The heavy hitters..
The Pioneer HDJ500. Red/black, Black/chrome, White/chrome .. Cost $85-$100
40mm Dome type Driver
It is surprising to me that there is not much fan fair for the Pioneer sound here at headfi.. I suppose the Pioneer sound is not what one would call analytical or neutral for that matter however.. I find the Pioneer sound has something that many now a days might be looking for but haven't found yet in their portable cans..In the recommendation thread just about every other advice someone is looking for are cans that isolate, portable, and must have bass.
These will become very popular because not only do these shine in all aspects of such requests but the sound qualities are one that I personally have been looking for, that big club like sound..
Make..7.5/ 10 The attention to style and function is evident in this set. Big plush cups that isolate extremely well for when you want to bump your tunes in the library. Not so big that you can't wear it out doors drives extremely well on portables..They come with 2 quality chords a 3ft straight lock in style and a 1.2m coiled..1/8th to 1/4th gold plated screw on adapter and bag.. The only weakness in the build would be the head band.Compared to the higher end DJ cans these are thin and rather brittle looking. Some TLC is needed on these and I would not recommend any type of physical abuse on these at all... I suppose they had to cut corners to make improvements to add to their higher end DJ cans. Fortunately for us they didn't sacrifice where it counts..
Sound..8/10 The sound out of box was a tad bright forward yet boomy at the same time but once the drivers get going the sound Punches out that signature. "Pioneer sound"
So what is the Pioneer sound?. A strong u shape eq curve with highlighted highs and full on bold bass. What makes these interesting is the DJ line from Pioneer all stay within this signature and this can gets around 90% to 95% of the sound their higher end HDJ1000, HDJ2000 produce..Strong clear detailed highs and surprising big bold bass. Here is where it gets interesting on this set. The mids are right there as well.. One would assume with this pioneer sound that the mids would be recessed and while the mids do take a back seat to the highs and lows on the set they are out with full force and detail to complete the kick ass sound these produce. .Sound staging is ample for being closed cup cans and only help the big club like sound.
BASS... Big bold full on Bass..The pioneer sound makes no excuses these are bass hitters.. In fact what came to me as a complete surprise was.. A head to head vs my Denon DP1000 and the Panasonic Technics RP DH1200.(DJ can comparo in the works) .This certainly proved to me that even though the drivers might be smaller does not mean the bass is weaker.. Both the Denon and Technics have bigger drivers.. 53mm and 50mm..The bass was clearly stronger on the pioneers..The strong bass has satisfactory boom and extension in the sub bass and reaches deep..The treble stays right there with the big boom..50 hours burn in and the overall sound becomes smoother and a tad fuller.. The only complaint I have is the attack and tightness can be better and more refined but for what is there, bass lovers will certainly smile with satisfaction.
The Audio Technica ATH-WS55 Solid BASS...Black, Black/Red... Cost $86
40mm dynamic dual air chamber system..
After the personal club the Pioneers bombarded to my ears with changing to the Solid Bass WS55 I had to get used to the different sound they produce..The previous WS50- WS70 have not seen too much fan fair as most reviews that I have read on em were lets just say not one that would make you go out and buy one. However I have a feeling these were what Audio Technica had in mind. .The newest in the family of the Solid bass series. The cost on these were low enough for me to try out as I wanted to know what this claim of Solid Bass was all about.
Make..8/10 These have the traditional AT portable design commonly seen on their other portables.. The opposite of the looks in the Pioneers which just begs for attention. These are much more understated and clean looking. Not as bulky as the Pioneers. The cups have that familiar soft cushy pleather pads shared by their bigger brother the M50. Just about the same comfort as well. They do have a clamp but nothing that will get annoying or head ache inducing. Because they are so new I think a bit of use and they will stretch just right on the head. This simple understated design bodes well with those of us that are not looking to get any type of unwanted attention out in public. Excellent isolation so you can get your Dub on without people hearing all that commotion.The cord is a standard portable 3ft long with a L shape plug.. Definitely made for roaming and getting your thump on..!!
Sound..8.5/10 It is interesting to me that Audio Technica throws on a big bold SOLID BASS marketing on these. They do have good/ solid bass I will cover later but if you are thinking these sound like the Sony XB series or ATs own Pro700mk2s,. Nope..The sound is technically more proper for all genres and heavy listening. Some might actually prefer these over the Pioneer for extended use.. Because the highs are very balanced to accent the mids they sound smoother overall and or less fatiguing over the Pioneer sound. The highs not as present or bright as the Pioneers but has very good detail for portable cans. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of these cans are the MIDs. Full bodied and ever present I would say the mids are actually an improvement over the M50s as well as having a stronger punch..Vocals are surprisingly clean and detailed. This only helps the smoother sound on these overall.
BASS.. The bass don't necessarily stick out to me as HERE I AM..But on tracks that calls for it. THERE IT IS!!. Nope it is rather blended well actually and out of the 3 cans has the best balance. I would say the bass on these while not as big or as dynamic as the Pioneers they have a very cool chameleon bass effect.. What I mean by this. When listening to non bass heavy music these sound tame and with no hint of the full bass these can produce But with hiphop dub and trance there is no denying it It becomes a portable bass king..The bass is full warm and rounded in nature. The punch and attack is more impressive on the WS55 over the Pioneers and sound more clean as well. However, the Sub bass is lacking over the Pioneers and extension not as deep.. I have to admit I am impressed with the overall Bass..If you go into this set with realistic expectations they do provide good clean full warm tight bass. These might not satisfy the Bass only lovers out there but for what is there you will be impressed. It does induce a smile and when a track calls for it the Bass is definitely not lacking.. I don't know if the dual air chamber is doing it's job but the Bass comes big clean and full..
This is one of those cans that will grow on you the more and more you listen to em..In fact I almost want to bump the score..lol!
The budget AKG portable?
The AKG 518LE Multiple colors ... Cost $43 to $140.. I would be pissed if I payed $140 for these.
These have been well reviewed here at headfi with a decent following for good reason.. They have a bigger punch than the usual portable cans and with the AKG name when bought for the low low price of $43 what not to like. At this price it is almost a steal and recommendable as a good portable bass heavy can but does it do one over the others? Keep reading. ..Now why does the exact same phone, white to be specific. cost $140 ??? This is a headfi scratcher.. Heck you can get one of these and one of the Pioneers or WS55s for this price. go figure.
Make..6.5/10 I don't know how sold I am with the 3D- Axis folding mechanism it seems to do its job in making these truly portable vs the non folding Pioneers. The band seems sturdy enough for extended use but overall feel on em are kinda flimsy..Perhaps the one true fault of the build is in the cheaper looking thin chords.. A good tug and these will snap making your white $140 bought AKGs only good for blocking out the cold air on your ears..Even bought for $100 one would figure they would get more heartier material for the cord but these are no different than the cord on my $30 JVC HAS600s.
Sound..7/10.. The sound stage is almost constricting compared to the other 2.. They aren't.. Sound stage killers per se.. As closed cans cannot compete with open ones for sound stage but. The confined nature of the sound is very evident compared to the other 2.. Not only constricting sound stage but cone shape to boot.. Vocals are decidedly thin in comparison to the WS55.. In fact much like the cord that I have an issue with the over all sounds are the same.. Thin.. The highs are just accents and while they do a decent job. The highs are down right boring in comparison to the other 2. This is before taking out the thick felt that covers the driver.. Once taken out, the highs actually get more presence. The mids are ample but again the thinness in the sound signature combined with a smallish cone like sound stage and you get that not so fresh feeling in your gut..If you ever dated a hot girl and then discover she has crooked teeth that smiles at you all the time.. Just something not right.. You know what I am talking about.
Back to the sounds..
Bass... It is there, ample punch n all for hip hop and DnB. Might be a bit misleading as I find the bass a bit dry as there is no true depth in the bass or dynamics that stand out until a felt piece that covers the driver it taken out.. These are the most tame out of the 3 But again the Bass is not BEEFY like the other 2. The punch is there but extension and sub bass? I think I heard some. I think..After the felt that was removed from the driver the bass while not as punchy does have more dynamics.. The extension and sub bass becomes noticeable.. Bass attack is fair and tonality correct but much like the cord I keep going back to. It needs some thickness to compete with the others.. Not just in the bass but the entire sound signature.. It may seem like I am biased toward the other 2 however After the smile inducing runs on the other 2 portables I just discovered for myself how much these cans are lacking.
Do they sound good for $43? Yes they do, even with the issues this phone has.. For $140? Hmm like I said, I would be pissed.
Conclusion.. Well this has been indeed a fun write up. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did.. I will continue to edit/ add detail any impressions as I am sure the WS55 will change a bit more so as I wrote this only after a day/ night of burning. I have to admit. I am very impressed with both the Pioneers and the WS55.. Not so much with the AKGs obviously.. I think for the younger guys that want something bold with the best overall bass for your dub step and trance, out of the 3 go for the Pioneers.. For the older set that demand a bit more refinement smoothness with your rounded BASS.. I will give a hearty Dsnuts thumbs up to the new and improved WS55.. I am more impressed with this than I was with the M50.. Let me put it this way.. Thanks for having a look and as always.. Happy listening!!
Bonus.! I would like to update the latest findings for the WS55.. I have a feeling this one will become a headfi favorite.. I can now say I listen to this more than any of
my sets at the moment.. Once eQed with a bit more Bass end eq. The Bass blows up.. While maintaining great clarity and detail of any tune.. To the guys that read this.. Try em.. I can't stop listening to my tunes on this can... Also interesting. The Pioneer highs have mellowed a bit with more burn in... On some eQ this can sounds unbelievable for trance/ dub/ Hip hop.... And last but not least I think I was a bit too harsh on the AKG 518LE.. These are a solid buy after taking out a thick extra piece of felt that covers the driver. Thanks goes to Danneq who was quick to tell me about this erroneous act on AKG. I have no idea why they would restrict the sounds by throwing in a thick piece that restricts the sound overall. The highs finally show some signs of life and the mids also come out balancing the can even more so..However while sounding like a completely different can altogether, More fuller, the sound staging remains the same..But they do now sound proper and now score a solid 7..
Edited by Dsnuts - 4/8/12 at 6:38pm