i have got this pioneer se a1000 from a local shop for almost a week just out of fun, it was the last piece in stock lying on the shelves. After playing with headphones for so many years (stax , beyer , senn , koss , AKG etc) - and i built my headphones buying parts from various sources most of the time now. I'm not brand conscious the least , it's kind of meaningless to evaluate if this headphone is better than the other.
'll write my review based on my assessment of the pioneer se-a1000.
1st week - after 50 hours burn in - straight out from box
- Built > Average - the first thing that caught my eye was the ear cups were huge and shallow (i'll tell you more how i managed to fix this). Fit was okay , i managed to wear them for 1 hour without
feeling sweaty or fatigue.
- cable > 6m is way long for me. Anyway this headphone was meant for home movie theather usage - so i can't fault it much. the norm seems to be 4m for product of this category.-
- Sound quality -
Highs > detailed , clear , sibilance on some tracks.
Mids > thin sounding, clear , neutral. Definitely not too forward sounding - sits between the highs and the background bass nicely
Bass > good depth - but lacking in sub-bass region. I own several sennheisser headphones and you can immediately spot the bass "quantity difference".
Overall dynamics > There's something missing for sure - the sound is sharp clear at treble at mid / treble zones.. but it lacks the 3D dynamics that high fidelity headphones possess. Mids were not exactly smooth. headphone was quite bass shy.
Week 2 - finally got some time from my family life
i closely inspect the headphone in depth and found the areas that needs improvement.
1. Headphone plastic shell (left and right) were very thin and shallow - This is probably fine as this is an open-design headphone - it doesn't need so much of enclosed hollow space to create resonances (i owned a Ath W1000x - wooden cups headphone) - so i'm pretty particular about air flow / resonance and sound stage. I'll probably think of some ways to improve the pioneer cans.
2. the drivers were not angled.. the driver & the driver plastic shell hits right flat parallel to your ear - this increases clarity but also sibilance. ** i have to fix this **
3. Earpads too thin. - I don't understand since the headphone ear driver shell are so slim - the earpads are pathetically thin and shallow - this causes the isolation to be poor and lack of bass
** i confirm that by changing the ear pads to a leather one with 30 percent thicker foams - it increases the bass especially the sub bass zone **
4. cable 6m resistance - plug it to couple of sources & players , with amp , without amp - conclusion > the 6m cable increases electrical resistance and causes loss is sound dynamics.
If you don't believe me - go buy a 3m or 4meter - 3.5mm extension cable - plug it to your normal iems..and play it on a average power souce (example ; mobile phone)- you will tell the difference.
5- I disassemble the headphone shell (left and right) - 4 screws each side - and took a closer look at the driver. I realized why the bass is so recessed. there's sound proofing issues that can be fixed.
Day 3 of week 2. ( the start of fixes)
1. shorten 6m cable to 1.5m - resolder it to a replacement 3.5mm jack ( slight audible differences in sound dynamics - its slightly more lively) - this is pretty staightforward so no pics needed
2. Okay the plastic shell is way too flat - parallel to the ear. To reduce bright sibilance and harsh highs and create better sound depth - i cut pieces of foam (white) and stick it to the shell to create the angular cups. ** see picture**
3. earcups too thin - If you have a spare leather or synthetic leather for replacement - then it solve your problem. Most other headphone earcaps will be thicker - which will helps with isolation, increase sound depth , reduce silibilance and improve bass. Okay what happens if you don't have a spare cap ? Here's what i did to try out as well.
Look for the stiches at the earcaps - remove a few thread stiching and allowing a finger to wriggle into the foam area of the ear cap - buy some foam (those used in making cushions) and stuff it into it to make the earcap fatter. Stitch back the sewing to complete the job. ** see picture**
4. I managed to change angles of the shell -increase it by 15 degrees by changing 1 of the screws to a longer one and lossen that on each shell. which i can wriggle the shell to change the angle. so that it's not parallel to my ears.
5. Improve sound dynamic - upon close inspection - i realise there are 2 thick cloth paddings stick on top of the driver. you can remove the outer one (bigger) one first - which you will immediate notice that your dynamics and impact of all your sound frequencies improving. ** see pics**
6. to fix the poor sound proofing of the drivers - i unscrew the shell (4 screws on left, 4 on right) - till i saw the driver. The driver is seated inside a plastic shell. This is the problem. the sound gets leaks and resulting in poor bass. Here's why i did to improve it. Get some blue tack - lined the blue tack along the circumference of the driver against the wall of the plastic. So the blue tac seals the drivers circumference against the housing shell. ** you will immediately notice a 20 percent ** improvement in sub bass region and the bass has better tighter impact.
Apologies if i could not take photos - of all those fixes and mods that i did. I will try to take some more pics after i figure out a good method to alter the angle of the driver.
Meanwhile - this pioneer is sounding awesome after all these fixes ! - i wouldn't comment after all these fixes - does this sound better than this model or that , since sound signature can be very subjective - but all i can say is for this quality of the sound offered by pioneer - its approximately the range of $500-700 comparing to the popular brands.
Pic ; Showing fix number 5 mentioned above- there are 2 thick cloth paddings covering the drivers ( where my thumb is). Remove the 1st one. leave the 2nd one (smaller one) as it is - having both ends up muffling up the sound.
Picture showing fix number 2 - the foams were added and stick to the shells to create the angular - which allows the sound to have better depth and reduce sibiliance / harsh highs yet with the same wide sound stage. you can see the left earcaps is so much thicker after the mod .. the right earshell is with the white foam stick on.
Pic ; you should only cut the foam is a semi-cicle and not full circle in order to create the angle..
Picture showing fix 3 ; - Make a small slit - (enough for your finger to wriggle into) - take some cushion stuffings or buy from diy shop or more sponge foams - stuff it in till
the earcap is fuller and bigger. the tighter and bigger it is - the better the sound isolation and bass impact.
Of course you can also buy a leather earcaps with thicker foam for best results. - i'm just experimenting modding the original ear caps.