As Post NAMM 2016 madness finally cools down, I finally had the chance to sit down with Pioneers new(ish) HRM-7 Reference Headphones for a solid test run. As most of you know, Pioneer is mostly known for it's DJ headphones not so much it's studio gear so, needless to say, I was excited to hear what they had come up with for the professional producer.
For you, consumers and DJs out there, always remember that a headphone like the HRM-7 is going to deliver an accurate and flatter sound than consumer or DJ headphones. Too often I hear of people buying a headphone like this only to be disappointed with it because the sound doesn't pop or there is not enough bass.
Always read the box and don't just buy on brand or aesthetics, if it says reference headphone on the box the headphone is intended for a very particular purpose, studio work. Sorry if this seems obvious, to some it's not.
The only exception to this rule is guys that listen to a lot of music that is acoustic, orchestral or jazz; these headphones excel with these more quiet and detailed genres. Now that being said, how do the headphones stack up for a professional?
Comfort and Construction
These are light and comfortable headphones with just the right amount of tension and padding. I found them easy to wear for longer periods of time than most my other headphones. From a build perspective, they are plastic but seem pretty solid, and most importantly this keeps the weight down and allows for longer sessions. Typically you are not going to be too abusive to a pair of cans like this unless you have a temper and throw your headphones around the studio a lot. In other words, these should last you a while with regular use.
How do they sound?
Lets' start with the highs and work our way down.
The treble on this headphone is excellent and clear, it might even be a little too bright for some guys, but producers that work with genres like EDM / Jazz / Rock might like this. The balance of the headphone nudges a bit to the high side, but they are still dense enough to place nicely with the mids and bass.
The midrange on this headphone is just how I like it, nice and neutral and very present. Vocals sound solid as well, very clean.
The bass is tight, and in that I mean there is not a lot of punch to it even when you try to pump it up with eq'ing it. The bass is very neutral so you bass guys might look elsewhere if you are going bottom heavy with your tracks.
The soundstage is splendid for a headphone in this price point and sounds amazing with jazz, orchestral and acoustic music. You get a great sense of space for the buck.
The isolation is decent, but a touch more clamp might help a bit or maybe changing up the pads, I could still here bits of noise when the levels were up at average volume.
The headphones overall are quite comfortable, light and are easy to wear for extended periods of time. They come with two cables, one straight and one coiled, with a nice little locking mechanism to prevent the cable from popping out. I prefer the coiled cable but to each their own. There is also an extra pair of pads for the earcups which is a nice touch for this price point.
Should You buy them?
These are great references headphones for their price and provide that flat sound many in the box / DAW producers need. Some guys might not like the bass being SO flat, so this is just a warning if you are a Bass / Hip Hop producer you might not dig these.
Bottom line, I like them a lot for what they are made to do, and that's to monitor your music production. If you are a producer that is a bit tight on budget or love your music on the more neutral tip, these are a great bet.