Pros: Bluetooth, Active Noise Cancelling, Passive Mode, All for Under $175
Cons: Bloated Bass with Stock Pads, Merely decent ANC, Recessed Mids, Standard Package lacks accessories.
In the past, Sony's released ANC headphones, and Bluetooth headphones of a line of headphones (MDR-1R/10R). However, this is the first Sony headphones that combines both ANC and Bluetooth in a single package for less than $200 in a single headphone. And, to be frank, I don't know any headphones that's sub $200 that has all of that and more. So, with less than $200, you can get yourself one of those fabled all in one headphones that has all of the techie bulletpoints. Bluetooth? Check. Noise Cancelling? Check. APTX? Check. AAC support? Check.NFC for easy pairing? Check. Sound quality? Well... let's dive in.
It is a sleek package. It is, first and foremost, a bluetooth 3.0 headset with APTx and AAC codec support on board. With both BT and ANC active, you will get about 13 hours or so on a single charge, though it seems to last a tad bit longer with my Galaxy S3. To be honest, however, I've never drained the battery fully. So it should last a full day at the office or the intercontinental flight. Oh, and since it runs off of rechargeable batteries, you don't have to mess with spare AAAs with Sony's other ANC headphones.
Speaking of ANC, it uses the Digital ANC engine off of other high end ANC headphones from Sony, and for the most part, does the job. However, the ANC is better on the MDR-10R. Both are substandard compared to Bose QuietComfort, but very few ANC can match Bose in that regards. Sound quality with ANC active or inactive, thankfully, doesn't change TOO much on this. If anything, it becomes touch more sibilant with active ANC. Bass slightly more flabby perhaps. But it isn't totally unlistenable mess either.
On the accessories, the Standard MDR-ZX750BN model comes with 3.5mm cable and a USB calble for charging. The Costco version comes with hard carrying case, 3.5mm cables, 3.5mm cable for mobile use, USB cable, and USB AC Charger. And it costs about good $30 less ($169 vs $199). I don't think I need to tell you which model is the better of the two.
Ah, and did I mention this thing is Supra-Aural? Does this make a difference? Yes it does.
Audio: Bass, with additional side of bass.
With the stock pads? Well, it's heaps better than MDR-10R. However, it's very reminiscent of the infamous MDR-V600. Or maybe even the old Beats Solos with better trebles. In other words, it's a bassy mess. With the stock pads, these are supra-aural. The stock pads are quite thick, and helps to reflect bass back from the drivers into your ears. It has to be designed with that in mind. The drivers are tuned for bass side of things, and the pads further enhances that, to the point where it becomes a bass head can.
Replacing the can does tone down the bass quite a bit to a more manageable point.; When the ANC/BT is active, the treble can become quite harsh. I'm not sure if it's the onboard codec. ANC amp function or what else that's going on. It's probably to compensate for the bigger bass as a supra-aural can. Mids are quite recessed, though not as nasal nor congested as this would imply. Rather smooth if you can find it. If you can find it.
So, to remedy this situation, replace the earpads, and transform them from Supra-aural to circumaural with either V6 or ZX500 pads or the like. It is slightly smaller than the replacement earpads but it'll stay on there. Trust me.
Once you've done that, the sound becomes much better. The mids are less recessed, but still so. The bass tones down some. Everything becomes more balanced as ZX cans ought to be. It's more in line of ZX500 rather than ZX700 in terms of things. A little colder than both, Better presence vs. MDR-10R. Nowhere near MDR-1R or ZX700. Bass tuned tracks will be very bassy, and its presence is quite pronounced. But it's clean, crisp, if a tad overbearing. Trebles, as stated, can be quite sibilant, when ANC/BT is active and the volume is towards at the high end of things. Set the volume of the cans rather than the source and you should be ok. On passive (no ANC) it is less harsh and sibilant but still retains a bit of that harsh edge.
Oh, and holy crap this thing is revealing. You may pick up on smaller details here and there that you may not have noticed on other headphones. Maybe too revealing at times. You will pick up some of the background noise bleed in, especially when listening to some podcasts where the recording environment is not controlled. I didn't expect this from a $200 set of all in one type headphones. From other headphones, definitely.
Soundstage is quite wide, if a bit 2D. But on this 2D plane, it's quite large front to back. Again a bonus from these. I'd been happy with decent separation, but I'm getting actual separation and placement. Not bad at all... That is if you remember to replace the earpads. Without it, you get a bassy and sharp mess. Some of it applies but you get quite better performance as a Circumaural set.
It at times punches above its weight. It shines with instrumental genres, soundtracks, and audio tracks with less emphasis on bass in the mastering process. At times, this thing punches well above its weight. At other times, it gets lost and muddied by being too bass happy. I don't quite know what to make of this. A bit of comparison with the 7506/V6s are warranted, as this thing reminds me quite a bit of it.
For pete's sake, make sure to order the damn V6 pads. Good Gracious.
Specs (Direct from Sony)
|Driver Unit||40 mm|
|Power Handling Capacity||100mW(wired)|
|Impedance||40 Ω at 1 kHz|
|Frequency Response||8 Hz - 22,000 Hz|
|Cord Length||Approx. 1.5 m|
|Power Source / Battery Type||Built-in Lithium ion Rechargeable Battery|
|Battery Charging Time||Approx. 2.5 Hours|
|Weight (Without Cord)||Approx. 230 g|