The SE-MS9BN, otherwise known simply as S9, boasts an attractive retro aesthetic with black imitation leather or a golden-brown colourway variant. Pioneer’s latest model in the Scene Style series features an impressively robust construction with heavily padded headband and earpieces, while aluminium accents add to the overall feeling of sturdiness. The headband is adjustable in length, although there’s a restriction on rotation. The device works with Bluetooth 4.2 and delivers active noise cancelling capabilities. The integrated battery is fully rechargeable, delivering up to 27 hours of music playback after a fall charge.
The well-padded and robust design of these headphones ensures long-term comfort for the wearer, with fundamentally good protection against outside noise. After switching these on, the pairing process to a smartphone takes place quickly and, like other status messages, reported on to the wearer via clearly audible tones.
It’s easy to make adjustments and selections with a control panel on the left earpiece. The recessed on/off switch is used for initial pairing, while NFC is also supported. The S9 can also be connected to two different devices at the same time, meaning you can accept calls while music plays without incident.
In addition, noise cancelling can be switched on and off here, while the ‘Ambient Aware’ function can also be activated. With this activated, sound is transmitted to the electronics via external microphones, facilitating clear communication. Another button is reserved purely for calling upon Google Assistant.
.Finally, there’s a function interface that controls volume, while also giving you the option to trigger title jumps and start/stop commands. You can also find access to the voice assistant here, while also enjoying freedom to accept and terminate telephone calls. So far, so good. It’s just a little confusing as to why only the Google Assistant feature, rather than the Ambient Aware one, has been granted its very own switch for no particular reason.
A free iOS/Android app can be used to adjust the noise cancelling function of the S9. So far, the functionality has proven rather pedestrian, but the manufacturer promises future updates. The app is also required should you want to pair with Google. Once set up, the Assistant is there at the bush of a single button, giving you the luxury of reading out dictated notes and the like. Voice commands can also be put to use, allowing you to call up music, call contacts, or make general enquiries. A code word is required for addressing the assistant, although it’s not really necessary, what with the presence of that dedicated button. The hit rate for this feature is ultimately pretty average.
The active noise cancelling properties of these headphones can be switched on, but cannot be adjusted. The result is supplementary noise cancelling qualities that provide adequately when used outdoors. Static and lower frequency sounds are suppressed particularly reliably, while more irregular noises and those of a higher frequency tend to punctuate through the protective feature more regularly. Accordingly, best results can be enjoyed in a sitting position, such as when you’re travelling on the train or via air. The intensity of the shielding on offer here is medium to intensive in its success, although less effective than the technology displayed by some competitors.
The closed design utilises 40mm dynamic drivers with integrated CCAW coils. The results are instantly noticeable, with essential support provided by high-res codecs AAC and aptX/aptX HD.
The sound is powerful, yet doesn’t compromise on warm and soft character. While the low bass is reproduced audibly enough and without the issue of overemphasis, the S9 in the bass is full and lively. This range slightly outshines the harmonious mids, which themselves reproduce instrumental elements and vocals with plenty of authentic character. This tuning makes genres like rock and pop sound consistently powerful, if lacking a little order sometimes. Finally, the high range provides the necessary levels of transparency you want, without the intrusion of disturbance and harshness. Everything is in place for a stable stereo image, with the reproduction of panorama effects also on hand to deliver. As a closed design, the S9 can’t keep up with high-quality open over-ears. However, this doesn’t need to be the case, as these headphones are primarily intended for mobile use. Here it delivers powerful sound with impressive level reserves. At the same time, there’s all the dynamics you need for total enjoyment of all manner of music genres.
Should you opt for wired operation, these headphones act passively and offer the prospect of high-resolution audio file listening via computer or specialist player. Finally, the call quality of telephony applications with the integrated microphone falls somewhere around the average mark, despite the effort to include integrated noise reduction.</p
Pioneer is aiming to convert stubborn audiophiles with the SE-MS9BN. However, these over-ear listeners do indeed deserve praise, with sound performance and technological innovations that put them at the upper tiers of the market. Made to a high standard and boasting powerful sound capabilities, impressive battery life and active noise cancelling, there’s plenty in place for you to enjoy your audio like never before. To what extent you’ll put to use the integrated connection to Google Assistant is totally up to you.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)5 – 22.000 Hz (Bluetooth); 5 – 40.000 Hz (passive)
- Impedance36,05 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)106,16 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head670 g
- Weight with cable310 g
- Weight without cable300 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- Cable with mini jack
- USB charging cable
- Carrying pouch
- Available in black and gold/brown
- BT version: 4.2
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD
- One-touch pairing with smartphone (multi pairing up to 8 devices)
- Google Assistant compatible
- up to 27 h runtime and approx. 4 h load time