The Pioneer HDJ-2000 Headphone

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I've been listening to a lot of mid-priced, sealed headphones lately, and these just keep jumping out at me. They say DJ on the side and have a mono switch, but I'm not buying it ... these are just plain good headphones.

Pioneer, eh? Who'da thunk it.

The Pioneer HDJ-2000 ($450 MSRP, $349 Street)
This full-size, sealed headphone is designated as a DJ headphone by Pioneer; and they do have a mono switch, swiveling earpieces, and surprisingly small folding size. But there's simply no reason avid listeners should shy away from the "DJ" moniker as these are quite good performers in the category of all full-sized, sealed headphones in just about every way.

Styling, Ergonomics, and Build Quality
The mechanical design of these headphones is quite unusual and very successful, in my opinion. The middle section of the headband is a soft molded rubbery material with a metal band embedded, which provides the spring for the clamping force. The inside of the middle section has a pleather covered pad. The outer sections of the headband are rigid and contain the sliders for the headphone adjustment. Overall, the curvature of the headband itself is quite narrow, and though it appears like it may be too small for some heads, my modestly larger-than-normal head found them an easy fit.

The hinging mechanism attaching the earpiece to the headband have a rather long arm and its shape when unfolded allows the outward distance needed to get from the close-to-the-head headband around to the swivel on the outside of the earpiece. This unusual design gives the HDJ-2000 a very low profile look. Many full-sized headphones look and feel quite bulky on the head with large headbands that stick out quite a distance. Not so with the Pioneers, these appear much smaller on the head than most full-size headphones. With the earpieces folded up into the space within the headband for storage and transport they are quite compact.

The earpieces swivel in a couple of ways so that one earpiece can be held up to the ear comfortably, but the configuration on the head for these cans when using one earpiece only does not feel very stable or comfortable to me. I would steer DJs who want to wear the cans with one ear only to the Sennheiser HD 25II-1, Beyerdynamic DT 1350 and DJX-1, or Monster Beats Pro. The Beyer DT 1350 sounds the best to me.

The excellent ergonomics of the Pioneer HDJ-2000 would be for naught if the cosmetics weren't up to snuff, but I can gladly report these cans are very nicely finished and construction appears to be of good materials. Most parts appear to be high quality synthetics of various types, but the outer main components of the hinge are cast magnesium. These cans appear quite durable.

Both the earpads and cable are removable and replacement parts are available (pads #HDJ-EP01; cable #HDJ-CA01). The cable uses a mini-XLR, and is compatible with the AKG Quincy Jones Q701 cable, which are non-coiled cables available in 10' and 20' lengths ... they are, however, bright lime-green. The stock cable is terminated with an 1/8" mini-plug, and a screw on 1/8" to 1/4" adaptor is included.

There are a couple of mentions out on the internet of poor quality wiring in these cans. I did partly disassemble the headphones for a look. The cable going over the top through the headband appears to be a small diameter coaxial cable with adequate strain relief and cable guidance. It does seem like the cable gets a bit cramped when the headband adjustment is fully retracted. I would store them with 1/4' remaining on the adjustment to put less stress on the cable. Replacing the cable appears to be possible as many parts are screwed together, but not necessarily easy. I stopped investigating when I found I'd have to remove the adhesively applied headband pad to look into it further.

Comfort and Isolation
The ear-cups on these cans are fairly small and not very roomy. While I would consider them circum-aural (around the ear), they do touch my ears and press in modestly. People with large ears or ears that stick out significantly might find them uncomfortable; most people will find them a bit confining and possibly uncomfortable for listening sessions of longer than an hour. The headband pad is relatively small and does rest mostly on the top of your head, but it is fairly plush and supple. I would characterize these headphones as middle of the road in comfort --- easily tolerable, but not really comfortable.

The isolation of these headphones is a bit above average for a headphone of this type. Good, but not great.

There have been numerous reports of fake Pioneer DJ headphones, primarily the HDJ-1000, so I would be sure to order from an authorized dealer. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.