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Sony MDR-MA900: Initial Impressions

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Recently, I went to a local Sony store to listen to the Sony MDR-MA900 headphones. In a noisy environment, it sounded good, I thought. I decided to purchase the pair and try it with my own personal setup (see my signature for my setup).

I had never owned a pair of Sony headphones before, so I didn't know what to expect on its packaging. Inside and outside, the packaging was all made out of cardboard. Inside the box, there was the headphones, small booklet, and an 1/8" to 1/4" adapter. After opening, I burned in for 12 hours. I would put more time in burning in, but I didn't have much time to do this.

The headphones was very lightweight. For a pair that was made out of plastic, it did not break easily as I stretched the headphones sideways. I have a very small head, but I am sure it will fit for a person with a very big head. As I put it on, it felt comfortable. The headphones was so lightweight that it felt as though I didn't put it on at all. I tried shaking up, down, left, and right. The headphones didn't fall off my head.

I listened to several genres: pop, electronica, hip hop, and classical. I was very disappointed in the highs for each genre. It was so dull that it was lifeless.

My impression for the mids was just as bad as the highs. I couldn't find any piece of music that would satisfy me in the mids. My DAC makes some headphones aggressive-sounding in the mids. The MDR-MA900, however, just could not make mids sound extraordinary. Most vocals are in the mids. I love listening to both male and female singers. Interestingly enough, they sounded like they were behind the bands. It was like they weren't putting any energy in their voices.

Even though I was disappointed in the highs and mids, I was at least glad to say that the bass is tight, crisp, and clean. As a basshead, I enjoyed listening to the tight "oomphs" in the bass guitar. As I also listened to 2Cellos "Smooth Criminal," their pacing is not draggy; the cellos sang without losing its rhythm.

I was am very surprised that for an open headphones like Sony MDR-MA900, its soundstage was worse than some closed headphones like ATH-A900. I did not hear much distance between instruments. The instruments were practically close to my ears. I don't understand why the headphones are open-back. Even when I used my DAC (known for its soundstage signature) and my amp, the soundstage was way below my expectations.

There are many headphones for street price $200-$250. I am not a big fan of ATH-A900 headphones. If I were to pick my poison, I would rather take my friend's ATH-A900. For a pair of somewhat neutral-sounding headphones with features like 70mm drivers and open-back, Sony did not put much effort in making this pair of headphones sing. The only feature I was impressed with was its bass. Sony did a decent job angling the bass, but this did not compensate for other several weaknesses. I had listened to several Sony headphones like MDR-SA 5000 in the past, but the MDR-MA900 didn't sound as great as its previous generation headphones or the generation before. I thought about factors like extended burn-in and recabling, but I think this MA900 can do only so much. If a basshead wants to look for a pair of headphones without sounding euphonic, this pair of headphones could potentially be the one. If someone doesn't want to bother with getting a dedicated DAC/amp to drive this headphones, this could also be the one. Recabling is highly recommended. However, I am sure headphones like open-back Sennheiser HD555/HD595 and any closed-back Ultrasone Pro series headphones are much more worth the investment (recabled or not).
Edited by gzone3lement - 4/23/12 at 1:26am
post #2 of 14

That is erm, very underwhelming and unexpected after reading the whole MA900 thread :(


So you prefer the SA series over this MA900?

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

When I first heard of the MA-900's release, I was excited because I rarely had seen a pair of 70mm drivers in headphones.


Overall, I prefer SA-5000 over MA900. Compared to the SA5000, MA900 excels in bass. However, SA-5000 is better in everything else.

post #4 of 14

Wow....that's a flop.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by gzone3lement View Post

When I first heard of the MA-900's release, I was excited because I rarely had seen a pair of 70mm drivers in headphones.


Overall, I prefer SA-5000 over MA900. Compared to the SA5000, MA900 excels in bass. However, SA-5000 is better in everything else.


I suppose if someone does not want to bother with getting a dedicated DAC/amp for headphones, the MA900 can potentially work out better than the SA5000.

Edited by gzone3lement - 4/23/12 at 1:26am
post #6 of 14

Well they're labelled as multimedia, so I would expect them to do really well in movies :P

post #7 of 14

I hope more can chime in and 100% disagree with what you concluded, and tell me the MA900 is an absolute upgrade of the SA5000 and the F1, and the 010 and then R10 and...


Tell me all the hype was real.



Still waiting for more impressions. OP do you have the SA5k side by side for comparisons, in case your preference of sound has changed

post #8 of 14

So the shell is made mainly of plastic, not some magnesium-aluminum alloy?


What is your reference 'phones for this level? Obviously the HD800's are bit of s tretch here... Also, did you try them straight out of a dac? Do you have another amp besides the Phonitor? I remeber that from the Auditor, The F1's sounded pretty unremarable to me and were overly warm and pretty closed-in, yeah. That was before i had removed the impredance circuit as well.


I also find your recommeded alternatives besides the A900's rather strange tbh, The HD595 imo is a pathetic mid-fi option, at least when it was sold new. They sound like toys comapred to the F1. And Ultrasone...? come'on, were older that that don't we :)


Edited by Amarphael - 4/23/12 at 10:41am
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

I won't be able to write more about the MA900 since I returned them.


I only have HD800 and D7000 has my primary reference. I did use my friend's ATH-A900 and my other friend's DT880 as a side-by-side comparison. Unfortunately, I don't have other Sony headphones to compare with. However, I did remember its sound, like SA5000, CD3000, and R10, from previous audio meets. I do recognize that I am being very harsh on this impressions, but I really cannot find many strengths in this pair.


As a person who usually likes euphonic or warm sound, I prefer HD595 over HD650.


I only used the SPL Phonitor as my amp and my iPhone when I checked out the MA900.


If someone else has a pair of MA900 and spend more time than I had, I would greatly appreciate it if someone can tell me how it sounds.

post #10 of 14

How long have you listened using the MA900? From what I'm getting from your write up, you could have owned it at least 13 hours, since you did some burn in. And from that I kind of get that you've listened to it less than the amount you burned it in. Whatever the case, IMO the time frame is too short to give a good impression. Again, IMHO. I'm not saying you're wrong, maybe you need more listening time to get used to it first to give a more concrete first impressions. 


Maybe coming straight after using the HD800 made it sound too dull?

Edited by jgray91 - 4/23/12 at 11:49am
post #11 of 14

I'm thinking you need more time with it, but you already returned it.

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

I listened to MA900 about 2 hours, so I definitely had spent less time in listening than in burning in the headphones.


I did make sure to listen to HD800 and the MA900 back and forth. I also made sure to ask my friend (the ATH-A900 owner) what he thought before I comment on anything, but we both agree on nearly everything. The only part we disagreed on was the snare drums, but it could be that we have different preferences in this particular sound.


post #13 of 14

You used the SPL Phonitor with the MA900? That is an amp meant for 300 - 600 ohm headphones. Would drive headphones like the HD800 and T1 extremely well. The MA900 is 12 ohm.

I am interested in the MA900 but have yet to try it. Thanks for the impressions.

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

I didn't like the MA900 very much, but it could most likely be because I did not spend as much time on it. When others tried it for a longer run, they definitely see more positive feedback than I did.

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