Pioneer DJ HRM-6 Headphones Review
The Best Headphones You’ve Never Heard Of
Last year, by accident, I found the Pioneer DJ HRM-5’s in a dusty corner of my local Fry’s Electronics.
I reviewed them, and they were great. They had a flat sound signature, a solid build, and better comfort than other comparably- priced and famous studio pairs.
For many months, people have asked me if the HRM-6’s are worth the extra $70 they cost.
Believe it or not, the other day I found a pair for sale in that same dusty corner of my local Fry’s.
Did lightning strike twice?
The Pioneer DJ HRM-6 is a $169 wired, closed back multi-purpose headphone designed for every stage of professional production, and for home listening as well.
It’s clearly based on its $99 little brother the HRM-5, but it has a number of additional styling touches, upgraded sound, and build quality improvements. Whether those things are worth it or not is down to what you personally need/like.
The HRM-6 has a mostly-balanced sound signature…but it’s got a little bit of fun oomph in the bass. The highs aren’t as aggressive as other studio headphones, but they’re rendered with pleasant accuracy.
When I first listened to them, I smiled immediately and I’m still smiling at the end of my listening tests right this very moment.
They’re like an HRM-5 with a slightly beefier bass response, a smoother midrange, and cleaner, less grainy treble.
This is great.
I already loved the sound of the HRM-5’s. And I think these sound just a bit better. They have enough bass punch to be more fun for movies, gaming, and pop music…but that punch doesn’t ruin their accuracy.
The highs are detailed, but without any of the potential fatigue that comes with the intensity found in other models like the M50X and the DT770.
The midrange is pleasantly natural and musical. Vocals don’t sound muddy, withdrawn, or hollow.
Like the HRM-5, the HRM-6 sits in a perfect middle ground between the aggressive harshness of many pro headphones and the pleasant over-warmth of many consumer headphones. It’s so hard to do this right, but Pioneer nails that balance.
I happen to really like the intense treble of the DT770/M50X/MDR-7506…but for long session listening it’s not always ideal. The HRM sound is perfect for those times when I still want a very detailed sound, but don’t want to risk getting tired out after a few hours.
I was worried that the changed design of the HRM-6's would mess too much with the sound I liked in the HRM-5’s, but I’m glad the results are so nice here.
The HRM-6’s have a slightly higher impedance driver (45 ohms vs 32 ohms), a rigid aluminum enclosure for the ear cup, and additional damping material as well. That could have all been marketing fluff or change for the sake of change, but the design tweaks here work.
Soundstage is the only sonic area where the HRM-6 doesn’t fully excel…but that’s a tough task for any closed back headphone. The drivers are angled. Imaging is accurate, and staging is nice and just forward of my head. They sound wider than my M50X’s, but more narrow than my DT770's.
You won’t need an amp for these. The drivers are really sensitive, just like the HRM-5 drivers. I can push them to a satisfying volume level with tremendous ease on my Galaxy S8+.
They do have the power handling specs to handle an amp, but please don’t turn it all the way up unless you want your head to pop.
So many studio headphones get comfort wrong, or only go halfway.
One of the best features of the HRM-5's was that the comfort was exceptional in stock form. There’s no need to change the pads out or worry about fatigue over a whole day of listening.
The HRM-6's manage to be a little more comfortable, thanks to having thicker ear pads.
The ear pads on these remind me a lot of the MSR7 pads. They have a similar size and overall design. But I think these are more cushy, and use a nicer foam.
The holes are big, and the padding is ample enough that your ears shouldn’t touch the inside of the cups.
More headphones should use this amount of padding. The ear pads and headband pad both use large amounts of memory foam. The leatherette on the ear pads does warm up, but my ears don’t get quite as sweaty as they do with some other models. I’d rate the comfort here as on-par with the excellent Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro’s I reviewed last year.
Some folks might not enjoy the slightly higher-than-average clamping force. This was present on the HRM-5's as well. The padding is more than enough to keep the clamp from becoming a problem but these won’t ever disappear on your head. Instead, they give you a gentle hug and remain securely in place.
I wear these opened to six clicks out of ten on each side even on my large head, so these should fit just about any size of head.
Isolation is above average for a closed back, in spite of the large ports on the top of each ear cup. There’s a little bit of sound leak as a result of those ports. The pads seal really well against my head thanks to their flat design, and my glasses don’t impact the seal or the bass in any negative way.
The underlying design here is identical to the HRM-5's. These look like a typical studio headphone, but with some subtle curves and changes to the look that give them a touch of style…and a touch of boxyness.
The ear cup forks are rectangular instead of circular, which is still a little strange. The cups are angled off the headband such that they won’t stick out too far from your head. The cable is removable, and uses a locking twist mechanism that’s identical to the HRM-5’s, and to many of Shure’s studio monitoring headphones.
At a distance, you wouldn’t be able to tell a design difference between the HRM-5 and 6. But up close, a number of build quality improvements emerge.
In addition to the beefier sound, these justify their $70 cost premium with better materials in every part of the headphones. And they only weigh 5 grams more than the HRM-5’s (265g vs 260g).
I have to start with the adjustment clicks, which are perhaps my favorite ever. I know, I’m weirdly obsessed with this. But the adjustment mechanisms here feel really good and satisfying, with a nice metallic click. Unlike the HRM-5’s, the adjustments are numbered, so you can easily match the two sides.
The headband is stainless steel, just like on the HRM-5's.
The leatherette used here is softer. Aluminum is now present in the back of the ear cups, giving them a more substantial feel. The plastics along the headband now have a burnished metallic finish. The ear cup edges are rubberized.
The insides of the plastic forks, where the cable is routed to run through the headband, have rubberized material inside them. Some chrome runs around the outside of the bass ports.
Everything has a touch of premium material added to it. The HRM-5’s were built well and the 6’s are better- built in every way. There’s no creaking or squeaking to any of the joints or the plastic.
The headphones will fold flat, and also compact down for easier storage…which leads to my one tiny design gripe.
If you compact the headphones down with the adjustments fully closed, the super thick pads press into each other at the top and compress. I’ve solved this by extending the arms a bit when I fold down the headphones. Just something to be aware of!
Finally, someone copied the M50X’s included complement of cables.
In the HRM-6 box, you get a 3m straight cable, a 1.2m coiled cable, and a 1.2m straight cable with an angled plug. You also get a screw-on 6.3mm adapter that’s designed for the coiled and long cables.
The two straight cables are made of thick, rubbery material. This is good for durability…but not the best for avoiding tangles. They’re a little springy and take some time to flatten out.
You also get a nice soft bag. The bag is big enough that it’ll hold the headphones fully unfolded. That’s a nice touch! Most of the bags that come with studio headphones require you to fold the headphones down. Here, it’s up to you.
I should have bought these last year.
If you told me I could only own one pair of headphones, and you banned me from picking the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pros…then I’d pick these instead!
They do everything really well and they have a sound I’d be happy listening to forever.
Are they worth the extra $70 over the HRM-5's? I mean, some of that is down to personal taste. I think the improvements to the sound, the styling, and the build quality are absolutely worth the increased price in terms of value for the money…but they’re not essential.
I think both models are priced precisely where they should be. You can’t go wrong with either one if you want a great wired pair of headphones.