I needed another pair of IEMs like a hole in the head, but the 7550s intrigued me. My current portable 'phones are the MDR-NC300D. Yeah, I know ... but on a plane, they work really well. And they actually sound decent all things considered. I'm not doing critical listening on a plane. For a long time I was using the Sennheiser IE8s (which I liked, but didn't grow to love), the MDR-EX700 (very medicore once I gave it time - I like the NC300D much better than 'em), as well as the FAD FI-DC1601SB. Now, I still like the 1601s, but they are impractical for being on the road for many reasons.
The MDR-7550 is the US-branded version of the MDR-EX800ST from Japan(reviews here and here). They're the same headphones, and are also made in Japan so they're the same thing, just rebranded. The EX800ST has had a few reviews here as well.
I'm also a musician, so I do a appreciate an accurate presentation but not *too* clinical. I kinda wanted a set of IEMs I could use in different situations, including the studio or on the road as just a headphone/IEM. I figured what the heck and ordered a pair. Tonight was the first time I had a chance to audition them briefly.
1. They seem to be a bit harder to drive than my FADs. Just switching between the two on my laptop, the FADs were louder at the same volume level.
2. In terms of balance and overall sound, the 7550 is a winner. I was comparing some stuff I recorded in the studio and you can hear everything cleanly. There's not too much top nor too much bottom and it sounds a lot like sitting in the control room and listening via monitors. It's not a presentation everyone will love, though. They're not ER4 clinical at all (I had two pairs of the Etymotics a few years back - I lost one pair, hence two). The 7550s are musical to my ears.
3. It's not bass light; it's accurate bass. It's not goosed. I know my bass sound (that's what I play), and these IEMs capture it well. A little bit more lower bass wouldn't be bad to have, but I can live with what the 7550s produce.
4. The FADs sound cluttered compared to the 7550s, especially in the more midrange/upper bass. In listening to some stuff of mine that has trombone and baritone sax, it's veiled and a bit claustrophobic in comparison. The 7550 handles it all nicely. That's not to say the FADs sound bad, but not what I want to hear.
5. I also had a pair of custom IEMs, and I find these to be honest more comfortable and prefer the sound. Those died on me, and for half the price, these are a great bargain.
6. The cable may be long, but every time I move, I don't hear it whereas on other IEMs, if the cable brushes up against anything, you hear it.
7. The FADs have a little bigger soundstage, but not necessarily a better one. I do like it's "bigness" (for lack of a better term), but prefer the sound quality of the 7550. These are supposed to be monitors, so I wouldn't expect the soundstage of the FADs.
8. I'm not noticing any sibilance. I like the top end on the 7550. It's not in your face or goosed as far as I can tell.
MOre as I listen, but out of the box, I'm pleased. It'll be interesting to compare them to the NC300Ds which I'll do on an upcoming business trip.