Surprisingly good wireless headphones with a few caveats

Nov 22, 2007 (Updated Nov 24, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Good sound; perfect connection provided you are in front of the base station

Cons:Ugly as sin; expensive; needlessly cumbersome to recharge

The Bottom Line: If you have the money to spend, then this is about the only set of headphones which will provide quality, comfortable, uninterrupted sound wirelessly.

I am a night creature, which until I moved in with my new roommate was not an issue. Unfortunately, he is a bit of a light sleeper, so if I wished to continue to watch movies at 2am, I was going to need a set of headphones.

I knew from the start that wireless was going to be the only option for me, and I set about on an exhaustive four day online hunt (I'm lazy) for the best ones I could find, and the Pioneer SE-DIR800C really stood out. Of course, so did the price; $300 is a lot to spend on what I considered to be a novelty item, but it was the only one that delivered on both sound and connection performance, so I took the plunge.

And so far, I could not be happier, with a few minor annoyances.

It really creates surprisingly accurate sound, though all of it sounds just a tad mechanical and tinny. It has several Dolby Pro Logic modes that all sound equally good, and it even manges to reproduce surround sound in a reasonably enjoyable way.

As long as I am in front of the device, it never looses connection. Never. It never pops, or crackles, or goes silent at all, no matter how I move my head, even when I am lying down. However, a suggestion: Don't turn the headphones on until you get your TV and cable box on first; I get some loud popping if I do that in the wrong order.

Of course, these are line of sight headphones. You have to be in front of the device for them to work, though I have found I can be directly to the side of them with no loss in connection at all.

And there are plenty of audio inputs (1 analog, 1 coaxial, 1 optical) in the back and a clear and simple way to switch between those inputs (though lacking a remote, which is slightly tedious)

I seem to be getting about 12-14 hours from the two rechargeable AA batteries that come with the headphones, which is quite good in my opinion. The fact that the base station also charges the batteries is a nice touch, but I was disappointed that you actually have to remove the batteries from the headphones and insert them into the base for this to work. It is a minor annoyance, but I find myself putting regular batteries in while charging the ones that came with it, which kind of defeats the purpose.

It is just so damn ugly. It is 1970's Battlestar Galactica ugly. Carrot Top ugly. The headphones themselves are actually rather pleasing in their form; simple and understated. The base station, however, looks like someone stuffed Christmas lights into a digital alarm clock from 1990, complete with large, round plastic buttons all across the top. The entire front of the device is constantly aglow with green and red LED lights. It's like a condensed version of Kitt's dashboard next to your television. It looks it belongs in an old Devry commercial. It is really, really ugly.

I have found I can wear the headphones for about 2 to 4 hours without having to shift them. I have good sized ears and I can still tuck them perfectly into the headphones. they are lightweight, and with a few pillows propped and folder behind my head, I can wear them lying down with no discomfort.

Supported formats: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic II

Transmission method: Infrared

Transmission range: Up to 26 feet

Processing modes: Multichannel source DH mode (for 5.1 encoded sources), Pro Logic II DH mode (for stereo sources with Pro Logic II decoding); stereo source DH mode (for traditional stereo sources); Dolby Headphone Off (for regular headphone playback)

Frequency response: 12 Hz to 22 kHz

Distortion: 1 percent or less @ 1 kHz

Inputs: 1 analog, 1 coaxial, 1 optical

Power: AA rechargeable batteries

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