Pioneer sent us their new babies, the Steez 808 Headphones. As part of their new(ish) Steez lineup, which, according to Pioneer, are "The first-ever line of serious dance gear built to inspire dancers just like you. Unique features for training, rehearsing and competing — every way you move."
Odd target market and a valiant attempt at rebranding a segment of their company. Basically, take all of the dance talk out of the equation (because these things won't stay on your head while you spin on it) and think that the 808 Steez enters into the Beats. v-Moda and Fanny Wang realm looking to ride the Pioneer name and tech into supremacy. So how did they do?
We will break this, like most headphones, into two parts:
First lets talk aesthetics. Pioneer went with the very common single thick plastic headband much like Beats. Sorry for all of the comparisons Pioneer, but its a successful look, but when a lot of people look at your product and think of or confuse it for another company's, maybe try another look.
The black and white complement each other well. The white earcups and headpad provide enough style without an overdose of lines and shapes that turn your head into an overpass covered in graffati.
The plastic body seems strong enough to withstand a beating, but I am always a little weary of plastic headphones. It keeps cost down and metal is heavy, but if you break an arm or the headband, game over. My first big complaint about the 808s is that they do not collapse and do not have a carrying case or bag, which makes taking them along tough and also pushes the strength of that plastic to the limit by just putting them in backpacks.
For comforts sake the earpieces rotate left and right to contour to your head and aid in passive noise canceling, a big help. But that as well as the telescoping hand band to fit my large head is as much as these cans move. The collapsable sets often break at those very same points and are flimsy. I would gladly deal with that for the ability to break these down. And if not Pioneer, how about some hard shell cases? We would gladly pay a little more to protect our investment.
My other beef is with the smaller than my liking earpieces. Now although they are sufficiently padded, quite pillowly if I may add. The pieces are smaller and force the pressure onto a smaller plot of the side of my head, which cuts down on comfort for me. Some people think the large ear peices are too hot and therefore also uncomfortable, but my preference is for larger earpieces that allow me to wear them longer.
The complaints stop there. Simply put, these sound AMAZING. They are the most powerful headphones we have reviewed. Chalk that up to the dual drivers that peak at 1,000 mW and a response bandwidth of 8 - 28,000 Hz. Compare that to Beats by Dre Studios which only have a response bandwith of 20 - 20000 Hz (we could never find a power number to tack to those BbDs either), which might not sound like a lot. But you can hear, and even feel the 808s hang in there longer on low frequencies, which means they handle bass better.
The bass is sharper and more powerful, replacing the vibration with the powerful knocks and booms that you should experience. I have a new appreciation for bass now. I used to love that temple vibrating bass of the other sets we have reviewed. But this is what you should have been hearing all along.
The highs stay clear and the lows dont mud up because the 30mm driver handles the highs and mids and the 40mm takes the bass. Perfect harmony if I say so myself.
Good luck turning these things all of the way up too. I could only comfortable handle a quarter of the way up through my MacBook Pro, turning it up to mid way for the review was a lot to take!
Ok, I lied I have another knock on these... Because of all of the power they wanted to make sure these headphones were to the liking all of those that purchase them (at least that I what I want to think they were thinking), Pioneer included a bass dial on the left ear piece allowing users to control the bass output. Even turned down these produce a good amount of solid bass, all the way up is enjoyable.
Maybe I can be swayed to agree with this addition, but I have not see that option on headphones for years and especially not on a set of this caliber and price. The large dial odd, almost an eye sore, but for most people it could be a welcome feature to silent some of that powerful bass and a way to turn it to max for the rest of us. Next time Pioneer, hide that control somewhere on the sets, please!
Included in the deal is an in-line mic and control unit that allows you all of the abilities you have been used to. Track changes, play/pause and volume again is at your fingertips.
These are a great priced set of headphones.
Very powerful with some design and comfort flaws that some can get over or might never bother them. Maybe these are the cheaper solution to all of your buddies and their Beats?
+ Powerful with dual drivers for highs and lows
+ Great sound for all sorts of music
+ Ability to control bass makes these appealing to a broader audience
+ Amazing price to take a bite of the market
- Small ear pieces might start to hurt after a while
- Not collapsable and no case
- Ability to change bass output is ok, but the dial that does it is not good looking
Sound and price trump all