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Pioneer SE-DIR800C IR Surround Sound Headphones!!

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by Suave, Aug 4, 2004.

  1. Suave

    Suave
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    Hello Everyone!

    I have been given these as a gift from a friend in the USA. They are finally over here after ages. I am a very keen headphone listener and have had quite a few over the years. I have always been fascinated about surround sound via headphones and checked virtually all the technologies out there and despite being open minded - I really have to say that nearly all including the very expensive ones were basically all CRAP. Firstly I was waiting ages for someone to make a decent sounding wireless headset. I waited years. Again. most were average or crap and certainly nowhere near a decent set of corded phones. So trying to find a set that was both wireless and that could do proper Surround Sound - I had finally convinced myself would never happen. Finally, although in the past, I have had a pair of decent Yamaha headphones - I really do not believe that major Japenese manufacturers make decent headphones for the money.

    I now have to eat humble pie. The Pioneer SE-DIR 800C changes everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Firstly, they are the VERY BEST sounding WIRELESS sets I have heard. NO noise, or intereference of any kind, crystal clear, very clean, detailed and very, very good bass. they blew my socks off to be honest. I expected them to be crap like everything else and not being a fan of Jap headphones - I was really surprised.

    Now, it gets even better. The headphones come with a base unit that decodes Dolby Pro Logic, Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital, Dolby Headphone (3 modes) and DTS. The unit can be hooked up via optical cable, co-axial cable or via analogue to audio outputs to your amp, dvd, tv or vcr. BIG QUESTION - Does it work?? Well, they blow away any other so called surround sound headphones and YES!! They work!! You really do get Surround Sound - pretty amazing. You hear sounds behind you, detailed rear effects, great panning effects, you can locate sounds distinctively, hear background nuances and get a great sense of depth and dimension to the sound. Trust me, this is better than anything I have have previously heard. The base unit is very attractive and has a slot for recharging the batteries. The headphones themselves are very comfortable and light and do not pressure your head after a while like some others. They are nicely finished but a bit plasticky. The only criticism I have, is that it would have been great if they came with a remote control as then one could switch between the various modes without having to get up! As mine were from the States, I had to get a voltage transformer but they seem to work fine with it as Pioneer insist that you only use the supplied ac adaptor as any other including ones with the same milliamp rating will possibly damage the unit. But if you buy from the UK, you will not have to worry about it.

    I had experienced both the expensive Sony systems in the past, and frankly they were a waste of time and in reality I expected someone like Sennhesser to introduce a decent wireless set and one that did proper surround sound. Is it as good as a normal surround sound set up? No, as nothing will beat that, but, this is the best thing you will get next to it by a long shot. Nothing else, in my opinion comes close. Just get yourself movies like Star Wars, Star trek, Gladiator, Das Boot, Pearl Harbor etc and you will see what I mean! Only problem is they are not cheap - around £400!! but I have heard some places sell them for nearer £200 and for that they are a bargain! Even in the States, they reatil for $400! Finally, remember, you get acclimatised to what you hear and when you switch back to normal stereo from a surround mode, you realise what you miss out on! I hope this helps! I would love to hear others views on this if they have experienced them!

    Best Regards,
    Suave!

    PS: For those who are interested, my friend bought these from a company called DataVision for $269.00!!! Only problem is that due to credit card regs, they will not ship outside the USA, but if you are going there or have a friend, maybe they can pick up a set - only problem is, you will have had to buy them before trying them out! There may be customs duties and tax due to our Nazi tax laws so you take a chance. Many people have bought from a company called audiocubes that supply a free transformer and they have a couple of reviews on this headset as well and their customers in the UK have stated they did not pay any import duties or taxes, but the price is about $390 + shipping. Apparently the service is great. They also have reviews on the older SE-DIR1000C as well as this newer model. There is great review of the 800C's on Head Fi as well.
     
  2. WhyAyeMan

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    Excellent review. If I didnt use my PC (with its software Dolby headphone mode) then I would seriously consider this unit, although I have heard that it is a bit better than Dolby Headphone on a PC, its about time someone produced a good wireless headset as most of the ones in the past have been crap.
     
  3. sceptic

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    Great review. :smashin:
    I'm very tempted but will wait for a while to see if the prices come down. I can't find anywhere in this country selling for much under £300.
     
  4. Tight Git

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    Could be just what I'm looking for!

    Are there any UK Magazine reviews available yet, please?
     
  5. Suave

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    I just had an idea..if it helps.. I know these cans are available in many european countries and if reasonably priced, one can order them from one of the companies there (they are bound to be cheaper!) and if it is a EU country, there will be no customs duties, import tax or vat. it is worth considering or looking into.
     
  6. Dunedin397

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    If I may ask, which piece of software are you using to get Dolby Headphone?

    Cheers,

    Dunedin
     
  7. WhyAyeMan

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    PowerDVD.
     
  8. Veech

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    Hello to all,

    I have been looking for a good quality pair of 5.1 cans for quite some time and it looks like these are it! I do a lot of 5.1 mixing on my PC. I have the Audigy 2 ZS Platinum sound card. Currently I am using my Logitech Z-680's to monitor my mixes, but of course a headphones solution would be wonderful.

    pbirkett said: 'If I didnt use my PC (with its software Dolby headphone mode) then I would seriously consider this unit." Is that because the Pioneer SE-DIR800C's would not work well in a PC-based application? I have to use the analog outputs on the sound card with PowerDVD since apparently Creative locks the digital output on these cards due to copyright considerations.

    I am very much tempted to give these a whirl, any comments on using them on a PC based 5.1 mixing application would be appreciated!

    thanks,

    Veech
     
  9. WhyAyeMan

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    Veech, theres no reason why the Pioneers would not work excellently with a PC based setup, I believe it would just work like a DVD player, that is, through the digital out and the software outputting to Dolby 5.1 in the normal fashion.

    Its just that built in one gives cheapskates like me a good way to use the Dolby Headphone processing with existing headphones and equipment.
     
  10. Tight Git

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    (Better a Cheapskate than a Tight Git!)

    I asked this some time ago, but are there any reviews out yet, please?
     
  11. Veech

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    Unfortunately it seems as though I can only utilize the analog outputs on my Sound Blaster 2 ZS Pro sound card, since Creative cripples digital 5.1 output, downmixing to stereo. The only way I can get 5.1 is via the analog outs, using three stereo outputs. It looks like the Pioneer converter only accepts stereo analog inputs. Unless I can find a way to convert analog 5.1 (via 3 stereo lines) into a digital signal, then it may not work in this particular setup. grrrr...

    btw, there are some very favorable reviews out about the headphones, that's the main reason I'm intrigued. I found the reviews through Google. What's interesting is that these are regular stereo headphones, the whole trick is in the converter. Too bad the converter itself is not available separately.

    Veech
     
  12. Suave

    Suave
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    Great News Everyone!

    You can now readily get these headphones in the Uk (Finally!!!) at quite a few places -prices seem to all be the same at £294.99 but a company called www.hifistore.co.uk are selling them for £249.99 including free delivery! (good deal!) In Europe you can get them for 299 Euros or cheaper so you still save more! Extra headsets are avialble separately for more than one user. If anyboby gets a set, it would be great to hear your views on them! Be advised, they sound best after they have been 'burned in' for about 80 hours or so.

    Suave!
     
  13. mick23

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    suave if someone wished to use the 800 headphones for use with just a dvd player on its own say late at night playing gladiator but had no sterio amp av etc how would one adjust the headphones volume or is there something inbuilt into the 800 module.

    the reson i ask is i sometimes wish to play films late at night but cannot have my av up as loud as i would like due to my neibours having very young children who are asleep.

    and am considering doing away with my av amp and all the associated speakers anyway

    thank you
     
  14. Suave

    Suave
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    Hi Mick23,

    No Problem - thats exactly why I bought these headphones - so I could watch movies late at night. I too only have them hooked up to my DVD Player! The main base unit has a master volume control and then the headsets themselves have an individual volume control so you can then adjust it to your preference or if multple users each can control the volume to suit themselves. You can hook the unit up to your TV, VCR, DVD or AV amp via analog cables, digital coaxial cable and/or optical cable. I have all hooked up to my DVD Player and although the sound quality is really great via analog, it is even better via digital coaxial and/or optical cable. Hope this helps Mick - let me know how you get on if you buy them!

    Suave!
     
  15. Suave

    Suave
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    Hi Mick,

    For a wireless set in normal stereo, they really do sound good but I have been so engrossed in listening to multi channel DVD movies, so my music listening has been limited! The good news is you can also connect a set of wired headsets of any make to the base unit and you can then choose a headset of your own personal choice. Pioneer have thought of everything except a remote control. As I have said in the past, these are the very best sounding wireless sets I have ever heard. my only other criticism is that they are a bit plasticky. I live in Harrow so if there is a way we can hook up, you can try them out for yourself with movies and music and also with other wired headphones if you cannot find a demo in Watford. For £250 they are great as you get so much - Pioneer were going to retail for £399! Hope this helps!

    Suave!
     
  16. ITZBITZ

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    I'm going to be picking one of these up this week, so I'll be sure to contribute my comments once I get it.

    I'll be using it for:

    DD 5.1/DTS from a Toshiba SD-3950 (mod) DVD player for late night movie watching

    Playing XBOX games via the optical output (DD5.1) at night

    Playing games on the PC via the Soundstorm DD 5.1 Live output

    Results when I get some time with it. I'll also be looking at the headphone output jack, including taking a look at what's inside driving it and weather a power supply upgrade (regulated Elpac or something) will improve the wired headphone quality.

    Glad to hear everyone else says it is good, my current hissing IR headphones are just crap but keep the baby asleep at night.
     
  17. ITZBITZ

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    Got these on Friday. So far, so very good.

    DD5.1 from DVD is excellent. Phones are dead silent with the digital input when no audio is playing. And when the movie fires up, including the fancy THX trailer, it's quite a sensation. I swear I get the same results as my discrete speaker system in the living room (you know, thinking somebody is at the front door, thinking somebody is behind you, thinking you hear a dog barking, thinking the phone is ringing, thinking you accidentally left the volume on the receiver up before you put on the headphones). They are much better than I expected. The digital IR is vastly superior to analog.

    D-PL from TIVO (HBO, etc.) using analog inputs. Also very good. Center signals are very forward, again with the "did I forget to turn down the TV" sensation. I always find myself wondering if I'm being too loud but realize that nobody but me is enjoying the sounds I am hearing.

    STEREO audio from CD (via digital input) forces the unit into a music D-PL mode which adds a nice amount of room ambience to the music. With pure stereo (all processing disabled), the sound is lively, plenty of treble and plenty of bass. These are closed cans, so the closed-in sound is present compared to the open sound of say the DT880's. But it's not claustrophobic, just strange not hearing anything outside the cans. With the DH processing on the stereo music, it's like sitting in an audio room with some speakers. Very nice.

    XBOX is not really exciting me yet. Something about the experience just doesn't feel right yet. I need to work with some other modes to see if that helps but the sound out of the XBOX is just way off in terms of image and positioning. Sure, you can hear the cars come up from behind you, but not in a way that you get with a movie. Almost as if the front signals are too loud compared to the rear. I'm sure it's a balance thing I just haven't gotten used to yet. More research needed.

    Tonally, I like the sound but haven't spent a whole lot of time comparing it with a variety of musical sources yet. I hope to have more time for that later this week.

    For me, well worth the price paid. These CAN be had for under $300 if you shop around, but I bought from a reputable dealer for a fair price. I've run one set of batteries through them so far just letting them burn in to some music when I'm not watching with them.

    More to come...

    -Chris
     
  18. Suave

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    Hi ItzBitz!

    Suave Here!

    Out of interest, when listening to Dolby Digital or DTS movie, which mode of Dolby Headphone do you use, prefer or find most effective, DH1, DH2 or DH3? for 5.1 surround re-creation? If given the choice (as on some DVD's) which do you find gives a better surround experience, DD or DTS? I have mine connected to a Pioneer DV-575A DVD Player vis both digital coaxial cable & optical for movie watching and via analogue cable for watching off air movies via the Dolby Pro Logic II mode. How have you connected yours?

    Cheers,
    Suave!
     
  19. ITZBITZ

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    I have my DVD player connected via the coaxial digital input. I have my XBOX connected via the optical input. I have my TIVO connected via the analog inputs.

    I mostly use DH2 for TIVO, although I haven't jumped around much. For movies, I still use DH2. DH3 seemed a little to "alive" for me but I haven't listened much to DH1 yet. I need to spend more time with it.

    Redbook out of the DVD player sounds very good, particularly since it is digital from source to the headphones. To think that there is both a DAC and a headphone amplifier in the headphones running on 2.4V (albeit likely via a DC-DC converter to 5V, it's just amazing. I'm thinking of spending the $75 on the service manual to get a schematic and see about some unofficial upgrades that may be possible!
     
  20. kgulls

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    Hi,
    Have been browsing the forums and am really interested in this product.
    As I will be moving house shortly and starting to build my long hoped for home cinema,(in a bedroom actually,but hey!)these phones might be a perfect answer,both short and long term.
    As its gonna take time to build my system,all I'm starting with is a basic dvd and lcd screen.
    Would you guys be happy watching dvd thru these as opposed to conventional speakers.Also I'd be interested to know your thoughts on base reproduction.Obviously I realise the effect cant simulate a subs earthy base but would appreciate your opinions.
    cheers
     
  21. Suave

    Suave
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    Hi Kgulls..

    Suave here,

    I am in the same position as you - live in a bedroom so at the moment no chance of a full 5/6/7 speaker set up. I use these headsets instead as I watch alot of late night dvd movies. I only have a DVD player (Pioneer DV575A) hooked up to a widescreen tv. I find it great. They really are very impressive for what they are. You have to burn them in for about 80 hours to get the best of them and the surround sound (Dolby Digital/DTS) experience is very good for headphones but remember it is dependant on the surround effects on the dvd. As I said before, nothing will beat a proper speaker set up but this is as good as you can get via headphones, believe me. the benefit is you can listen & watch movies late at night with a considerable level of volume without disturbing a dickie bird - I love them! As for the bass, again, you really will be surprised as how good the bass is on these cans, far far better than I had hope or expected, but remember, nothing beats a proper sub as you mentioned! Go for these, you will be very happy. Hope that helps! Remember, if just using a DVD player, you will have to have one with dedicated built in DD/DTS decoders - if your DVD player does not have them, then you will have to hook it up to your av amp.

    Suave!
     
  22. bjhewson

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    Hi
    I have just ordered a pair of these phones from the US I managed to get for US $300. Mind you shipping was extra, but thats okay.

    One question I gather I would need a voltage transformer, does anyone know where I can get one from?
    Thanks
    Brian
     
  23. kgulls

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    Hi Suave,

    Thanks for the extra info on these.I am now more than a little tempted to get a pair,maybe before we move.Only downside is, I refuse to watch widescreen dvds' on a 23" 4:3 Sony,which I having to watch before we move.
    I nearly always watch music dvds' thru headphones anyway(Sennheisers and Musical Fidelity X-Can v3 amp) as well as cd replay.I honestly believe it matches or exceeds most speaker configurations but that of course is purely a personal opinion.
    I will require a 5,6,7:1 set up at some stage for watching films with family/friends but for a late night experience these sound like a very good alternative.
    Any thoughts on there effectiveness with Playstation,X-box etc?
    Incidentally I see you have tried out most surround sound headphone technologies.How does the decoding system compare with Dolby Headphone offered in some amps?
     
  24. Suave

    Suave
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    Hi Brain & Kgulls,

    Brian, as for the transformer, the best thing would be to get a UK adaptor from Pioneer Uk as the headphones are in the UK. If not, try a try a Pioneer European distributor. Pioneer make a very big deal about not using any other transformer other than theirs even if it has exactly the same specs so I just bought a auto transformer/ voltage adaptor from ebay (you can get one from any good electrical shop/outlet/internet for about £15. Plug your US supplied transformer into the voltage adaptor and plug the voltage adaptor to the ac. A bit of a bulky option but cheap & you still use the pioneer adaptor so you do not violate your warranty. Mine works fine this way with no probs.

    Kgulls, I do not have a Xbox or games console so cannot comment but as for your next point how do these cans compare with Dolby headphone found on amps - Dolby Headphone aims to create a surround experience from any stereo source and the SE-DIR800C's cater for this. As far as DD/DTS, these require separate dedicated processing for 5.1 surround experience via headphones which Dolby Headphone alone cannot do - there in lies the beauty of these cans ( you have to select a Dolby headphone mode in addition to either DD or DTS if you wish to listen to 5.1 surround - must be something to do with the processing values set in the unit). In addition, you also have the choice of Dolby Pro-logic II (with sub modes of movie, music or auto depending on what you are listening to) for a surround experience from Non DD/DTS source. Hope that helps! If you get them, give us your opinions on them!

    Suave!
     
  25. kgulls

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    Hi Suave,

    Thanks for answering my question.I can see now from your description the advantage of the decoding system used with these phones as opposed to to a signal fed from a dolby headphone amp.
    Okay I'm sold.Will be getting the old plastic card out this week-end.I know that HiFiBitZ are advertising them for about £295.00.Any ideas if they are the only source in the U.K?
    Really looking forward to trying these,although will approach the system with an open mind,much as you did.Will share my thoughts in due course.
    Thanks!
     
  26. Lev

    Lev
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    i ordered these headphones and now i wonder if i should use the coax or optical input.. what do you guys recommend?
     
  27. fish99

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    Just want to check something - can these headphones do anything with either anologue or digital output from a Audigy 2 ZS when playing games? I mean games that are using DirectSound3D to generate 3D sound, rather than Dolby Surround/Pro-Logic/Digital.

    The Audigy 2 ZS does have a digital out jack which carries a 5.1 signal, but can these headphones actually do anything with that signal, or are they only for Dolby signals?

    Cheers.
     
  28. Suave

    Suave
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    Hi, Suave here!

    I have mine connected via both coaxial digital and optical for DVD - both are great - nothing between the two so go for whatever you feel is best!

    Suave!
     
  29. ITZBITZ

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    I decided an update was necessary.

    First of all, audio on TIVO with anything less than best quality is distorted. Nothing wrong the headphones, it's just TIVO audio quality comment. :)

    I've put about 12 DVD's through the phones now and I have to say, I haven't used my 5.1 speaker system since. I mean sure, we use it for all our regular TV viewing (you know, Elmo's Favorite Songs, the news, Noggin, etc.) but when I watch movies I throw on the cans, shut off the amp and go straight from the DVD player (which is connected directly to the monitor) to the transmitter. The only insane thing I do is continue to grab the remote to turn down the volume instead of adjusting the knob on the headphones.

    XBOX is much improved. The game I used before was just a bad example (PGR2) and didn't really have a good positional audio system. Other games are top-notch (Burnout 3 was very good, for example). The clarity is good but you'll adjust your settings (like turning down the music volume, etc.) to make it sound the best. The stock settings are meant for a stereo, not headphones.

    Okay. Here is the kicker. And this actually wasn't surprising, just something to note for you all thinking of doing it. Stick to stereo for your computer. I have a nForce3 motherboard with DD-Live. Running it in EAX 2.0 mode with the digital 5.1 output (playing EverQuest II Beta), it just doesn't sound right. I find that switching over to my Audigy2 ZS with EAX4, setting it to "headphones" and running stereo PCM out of the digital output into the headphones with all headphone processing turned off on the transmitter sounds the most realistic. All the reflections when running through tunnels, etc. just sound more realistic than using the nForce/DDLive settings. My guess is all the extra encoding/decoding/encoding/decoding just spoils it.

    I also find them very nice for music listening with the DH2 processing ON. They widen the soundstage and recognize that it is music and not movie sounds and adjust the processing accordingly to offer a wide soundstage.

    I'm ordering the service manual this week to determine if there are any upgradable internal parts I could do to tweak them a bit. Not that they need it, but just because I want to know. :)

    I highly recommend this headphone system to anyone, whether you can turn up the volume or not.
     
  30. Sting King

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    Recently purchased these headphones from Peter Tyson online (UK) for £289.90 inc. VAT and next day delivery , they even chucked a optical cable in for free!

    They didnt come with the vertical stand and coax cable that it states in the manual :mad: , but i believe this to be Pioneers fault, I contacted Peter Tyson, who told me they will pursue Pioneer to send me the missing stuff directly.

    I bought them for use mainly with my Xbox and the occasional late night film, I tried them out with the Xbox first, connected via. the two phono plugs on my Xbox's scart lead. This will provide Pro-Logic 2 as I understand it.
    (currently awaiting delivery of an advanced scart cable with optical out)

    I wont go into detail, as I pretty much agree with everything already said in the post.

    What I will say though is that they are definetly worth your hard earned cash!!
     

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