Disclaimer: This is solely only my impression, so please take this with a grain of salt. I hadn't exactly got myself the time to fully examine and listen these earphones.
Sony MDR-EX600 Impression and the EX-600 vs EX-1000 comparison could be found here:
Sony MDR-EX1000 Review:
Observed street price: $519
Impedance: 32 ohms at 1 kHz
Mass: Approximately 7g (the cord/code excluding
Frequency Range: 3-30,000Hz
Max Input: 200mW
First of all, I'd like to thank Mingo from Hong Kong for allowing me to sample these earphones. With the strong interest of the EX1000, I thought I'd be one of the first member from Head-Fi to take a look at these rather wallet-breaking earphones. Since I am still rather new and relatively green-horned in judging the quality of earphones, I hope my review will at least manage to shed some slight amount of light to these earphones. Due to my limited amount of time with these headphones, you might want to take my review with a grain of salt, since there are several factors that might have interfered with my judgment (psychology/technical burn-ins, etc). I am also unable to test these amped properly unfortunately, so, my write-up will mostly be about how these earphones perform unamped through my iPod G6.5 with FLAC and 320kps mp3.
First thought holding onto these earphones is that they feel sturdy. The circle part of the earphone is most definitely metal (what kind, I unfortunately have no idea -- I was told by kiteki that it is apparently magnesium). The cable after the Y-section is nice and thick while you could still comfortably wrap them above the ear. With these earphones, I feel like if I could have comfortably threw them into my bag without a case, since the casings of the earphones simply screams excellent quality. However, the cable after the Y section is slightly thinner and suffers from an average amount of microphonic.
In addition to this, the isolation for these earphones are just average. Despite with music playing and the earphones fitted snugly into my ears, I could still hear a reasonable amount background noise from the people talking two or three meters away from it. However, my sensitivity toward the background noise might have came from the fact that I was testing these earphones fresh from Etymotic's earphones, which as we all know, Etymotics are know for their immense isolation properties. So, that's hardly a fair comparison.
02/12/10 Update: I thought I should note that on my second round of trying these earphones out, I find them rather comfortable to wear and easy to fit. However, I do have ears that can have almost anything shoved into them and still get a good isolation.
Sony is known for a lot of sound signatures. From the XB series to the extremely screechy EX700, it is difficult to assume just how will these sound like.
Funnily enough, they end up sounding like the bigger, badder, stronger, faster version of the Audéo Phonak PFE 112/111 to me.
However, for an earphone that easily cost more than the PFE 111/112 several times over, this really doesn't say much.
For the bonus, that is a good thing. Everything that comes from MDR-EX1000 is nice and crisp. It almost does nothing wrong. The treble is good, the mid-range is nice, the highs are alright. The strongest point for these earphones is most definitely the bass and the lower mids, where it is punchy, powerful, strong, delicious, and very, very well controlled.
And I am not even a basshead.
These earphones perform very, very well at any genres where the drums is the most prominent aspect of the music (hip-hop, some raps). I enjoyed my reggae and hip-hop tracks more than I should with these on.
However, you might have noticed I used the word "almost" for EX1000's performance.
As some of Head-Fi's veteran have noted, it is not easy for an earphone to be fast and have a nice decay to its sound. This is exactly where EX1000 falls flat on its face. It's almost too fast for its own good.
When I tried listening to certain scores from games (FLACs from Final Fantasy X Soundtrack and Mass Effect Soundtrack), I found the piano and violin lifeless due to how fast the drivers in EX1000 goes and how the EX1000 dealt with the decay. For me, the presence of the piano and the violin disappeared because listening those instruments through these earphones would cause them to disappear almost as soon as you hear them. The echo of the strings and the ring of the piano keys are almost gone due to this one fault. So, listeners to any genres that heavily features any sort of string instruments and piano should be wary to these earphones.
02/12/10 Update: I just realized I didn't mention just what sound signature does these earphones carried. From what I hear, they are neutral and slightly on the warmer side.
Overall, these earphones are great. If you don't look at the hefty price tag they come with.
Which is a shame, really. These earphones is a really nice all-arounder, in my opinion. They are the type of earphones that you could let almost anyone listen to and they'll bounce on their toes and ask how much these are. However, watch their faces fall when you tell them the price. While the decay might come out as a problem, it actually still performs those instruments quite adequately. It just should have sounded better, judging from that price tag. Or Sony should have lowered the price tag by at least $100.
And this is the problem with the MDR-EX1000, everything good isn't worth the price they slapped on it. Even the bass, which I found absolutely stunning isn't worth the MSRP that I saw, it might just be worth the street price though. This is because the IEM market is becoming a more competitive market by the day. Everything that the MDR-EX1000 does could be done almost better with a cheaper IEM.
You want nice highs and details? ER4S for less than half of its price.
You want nice, strong, powerful, punchy and delicious bass? The Monster Turbine Pros (Gold or Copper) for $50 - 70 cheaper.
And then these is the fact that at $735, you could get very, very nice customs due to companies like Unique Melody and 1964 EARS. Throw out a $100 more, you could get UM's flagship, Miracle.
If the observed street price drops even further (I'd say the quality these earphones puts out is worth around $350), then these earphones would have sealed a nice and sturdy spot for itself.
Alas, that's not meant to be though.
Edited by MaxwellDemon - 4/10/11 at 1:59am