro series.
Although the low bass range reaching down to 5 Hz on the paper is more likely to sound rather than full-fledged, the bass range sounds sufficiently full and measured by the size of the drivers. A slight dip at 65 Hz prevents the closed headphones from blaring in the bass range. Friends of electronic music and urban music styles will perceive the deepest depths of the bass range, but certainly not ripped off the stool. The mid-range of the headphone is not very lively, but it does not sound shrill even with mid-high audio signals typical of guitars and synthesizers.
On the contrary, I would recommend this headset just guitarist for monitoring during recording to monitor recording signals even over long periods without fatigue. The contouring of the frequency response at 2 kHz supports the assertiveness of voice and vocal signals. It is nice to hear that the height boost that the DT 240 Pro has at about 11 kHz does not make itself felt negatively by hissing. These points also make the DT 240 Pro a good companion for voice recordings, such as podcasts or on-location recording.
This is also supported by its good shielding from outside noise. However, the promised definition of heights for me unfortunately in the hearing test. The sound of the headphones is not very “airy” and overall “calm”, so it is beyond the 11 kHz boost without any further height hype. which the DT 240 Pro has at about 11 kHz does not make it noticeable by hissing negatively. These points also make the DT 240 Pro a good companion for voice recordings, such as podcasts or on-location recording. This is also supported by its good shielding from outside noise.
However, the promised definition of heights for me unfortunately in the hearing test. The sound of the headphones is not very “airy” and overall “calm”, so it is beyond the 11 kHz boost without any further height hype. which the DT 240 Pro has at about 11 kHz does not make it noticeable by hissing negatively. These points also make the DT 240 Pro a good companion for voice recordings, such as podcasts or on-location recording. This is also supported by its good shielding from outside noise. However, the promised definition of heights for me unfortunately in the hearing test.
The sound of the headphones is not very “airy” and overall “calm”, so it is beyond the 11 kHz boost without any further height hype. However, the promised definition of heights for me unfortunately in the hearing test. The sound of the headphones is not very “airy” and overall “calm”, so it is beyond the 11 kHz boost without any further height hype. However, the promised definition of heights for me unfortunately in the hearing test. The sound of the headphones is not very “airy” and overall “calm”, so it is beyond the 11 kHz boost without any further height hype.
The DT 240 Pro is a great monitor headphone for recording monitoring due to its rather “warm” soundscape, which gives a lot of tonal sharpening of the audio material. In particular, guitar, synthesizer and voice signals are reproduced by him “warm and soft”. As a result, he also allows a long work with this kind of audio material. However, he is less suitable for sound-critical studio applications, such as mixing and mastering. But with this claim the DT 240 Pro does not even compete. After all, there are other headphone candidates for this purpose, including from Beyerdynamic.
The Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro extends the well-known DT Pro range priced down and addresses among other buyers, the feather-light, but powerful headphones for mobile recording. Good workmanship and great handling make working with it pleasant. Sonically, the DT 240 Pro forgives a lot, as it rather mids and trebles and transients “soft” from and dispenses with an excessive bass range. Coupled with its good external cushioning, it becomes a solid tool for recording on the move, whether the user is Soundengineer, video filmer or podcaster.
In the studio, the Beyerdynamic headphones can play its monitoring strengths, especially when recording guitars, synthesizers and vocals / language. There’s no doubt about it: The DT 240 Pro has the power to become a professional monitoring classic thanks to its features, its sound behavior and its good adaptation to the recording habits of today’s recording friends.
KRK KNS 6400
The studio headphone is purposefully designed and allows many applications. From the DJ to the home producer, from the ambitious music listener to the keyboard student – all are served.
Look and feel
Matt anthracite and silver characterize the rather unremarkable appearance in addition to the small KRK logo. The headband consists of a metal skeleton, a plastic frame and a two-piece foam padding behind artificial leather jacket. The earpiece holder made of plastic is rotatably suspended and can be rotated more than 90°. The ear shells themselves can be tilted (right by 180°, left only by a few degrees inclination). The upholstery of the ear cups is sufficient, but could be for my taste but quiet for the same material a little thicker or made at the same thickness with a slightly firmer foam. The left-sided cable with screw-on jack adapter can be removed via a snap-in subminiature plug.
The KNS 6400 has a good contact pressure, which causes no problems with my head size. The padding of the headband is just as good. The flexible adaptation of rotation and tilting mechanism around the ear, I succeed and the isolation of ambient noise is correspondingly good. What also makes him predestined for a longer listening time is his light weight – I would also take it on board or on the plane. Many flexible, adaptable parts carry the risk of something getting caught: keyword “long hair”. The close proximity to the drivers could also give some users with big ears a tight feeling.
The resulting overall frequency response I like basically good. The drivers are fast and can score with pulses. The spatial representation in the stereo base is wide and accurate, the channels are well separated. The depth of the room is also built up satisfactorily. The KNS 6400 dominates the bass – not intrusive, but nice deep and prominent. The club frequencies between 60-90 Hz seem a bit restrained, which also has a slight chewing effect on some Hip Hop tracks. In the middle, the KNS-6400 convinces. Instruments and vocals are set very accurately and precisely.
Listening to music with the KNS 6400 is fun and does not get you tired
As long as you’re not fixated on club music and the dominating bass boost, this headset does a more than reasonable job in all disciplines. The flexible ear cups and its low weight support both the mobile use, as well as the use in the DJ setup.
Strictly speaking, the KNS 6400 plays far beyond its offered price range and is best for outclass under-budget performance in the studio.
Semi-open over-ear for recording studio, on-location recording and video post-production.
The Fostex TR-90 comes with martial optics. Mostly in black, the half-open headphones feature a matt-finish imitation leather cover and headband and ear cushions that leave no fingering or finger marks. Color accents put the concise matte silver earpiece strap and the exposed cable route from the earpieces to the headband. She takes up the orange of the manufacturer’s logo. The visual impression promises robustness and radiates strength.
Since the cable of the TR-90 is changeable, the carton contains on the one hand an 80 cm long spiral cable, which when pulled apart reaches about 300 cm. For whom a spiral cable is not practical when using the headphones, you can use the additionally supplied straight replacement cable. This cable also comes on the immense length of 300 cm. All plugs are gold-plated for corrosion protection. A likewise gilded, screwable 6.35 mm jack adapter is also included. In addition, a transport bag made of leatherette on board, which is closed by drawstring. The fact that the headphones also come with a pair of extra-thick removable ear cushions sets the scope of delivery to a certain extent the crown. For the called purchase price, the buyer is sure not to notice anything that might be missing here.
Functions & Technology
The headphones are excellently processed, breaking points or burrs are sought in vain for metal and plastic. All elements are screwed open accessible and therefore can be well maintained. The exposed cable section from the earpieces to the headband is wrapped in a stylish and material-friendly fabric tape.
The Fostex TR-90 features dynamic 40mm drivers with a maximum sound pressure level of 97.69 dB. Thus, the TR-90 is a strong, but not too loud representative of his guild. The headphones are also available with an impedance of 250 ohms in addition to the 80 ohm version tested here. But the version with a lower ohm number is not only suitable for stationary applications, but can also look good on mobile devices on the go.
Size & Weight
The headset is surprisingly lightweight for its size and fits well, because it’s solid. In any case, fragility is different, that’s for sure. I especially like the fact that the size adjustment of his headband is stepless. In addition, his ear pads are ultra-soft and the contact pressure is not too strong. That in turn benefits the wearing comfort. Even with longer listening sessions, nothing presses and compresses here uncomfortably. On smaller heads, however, the low contact pressure could lead to a too loose fit – which should buy buyers interested before necessarily.
The TR-90’s detachable cables are attached to the left earcup using proprietary mini-jack plugs. The special thing about them is that they offer a special locking mechanism. To secure it, the cable is plugged in and turned. This system is basically a great thing. However, the small marker triangles that indicate the correct fit are likely to be more contrasted than black to black and the connectors provide better grip for the rotary motion. But the lighting conditions have to be right for the connection and it may take two tries to get the cable to sit.
The transmitted frequency range of the Fostex TR-90 ranges from the lowest 5 Hz to dizzying heights of 35 kHz. The fact that the frequency response is anything but linear is to be understood in a positive sense. Because the contouring of the basses around 100 Hz supports the impulse perception with low music signals, the accentuation in the middle range of 2 and 5 kHz opposes the speech intelligibility. With its increase of frequencies around 10 kHz, it ensures brilliance and supports many signal transients with the certain click factor. The fact that the TR-90 can penetrate into the highest altitudes is noticeable in its “open” sound in the heights. What can be made audible is made audible by him.
Overall, the strong increase at 10 kHz in listening to all styles of music in the weight. I would go so far as to speak of over-proportioning the heights. S-sounds therefore tend to hiss when listening to some productions. The low bass of EDM and urban music genres makes the headphone audible without blurring the remaining signal components. Even guitar and voice signals become very differentiable with the TR-90. In the upper bass range, the emphasis for my taste, however, goes a little too far. It strongly characterizes the sound character of the headphones and distracts the attention from other frequency ranges. Anyone looking for linear headphones for critical evaluation of recording signals will probably not be happy with the TR-90. On the stereo image, I’m only on the edge, because it offers solid home cooking, but is determined by the frequency response of the listener. (For example, high-quality backing vocals in pop productions are particularly impressive.)
Fostex sees the use of the headphone in studio monitoring, outdoor recording and video post production. I can not sign that 100%. It is certainly well suited for video post-production due to its low bass characteristics and its fine center resolution. For on-location recording, however, not a few users may prefer a closed headphone to a half-open one. Restrictions I also see for use in the recording studio. Because the strongly contoured frequency response of the TR-90 ensures a neat auditory fingerprint, which must be taken into account in the studio, for example, when mixing necessarily.
The Fostex TR-90 is a solid, well-sounding, half-open, over-ear headphone that’s audible for its wide frequency range, making it audible. Nevertheless, he does not quite live up to his own expectations. Due to his lack of linearity, he is only partially suitable for mastering and mixing in the studio. Due to its semi-open design, it is also of limited use for outdoor use. In terms of video post-production, on the other hand, you will appreciate the immense frequency range of the TR-90 and know how to use it. If you then take a look at the generous scope of delivery of this Japanese, it is a serious candidate, especially for dubbing.
Masterful resolution of the sound, slightly restrained bass. Reference model of the manufacturer and top model in the field of dynamic headphones. Claim and reality are the same. As one of the highlights in my test history, the SE-MASTER1 can score in all test areas. The only catch – the high price.
In the past few years, when the manufacturer Pioneer was mainly made into the DJ sector with headphones specifically for club music and mobile devices, the company’s head office remembered its own history, and the headphones design had several decades of experience can show.
Five years of R & D work were required, according to the manufacturer, until the engineers, designers and sound engineers could present a new boutique reference model with the SE-MASTER1. A lion’s share went at the expense of driver development. The driver diaphragm, which is 50 mm in diameter and only 25 μm thin, is made entirely of aluminium and has been coated with a special ceramic material (Parker Ceramic Coating).
According to the manufacturer, it is the first headset in the world to use this method, which is intended to considerably improve the treble range, in particular. The bead (suspension) is made of a special plastic, PEEK (poly-ether-ether-ketone), and is spirally installed to ensure the best possible linear frequency response.
The acoustic fine tuning was finally done in cooperation with the world famous Air Studios London, who were allowed to immortalize themselves with their own logo on the right ear cup.
Handcrafted by only one employee
The MASTER1 is handcrafted in small batches only and, according to Pioneer, only one engineer in Tohoku, Japan. With more than 100 steps per listener, it is not surprising that there is a certain shortage in the market. The special exclusivity is underlined by the engraved serial number over the left ear cup in perfection. I was allowed to test the headphones with the number 662 now for several days extensively. I’ve done different scenarios with different feeders, amplifiers, and interfaces, and I’ve even let the listener “warm up” about 100 hours before the concentrated listening test.
MASTER1 – that could be the name of a modern samurai movie from Japan – and as always it’s about nothing but the throne. It’s like that, too, if you hold the huge and heavy box in your hands. When I open the packaging on such special models, it still has something of Christmas. The velvet-studded interior features a large, open headphone in a super-noble black-silver aluminium look, which has an aluminium full basket housing and converts dynamically. The wall thickness of the housing is 3.5 mm and was chosen to prevent resonances or mechanical vibrations. This aspect was further strengthened by rubber dampers on all mechanical connections.
If the first ten seconds decide on sympathy or antipathy, then Pioneer caught me on the right foot. I quickly put away the supposed reverence and start assembling. The designation deserves the insertion of the heavy, 3 meters long and covered with textile cable made of oxygen-free OFC copper on the two ear cups actually not, but necessary, the handles are still. If the particularly robust cable is properly anchored, a slight click gives an acoustic feedback. The low-distortion, thick high-end cable with solid, gold-plated jack plug can be exchanged for an additionally available cable with Neutrik XLR plug.
Looking closer, I hang on the detachable, lateral steel tension clamp and then play a bit with the adjustment options of the headband. To do this, press lightly on the outside on the minimally offset pressure areas of the attachment of the wide headband. The rest is a breeze – the grid on the headband allows precise scaling to my skull. The SE-MASTER1 nestles with its tilt-able ear cups formally on the head and has with the clamping bracket sufficient lateral contact pressure. The ear cups are ideally padded with memory foam in two thicknesses and equipped with a skin-friendly artificial leather cover. The resulting microclimate under the cups invites to extensive listening sessions.
Despite its on the paper very high weight of 460 grams, I feel after a short time an outstanding comfort. The large ear cups also offer users with big ears more than enough space. The open design also protects against heat build-up – even in a summery environment, the earcups do not become the ear sauna.
It may resonate a psychological aspect, but I can say for me certainly from an extended AB comparison is that the steel bracket provides just the right amount of lateral support, which makes wearing these headphones a real pleasure. The fact that you can reorder it, as well as some other parts of the headset, speaks for a longevity designed product strategy.
A word about the cable in practice. When relaxed, pleasure-oriented listening the cable does not fall on and it also transmits no gripping noises. Concentrated work at the desk, on the other hand, can be disturbed by the sturdy construction, for example if you want to record a guitar or change your seating position more often. That is, however, whining at Champions League final level.
I start here with a statement from Pioneer. The frequency range, the SE-MASTER1 can map, then is 5 Hz – 85,000 Hz Hi-Res Audio provides the listener thus present no challenge and the enormous frequency response affects primarily the displayable detail from.. Especially the upper octaves benefit from it.
What you hear with this premium model is positively shocking. Dynamic acoustic or orchestral sources translate exceptionally well, and the stereo placement of each instrument / track is wide-ranging and extremely accurate. High and mid frequencies are excellently. But even with material with many highs, it sounds by no means harsh. In the bass range, some users may miss some pressure. First of all, you have to consider the open design and secondly that most of the window dressing takes place in the area. The SE-MASTER1 is excellently positioned in my ears in the bass range, without shaking you completely.
Complex compositions or produced songs also benefit. Full arrangements are musically reproduced – I mean the following: Although the SE-MASTER1 reproduces very accurately, it does not annoy me even during long sessions, does not tire me. If one removes the listener after such, one does not have a padded feeling, but can, for example, listen immediately afterwards via monitor boxes
Exceptions prove the rule! In addition to various all-round models and overlaps in terms of design and purpose, there are also some declared by the manufacturer or dealer as a DJ or hi-fi headphones models whose use is fully justified in the studio.