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Sony MDR-MA900 Over the Head Style Headphones

Posted

Pros: Comfort, Build quality, Pleasing warmish neutral sound signature, Easy to drive, Not source or amp finicky(also a con)

Cons: Grainy and veiled sound, Limited scalibility, Lacks refinement, Not the most coherent

Sony MDR-MA900 Review

 

In the past I compared the Sony MDR-MA900 to the then similarly price AKG K612 Pro. I'm doing this review because I have the MA900 in my possession for a certain amount of time and I came to a better understanding exactly why I felt the way I do about the MA900 compared to the K612. I currently use the K712 as my main headphone but it is quite different sounding than the MA900 and I feel the MA900 is better compared to my HD 545 and K612 than the K712. The systems I am reviewing the headphones on is the HRT Music Streamer II+ as the DAC and both the Hifiman EF2A(with stock tubes, RTC tubes, Siemens tubes, GE tubes, and RCA tubes) and the FiiO E12 as well as many other sources such as my laptop, iPod Touch 5th Gen, etc. This is going to be a relatively short review as I'm going to get to what I like about the headphone and what I think it does well and what I don't like about and what I feel it falls short at.

 

I'm going to state this now while the amps have minor impact on the sound, it's not really going to make or break the sound like it does on my other headphones. The sound does get cleaned up some with better systems but nothing that drastic as say what happened to my now dead Sennheiser HD 555 which honestly outclasses the MA900 when amped well, the HD 555 has since been replaced by the superior yet older HD 545. As long as the DAC is good enough quality it sounds relatively similar on anything. This likely has to do with the impedance resistor and in fact most of my issues with this headphones sound may be related to it. The problem with the lack of scalability is that the higher you scale up the gear the worse this headphones sounds comparably to other headphones.

 

Pros:

Comfort: This is the standout benefit of this headphone, it's just a featherweight with very mild clamp but is also secure on the head. There is an amazing sense of breathability and they can be worn for hours easily. Some minor quibbles with the comfort is the pads take some getting used to, the headband is sort of small so it may bother some at first, and it needs to be adjusted so the ears don't really touch the drivers.

 

Tonal Balance: I think one of the best things about this headphone is it's tonal balance, it has a very nice tonal balance, neutral and laid-back with a slightly warm touch to it, which makes it an pleasing and musical headphone that does well with most genres of music and it's a bit on the forgiving side so this makes it good for a variety of recordings.

 

Build Quality: Contrary to initial reports and suggestions I find the build quality of this headphone to be really good from the actual housing design to the cable itself. The lightweight build suggest heavy cheap plastic use, but this headphone felt well-built from when I first had it in my hands, it also has a good amount of magnesium alloy in the outer grills and yolks, the headband pad area also seems to be reinforced with metal. The cable was a concern for actual worry at first and it does seem to lack some strain relief on the plug but the cable is far sturdier than it appears and it retains no memory, the pair is about a year old and has had the cable run over numerous time with a computer chair and the cable shows no marks of scuffing, the headphone has also been dropped a few times with no marks or anything. These things seem to be built to last.

 

Soundstage Presentation: This headphone has an amazing soundstage presentation, it has one of the most speaker-like soundstages I've ever heard from a headphone and that's something truly special about this headphone. If someone is looking for a speaker-like sound, it doesn't become much more speaker-like than the MA900.

 

Easy to Drive: This headphone takes very little work to make it sound how it should or it's best because it sounds relatively similar on just about anything with the biggest improvements seeming to come from the DAC. This is a wonderful headphone for those who don't want to fiddle with amplification.

 

Cons:

Transparency & Clarity: This is what I found to be the headphone biggest and most notable flaw and it's what led me to let it go. All other flaws are relatively minor compared to this one, so I'm going to just focus on this con of the headphone in the review. I'm just going to state it simply this headphone is veiled and grainy. There is a veil and grain throughout the entire sound. This wasn't a big deal when I first got the headphone, but after a while and especially after getting other headphones and upgrading my system more this problem became a bigger and bigger deal. The constant grain that seems ever present in the range, mostly midrange prevents this headphone from having a black background and seems to mask some of the more subtle musical cues and details in a recording. Once I started appreciating and grasping refinement and things such as transparency, a black background, musical depth, etc. better; I started to like this headphone less and less to the point where I have trouble listening to it. I believe it's simply a case where my standards and preference of sound causes me to stop being able to appreciate this headphone much anymore.

Posted

Pros: Can go loud with harsh recording with little or no penalty, Grain-free; Very convinciong sense of space for out-of-head imaging

Cons: Some forwardness on lower mids lowers transperancy; Too polite treble

The MDR-MA900's the current the top model in the latest open-back line-up from Sony. While  the latest  generaraion is definitely not the greatest with a distinctly less "hi-tec" vibe then the previous SAx000 models (as perhaps can inferred from the one-digit-less suffix and the of course a much lower MSRP pricing) the MA900s, in particular as a TOTL model,  comes with an altogether different concept- that of the "Full-Open-Air" design, Originally pioneered in the '90's with the MDR-F1 (by one of the principle desingers responsible for the legendary MDR-R10 by what i read in a certain blog, RESPECT).  

 

How this design is differentiated from a standard Open-Back is the minimization of the chassis frame to just the base area needed to support the  driver assembly and  for the  mounting of the earpads.  The rest is left for the open-air  to fill in- Think open-baffle speakers on the head… This serves for both sound-quality and comfort pourposes: Main objective is to minimize resonances both from interaction of intial sound waves coming from the driver and reflected waves form the head with the frame, thus achieving a less "boxy" sound-field.  Second is to reduce total weight of the frame, thus achieving a better long-wearing experience. Major disadvantage with this approach is the weakend bass power because bass is omni-directional and with open-back headphones some reflection off the frame is beneficial for an adequate response (with potential added support from the earpads material). With the MDR-F1 Sony implemented a simple low-pass passive acoustic filter foam-like funnel  to enhance the bass impact (you can read about it here) and while it contributed to a rather acceptable mid-bass response the lower bass was still mostly MIA. For this reason probabley, the MA900 has gained a 40% increase in diaphragm size to a (presently) whopping category-leading 70mm (2 4/5"), With next largest AFAIK HD800's 56mm. This of course does not imply that size alone matters for quality and while MA900's bass is  indeed a major improvement from the F1 it still is lacking in authority in the lowest octaves (20-60hz) compared to some other open-backs. It is mid-bassy rather than plain-bassy, but in the context of it's design goal as described above it's is very good and I'd never describe it as an anemic response. To relate some sense of reference I'd place it as noticeably above the border-line anemic ATH-AD900 and slightly ahead of MDR-SA5000 in the upper bass presense.

 

What defines the character of MA900's sound is of course how open it sounds- A very strong sense of sound that is originating outside of the head and in front of it, almost as if projected from a miniature soundbar on the forehead rather than coming from stereo elements hanging just next to the ear.  It's not as vast or extremely spacious (HD800, K701) but in terms of a sheer-openness scale  it's got to be  one of the best I've heard from a conventional headphone with earpads , barring electrostats.  Whether there's an added  psycho-acoustic side-effect from how light and non-intrusive it sits on the head I can't tell for sure but it the it's definitely something more convincing even compared to some very strong open-backs as the AD900. I feel that the mild treble response holds aback this "disappearing trick" some, a more neutral (=brighter) treble response would've done nicely to futher illuminate the notes' overtones and improve the imaging accuracy which is only slightly better than average, About on par with the F1 and AD900, but clearly inferior to a laser-etch grade projection of the likes of SA5000, ATH-AD2000. On the upside it depicts a very cohesive soundscape with absolutely stellar center-focus.

 

MA900's tonal quality is a mixed bag for me.  The moderately  forward  lower mids, along with the added bloom reminiscent of the mid-bass hump and the very polite treble response do hinder somewhat the sense clarity and refinement   of an otherwise a remarkably clean and grain-free sound. I do wish Sony would have continued the reference-type sound sig from the SA5000 in the frame of of Full-Open-Air  but I realize that it was not the intention from the very concept's beginning in terms of Ergonomics and technical restraints such a frame puts on overall fidelity. Perhaps if this concept would hopefully be continued in the future that a more advanced diaphragm material could be utilized instead of the "old-tech" Mylar PET, such as the LCP (Liquid Crystal Polimer) from recent models such as MDR-1R, MDR-Z1000 and EX1000.  

 

Regarding the build quality: Many describe these as flimsy and cheap feeling. I partially agree. The frame indded doesn't retain a rigid composure such as similar models in the price range may, Certainly MDR-F1 and ATH-AD900 IME.  A notable "flaw" shows if the cans are held single-handedly from one cup the other will "flop" sideways. However, this design has to be taken in the context of Sony designers trying achieve the lightest frame and a minimalistic form-factor at the same time. So having definitely tackled both these goals with great success I personally thin the flimsiness serves it's purpose and it's totally forgotten as soon as they gently conform on the head .  Another common rant, as plasticky as they seem, the most vulnerable/thin areas which are the arms and forks between headband and cups are made of magnesium, not plastic. My only gripe would be the stiching of the headband could be better and I saw a couple of loose ends just a few weeks since I opened the box.

 

To conclude my impressions, I think the main selling point of these headphones lies not in sheer  technical capabilities but in combining an incredibly light and comfortable full-sized from factor with a nicely articulate yet smooth signature , and especially with a great staging ability to make the music float (almost) as convincingly as  if it was originating much further away than few cm from the ears that the enormous  70mm transducers are reproducing it. These traits do add-up for a superb all-purpose headphones at a very competent price.

Posted

Pros: A polite but engaging presentation, easy to drive, comfort, soundstage, great price!

Cons: Build & looks

The MA900 is “less headphone & more music”. The build is sparse, minimalist and does raise some doubts about durability. The magnesium alloy frame is the backbone holding the plastic enclosed lollipop drivers. The cable is nothing special and I never had issues with tangling. This headphone may not rank high on the build category but remember that it well makes up for it in comfort.The clamping force is delicate, but the headphone sits comfortably on the head – the 70mm drivers cover the ear with ample space to breath! You can wear this headphone for hours and not feel the stress of something sitting on the head. I will confidently say that the comfort offered by the MA900 is unmatched by any headphone in this price range or even several times higher. Kudos to Sony!

 

the MA900 has a sweet and lovable presentation. It is polite and smooth, yet has enough bite for an engaging but relaxing listen. Treble is well presented and is without any sibilance. The clarity in the treble is apparent since the rest of frequencies are well balanced.Though the overall presentation of the MA900 slants to the warmer side, the treble presence is balanced to provide a good sense of detail and transparency. Some may feel the treble to be a bit too bright (compared to, say the HD650), but in my opinion it is just right! If my memory serves right it’s just like the HD600 tonally and is refreshing to listen to coming from the HD650.

 

Mids are transparent, detailed and bring out the palpability without any bleed from the bass regions.Surprisingly good bass for a open headphone! The bass is with texture and speed in the upper and midbass regions. There is of course some amount of “boominess” in the bass but that is still forgivable for an open headphone. The whole “Bass lens” acronym had me worried but all’s good. This is by no measure a “bass-head can” but should satisfy most listeners looking for a good bass performance. The attack and punch of the lower frequencies are however slightly distant in the vast soundstage.

 

The sprawling “soundscapes” that the MA900 fleshes out is fabulous! This is also where the angled drivers do their magic, and magic it is! Better soundstage presentation in terms of size and accuracy are impossible to find in this price class and can only be experienced in models like the Hifiman HE500 & Sennheiser HD800.The other headphone with such a lavish soundstage that I have listened to is the AKG 240DF, then again it definitely not as musical nor easy to drive! As a design advantage, open headphones generally have a more wide and nautral soundstage. The MA900 in particular with its large 70mm driver, angled driver placement takes the open design to new highs.

 

Perhaps the biggest asset of the MA900 is its undemanding nature when it comes to other gear in its signal route. I listened to the MA900 through a Burson HA160 Headphone amp/DAC Magic, Macbook pro headphone output, Dell XPS M1530 headphone out, iPod Classic headphone out, iPod LOD to Fiio E11 & O2 headphone amp. Remarkably the overall presentation and much of the detail and clarity remains across the different gear.

 

There is no question in my mind that the MA900 is an excellent buy at the price and performance levels (as good as the HD600!). It goes well with most music genres and could become the “go-to headphone” for music lovers not wanting the hassle of having additional gear or heavy headphones.

 

Jump on over to my blog for the complete review!

Posted

Pros: lightweight, iPhone case-friendly jack, easy to drive, neutral, mid bass, soft treble; airy, musical mids; good soundstage, good with synths

Cons: skinny, non-detachable cable; slightly floppy (has lots of magnesium though), sub bass, initial ear pad comfort, sometimes shouty upper mid range

I purchased the MA900s to go along with my AKG K702 65 Anniversaries, as I wanted a headphone which didn't require amping and would be a little more musical with synths (AKGs tend to be too honest and 2D and untextured sounding with electronic and synthesized bass, and prefer instruments more). And so far, my impressions are that these are a great open-back, all-rounders for beginning audiophiles who want a headphone that goes well with almost every genre (save for bottom heavy stuff like dubstep and more mainstream rap) but do not have the amps and other equipment necessary for other open backs such as Beyers, Senns and AKGs to perform at optimum levels.

 

Much of my electronic music is disco, diva and deep house; and liquid funk (downtempo drum and bass), which I prefer to sound more airy, quick and upper to mid bass-oriented with emphasized vocals. The MA900s handle both of those genres admirably well and remain quick. They have a slightly rolled off, although still airy treble, which is what I prefer for downtempo music. The MA900s also handle downtempo trip hop and neo soul well with their smooth vocals and dark sound. The MA900s are overall a mid bass and mids-heavy headphone with roll-off on both the high and low end. Sonically, they remind me of a cross between a slightly rolled off AKG Quincy Jones Q701 (with its musical, neutral but lean misds) and the laid back sound Sennheiser HD500-series but without the thick lower mid bass and echoey, somewhat reverberated vocals. Although on paper it would be similar sounding to the AKG K702 Annies and K712 with its slightly elevated mid bass and rolled off highs, the MA900 is less analytical and has a more airy sound from my listening experience with less thickness.

 

Ear cup comfort is a little so-so FOR ME, and this is due to the fact that I have overly sensitive ears. If I shift the earcups all the way forward, my ears do not touch the driver cover padding, however the edge of the pads dig into the cartilage behind my ears, causing them to become sore. I find that shifting the headphones slightly back to where the driver pads lightly touch my ears is the most optimum position for comfort. I usually hate having things touching my ears and creating hot spots, but it over time it ceases to become an issue, and my ears quickly settle in. Will most people experience initial comfort iffiness like I will? No, but for those who have sensitive ears, you might want to keep this in mind. The MA900s do not have the roominess of Sennheiser ear cups, but they don't have those echoey vocals and head clamp, either. 

 

The MA900s are fairly light and lack that bulky feel that AKGs and Beyerdynamics have. Which means they don't feel overly cumbersome and are ideal for longterm music listening sessions, but this does mean their build quality is unfortunately rather on the floppy side. They don't have that chunky, substantial feel like Sennheiser HD518s or HD598s have. However, the MA900s have a large amount of magnesium in their build, comprising the driver back grill, the yolk and the yolk arms attached to the ear cups. The MA900 does look and feel premium, it just does not feel rugged or chunky.

 

Another small complaint I have is the cable, which is hard wired, skinny, long, terminates to a standard 3.5 mm jack which oddly has a plastic barrel surround. On a positive note, the jack is fairly slim and will easily fit in an iPhone case. And that ties into my final point. The MA900 has a nominal impedance of 12 ohms, and although they benefit from amping, you don't need one to get them to sound good (unlike AKGs). You could run them off a potato if you wanted to. The phone case-friendly 3.5 mm jack and included snap-on stereo plug that seems like an afterthought hint to me that the MA900s are not mainly targeted towards the audiophile who has tons of high end gear and likes to swap for higher end cables, but to the average consumer who wants a no-fuss, elegant, relaxed, dynamic-sounding headphone.

 

If you have a good amp and want a drier, more analytical sound, I would suggest instead checking out the new AKG K612 or Q701 instead. But if you are a beginner with open backs and do not have an amp to work with, I cannot recommend the MA900s highly enough. Just make sure to treat them well and not be rough with them. They retail for 300 US dollars, but you can get them for less than 200 on Amazon. A great headphone for around 200 dollars.  

 

Update: The ear pads, which were initially too pokey and hard have since broken in over time, and have become much more comfortable. I expect this comfort to get even better over time. 

Posted

Pros: Supremely comfortable, light weight, natural laid back sound, wide soundstage

Cons: Lacks a little sparkle, bass slam could be tighter, flimsy feeling build

Along with the summary below, I have posted a comparison review of the MA900, Audio Technica AD900X and AD1000X here:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/654161/review-comparison-ath-ad900x-vs-ath-ad1000x-vs-mdr-ma900-its-still-over-900

 

I've also got a youtube review of the MA900. If you like the video check out my channel for more reviews :)

 

 

Summary:

 

BUILD

 

The build of the MA900 is interesting. The headphone feels very light weight and almost flimsy in the hand. This isn't because it is badly built - on the contrary build quality is quite decent. It is the proportion of the parts, the super light weight and the way the frame is so flexible which makes it feel flimsy. As soon as you put them on your head you realise how much effort has been put towards minimising the MA900's weight though, which is almost enough to forgive them a little. That said if the MA900 was at least made out of metals it would have inspired more confidence, even if it were a little heavier.

 

SOUND

 

The MA900 has a neutral sound, slightly on the warmer side but overall very balanced and generally inoffensive. The bass has good definition but doesn't dig terribly deep (as per most open headphones) and the mids have a somewhat dry tone, whilst lacking a little extension at the top. They sound great with female vocals. The MA900 actually sounds like a Sennheiser HD650 with less lower bass and more forward upper mids. Because of the steeply angled driver the MA900 has a open and relaxed soundstage, with good definition and instrument placement. However with the relaxed treble it does sound a tad more intimate than say, the AD900X or AD1000X. Overall they are very agreeable and the main negative that can be said about the sound is that it might be too conservative. It's perfect for hours and hours of listening with different genres, and the comfort helps a lot in that regard.

 

Overall

 

I love the MA900 as a workhorse headphone and it's what I wear most of the time at home on account of its comfort. The build quality is okay but won't inspire any collectors of Sony gear. I really think the MA900 has been overlooked on Head-Fi on account of initial bad reports about the build, and though it's not the most exciting of cans it certainly is a fantastic all rounder. At the current Amazon Japan pricing it's a steal.

Posted

Pros: Wide Sounstage, well defined instruments and vocals, neutral sounding, Very Comfortable

Cons: not too good in terms of analytical capability, not so exciting to listen to

I actually just bought this headphone and expect it to perform well.

 

However, when I compare it to my Beyerdynamic T90, or even my DT990 pro, this headphone actually lacks a bit of the analytical capability.

 

You feel like the driver can't keep up with sound when you listen to something that has sound going back and forth the left and right earcups.

 

Another point is that, when it comes to a lot of instruments playing together, they tend to blend together into a mess. These are probably my complaints with the headphone.

 

Even so, I do have a lot of like to this headphone. The comfort is phenomenal. It is easily the most comfortable headphone I have ever worn. It's feather-light.

 

Build on this is actually pretty good. Its magnesium, so it doesnt break so easily.

 

I also found this can extremely good for movies and everyday use. Because of the wide soundstage, it makes you blend into the movie environment pretty easily. Easy to identify sound locations also makes it good for gaming.

 

Overall, I feel like recommending this headphone to someone who is looking for an everyday use headphone and hasn't tried something higher end. They won't get disappointed.

 

If you only want sound quality, in this price range, get the DT990 pro (given that it is cheaper and sound better.)

Posted

Pros: Comfort and weight. Airy sound.

Cons: lack of coherence, no sub bass, harsh upper mids.

Ok, this is a headphone that I've been meaning to try out for a while. So after spending most of the day with them I'm going to give a few quick impressions. (I don't believe in burn-in mechanically with dynamic drivers)

 

I've listened to all my usual recordings for testing equipment, from ECM Jazz, recent top notch classical recordings, Ambient from the likes of Tim Hecker, BT, Jon Hopkins. and some favorite rock Zepplin, Black Crowes. REM.

 

This is just my opinion... 

 

First impression was very good, smaller soundstage than what I was expecting but nice and airy. They are soo light! You can forget that you are wearing them. 

 

Going through some quality classical recordings mainly symphonic and the sound is very light and weightless. Floating there. Not much bottom end though. I put some Beethoven quartets on and the bass is much better suited here. The cello sounds very detailed and punchy. Played some Jaavi Sibelius and I noticed some added texture to the strings. Nice, but not sure if its pronounced a bit too much. 

 

With jazz I'm enjoying all the air and placement of instruments, but I'm immediately struck by a slight lack of oomph at the bottom end. By that I mean the kick of the drums with the double bass. Its very distant. There is bass plenty in quantity, only its kind of stuck at the lower mids and refuses to budge! I'm also now detecting some sizzle in the upper mids. Snare drum is pronounced or emphasized a little. I'm admittedly a bit of a tonehead so I appreciate realism more than any other attribute from headphones. So as the hours go by I'm getting more annoyed by the this. In fact this is the first headphone that has actually caused me some fatigue in a long while... (and I own HD800 and K701) Its the forward upper mids that are ringing. 

 

Ambient music works very well with these. Because of the forward mids all of the fine details and layering come across very well. The air of these is great for creating a big floating wall of noise. Really great with this genre of music. Electronica with deep bass is great from the top to mids but they fall short at giving you any bass satisfaction. E/Qing them doesn't help at all. They just can't give you sub bass.  

 

Rock music, I'm again a little disappointed. Electric guitar sounds great (Grado great) 'Whats the Frequency Kenneth' guitar sounds gritty and raw. Perfect tone. But as soon as the other instruments take part all focus gets lost for me. There is instant burring. This recording is commendable for its simplicity. A headphone such as the HD600 will clearly define the four instruments in use and create the space, even though they don't have that big a soundstage. What we have here is an airy sound, but the instruments are squashed too much together. Very forward and a little intrusive for my liking. I'm constantly thinking Grado. Maybe a Grado with a rolled off very top end and big airy pads. 

 

I used a Necosoundlab dual mono SS amp for my impressions with Arcam and Cambridge audio dacs, tried them on my other amps but there was clearly a massive impedance mismatch. I would not use these with anything of high impedance.

 

Remember these are just my honest opinions, and I can see why peeps like them, especially if you appreciate forward mids. But I wouldn't put them up against a DT880, HD600/650, K701. All these headphone are a clear league above these. You could ask what do you expect for the price of these?? Well for the same price you could buy a lot of good used headphones that will be better or a brand new K701. 

Posted

Pros: Soundstage, comfort, midrange, bass

Cons: Little dark (for my tastes)

Ill make this short and to the point.

 

The MDR MA900 is a fantastic headphone and even fantasticererer at the price of $200.  The soundstage is just unbelievable, trumping cans that cost more than twice it's price (HD650, HD600, DT880).  The imaging is also great, and the best thing about the soundstage is how focused it is.  Neither the vocals, nor the bass are lost in this soundstage (amazing!). 

 

Let's take a break from the sound.

 

These are hands down the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn, so if your thinking about the comfort, just stop it because it's just silly.  I read someones impressions somewhere and he described the comfort as it being like a hat: after a few minutes, you forget they're even there.

 

The build is... well the materials themselves are good, while also keeping the actual weight of the headphones very low, but the structural design has its flaws.  Dropping these is ok, but sitting on them, won't break them, but it may just mess with the swivel mechanism or something of that sort.  The headphones actually look nice, but are not very inspiring when you have them in your hands.  

 

Sound: The mids are very clear and the instruments sound true to the source.  The bass is surprisingly good.  EQ makes the bass actually better than a lot of other closed cans  at the same price.  On it's own, and this is just me, it lacks impact for pop, hip hop, and r&b, but its great for rock, jazz, etc.  The highs are slightly recessed (EQ to the rescue).

 

Overall, they trash every closed can I've heard (and that's without an amp).

 

This review was done without an amp.

 

9.9/10 because of the look.

Posted

Pros: Open, clear sound. Detailed and refined. Nice tight bass with plenty of texture. Superb soundstaging and imaging. Very comfortable and light.

Cons: Flimsy build-quality. Extremely long and cheap cable.

First off, let's just get the negatives out of the way.  The MDRMA900s feel and look like $20 headphones.  I have no idea what Sony was thinking when they designed these.  They feel and look cheap.  The cable is also extremely long and thin.  It does not exude quality.  However, I suppose there is a bright side to the cheap materials used here - the MA900s are feather-light.  When I say light, I mean they are the lightest full-size headphones I have ever used.  They truly disappear on your head when wearing them.  They are one of the most comfortable headphones I have used and when wearing them I quickly forget how cheap they feel in my hands.

 

Now that the negatives are out of the way, let me get to the overwhelming positives - the sound quality.  As soon as I put these on, I knew they were something special.  The MA900s are very open and clear sounding.  To my ears, they have fantastic detail retrieval while not sounding the least bit harsh.  Vocals are very detailed while still retaining a full quality.  The bass is tight.  It's not boomy nor is it lacking.  Seeing as how these are open headphones, and I do mean open, the bass is actually a nice surprise.  I was expecting less bass but came away completely satisfied with the quantity and quality.  These truly are very well-rounded headphones.  

 

As for the soundstage.  It is expansive.  Sounds come from all around and instrument separation is some of the best I have ever heard.  Imaging also seems to be very precise.  All of this may be due to the large 70mm drivers.  I don't know.  Whatever the reason, the MA900s are technically very impressive.

 

All in all, the MA900s were a big surprise for me.  I bought them out of sheer curiosity and fully expected to return them when I took them out of the box.  That changed the moment I put them on my head.  

 

It reminded me that while it's nice to have a pair of headphones that look good, it's far more important for them to sound good and the MA900s sound very good indeed.

Posted

Pros: Detailed and musical, airy mid and treble, terrific soundstage, comfortable.

Cons: Build quality perhaps, it's a Sony though..

 

SONY MPR-MA900

 

 

Value

 

At $200-300 they are a steal. They are competing against the much more expensive high-end variants and partly excel at it. Overall, you cannot go wrong with these headphones – 10/10.

 

Audio quality

 

I have analyzed these using my laptop, connected to Audioengine D1 DAC/amp, listening to everything from piano concertos and symphonies to hip-hop. The bass goes deep and can be strong when needed without influencing the middle. The middle range is very clear and detailed. The treble is airy, soft and gentle, maybe a bit muffled at times. Soundstage is very convincing thanks to the open design and the placement of the membranes. I find these on par with much more expensive (1k+) high-end headphones. They are wonderful for acoustic recordings and work well also for studio productions. Overall, I find these very musical and pleasing – 9/10.

 

 

Design

 

At first sight, they may seem quite cheap and plastic and not a luxury item that is built to last for a long time. But still, it’s a Sony… The look might fool you. After a while, I have learnt to appreciate them for what they are, and they do have a certain elegance and unique design after all. The cable is ordinary and rather long, adjusted for comfortable listening in the armchair rather than in front of a laptop. Overall, the design and build are OK – 6/10.

 

Comfort

 

This comfort factor is very important to me when choosing headphones. Compared to most high-end headphones on the market these sit very light and gently around the ears. The slight opening in the cups prohibits sweat and heat during long listening intervals and leaves room for the ear lobe as well if worn correctly. The cups sit firmly enough not to fall off when moving the head in various directions. The headband is fine but could be a bit wider, for a more even weight distribution. Overall, comfort impresses – 9/10.

 

Comparison to PFR-V1 and MPR-F1

 

This is a special section that involves how the MA900’s compare to Sony’s discontinued models V1 and F1, all targeting the same kind of users. The V1’s may sometimes have the edge when it comes to soundstage, but most often, also with acoustic and binaural recordings, it is a dead heat. The V1's lose because of the cumbersome fit and weaker bass. Besides, they are rather mediocre for all-round listening. Unfortunately, I have not tried the F1’s yet. The smaller membrane size should bring less bass, making them a bit on the light side sound wise. They are more open and should therefore be a bit more airy, both in terms of comfort and sound. The comfort may have an additional advantage with velour cushions and a wider headband. Both the V1’s and F1’s are becoming scarcer nowadays and may cost more than they deserve to satisfy the curiosity.

 

 

Sony MDR-MA900 Over the Head Style Headphones
By:
Description:

Large 70 mm driver unit reproduces broad dynamic range and high resolution sound -open-air type

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandSony
EAN0027242831674
Feature360 kJ/m3 high power neodymium magnets reproduce clear mid-range sounds and wealthy low range sounds
Height11.8 inches
Length7.8 inches
Weight1.5 pounds
Width5.1 inches
LabelSony
List Price$298.00
ManufacturerSony
ModelMDRMA900
MPNMDRMA900
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameHEADPHONES
PublisherSony
StudioSony
TitleSony MDRMA900 Over the Head Style Headphones
UPC027242831674
Part NumberMDRMA900
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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