Pioneer HRM Review – Professional Studio Headphones

A series of professional studio headphones Pioneer HRM was presented in 2016 and today it has three models. This series debuted with a flagship headphones HRM-7, later were presented younger models HRM-5 and HRM-6.

You should pay attention to the fact that the series HRM significantly differs from all previous Pioneer headphones and it is positioned primarily for studio use. The main focus during the development of this series was made on a balanced sound across the whole range and a comfort during prolonged use.

However, the headphones are inexpensive and are designed more for mainstream users. In any case, the two younger models have a compact and foldable design, and an impedance of 32Ω ohms and 45Ω ohms allows you to connect headphones to any equipment.

The HRM headphones are made in a new design, which implies a very different form of earcups and a shifted support bracket about the axis of the headband. Despite the fact that the older model HRM-7 is a little different from the other two models, the common features of a new design are quite remarkable.

Overall Build and Features

All three HRM models are full-size headphones. That means that their earcups completely cover an ear and do not have a pressure on it. This is very important as it allows you to use headphones without discomfort for long periods of time.

The headphones are closed, but they have an acoustic unloading of an internal volume. There are special ports with holes from the outside. In the older model Pioneer HRM-7, there are even two ports, in the upper and lower part of the cup body.

Pioneer HRM-5 and Pioneer HRM-6

Sometimes headphones have an option to regulate the number of such holes. With the Pioneer headphones, it is not possible. But, judging by the fact that the HRM-5 and HRM-6 have the same earcups, but the number of holes is different, the manufacturer found the best option of acoustic design for each model.

Pioneer HRM-5 and Pioneer HRM-6 have a foldable design that allows you to turn in the earcups towards the headband, as shown at the picture. In this position, the headphones take up very little space and can easily be placed in a special leather case which is included in the set.

Almost all the elements of the headphones are made of plastic, including the bracket which is attached to the earcup. However, the design is firm and robust, without a hint of backlash. A small rubber pad, which is shown on the picture near the holes, plays the role of a limiter that protects the body of the earcup from contact with the bracket of the headband. This is another confirmation that the headphones design is thought out.

The headband of the younger models is made as a plastic frame covered with leather. There is a foam layer within for extra comfort. An insertion depth of the headphones on a head is controlled discretely with retractable metal plates of 5 cm on each side.

The younger models look almost identical, but have a slightly different decoration. HRM-6 looks more presentable due to the matte decoration of the earcups and ribbed metal insert on top of the case. Moreover, the headphones have a different shape of the ear pads.

HRM-5 (left) has round shaped ear pads, HRM-6 has more angular ear pads with an extra seam at the outside edge. The foam pads in the ear pads are enclosed in a PU leather and they are very soft. They do not relinquish each other by softness, but due to the larger contact area, HRM-6 feels more comfortable on your head.

All the models of HRM, including the older one, have dynamic transducers with a membrane diameter of 40 mm. Inside the case, there are pieces of polyester batting for damping. The internal volume is damped with a special fabric. The membrane is located exactly in the centre, it is rotated at a slight angle towards the ear. From mechanical damage, the membrane is protected by a plastic grill.

The connection wire is supplied only to the left earphone and is fixed in the earcup with a twist lock. The headphones are equipped with two types of wires: straight and wound in a spiral. The cable length is 3 meters, a twisted one is 1.2 meters. The twisted wire made for professionals, it dangles less connected to the instrument at arm’s length. It is believed that the straight wire is usually needed to connect to home appliances, to listen sitting in a chair. Both wires have a connector minijack on the end. An adapter of 1/4 TRS is included in the set.

The headphones HRM-6 is also equipped with additional straight wire of 1.2 m with angular connector. It is useful for portable and mobile devices. Thus, the manufacturer has provided all of the connectivity options.

Anyway, any of these wires can be purchased separately, even if they are not included or for some reason out of order.

Pioneer HRM-7

The Pioneer HRM-7 headphones significantly differ from the previous two models. The older headphones model is thicker, it has a different design and meant for studio work. There is no folding elements, earcups barely move. Their diameter is also considerably bigger.

 The headband of HRM-7 is made of two steel metal thin headbands. An insertion depth of the headphones on the head is adjustable by sprung leather band, sliding a couple of inches on each side.

As there are more metal elements and the earcup size is considerably increased, the weight of the headphones is 330 grams. However, the headphones are quite comfortable. First of all, through big and spare ear pads.

Pioneer HRM-7 ear pads are a bit stiffer than previous models, but significantly deeper and bigger in size. Instead of leather, there is a velour. As it wears out quickly enough, there is an extra velour ear pads in the set.

But for those who does not like velour and prefers leather, the manufacturer offers to buy leather ear pads separately. Their catalog number is HC-EP0302. Judging by the high quality of ear pads HRM-6, HRM-7 with leather ear pads will be significantly more comfortable to use.

Also, as in previous models, the connection wire is dismountable, it is applied only to the left earcup. There are two wires in the set: straight and twisted into a spiral; an adapter and extra ear pads as well.

The headphones use dynamic transducer. A membrane of 40 mm in diameter is located exactly in the center. The internal volume of the headphones case is damped with acoustic material. The membrane is protected by a plastic grill from mechanical damage. An impedance is 45Ω ohms, but the sensitivity is small, only 97dB. Studio units do not have problems with power outputs to the headphones. However, connecting HRM-7 directly to the mobile devices, the volume reserve is not enough. It needs a mobile headphones amp or DA converter with headphones amplifier. It is worth bearing in mind.

Measurement of amplitude-frequency response

The measurements were made with using a hardware-software complex RightMark™ Audio Analyzer PRO of our development. There was used a measuring stand Brüel & Kjær 4153 – Artificial Ear/Ear Simulator (IEC 60318-1), made in Denmark and costs several thousands of euros. The stand emulates an acoustic impedance of the ear in accordance with international standards. This method of testing was recommended by engineers of Beyerdynamic, special thanks to them.

The amplitude-frequency response measurements are provided only as a reference. It is not worthy to guess the sound of headphones! An AFR shows only the range of frequencies and trends! An ascension of AFR at LF from closed headphones is strongly dependent on the pressure of earcup and can be up to 6dB. We measure with a standard pressure generated by the dynamometer.

The amplitude-frequency response of all three models has an emphasis on LF and HF. At the same time, in the mid-frequency area, there is no irregularity and any drops are fairly smooth. This allows equalize characteristics, focusing on AFR, thereby eliminate problems with tonal balance. It is important that the most critical mid-frequency range of all three models is relatively flat. According to AFR, HRM-6 and HRM-7 are the most balanced at midrange.

Sound

We connected the headphones to professional studio interfaces TASCAM UH-7000 and Roland Super UA. Assessing a sound quality, we focused on the sound of traditional studio closed models of famous manufacturers.

Overall, the sound quality of the Pioneer HRM headphones is good. All three models sound quite interesting. Despite the apparent similarities, the headphones have noticeably different sound.

The junior model HRM-5 has the most simple sound. On the one hand, the sound is quite smooth in timbral term, without an explicit emphasis on any frequencies. On the other hand, the detail is average. The closed headphones could have more saturation at low frequencies. However, for the youngest model in the series, with affordable price, HRM-5 is good.

The Pioneer HRM-6 has emphasis on advanced low-frequency range. The register below 60Hz is well heard, what is in lack in the junior model. Listening to music “for fun”, an excessive bass may be an advantage, but working with sound, a bass range is better to flatten with equalizer (we have used a hardware EQ of TASCAM interface and there were some improvements in sound). In general, the sound of HRM-6 is similar to the junior model. The exception is the best saturation of the upper mid-range frequencies. Thus, the sound of HRM-6 is much more preferable.

The older model Pioneer HRM-7 has most balanced and detailed sound. HRM-7 does not have such excessive bass as HRM-6, but has more detailed mid-range. As for the high frequencies, they are overly emphasized. It is better to use EQ to weaken a high-frequency region above 5kHz.

As for the sound isolation, it is more noticeable in the younger models. We are particularly pleased with HRM-6, especially by the design of the headband and ear pads. We did not come to a consensus which model feels more convenient on the head. HRM-7 is a bit looser, more comfortable, but at the same time, is more bulky in design. HRM-5 and HRM-6 have less weight, they are tighter on the head and press harder.

Three Reasons to Buy

  1. Pioneer HRM fits both for amateurs and professional sound engineers.
  2. Reasonable price for a great sound quality.
  3. You can choose the most suitable for you model reading the section “Sound” to consider what sound you would prefer most.

Final Verdict on Pioneer HRM

A new series of professional headphones Pioneer HRM are fully satisfied our expectations. The headphones are very interesting and workable. It is very important that the headphones are affordable, so they are at the mass market.

Despite the fact that the HRM series is marketed as professional headphones for studio monitoring, the younger HRM-5 and HRM-6 can be used for any purpose, including connection to mobile devices. The headphones are closed, have a foldable design, which is certainly an advantage and makes them more practical.

As for the older model HRM-7, these headphones fit more for studio work. For a long time, Pioneer had not had headphones like these ones, so HRM-7 opened this area. We are confident that Pioneer will produce new interesting models, including those in higher price range. But now it is possible to estimate only mass sound models available to almost everyone.