==As the guy who wrote this and who is supposed to leave here,==
==I am begging you NOT TO TURN THE MDR-EX600 INTO AN FOTM==
==If it already is, then PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THE FOTM ANY FURTHER==
==THERE ARE RESPONSIBILITIES THAT I CANNOT TAKE==
==THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH AND HAVE A NICE LIFE==
Before I actually start the "impression" or "review" part, i should tell you that one day or another, you should stop reading reviews, get out, and try the items for yourself. Here in North America we have a perfected 30-day return system so there is basically no risk (well, you lose shipping if you order online). Yes, Firefox, online is a word. Or does it take a hyphen? On-line? Yeah that's better.
Also a thing to note is that I like Sony. Go ahead and interpret that "like" part however you like. Just please keep that in mind.
So please take my impression (and preferably every other review/impression) with an adequate amount of NaCl. If you are unable to do so then I would advise you to leave this right about now. Any further reading is done at your own peril. You have been warned.
The purpose of this review is to spread the knowledge of these hardly-known phones. Any further "purpose" you may come up with is from the incorrect interpretation within yourself. I destroy no data to UK military standards and I do not cover any legal liabilities originated from reading this work. Do not blame me if you flush your money down on this phone and do not like it.
Packaging & accessories
Big heavy paper box. The images are well-printed and immediately makes you feel better about the money you just spent.
The innards... I don't quite understand Sony's approach at this. It sure looks expensive but the packaging isn't as luxurious as, say, the Monster Turbine Pro (although those have about the most prestigious presentation in an IEM I have ever seen). Maybe Sony wanted to transmit the message that is "an instrument of precision" but the overall dark theme plus the round and curvy IEM themselves just... Doesn't mix. Ah well you'll be taking the IEMs out anyway.
Side note: It is quite easy to remove the IEMs from the support packaging. You don't fear breaking the cable just by taking them out.
You will see a dark bar of chocolate. When you open that you are presented with essentially Skittles: Ten freaking pairs of colored (well, just the stems really) earbuds. You get a full range (seven pairs) from extra-small to extra-large (they're all Hybrids), plus three pairs of new "noise isolating" earbuds which are basically the regular Hybrids with a bit of foam tucked into the back-fold.
The phones come with two lengths of cable, 2" and 4". Is good, da? I also find a very beefy extension cable in there though it is not listed as an accessory on the box.
There is a huge leather (yes, it is genuine leather) carrying case with a headphone cable winder inside. This thing is downright ridiculous as you simply cannot pocket it comfortably. Maybe an Altoids tin? Eh.
There is no ¼" adapter nor cable clip. I'd throw in the adapter jack for such phones. But you won't feel ripped-off with what is provided.
Why don't we start bottom-up?
The L-jack is "good". That's about it. It has effective strain relief but feels a bit thin.
Actually the whole cable is thin. I won't say that it's tangle-prone since I use the provided cable winder, but it sure doesn't feel very durable. This is quite a downer.
The Y-split is thin. It is made of hard plastic but the surface has a soft touch to it.
With the IEM itself... Well the flexible ear-hanger might be a tad too soft. It cannot hold its own weight and will deform on itself. I kinda miss the Triple.Fi-10 iron wire.
The main housing is made of a mix of metal and plastic. It feels quite solid but I tell you right now that the large size is a problem. Why? Read on.
The plastic is well-trimmed. Well, it better be. The nozzle part is plastic but it is quite sturdy. Unlike some Shures you don't struggle to get an earbud off anyway so there should be no reason that the nozzle snaps off.
Oh, and did I mention that the cables are replaceable? It is actually a screw-on mechanism so you won't risk the Triple.Fi-10 problem where you can actually destroy the IEMs by pulling out too fast. Cable believers will no doubt appreciate this feature but actually we all do. It is much easier to just replace the cable than shelling out for an entirely new pair of IEMs and restart the burn-in process.
Wait, burn-in you say?
Fit & comfort
If this is the first time that you wear IEMs, you're in trouble.
The ear-hanger can get very much in the way. You really should bend it into a vaguely ear-like shape, hang it on your ear-lobe then push the body in. Luckily the tapered Hybrids (bullet-shaped) glide in quite easily.
They don't feel secure. You cannot really tighten the hangers due to the incredible weakness of the wires in there. What to do is try to pull the hangers down and raise the cable cinch all the way to your chin. But anyway, no worries: They don't fall off. Period.
The comfort part is actually quite darn good. It doesn't feel heavy at all. Maybe Sony really had a thing about its vertical-driver arrangement. The Hybrids are also supremely comfortable: If I don't tighten the cinch, I don't feel IEMs at all.
Uh... A downer here. Isolation is a Greek tragedy. They have about the worst isolation I have heard in an IEM. And the special noise-isolating earbuds don't help a bit but maybe that's due to the fact that I use the extra-large earbuds. A good thing is that you can carefully pull the ring of foam off from the special buds and put them on your regular Hybrids. The bad thing is that doing to may adversely affect the sound (well, in my case it does).
Due to the large size, they stick out from the ears quite a bit. And this is where the aforementioned problem comes in: Wind noise. A lot of it. No, you don't feel the wind tugging on the IEMs but there is significant noise. This noise is much louder than your music. If you ride a convertible you're in trouble.
Ahhh yes. The important part.
Source: Sony PCM-D50 playing 320kbps LAME MP3, encoded from WAV or FLAC lossless using dBpoweramp, Slow setting, no DSP.
I came from the JVC HA-FXC80, a dark, laid-back and very bass-heavy IEM on this setup. If you're converting from such a phone, you're in trouble.
Glaring highs. I mean glaring. Ever stared into the sun? Now imagine that being replaced by the sound of a glass shattering, amplified many times and funneled into your ear-canals. That much glaring.
What happens is that this will prevent you from enjoying the mids and everything below. But you need to let your head adjust to this new sound. So decrease volume and keep listening.
The EX600 has Multi-Layer diaphragm technology. Trust me: they take burning-in. I played white noise for about and hour and re-listened.
OK, here's the important thing. When you find the correct size of earbuds, shove them in your ears. HARD. Until the round part hits the canal opening. Now you're wearing them right.
First, decreased treble. It still glares a little bit, plus a bit of sibilance here and there, but it is actually enjoyable transparency rather than breaking glass. It soars. There is a little bit of reverberation but it is very enjoyable: when your singer is pulling a high note, what you "see" is a valley. This is the feeling of air that I have not had in any other phone, not even the DT880. The mids, well, vocals can sound a bit muffled. But is sure is close and involving. There is also a bit of "background reverb" to it: Nelly Furtado sounds as if she's singing live. It feels like a concert hall with excellent instrument separation, positioning and dimensionality. Blue Rondo à la Turk has never sounded so real with such a convincing sound-stage. But the general "field" of the EX600 is hemispherical. There is nothing behind your ears. This actually further enforces the concert-hall feeling as why would you want to hear other people behind you? The "borders" of this hemisphere are very much not abrupt. They extend off smoothly.
There is not much bass with the EX600. There is proper depth and dive but there isn't much in terms of quantity. Impact is present, but very light. This will get better as my head gets used to this new sound.
There is also a lot of detail. Not the most that I've heard, but at this price they're darn good. It can get better, but it won't be very much better. Besides, you'll be grabbed by the live feeling and immersion.
So what's the overall sound? A more transparent SE530. There.
I personally believe that they're very much worth it. I have not had this live feeling in any other IEM, not even the twice-as-expensive Turbine Pro-Coppers. They can be warm if you have a good source with a tunable EQ on it. If you have a Walkman as source, you should very much enjoy the EX600 with Clear Bass at +1.
I rate them Supreme EXcellence. Incredible live feeling and sound-stage. It's just freaking incredible. It doesn't sound "open". It sound like you're in a concert hall.
People say that the EX1000 has EXcellent bass. Well, I don't know that. The EX600 might not be a stromboni but they're definitely like the Avenger is to the Charger (or the Copperhead is to the Viper). What I have understood over the years is that in the same series, having a higher model number and a higher pricetag does not translate into better sound. Maybe the EX1000 is just tuned differently. I don't see how the EX600 can get any better other than shaving off a tiny bit of highs and throw in a bit of more detail. Maybe that's what the EX1000 does but at more than twice the price, heck no. But whatever. Find the Sony Style near you and give them a try.
Edited by 3602 - 7/27/11 at 8:53pm