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An ambivalent experience

A Review On: Sony MDR-V6 Monitor Series Headphones

Sony MDR-V6 Monitor Series Headphones

Rated # 49 in Over-Ear
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Price paid: $79.00
Posted · Updated · 24428 Views · 31 Comments

Pros: Good sound, Affordable

Cons: Design, Quality control, Packaging

I'm using it with a Macbook Pro and an iPod touch. I've had two V6s so far (both made in Thailand in 2012).



The headphones, the cable, and the pouch don't really fit in the box, and as a result they all show signs of stress out of the box. The pouch was folded twice to fit and got creased, the cable got small dents and the straight sections got crooked, the headband got asymmetrical, the earpads got also slightly squashed. Both units were new, purchased from different sellers, same story. The gold colored box and shiny red cloth make the false and pretentious statement that they accomodate a premium product, but it's really just money wasted on masquerade. A more spacious and simpler packaging is needed.

After three weeks (about 100 hours) it has finally burned in and the upper midrange harshness that was so apparent in the first two weeks is now gone. The bass is punchy and generally dominant at lower volume levels, the mids are always a bit recessed. From about 1/3 volume, the lower treble and upper midrange starts to come foreward and overpower and from 1/2 i can hear some distortion.
I find its sound signature most suitable for electronic dance music, and least for symphonic orchestral music.
Headstage / soundstage: Everything sounds to come from either inside my head or behind and lower than my head.
Sensitivity and volume
It's easy to drive, even by an iPod. On the Macbook Pro, 25-50% is plenty loud. On the iPod touch it's ideal: 50% is about a medium volume.
Seals properly all around, but surroundings are hearable at low volume levels. To the outside, in a quiet room, there is very small leakage at 1/3 volume (driven by Macbook Pro).
After a week of getting used to, it's only slightly tiring after a dozen-hour stint. Sometimes i barely feel they're on, which is ideal. The clamping force is optimal, it doesn't hurt my head and it won't fall off when i tilt my head forward (it's slowly sliding off when i look up).
The cups aren't big enough though: the width is barely ok, but they're not tall enough and so the pads press my ear lobes against my head, which makes them sweat. Otherwise it doesn't make the rest of my ears sweat, but they itch sometimes due to the lack of ventilation. It's warm but not hot. These apply for January weather with low humidity and 21℃ inside; I still have to see what it's like with these on in humid summer 35℃.
Design and build
The only metal parts of the whole framework are the inner part of the headband; and the smaller covers of the cups (with the writing and the label), which is misleading because it's only cosmetic: the inner side of that cover is still plastic.
The steps of the headband don't hold strongly enough and so the band tends to gradually contract on my head over the course of hours, effectively pulling the cups upwards. This movement is not noticeable per se, but when i check i can feel it has moved out of setting and have to readjust.
The articulating parts between the band and the cups make small plasticky clicking and knocking sounds for slight movements, sometimes even when i don't move my head; it's very annoying and distracting. Both V6s i owned did this (this could be similar to the creaking issue of the V700 and V55 i've read about). I needed to make the joints tighter with some stickers to make them shut up.
The cable entry on the left cup (where the cable goes into the strain relief), also made noises when moved, as if they were sticking to and unsticking from each other. I had to disassemble the left cup, move and clean the cable and strain relief to eliminate the issue, which was only on the second unit.
Cable and plug
Both the coiled cable and the straight plug are big, heavy and look durable.
For the money, the V6 sounds good, and i really appreciate sturdy and utilitarian design in general. But it's just too sloppy, they clearly don't make these so well they originally used to in Japan in the 1980s.

The small can (with the writing and label) is metal outside, plastic inside. The small can (with the writing and the label) is metal outside, plastic inside.

It's all plastic inside. It's all plastic inside. There's a safety loop. I thought there are thicker wires inside that thick cable.


Mods (white). Hinge mods (white). Mods (white).  Hanger mods (white).


400 Strain relief 400 Strain relief


The register on the left cup was creased and screwed in, on the right cup it was slightly folded. That's 2 out of 2 — made in Thailand. Bonus: the register on the left cup came creased and screwed in, on the right cup it was folded. That's 2 out of 2 — made in Thailand. :-/


Sony can never be the best at anything...they should leave the headphone scene :))
Actually if you didn't know, the cups themselves are magnesium. As for the headband, sorry man :/ doesn't happen with me. I'd have shipped it back and ordered a new pair. As for the sound, I guess YMMV. These are pretty fine for me even with violins.
As for Doberman, can't tell if you're messing or not since you yourself have a pair lol
Well anyways, if you've been into the headphone hobby for a while, you'll surely know of the qualia and r10 soonr or later :)
MrViolin, If you're in the V6 price bracket the Qualia and R10 are pretty much in a different universe.:)
However, add a pair of Velour AKG earpads, and I love My V6's, no headband or cable dramas to report here
MrViolin, i have uploaded pics to show the metal and plastic on my unit.
Hutnicks, i might have got a ****ty unit. :)
Hmm. Mine are made in China and do not seem to have any of the QC issues In your pics. I'd have been sorely tempted to return those and start off with a new pair.
I bought this on Amazon UK. According to their policy "You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon.co.uk within 30 days of delivery for a full refund", and "If you received a damaged or defective item, we’ll send you a replacement of the same item."
So by my reckoning you are just over the time limit? I'd still be tempted to get customer service on the line and see if they would do an exchange. You could tell them the damage went un noticed until you looked under the pad due to the sound not being what you expected.
I still have 8 days. I've actually already started penning an email to Customer Service to see if these issues qualify as damage or defects, considering that none of the many reviews i read mentioned them. Thank you so much for your help so far!
They replied promptly. The headphone is considered defective and i can return it, they'll even refund the return postage charges.
Returned, refunded.
Outstaniding! I am surprised they refunded the postage. They must have better C/S policies in the UK than Canada. Are you going to try another pair or move on to another headphone altogether?
Amazon.co.uk only refunds the return postage if the item is damaged / defective or was delivered because of an Amazon error.
The Amazon.ca returns policy is worded differently. I would contact CS to clarify.
I'm wary of buying a V6 again, and i'm wary of trying something delicate like the Creative Aurvana Live (read about wire failures). I feel like i figured out the sound of the V6 and am ready to move on but only to something durable.
I'd mostly like a durable IEM under $150. Checked Innerfidelity's wall of fame, Head-fi's summer 2012 guide (pdf), recommendation threads. Often i hit a wall because of significant discrepancies in prices and availability between the US and UK, or frail designs.
For the price point you are hard pressed to find anything better than an IEM. The only trouble with them as you have noticed is their fragility, and that pretty much means looking at something with detachable cables. Or as i did with My Etymotics, coat the cable driver joint in an epoxy to relieve the strain. If you are looking for an interim solution and are moderately handy I would suggest picking up a set of the Phillips ear clips model is 4700 I believe, (The box mine came in have no model number) they sell for about 10 dollars here. Pop off the clips and get any kind of headband on them that will exert moderate pressure on the ears, and their sound easily rivals that of the V6 in every way except the bass thump you get from the closed earcup. Properly sealed to the ear these little wonders have an exceptional detail and enough low end response for any but the serious basshead. For the 10 bucks plus whatever it costs for a headband (I initially used a piece of 1/2 inch flat aluminum bar stock and blu tacked the drivers on, careful to not block the bass ports at the back) they are an unsung little gem completely ignored in the marketplace. And at that price if you lose them on the tube or they get squashed your not going to cry.
For the price range i conversely found that full size headphones (mostly circumaural) have the best price/performance ratio, the V6 being the prime example. The Shure SE215 has detachable cables and too many Amazon reviews say that while they sound good they fail in months.
I forgot to say i only like in-ear and circumaural headphones, for their comfort and isolation (if they're closed). Which Etymotics do you have?
I have a pair of early 90's ER4S's and i would not give them up for anything. They are actually the only ones that I have kept for that long. When you fit them out with the Comply tips they are a hard little item to beat. You can occasionally find the Shures cheap on Ebay so it might be an idea to find a pair there. If yo are committed to circumaural then the Sennheiser HD 25's are hard to beat. Although the cognicenti really lean toward Fostex T50's right now as the bargain of the century if you have the ability to mod them. I'd have to agree with that but currently am looking at the T20 as I keep hearing that they are a better phone. Both are around the 90 dollar mark over here. I would love to have a go at the Klipsch X10 i's but durability seems to be a real issue with those as well.
The Sennheiser HD25 is supra-aural. It ($200 -> £140=$210) and the T50 ($100 -> £140=$210) and T20 ($80 -> £100=$150) are overbudget, hit the wall again. EU import customs and VAT (19% in the UK) raise prices.
Ouch. You folk are still getting dinged heavily, I had thought prices had stabilized in Britain in the past decade. Do you get hit for VAT on personal purchases from overseas as well? I was going to suggest the M Audio Q40 but it is about 20 dollars more than the T50 here so more than likely well over the limit there. Have you considered any of the Asian products such as the Superlux 681 or HD330?
I don't exactly know the applicable law. When i ordered RAM from OWC - who operate in the US - i wasn't charged the US sales tax but when the FedEx plane landed in my country a FedEx rep called me that customs opened my package and charged me 27% VAT on the declared price plus even on the shipping cost (both were on the included invoice) - I knew before i ordered. Same would go for ordering some rare Sony from Japan or anywhere outside the EU. This can be a real dealbreaker on expensive stuff like a $2200 mac as it would cost me $2800+shipping or buy it in my country for the equivalent of $2900.
When I ordered from the UK, i was charged the 19% UK VAT (collected by the seller) but no customs in my country because it was a commerce inside the EU.
I didn't even know about Superlux, i'm going to read the reviews.
Strange rules abound. Here if it comes in via mail we may or may not have an inspection which results in 6 dollars + whatever duties and taxes may apply. Some items are duty exempt and some are not and it seems the customs people vary greatly in what they deem dutiable. We have a14%GST (goods and service Tax) which is much like VAT. If we have a carrier bring it in Such as Fedex or UPS we get charged a customs clearance fee which is userous sometimes 40 dollars and then they collect the tax on top of that. It really pays here to have things come via post as it invariable costs very little and the inspections on small items are fairly rare.
The Superlux are getting very decent reviews. Bang for buck they are hard to beat. I was set to pick up a pair of 681s when a deal on a pair of T20's came up. I still want to own a pair of the 681 and more than likely the 330 or 660 closed back phones. That will have to wait. Here is a link to a German Dealer http://www.thomann.de/gb/superlux_hd660.htm
Having used the V6 -being my first full-size- i found that that kind is only convenient when i'm sitting at my desk using the laptop. I watch a lot of movies in the bed or listen to music on the go, so an IEM would be universally useful for me.
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