Pros: Extremely efficient, comfortable, aesthetics, forgiving to recordings.
Cons: Expensive MSRP, jack rattle
Upon unboxing, I knew what the Sony MDR-1R MK2's were intended for; luxury. It came with a box very similar to the Sennheiser HD800's packaging, very pleasing to open and everything felt of quality to handle. In the box was a japanese instruction manual, a cordura pouch, 3m cable, 1.2m cable, and finally, the headphones. Oh and the japanese company I bought it from included a cute paper hand fan :D
Design and Comfort
The headphones in my hands feel very light, with smooth swivel cups, and a somewhat solid plastic build.
On my head, the clamp is fairly light, accompanied with a soft pleather headband, and pillow-like earpads.
The aesthetics of these are just amazing, a very modern look with a simplistic design, glossed paint in the right areas, aluminum matte painted earcups and solid plastic frame.
Unfortunately what these do exhibit is the common jack rattle found in the first MDR-1R headphones, a common fix for this is to slide a piece of paper on the sides of the jack that rattle against the tube holding this. For my fix, I took modelling clay, wrapped it around the base of the plug, and pushed the cable into a jack; forming a seal.
Although the cable also exhibits its' own type of rattle. The strain relief is not a snug fit on the cable, and if the cable hangs straight down; rattling will occur. A fix for this would also be sliding something thin under. These flaws are a factor of why they may not be a suitable portable headphone if the issues are not addressed.
Like most cables under cold weather, these will tense up and may rethink your decision on having these has earmuffs.
Although looks do play a part as a portable headphone, the sound accompanies it well.
I've given these headphones over 100 hours of playback, so they should be well burned into my brain and driver wise.
Sadly to say, I do not have the original 1R's and won't be able to compare the updated version to them.
The sound signature of these are warm and relaxing, due to this, poorly recorded tracks or lower bitrate files are forgiving. Although, these cans are midrange centric that benefits piano based recordings and some female vocals. The lower treble faces a dip, and for the better. My japanese poprock recordings are quite enjoyable and quite forgiving to the typical sibilance. I think the higher treble is very interesting, it actually sparkles above the warm mids, which benefits the already sweet and warm sounding mids.
In my opinion though, I think the mids are too tinny with the 1-2khz presence that destroys some of my younger female vocalists due to their higher pitched voices.
I think Sony could have done better with the bass, it doesn't feel it extends, it punches a bit, but overall it's just "there". This might be due to the warmth.
In outdoor environments, the bass does get lost, and does not isolate very well. On the flip side, these don't leak too much sound at moderate volumes so it was usable in libraries.
The soundstage of the Mk2's are typical of small headphones, it is small, but not congested. Despite the small soundstaging and warmth, instrument separation is quite impressive on these cans.
Like all headphones, I need to wear them for at least 10 minutes with playback to get accustomed to the sound signature.
The 1R Mk2's are not an exception, it's quite picky on some recordings. Working best with jazz, poprock, punkrock, rock, pop, and hip hop. Genres that sound full and warm already, will feel muddy.
Would I recommend these to the regular consumer? No, because some tweaks would be needed for the jack rattle issue. However, get past this defect, and it's an interesting, and VERY comfortable portable headphone to own.