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