This brings me to the F1’s, having listened to these in the past I remembered they had a nice sound stage and smooth natural sounding mid range. So I went a searching to hopefully confirm my previously held view of these cans. I read the review hear
These are but just a few and the primary one I based my decision is not listed in goggle however I decided to get these anyway. I Bought these at http://etronics.com because they have served me well in the past and have a 30 day refund.
My first impressions of the MDRf1 were ok but not spectacular. So I left them connected and played music at low volume for about 3 days and re-listened to the F1’s. They changed a lot. And I was impressed by the wide sound stage and comfort. These do not have the typical headphone sound of two blobs on each side of your head but rather float a nice holographic bubble around your entire head. They also let you hear the outside world quite well. This can be a disadvantage since they leak sound out just as easy as that let sound in. The Basic tonal signature is like the HD-600 in the Midrange. The Bass can be somewhat week however I use these with the PPA using Bass boost and this balances the low end out nicely. The F1’s have the natural sounding Voice, Acoustic guitar and Piano that I have heard from Dynamic headphones. When combined with the wide open sound stage I became real pleased with the sound of these Headphones. I now use these exclusively for light chamber music, Acoustic guitar and Movies. They do not work well on Rock, Techno or anything else that is Dynamic. I am listening to the California Guitar trio at the moment with the F1’s http://www.cgtrio.com/yamanews.htm and previously was listening to Arvo Part: Te Deum http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...80944?v=glance a review of this fine recording is http://www.classicalmusicreview.com/...000024ZDF.html and I must totally agree with that as this is one fine performance indeed. This is the type of Music the F1’s are born and Bread for. Another genre that works magic on the F1’s is ambient electronic music. Again the wide holographic sound stage and the totally accurate tone quality of the Midrange of The MDR-F1’s allow ambient Electronic music to transport you into another dimension as it should.
These Headphones convey emotion extremely well. The sadness of Magnificat is hunting and almost gives Goosebumps. This quality I have yet to experience on the Grado and senn headphones. I would also like to point out that unlike other Sony headphones these will not handle a lot of power in the bass so one must resist the temptation to apply Bass boost at loud volumes with Bass heavy Recordings. I must confess I am a Bass head at times and am so used to the prominent low end of the MDR-7506 headphones that if I try and recreate that with the F1’s the Drivers Bottom out. This only reminded me of the fact that these cans are for light music where tonal accuracy and smoothness are important qualities. The MDR-f1’s add a further dimension to that by providing about the widest soundstage of any other headphone or headphone system I have heard with the possible exception of the AKG-K1000. It has been a year since I last listened to the K-1000’s but there open airy quality is something I was looking for but did not want to use an Ultra high power Amp to drive them. Also the K-1000’s have a pad that rests in the wrong place on my head making them uncomfortable in the long term use where as the F1’s I can were all night and hardly know they are on my head.
Sony claims the F1’s are not sensitive to Amplifier output impedance and will work optimally from a portable CD player and similar device as well as the output of a preamp. The operating manual says “Conventional Full Open Air Type Headphones need to be connected to the Speaker output terminals or be driven from a special Amplifire in order to reproduce intended sound quality” Well nothing could be father from the truth. The F1’s are quite Amplifier sensitive and as such there sound is greatly determined by the Amplifier driving them. They sound horrible on the output of Portable CD players and Creative labs Zen. Using the output of a typical Preamplifier employing an op amp as the output device also results in reduced everything and make these totally unlistenable. IMHO the F1 not only require a special Amplifier to get the intended sound but a high current one at that. Sure they are sensitive enough to play loudly from portables but sound compressed and rolled off on both the Bass and treble on less ideal Amplification. Head-Fi member Hirsh suggested a Tube Amp for the F1 to me so some time ill try one and see how the F1’s respond. The Amp he recommended is somewhat rich for my blood however other tube gear might work if it is not an OTL type. I think an OTL Tube amp would totally lose it in the low 12 ohm impedance of the F1’s. The Amplifier driving the F1’s must maintain complete control on these cans or they will ring in the upper midrange. This is a quality of a lot of Sony Headphones. However if given a good source they are completely clean and undistorted. I use a PPA with mine and this works well if an otherwise Bright sounding chipset is used. These Cans respond well to a fast Amp and the Difference in Op amps and other internal Amplifier components are easily heard.
The Sony MDR-f1’s are also quite sensitive to the position over the Ears. I find I have to move the ear cups slightly upward from the position they naturally rest when first put on to obtain proper Tonal balance. However once you become accustomed to wearing them its just a quick move to get the best out of them. The F1’s are what I would consider a special purpose headphone as opposed to a more general purpose can like the HD-580’s and HD-600s. These Headphones do require some effort with regard to amplification and other system Synergy details to sound there best and also are not good on all types of Music however with Music of great expanse of image and Voice these are truly a marvelous sounding Headphone. They lack the Micro dynamics (Detail) of the Grado’s and HD-580 however the micro dynamics are as good as or better than the HD-600. The F1’s are best used to augment another set of headphones rather than being the only pair of cans to own.
Some Music that is just wonderful to listen to on the F1’s are listed in the below links
http://www.inkblotmagazine.com/rev-a...vilisation.htm nice space and image location on this Techno recording
http://www.vervemusicgroup.com/product.aspx?pid=9573 Diana Karall’s voice is right in front of you in such a way as to make you believe she is at your table in the Lounge singing only to you
http://www.buy.com/retail/product.as...0&loc=&rp=true Cowboy Junkies sounding like you are right there in the church with them and Height is well portrayed as are the acoustics of the interior this recording is also availably on Vinyl at http://www.musicline.de/de/product/C...//743211835619
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...50530?v=glance Dido’s voice is so real that in comparison the HD-600’s sound colored.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...03943?v=glance I am a big fan of Native American music and Flute in paticuler and the Drums on this recording are tight and you can easily hear the skin and body resonance and the Flute is crystal clear.
http://www.canyonrecords.com/cr7010.htm Music made for the F1’s soundstage is this fine recording from Carlos Nakai not only is the ambient information splendidly portrayed but the layering of the Flutes and the blend into William Eton’s Guitar are heavenly. That 360 degree holographic Bubble again. Echoes decay nicely
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...55348?v=glance This new age recording is another great on the F1’s piano is reproduced very accurately on the F1’s and this is mostly piano so it is a joy to listen to on these headphones. “The Narada Wilderness Collection”
This is just a short sampling of music that sounds truly magnificent on the Sony MDR-f1’s if you are looking for a second set of cans to supplement your present pair and or you like only the musical styles the F1’s are comfortable on then by all means get these before Sony discontinues them again.