Pioneer DJ HDJ-X10 Headphone Review
Sitting at the top of the Pioneer DJ range of headphones, the X-10 aims to be a no compromise headphone. Loud enough for the worlds best DJ booths, detailed enough for producers and strong enough for US Military stress tests (we’re not kidding). But is the X10 the ultimate pair of headphones for DJs, or has Pioneer accidentally created the jack of all trades, master of none? Let’s find out.
Built primarily from plastic, the X-10 at first glance looks very similar to the older HDJ-2000 units. Big, bold and instantly recognisable, these headphones come in two different colour ways. The all black everything will no doubt be a big fan with the techno scene, while the silver offers a classier finish. Despite being made from plastic, the cups feature a textured finish similar to that of brushed aluminium. The use of soft rubber around the edge of the cups and under the hinge offer plenty of grip either on the shoulder or in hands dripping with Jagermeister.
The use of polyurethane leather complete with nano coating helps the headband and cups repel dirt, sweat and liquids. Both the headband and cups feel well padded. Weighing in at just 328g, the X10 headphones are great for extended listening sessions.
The Build Quality
Although lightweight and made from plastic, the X10’s feel very much a premium product. From the metal headband to the bulky hex key bolts, even the plastic hinges feel rugged and strong. This is a headphone designed to last, in fact it’s the only DJ headphone to take on and pass a US Military Standard Shock test. Whether you believe headphones require such testing or not, the X10’s certainly feel more rugged and durable than any other rival DJ headphone.
Although built to withstand the might of the US military, Pioneer DJ included a carry case to ensure the headphones safety during transport. Big enough to carry the headphones, cables, adaptors and even USB’s, this carry case is ideal for USB DJ’s who like to travel light. The bulky nature of the case does mean it takes up considerable room inside a backpack.
Featuring hinged cups with swivel cups, the X10 headphones can be positioned in numerous way whilst in use. With the headphones cups being so wide, we welcome the adjustability, allowing us to place the headphones in various positions on our heads rather than have the large cups sit awkwardly around our neck. As with all hinged headphones, putting the headphone on in the dark can become frustrating should the cups swing the wrong way.
Built with 50mm HD drivers, the HD-X10 was the worlds first DJ headphone to reproduce high-resolution sound from 5 Hz to 40 kHz (V-Moda Crossfader M-100 Master also now feature high resolution audio). The 32 Ω impedance allows the phone to be easily driven by a phone, laptop or DJ mixer, easily reaching 102dB of volume at its peak. However despite its loud volume, the X10 remains incredibly balanced with just a slight boost the lows and highs.
This flatter sound profile is striking and somewhat polarising at first listen. The perceived lack of bass after years of listening to DJ headphones can put some listeners off at first. Listen more closely though and the X10’s real quality shines through. Incredibly detailed, well balanced and boasting one of the widest sound stages we’ve ever heard from a “DJ” headphone, the X10 is sublime.
It’s worth mentioning that the X10’s took a long time to reach their full potential. We resorted to playing speaker run-in tracks to speed up the bedding-in process. Before bedding in, the headphone really lacked low end impact and sounded far too top heavy. Something that somewhat spoils the first listen for DJ’s eager to trial their new expensive purchase.
The large over ear cups offer great sound isolation, however no matter how loud you crank the X10’s, you never really feel the pressure within. This is great for sound quality, allowing the driver to move freely for a quicker response. No doubt helped by the vented bass chamber on the top of each cup, the tight response comes at the cost of sound leakage.
The lack of pressure does take away some of the drama of playing a headphone loud away however. Those coming from bass heavy headphones will no doubt be left wondering why kick drums don’t hit with the same impact. It’s not that the X10 doesn’t reproduce bass well, it certainly does. The X10 just doesn’t emphasise or favour any frequency band over another, something most DJ headphones inherently do time and time again.
The HDJ-X10 are a well built, fantastic sounding, pair of headphones. With a wide frequency response, modern sound profile and impressive response, the HDJ-X10 is a very capable headphone for most use cases. At £299 these should be good headphones though. It’s important to remember the cost and the extremely limited competition that sits at this price point of DJ headphones.
If you want a pair of headphones good enough for listening away from the DJ booth, look no further. Listening to the X10 is very much like watching an explosion happen in high resolution slow motion. The detail and clarity draws you in like watching each flame expand and grow, however, the actual impact of the explosion is somewhat lost in the process. Drums don’t kick as hard and bass doesn’t rattle your ears in the ways that most will expect DJ headphones to. Coupled with the super wide sound stage, it almost feels like we should be recommending the X10’s more to hi-fi listeners rather than stereotypical DJ’s. They sound that good.
If the large cups and swivel hinges don’t bother you and you can afford the premium price tag, the X-10 will be the last headphone you’ll ever purchase.
V-Moda M-100 Master – Also featuring great build quality and HD driver, these superb headphones have been tuned to sound more lively than the X10.
V-Moda M-200 – Built for studio use, these flatter headphones will suit producers and audiophile listeners slightly better.
Sennheiser HD-25 – Three times cheaper, these “industry standard” headphones offer a surprisingly similar sound profile to the X10. However there’s no doubt in the difference between build quality.