Listening Impressions (Passive)
So how do these headphones hold up?
I evaluated these headphones when it’s brand new out of the box. Using my office DAC with the included analogue cable.
Music is stored on a 4TB portable HDD, and the playback software is Foobar (v 1.4.2).
I am going to first and try to listen to music (via cable) with ANC turned off (passive mode).
Panning from Left/Right is relatively good with no break up in the imaging. Depth perception is good.
However, there’s a peculiarity - the imaging of the sound stage is just slightly below the ear. It’s hard to describe this, it just feels like the headphones are below my ears (even though the headphones are over my ears). This is like listening to ambient music from speakers that’s not directly firing at me.
The above aside, I’m actually surprised and somewhat impressed with the audio quality. Is the audio ‘audiophile’ grade? I would say so:
- Con: Sounds a bit bright out of the box, but I believe this will be gone after a while
- Con: I’m hearing this weird wind noise when nothing’s playing. Maybe it’s the air-conditioner above me, but the noise is pretty annoying as I can still hear this when music is playing
- Pro: Imaging is relatively good. Sure headphones can never beat a properly setup 2 channel audio system, but the Sony offers a good compromise
- Pro: Timbre is relatively accurate. Discounting the brightness (which I know will go away), there balance is neutral with no over emphasis on bass (a pet peeve I hate with modern audio systems)
- Pro: High resolvability. These headphones can resolve a lot of detail even when playing at low volumes. Forget about playing music that are dynamically compressed. The Sony is not forgiving - you will hear the distortions and how flat the music is with compressed music.
These cans are surprisingly revealing - it is more than capable of resolving a lot of micro details in the records.
Do not expect to enjoy music with a DR rating of 8 or below - you’ll be able to hear distortions (clipping) even at relatively low volumes. This resolving ability alone qualifies these phones as audiophile grade.
Wihle plastic does feel cheap, there is an upside - they are lightweight. While are other cans may sound better, they are also incredibly heavy. The Sony also do not clamp my head tightly (a common problem for me as that’ll give me migraines). I have no problems wearing this for extended periods without fatigue. All up the Sony is very comfortable to wear. After testing so many headphones, I would rate this as one of the more comfortable to wear.
Sony strikes a good balance between mobility and sound quality. And when you add in the excellent sound cancellation, it’s a winner! Perfect for those long distance flights.