SE-MJ591 First Impressions and Build Quality
I have to admit, when I saw the press release pictures and even the image on the (rather large) box, I thought I was in for some over-the-ear headphones. Even now, I look at those images and the Pioneer SE-MJ591 headphones look like they should be larger. But they are on-ear. This isn't a knock against the headphones, I was just surprised.
Pioneer markets the SE-MJ591 headphones as "Top of the Line Audio Headphones." That's a lot to live up to. Pioneer has put all of their 50 years of headphone construction into the SE-MJ591s so, truthfully, I was very excited when I was told I'd be reviewing these. Pioneer is a great brand with a proven record though, honestly, I've really had more experience with their A/V receiver offerings.
In The Box
The Pioneer SE-MJ591 headphones came with a carrying case, a removable cord, the instruction manual, and the headphones. The carrying case is probably the nicest I've seen and features a hard, padded exterior with modeled spots for the headphones and a channel around the outside for the detachable cable. There is more than enough room here for a longer cable. The outside of the case has a small, mesh pocket. This carrying case is, without a doubt, the nicest I've seen with a set of headphones.
The headphones fold back on themselves so that they are just about as compact as they could be for easy storage and transport. While still large enough that you'll have to thing about where you are going to pack them (should fit in your laptop case somewhere), the protection of the case is formidable. While they couldn't take being run over by a car, if you dared me to throw the case, with the headphones inside, out the window of a speeding vehicle, I would do so without hesitation. This is serious protection.
The only thing missing was an adapter for a 1/4" plug. Every high-end set of headphones I've owned has come with an adapter. There is room in the box for an adapter; heck it would give that pocket on the side something to do (I really can't think of what I'd put in there that couldn't be put in the case). Perhaps Pioneer believes that their buyers will provide their own.
The included detachable cable is a bit shorter than I'm used to at 1.2 meters (the standard is 1.3 meters which means you lose about four inches). Of course, the joy of a removable cord is that you can replace it with something else. The only problem with this is that the end of the plug that goes into the headphone needs to be very thin as the plug is recessed. The other end of the cord has a more standard sized plug and it wouldn't fit. I'm not sure if this will mean you'll have to buy longer cords through Pioneer (I couldn't find any on their website) or if you'll be relegated to extension cables (a solution that audiophiles might resist given their aversion to adding any additional connections to their gear).
As you might expect with a $300 pair of headphones, the Pioneer SE-MJ591 headphones have impeccable build quality. There are brushed aluminum panels on the outside of the headband with a rubber-lined section at the top for comfort. The ear pads are extremely soft to the touch and the entire unit feels well made and solid. There is a honeycomb plastic cage over the top of the drivers with a thin mesh fabric over the top. The back of the earpieces are constructed out of stiff plastic and metal. There are R/L markings on the headband as well as a red accent on the right earpiece. There is nothing about the construction of the Pioneer SE-MJ591 that doesn't scream "quality".
The rotation of the ear pads is extremely smooth. The band can expand to fit your head though it is a be stiff. I think this is a great choice as you are certain, not only that the headband will not move during use, but also that it will fit perfectly each time you put it on.
The Pioneer SE-MJ591 feature a closed-back design. This will reduce not only the amount of noise coming in but the amount coming out. From a purely noise isolation standpoint (something that Pioneer doesn't claim the SE-MJ591s do), they perform about the same as my Denon AH-D1000 over-ear headphones but not as well as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50S. Of course, they don't compete at all with the Sonomax PSC-250s which are sculpted earbuds. But, again, they aren't trying to. All in all, if you are looking to block out the outside world with these headphones, you better be prepared to turn up the volume as the design isn't going to do it for you.
Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!