Pioneer HDJ-X10c Carbon Fiber DJ Headphone (followup to prior review)

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, May 9, 2019.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    EQ Curve:

    This is a followup (Review #2) to my original review of the Pioneer HDJ-X10c, the special limited carbon fiber edition of the HDJ-X10. I speculated in the first review that Pioneer may have gone beyond mere cosmetic touches with this special edition, and I'm more inclined than ever to believe that, albeit I don't have the HDJ-X10 on hand for a direct comparison. When I wrote the original review, I used the music track samples from my review of the AQ NightOwl headphone as a starting template. I made changes to the following examples: Bauhaus, Beethoven, Hans Zimmer, Jimmy Smith, Kellogg Organ, Porcupine Tree, and Richard Strauss. Those changes reflect my estimate of the tonal differences in those two headphones, after EQ'ing each to sound more natural - like live music. Although I can EQ almost any two headphones to sound very similar in frequency response, there are many factors that reveal sonic differences.

    The sample music tracks below were the starting template from my review of the v-moda Wireless-2 Codex headphone. In this case, only the Anamanaguchi track showed a significant difference from the v-moda. My conclusions about the sound of the HDJ-X10c are: 1) The bass is closer to classic neutral (Sennheiser HD600/800) than most modern headphones, especially DJ headphones. 2) The mid treble is recessed as much as 7-8 DB compared to those classic headphones, although that estimate can vary with production samples, how users wear the headphone, and whether they play it with any EQ or not. My feeling is, when the bass is somewhat lean or "classic neutral" and the mid-treble still sounds very recessed compared to the better audiophile headphones, that's pretty strong evidence of being designed that way. And BTW, the upper treble does not sound particularly recessed - certainly not rolled off as many cheap headphones are.

    My last words here are about the tonality - aside from defects such as rattles or buzzes etc. in extreme sounds (deep bass impacts, severe treble spikes), my concerns are for overall clarity and accurate tonality, and a more-or-less realistic soundstage. Using the equalization shown in the above linked chart (or on my website under Photos/Audioforge), I believe that the HDJ-X10c is easily the best $600 USD headphone I've heard, which is surprising given that the regular edition HDJ-X10 is only $350. I've heard many headphones including planars that cost up to $1500, but haven't heard any over-$2000 planars. While the HDJ-X10c probably won't equal the Sennheiser HD800 series or Beyerdynamic's latest T1's and other Teslas, it sounds better to me than the planars I have heard. The following sample music tracks are from EDM more-or-less, and they're the sort of music I'd expect that this headphone was designed for.

    Above & Beyond - We're All We Need (feat. Zoe Johnston): A very nice tight but impactful bass with crystal clear vocals - the HDJ-X10c plays this with great ambiance.

    Anamanaguchi - Planet: A complex mix of percussion sounds and hummed vocals. The bells and other high-frequency percussion are highly detailed, the bass line has light impact, and the bass detail is surprisingly good.

    Armin van Buuren - J'ai Envie de Toi (Orig Mix feat Gaia): Decent bass impacts, breathy vocals, lots of fun noise - the HDJ-X10c plays this perfectly.

    Avicii - Feeling Good: Classic female vocal in movie-theme style - the HDJ-X10c brings this to life like nothing else I've heard.

    Carl Kennedy-Tommy Trash ft Rosie Henshaw - Blackwater (Original Master): Nice strong tight bass impacts, female vocal, rendered delectably by the HDJ-X10c.

    Crystal Castles - Wrath of God: Atmospheric tune with vocal sound effects and strong bass line, plus some unique treble percussion sounds. The HDJ-X10c brings these unique sounds to life.

    Digitalism - Pogo: A driving beat with a detailed bass synth and great vocals ("There's something in the air...") - the HDJ-X10c makes this very enjoyable.

    Dino Lenny-Lino Di Meglio - We Will Make It: Atmospheric tune with mixed vocals - the female vocal is a special treat with the HDJ-X10c.

    DJ Shadow - Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt: High-pitched tones and strong deep piano chords with a hummed female vocal - ultra-cool with the HDJ-X10c.

    Fairmont - Poble Sec: Awesome detailed bass impacts with some nifty pingy guitar/synth effects. I discovered this tune at the time I purchased my 3rd v-moda M100 - the HDJ-X10c makes this even better.

    Giuseppe Ottaviani - Lost for Words (On Air Mix feat Amba Shepherd): Strong bass impacts behind a female voice - a large-scale sweeping sonic image reminiscent of epic adventures in an exotic land. The HDJ-X10c is playing on a whole new level here.

    Hecq - Enceladus (With Skyence): Prodigious deep bass and clean at that. This tune's melody is more abstract than most of the others here, but the HDJ-X10c makes it a real adventure.

    Katy B - Crying For No Reason (Tom Shorterz Remix): Oh myyyyy, I love Katy B. The vocal mix here is awesome and the bass is solid. This is the HDJ-X10c at its best.

    Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch: I first heard this in The September Issue film and soundtrack, as the backdrop for the opening catwalk (watch Andre grinning at 1:51 - all you need to know) - the HDJ-X10c plays this amazing tune perfectly.

    Lee and Malinda - Truth Will Set You Free (V-Moda Mix): Lee Kalt is the master, this is the masterpiece. The drum (or tom-tom) hits here have a very realistic skin-tone, the female vocal is seamlessly integrated into the driving beat, and the synth effects also blend well - the HDJ-X10c just owns this.

    Markus Schulz - Mainstage: The granddaddy of bass is in this track, and the HDJ-X10c plays it smooth and clean.
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Continuing with the music samples aspect of my Pioneer HDJ-X10c review, the following are a few of the "odds and ends" I've picked up in the process of reviewing headphones. The sound of most of these tracks is sufficiently good to complement any decent headphone, but they show off the HDJ-X10c's sonic qualities as well as anything I've heard. Some of these may be hard to find, particularly in the exact mix/remix.

    Le Voyage Dans La Lune: Soundtrack to a hand-painted color movie. A terrific variety of sounds that show off the excellent audio qualities of the HDJ-X10c.

    Muse - Madness: Strong bass line with mass vocals. Clearly delineated by the HDJ-X10c.

    Mylene Farmer - Desenchantee: French vocal over a driving bass beat. Very enjoyable with the HDJ-X10c.

    Robyn Hitchcock - Autumn Is Your Last Chance: Acoustic/electric guitar with compelling vocal. Pure class as reproduced by the HDJ-X10c.

    Samantha James - Amber Sky: Reverberant instrumentation and ethereal vocal. Dreamy stuff that sounds amazing on the HDJ-X10c.

    Satchmode - Best Intentions: Atmospheric vocals over a very decent bass line. Exquisite reproduction by the HDJ-X10c.

    Sneaker Pimps - Underground (Nellee Hooper Mix): Slow-paced club music with female vocal and subtle but very effective bass impacts. The bass in this track will be appreciated only in a quiet listening spot.

    Soliquid - Shibuya (Paul Keeley Remix): Eight minutes and 50 seconds of heavenly beats and awesome musical synth effects as heard with the HDJ-X10c.

    Stones and Bones - Love Lockdown: Ibiza 2014 track with a very spacious atmosphere and a bit of contrapuntal vocal. Outstanding on the HDJ-X10c.

    Susanne Sundfor - Accelerate: High-ambiance noise with decent bass impacts and reverberant vocals. The HDJ-X10c makes this track come alive.

    Third Sex - Monster Snack: One of the best of the Goth/RiotGrrrl genre, available on the Free To Fight CD. Somewhat primitive sound with aggressive vocal, but there ya go - as good as it gets with this headphone.

    Three-11 Porter - Surround Me With Your Love: Pleasant male-female vocal mix against a big-ambiance backdrop. Lush presentation by the HDJ-X10c.

    Visage - Fade To Grey: Atmospheric and reverberant recording supported by a luscious synth line. The HDJ-X10c plays this perfectly.

    When Saints Go Machine - Love And Respect: Super-energetic music with reverberant vocal counterpoint. Strong bass impacts delivered cleanly by the HDJ-X10c.

    Yaz - Situation: Bright pop-EDM music from the past. Played exquisitely by the HDJ-X10c.

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