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Pioneer's First Hi-End Headphones: SE-Master 1

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by edric li, Apr 28, 2015.
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  1. mrtim6
    I received these headphones from Price Japan.
    I tried these headphones for first time on Friday 6 May 2016.
    They work extremely well single ended with the Sony PH3 and Sony NW-ZX1 WALKMAN in fact amazing sound for a portable DAP/DAC
    I also had a quick try with my JRiver into balanced Invicta Mirus dac into balanced GSX-Mk2 with the Pioneer balanced cable.
    Initial impressions:
    Very detailed (Similar to HD800) more bass slam than the HD800 and very euphoric sounding headphone - I thought the SE- Master1 was as if the HD800 and the TH900 had a baby.
    The SE-Master 1 takes some of the best qualities of both headphones. Still early days so I will provided further impressions down the track.
    TheNoose likes this.
  2. AppleheadMay
    Glad you like it so far, we do indeed have similar tastes. Will have to look further into the Diatones and NS-2000. :wink:
    I'm getting all my receivers back today by the way and binging in my DP-47F for service.
    I must say I love the M1 a lot as well. Can't replace my LA-900 but it's a welcome addition. Add to that my HD650 which I prefer over the HD800 and I have all I need. The only one I'm still contemplating is the W3000 again.
  3. fzman Contributor
    Seems like the lovers and the haters are both quiet now..........
  4. arnaud Contributor
    That should give you a hint about how popular the phone is :wink:
  5. npdang
    Pioneer has never been a popular name among audiophiles...they had this same problem with their S*-EX line of speakers, which were essentially mini-versions of the TAD speakers that sold for a fraction of the cost and were amazing values.  Now, if they stepped this up to a beryllium diaphragm and rebranded it with the TAD name, I bet it'd see a LOT more interest.
  6. AppleheadMay

    Yep, heard those big impressive speakers as well. They weren't cheap either but costed peeanuts compared to TAD.
    I compared them to 802 Ds at the shop and liked both as much. Different sound sig of course, the Bowers having some more midwarmth.
  7. phonomat
    Well, I can‘t speak for anyone else, of course, but in my case, what you hear (or rather don’t hear) is the sound of me very quietly, very cheerfully enjoying the finest audio experience of my life. :p

    Frankly, I just can’t be bothered posting about it. It’s like there’s nothing to say really. You know how it goes, people mostly come to these forums to vent if something has gone wrong or if they have any specific questions about/need help with some product.

    However, would I feel the need to post, I would probably tell you how the SE-Master1 had recently been away from me for a couple of weeks. How I missed it. Badly. How I immediately put in on my head when I had it back and was suddenly afraid that my girlfriend would walk in on me, because she would have seen me in virtual ecstasy, airdrumming like crazy, laughing out loudly while tears were welling up in my eyes. She might have thought I'd lost my mind.

    Honestly, I still can’t get over how freaking amazing this thing sounds. For me, this headphone really is a unicorn, in the sense that what it does should not even be possible. It really combines the best of two worlds. It has the refinement, the resolution, the sonic elegance and the sparkling treble of the best electrostats AND a nice, punchy and precise bass foundation like the best planar magnetics, making it sound marvellously full-bodied and coherent throughout the whole spectrum. Soundstage and imaging, as I hear them through my chain (Surface Book-->Hugo-->Violectric V281-->Master1) are exemplary. It’s like the sound is coming from everywhere. A truly 3D experience unlike any I have ever heard from a headphone. This never fails to amaze me. It’s so involving, engaging, enveloping. And I'm not even using the balanced cable yet, lol. The resolution is to die for. I never knew that my music, or any music for that matter, could sound so insanely, hilariously great. I don’t care how they achieved this, but for me it's astonishing and exactly what I was looking for.

    Now, in spite of the above, I like to consider myself more of a critical, discerning type, especially when it comes to music (and spending huge amounts of cash to the end of enjoying it). While I have been very seriously getting into this hobby in the past 1 1/2 years or so, I have been listening to headphones for about thirty years, and they were seldomly able to impress me. There is usually one single thing that stands out and disturbs me enough to spoil the fun for me. I have yet to find such an aspect with the SE-Master1. In the past months, I've been able to listen more or less extensively to quite a lot of so-called „flagship“ headphones, among them the Audeze LCD-3, Fostex TH-900, Hifiman HE-1000, Mr. Speakers Ether, Sennheiser HD 800 and HD 800 S as well as Orpheus 1 and 2, Stax SR-007 and SR-009, Technics EAH-T700 ... Out of those, the only ones that tickled my fancy, that I would even consider listening to again, were the Ether and probably the Stax SR-007. Audeze didn’t do anything for me, I just found them boring. Listening to the HD 800 (and HD 800 S) was like throwing a sausage down the Grand Canyon: I didn’t feel a thing. Very curious experience, the sound coming out of that thing was so thin and weak, it was like I almost didn’t wear a headphone at all. Same with both iterations oft he Orpheus: Severely underwhelmed is all I will say. Oh, and don't even get me started on the Nighthawk ...

    What I won’t do, however, and this brings me to the haters, is go to the respective threads and poop on the product or try to make people feel bad about their purchase. I never understood the motivation behind that, other than the small-minded desire to steer things up and cause a fleeting commotion. If you wanna do it, do it, but to me, it always comes off as immature and petty and just makes yourself look bad. While substantiated criticism is always welcome, nagging for the sake of it just isn't. 

    To me, the only thing worse than that is actually rampant fanboyism. Unreflectedly gushing about your new toy usually adds nothing to the discussion and in the worst case pushes other people over the fence making decisions they might regret. So, since I possess no technical knowledge or deeper understanding whatsoever of what makes one headphone sound so heavenly and the other just meh and therefore not very much to add myself apart from my personal criticism and enthusiasm, I tend to keep my opinion to myself when I have hit upon gold as well. I’m just no missionary man.

    That being said, I’m so glad to have found my very own personal nirvana. The only possible upgrade I could even imagine would be the closed version seen a couple of posts above. You can sign me up for that one, Pioneer! Apart from that, I can't even imagine which aspect of what I'm currently hearing could be improved upon. The Master1 will stay, there is no doubt about that, I consider it to be among the best buying decisions I have made. Like, ever. Full stop. That the Violectric will stay is just as certain. The only thing I might look into replacing at some point down the road is the Hugo, but no hurry at the moment. I’m just too content with what I have and too busy listening to it.

    So, ladies and gentlemen, my end-game rig (sorry, my phone hasn't been the same since I dropped it in the bathtub, hehe):


    Anyway, all just IMHO, in case that should not have been obvious, and sorry for the long-winded post, I’ll return to the privacy of my very own Shangri-La now. Peace, everyone. :L3000:
  8. arnaud Contributor
    In my situation, I don't actually hate the pionneer per say. Certainly, the listen was a total let down but some have mentioned it gets much better once run in so I suppose O should not cross it off altogether.

    But, I also wonder if this phone hasn't just one of those very polarizing voicings like Grado and Ultrasone. It makes one wonder how can there be such a wide range of tastes among audiophiles, certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    I get more irritated when I see something hyped to levels it really isn't (relative to the asking price), especially when the hype is not particularly genuine (reviewers, people getting kick-backs for reviewing products etc.).

    In this thread, it seems at least the positive feedback from the few people who posted is genuine so maybe that's like some of these ultrasone's edition threads.

    On that note, it appears Ultrasone is very popular in Japan (the. Edition 777 was a local release as I understood) so, really, some of these products might be voiced for a specific market and, if they sell, the makers are doing something right regardless of what anyone thinks...

    Peace :wink:
  9. Benny-x

    Still rocking out on mine over here too.

    I started working on my custom cables for them, but unfortunately I bought 2x 20m rolls of DIY wire that turned out to be about as stiff as a coat hanger:'-(

    So now I'm looking for 2-3 kinds of nice wire that I can have some tries with. That's unfortunately not an easy project
  10. TokenGesture
    Really interested in these.  Going to have to try to demo them.
  11. AppleheadMay
    Same here, best I ever heard and feeling more like listening to them than posting about them.
    But having had a few other great headphones and loved a few a lot I can't make these my only headphones.
    For me the LA-900 and HD650 are here to stay alongside the M1.
    Those three together make me lose interest in most phones that came/come out.
    If that closed M1, a TH-1000(?) or a new AT woodie came out I'd give those a listen still but for the rest I don't care much anymore.
    I just hope a closed M1 would be something designed from the ground up and not an M1 with cups.
    I listen to them with a Zana or one of my 3 vintage amps, all being wonderful amps. The ECBW will soon join the club (ordered it about 8 months ago) and then I've had it with amps as well. Then I'm done with amps, might just sell 1 or 2 but that's all.
    Same opinion on the other headphones you tried as well: not a fan of any planars of which I had 2 and heard quite a few, stats (had and heard only Stax) was the biggest desillusion ever and I've been called a fool for not liking the HD-800 while loving the HD650 quite a few times. Grado and Ultrasone mentioned here earlier ... crap to me and yes I had one and heard a bunch.
    And don't get me started on the Nighthawk as well, managed to keep it on my head for about 5 minutes twice only to try to give it a fair chance and felt like throwing it as far as I could when taking it off. About the only thing it beats are Beats. :wink:
    I both partly agree and disagree putting the TH-900 in that row. Stock it lacks mids, period. But an LA-900 on a Zana or vintage amp is superb to my ears. Each his own opinion of course.
    Two other phones I found great were the L3000 and W3000 but those wre really genre specific. Which is why I wouldn't buy them again and rather see/hear what a new AT woodie would be like.
    Does anyone have some more info on that closed M1 by any chance?
  12. Wurstteppich

    Well coming from a Stax 009 / BHSE owner that sounds really weird. I haven't heard the SR009 on the BHSE yet, but attached to other "legendary" setups like an Audiovalve Luminare, Malvalve or a KGSS. Those combos sound damn good, but in my opinion they are not worth the asking price either.

    However it's perfectly ok for me if there are some people, who keep searching for the best there is (or what is considered to be the setup which perfectly reproduces the music they way it is supposed to sound), I don't need to enter their world and call their setups overrated or even "hyped".

    Sorry to say, but since the first time you entered this thread, you kept speaking bad about this headphone, based on your short time with this headphone. Even if you still won't like after the necessary burn-in, you won't have to. Just accept that there are people which have a different opinion on that, let them enjoy it and spend their money on that headphone.

    I mean it's ok write a negative review about something, but sentences like "That should give you a hint about how popular the phone is :wink:" as an answer to "Seems like the lovers and the haters are both quiet now.........." paired with your previous contributions to this thread, make your intentions a little bit...well...questionable. Or is it just because someone compared this headphone to your precious Stax before? :wink:

    Well, coming back to the headphone itself. Like phonomat I still own it and still enjoy it very much, because of it's character paired with the high resolution and reproduction of sound. I didn't spend a thought on selling it because of it's uniqueness in sound, build quality and comfort. For me it was and still is absolutely worth the price.
  13. arnaud Contributor

    Sorry if I offended you. To clarify a couple of things:
    1. The KGSS, and especially the Luminare are far from legendary status. I really hope you get to hear a carbon, bhse, or even T2 at some point (seems difficult for you, you must be based in germany or nearby european country given the amps experience you have? )
    2. You misunderstood my post when you quoted the hyping bit only: I have a feeling feedback is sincere in this thread so I really am not on a crusade on the pionneer, if anything I wish liked what I had heard (I really liked the idea that another japanese player was back in this game)
    3. Me having an axle to grind because of competition with the stats: honestly there was no comparison whatsoever from what I heard / for my tastes perhaps.
    4. The tongue in cheek comment about the level of popularity was offending to owners so again, my apologies for hurting your feelings.

  14. Wurstteppich
    Well the above mentioned amps might be making a huge difference to you as you are one of the owners, but from what I've heard from people (some of them US based), which listened to some of those amps, they consider them indeed an improvement, but not that far away from others. I guess "legendary amplifiers for the SR009"-owners will get in rage, when they hear that sentence, but I've made the same experience with the Orpheus (1st and 2nd edition) in the past, so I tend to believe those reports. It's not a whole new level, it's just the famous last percents some people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for.
    Like I said before...that's perfectly ok as it's a hobby and people tend to spend a lot of money for their hobby. Furthermore if it really helps those enthusiasts to enjoy their music and makes them happy, it's a very good investment. On the other hand I always find it strange when people judge in a negative way on the pricing of other solutions, which deliver as well and are being compared to their toy. I always start asking myself in those situations, what their intentions are. Is it the old "my toy is better than yours (because I paid more)"-thing? My apologies if it's not the case, but going through your posts (paired with the comment about the popularity) in this thread again (also the ones from months ago), I am still not convinced that I was so wrong about the assumption in my last post and don't have the feeling I misunderstood something. I mean...why coming back and commenting in such a way, when this headphone just wasn't your pair of shoes. In my case, I usually lose interest in those threads and attach to the ones I am really interested in, instead of commenting further why this headphone is not worth the money.
    Btw...you didn't hurt my feelings. I have other hobbys besides headphones. So this one is intersting, but not that important. Certainly not that important to get my feelings about something hurt :)
  15. arnaud Contributor
    - Actually, I typically still follow threads for products I have listened to (or owns) to hear other people's opinion.
    - I typically drop out of some threads when I can't keep up with all the posts, this thread is not of that kind.
    - In this thread, early on, I was particularly keen on following because several reports, all coming from europe, were so far off my experience.
    - At this stage, I consider I heard a dud (unfortunate for a launch event in most famous headphone festival in Japan), and I am totally fine with people not believing my impressions.
    - Again, you have been implying, several times in a row, that I have an agenda. I don't, and accept your apologies :). See my posts from Fujiya show reports, I post freely on what I like, what I dislike, what I find absurdly overpriced and not. 
    - For the pioneer, given the finish, made by hand aspect and all, I do not find it overpriced in that sense, I know making stuff here costs so much and the Pioneer really looks well built
    - Sound wise though, jury is still open. In terms of comparison to other rigs, including mine: stats are in their own playground in MY experience (maybe we're not coming from the same audiophile history, I came to stats after years of sampling various dynamic phones, I know what I was seeking and found it). So I'd rather compare the pioneers to the likes of HD800, HEK, .... Same day I tried the Pioneer, I also sampled the HEK from Hifiman, I much preferred the voicing of the later. 
    - As you said, to each his own and many people dislike stats sound (you may be one of them, or at least they don't deserve the praise in your book, fine with me as well). About the comments on stat amps and stuff, this is largely off topic and perhaps you've made your mind from discussing with your friends already so not worth discussing (esp. not in this thread).
    - As I mentioned earlier, the Edition 1x threads have had the same lot of extremely polarised opinions with some few really like the phone and many going #eh!?#. The Pioneer might be one of these very polarising voicings?
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