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Sony 7506 review...a ham sandwich without the ham

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
For some strange deranged reflex impulse insane reason, I purchased yet another headphone Tuesday. It was the Sony 7506.

See, it's this board which can sometimes make you do crazy things. The V6 is not available here, so based on the discussion on the similarity to the 7506, I decided to demo them. They sounded somewhat bright and honky with solid low registers, plugged into the demo source, whcih was a bit shaky. I also tried the Beyer DT250, which were smoother in the mid and much less bright at the top. Extended listening brought me to the conclusion that the 7506 would probably sound nice through a decent amp. I attributed some of the nasal honkiness in the midrange to the demo source.

Getting Down To Brass Tacks

Using the 7506 with the Grado RA-1, the sound was detailed in the highs and chunky and firm in the lows. The bass extended down further than any other headphone I have used except for the Yamaha HP-1. I also noticed that the 7506 emphasised the tiny hiss coming from the RA-1. This is normally barely audible using Grado cans.

The sound (once the ear adjusts, like any headphone) was initially very impressive. One gets the impression that the 7506 is a very revealing and unforgiving headphone. Yet, despite the apparent clarity, it still seemed like there was a light warmth or murk lurking in the upper midrange. I then realized that what was actually happening was a detailed top end laid on top of a solid bottom, with nothing in between. Like a ham sandwich without the ham. Acoustic guitars and cellos had no body. When the Grado Reference Platinum cartridge lacks midrange warmth, you know something is amiss. It was like someone chopped out the upper bass/midrange area and surgically connected the top and bottom together. The treble is providing clean detail, but not the actual music that it is supposed to be detailing, if you get my drift. Also, the bottom end sounds somewhat synthetic, which I believe Kelly touched on in another review. It almost sounds like sampled low bass notes at times, lacking a distinct character of each recording. It is often difficult to differentiate between an acoustic and an electric bass, because the upper bass is not being provided with enough detail. And while the top sounds detailed, it does not 'breathe' or seem open. This headphone has the odd distinction of sound dark and bright at the same time.

I decided to reference an older pair of Sennheiser HD480 phones in order to get an understanding on what I believed I was hearing. Now the HD480 has a wonderful midrange (open, transparent, tonally accurate) but sounds very cut off and muted in the highs, and rolled off very early in the bass. In other words, the opposite to what the 7506 sounded like. But the HD480 did confirm that the 7506 sounded very dipped and sucked-out in the midbass up to the upper midrange. Or in laymans terms, the 7506 was one big huge smiley-face EQ job. And the closed shut-in style of the headphone was annoying, discomforting and claustrophobic.

More madness

Having determined what I liked about the HD480 and disliked about the 7506, I spent a day and a half tweaking, trying to pull some top and bottom out of the HD480, to no avail. But that midrange....

I then realized then that I had gone completely off the track, so I corrected my course by going back to the Grados, starting at the "bottom" with the SR80. There it was! The sound I had lost. Up through the 125, 225, 325 and RS-1 brought more 'refinement' to that SR80 sound. I was back! It was like spending two days trying to figure out what was wrong with McDonalds and Burger King when I had prime rib in the fridge. The AKG501 brought the midrange detail of the HD480 along with the appropriately balanced top and bottom, whcih the 480 lacked.

So, what is the lesson to be learned from all of this? The same lesson we are always being taught but never seem to fully absorb. And that is, when a headphone seems to be doing something impressively right in part of the audio spectrum, it is likely doing something else seriously wrong in another. And this is why we recognise those good qualities...we are so blown away by the strong points that we overlook the weak ones....initially. Then when the truth hits home, we feel cheated and deceived. I suppose it is just human weakness to be seduced by a different sound. I still like that low bass effect and detail in the 7506 but knowing what I am giving up makes it hard to listen to for any length of time.
post #2 of 31
*mmm... Ham samdwich....*

nice review, I think we'll see some interesting replies from other V6 owners...
post #3 of 31
Couple of things:
Plugging in any closed can usually reveals more source problems that you didn't spot before with a wide open phone.
I think you're mistaking/intermingling darkness with a emphasized midbass and closed off soundstate. The 7506 is quite bright although not as grading as the Gratos, and it's major failing is indeed the somewhat clasustrophobic feeling. I've heard worse though, and higher up the price scale.
The V6's are also more practical for all-round use than many other phones. Perhaps that's why they're recommended for portable use very frequently on this board.
A particular headphone that sounds optimal in a controlled situation is not always the right one for all. One has to make compromises in order to get most of what you want. As far as a balance of sound quality, musical balance, and general all-purpose practicality goes, the V6's are superior to the Grados and I suspect the HD480 (although I haven't heard them).
The one thing they lack for me is long-term wear comfort in a portable situation, but I can certainly bear them for longer than I can Grados. Which is why I'm making a different sound compromise and settling on the MDR-7509.
post #4 of 31
I think you are spot on with that review. The V6 (which I'm assuming to be the same as the 7506) is lacking in the midrange. Voices sound like they are in the background.

I also agree with you observation that it brings out hiss. If there is something wrong with the recording or some noise in the system, the V6 will let you know about it. This can be quite annoying at times.
post #5 of 31
i don't feel that the v6 is the end all, be all, headphone. however, i do feel that it is a great value at it's price point. i do not own a pair, but i have purchased them for friends before and have listened a bit and i really find that sound awesome from almost any portable. i don't really feel that they are bright though.

nice review beagle.
post #6 of 31
/\_____/\
post #7 of 31
I'm pretty sure there's, like, one or two slices of ham in there somewhere...

It's not really Burger King or McDonalds, which would imply a big, fat, greasy sound. More like an Au Bon Pain baguette with Grey Poupon and a thin slice of prosciutto.

Seriously, I quite agree with your point and in fact have been looking for an alternative. I think the 7506 does fine for the top and bottom ends. I would like something similar, but with maybe 4 or 5 slices of ham. I've been trying Audio-Technica -- at the moment I have the MT30, which is more like a deli sandwich. Not too refined, but quite meaty.

Any other suggestions? (Must be closed and drivable by a portable.)
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Davie
I would like something similar, but with maybe 4 or 5 slices of ham. I've been trying Audio-Technica -- at the moment I have the MT30, which is more like a deli sandwich. Not too refined, but quite meaty.

Any other suggestions? (Must be closed and drivable by a portable.)
Maybe the Beyer DT-250, which I mentioned above? More like a nice thick smoked meat on stale rye.
post #9 of 31
Nice review Beagle,

I agree with your assessment...might it also be a function of the closed-ness that leads to this sound?
post #10 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by mlchang
Nice review Beagle,

I agree with your assessment...might it also be a function of the closed-ness that leads to this sound?
Definitely. It's like the background noise that 'does not exist' until you have a power failure, and all of a sudden it gets so quiet in the house.

I think the closed nature locks in the bass and forces your ear to hear only what is coming from the headphone drivers. The same thing happens with Etymotics. The nice thing is that you can listen at a low volume and still get everything. But, as mentioned, I do find the effect a tad claustrophobic.
post #11 of 31

YAWN! No midrange on the 7506? That's funny!

No MIDRANGE on the 7506? Geez! If the 7506 has a fault (and it has), it's that the midrange and treble are over-emphasized. Try generating some test tones at 250hz (upper bass), 400hz, 500hz, 750hz, 1khz, 2khz (upper midrange), 3khz (lower treble), 4khz, and 6khz.

The tones at all of these frequencies (upper bass through midrange and into the treble) was at approximately the same audible level, with the midrange and treble tones slightly emphasized, huh? That's because the 7506 has, in absolute terms, a little TOO MUCH midrange and treble. Which makes it an extremely useful tool for mixing, and is why I, and other audio professionals use it daily in our studios! But it IS NOT my choice when I listen to music for treble. For that, I prefer a more laid-back (distant if you will) presentation, such as one gets with the Sennheiser HD-580 or HD-600.
post #12 of 31
I gotta agree with you, Mike Walker. If someone thinks the 7506 has no upper bass or lower midrange, then he/she is so used to headphones that actually over-emphasize the lower midrange! The MDR-V600 is even more severe in the lower-midrange bloat than the Grados that Beagle has been listening to (and the Grados do emphasize the lower-midrange region somewhat).
post #13 of 31

Re: YAWN! No midrange on the 7506? That's funny!

Quote:
Originally posted by Mike Walker
No MIDRANGE on the 7506? Geez! If the 7506 has a fault (and it has), it's that the midrange and treble are over-emphasized. Try generating some test tones at 250hz (upper bass), 400hz, 500hz, 750hz, 1khz, 2khz (upper midrange), 3khz (lower treble), 4khz, and 6khz.

The tones at all of these frequencies (upper bass through midrange and into the treble) was at approximately the same audible level, with the midrange and treble tones slightly emphasized, huh? That's because the 7506 has, in absolute terms, a little TOO MUCH midrange and treble. Which makes it an extremely useful tool for mixing, and is why I, and other audio professionals use it daily in our studios! But it IS NOT my choice when I listen to music for treble. For that, I prefer a more laid-back (distant if you will) presentation, such as one gets with the Sennheiser HD-580 or HD-600.

Interesting and true! I can make the (to me) fatter-sounding MDR-7509 do a passable imitation of the 7506 by increasing mid & treble, and cutting bass on the console.


However, if I listen to the MDR-7509 'as is' and then the MDR-7506, it sounds thin, prompting me to suggest that the mids are lacking. I just thought I'd throw that in because I though it was interesting...
post #14 of 31
Mike Walker and Eagle_Driver,

OK. But it seems pretty clear that something is missing with these phones. Based on the posts in various threads on this topic, it seems that people are comparing the 7506s to some pretty decent cans, such as the Grado SR60, the Beyer 250s, etc. So apparently it isn't smooth sailing with the 7506s from the lower mid-range up to the top of the treble. Maybe it's a problem in the lower mid-range (relative to the higher end of the spectrum) that makes them sound kind of thin. Has anybody seen a curve for these things? I'm not sure a set of "snapshots" from various discrete frequencies would adequately capture the frequency reponse, since the curves that I've seen (Headroom, etc.) are pretty irregular.
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 

Re: YAWN! No midrange on the 7506? That's funny!

Quote:
Originally posted by Mike Walker
No MIDRANGE on the 7506? Geez! If the 7506 has a fault (and it has), it's that the midrange and treble are over-emphasized. Try generating some test tones at 250hz (upper bass), 400hz, 500hz, 750hz, 1khz, 2khz (upper midrange), 3khz (lower treble), 4khz, and 6khz.

The tones at all of these frequencies (upper bass through midrange and into the treble) was at approximately the same audible level, with the midrange and treble tones slightly emphasized, huh? That's because the 7506 has, in absolute terms, a little TOO MUCH midrange and treble. Which makes it an extremely useful tool for mixing, and is why I, and other audio professionals use it daily in our studios! But it IS NOT my choice when I listen to music for treble. For that, I prefer a more laid-back (distant if you will) presentation, such as one gets with the Sennheiser HD-580 or HD-600.
Well, my pair must be defective because they sure as hell are not anything close to flat let alone 'filled out' in the upper bass through the midrange to the lower treble. There is no warmth or body to the acoustic guitar or stringed instruments or male vocals.

Quote:
Originally posted by Eagle_Driver
I gotta agree with you, Mike Walker. If someone thinks the 7506 has no upper bass or lower midrange, then he/she is so used to headphones that actually over-emphasize the lower midrange! The MDR-V600 is even more severe in the lower-midrange bloat than the Grados that Beagle has been listening to (and the Grados do emphasize the lower-midrange region somewhat).
Not according to those beloved graphs.
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