Pioneer has launched the SE-MONITOR 5, a new closed-back, on-ear headphone that makes extensive use of trickle-down technology from its flagship SE-MASTER 1 headphone, offering genuine Hi-Res audio performance as well as support for both balanced and unbalanced audio.

Pioneer’s engineers decided to turn to that most traditional of materials – wood – when developing the custom-built 50mm, full-range drive unit used. Cellulose Nano-Fibre, formed from highly refined organic wood pulp, is used to form a unique driver profile that minimises undesirable resonances.

This innovative material, in conjunction with a crossover-free design, is the key to the design’s wideband 5Hz–85 kHz frequency response, as well as an ability to reproduce a level of ambient detail more commonly associated with open-backed headphones.

In fact, the obsession with minimising resonances, essential to achieve a truly insightful sound, is evident throughout the headphone design. The patented Double Headphone Chamber arrangement, for instance, comprises a main chamber augmented with ported sub-chambers (to ensure a tight bass) while a magnesium alloy ‘Full Basket’ system (using screws, not glue) is used to firmly secure the drive unit into the headphone base.

Like the high-end SE-MASTER 1, this more affordable design uses lightweight but highly rigid duralumin alloy hangers to hold the floating headphone base assembly in place, with rubber insulators fitted at the points of contact, to provide further sonic isolation.

Comfort is all when it comes to headphones so there was little debate when it came to deciding upon the right earpad material for the SE-MONITOR 5. The same sculpted 3D memory-foam material used for the SE-MASTER 1’s earpads is employed here too, with two sets of easily changeable pads – one covered in a velour cloth, the other in a leather-type material – supplied as standard.

To ensure maximum choice, the SE-MONITOR 5 comes with three sets of detachable audio cables – 1.6m and 3m examples for conventional unbalanced audio outputs (using 3-pole, 3.5mm connectors), plus a 1.6m version specifically for balanced audio (using a four-pole, 2.5mm connector). All the cables (constructed with OFC Litz wire) are carefully braided to resist electromagnetic interference, the balanced version offering the potential for enhanced channel-separation, headroom and clarity.

With a sensitivity of 99dB and impedance of 40 ohms the SE-MONITOR 5 will prove an easy load for the majority of sources, making the very most of the sound quality available from the latest high resolution Digital Audio Players.