Pioneer's First Hi-End Headphones: SE-Master 1
Feb 8, 2017 at 7:01 AM Post #1,126 of 1,963

thomson

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You will be better off terminating the cable into a 4-pin XLR. I guess there are a few good amps with 3-pin XLR outputs, but it will limit your choice.

I guess I will reterminate it too. Even when selling the SEM sometime in the future, I think ppl will pay more for the reterminate cable as for the stock one.

 
I agree that a 4-pin XLR will give you more choice but it's not certain people will pay more for a re-terminated cable; some people call it "cannibalizing"...
 
Also, the stock Pioneer cable is not really so easy to re-terminate if you have it done, make sure the it is done by someone experienced.
 
Feb 9, 2017 at 1:35 PM Post #1,129 of 1,963

Duncan

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I've seen on eBay a Cardas 2x3 to 4 pin adapter, I suppose that keeps options open without destroying anything
 
Feb 9, 2017 at 2:39 PM Post #1,130 of 1,963

phonomat

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A question regarding the cable...does it also happen to you that the white layer of mesh below the top black layer breaks through at some parts of the cable? If I remember correctly it happened over time.

 
Sadly, yes.
 
I guess this is not so bad:
 

 
However, this definitely is:
 

 
eek.gif
 
I don't think "massaging" will do it anymore at this point. The terrible thing is that the cable is now permanently bent at this angle. And believe it or not, I don't have the foggiest how that even happened.
confused.gif

 
Well annoying, and all the more so as build quality is so stellar apart from this flaw. It's like, come on guys, you almost earned a 10/10, how could you mess it up like that? Sigh.
Good thing I also have the balanced cable now, which is still pristine.
 
Feb 9, 2017 at 3:16 PM Post #1,131 of 1,963

KarlStromberg

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I agree that a 4-pin XLR will give you more choice but it's not certain people will pay more for a re-terminated cable; some people call it "cannibalizing"...
 
Also, the stock Pioneer cable is not really so easy to re-terminate if you have it done, make sure the it is done by someone experienced.

 
Actually I don't think of it as "cannibalizing". Pioneer should have provided a cable with the more popular 4-pin XLR connector in the first place. Under my impressions providing only a 2x 3-pin connector cable was an attempt to boost sales of the U-05 unit. I maybe completely wrong on this of course, but I think that could be one possible explanation.
 
However...why should it not be so easy to re-terminate the 2x 3-pin Neutriks to a 4-pin Neutrik? I've already re-terminated the Bayer T1 to a 4-pin XLR and created a small adapter cable for it, worked perfectly. 
 
   
Sadly, yes.
 
I guess this is not so bad:
 

 
However, this definitely is:
 

 
eek.gif
 
I don't think "massaging" will do it anymore at this point. The terrible thing is that the cable is now permanently bent at this angle. And believe it or not, I don't have the foggiest how that even happened.
confused.gif

 
Well annoying, and all the more so as build quality is so stellar apart from this flaw. It's like, come on guys, you almost earned a 10/10, how could you mess it up like that? Sigh.
Good thing I also have the balanced cable now, which is still pristine.

 
Ok I am not at this stage yet.
 

 
However I also think that massaging will just help over some time and then I have to do it on a regular basis. Usually I don't fold the cables, so they are extremely bent at some parts, but as you mentioned, they at some parts of the cable, it seems to bent automatically, with or without previous damages. However that is just the only one thing which really annoys me when it comes to the build quality of the Pioneer, everything else is perfectly fine up till now. Maybe I will drop a message to the support, just to see what they say about it.
 
Since we are talking about the XLR cable at the moment...xou mentioned you also have the XLR cable now...which amp you are using it with? I thought you are mainly using the V281?
 
And another question...since I plan to take a deeper look into the MDR-Z1R as a closed alternative (and maybe a replacement for the TH-900, TH-X00 and Ether C as well). What are your current impressions on that one, especially when compared to the SEM and TH900, which you both own?
 
Feb 10, 2017 at 8:37 AM Post #1,132 of 1,963

thomson

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Actually I don't think of it as "cannibalizing". Pioneer should have provided a cable with the more popular 4-pin XLR connector in the first place. Under my impressions providing only a 2x 3-pin connector cable was an attempt to boost sales of the U-05 unit. I maybe completely wrong on this of course, but I think that could be one possible explanation.

 
Sad as it is, I share your suspicion that Pioneer only provides a 2x3-pin XLR balanced cable in order to promote their own U-05...

 
Feb 10, 2017 at 9:13 AM Post #1,133 of 1,963

thomson

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  However...why should it not be so easy to re-terminate the 2x 3-pin Neutriks to a 4-pin Neutrik? I've already re-terminated the Bayer T1 to a 4-pin XLR and created a small adapter cable for it, worked perfectly. 

 
I haven't re-terminated as T1 cable so I cannot make a comparison but there are a few reasons why I wouldn't label re-temination of the SEM1 cable as "easy":
 
  • As soon as you cut the SEM1, the black sleeve begins to fray and it's best to try to stop this from spreading too much rather quickly.
    This can for example be done by melting the fraying end with a heat gun. However, care has to be taken to only melt the parts of the sleeve that should be melted and the appropriate temperature must be used since if it's too hot, or if an open fire is used, the white, cotton strands will be set on fire which is not what you want. Not too difficult but I wouldn't call it easy either.
  • The inner conductors are actually very thin and covered by a rather stiff, hard plastic that feels like PTFE. The inner conductors are too thin, and the isolation too strong, in order to use a standard strip tool so the cables must be cut manually. The challenge is to avoid damaging the wires inside when removing the isolation. Again, not too difficult but not too easy either.
  • Finally, the exposed, inner wires are covered with some sort of (acrylic?) coating that needs to be removed before they can be soldered. This is the most difficult part since the coating is rather stubborn and it's very easy to do more damage than intended or to end up with a bad soldering joint...
 
If you have done things above before, you will probably be able to re-terminate the SEM1 rather easily but if you haven't, then I think you'll need a few attempts before you get it right (and the cable might be quite a lot shorter than before)...
 
Feb 10, 2017 at 11:45 AM Post #1,134 of 1,963

KarlStromberg

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If you have done things above before, you will probably be able to re-terminate the SEM1 rather easily but if you haven't, then I think you'll need a few attempts before you get it right (and the cable might be quite a lot shorter than before)...

 
Actually I have done that before, even build my own speaker cables, since quality, sizes and finally also pricing of existing finished solutions never made me happy. So I ended up building my own, using high quality materials, but saving the cost for work hours (well my time could be counted in as well, but actually if you have some experience, it doesn't take that long) and marketing ******** as well as distribution.
 
But generally I agree with you...if you have no experience in that regard, I wouldn't recommend that either and maybe even my comment about people will maybe pay a higher price for the original one re-terminated was a little bit exaggerated. But at the end I thing when selling the SEM with the original and additionally a professionally re-terminated XLR one, will get you a good price. I don't have plans at the moment, so it was just thinking :)
 
Anyway...we should get back to the SEM itself, since the two cable issues (material on the stock cable and lack of a 4-pin XLR cable from Pioneer) are just two very small minus points when it comes to build quality and accessories.
 
Right now I am more interested which are the impressions when comparing it to the MDR-Z1R, since I've read some comments before that the Sony sounds as spacious as the Pioneer, one thing I like about the SEM. I heard it myself, but only for a short term, so I don't remember so well and some long-term owners might have different impressions.
 
Feb 11, 2017 at 9:18 AM Post #1,136 of 1,963

phonomat

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And another question...since I plan to take a deeper look into the MDR-Z1R as a closed alternative (and maybe a replacement for the TH-900, TH-X00 and Ether C as well). What are your current impressions on that one, especially when compared to the SEM and TH900, which you both own?

 
Hi Karl (any relation to Bernd?
wink.gif
),
I'm really no good at comparisons, but I'll try to quickly sum up my impressions regarding SEM1, TH-900 and MDR-Z1R. I bought the TH-900 on a whim and never really came to terms with how it sounds. Being a fellow owner, you will realise that its midrange is massively sccoped out. I knew it had recessed mids beforehand, but did not expect to which degree that would be the case -- and to which extent it would bother me. I've only really ever listened to it on my own setup (Surface Book-->Hugo-->V281), but in this constellation it sounds much too bright, lean and aggressive for my taste. I happen to like more of a full, yet spacious sound, and the TH-900 stayed far behind my expectations, even more so as I was looking for a can to listen predominantly to electronic music, for which it was recommended as a perfect match. I did not find this to be the case at all. Subbass is great, but midbass impact, which is far more important for the kind of music I mainly listen to, is comparatively weak, so I'd consider the reports about its prodigious qualities for Techno and most kinds of electronic dance music a misunderstanding or well-spread myth. Depending on your music choice, you might fare better with HipHop, reggae and dub, where subbass is more crucial.
Apart from the subbass, I don't think it does anything particularly well. What killed me however, were the piercing highs. A good deal of my hearing probably went down the drain while I kept turning the dial up looking for "dat bass" that I was promised and just getting highs upon highs sticking hot needles into my ears instead. Fatigue galore with this headphone, which is by no means warm except its pronounced subbass, quite the contrary, and not pleasant to listen to at all as far as I'm concerned. Consequently, I have stopped dealing with it it entirely. This might help you judge if we have similar preferences and our impressions of the TH-900 align. If they don't, you probably won't agree with how I hear the other two either.
 
The Z1R is just about everything I hoped the TH-900 would be: a fun can that has a very visceral bass impact (midbass is much better than TH-900's -- listening to the Z1R, it's almost like I  can feel the amount of air being pushed through the cups. To me, it's like a glorified version of a Meze 99, Pro900 or TH-900 without all the bad stuff. Quite good with my music library, but I do get some ringing in my ears even after shorter listening sessions. This is probably due to listening too loud because the bass is just so much fun, and most probably to its closed construction. It's definitely not about the highs with this one, as they are slightly rolled-off, which I mostly find agreeable. However, this contributes to it sounding closed-in and subdued compared to the SEM1. Going back to the Pioneer from the Z1R, it's like the oft-cited veil is lifted every single time. I consider the Z1R a fun can, the resolution of which is not up to par with the likes of SEM1 or HD800. I do not agree with the reports of wide soundstage or spacious sound. As far as I've seen, they are usually followed by "... for a closed can", which I think is the crucial part. The SEM1 is, quite frankly, in a totally different league when it comes to airiness and spacious sound. I don't think it's a fair comparison due to the different nature of the construction. In general, I would be hard pressed to name a single characteristic of the Z1R that excels over the SEM1, but this might be due to my preferring open cans over closed ones (which, as my experiences with TH-900 and Z1R have taught me, I apparently do). Paradoxically, even though the Z1R is "fun-sounding", it fails to excite me in the way the SEM1 does. (I know that too much initial excitement can be a bad thing in the long run, but with the SEM1, it just never left me. It's an adrenaline-filled, yet completely fatigue-free listen every time.) So, I'm keeping the Z1R as a closed alternative, but I'm curious to see how often I will reach for it over time.
Most people seem to quite like it though, and I would also characterise it as a "nice", "good" or "decent" headphone for some fun listening. There's just no way it's SEM1 good, and I wouldn't consider it "summit-fi" either, FWIW. Price-wise, I'd place it smack-dab in the middle of the 1000-1300$ bracket. What it lacks, to me, is exactly that spaciousness and clarity that I associate with "high-end" sound and that the SEM1 nails so incredibly well. I've realised how hard it is to find a headphone that combines this sort of openness and clarity with amazing bass impact. Most of the so-called TOTL cans just sound anemic to me (think HD800), and with the TH-900 erring on the bright side and the Z1R on the dark side, the SEM1, to my ears, remains the only headphone I've heard to date that has been able to walk this line with confidence and just unfailingly deliver. It just doesn't leave a single box unchecked.
 
In short: SEM1--------->Z1R------------------->TH-900.
I hope this helps a bit. I see you're in Germany as well, so feel free to PM me with any further/more specific questions; might be easier for us to continue auf Deutsch
wink.gif
 
 
Edit: Oh, and to answer your other question, the symmetrical cable I have is reterminated to 4-pin XLR.
 
Feb 11, 2017 at 12:24 PM Post #1,137 of 1,963

AppleheadMay

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Hi Karl (any relation to Bernd?
wink.gif
),
I'm really no good at comparisons, but I'll try to quickly sum up my impressions regarding SEM1, TH-900 and MDR-Z1R. I bought the TH-900 on a whim and never really came to terms with how it sounds. Being a fellow owner, you will realise that its midrange is massively sccoped out. I knew it had recessed mids beforehand, but did not expect to which degree that would be the case -- and to which extent it would bother me. I've only really ever listened to it on my own setup (Surface Book-->Hugo-->V281), but in this constellation it sounds much too bright, lean and aggressive for my taste. I happen to like more of a full, yet spacious sound, and the TH-900 stayed far behind my expectations, even more so as I was looking for a can to listen predominantly to electronic music, for which it was recommended as a perfect match. I did not find this to be the case at all. Subbass is great, but midbass impact, which is far more important for the kind of music I mainly listen to, is comparatively weak, so I'd consider the reports about its prodigious qualities for Techno and most kinds of electronic dance music a misunderstanding or well-spread myth. Depending on your music choice, you might fare better with HipHop, reggae and dub, where subbass is more crucial.
Apart from the subbass, I don't think it does anything particularly well. What killed me however, were the piercing highs. A good deal of my hearing probably went down the drain while I kept turning the dial up looking for "dat bass" that I was promised and just getting highs upon highs sticking hot needles into my ears instead. Fatigue galore with this headphone, which is by no means warm except its pronounced subbass, quite the contrary, and not pleasant to listen to at all as far as I'm concerned. Consequently, I have stopped dealing with it it entirely. This might help you judge if we have similar preferences and our impressions of the TH-900 align. If they don't, you probably won't agree with how I hear the other two either.
 
The Z1R is just about everything I hoped the TH-900 would be: a fun can that has a very visceral bass impact (midbass is much better than TH-900's -- listening to the Z1R, it's almost like I  can feel the amount of air being pushed through the cups. To me, it's like a glorified version of a Meze 99, Pro900 or TH-900 without all the bad stuff. Quite good with my music library, but I do get some ringing in my ears even after shorter listening sessions. This is probably due to listening too loud because the bass is just so much fun, and most probably to its closed construction. It's definitely not about the highs with this one, as they are slightly rolled-off, which I mostly find agreeable. However, this contributes to it sounding closed-in and subdued compared to the SEM1. Going back to the Pioneer from the Z1R, it's like the oft-cited veil is lifted every single time. I consider the Z1R a fun can, the resolution of which is not up to par with the likes of SEM1 or HD800. I do not agree with the reports of wide soundstage or spacious sound. As far as I've seen, they are usually followed by "... for a closed can", which I think is the crucial part. The SEM1 is, quite frankly, in a totally different league when it comes to airiness and spacious sound. I don't think it's a fair comparison due to the different nature of the construction. In general, I would be hard pressed to name a single characteristic of the Z1R that excels over the SEM1, but this might be due to my preferring open cans over closed ones (which, as my experiences with TH-900 and Z1R have taught me, I apparently do). Paradoxically, even though the Z1R is "fun-sounding", it fails to excite me in the way the SEM1 does. (I know that too much initial excitement can be a bad thing in the long run, but with the SEM1, it just never left me. It's an adrenaline-filled, yet completely fatigue-free listen every time.) So, I'm keeping the Z1R as a closed alternative, but I'm curious to see how often I will reach for it over time.
Most people seem to quite like it though, and I would also characterise it as a "nice", "good" or "decent" headphone for some fun listening. There's just no way it's SEM1 good, and I wouldn't consider it "summit-fi" either, FWIW. Price-wise, I'd place it smack-dab in the middle of the 1000-1300$ bracket. What it lacks, to me, is exactly that spaciousness and clarity that I associate with "high-end" sound and that the SEM1 nails so incredibly well. I've realised how hard it is to find a headphone that combines this sort of openness and clarity with amazing bass impact. Most of the so-called TOTL cans just sound anemic to me (think HD800), and with the TH-900 erring on the bright side and the Z1R on the dark side, the SEM1, to my ears, remains the only headphone I've heard to date that has been able to walk this line with confidence and just unfailingly deliver. It just doesn't leave a single box unchecked.
 
In short: SEM1--------->Z1R------------------->TH-900.
I hope this helps a bit. I see you're in Germany as well, so feel free to PM me with any further/more specific questions; might be easier for us to continue auf Deutsch
wink.gif
 
 
Edit: Oh, and to answer your other question, the symmetrical cable I have is reterminated to 4-pin XLR.

 
Fully agree with your opnions on the M1 and Z1R: high-end vs fun. For me that will relate to two channel music vs multichannel games and movies for the most part, not that I won't try them the other way around once in a while or not that I don't find the Z1R not good enough for music. When I need closed to avoid sound leakage it will be a pleasure to use the Z1R, or the LA-900 for that matter.
I have a totally different view on the TH-900, or rather LA-900 in my case which is a whole different animal. I tried to compare it to the M1 and Z1R while I was busy comparing the M1 to the Utopia and Elear and came to the conclusion that it sounded way too different from any other cans I had to be compared. I love the LA-900's sound and can't seem to part from it.
But you're nnot the only one complaining about piercing highs or the mid-range dip. The dip gets much better with the mods and I never had problems with the highs even though I'm rather sensitive to that. I sold my GSX because of it. Maybe production of the TH-900 is not that consistent?
 
On a whoile different note: I see you have a Surface Book. 2 questions if I may?
- With the keyboard flipped backwards (or maybe even in the normal laptop stand), can you use the screen in portrait mode or does the screen have to be taken off to use portrait?
- How do you like it in general, any chance you compared it to an iPad?
I'm trying to decide between a Surface book and a Pro 4, hence my interest. :)
 
Feb 11, 2017 at 4:07 PM Post #1,138 of 1,963

phonomat

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Sure! I have the 512 GB/intel Core i7/ -- 16 GB/dGPU version (unfortunately, the 1 TB hadn't been released yet when I bought mine), and I love it. Early adopter on that one, which I normally try to avoid, but I just needed a new laptop and couldn't wait. There were a few kinks they had to iron out, which they did, slowly but surely. Now it works like a charm. It's absolutely built like a tank with a wonderful, very sturdy keyboard (an important point for me), and in general very becoming aesthetics and ergonomics. Touchscreen works great as well, with or without the pen. Love how you can set it up like a tent to watch vids, I do that all the time. However, I'm afraid portrait mode does only work with the screen detached (tablet mode). If I may ask, why would you want to use portrait mode with the keyboard attached the normal way?

Re: comparisons with iPad: sorry, no can do. Being an Applehead, you won't like to hear this, but I'm heavily biased against Apple. (Whispers: "They're evil.") Haven't owned a product of theirs in my life, but if I interpret those glances of my "applehead" GF right, she is mighty jealous. :D
 
Feb 11, 2017 at 6:41 PM Post #1,139 of 1,963

AppleheadMay

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Yep, surely seems like a real interesting laptop/tablet to me and a high quality one at that. And I'm actually after the configuration with 1TB like you wanted, be it in Book or Pro verion. :wink:
I wouldn't really use it for reading with the keyboard in the normal position but I find it strange it can't be used in portrait mode with the keyboard in the reversed and folded back inwards position. Nothing you can do with the keyboard then anyway and it would trriple battery life for reading since 2/3 of the battery capacity is in the keyboard. Are you sure it doesn't do portait with the keyboard folded inwards?
 
The iPad comparison was just to know how it handled as a tablet. I'm not an Apple only fan (and actually not anymore).
I used a ZX Spectrum, Commodere 64 and 128 and a Macintosh for the first 5 years, then moved to PC's from 8088 to Pentium 4 for the next 15 years.
After that I switched to Mac for about 13 years and I'm busy switching back to Windows now.
Got me a rather cheap 17" Asus laptop for experimenting and am putting together a nice desktop. Still need someting portable, hence the Surface Book or Pro.
I'll keep using the iPhone for now since Android syncs with Windows worse than IOS does and sucks alltogether. Hoping for a Surface phone though.
But I think I'll still need to keep an iPad. Some things are only available as IOS apps (or sometimes Android as well) and not for Windows 10. Some magazine subscriptions, remote contrrols and apps to login into secure two-factor authentication account for example. And easy to use bank apps that don't require a card reader like their websites on OSX and Winows do.
 
Oh, and Applehead is the American name for a cat breed by the way, nothing to do with Apple computers in my case. :wink:
The breed is officially called Thai or Original Siamese that was revisited after the Siamese breed got ****ed up by breeders.
http://www.life-with-siamese-cats.com/applehead-siamese-cats.html
 
Feb 11, 2017 at 7:20 PM Post #1,140 of 1,963
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Under the black sleeving, there is quite a thick, white isolation that appears to be cotton.
 
The cotton fibers should not break through the sleeving during normal usage and if it does, it probably means that the cable has been bent "too much" so be careful not to pull the cable if there's a loop on it.
 
If the "damage" is not too big, it should be possible to restore the cable by carefully "massaging" the part where the cotton has creeped out and gently pushing the cotton fibers back in place.

This has been exactly my experience, and the fix as per final paragraph too.
 

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