Review: Pioneer DJ HDJ-CUE1

Pro-level features in an entry-level and personalizable package
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Pioneer DJ has a long history of making high-quality headphones, with their iconic HDJ-2000s being loved by top DJs for years. The only real problem with them is that they were never truly personalizable. Recently, however, they announced a new line of entry-level headphones aimed at those either looking for their first pair of DJ headphones and something that they could truly make their own. Thus, the HDJ-CUE1 was born. Taking features from their premiere line of headphones, the CUE1 comes in either a wired or Bluetooth version and can be personalized via five different earpad and cable color combinations. In this review, we'll be taking a look at the Bluetooth version, highlighting their key features, and how useful they are when actually DJing.

The HDJ-CUE1 in dark silver

The HDJ-CUE1 in dark silver

WHAT ARE THEY?

As mentioned, the HDJ-CUE1 is an entry-level headphone that takes styling and technology from Pioneer DJ's V series headphones and can be personalized via different colored earpads and cables. The headphones themselves come in four different colors including black, dark silver, white, and red. The dark silver color is wired, whilst the other three options are wireless. For the accessories, your options include orange, yellow, green, blue, and pink. 

The dark silver colorway with orange accessory pack

The dark silver colorway with orange accessory pack

KEY FEATURES

Beyond the various color combinations, there are some rather impressive features on the HDJ-CUE1 headphones, including locking cables with l-type mini-jack, rugged metal arms, and most importantly, great sound. In fact, they are equipped with the same drivers as the professional XDJ-X5 model. For the Bluetooth version, there are volume and pause/play buttons on one of the cups that are disabled when you insert the cable. 

The HDJ-CUE1BT in white

The HDJ-CUE1BT in white

MY EXPERIENCE

I've always enjoyed Pioneer's headphones. I vividly remember my first pair of HDJ-2000s which I'm pretty sure got stolen at a gig. I was a long-time user of the 2000 and successor models, and have very fond memories of them. That being said, I'm always keen to try their latest and greatest headphones, and the HDJ-CUE1 was no exception. Right out of the box, I immediately tested out the Bluetooth sound quality on a track I'm currently working on. Entry-level usually means poor or less than ideal sound quality, but to my joy and surprise, the CUE1 sounds pretty damn good. Amazing compared to my usual headphones? No. But for an easily accessible price point, they are fantastic. 

HDJ-CUE1-black-yellow

My personal black and yellow combo. Because acid house obviously.

After testing the sound, I swapped the earpads and cable for the yellow-colored ones they came with, and I'll admit they weren't the easiest to put on. I did have a bit of trouble getting them to fit, but once they were one, they never came off, which is something I've struggled with on other headphones I've replaced the pads on. The original pads are definitely softer and more comfortable, but I'm not sure if that's due to the material itself or the color creating some sort of stiffer coat. Either way, both types of pads are comfortable, and isolation is great. 

While this is all great for casual listening, the real question is are they actually functional when mixing. I used them while recording a recent podcast, and I can say that they are actually a great pair of headphones to mix on. Their tuning is fairly tight and accurate, and the music was clear and present. The lows weren't too boomy, and the highs weren't too shrill. I was thoroughly impressed. In terms of looks, overall I think they look pretty good. Not as good as the V7s or V10s, but that's my personal opinion. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I have to say, Pioneer DJ really did a great job on these headphones. Creating a quality entry-level product is not easy, but the HDJ-CUE1 is a headphone worthy of consideration for new DJs, or even those just looking for something they can use to express themselves when performing. The Bluetooth option makes them even more versatile, and they certainly feel like they can take a beating. 

PRICE

Wired: $69

Wireless: $99

Accessories: $30

For more information, and to build your own pair, click here

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