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Sony MDR-MA 300: A Tale of Excitement, Frustration, and Redemption

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Well, this is going to be my first review here on Head-fi, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.





About two months ago, after losing a pair of (in retrospect, AWFUL) Sony MDR-ZX 100's, I decided it was time to stop buying horrible headphones, so I started lurking here to see what general attributes to look for in a pair of cans.  I decided, based on what I heard/saw here, that I would look around for a pair of relatively cheap open headphones, as I wanted a wider soundstage.  After a bit of looking around, I stumbled upon the MDR-MA series, Sony's new lineup of entrance to mid-end open cans.  Since Amazon had the 300 on sale for the same price as the 100, I decided to get the 300.  The only differences between the 100 and the 300 are that the 300 has MUCH more porting on the rear of the cans, and it has a flexible driver angle - that's right, the driver swivels to match the angle of your ear.  It's a neat gimmick that I haven't heard of anywhere else (not to say it hasn't been done) and I can't vouch for it's longevity, but I have to say I like it.


Here's a quick review of the specifications of the cans from Sony's website:

  • Frequency Response : 10 - 24,000 Hz
  • Impedance : 40 ohms at 1 kHz
  • Sensitivity (db) : 102 dB/mW
  • Power Handling Capacity : 1000 mW



After they arrived, I really couldn't have been much happier with them.  They're definitely the best pair of cans I've owned (not saying much, I guess.  They're better than the previous Sony cans I had and a pair of Skullcandies before that), and I absolutely love the sound stage.  It's certainly not a pair of bookshelf speakers, but it's still fairly open.  However, they're not perfect.  I didn't realize when I ordered them that they had a 3 meter cable, and I had intended to use these on the go as they are currently my only pair of headphones (I know, dumb decision to go for open, but I'll live with it).  This can make cable management an issue, and I have taken to looping the majority of the cable up together and then sinching it down with one of those black paper clips with the two arms to open them. (shown below)




As for the the sound quality, I can't say that my ears are all that well trained except when it comes to bass presence.  I listen to a lot of sludge and doom metal, so it's VERY noticeable when a pair of cans doesn't handle bass frequencies very well.  The bass presence on these is quite deep and surprisingly has a fair bit of impact.  While it's not going to be the kick that you'd get from a subwoofer, it does give you a satisfying bass presence without coming off as weak or going over the top.  The bass IS very slightly muddy, but it's nothing major.  To my ears, the mids are nice and clear, and they handle vocals very pleasingly.  The highs also come in quite clear with the tiniest hint of sibilance, but for a pair of cans that cost $40 retail, I don't think they give you too much to complain about.

Next, we can discuss comfort.  The pads on these are fantastic.  They have just the right amount of foam and the mystery micro-fiber-ish cloth doesn't itch like I thought it would.  However, these are a little bit on the heavy side for my taste, and the all-plastic head band could do with some padding.  In fact, I intend to find a pad or something to attach to these when I get the chance.  Headband issues aside, I've been able to wear these cans for hours at a time (sometimes as long as 7 or 8 during marathon study sessions) with minimal discomfort.  No ear fatigue to complain about, and the only issue I had was the headband making the top of my head sore. 


Now, you may be wondering why I chose the title that I did.  Well, here's the rub.  After about a month, I started hearing some crackling in the right side of the headphones.  It has continued to come and go for months, and I hadn't been able to figure it out until today.  After testing every inch of the cable to see if it was damaged (it wasn't) I opened up the right cup and peered inside.  Nothing seemed wrong, so I took the pad off of the diaphragm unit.  Inside, I discovered that several of my (VERY FINE) hairs had poked their way THROUGH the pad and were inside the enclosure, directly touching the diaphragm.  After carefully plucking them out with a pair of tweezers and reassembling the headphones, all the crackling seems to be gone.  I'm going to look into adding a layer of cloth to the outside of those pads so I don't have to take these apart every time one of my stupid hairs gets to the diaphragm, but other than that (and the padding that's needed on the headband) I'm pretty happy with the purchase.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


That's not to say I haven't caught a case of the upgrade-itis already, because I'm planning on picking up a Modi/Magni stack and a pair of Sennheiser HD 598's soon for home use and a pair of ATH-M50's for portable use.  I'll report back in when I get some more goodies.

Edited by kuhchuk - 5/13/13 at 4:23pm
post #2 of 6

Good review! there is a severe lack of reviews on the lower MA series on here.


Anyways, I would like to inform you that I recently learned those clips are called binder clips, and you could also consider braiding the chord even though it's not a detachable cable. (I braided one of my friends k172s once, would be simple compared to that lol)

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Glad you liked the review.
Like I said earlier, I'm definitely new to the head-fi game, so what would be the advantage of braiding the cable?

post #4 of 6

Shorter cable and more portable 

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice, but I've come to appreciate the extra length when I'm listening to music at home, so I don't think I'll bother.

post #6 of 6

I found these to be awful, muffled, lacked detail, muddy bass, bass and treble lacked extension.  Sent them straight back to amazon!

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