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ShearMe

[Comparison] Pioneer SE-A1000 vs. audio-technica ATH-AD500X

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Posted · Original PosterOP

First things first. The reasoning behind this comparison is because these are two very similarly built headphones, and original MSRP is pretty close too. The Pioneer is insanely cheap (at least for Americans) coming in at $60 currently, so I am not going to base this comparison on price nor am I going to pick a winner. However, I will flat out tell you right now, that if your budget is tight (again, in America at least) do not hesitate on the Pioneer SE-A1000 - they are a prime example of why price really isn't a factor in how good a headphone sounds.
 
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Build
 
Even though the overall designs having huge similarities there are a few notable differences, the biggest being the cable. The ATH-500X's cable is annoying because it retains its shape from packaging. It is much like a slinky and probably my biggest gripe about this headphone. The SE-A1000's cable is annoying because it's 6 meters long (18 feet)! Pioneer even knows that this could be impractical because they include a velcro wrap.

post-2468-0-30562800-1388514880.jpg post-2468-0-21743700-1388514882.jpg
 
The super long cable is easily remedied by the included warp which is of very nice quality compared to other included items I've witnessed, and the length could come in handy for living-room situations. For this reason (and the price of course), I am considering buying or gifting my pair to a 60-year-old friend/coworker who has a nice living-room speaker setup, but also has a wife who enjoys her sleep! Pioneer intends the wrap to last as long as your headphones I suppose, but even the included carry-bag is nice (velvet on the outside, microfiber on the inside). Both headphones include a 1/4-inch adapter, but Pioneer's is screw-on and audio-technica's isn't. Despite having different ways of keeping the headphones on your head, modding is nearly required for most people to secure either to your head. Ironic, huh? Luckily this is easy and reversible in both cases - you only need a rubber band between the wings of the ATH-AD500X, and a lighter + screwdriver to melt a hole in two straps of the SE-A1000 (you could mess this up pretty bad if you're clumsy, I suppose). I do have a personal gripe with needing to use a rubber band on my headphones to hold them on, especially because I hear this is sometimes needed on higher-in-the-series versions too, but I find it easy to forgive Pioneer's oversight on the required elasticity (especially when it's practically designed to be adjusted like a belt). The other aspect of keeping the phones on your head is clamping force. Out-of-the-box I found the audio-technicas to be a bit too tight. This will vary based on your head size, but I easily adjusted it by slightly bending the over-arching metal supports. The Pioneers come with the pads spaced much further apart, and the supports are bigger in the first place which also reduces the spring force.
 
Strangely, the only thing completely different about these headphones, is that the SE-A1000 only swivels vertically, and the ATH-AD500X only swivels horizontally. Having a minor amount of swivel in both directions improves overall fit, but personally I'd rate vertical swiveling as more important (can differ based on head shape). The pads on both are cloth, but the SE-A1000's cloth is a fabric weave (presumably cotton or some mixture) and the ATH-AD500X's is a velvet-y, microfiber-y cloth. The fabric weave is comfortably breathable, where the microfiber retains more heat but is oo-la-la soft. The pads are the same shape and thickness in all directions (OEM much?), but due to the positioning of the drivers and their enclosures, the audio-technica is deeper when on your head thanks to the angled drivers. The Pioneer's driver enclosure is actually a bump outwards from the rest of the housing covered in two layers of foam padding (yes, I removed the foam to find out). This introduces a potential area of easy modding on cheap headphones. You could attempt to remove that bump by cutting away the plastic grill (probably not safe to expose the driver), or you can stuff something under the pads to keep your lobes off the foam. Personally the depth isn't a comfort issue, but I recognize others might not, and do not, feel the same. 
 
Sound
 
I'm a firm believer that you should not base your opinion on which headphone sounds better by what someone on the internet says, regardless of how well-known or reputable they are. Your subjective personal preferences are different than anyone else's. I could pull some BS out my bum about how the ATH-AD500X's bigger and angled drivers offer up something that grinds the Pioneer into the dust, but the differences in sound are minimal at best.That said, I will give you somethings I have noted in my listening. I like to theorize about what I am hearing, and then only after reaching a conclusion do I go and search the Googlez for an explanation (to eliminate placebo based on what I've heard vs what I've... heard...?  :ph34r:). TBH, I can't even hear much of a difference in frequency response when switching. I'd bet on the Pioneer's having more bass, but I can't find any graphs of the other to compare.

After removing the foam from the SE-A1000 as mentioned in the build section, I didn't notice a change in sound. Well, maybe I did, but it's hard to tell for sure because the process isn't reversible. I wouldn't suggest removing the foam unless you are attempting to mod the driver grill. The Pioneer takes a higher volume level to reach the same dB level, but the difference isn't extreme enough to factor into a decision. [based on each company's websites, the SE-A1000 should require less voltage with a 120 dB/mW vs the ATH-AD500X's 100 dB/mW. So, either I don't know how to volume match by ear, or their specs are off - either of which is entirely plausible.] In listening to the ATH-AD500X's, I noticed an increase in treble over the Pioneer's, without a change in the bass level. "But ShearMe, humans can't perceive an increase in treble without a decrease in bass!" This is where the angled driver comes into play. Because higher frequency waves are smaller, they are more directional, and pointing them perpendicularly to your ear improves their frequency response. I initially associated this with the difference in sound between my bookshelf speakers angled at my head, and angled perpendicularly with the wall in my square room ("eww poor listening environment blah blah blah" :rolleyes:). I then set out to search the Googlez in my process mentioned above, and the general un-informed consensus on Head-Fi was that angled drivers offer a "more natural soundstage" and a "more spacious and less headphone-y" sound along with similar accounts in similar language. My final conclusion is that angled drivers offer similar frequency response effects to that which virtual surround effects attempt to emulate. Whether you enjoy this effect or not is, again, a matter of preference, but I suspect gamers in general will prefer it for "positioning" or whatever they're calling it these days.
 
Edit/Update
 
Due to the price of the Pioneer SE-A1000, I've been able to suggest it to people with low budgets, and have gotten some good feedback.

 

SheerMe, wow the Pioneers SE A1000 are pretty awesome for the price. They are big, but not as much as some people claim. My head is not that big, but I actually like the fairly loose clamping force, it makes it much more comfortable in my oppinion, so I didn't mod it. My only complaint is that the cable is ridiculously long, I think it might be the lenght of my bedroom. My God, it is SO long! I wish they would have made it an extension. The foam is quite soft, a little bit itchy for me, but I did use it for around 10 hours yesterday. Maybe it will get even more comfy after they break in, but up until now I'm really pleased. I had never used open headphones before and I can tell you, they are REALLY open, I can use them around my neck and hear somewhat clearly. If someone enters the room they always think I'm listening to them way too loud and that I'm going to damage my eardrum. The openness of the headphones worries me that they may not be the best choice for voice coms, as the sound might leak back into the conversation, I'll have to try it out when my Zalman arrives. Now, the bass, as it is the case most of the time, is only noticeable at high volumes to which I don't normally listen to. They are there and I like the amount of them, since I've never been a bass head. The highs are not particularly sharp, I have some cheap but good for the money, JVC HAF FX101 and maybe that's why I don't think they are too sharp. The highs on the JVCs are ear piercing, they are good, but that's my biggest pet peeve. I guess I can say I'm more of a neutral sound guy. I think these Pioneers could be considered neutral, I don't know, I'm not too experienced about audio, and these are my first studio grade headphones. After a bit of equalizing, they are perfect for my liking, and overall a great buy and a fantastic experience. Thank you very much for your aid, you have saved me from the evil clutches of marketing and audio myths, I really appreciate it

  

So, got my cans yesterday and first impression was "Fack me these are big".
 
Anyway, plonked them on and the sound quality is quite frankly amazing. I went from a set of 6 year old, £10 Panasonic's to these and am so glad I did.
 
Yesterday I was getting quite an annoying pain in the outer part of my left ear, however that seems to have went away today so I can now say they're very comfortable. My ears get warmer than with the Panasonic's, however not too hot.
 
Headband is fairly loose, so I'll have a go at modding them when I get a chance. It's not too annoying but I feel they'd be more comfortable if it was a bit tighter.
 
I've started noticing new things in old songs which is pretty cool. I'm into a pretty wide range of music (Indie-Gypsy Jazz-Rap-Drumstep) and everything sounds good. The bass is still nice, while not being overpowering. Build quality is pretty good and the cable is sleeved with what feels like paracord - Much nicer than plasticy sleeving.
 
I'm also finding it very easy to hear where people are positioned in games.
 
[...]
 
Anyway, all in all I'm seriously impressed. Many thanks for the awesome suggestion @ShearMe. I see you a lot around here in the audio section, is there any way I could help you get a Trusted Advisor badge?

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Would you feel comfortable recommending the Pioneers? And are they really that slack on the head? I was thinking about picking up a pair for my little cousin but her head is kind of small. 


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Posted · Original PosterOP

Would you feel comfortable recommending the Pioneers? And are they really that slack on the head? I was thinking about picking up a pair for my little cousin but her head is kind of small. 

 

I've already recommended them plenty of times in various threads. :P

 

It is pretty slack stock, but you should be able to tighten them enough with the mod, and you could bend the supports to make it tighter if she wanted too.

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Nice stream of consciousness. I thought you were going to start talking about tacos halfway through the way you were going, though.


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Nice stream of consciousness. I thought you were going to start talking about tacos halfway through the way you were going, though.

 

What's that supposed to mean?

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What's that supposed to mean?

 

Looking back, I have no idea.  Guess I had tacos on the brain or something.


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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What's that supposed to mean?

 

 

Looking back, I have no idea.  Guess I had tacos on the brain or something.

oh u guise


Enjoy those tacos now, for in 1000 years they will be illegal... eh Ha Ha Ha! I think we all know why.

༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ Give tacos ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ Poker 2 KB Review

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I just got my Pioneers today and after the mod they are pretty comfortable and sound great! However, they feel more comfortable when I wear the backwards. (left side on right and right side on left) Anyone else feel the same way?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I just got my Pioneers today and after the mod they are pretty comfortable and sound great! However, they feel more comfortable when I wear the backwards. (left side on right and right side on left) Anyone else feel the same way?

 

Nah, you're just a weirdo.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I guess. I mean, I did mod the headphones the opposite way than the guide said to because my head is so huge.

You... You loosened them? I was joking before but wow, you really are weird.

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You... You loosened them? I was joking before but wow, you really are weird.

 

Yes. The default wasn't creating a proper seal. My head is huge man. The band was lifting the bottom of the earpads up and was uncomfortable. That's why I had difficulty with my DT770s hurting because of the clamp force. 

 

Edit: Here is a picture. I had to wrap a cloth around the headband so the leather part wouldn't fall down

 
Edit 2: Oh and by the way, when I saw the bundled cable for this headphone in your pictures I thought it was about the same size as my Audio technica m50S but it was like 3 times the size! I thought you were exaggerating when you said the cable is way too long but you weren't...
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Posted · Original PosterOP

Edit 2: Oh and by the way, when I saw the bundled cable for this headphone in your pictures I thought it was about the same size as my Audio technica m50S but it was like 3 times the size! I thought you were exaggerating when you said the cable is way too long but you weren't...

 

Lol, I specifically said it was 18 feet long.  :lol:

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