Two Headphones and a DAP by Pioneer- CanJam SoCal 2016


Pioneer is looking to get a little more skin in the headphone game with the recent release of three new products. They have a new Andriod-based portable player packed with all manner of digital goodies that goes by the name of XDP-100R ($699) and then there are a pair of (a pair of) headphones which hit two significantly different price tags on the far end of each scale.


On the “budget” side we have the SE-MHR5 at the competitive $299 price point. Pioneer is dropping the “Hi-Res Audio” logo on the packaging for these guys but the sound signature intent (according the representative at the show) is in a more “forgiving” direction. The 40mm driver is housed in a closed back ear cup and can be swiveled to lay flat on a surface. Surprisingly (for this price), the included cables allow for both SE and 2.5mm/4 pole balanced connections commonly used with the Astell and Kern players, but unfortunately not the new XDP-100R player. The headphone appeared well structured and had a good feel in the hand and head when worn. The SE-MHR5 just hit the market in middle of March.

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On the high end of things, the SE-MASTER1 headphones ($2,5oo) are the new flagship piece from Pioneer. Each headphone is hand assembled in Japan by a specialist and claims to house the industry’s first ceramic-coated aluminum diaphragm. The headphone is an open back design and comes standard with a SE cable. The removable cable can be also be swapped out for a dual 3 pin Neutrik XLR balanced wire for an additional cost. Sonics aside, perhaps the most interesting feature of the headphone is its capability to adjust the caliper pressure pushing inward on your head. The suspension system includes a two part headband collaboration which appears segregate lateral and vertical responsibilities. The headphone actually comes with two replaceable tensions rods, one 1.6mm and another 2.omm thick for customizable the clamping pressure, very cool. The headphone hit the market just a short month ago (mid February).

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The XDP-100R is built from an aluminum body and is fairly well spec’d out for the asking price. Both DSD and MQA ready, the Android platform it is built upon allows for more versatility options for sourcing and playback than some custom platforms. At this time, the simplest and probably most common benefit to the average audiophile consumer is the capability to get a hold of an app store and utilize Tidal’s higher quality streaming options.

The iPod-sized player has a 4.7 inch screen, two micro SD card slots (max 400GB), 32GB internal, WiFi, AptX and even a built-in speaker. The internal chipset is the popular ESS SABRE SE9018K2M and the headphone amplifier is also a SABRE brand. In addition to all this hardware performance, there are also six built-in “sound adjustments” that include digital filter, EQ and upsampling options.

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