Pioneer’s new range of headphones are supposed to provide "high-end, Superior Club sound", with the drivers for the flagship model (the SE-MX9) based on those used by the highly-acclaimed HDJ-2000s, and the in-ear SE-CX9 and SE-CX8 headphones featuring built-in bass exciters that vibrate with your music, so you can literally feel your music.
Which leaves us with the SE-MX7s - the subject of our review - which are a pair of on-ear (supra-aural) headphones that feature two 40mm drivers per ear-cup (one each for bass and midrange), and Advanced Bass Level Control, which basically means you can adjust the amount of bass the headphones give you by turning a dial on the left ear cup. Yes, it’s all about getting thumping sound, and Pioneer has no qualms in selling their headphones as being able to "fully recreate the club sound experience".
Available in a selection of four trendy colors - Matte White, Matte Black, Matte Blue and Matte Orange, the SE-MX7 is decidedly futuristic, with metallic caps contrasting the matte plastic headbands which feature an improved shape that maximizes the contact with your head for a stable and comfortable fit.
Pioneer says the finish is durable high-quality rubber like on the outside, with light, soft leather type cushion on the inside, but we personally found the cushioning to be a little on the stiff side, which meant we had to give our ears short breaks in between listening periods. However, we must say that the cushioning actually provided very effective passive noise isolation, as surrounding noise was noticeably dampened once we put the SE-MX7s on.
While the cushioning is stiff, the headband certainly is flexible, so users of all head sizes should have no issues getting a good fit. As with most headphones these days, the SE-MX7 features an in-line remote that allows you to control the volume of your music and answer calls via the integrated microphone. Also included in the box is a soft carrying pouch for transporting your headphones.
A nice touch though, is the locking design on the plug of cables which requires you to twist the plug to unlock, before pulling it out of the audio jack. This helps to prevent you from accidentally yanking the cable out of the headphones, should you happen to get the cable caught up in something while you’re walking for example.
Before we go into the results of our testing, we have to state that these headphones are not meant to be accurate in the least - given their "Club sound" label. With a frequency response that goes all the way down to 6Hz (or so the they claim), and two drivers per side for midrange and bass it goes without saying that deep rumbling bass is a bit of a specialty for the SE-MX7.
In fact, we’d say the sonic signature of this set of headphones is bass heavy and exciting, but lacking a little finesse. There’s a palpable thump in the low notes even when the bass adjustment is toned down to the minimum. And when you turn it to maximum? The SE-MX7s positively resonates, which is probably the best way to say that Pioneer has delivered on its promise to "fully recreate the club sound experience".
It seems that the enhanced bass comes at a price though, as high notes - the trebles and upper mids – seemed to get a little lost at times. In adding volume and presence to vocal tracks, details sometimes got lost amid the strong wash of bass. For example, when we listened to Morcheeba’s Trigger Hippie (from their Who Can You Trust? album), Skye Edward’s vocals seemed to lose their haunting, ethereal quality. Instead, they seemed to be a little too full; a little too in-your-face, if only to be heard over the bass line.
Turn the bass adjustment down to its minimum, and the balance is better, and you don’t feel the mid to treble range being brought forward unnaturally. Thus, we’d recommend leaving the bass adjustment in at least the lower half of the scale if you’re just doing general listening with vocal tracks or pieces that feature instrumental parts heavily.
For our formal test and reporting, we started with Melt My Heart to Stone by Adele, and here the SE-MX7’s tendency to bring vocals forward only served to make us more aware of the breaths Adele took between verses . Overall though, Adele’s normally powerful vocals lacked that bit of extra sparkle, and failed to outdo that heavy bass.
Moving on to Hotel California by The Eagles, the SE-MX7 redeemed itself somewhat with its ability to pick out detail, and its imaging of the various instruments. We thought the high trebles were toned down slightly as the overall track was skewed towards the bass and the lower mids. Still, this proved to be enjoyable listening, even if it wasn’t the most accurate.
On Tiesto’s Elements of Life was where the headphones really came into its element (forgive the pun) though, as it matched the relentless bass line seemingly effortlessly, and delivering thumping bass to add excitement to this fast-paced song.
Finally, we moved on the Buckethead’s Sail on Soothsayer. Again this seemed to fit better into the SE-MX7’s range. As the rasping sounds of Buckethead’s electric guitar were well resolved, and the headphones delivered an engaging experience with the leading bass.
While we round up the overall performance of the headset to be decent, do take note that this is taking into consideration that the headset is catered to bass-lovers from the get-go.
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||7.5|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||8.5|
|Elements of Life - Tiesto||8.5|
|Hotel California - The Eagles||8.0|
|Overall Audio Performance||8.0|
Flashy looks, booming bass, and a bass control feature that actually works well (compared to most other enhancement functions on other audio devices). The Pioneer SE-MX7 is a pair of headphones that clubbers and bass heads will probably love - if the price tag doesn’t put them off. This is especially so because S$299 puts it directly in comparison with the more well-rounded Sennheiser Momentum (S$299) and the more clinical Audio-Technica ATH-M50x (S$228) which is also targeted at DJs and Audio professionals. Neither will produce the (literally) thumping bass that the SE-MX7 does, but both will arguably give you a wider range of listening pleasure, so it really comes down to your personal listening tastes. Even so, we feel the price point is quite expensive considering its limited audience appeal as opposed to the above-mentioned products.