Pros: Detailed and musical, airy mid and treble, terrific soundstage, comfortable.
Cons: Build quality perhaps, it's a Sony though..
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.
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.
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.
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.