Pioneer SE-CE11: Where did it all start?

Hello boys and girls,
this is my first post on this blog and i’m quite surprised i’m here starting my new project.
I’ve never believed i could reach a level at which i could be able to review products and give advices to other people.
I’m even surprised how fast the time passed: it was like 2010 when i first noticed these little pieces of plastic in a tech-store. Price was €12 if i remember well. Let’s get in, i am very glad to show you my first old daily drivers, after years listening with different stuff.

PACKAGING

I don’t have the original packaging anymore, i bought them 8 years ago so i think i got rid of that little carton piece in the same day i bought them. What i appreciate is that Pioneer gives you a portable transparent plastic box that features a cable reel, which is really comfortable and useful. You’ll obviously find eartips in, but i advice u not to stretch them hard or they’re gonna strain

DESIGN

What could I say.. a simple white design. Clean, ordinary, i have to admit they even look a lil vintage if i watch them nowadays. The logo brand is printed on the shell but it’s “tawdry”, don’t know how to explain it. Overall a very minimal design. They feature an angled silver 3.5 jack connector which can be transformed in a straight one cutting the angle useless rubber. There isn’t any microphone.

BUILD QUALITY

The first impression given by this sounds like “hey, they feel so lightweight and cheap, think i’m gonna brake them in a few days” or at least it was my first impression. I had to change my mind during my usage: they were lightweight and felt cheap at first place but then i realized they were made well even if with cheap plastic. I have them since 2010 and they’re still working flawlessly, even if i used them on the beach in the past, where they got some sand in (now i’m really sad about that and i’m not so rude with my IEMs, i was less careful with these kind of peripherals). Big up for the excellent trade-off between build quality, weight and price. Cable is very thin and i think it can suffer from bad use or cable twisting, so always put the headphones in their original case.

COMFORT

Assuming i like deep in ear headphones much more, i found these very lightweight and tiny for my very little ears: they can be comfy if you can stand a general earbud. Their weight really helps, and this is even comfortable to me: i actually find 90% of earbuds uncomfortable.

SOUND

Here we are then.. after all these words, how do they sound?

I have to formulate a premise: I’m coming back to earbuds after many years with In ear headphones.
I only use in-ear headphones which go deeply into the ear canal and i can try sometime standing hybrid In ear/Earbuds (if i have to make a shape example, i would say look at the Memt T5 to understand what I mean).
I started using in-ear headphones because the majority of cheap earbuds use the MX500 shell, which is bulky and too big for my small ears.
Bass: controlled and quite energic, as long as you can get a good fit. There is a very unpleasant mid-bass bleed which i personally didn’t like: it makes the V-shape signature very closed and a bit darkish when it comes to voices. If pumped with EQ can cause hard distortion. Sub-bass is very hard to feel, i have to say nearly absent.
These aren’t basshead puppies, so if you’re a basshead search for other products.
Mids: as i said before they suffer from the mid-bass bleed. Male voices sound a bit hollow for my tastes while female voices don’t sound natural as they seem a bit limited and can’t be open and airy like they should. Summing-up, mids have an odd positioning. I tried headphones which had the same characteristics but at least mids sounded natural and clearer.
Highs: highs are on point if you keep a normal volume. As soon as you increase the volume, a little kind of sibilance could be noticed, and i mean very little. Details are not a big problem: they’re there but i’ve heard more detailed earbuds at a lower price. They do not sound bad nor fatiguing at least.
The definition seems destroyed as soon as many instruments come into the track, and there’s where you’ll hear details missing.
 
Soundstage: poor depth, not enough width considering it could have been better as they are “open”. Imaging: could be ok, but i think other headphones do better in this price range. Instrument separation isn’t excellent but ok considering the price.
All these things result in a cold sounding and not full-bodied earbud.
A LITTLE TIP FOR YOU: while i wanted to know if there could be a little revision on these i bought a new pair of them this summer. After listening to them with moderate volume and applying a soft bass boost from the EQ i noticed the right driver just started vibrating so hard. I can feel the shape vibrating when I touch hit and that’s not positive. These headphones are not made to be equalized i think as i tried with my old pair and they seemed reacting in the same way. Their left driver started crankling hard: crankling stopped as soon as i stopped the music fortunately, but it didn’t with the last pair i bought as they’re permanently damaged.

SUMMARY 

I can say they’re quite good if you find them under €10 and wanna try a little pair of old earbuds, but they’re definitely not the best quality headphone you can find in this price range.
Sound is way too much “thin”, without the body and the energy that are needed to put the listener at the center of an enjoyable listening experience.

Pioneer SE-CE11

5.5

Sound

5.0/10

Build Quality

6.0/10

Comfort (subjective)

7.0/10

Packaging/Accessories

5.5/10

Price

4.0/10

Pros

  • Price
  • No bulky design, pretty small shell
  • Lightweight
  • Very useful plastic box

Cons

  • Tips tend to stran easily even at first use
  • Unpleasant mid-bass bleed which ruins mid's definition and make bass sound bloted
  • Basically no sub-bass
  • Delicate drivers: even soft EQs seem to be unsafe, moreover if listening volume is high
  • Old headphones nowadays, with less money you can buy better headphones
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