Nah, Q701 with the foams removed is just as good as my K701.
The discovery thread.! NEW DannyBai's take on the new Yamaha EPH M200 PG 1769!! - Page 1789
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- 6,090 Posts. Joined 12/2008
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OK, I have thrown my glove into the ring. Here is my review of the Z7 posted in the Head Gear Section
Pros: Warm signature that is designed to allow the listener to experience mouder musical grandeur without ear fatigue
Cons: At lower volumes the lower treble energy and increased bass creates a sound that can lack some dynamics and detail.
OK, before I get into my review of the MDR-Z7 I feel a need to give some background and history of my time on head-fi. It might help make sense of my love of this headphone and why at the same time I am going against the sonic grain of some of my recent reviews and general mid/treble centric preferences.
When I started out on Head-fi I was the proud owner of the original Bose Triport earphones and thought they were pretty good until I started to read about sound and realized I wanted something more. I then started down my low-mid-fi days of trying to find something cheap that would meet my desires. Interspersed among this lower end gear was the occasional splash into what I thought was higher end gear such as the original Monster Turbine IEM's.
After several IEM's I started to check out headphones versus IEM's and have bounced back and forth between these to areas since. My first full size big phone was the venerable ATH-AD700 which was a revelation of what a headphone could do in regards to a larger sound stage, I was so impressed a gave away my AD700 to my Mother and bought the AD900 figuring it would be step up. The AD900 introduced me to my love hate relationship with mid-range/treble centric headphones. I then bought the Sennheiser HD600 and loved that signature as well. Then I got a great deal on a pair of Denon D7000 which opened my second love love of quality bass and sparkly treble. But in the end I sold all 3 of these headphones as I just could find something I was in love with sonically. The AD900 was to strident and thin sounding, the HD600 was to balanced, and the D7000 to V shaped. I then went through a round of Shure headphones buying the 940, 1440, and 1540, all ended up being sold as I again found issues with the signature and or the build and comfort of each. So my search continued. During this search I went back to my IEM roots and tried a few more IEM's including the XBA-H1/H3 both which ended up being traded or sold as again I found myself not satisfied with the signature of each IEM. I also snuck an AKG K550 in the mix and ended up reviewing the new K545 (which I still own and love, it is V shaped but has enough upper mids that I find it very good for a portion of my music). I then bought and modded a pair of Q701 which I also love and still own. After an afternoon of testing the Sony MDR 7520 and AKG K712 Pro I ended up ordering a pair of the K712 Pro and even declared them best for my mid/treble love as I would not sacrifice those areas for bass.
Then something strange happened. I won an RHA contest to review their new flagship IEM the T10i. When the T10i arrived my initial impression was these are fun, but WAY TO BASSY! But I ws determined to give them a proper chance before I wrote up my review. So I started burning them in nightly and put away my other IEM's and just used the T10i. After a week of using the T10i suddenly my other IEM's and headphones were starting to sound thin and fatiguing (to be honest my K712 caused ear fatigue when got them even though I loved their mid-range and treble detail). After another week I was starting to use the T10i a lot and preferred it's relaxed sound for longer listening sessions.
Meanwhile I was reading and trying to ignore all the Sony MDR Z7/Z5 talk, but I would be lying if I didn't say I was intrigued... I then bought a pair of MDR10RBT to test out blue tooth technology to see how it had improved and suddenly found myself splitting all my head time between the T10i and the MDR10RBT (the MDR10RBT are now my permanent winter muffs LOL).
But my intrigue regarding the MDR Zx products wouldn't go away and was whetted by my MDR10R. So when I found out the local Sony stores were carrying the Z7 I knew I had to have a listen. My first taste ended up being an A/B session between my MDR10R and the Z7 through the new PHA3. I could tell there was a ton more space and size in the Z7 and big improvements in all sonic areas. I left the store impressed but unconvinced because I wasn't sure if it was the headphone or the better DAC/Amp. So I went back to another store and tried nothing but my LG G3 as a source. 45 minutes later I reluctantly left the store with the Z7 in hand and a football in my gut because I had just laid out $700+ dollars!
So 3 weeks into using the Z7, here I am writing this review. In case you haven't guessed, I LIKE THE Z7 A LOT!
So now begins the hard part, how do I write an unbiased review???
Simple, I am going to spend a paragraph and discuss the sonic qualities of the Z7 and explain who in my opinion should look at it and who will likely want to take a pass based off those sonic qualities. Then from there I get to just talk about why I love this headphone without fear of upsetting anyone .
The general description of the Z7 signature is big, bass-y, and relaxed without sacrificing the mid-range and treble... sort of . By this I mean the mid-range is clear and detailed but warm and the treble is clear but not as detailed and airy as other headphones like the K712 or the Beyerdynamic T1, especially at lower volume levels. So if you want neutral or you want mid/treble centric sound then simply move on as the Z7 won't fit those needs. Also the sound stage while nice and big and decently accurate for a closed headphone will simply not keep up with a good open headphone.
So is that it then, is the Z7 a lost cause????
Once you get past the basic description of the sound signature and delve into what makes this headphone tick then things get interesting. In my opinion the very things that will give many head-fi'ers cause to pause ultimately may be why they should consider this headphone as second option and for many quite possibly their main headphone.
Each headphone manufacturer should hopefully have a goal in mind when they make a headphone and hopefully that goal isn't to simply make money. In the case of the Z7 I think Sony wanted to make something with a BIG EXPERIENCE but without sacrificing the music in the process. For me when I think BIG EXPERIENCE I think concerts, block buster movies, live orchestra's, followed by intimate Jazz sessions where you can feel the music pulsating with life. In my opinion one aspect of all these venues is the music or sound track has to be louder than what we listen to most of the time. So how does one create a headphone that achieves these qualities without making people go deaf?
The Z7 attempts this balancing act by going deep for the bass and uses air flow versus raw impact and punch. This allows the Z7 to present bass in a way that doesn't simply get louder as you turn up the volume. Instead of just getting louder is starts to show detail an nuance. Similarly the mid-range which is slightly warmer can be listened to out a louder volume and like the bass shows more my detail as the volume goes up. Treble on the other hand can't scale the same way as the bass and warmer mid-range so Sony dampened the treble so as the volume was increased the treble would gain clarity to match the bass and mid-range at it's optimal moderate to loud volume level. In my opinion at moderate to loud levels Sony has NAILED this signature. I can listen for hours being completely immersed in my music and loving the grandeur of it all and then simply remove the headphone with ZERO ear fatigue. Further more when I want to just relax or focus on some task with music in the background, I can turn the volume down and get a less dynamic but still enjoyable level of music. The only thing I can not accomplish with the Z7 is a low volume listening session with tons of detail and dynamics. But that is where my SECONDARY headphones will come in...
So in case you didn't catch that, my "better technical" headphones have been relegated to second fiddle! For years I worked hard to convince myself to listen at low volumes only and use extremely technical oriented IEM's or headphones to allow me to dissect my music. The problem with that approach was that I lost what was most important to me, AWE AND GRANDEUR! I fell in love with music because it moved me and for good or bad volume played a roll in that process. Music moved me because it quite often MOVED ME!
On top of all this Sony has made one of the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn. It just simply disappears when I put it on. The pads are soft and enveloping without being super hot (I am sitting in my hot stuffy computer office as I type this and the headphones have not bothered me for the past hour plus I have been typing). Plus they are flawlessly designed and manufactured including a masterfully designed cable and connection system.
Sure I would rather have had a case included, maybe an extra set of earpads. Heck I would have been ecstatic if these had been priced at the $500 price point! But regardless of these missing niceties or wishful lower pricing I do think the Z7 earns it's keep if barely.
One final discussion I think is important. There was / is lots of talk about this headphone as it compares to past Sony masterpieces. I think this is immensely unfair to the Z7. Sony had a goal for each headphone they have made. Please focus on their goal for this headphone instead of wishing they would just make a new Mona Lisa 2.0!
I am going to go against tradition in how I usually score a headphone breaking it down into general areas like bass, midrange, treble, and sound stage, instead I am going to give a few song impressions:
Babel by Mumford and Sons - The bass in the song is thicker and slower than the a headphone like the Q701 but enjoyable as the speed is not so off that it becomes to slow. Vocals are slightly heavy / warm in a way that is more meatier. There is a drop off in detail in the upper registers as compared to a headphone like the Q701 but I get a similar sense of immediacy as different areas are accented on the Z7. I would say the Z7 is more intimate sounding than a mid/treble centric headphone as the vocals sound slightly closer and as mentioned, warmer.
Your my Thrill by Diana Krall - At the beginning of the song the piano sounds thick and weighty and when the bass kicks in there is a nice heavy note that is detailed and full of decay. When Diana's voice starts she sounds very sultry and very close. You can hear the drum kit but cymbals are not very prominent acting more as an accompaniment rather than taking center stage. The over all sense is that your watching Diana play in a small intimate club that is warm and inviting.
Anvil of Crom by Basil Poledouris - from Conan the Barbarian - The kettle drums have a nice full sound and the brass also sounds full and vibrant. The cymbals in the background actually sound very clean and have great articulation but loose some of the shimmer and airiness as compared to a neutral or mid/treble centric headphone. The violins are slightly dark and not quite ethereal but blend very well in the over all soundscape being presented. The instrument separation is clean but is done by a reduction in shimmer of instruments like the cymbals. The sound is what I would expect to hear at the movies. Given that this is a movie sound track I feel the Z7 offers a faithful reproduction of the sound intended.
Symphony No 3 by Arvo Part - The cellos at the beginning of the track I am using sound very full and thick. The sense of sound stage is enveloping as the different cellos and later instruments join the music. Brass instruments sound exceptionally poignant. I feel completely surrounded while the song plays and can feel the emotion and atmosphere of the music completely. The song hits a very heavy dark section that is simply so well done it sweeps me away. Then violins kick in and they are vibrant and clear. Small bells are played 3/4 of the way through the song and are again clear and poignant, followed by a minimalist violin section that is clear followed by a wonderful brass section that is restrained and poignant before descending into a deep kettle drum bass filled crescendo that is simply awe inspiring. When this song ended the next Arvo Part song "I am the True Vine" kicked in and the voices were so vibrant and couldn't help but listen as they sing... This song clearly shows how a well designed bass oriented headphone can completely transform a song into an experience versus just listening to a song.
Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd - The initial bass and synthesizers sound amazing with good pop to the drums and organ like for the synthesizers. There is a wonderful 3D aura throughout the song with the vocals being perfectly placed. The drum kit is detailed but never more than accompaniment to the song. The guitar solo is relaxed and clean but not so relaxed as to be boring, it carries you down the song pulling you into the feeling of the song. Little details like the pin prick are wonderfully articulated.
Money by Pink Floyd - The cash registers at the beginning of the song sound great and never harsh. The bass guitar kick in and sound very full and wonderfully present, when the drums kick in they have a nice kick to them and the cymbals sound clear but never bright always acting as just an accompaniment. The vocals again are weighty and perfectly placed in the song. Guitars and saxaphone have vibrancy and clarity. The songs is simply immersive surrounding you as it plays out, again with a wonderful 3D sound field.
Lullaby - by Loreena McKennit - The start of the song with the thunder is very compelling and larger than life. Loreena's voice sounds very ethereal and full. All the accompanying instruments sound poignant and clear. When the male actor starts to give his speech his voice is full and very powerful while Loreena's singing in the background never looses it's ethereal qualities. The song feels like an experience versus just music.
In my overall score I am giving this headphone a 5 because I feel it is simply awe inspiring when used at moderate volume levels. But I have knocked it's value down to about a 4 and it's overall audio quality to about 4.5 as I do think it's price is at the extreme edge of what is acceptable and there is a trade off in sound quality at lower volumes from an audiophile perspective.
- 38 Posts. Joined 5/2013
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Monoprice inverted driver (item #s:12235-12238): ~$14. Comes in 4 colors
Thanks to dsnuts, I think most of us know about the Monprice 8320 (as well as its adjacent models) and its status here. So, could their brand new offering out do the "legend"?
These intrigued me because of the inverted driver technology. The dynamic driver faces out away from the ear and sound reflects off an acoustic baffle, then back to the ear for a "natural" sound. Sounds like a gimmick right? (Bose Acoustimass anyone?). It's not groundbreaking technology, there are a few other companies offering backwards drivers and even Sony does a "parallel" driver arrangement on their hybrids and ex series. Another interesting note: they look like a rebranded Zagg ZR-Six, which sells for $60! So, for about a fifth of that cost, I had to see what they were all about... And I was floored!
Let's get right to the sound!
First listen, straight out of iPhone 6 Plus:
Wow, nice wide stage, good placement, decent separation. Definitely enhanced bass, but I am glad that it seems to be more sub bass. Man, it reaches deep too; awesome for Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack and Hans Zimmer's Dark Knight Rises score! Very nice impact and rumble. The orchestra arrangements are wide and clear, the horns have bite, the synthesizers have some edge... Ya know, this is reminding me of my Kef m200 (will compare later).
After a few listens:
Bass is elevated, powerful, yet still decent quality. Not the quickest, maybe a little bleed into lower mids, but not much honestly. It is more subwoofer type bass, low and thunderous when called for. It still presents detail like slaps and plucks from bass strings, and a bassoon sounds great.
Mids are not scooped out! Actually right up front and clear. Vocals are very nice, not distant or back at all. Electric guitars have good tone, attack, crunch, chug, etc... Snare hits have a nice crack when called for, and still enough detail for brushes and "fatter" sounding snares. As mentioned before, horns have a little bite to them, strings sound pretty good too. Not a ton of detail, but way more than a sub $15 earphone should have!
Highs are clear, a touch of sparkle, missing some air, but really no complaining at this price. Cymbals have a nice shimmer, high hats have some sizzle. Non fatiguing, no unpleasant spikes or harshness present.
Wide stage! Not very deep, but has decent height and good separation.
Fit is quite amazing! Just using the included medium tips, they just pop in and "melt" away. They also include a small and a large pair for your basic tip set. The housings are very light too, which contributes to a virtually perfect fit for my ears. The only reason they become noticeable is due to the horrible microphonics; they transfer a lot of energy to the housings. Wearing them over ear helps with this quite a bit, and if you can find a spare shirt clip somewhere, that should pretty much eliminate the problem.
Now, the isolation on these are spectacular! I barely heard the loud television in the same room. This is gonna be a huge win for me, as I plan on using these while cutting grass and plowing snow. These are also very immersive for gaming. That visceral bass along with the great isolation make for some intense gaming sessions.
The cable is flat, thin, and does seem cheap to me. I do like the right angle connector and it is gold plated. Mic/remote works fine, good location, and has a nice click. It lacks a volume control, is not robust, but this is not a big concern for me.
Overall, the MP Inverts are a winner! Now, I do not own some of the budget heros from Sony, Havi, Ostry, or JVC, but I can offer a few notes:
- they destroy the Apple earpods that are included with iPhones
- they trump the Monoprice 8320 in mostly every way (but cost a few bucks more too). The bass will be a bit much for some, but no graininess in the upper mids/lower treble . The fit is no contest, a known weakness of the 8320.
- Klipsch s4i is a good fight, but these win again. Better bass, and no treble spike or sibilance that the s4 occasionally presents.
- Sennheiser cx300 (first model) is a good fight too, but there is better clarity and a wider stage on the MP inverts. There is more mid presence as well as top end, so they win here for me.
I think a nice way to describe these are a budget Kef m200. The MP inverts do have a much better fit, but thats the only win it will get. The m200 presents a better overall refinement from top to bottom, but these do a great impression of the Kef. So, I think these are a stellar bargain! They could be a great starter for one's headfi journey, a nice backup, or an awesome "beater" set, which is what I am slotting them for. Try them out and get inverted!
- 402 Posts. Joined 2/2014
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- 3,623 Posts. Joined 2/2011
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Ahh nice. Reasonable price also.
I got those reverse firing Elecom Esfera things I posted about earlier in here, fantastic stuff I ordered a spare. Also have the other two= their GrandBass Series models incoming. Both have the dual chambers I think and also the extra front keeper magnets. One is a 15.4 mm driver...
There will likely be other impressions on the Esfera soonish.
- 21 Posts. Joined 3/2013
- Location: Suwon, Korea
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The new Monoprice shares same inverted driver technology and same housing shape with some Korean Xacarero's earphones from 2012-2013.
Check it out: http://www.xacarero.co.kr/front/php/product.php?product_no=16&main_cate_no=52&display_group=1
Actually, I posted my quick impression for some models of Xacarero IEM that used inverted driver and sound pipe previously, and it was not so interesting.
But after purchased 1 more PS-30N together with PS-20N, BS-40 and checked very carefully at home, their sound turned out better feeling.
- 4,124 Posts. Joined 7/2013
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Ahaha i was 1st and foremost a slickdealer then a head-fier.
So that deal was too good for me to pass up. : P
Never tried Sennis cans befo' so....
Will see how they are. : )