Pioneer's First Hi-End Headphones: SE-Master 1
Nov 28, 2016 at 10:31 AM Post #1,036 of 1,962

starblue

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 I cant believe there is still a 'measurement' debate going on. But it doesn't bother me.
wink.gif

 
These days I have been listening to the SEM1 or Z1R every night, something that has not happened for a long time. Typically I would have enough things on my plate to keep me away from music on weekdays but these two headphones almost drag me back to listening every night. This is how I felt a long time back when listening to my crappy cassette deck, which technically was inferior but was all music to my ears. Its almost as if I am rediscovering my lost passion for music again. 
tongue.gif

 
I was asked to provide comparison between these two headphones. Unfortunately I can only give a few high level remarks. This is primarily due  (i) I don't have enough time to do a proper side by side comparison as I am busy preparing for moving to another house in few weeks and (ii) I find it almost sinful to take out which ever headphone is on my head to swap with the another one. Both the headphones are very engaging and it comes down purely to the listening pleasure. whichever headphone goes on my head kills the urge to swap and stays on for the evening. 
- Both headphones are relatively on the darker side but resolves very very well. Between the two, SEM1 is the brighter one but overall its still on the dark side. Despite relatively darker, Z1R is also very transparent.
- Out of the box Z1R was quite bassy while SEM1 was slightly bright. Both headphones have settled now. SEM1 packs a lot of punch while Z1R's bass is now tighter and more accurate
- Physically comfort wise Z1R is way lighter but its ear pads has smaller opening. In comparision SEM1 pads have slightly bigger opening making it more 'roomier' and comfortable around the ears. SEM1 hides its weight quite well.
 
I have thrown quite a few genres at these two headphones (not to test but just picking up whatever I feel like listening) including stuff from 80s and 90s and I am yet to be disappointed.
 
Right now I am listening to the SEM1 via Audirvana and Sony PHA-3 connected to my iMac. This thing is just awesome. I consider my money well spent!
 
happy listening 
smily_headphones1.gif
 

 would you say both are of similar sound signatures? I've heard the z1r and it didn't impress me for the price and I'm wondering if the pioneer would be better...I do love the fostex sound signature but am looking to try out others after being so long with that line from d2k to th900, so looking at the pioneer and the elear, both which I've not heard


To my ears both Z1R and SEM1 have different sound signatures. You should definitely give the SEM1 a try keeping aside the Z1R impression. I have never heard Elear but if you can get your hands on it to audition then even better. I would like to try the Elear some day myself!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Nov 28, 2016 at 12:17 PM Post #1,037 of 1,962

AppleheadMay

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  I cant believe there is still a 'measurement' debate going on. But it doesn't bother me.
wink.gif

 
These days I have been listening to the SEM1 or Z1R every night, something that has not happened for a long time. Typically I would have enough things on my plate to keep me away from music on weekdays but these two headphones almost drag me back to listening every night. This is how I felt a long time back when listening to my crappy cassette deck, which technically was inferior but was all music to my ears. Its almost as if I am rediscovering my lost passion for music again. 
tongue.gif

 
I was asked to provide comparison between these two headphones. Unfortunately I can only give a few high level remarks. This is primarily due  (i) I don't have enough time to do a proper side by side comparison as I am busy preparing for moving to another house in few weeks and (ii) I find it almost sinful to take out which ever headphone is on my head to swap with the another one. Both the headphones are very engaging and it comes down purely to the listening pleasure. whichever headphone goes on my head kills the urge to swap and stays on for the evening. 
- Both headphones are relatively on the darker side but resolves very very well. Between the two, SEM1 is the brighter one but overall its still on the dark side. Despite relatively darker, Z1R is also very transparent.
- Out of the box Z1R was quite bassy while SEM1 was slightly bright. Both headphones have settled now. SEM1 packs a lot of punch while Z1R's bass is now tighter and more accurate
- Physically comfort wise Z1R is way lighter but its ear pads has smaller opening. In comparision SEM1 pads have slightly bigger opening making it more 'roomier' and comfortable around the ears. SEM1 hides its weight quite well.
 
I have thrown quite a few genres at these two headphones (not to test but just picking up whatever I feel like listening) including stuff from 80s and 90s and I am yet to be disappointed.
 
Right now I am listening to the SEM1 via Audirvana and Sony PHA-3 connected to my iMac. This thing is just awesome. I consider my money well spent!
 
happy listening 
smily_headphones1.gif
 

 
I know the feeling about writing reviews, hard to find the time to do it properly.
But I'm glad to read your impressions though, just as helpful.
They do add one more problem for me though: I decided to discard the Sony due to some negative impressions I found and not being able to audition it. The Sony stores around here hardly carry any headphones let alone the more expensive ones and if they did they wouldn't open tohe box to demo it.
 
I did find a place to try out the Elear and Utopia however and hope to be able to go there soon. They also carry some other headphones I'm less intersted in but do want to try out anyway: LCD-4, HE-1000 V2 and HD800S. But I have no idea where to find a Sony. Buy from Amazon and ask for a refund if I don't like it?
 
Nov 29, 2016 at 3:37 AM Post #1,038 of 1,962

starblue

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I know the feeling about writing reviews, hard to find the time to do it properly.
But I'm glad to read your impressions though, just as helpful.
They do add one more problem for me though: I decided to discard the Sony due to some negative impressions I found and not being able to audition it. The Sony stores around here hardly carry any headphones let alone the more expensive ones and if they did they wouldn't open tohe box to demo it.
 
I did find a place to try out the Elear and Utopia however and hope to be able to go there soon. They also carry some other headphones I'm less intersted in but do want to try out anyway: LCD-4, HE-1000 V2 and HD800S. But I have no idea where to find a Sony. Buy from Amazon and ask for a refund if I don't like it?


I am in Tokyo and here we don't have the same amazon policy. Unless there is a defect or issue with the order itself we can not return it like in US. We do have a lot of stores where we can find most Japanese brands to listen too :)
 
When I first heard the Z1R out of the box, I almost regretted the purchase. It almost felt like the headphones were pushing a lot of air and putting pressure on my eardrums. But after burn in it settled really nicely. I understand the lack of ability to audition and agree that such an expensive purchase shouldn't be made without trying first, however don't write-off the Z1R based on internal opinion. every ear is different. HD800 can bleed my ear with some recordings and/or when paired with some amps but there are others who would die for it it...
 
I have not heard LCD-4 or HE1000, and also I have not listened to my LCD3 for a while now but I am sure it remains the best in my collection. every time I listen to it, just two words come to mind "wonderfully dark". I am a big fan of Audeze. You should try them!
 
Nov 29, 2016 at 8:41 AM Post #1,039 of 1,962

astrostar59

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And the comment I think made by ToroFiestaSol - Pioneer jumped on the bandwagon of established companies. Do your homework! Pioneer have been in the high end game for a very long time. Their Exclusive P3 turntable first released in 1979 won a slew of awards back then and still sell for 4-6000 USD today. Not to mention various other exotic high end Hi-Fi gear.
 

Isn't TAD a part of Pioneer? TAS makes some amazingly good high end audio gear. I heard a full TAD system last year at a hifi show, sounded incredible.
 
http://tad-labs.com/jp/
 
Nov 29, 2016 at 12:40 PM Post #1,040 of 1,962

AppleheadMay

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I am in Tokyo and here we don't have the same amazon policy. Unless there is a defect or issue with the order itself we can not return it like in US. We do have a lot of stores where we can find most Japanese brands to listen too :)
 
When I first heard the Z1R out of the box, I almost regretted the purchase. It almost felt like the headphones were pushing a lot of air and putting pressure on my eardrums. But after burn in it settled really nicely. I understand the lack of ability to audition and agree that such an expensive purchase shouldn't be made without trying first, however don't write-off the Z1R based on internal opinion. every ear is different. HD800 can bleed my ear with some recordings and/or when paired with some amps but there are others who would die for it it...
 
I have not heard LCD-4 or HE1000, and also I have not listened to my LCD3 for a while now but I am sure it remains the best in my collection. every time I listen to it, just two words come to mind "wonderfully dark". I am a big fan of Audeze. You should try them!

 
Yep, the Z1R does intrigue me.
 
I had the LCD-2 which I didn't like. I also had the LCD-XC and compared it for hours to the LCD-3 and liked both as much. But after owning the XC for half a year I decided I still preferred my dynamic cans so I sold it off again. I'm not planning to go the planar route again though I want to give the HE-1000 a chance.
In the end I want to keep the phones that best match my taste ...
 
Dec 2, 2016 at 9:15 AM Post #1,041 of 1,962

phonomat

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MANNN, is this headphone ever great! After over a year, this is still my daily driver, and it delivers every. single. time! Unlike others, I could very well live with this can and this can alone until the end of days. Definitely my lonely island item #1. I still consider it my best audio purchase to this day, and I really can't imagine to ever let it go, come what will.
 
Oh, and to the naysayers that keep periodically popping up in a whac-a-mole fashion: This is me listening to the Master1: 
 
 
 
tongue.gif

 
So, what's new then? Well, for one I managed to secure a balanced cable from a fellow member (thanks again!); haven't had time for any meaningful comparisons so far, but I'll be sure to post my findings. To be frank, I don't expect any wonders, but since I keep reading that balanced is where the Vio V281 really shines, I thought I might as well give it a try.
 
Secondly, my finger was hovering over the order button of the MDR-Z1R for a looong time. As I said, I'm just much too happy with the M1 to really be in the market for any sort of up-/side-/downgrade, but then again what I heard about it sounded intriguing, and I figured it might go well with my recently acquired NW-WM1A, so eventually curiosity got the better of me and I pushed myself over the edge. The Z1R just arrived, and comparison session starts NOW. Crazy good times indeed! (Actually I'm not too confident that it will be able to hold a candle to His Greatness, the honorable Master1. It's certainly a tough task. Well, however it turns out, I'll keep you posted.)
 
 
  Isn't TAD a part of Pioneer? TAS makes some amazingly good high end audio gear. I heard a full TAD system last year at a hifi show, sounded incredible.
 
http://tad-labs.com/jp/

 
Yes, that's correct. What's more, the actual "Master" (i.e. the man behind the Master1 who allegedly hand-assembles it one unit per day) is originally responsible for the TAD side of things.
 
 
@up late, how did your demo session turn out?
 
Dec 5, 2016 at 12:26 PM Post #1,042 of 1,962

nemomec

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I had now the pleasure to heard a few days a well burned in Pioneer Master 1 headphone and i think the pioneer is a combination between a Fostex TH-600/900 and a Sennheiser HD-800S. Bass from the Fostex models and mids/highs from the Sennheiser HD-800S. The built quality and the comfort are very good and represents the price range. He has a fun sound signature with boostet upper bass, a extension in the highs with slight sharpness and a overall good soundstage. In the end for me it was too much fun and i prefer a more balanced sound signature and a overall cleaner/natural sound, but i can understand that many like this sound signature especially with electronic music. I personal would take the Master 1 in the dynamic headphone world from the pure sound aspect over a Sennheiser HD-800/800S, Fostex TH-900 or a Beyerdynamic T1/2nd and on the same level like the for me actual best dynamic headphone AKG K812 Pro (not heard Focal Utopia). But in a direct comparision with my Stax SR-009 or SR-007 MK1 there was nothing where the Pioneer was not outperformed by the Staxes but built quality and comfort are on the same level. However a serious Stax SR-009/007 MK1 rig are much more expensive like a good sounding Pioneer Master 1 setup.
 
Dec 17, 2016 at 3:32 AM Post #1,043 of 1,962

astrostar59

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In fact, 007 with port mod has even more detail than 009 but much smoother, linear and with better bass, I know we all hear different but even Bob Katz, listening to his own master in both headphones said: "You like 009? You must be deaf"

I tried the port mod on my previous 007s and it was a mixed bag. The bass was a bit less sloppy but lost some drive IMO. So I reverted.
 
But the issue I have with your quote is the treble. No way on earth the 007 will ever have the treble speed and transparency of the 009, not a chance, sorry. All the 007s I have heard (about 7) and my previous 007 MK2 and the current 007A 2015 are veiled compared to the 009s.
 
The 009s are a challenge with brighter sources, but fed by a smooth DAC they are magical, perfect IMO.
 
Dec 17, 2016 at 7:28 AM Post #1,044 of 1,962

ToroFiestaSol

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  I tried the port mod on my previous 007s and it was a mixed bag. The bass was a bit less sloppy but lost some drive IMO. So I reverted.
 
But the issue I have with your quote is the treble. No way on earth the 007 will ever have the treble speed and transparency of the 009, not a chance, sorry. All the 007s I have heard (about 7) and my previous 007 MK2 and the current 007A 2015 are veiled compared to the 009s.
 
The 009s are a challenge with brighter sources, but fed by a smooth DAC they are magical, perfect IMO.

 
Funny how different we hear :)
 
I think that what you describe is the case of brighter=more transparent, and no, I think the opposite.
Veiled is a non fazor Audeze, and bright is HD800, and a while less bright than HD800, SR009 is a bright, thin sounding headphone.
 
I see you have an Audionote tube DAC, and probably that's the "veiled" component on your chain. It probably has more than 3% distortion over 1khz, so probably is compensating the bright headphone (009), and making the transparent one sound veiled (007)
 
Nothing wrong with that, different people, different opinions.
 
Oh, going off topic
Remember that link I posted about T2 successor?
Well, take a look at this:
http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/hifiman-introduces-ultimate-headphone-system-shangri-la/
 
Look at the comment section, the comment from "Staxguy": 
 
"Sound wize, of course I'd like to wait for the Reference Stax (long promised, mentioned in a Japanese PDF) as upcoming, though this one, nothing looks wrong in terms of sound about it."
 
Maybe we can end the 007/009 debate soon :)
 
Dec 20, 2016 at 9:04 AM Post #1,045 of 1,962

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it's a shame the SEM1s are still not being talked about enough, I have now tested them against some of the best headphones out there, some more expensive and these come out flying winners in every musical genre. Boy do they pack a punch and sound so vivid.
 
Dec 20, 2016 at 9:44 AM Post #1,046 of 1,962

thomson

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  it's a shame the SEM1s are still not being talked about enough, I have now tested them against some of the best headphones out there, some more expensive and these come out flying winners in every musical genre. Boy do they pack a punch and sound so vivid.


I definitely prefer listening to my SEM1 compared to my HD800S.
I find the soundstage of the SEM1 to be much more natural, almost live, while the HD800S make me feel like the music is generated somewhere inside my head.
The bass of the HD800S is more precise but I much prefer the heavier bass presentation of the SEM1 even if it's "boomier" but that doesn't bother me half as much as the soundstage.
I currently have the SEM1 up for sale but after constantly finding myself reaching for the SEM1 instead of the HD800S, I'm seriously thinking to put the HD800S up for sale instead...
 
Dec 21, 2016 at 8:10 PM Post #1,047 of 1,962

pbui44

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When I had a lengthy demo with the SE-Master1, U-05 DAC/Amp, and XDP-100R DAP at the Pioneer table during CanJam@SoCal earlier this year, I thought of them as the best bang-for-buck products out there, especially when comparing them to the Audeze LCD-4, Astell and Kern AK240, and Oppo HA-1 that I heard earlier and later. Well, having the Chord Dave that everyone was fighting to demo at the Chord table behind me probably did not help me make an unbiased review of the products. :wink:

After reading more HA-1 reviews of them being harsh with treble and agreeing with this, the AK DAPs finally being able to support only Tidal, and trying out the HD800S for a week, I still feel that they are the best bang-for-buck products out there, but that many can still get a good deal on new/used ones, as they are mostly overlooked. I remember in the 90s, when Sony fought many other companies, like Pioneer, in various industries. I feel that Pioneer now makes comparable or better audio products than Sony does, though many don't even see this. Was it the walkman? Was it the discman? Was it the playstation? Was it the MDR-R10? :p

Although the Pioneer webpage is tough to navigate and does not initially show all three of the above products at once (had to search for the U-05 DAC/Amp), take a really close look at those three products, because all three are not just comparable, but are also favorable in many aspects, to the more expensive LCD-4, AK240, and HA-1. :)

Edit: Forgot about the floor and schedule of when I did demos during CanJam@SoCal. :)
 
Dec 25, 2016 at 10:21 PM Post #1,048 of 1,962

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I had a demo with the Pioneer SE-Master1 headphones this week and I was very impressed.  My problem is that the Master1's were playing on a CD player / digital out / dac-headphone amp that was very "hi end($)".  I am using the Fiio E17 / E09k dac / headphone amp with my best headphones being a pair of Grado SR125 and the Beyerdynamics (600 ohm) DT880. 
My question is:
Would I gain anything over my current headphones using my current Fiio combo or will I need to move up to get a noticeable improvement?
 
Thanks for your time,
Hopefully, a future Pioneer SE-Master1 owner
 
Dec 26, 2016 at 2:03 AM Post #1,049 of 1,962

AppleheadMay

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  I had a demo with the Pioneer SE-Master1 headphones this week and I was very impressed.  My problem is that the Master1's were playing on a CD player / digital out / dac-headphone amp that was very "hi end($)".  I am using the Fiio E17 / E09k dac / headphone amp with my best headphones being a pair of Grado SR125 and the Beyerdynamics (600 ohm) DT880. 
My question is:
Would I gain anything over my current headphones using my current Fiio combo or will I need to move up to get a noticeable improvement?
 
Thanks for your time,
Hopefully, a future Pioneer SE-Master1 owner

 
The M1 played great out of my Marantz HD-Dac1 dac/amp combo as well as my Marantz NA-11 S1 which is a nice dac (well, dac with network functionality actually) with an afterthought phones out. Of course it still sounds better out of a Zana for example but that's the case with any phones.
The M1 doesn't need much juice so I think they'll do well with a quality portable player. 
 
Dec 26, 2016 at 2:42 PM Post #1,050 of 1,962

sakomoto

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 Originally Posted by infinitycj 
  I had a demo with the Pioneer SE-Master1 headphones this week and I was very impressed.  My problem is that the Master1's were playing on a CD player / digital out / dac-headphone amp that was very "hi end($)".  I am using the Fiio E17 / E09k dac / headphone amp with my best headphones being a pair of Grado SR125 and the Beyerdynamics (600 ohm) DT880. 
My question is:
Would I gain anything over my current headphones using my current Fiio combo or will I need to move up to get a noticeable improvement?
 
Thanks for your time,
Hopefully, a future Pioneer SE-Master1 owner

I think you need to ask yourself, is it worth it buying such high end headphones and not giving them the source, amp/dac they deserve?
 
For me they worked beautifully with the Sennheiser HDVD800 dac/amp, so i bought them both together.
 

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