Lighter, more powerful, more efficient- this is the DJ equipment game in 2014. Except the headphone category- the majority of models seem to be getting heavier and bulkier, with more of an emphasis on logo placement rather than sound quality. It's seemingly become more about branding and less about quality.
While DJ hype beasts gravitate to the cans with the most flash and heftiest price tag, some of the more discerning DJs are there are considering another option- in-ear monitors. There are a lot of benefits- they are better for your hearing (they don’t need to get as loud) and the usual concerns like weight and bulk are virtually eliminated.
But at this point in the game, there are not that many options out there. Shure makes a pretty decent set, but the majority of earbuds out there are consumer grade- they just claim to be professional. And often times, they are not designed with a DJ’s needs in mind.
Enter the Pioneer DJE line of in-ear eadphones, just released this past spring. Pioneer’s DJ division has already established themselves as the modern industry standard when it comes to CDJs, mixers, and over the ear headphones, so when the news dropped last spring, we were excited to hear they were coming out with their own in-ear monitors.
The DJE-1500 (available in black and white; also in a 2000 model) continue Pioneer’s reputation for quality when it comes to DJ products. No attention to detail was lost when making these headphones. They have a rugged ¼” and 1/8” plug options, with a tangle free, straight cloth cord that leads to a durable rubber split. It’s a light weight and rubber cable from that point on, leading to left and right earphone bodies supported by about a three inch pliable cable (called ear-hangers) for either standard in-ear or ‘wrap over the ear’ supporting fit.
The earphone bodies are made out of a durable molded rubber/hard plastic combination- and while lightweight, they are well built and solid. As with most in-ear monitors there are several options to give you the best fit- various rubber cone sizes and as well as premium Comply foam tips. If you’re searching for the best isolation in loud club environments, choose the latter. The fit is secure, but the bud is easy to remove and insert the monitor if you need to check the house sound.
When it comes to sound, the DJE-1500s are a Pioneer product all the way. They provide crisp, accurate audio reproduction filled with Pioneer’s trademark digital clarity. The DJE’s are a little heavy on the bass, which might not make them the best for production use- but that also means they are that much better for DJ environments. They play loud, clean, and have just enough low-end to drive home the beat.
DJ headphones are not just about sound quality. Durability and fit are almost equally important. When it comes to construction, the DJE’s stood up well to the demands of club life. They survived being carried around in a DJ bag (side note: the amount of space saved in my bag was notable) for a couple weeks with two pool parties and couple of club dates in between. I used them as much as possible in everyday applications as well – gym, train commutes, etc. – the DJE’s held their own.
Getting used to the DJE-1500s’ fit takes a little getting time, and I mean this in the best possible way. They are very lightweight and comfortable, and the ability to choose between a standard fit and the ear hanger options are a very nice feature. While DJing, I opted to keep the left earphone body secured around the ear, and the right loose and free so I could grab it real quick to check a mix, then let it drop when I needed to go back and monitor the house sound.
Overall, the Pioneer DJE-1500s are an excellent value if you are looking to make a switch to the in-ear monitor. They sound great, are made well, and are very lightweight and comfortable. At a $159 M.A.P. price, they cost less and will out perform most other headphones on the market. They come with our highest recommendation.
Pioneer DJE-1500 Specifications
Dynamic driver with large 9.4 mm aperture for a rich bass sound
Ceramic powder-coated tremblers & CCAW voice coils produce a clear mid range to treble
Choice of wearing styles: in-ear or over-ear
Polyurethane earbud tips (M) ensure a snug fit and superior noise cancellation
Highly durable, detachable cable features textile coating to reduce tangling
Silicone earbud tips (XS/S/M/L) are also provided
Available in black (DJE-1500-K) or white (DJE-1500-W)
You can purchase them on Amazon.