Pioneer HDJ-1500 DJ Headphones review

Link: Pioneer – Price at launch: $179/€179/£149

Introduction

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Over the years, there have been a handful of standards in the DJ industry. And it’s reasonably safe to say that Pioneer have had more than their fair share. DJMs and CDJs have pretty much owned the club scene for a long time, and it’s almost certain that the DJ stood in front of them had a pair of Pioneer HDJ-1ooos sat atop their head, hung round their neck, or casually scattered around the booth.

But even standards need an update sometimes, and that’s what the HDJ-1500 headphones are. Having overhauled the top and bottom ends of the DJ headphones food chain, the space in the middle was due for an overhaul – and what a stylish overhaul it is.

In The Box

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Pioneer offer a pretty standard in the box experience – a soft pouch, a removable and lockable flexible cable and the obligatory 1/4″ adaptor. Seems that manufacturers have the common sense to go with the minijack standard for mobile devices and offer the adaptor these days. The box is an exercise in landfill overflow. It’s time for manufacturers to take a long hard look at just how much of their packaging is totally wasted. Not just Pioneer, so don’t take it personally.

It’s worth mentioning the optional hard case. The HDJ-1500s aren’t cheap or lightweight, so it may well be worth paying the hard case insurance premium.

Looks

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Given the heritage, it makes sense to not stray too far from the classic HDJ-1000 looks. Whilst being radically updated, the HDJ-1000 DNA is clearly there. It’s not so evident on the Black pair I have here, but is unmistakable on the Silver PR shots. Suddenly the 1000s look really old.

Pioneer have also grafted in genetic material from their flagship HDJ-2000 headphones too. The headband is more or less identical and give the 1500s a much more modern look and feel. The family resemblance is strong here.

On your head, they’re sleek and low profile. The hinge parts stick out a little just as the 1000s did, but I’m sure the upgraders will welcome that anyway. Stealth DJs will be happy with the Black ones, but those wishing to wear the Pioneer badge with pride should do for the Silver.

Build Quality

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Despite their popularity, the 1000s broke. A lot. So this was an ideal opportunity to wipe the slate clean, reset the QC counter and make sure that the HDJ-1500s didn’t suffer the same issues. It’s clear that lessons have been learned, and the much simpler but higher quality construction is a testament to that.

The HDJ-1500s are a mixture of matt rubber feel plastic and coated magnesium alloy. They still come complete with the usual screws and covers to allow repairs. Speaking of which, the hinges are upgraded from the 1000s as well. And so they should be as this was the weak spot that usually broke first. Without doing delicate surgery, the normally weak spot looks to be a solid moulded piece fitting into alloy parts. I really can’t see how these will break the same way as the old ones. But time will tell on that one.

Pioneer HDJ-1500 DJ Headphones review

The pads are made from plastic and memory foam. Rather usefully, the ear pads  can be swapped with the considerably more comfortable HDJ-2000 pads, and the locking cable is the same at the HDJ-500. So for most potential wear and tear issues, Pioneer have you covered.

Overall, they feel absolutely lovely – solid, weighty and are creak and rattle free. They flex and return without complaining and have taken quite a beating in my hands. For those worrying about another broken pair of HDJs, I’d say the chances of that happening are considerably less now.

Sound Quality

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Given that I feel the HDJ-2000s are one the best sounding headphones around, the HDJ-1500s have a lot to live up to. Testing on their own, the 1500s offer a very loud and full sound. They’re perhaps a bit full in the mids for me, but do deliver a really great sound regardless of my own personal preferences. Knowing that people will want a comparison, the 2000s are a little quieter and also for me more refined. I’d be much happier with the 2000s for purely listening, but for DJing I’m perfectly happy with either.

Isolation

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When looking at the ear pads, I thought that isolation might be an issue. But I was wrong. Without getting intricate measuring instruments out that I don’t actually own, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the 1500s and 2000s i.e. it’s good, and if the PR is to be believed, it’s scientifically better than the 1000s by some 4dB.

Comfort and Stability

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The pads, both head and ear, are a bit firm. In particular the width of the ear pads combined with the memory foam’s firmness do make them feel a tad perched on my head rather than being a snug fit. I will counter my own opinion here with the fact that I’m switching between the 1500s and 200os for comparative tests for this review, and there’s nothing quite as comfortable as the head sex that is the HDJ-2000.

That said, because of the heavyweight construction, the HDJ-1500 cans do move around a little more that I’d like when I’m getting all head-bobbing. But if you’re more of a heads down kind of DJ, these new headphones will serve you well. But I’d probably drop the extra £25-30 for the HDJ2000 pads myself, or maybe give the cheaper Zomo third-party ones a go.

Compactness

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With the hinges and swivels, the cups quite happily fold up into the head band without an issue. So bag space isn’t a worry. Just bear in mind that if you go for the hard case option, that’ll take up more room.

Summary

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Taking them in isolation, the HDJ-1500 headphones are excellent. I’m probably being picky with the comfort issue because I generally struggle with anything on my head.  However, I think for most potential customers, the question is whether the HDJ-1500 headphones are a worthy update to the now relatively ancient HDJ-1000s. For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I never liked them, so I can see where the changes have been made, but the legacy has been preserved. Purists will want the Silver model, but the Black model is stunning on the eye as well.

Value wise, these are pitched at the same level as before. And if you were prepared to pay that much for the HDJ-1000s, you’ll be very happy indeed with the 1500s. Looks wise, they’re modern but not forgetting their heritage and the quality is solid leap up from the 1000s and all the regular weak spots are replaceable. Buy with confidence, but if you can, try them on first.

Hype: HDJ-1000 legacy looks, quality and replaceability.
Gripe: Comfort, but it depends on your head.

Pioneer HDJ-1500 Press release

Pioneer launches the HDJ-1500 – Professional DJ headphones 

10th April 2012: Every DJ knows that a spectacular set requires high-quality headphones. Enter the HDJ-1500s, the pro-DJ headphones that deliver flawless sound reproduction and impressive durability in a seriously stylish package.

The latest addition to Pioneer’s professional headphones range, the HDJ-1500s owe their crystal-clear sound quality to increased output levels, a lower impedance and an exclusive soundproofing chamber specially developed by Pioneer.

The HJD-1500s’ copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils guarantee accurate reproduction of deep base notes and superbly balanced sound across all frequencies. And the exclusive soundproofing chamber eliminates outside noise so DJs can easily monitor the beat –even in the loudest of venues.

Ruggedly built, with lightweight but durable magnesium alloy parts, the HDJ-1500s are perfectly designed to endure the rigors of frequent professional use. And the urethane memory foam ear pads hug the ear for maximum comfort even during the longest sets.

Available in two stunning colors – classy chrome black and sleek deep silver– the HDJ-1500s look good in every venue, while the included carrying pouch means they’re perfectly portable.

Key features of the HDJ-1500

Superb sound quality

With high-quality components, the HDJ-1500s deliver perfectly balanced sound across all frequencies. The headphones feature copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, large 50 mm driver units, rare earth magnets and 38μm-thick diaphragms, guaranteeing accurate reproduction of deep base notes and clear delivery of other low to medium frequencies, such as kicks and snares. Output levels are 1 dB greater than Pioneer’s HDJ-1000 headphones, and a lower impedance offers even greater sensitivity, so DJs get pristine sound reproduction every time, regardless of what device the HDJ-1500s are hooked up to.

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: groundbreaking soundproofing component

Monitoring tracks on a heaving dance floor is a breeze with the HDJ-1500s, no matter how rowdy the party gets. Sound insulation around low and medium frequencies (300 Hz to 1,300 Hz) has improved by an impressive 4 dB compared to the HDJ-1000s thanks to the innovative sound-isolation chamber on the bass reflex port, which eliminates background noise.

Durable design for professional use

The HDJ-1500s’ moving headband and hinges are composed of rugged yet lightweight magnesium alloy to withstand the rigors of professional use. Plus, the single-sided cable can be easily replaced if it gets damaged, further prolonging the life of the headphones.

Supreme comfort with interchangeable urethane foam ear pads

The narrow ear cup design creates a tight seal on your ear to block out external sound, while the low-resilience urethane memory foam ear pads make sure the HDJ-1500s are easy on the ears even during prolonged use. The included ear pads can be replaced with the HDJ-EP01s –open-cup protein leather ear pads which sit around the ears and are sold separately –so DJs can choose the best option to suit their comfort and listening style.

Available in two colors: chrome black and deep silver

DJs can coordinate their headphones with the club, the studio, their kit, their set, their clothes or even their mood as the HDJ-1500s come in two striking colors–classy chrome black and sleek deep silver.

Included accessories

The compact carrying pouch means the headphones can be safely transported to the club or the studio in style. The HDJ-1500s also fit perfectly in the slim and lightweight HDJ-HC01 carrying case. Accessories such as USB memory sticks and SD cards can be stored in specially designated pockets within the carrying cases for added convenience.

Main specifications – HDJ-1500

DescriptionEnclosed dynamic stereo headphones
Impedance32 Ω
Sensitivity108 dB
Frequency range5 Hz to 30,000 Hz
Maximum input3,500 mW(JEITA)
Drive unitsφ50 mm domes
Cable length1.2 m single-sided coiled cable (approximately 3.0 m when extended – removable type)
Plugφ3.5 mm stereo mini-jack (gold-plated, two-way, screw type)
Ear padsPolyurethane (leather type)
Weight285 g (excluding cable)
Included accessoriesφ6.3 mm standard stereo adapter (gold-plated, screw type) and carrying pouch

The king is dead, long live the king? Sitting between the HDJ-500 and HDJ-2000s, these look to be the logical successor to the HDJ-1000. We can but hope – those cans are getting old, and no amount of wacky paint jobs is making them look like part of the new era of Pioneer headphones.

They do seem to take their design lead from the 2000s, but revert to a more familiar hinge mechanism. The HDJ-1000 look is there, but updated – this I suspect is to appeal to the huge user base who are looking for an update to the HDJ-1000s, but don’t really want to stray too far familiar territory or brand.

I like the specs, but it’s the detail that counts. All new isolation technology, replaceable pads and cables, as well as an optional hard case – and available in black and silver. Which would you choose?

I’m certainly looking forward to testing them – I liked the HDJ-500 once they’d been fixed, and loved the HDJ-2000 which I’ve previously described as “head sex”. The HDJ-1500 have a lot to live up to – not just sitting comfortably in current range, but also matching up to the legacy of the venerable HDJ-1000.

Still waiting for confirmed global prices, but Pioneer USA list these as $209 suggested retail price. So my guess is a street price no more that $199, but possibly lower.

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