Interesting sound from the MDR-1R.
- The 1R had more bass punch than the M-100 which made some electronic music more enjoyable to listen to, but it seemed a bit too big in presentation, more so than the M-100.
- The 1R also has a very forward midrange which made midrange-based music somewhat enjoyable to listen to, more so than the M-100, but might actually be too forward even for my tastes (more on this later).
- The treble also seemed smoother than that of the M-100 but somewhat metallic-sounding. The M-100 has more sparkle, but like I mentioned in my review, this "lower-treble" might get fatiguing. The 1R's treble reminded me of the UE6000's treble but with more detail and excitement
- The soundstage of the 1R seemed smaller in all dimension to me compared to the M-100 and really lacked in instrument separation (more on this later).
- Build-quality wasn't too bad even though there were plastic parts all over the design. They fold flat, which would be easier to slip in a bag than the "ball" the M-100's fold-in to.
- Comfort-wise, there's no comparison. The 1R's are lighter, the earcups are deeper, the earpads are softer, and the clamping force is just right (not too loose, not too tight). When I turned-off the music, I almost forgot there were headphones on my head.
I don't know if it's because I have been spoiled by the SRH940 and M-100, but I really think the $300 headphone market is getting filled with a bunch of "meh" headphones. Next to the 1R, the mids of the M-100 are evidently lacking in presentation (laid-back), but in timbre, as I keep saying, the M-100's are quite good. The 1R's mids aren't bad per se, but the metallic-sounding treble kind of crept into the mids and made female vocals a bit metallic-sounding too. The very forward midrange of the 1R is really great for instrumental music and rock, but I found the vocals way too forward for me. The SRH940's vocals, even though they are quite forward, never really bothered me; the 1R did and it sounded just weird to me. Likewise for the instrument separation, the instrument separation of a lot of $300 headphones is pretty "meh". The 1R was OK, but it sounded like a typical closed-back headphone; the M-100, as I keep bringing up, has really good instrument separation, and the SRH940 the most (SRH940 still amazes me with its soundstage and instrument separation for a closed-back headphone).
For the original $300 price tag, I think the M-100 would be a better choice for overall sound. I'll need to read through some of the MDR-1R posts to see why people like it and why Jude says it's his #1 portable reference headphone. XD
Disclaimer: these impressions are from about 20 minutes of listening. It was awkward when one of the Sony Store employees came up to me and asked if I needed any help since I was awkwardly standing in the corner with my own gear staring at nothing while listening to the MDR-1R's.
My rig: iPhone 4S -> FiiO L3 -> FiiO E12 -> MDR-1R
I might have to give the 1R another listen with my C5 as it's my current reference portable headphone amplifier. I just happened to be in the area checking out the Microsoft and Apple Stores nearby and I decided to see how the E12 fares for a portable amplifier.....yeah I think I'll stick to the C5 for those purposes.
This is the regular MDR-1R with no fancy active noise cancelling nor green-tooth wireless technologies.
Edited by miceblue - 4/19/13 at 11:38pm