Originally Posted by facilitator
does anyone have any idea on the history of these headphones .. I would like to dig up some graves! if at all you do get some spare time please help into creating a small dedicated thread to these cans that have solved all my cravings for a 'great' headphone without bursting my wallet .. im pretty sure i wont be bit again by the 'upgrade' bug atleast not till im old..
My understanding of their history is that they were Sony's next attempt at a flagship, post biocellulose drivers, once they started to get into synthetic composites (and they are kind of the "grandfather" of all current Sony driver designs in that respect). The MDR-F1 came about sometime in the early 1990s (I've heard 1996 and 1997 variously - I can reliably say 1998), but afiak weren't intended to be a "flagship" headphone (the marketing materials seem to agree with that - the F1 were more in that "weird random stuff they end up selling" category, like the PFR-V1 or MDR-Z1000). The SA5000 came about in 2001 (according to Amazon; according to Wikipedia, Qualia came out in 2004) - and weren't intended as a replacement to the F1 from what I understand (they do incorporate some of the F1's features (open-back auranomic design, all-magnesium alloy frame), but are fairly dissimilar overall (the MDR-SA lack a Zobel network for example); the newer MA900 would be more likely a replacement for the F1).
The drivers in the SA5k and SA3k, iirc, have the same partnumber/order-code, while the Qualia is a different driver - all are "Nanocomposite" as opposed to the biocellulose found in the CD3000, R10, and such (and I have never heard a 100% explanation of what "Nanocomposite" is meant to mean, I've heard the phrases "crushed glass" and "glass fibre" thrown around wrt these drivers though). The F1 have different drivers (PET afaik).
Discontinuation is another interesting discussion with the MDR-SA and MDR-F1; I know the F1 were "officially discontinued" at least twice (once around 2004, when they pulled them from the US, and again in 2011-2012 when they pulled them globally), and I think the SA series saw a similar trend. I'm guessing it's more to do with Sony's broad retail channel causing the "Sega problem" (where they're selling different generations of hardware for different markets), than anything else. For example I remember being in a Sony store in the US in ~2007 and asking about the SA5000, and they claimed they were discontinued; but they were still available from Sony Style's online website, and through a few authorized dealers (like Amazon) up until 2011-2012 when the MDR-F1 also went away "for good" (and I've seen a lot of moves on Sony's part in the last three years that seem to be aimed at consolidating their product offerings and eliminating the "Sega problem" for dealers).
Here's more than you probably ever wanted to know about the MDR-F1:
Sony Japan website for the SA5000:
Unfortunately they aren't like AT, and they don't keep "Sold From" published.
(At least that I'm seeing)
If anyone reads Japanese, here's the expanded view of the SA5000 driver (left side is the "front", so the second from left would be the diaphragm that Sony is identifying as "nanocomposite material"):
Nothing more is coming to mind - if I remember or find something else (and subsequently remember this thread
), I'll add.