Pros: Good overall sound. Clear mids and clean treble with the Blu Tack mod
Cons: Bass has a little upper bass bump and lacks some extension, Mids are a bit forward, Hinge and wind noise issues are present on the go.
So here is my review of the MDR-1R.
Its a good looking headphone. nothing to complain about. It is by far my best looking headphone, but that is easy to do :)
The build is good, solid feeling and not a flimsy feeling piece of plastic. There are a few issues though:
First the jack on the headphone to accept the cable has no means of locking the cable in or preventing it from getting slack, So make sure that you don't change the cable constantly, or you will have a loose jack and the plug can rattle. For me so far, this is a minor issue, rarely hearing the rattle if ever at all.
Second is the hinge creaking. This is more annoying as simple things like clenching your jaw causes the creaking and it is very audible. I will have to find a way to lubricate it. remember reading in a thread what to do but will have to find it again.
Besides these issues, I do wish it could fold into something smaller, but then that leaves more areas for it to fail I guess.
Another issue that I guess goes down to build is the port. It is very susceptible to wind noise, I don't know if there may have been a way to counteract it, but it is there and can decrease your enjoyment of on the go listening if you are in a windy environment.
Well seeing that this is my first circum-aural can, it is also the most comfortable. I have had the HD497, DT235, K81DJ JBL Reference 410, and the Sony are easily the most comfortable. I must say that the pads are nice and soft,but I live on a little island in the Caribbean with an average temperature of 29 degrees Celsius and high humidity so my ears sweat with these.
It comes with two cables, one with Iphone/Ipod controls and a plane one. My one complaint here is that the plain cable is too short. I would prefer I have one long cable that I can use at home and move about a bit more freely without worrying about the short cable. Because the cable is replaceable and basically generic, its easy to work around this by just buying a longer cable.
There is a cloth carrying case as well that is nice, but would have been better with a little padding and maybe a better closing mechanism than the draw string. This is nit picking though. The bag is sturdy feeling and looks like it can take abuse.
Test gear and music:
For testing, my gear is rather simple: I am using a 64gb Ipod Touch 3rd gen loaded with 320 Kbps mp3 songs converted with lame using foobar, a Sendstation LOD, A Fiio L8 cable connecting to a PA2v2 amp. Driving them is easy and the ipod easily drives them loud enough, but the sound is improved by the LOD and the amp and is subtle, but definitely noticeable in clarity and control. A better amp may do an even better job......
Before I forget, I have modded mine with Blu Tack and a small bit of cotton wool in each chamber.
For Music I used Giorgio Moroder from Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, Nat Kings Cole's Straighten up and Fly Right and Mona Lisa from The Nat King Cole Story Disc 1, Simpy Reds Wave the Old World Goodbye from Love and the Russian Winter.
Well I wont split this into bass mids and treble. I'll just roll all into one. The sound signature is more mid centric than I am accustomed to. The mids are more forward, detailed and open than on any other headphone that I have, but it also more natural in most cases. Instruments dont sound as veiled as the do on the DT235 and hence the overall effect is that you have a cleaner sound. The treble is also a bit more extended.
The area where it comes up a bit short is in the bass. At first there was a lack of bass but that has passed. Now the bass is present and is nice and full, BUT, it lacks extension. The DT235 and by extension the K81dj extend deeper than the MDR-1R. The Sony has better definition and more detail in the bass, hits a bit harder than the DT235 because of what appears to be a little upper bass bump, but does not go as deep. I do enjoy the sound though and it handles different genres well.
Music like Skrillex though can be a painful experience to me because of the synths they use in the upper mids and lower treble which are very dominant and can overpower the rest of the mix. So because of the forward mids, this can be an issue with the Sony. also I think the Sony reveals the compression of the mix and the over driving of certain recordings more than my other two head phones. On the same Skrillex songs that I have listened to, they have been recorded into distortion as far as the bass is concerned and you hear it easier than on the DT235. Same for Daft punk, when the mix starts to get complex and full, like close to the end of Giorgio Moroder or Contact where when the recording is pushed dynamically you here the distortion as the limits of the recording is pushed to accommodate everything.
Anyway, all in all, a nice headphone with te mod I did. Clear mids, clean treble, and a full bass if only lacking a bit in extension. I have not heard much else because of my location, but I think it is a nice headphone and is for sure the best that I have overall.
Added these pics