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Sony MDR-7520 Professional Headphones

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #98 in Over-Ear

Posted

Pros: Bass, Detail, Smooth, revealing

Cons: Detail, can sound a bit conjested at times, finicky fit.

A bit about me. I am an average guy that loves music. I listen to a wide variety of music but of late listen to alternative, rock, hip hop, rap, dance and jazz. I generally am not a fan of country music but some songs reach out to me. I got turned on to hifi at a young age as my dad had a decent setup and then my brothers as well. Have heard, B&W, Mission, Dynaudio, NHT, Bose, Mordant Short, KEF and a few other speakers in various setups, but nothing outrageous, like $20,000 setups. So I think I can appreciate good music. I was a musician, (haven't practiced in years) learning the piano.

 

I have realized that this is a journey for me. Where I live, I cant try before I buy, They only sell the cheap crap here and anything decent costs an arm and a leg. I saw an M-audio Q 40 in a shop here once for about US$300 when they were selling in the US for less than half that. and that was a rare find, so my journey starts with this community and their reviews and opinions of which I give a big thank you to, even if you are decimating my wallet. So with that out of the way, I begin.

 

 

This is a review of the Sony MDR 7520, which I will compare to my Sony MDR 1R.

 

Looks

 

Well no contest, if you are going in for a beauty contest, the 1R wins hands down. It is just a wonderful looking headphone compared to the 7520. Which is just utilitarian in design. Think Audi R8 (1R) vs Nissan GTR (7520) the Audi just from the looks exudes class and luxury and beauty. The GTR is Utilitarian. You know what it is built for... its not ugly by any means, but it is definitely function over form.

 

Build, design, comfort

 

They are both well built. The 7520 is the more solid feeling of the two though. The 7520 also feels heavier. I like the locking cable and the jack itself seems to offer more resistance and ability to hold the headphone jack than the 1R. The 1R beats it in design though. With its swiveling cups and fold flat design it as the design edge.

 

As far as comfort goes, I think that because of the design, the 1R ends up being more comfortable. It is lighter, better padded on the headband and is more tolerant to shifts than the 7520. Sit in a chair and lie back with the 7520 and the sound sig changes. turn your head to look at someone and the sound changes. It can get annoying and may dissuade you from getting them for portable use. Also as the pads are firmer than those of the 1R and it clamps more, it is not as comfortable as the 1R

 

One issue that has greatly reduced over my use of both headphones is creaking. I had to lubricate them both and that stll took about a week to fully take effect. They both creak very little now and that factor has been all but eliminated.

 

Accesories

 

No brainer here. 1R comes with two cables. 7520 comes with one that can be cumbersome, though I dont mind the coiled cable.

 

Sound

 

Well my setup is in my sig, but just to repeat it here: Ipod Touch 3rd gen with sendstation LOD and PA2v2 as an amp. At present using a monster cable cable from LOD to PA2v2 and the 7520 cable as my stock cable.

 

My Music of choice were

 

Coldplay: Dont Panic

Radiohead; High and Dry

Alanis Morisette; That I Would be Good from MTV Unplugged

Splender; I think God can Explain

Daft Punk; Contact

Bruno Mars; Locked Out of Heaven

David Gray; White Ladder

Busta Rhymes; Gimme Some More, This Means War

C&C Music Factory; Just a touch of Love

 

and others

 

So on to the sound.

 

Bass:  Clear winner in my book goes to the 7520. The bass just goes deeper, is more articulate and hits harder. It reminds me more of a speaker setup than another phones I have heard. I haven't had much anyway, but of the six cans I have owned, this is the first one where I can say I 'feel' the bass. The 1R in comparison just sounds bass light and even boxy depending on the track. It did sound like this on the Radiohead and Splender tracks. These recordings are not bass heavy by any means and can sound boxy, but the 7520 differentiated between a natural sounding un miked kick drum and just a thud, which is what the 1R sounded like. On the other tracks where the bass has more body in general, the 7520 just showed its authority. And even though, it was very rare to say that the bass was too much. Thing is, I put that down to the recordings being bass heavy. esp in the rap and hip hop genres.

 

Mids:  This is a toss up. My preference goes to the 7520 here. It is more even and natural sounding over the mid frequencies while still maintaining the detail. The 1R is more forward and upfront in the mids and also seem to have a little frequency hike in the upper mids. This gives the impression of aggressive and harsh sounding mids and depending on the song this can be good or bad. On Alanis Morisette, even though the 1R introduced some nasality, I still enjoyed the more forward presentation of the mids on that song, nut on songs that already have harsh sounding instruments and synths, this sticks out like a sore thumbs and can get irritating. Caracter wise the 1R has a generally smoother sound but for the spike, and I heard a little more rasp in the lead singer for Splender voice with the 7520. The 1R Also seem to have a better sense of atmosphere than the 7520 because of this midrange in my opinion.

 

Treble:  Well i initially thought that the 1R had better extension, but burning in the 7529 shows otherwise. The treble on the 7520 is now more extended and a bit smoother and realistic. A bit more full bodied and rich. If the recording has harsh treble as in the C&C Music Factory, you will hear it for sure. So not much details here from me. Treble is just better on the 7520

 

 

Overall

 

Overall, I have fallen for the 7520. A great sounding phone in my opinion, let down by its lack in comfort and adjustability to fit to your head properly. the sound is enough to allow me to soldier on though, and I plan on getting the Shure SRH 840 pads as recommended by Starfly. I would describe the balance as the most neutral and speaker like headphones I have heard. If I were to add any criticisms,,,, it would be that because of the lack of harshness in the mids, they can sound a bit boring at times and also that they seem to lack that 'there' feeling some other phones may have.

 

 

So there you have it. My Sony MDR 7520 review, Hope it was helpful to you.

 

Dudlew

Posted

Pros: Clarity, clarity, clarity! Detail, neutrality, revealing, maybe even transparent? Very comfortable.

Cons: You will definitely hear the flaws in bad recordings

So, I've finally found MY headphones :) I tried the Sennheiser Momentum, the KEF M500, B&W P7, Sony MDR 1R, Philips Fidelio L2 (yes, the L2), the B&O H6, the Focal Spirit Classic (you read that right too) and the Sony MDR Z1000.

 

I was in search of a good sounding, but most of all comfortable closed headphone. All the headphones I've tried above sounded quite good, but none of them were comfortable enough for me (except for the Z1000, which is the 7520's less refined brother) so I ended up returning all of them.

 

So what was the first thing I noticed when I listened to the 7520? The amazing clarity. I'm not exaggerating when I say that all the above headphones (with the exception of maybe the L2) sound veiled compared to the 7520. Also the level of detail these headphones retrieve is amazing. It's actually leaning towards the analytical side, without losing it's musicality. I can listen to music for hours without the level of detail becoming too much, but when I want to close my eyes and focus on the music there is just oodles of detail to be found, I just get lost in the music :)

 

To my ears this headphone responds very well throughout the entire frequency range. The highs are nice and crisp but never sound harsh. Sometimes you will hear a bit of sibilance though, but that's only with less well mastered recordings. The mids are very neutral and detailed. And the bass is very very nicely done, very taught, controlled, and again I think fairly neutral. And it will still reach deep into sub-bass regions when the music calls for it. If a song is warm, the headphone will sound warm. If a song is cold, it'll sound cold. If the music is rocking, these headphones will rock. If the music is serene and quiet, these headphones will be very composed.

 

The soundstage of these headphones is also quite good. I'd say it portrays the soundstage the way the audio engineer intended it to sound (provided he was using good speakers/headphones as well of course :)). So with classical music the soundstage can sound quite wide, and with other music it can sound quite narrow, depending on how it's recorded. I also feel like the imaging is done very well and the instrumental separation is excellent. When you focus you can and will hear every individual instrument, easily. And if you don't want to focus, it turns into a nice ensemble so you can just do what music is intended for: enjoyment :)

 

The Z1000 is the 7520's brother. They look exactly the same, just that the Z1000 has silver accents. I think they also use the same drivers as the technical specs are exactly the same, but others have pointed out that they are actually different drivers with very similar specs. Whatever the case is, they certainly do not sound the same. The bass response is a bit rolled off I'd say on the Z1000. It's just not there, even when the music calls for it. And compared to the 7520 the soundstaging was less expansive when the music called for it. The rest of the frequency range sounded otherwise fairly similar.

 

These headphones put a smile on my face when I listen to music. Eventhough they are marketed to the professional audio engineer market (and I can certainly hear why), I think any audiophile will be able to appreciate these headphones. I've never heard a truly neutral high-end headphone, so I cannot compare it to that, but I think this is quite close to a neutral sounding headphone.

 

I highly recommend this headphone to you all. At least give it a listen :)

 

Edit 3/25/2014: I lowered the rating by half a star as there is a bit of creaking in the headphone that I haven't been able to fix. It occurs when I move my head or jaw. It can be quite annoying. The SQ is still superb, but the creaking sometimes distracts me from my listening.

Posted

Pros: Solid build, Clarity, Punchy bass, Smooth, Comfy

Cons: Only coiled cable is supplied, Sensitivity can be low for some phones

Well after lots and lots of reading I finally decided to buy these as my primary headphones. I was so excited I didn't even wait until I got home to un-box them. First thing you will notice is the magnesium alloy body which is a joy to touch and feel. put them on your ears and play Beethoven you get that chills. you can hear and define the instruments its that detailed. Vocals are clean and clear. bass is okey wouldn't drive a bass head but really good.

I tried it with my Laptop no complains there. And my Walkman A846 drives them ease. But I get fairly low sounds on my LG N5. I got lucky and got a chance to buy them at $270 from a shop in Dubai. Would recommend it to a friend 100%  

Posted

Pros: build, sound, cost

Cons: coiled cable, FR i'm not entirely used to yet

Comparing these to my Philips L1 and my Beyer T1 they have a lot more mid-bass through midrange and are slightly tilted toward the high.  They sound great but quite a bit different sound signature which I need to get used to.  My other headphones are T5p which I have yet to compare them to and Ety ER-4s.  In general all my previous phones have a less aggressive sound to them. Less mid-bass in your face.  Very very efficient, almost double the volume as the L1 and over triple the volume of the T1.  It puts a lot of music and detail across the entire spectrum in your head not light on any frequency and not missing any detail.  As I said it can be a little tiring after coming from the L1 or T1 which are much more laid back sounding.  

 

Build is top notch for the price, very solid.  Cable is a bit over-engineered especially if you are planning to use this portably.  I only wish it came with a straight 4' cable rather then the coiled 9' one since I will be using it on the road but one nice thing is the cable is a simple 3.5mm male to male so you can replace it with anything you want.  I will replace it with a simple super light weight $5 3' off amazon.  I'm one of those people who doesn't see great value though in thick or heavy cabling.  Super-silver oxygen free pure copper it all sounds the same to me in lengths under 10 feet.

 

Will have to see how the 7520 performs with cabin noise but it does seem to isolate better then the L1 and I am guessing the stronger midrange and bass might come through better with more background noise.  I can't stand the cable of the L1 which is one of the big reasons I was looking for something different. Not sure if I will sell the L1 even though this was meant to replace it because I also like that signature and I bought that at the intro price rather then the steep discount now being offered online.  It just isn't worth the loss in value to let go of seeing as they still sound great, will probably just re-cable them.  

 

Edit: After 30 hours of burn in with white and pink noise they sound much more balanced.  The mid-bass hump seems to have diminished and both ends have opened up.  Getting used to the sound as well and they are starting to really impress me.  However my new complaint is that they really need another quarter inch of ear cushion thickness to help soften the feel and also to lift the drivers a bit so they aren't touching your ear like mine do.  Not quite as soft (plush or cushy) feeling against the ears as I am used to with either of the L1 or T1 or T5p.  I am starting to get used to that as well but it would really help in terms of comfort and even give a better seal to have slightly thicker pads which I don't think would have cost more or cause any sound quality issues.  In fact I think adding this foam would perhaps improve the sound slightly, as I said there is plenty of sound output so distancing the driver slightly from the ear may give a more laid back feel.  If anyone knows how to make a mod to add say a quarter inch of memory foam behind the stock pads I am all ears.  Also if anyone has any comments regarding possibly removing the light cloth mesh inside the cups between my ears and the driver I am considering that as well.  Currently my ears touch the mesh and it is a little aggravating.

Posted

Pros: Clarity, Accuracy, Sexy Drivers!, Bass

Cons: low impedance might be a problem with some amps

These just rocked up.

Amazing clarity and accuracy to their sound, everything sounds ridiculously balanced and the instrument separation is awesome. 

Haven't spent enough time with them yet to write a detailed review but so far all I can say is WOW.

Build quality is great, all magnesium frame feels strong.  The only problem I can think of with these is that they're low impedance and very sensitive, so damping with some high-impedance amps might be a problem

 

Posted

Pros: Detailed, dense sound field yet with excellent clarity and separation. Accented articulate bass and sub-bass range that doesn’t bleed into mids

Cons: Sounds a bit closed in and rolled off on the high-end. Creaky. Shallow pads may cause discomfort especially for big eared head-fiers.

My initial impressions of this headphone were good, but it has taken a week for me of careful listening to really appreciate their qualities and purpose. Ultimately, I love these headphones and their sound signature. The 7520 doesn’t sound like ‘consumer’ cans. This isn’t the smoothest ride and can be a bit taxing. The headphones are designed as tools for studio first and foremost.  I think they been a bit misunderstood because of their tuning.



 

The main characteristics of the MDR-7520 are a detailed, dense sound field yet with excellent clarity and separation. It has a fairly accented tight bass and sub-bass range that doesn’t bleed into the mids. It sounds a bit closed in and rolled off on the high-end, however, thanks to its superb detail and neutral mid-range, it still manages to convey proper reverberation and psycho acoustics. You can really delve into the sound, no frequency is left unturned.

Many may be put off by its initial tuning. You would be hard-pressed to find a headphone with this type of flat sound signature yet have such a prominent bass range. In fact many bassier headphones don’t even have this type of signature, one that sharply rises after the lower-mid-range. Typical you’ll see a gentler curve that also bleeds into the mid range.

 

With the 7520, what is remarkable about them is that they have little bass bleed into the low-mid-range. This can even be seen on the frequency charts on Innerfidelity. Instead of a broad bass curve that bleeds into the mid-range, the 7520 is tightly focused. So even for many acoustic recordings you will get superb reproduction of sound.

 

Low-mid and Mid-range on the 7520 is practically ruler flat and neutral. Upper mid-range has a slight boost at 2kHz which I’m not sure what the reason is. This may be a result of some chamber resonance. I imagine it was intentional to give great vocal presence and detail. 

 

The Reasons for Accented Bass (aside from it sounding so damn good).

 

There has been a long debate on what neutral or ‘flat’ sound is. Many people have their idea, but really this is an evolving thing. Objectively, we should be able to generate frequencies in a room space, capture these on mics, compensate frequency curves to match what is recorded and being generated, and then tune a headphone to play back the room space perfectly - and accommodate for head-related transfer function. It seems that sound reproduction and audio capturing will increasingly move in that direction. 

 

But for most of us, we have to use our ears and experiences. With the 7520 not only do I feel like I’m listening to a set of flat tuned studio monitors in a room space, but that this room (for better or worse) contains an active sub-woofer with a good cross-over.
 

The low bass end on these headphones acts in a couple ways. In one sense, they help recreate  the pressure and impact that bass creates within a room space. Many modern productions especially those engineered for movies, pop, electronic, and many other genres will make deliberate use of bass/sub-bass impact. Many headphones traditionally considered ‘flat’ or neutralism are just plain anemic in the bass range and the more I listen to things, while this may sound ‘airy’ - it is also just wrong. I can certainly say this for the genre of electronic music. beyond your club-fare over-compressed productions, this music has an emotional body and weight that bass is critical for. I’m listening to Tipper right now on the 7520, and honestly, I’m enjoying this production more than I would on my LCD2s - generally speaking, but I’ll get to where the LCD2 trumps the 7520 (spoiler: it does in almost all technicalities, but not necessarily on tuning). 

 

The other reason the bass is accented on these headphones is for critical listening for engineers and studio production. If you want to listen to bass on your traditionally flat headphones - let’s use the LCD2 in this case - you are going to need to crank the headphones to high-volumes or EQ the bass. Neither of those are preferential. Obviously, it will be difficult to hear bass details while everything else is blasting into your ear, and for EQ you may not always have access to this on individual pieces of gear, plus EQ may produce distortion or additional resonances that weren’t accounted for in the original headphone design.

 

Already, I can listen to raw mixes of tracks and can picket problem bass instruments of tunings, that would have been hard to hear with the LCD2. I wish I owned an HD800, and it was what I had initially set my sights on before getting my LCD2. Some owners of the HD800 that also have the 7520 have compared both favourably against each other from a detail retrieval perspective. I think the HD800 would win out here, but again the 7520 is useful in a studio environment for it tuning - primarily its bass prominence and flat mid-range.


Cosmetics, Construction and Comfort
 

Let’s just start out with an admission. I bought these in mint condition. They are no longer in mint condition as I dropped them 6-feet onto concrete. 

 

Resulting damage: incredibly minor.

Somehow the magnesium cups received no scratches, just one small flake the size of a pin-head near the seam. The arms holding the cups have a few small indentations, and there is another indentation above one of the arms on another plastic piece. These are only noticed on close inspection. I have to stress that no other headphone outside of HD25 would have survived such a fall so well intact. It isn’t pristine anymore, but its armour is relatively unscathed. Ah well, I wasn’t planning on giving these up anytime soon :)

 

These headphones are very light for closed backs. The magnesium cups are very strong and feel great and the headphone arms are solidly built. The headphone isn’t designed for luxury, rather it is a premium practical build. Any plastic on it is of the quality variety. The all-black look is also distinctly pro, a look that has been the hallmark of venerable Sony studio headphones such as the MDR-V6. 

 

The ear cups are rotated to align with your ears. Very simple and makes you wonder why older headphones never caught on to this in larger fashion. 

 

Now the comfort of these headphones almost killed the whole experience for me. I was ready to pack them up the first day. I have large ears (see my profile pics), and the tips and lobe kinda squished into the cups. I’m not sure what has happened, but over a week these are pretty comfortable. I’m still considering getting plush ear pads (Beyerdynamic DT250 or Shure 840), but if I had to live with this I could. I had similar issue to my LCD2 to a lesser extent and after a while I acclimated to them. The most comfy headphones I’ve ever worn - aside from IEMs, are the Denon AH-D600s, followed by the HD650 (after bending the metal arms to reduce clamp). For me the 7520 is a 6/10 for comfort. My headphone pain tolerance is pretty high though, but be forewarned. The other headphones I was eyeing as studio closed backs, notably the Focal Spirit Professionals didn’t seem much better in this respect for my large eared brethren.

 

Oh and another issue, they are a bit of a creaky ship. Read the 7520 thread and you’ll see many  people complain about it. It doesn’t bother me just sitting down listening or composing music. Starting shovelling food into your mouth or eating chips and its a different story. Same with walking around, as each up and down movement of a step seems to elicit small sounds. So this may not be the best portable for that reason. Even still, I wore it out today and it didn’t bother me that much.

 

Also, those bass ports on the top of each cup, not so great for wind rushing over them. Charmingly, I have the same issue with my MDR-7550 - which happen to be from the same series of Sony studio headphones. But again, they weren’t designed for the street. If you love this type of sound, you’ll put up with it. 

 

The cord is perfect for studio environments. The classic coiled cable is not susceptible to microphonic sounds, and has plenty of give if you happen to get snagged on something. However, you’ll need an aftermarket cord if you want to use these walking around - unless you don’t mind stuffing a wad of 10ft of coiled cable into your pocket. Thankfully, another sign of a professional headphone, removable cable with a standard jack-size! Right now, I’m rocking them with quality a cable from an MDR-1r but you have plenty of choices out there. 

 

Bandwidth Isolation Testing (direct comparison with an Audeze LCD2 rev 1)
 

MDR-7520 frequency test
 

One thing I’ve been doing to test headphones given my limited equipment and software, is to isolate bands of frequency to listen to. It can be helpful especially in the high frequency ranges.

 

Bandwidth Isolation 15kHz and up

 

Amazingly with the 7520 you can cohesively hear the harmonic partials as clear oscillating sine waves.

 

The LCD2, who in the past beat out my other headphones such as the HD650 in this test, sounded a bit more diffuse and smoother.

 

This test isn’t volumed matched, and these high-frequency details are quiet, you can turn your amp to hear them relatively (caution: be very careful in doing so, as accidentally deselecting the band and playing the full-spectrum could be ear-damaging). In large part due to the efficiency of the 7520, but also because of its frequency curve, these details can be heard at very low volumes comparative to the LCD2. 

 

On the bass side of things, the LCD2 are more transparent, but the 7520 aren’t close behind. 

 

You don’t really need to have measuring equipment to know that both these cans have excellent sub-bass response. It is one of their strongest aspects. Generating a 20Hz sine wave, both of these cans responded well. Important to note, that with the LCD2, it took comparatively more volume to get a similar bass response. On the Sony, with a 15z response it was much easier to hear than with LCD2. Part of this again is the efficiency of the 7520 but also its boosted bass range.

 

With a 40Hz modulated waveform, there was quite the difference in tonality between both. With the LCD2, sounding a bit thinner and transparent, the 7520 robust and full. The 7520 is a bit of a bass detail monster. It is incredible for low-end percussion - acoustic or electronic. I’ve read a wide range of impressions from users remarking on the excellent quality of the bass to others saying that it lacked sub-bass impact or presence.

 

I can only imagine that with the latter, there were fit issues or something was off, because even just listening to the right material (test tones or tracks with significant bass and sub-bass elements) it is obvious the 7520 is no slouch in this area. 

 


Binaural Tests

 

Naturespace application running from iPhone6 -> line to O2.

 

Sheltered’ - LCD2 is expansive, thunder a bit brittle at times, but we could be hearing the limitation of the mic or potential clipping on the recording. For the most part the low rumbles sound very realistic. It is easy to pick out close water droplets and pitter patters. 

 

With the MDR-7520 the high end seems a bit muted. At least initially, but you have no problem picking out the details. 

 

Odin’ this track has incredible recordings of a thunderstorm.. This is extremely complex bass to reproduce properly. Oddly, with the 7520 The low-end almost seems to be coming from beneath you rather than above. Bass feels too present here, like it is right against your ear rumbling away on the verge of distortion. Very closed in. Bass is a bit boomy or ‘chuffy’ in comparison to the LCD2. The headphones don’t really disappear.

 

With the LCD2 - the soundstage just opens up, and low bass lifts up to be heard in the clouds above your head. Vastly different reproduction of the low-end details and transients here. Bass is more textured, and never too pronounced, and more realistic for this recording. You can hear crickets, and bird calls realistically in the distance.

 

"One of my references is listening to binaural field-recordings. If you want to hear real soundstage with headphones
this is the way to do it rather than listening to music designed for stereo 2-channel systems."

 

The Cloud Engine’ - this is a recording from a passenger car in a steam locomotive. The low rumbles of the train and all the vibrations are captured by the mic and translated through the 7520s very present low-end. What may give the sense of impact for music is being felt too much here. The sense of space within the passenger car is smaller than it should be. As you go over the tracks, the bass is being ‘heard’ rather than felt. The trains whistle is accurate and amazingly clear along with the sounds of the trains pistons.

 

Switching to the LCD2 again being an open headphone helps here. However, it also the presentation of the LCD2. The bass sounds from the wheels rolling over the tracks and other mechanical sounds are pushed back, the space of the car feels more realistic, as if you could reach your arms out. The LCD2 just opens up more on the top-end and its low-end is accurate and not overly prominent. The whistle is even more realistic and dimensional. As the train moves by building structures, you get an uncanny sensation of objects moving close to the window.

 

 

 

Transcendance’ - Listening on the 7520, bird calls, bees buzzing around you are all very accurate tonally and convincing. This track doesn’t have any low end rumbles like the others. Recorded in Rocky Mountain National Park, these sounds are familiar to me. The mid-range of the 7520 is very good. While I am not transported to the location I am, for the most part immersed. 

 

With the LCD2 the same birdsongs are for the most part identical to the 7520, but are now pushed back into the environment. Sounds moves around your ahead. With the 7520, the sound appeared more directional as if two cones projected from each ear. With the LCD2, it feels more encompassing.

 

Sailing’ - this track is  a recording of a 40ft boat on medium seas. With the 7520 I feel like I’m in a goldfish bowl with water being splashed against my ear. 

 

With the LCD2, riggings sound more realistic, the waves sound like they are outside, or at least  a distance from your head by a few feet. Not only can you hear gulls in the distance, you can hear them separately from each other. 

 

One thing interesting in this test, is that tonally, the 7520 does get it right; its clarity and detail is right up there. It’s close to the LCD2, but lacks that extra bit of high-end detail, and its over prominent bass does not translate as well for binaural recordings as it does for music. With real-world sounds, your brain is not tricked into thinking the extra bass it is hearing is what you might be feeling. There is a psychoacoustic effect for binaural recordings that does not work nearly as well for the 7520 as it does for the LCD2.


I don’t want to say the 7520 failed here, as it is still much better than many headphones. Putting it up against the LCD2 is not perhaps the fairest fight. You still get a holographic image with the 7520, just not as convincing. Tonally the 7520 is impressive and very balanced. On bass heavy tracks, its emphasis detracts from the overall effect. Still, after a while of listening you acclimate and start sinking into the illusion of each recording. 

 

As an aside, if someone is looking for a great headphone for binaural recordings, I should mention that the HD650 does an incredible job. It even edges out the LCD2 at times with its more airy presentation, though the LCD2 has even more detail and reproduces low-end environment sounds like thunder even better than the HD650 (which already is superb). So if someone is looking for an incredible dimensional binaural experience I would first recommend the HD650. That the 7520 even approaches these greats is telling.

 

Movies

I’ve watched a couple movies on the 7520 and it is a great choice. You get the bass reproduction that many movies require, plus that notch in the 2kHz range helps makes speech a bit more audible. It doesn’t hurt that the 7520 can be powered easily by a mobile or tablet.


Music Listening Session (with comparisons against the LCD2)


I’ve listened to a wide-range of music with these, but I am pretty preoccupied listening to electronic music on these cans, as well as classical, ambient, and jazz. Here are some notes on a few tracks.

 

 

Jefferson Airplane - guitar sounds stunning and nuanced with the 7520. With the it LCD2 just has that extra bit of life plus also is more spacious. 

 

 

Sarah Vaughan ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ SACD 

The 7520 brings all the instruments and vocal right up front, while retain excellent separation and clarity. With the LCD2, the bass and hats gets pushed back, the vocal is more upfront and smoother. 

 

Nina Simone ‘Mood Indigo’ 

Bass may be a bit too bloomy and strong on the 7520 for some listening tastes. LCD2 smooths everything out and presents very similar to the Sarah Vaughan track. 

 

Electronic Music Genres

 

Ott - Fairchildren - 7520 has superb mid-range. Excels with electronic music. Handles acoustic instruments with aplomb. Will get you tapping your foot and nodding your head. 

 

With the LCD2 - more spacious.  Tamer in the bass. Not quite as clear as the 7520 on vocals. A bit brighter. 

 

 

Maceo Plex ‘Life Index - driving full bass paired with that flat accurate mid-range. With the LCD2,  the bass is clear, but never reaches the impact that these tracks deserve. You can turn it up a bit with the LCD2 to get more impact, and it does flesh out, as well you could add some EQ for the low-end.

 

 

Marsen Jules ‘Empire of Silence’ - this textured ambient recording sounds better on the LCD2 with its greater sense of space and its excellent detail. The 7520 is more claustrophobic and dense in its presentation. The sounds are thicker with less air, it is a completely different effect. Still, on the 7520, the string sections on ‘Tlaslo’ are incredibly rich and flowing. 

 

Classical

 

Bach Suite No. 1 in G - Janos Starker - LCD2 - jaw-dropping good. You can hear the breath of the performers. 

 

Happy to say the 7520 render this superbly. The mid-range balance is actually somewhat close to the LCD2, it just doesn’t have quite the same resolution. Can still hear all the articulation, the breathing of the performer. The 7520 is a little rolled off on the top-end. The 7520s accentuated bass does not interfere with the cello timbres hear, perhaps just a smidgen on the lowest notes. While dry, the instruments all have body. The closed nature of the headphone does create some internal resonance which can be more easily distinguished on pieces such as this. 

 


J.S. Bach - Mass in B Minor - The 7520 are very good for classical. On some closed cans such as the HD25, I found classical rather flat and lifeless. With the 7520 you are getting great dynamics and resolution. Voices and string sections are finely balanced. It could be argued that the bass section is too accented, and use of EQ is brilliant here to remove a bit of the bass, accent treble and create a richer soundstage. The 7520 is a tool first for engineers but as a tool for the audiophile listener it can be adjusted to taste. It responds incredibly well to EQ as it is starting out very flat in its lower-midrange and mid-range sections. It is also easier to tame the bass on a phone that has been engineered for bass reproduction than to try to coax it out of a bass-light headphone.

 

Still, putting on the LCD2 is slightly revelatory, I won’t deny it. Similar tonality in the mid-range, but everything just extends and opens up. 

 

Going back to the 7520, still impeccable, and accurate. Vocals are very well controlled and dynamic. In my listening to classical the 7520 is great choice for chamber music ensembles, solo piano, but will still scale to larger works but may need a bit of EQ. It may not be your ultimate choice for a classical headphone (look towards Stax and HD800), but for a closed easy-to-drive headphone, it is quite exquisite. 

 

Bach - European Brandenburg Ensemble & Trevor Pinnock  - Strings, harpsichord and horn sections are superb.This recording is known for its deep bass and I am happy to report the 7520 renders this with the weight of a concert hall. It was clear on listening to this recording that the 7520 was among the finest closed backs I’ve listened too. 

 

On the LCD2 I’m noticing an interesting effect, that even though you achieve a greater soundstage it also becomes a bit less life-like - the soundstage sounds more panned to left and right. But after a while you acclimate.

 

Going back to the 7520, you don’t feel you have missed much in terms of detail and instrument clarity. The fact that I can go from an LCD2 to the 7520 and say that is pretty incredible. It was also easier on the 7520 to pick out the subtle player sounds of breathing and picks on their instruments. 

 

Rock and Metal

 

With the LCD2 it is one of the top choices for classic rock and I imagine the finer recordings of metal. The 7520 of course is going to bring the bass elements up closer, but it also renders the percussive elements in a way that gives a lot of solid body to recordings. Vocals can perhaps bite just a bit hard, but that is recording dependent. Guitars can get a bit hot on solos as well. The 7520 is capable of deep, engaging and psychedelic rendering of your favourite recordings. 

 

 

Dance / EDM and DJing use.

 

The 7520 just slam with electronic dance music. I do find that many of the top 100 Beatport tracks are so overly compressed that it is a less-dynamic sound that is going to sound harsher on the 7520. Turning it up will hurt you ears. Good news is that low level listening will still provide a full experience as bass quality + quantity is among the best of closed headphones. I’d still recommend it if this is your main genre as it will help you be able to distinguish which tracks are really well produced. The 7520 may just push you away from the four-on-the-floor hits to more nuanced productions - which may have gone unappreciated with a lesser headphone. For engineers and producers this is the phone. I may even use this for DJing though I think I prefer my old HD25s for this task for a number of ergonomic reasons. The 7520 is designed so that you can cue with one ear and does so comfortably while staying firmly on your head.

 

 

Closing Thoughts

 

Despite the above praise, this isn’t going to be the first headphone I recommend to most people. For my background of playing around with electronic music gear, listening to studio monitors or enjoying my car subwoofer system this headphone gives me ‘that sound’. It is hard to describe to others that haven’t delved into that part of the sonic world, and I think it is an acquired taste. The 7520 is a bit sharp, and has some edge, it isn’t going to be the most comfortable listen - both physically and sonically. For studio closed backs you have other good choices such as the Yamaha HPH-MT220, the Focal Studio Professionals and Shure SRH-1540. 
 

For some people, a Sennheiser Momentum, Denon AH-D600, HD630vb, MDR-Z7, or TH600 may be in order.

None of these are going to give you the unique signature that the MDR-7520 presents which is ultimately flat yet strong in the bass range.

 

Then you have the expensive stuff like the Mr. Speaker’s Ether C, Audeze LCD-XC, and Fostex TH900. The only one I’ve heard (briefly, and my opinion might change) is the TH900, which I really liked. It would be great to compare the two, and I think the 7520 would hold its own in some departments considering how well it did against my LCD2 (which I ultimately preferred to the TH900).

The phone retails for approximately $300-399 USD. It is without a doubt worth it as a professional tool, but also if it meets your criteria for a closed headphone. 

Sony MDR-7520 Professional Headphones
By:
Description:

The Sony MDR-7520 is a high quality studio headphone for critical listening pro applications, including studio and broadcast monitoring. These closed-ear headphones have a high power handling capacity of 4,000mW. The MDR-7520s also have premium gold connectors and an Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) cord to improve sound and volume quality. Hear all of your audio's nuances with the headphones wide frequency response. Whether youre mastering or monitoring your mix-downs, these headphones are ready to go with the soft carry case and they are ready for any situation with the included stereo Unimatch plug.50mm Driver Unit with LCP DiaphragmClosed-Ear DesignWide Frequency ResponseHigh Power Handling Capacity 4,000mWStereo Unimatch PlugGold Connectors and OFC CordGet yours today; with the convenience of the Sam Ash Direct 45/60day return/price protection policy, we assure the best price and a fast, free delivery.

Details:
DetailValue
BindingPersonal Computers
BrandSony
EAN0027242821842
Feature1/4" Adaptor and Carry Pouch included
Weight0.59 pounds
LabelSony
List Price$499.99
ManufacturerSony
ModelMDR7520
MPNMDR7520
Package Quantity1
Product GroupPC Accessory
Product Type NameCOMPUTER
PublisherSony
StudioSony
TitleSony MDR-7520 Professional Headphones
UPC027242821842
SKUSONY:MDR7520
Departmentmusic, instruments, instrument accessories
Part NumberMDR7520
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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