The Pioneer HDJ-2000 is the flagship model of Pioneer’s latest line of headphones for DJs. At $349 (list), it is significantly more expensive than the previously reviewed Pioneer HDJ-1500, and while it’s sometimes difficult to justify the difference in cost between different models of the same line, in this case, it’s plain to see why the HDJ-2000 is superior. While both headphone pairs offer quality audio performance, the HDJ-2000 is far more secure-fitting and comfortable, and is generally a victory of design in ways that its less expensive sibling is not.
Available in black-and-chrome, matte white, or silver, the HDJ-2000 gets so many things right with its design, but the primary asset here is the aforementioned comfort. The ear pads and the underside of the headband are plush, and things never get uncomfortable, even during long listening periods. The visual design scheme of the HDJ-2000 is also well thought-out. There are no flashy, garish design elements, just a simple classic look that also happens to be well-constructed.
Part of the reason the headphones fit so well is the headband’s design—you can easily lock it in place on both sides, ensuring the length of the headband stays how you want it. The HDJ-2000 folds down into a more compact size, as well, and there are swinging joints directly above each ear cup, making it easy to move an ear cup off of one ear.
The Stereo/Mono switch on the left ear cup is exceptionally useful—if you have a song with lots of content panned hard left or right, it’s possible you’d miss your cue if one ear cup was flipped away. Switching to mono for these circumstances ensures each ear will hear the same content.
The cable is detachable and is wound in a thick, expandable coil, with a connection point at the ear cup that is not a typical 3.5mm connection, but a three-prong one instead. It’s debatable whether this connection may deliver a more solid lock or superior audio quality, but it definitely means you’ll have to buy replacement cables directly from Pioneer—here’s hoping they’re still making this non-standard design cable if and when you need it. The cable terminates in a 3.5mm connection, but the headphones ship with a screw-on ¼-inch adapter for larger headphone jacks.
The only other accessory the HDJ-2000 ships with is a black, drawstring pouch that the headphones fold down into easily.
The HDJ-2000 passes the most important of tests for DJ headphones with ease: It does not distort at top volumes. Even at maximum, unsafe listening levels on tracks with challenging deep bass content, like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the HDJ-200 delivers clean audio. Its bass response is comparable to that of the HDJ-1500, but of course this requires first that you get a secure fit on the loose-feeling HDJ-1500—the HDJ 2000 fits snugly and comfortably the first time and requires little adjustment, thus ensuring more consistent bass response, as well as more consistent ear-to-ear performance.
On classical tracks, like John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” the HDJ-2000 provides a refined bass response, lending the lower register strings and percussion a pleasant richness, but never going overboard. The higher register strings and brass have a nice high-mid frequency growl to them, and the high frequency woodblock hits sit nicely at the top of the mix without ever getting too bright. Things never sound muddy, nor harsh—the HDJ-2000, like the HDJ-1500, provides a nice sense of low-end and crispness simultaneously.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop’s attack is delivered with a crisp treble edge, as well, and plenty of low frequency thump. The underlying sub-bass synth hits are reproduced with slightly less boost than you hear on various models from Beats by Dr. Dre, but the sound is in no way anemic. The vocals are delivered with a nice edge, as well, helping them stand out over the dense mix.
If the HDJ-2000 lacks anything, it’s bells and whistles. That’s probably a good thing for a pair headphones that should be thought of as more of a tool, but it’s worth pointing out that the Panasonic Technics RP-DH1250 comes with two removable cables, not just one, and one of them has built-in iOS device controls, so it can double as your mobile headphone pair. Compared to the Technics RP-DH1250, the HDJ-2000 delivers a slightly less bright response, with a less crisp high-mid delivery and a bit more power in the bass department.
Meanwhile, the Beats Pro by Dr. Dre has a bit more deep bass presence than the HDJ-2000, as well as the ability to plug the cable into either earcup. The less-expensive Numark Electrowave may not look as refined or snazzy as these models, but it offers solid audio performance and a comfortable secure fit. For the money, however, the HDJ-2000 is a strong investment—its fit is unsurpassed amongst the models we’ve tested, and it offers accurate, robust audio for DJs who need to hear every part of the frequency range.
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