A few months ago I started to notice that the old Sony V-150s had disappeared from store shelves and were being replaced by these headphones and a slightly less expensive version of them, the MDRZX100s. To me these seem to be a modernized form of the old V150s and V300s.
I tried out the MDRZX100s at their display, and I wasn't terribly impressed. However I do have to say that the sound is immediately better than the older V150s. They were much clearer and more balanced. However, the sound was rather weak and overly airy sounding. It seemed that while the balance was solid (although I perceived the mids to be somewhat recessed), there just wasn't much substance to the sound. However, for their price of $19, the sound was rather good. Compared to the V150s (overly bassy, very muddy, unclear sound, had a very dark "veil"), these are a large improvement.
However, I caught a glimpse of the slightly more expensive ZX300s ($25). They are nearly identical save for the fact that the outside of the ear cup housing is glossy and textured. The box also mentions some differences in their specifications, such as the 300s have a sensitivity of 102 db (the others are rated at 100) and a larger sound frequency response.
Off of impulse (and due to the fact that I returned my Bose AE2s...I liked them but I felt I couldn't justify the price), I bought these. I have been expecting to dislike them enough to warrant returning them.
However, I think I'll keep them.
The sound is surprisingly good. I would even go as far as to say that they sound on par with the bose, if not a little better due to a more full and natural sound spectrum (which is rather sad for the Bose considering they are several times more expensive).
The sound is not completely unlike their less expensive ZX100 bretheren. However the major difference is that the sound seems to have quite a bit more power behind it. The sound is not nearly as "Weak and overly airy". The bass is very full and clear (ie not terribly bloated), the mids are crystal clear, as are the highs. The mid ranges are much improved with these over the cheaper set. I will say that another major difference between these and the less expensive set is that the bass is emphasized a bit more. I actually like this, as the bass is powerful but not at all overwhelming. These would probably not have a completely flat frequency response graph, but my impressions is that I can hear every range rather well with great instrument separation and good detail. Vocals are the most impressive aspect of these. Voices sound very distinct and realistic.
They are fairly bright sounding out of box, and I can still tell that I'm not listening to a several hundred dollar pair of headphones, but the sound is very nice for the price. Very, VERY nice, in fact. I did side by side comparisons with my PX 200s, and I have to say that the sound of the ZX300s is immediately more engaging and full (but probably not quite as accurate...the sonys have about twice the amount of bass). The soundstage is surprisingly good. There is some of that "airy" quality you get with a wide sound stage. Instrument placement is great, better than most headphones I have owned. Last but not least, these DO NOT need amplification. They are incredibly loud if you want them to be, even on a small little MP3 player. Despite their relatively low sensitivity (102 db...I've seen em go up to 120), they are very powerful and efficient headphones.
The comfort is decent. They aren't as comfortable as my PX 200s or other phones I haves, such as my porta pros (and actually the Bose I just returned are much more comfortable). However, I have been wearing them for over an hour with only a very slight discomfort/soreness in the ears. The ear pads are very soft, which helps. The reason why they may be a little uncomfortable is that the headband clamps a bit.
They don't really isolate much. They do isolate a little bit, and the sound does very well in noisy areas because of the closed design, but don't expect much passive noise cancellation.
They are entirely plastic. The plastic seems pretty sturdy, but the set is lightweight and has a bit of a flimsy feel to it. This is probably a large part of why they don't cost much for their sound. I don't think they are overly fragile, but they don't strike me as being as rugged as my PX200s. The plastic itself seems high quality, and the overall look is sleek and minimalist without looking cheap. The cord is double sided. The cord seems very reinforced and it's a bit thick, which makes it seem more rugged. The connector jack is also a plus; it's an L shaped jack, not just a straight one.
You all should go out and try them! In fact in that link I provided you can get them for a little over 18 dollars. I personally feel that this is a steal. DO IT! :)
EDIT: I've been noticing that the more you wear them, the less strenuous the headband becomes.
Edited by swaffleman - 9/10/12 at 11:07pm