• Price: $149/£120/€139
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Pioneer DJ HDJ-CX Headphones Review

Phil Morse
Last updated 4 April, 2022

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The Lowdown

The Pioneer DJ HDJ-CX are that company’s stab at the venerable Sennheiser HD 25s, in that they are an extremely lightweight and minimalistic headphone of a type not usually associated with Pioneer DJ. They’re very good, with great sound, and a featherlight fit. The great selling point of the HD 25s, though, is their durability and modular design; how well the Pioneers will hold up over time is currently an unknown, and they’re definitely not as modular.

Video Review

First Impressions / Setting up

These are like the Sennheiser HD 25s! Yeah they’re not exactly the same, but they’re in the same minimal, lightweight ballpark. The earcups are roughly the same size, the headband is minimally padded, the way the wires look is the same, the on-ear fit is very similar.

In the box is a choice of detachable cables (coiled and straight), plus the usual 1/8″ to 1/4″ adaptor, which comes with a useful grip to hold it to the cable to save losing it. There are also a spare pair of earpads, which pull over the earcups in exactly the same way as the earpads do on the Sennheisers.

The headband is a bit weird, in that it has metal sticking out at each end, which looks like it would be where you adjust the headphones. But it isn’t; it’s just a design feature, that to me looks like the headphones that came with my first Walkman all those years ago.

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In Use

I found the headband a little narrow, meaning the top half of the earpads pushed harder on my ears than the bottom half. But apart from that they felt comfy enough. They’re certainly no less comfortable than my HD 25s, which actually apply more pressure on the ears. They just feel a bit different.

You can twist the earcups forward or back by about 90 degrees, again in exactly the same as you can on the Sennheisers, for easy DJing with one ear on, one ear off. (Actually, only one adjusts this way on my Sennheisers, at least). You can actually adjust how loose or tight the earcups are as they have screw attachments.

Twisting the earcups on both the HDJ-CX and HD-25 headphones.

The HDJ-CX ‘phones have a surprisingly full sound, with deeper bass than I was expecting, which is a good thing. Pioneer DJ says they go down to 4Hz or something, which is ridiculous as we can’t hear anywhere near that low, but hey. Bottom line: They sound really nice, like bigger headphones.

The acoustic isolation is average, which is to be expected for on-ear headphones.

Conclusion

When you copy something like the HD 25s, you’re going to draw comparisons – and these are definitely a copy, if not exactly the same. Trouble is, it’s like comparing any other turntable with the Technics 1210 Mk2 – something that has proven itself over and over again, its very reliability being its strength.

Back in the day, nearly everyone had Sony MDR-700s (big headphones), or Sennheiser HD 25s (minimal headphones). Both became design classics, although I always preferred the HD 25s as they were more durable and every single part could be easily replaced if they broke.

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That remains the case today, 30 years on. Yes, the HD 25s clamped your head a bit, yes they weren’t hi-fi headphones for long-term listening, but they sounded great, and were utterly reliable – you knew what you were getting.

The HDJ-CX headphones by and large look and feel like the HD 25s, with the added advantage of easily detachable cables, plus a choice of coiled or straight cables in the box, and spare pads provided. Plus, they sound good, and are about the same price.

The HDJ-CX headphones have a surprisingly full sound, with deeper bass than expected, and a featherlight fit.

What you’re not getting with the Pioneers is modularity. One concern immediately is that where the wires on the earcups connect isn’t detachable at all, like it is with the Sennheisers, and this is a concern because the wires are exposed and vulnerable here. and of course, there is no proven track record with these (duh, they’re new).

Ultimately, they seem like good headphones. If you want Pioneer DJ, and you want minimal, this is your choice. But if I had to put money on which model will still be around 5, 10 or even 20 years from now, it’d be the Sennheisers. They remain the classic by which any pretenders will be judged, and they’ll be hard to topple.

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