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Sony MDR MA900 Full Review + Comparison with DT880

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

This thread will contain a full review of Sony's MDR MA900 and a comparison with the Beyerdynamic DT880. 

*I am not a native speaker, so if you notice a grammatical error or any spelling mistake, please notify me*

First, let me introduce myself and start off by listing the genres of music i listen to and what i look for in a headphone: 

I am 16 years old and haven't been in the audio game for too long actually. Its only been about a year since i discovered proper audio. When listening to music, i dont really focus on the tiny little micro-details, i just focus on enjoying my music. 

Genres: Chillout, reggae, Hip-Hop/Rap, Orchestral Rock, Ambient, Nu Jazz, Drum and Bass, neurofunk, Vocal trance, techno, hard style, electronic rock, alternative rock.

Sound preference: The two most important things in a headphone to me are clarity and soundstage (i use my cans for gaming). I am also a mega basshead occasionally. When i say occasionally, i mean when i am in the mood for some head-banging EDM or dubstep. For any other genre, i like the sound to be clean and neutral. 

 

Setup: Foobar2000 > Aune T1 > 6922EH > MA900

 

 

 

Build Quality/Aesthetics: 

I thought these headphones would be huge considering they have 70mm drivers. Yup, let that sink in. To put that into perspective, the HD800 has 56mm drivers. Surprisingly, the ma900 is not that big or bulky. They're average size for an open headphone. Build quality is a joke here considering this is a $300 headphone at full MSRP (i got them for $170). I don't get whats wrong with Sony and their never-ending struggle with proper build quality. Ok, the build is not that bad, but still unsatisfactory for a headphone thats is supposed to cost $300. Even my $50 JVC's are built better. If you sit on them, there's a strong chance you'll break them, so be careful. If they fell from your head at about 6ft, i think they'll be fine, but barely fine. This is not the first Sony headphone i buy which has poor build quality, my Sony Ps3 headset also feels very cheap in the hand. However, that headset costs $100 so its not really fair to compare it to the MA900's.The cable is pretty thin too. I must admit though, it is very long, which is a huge plus for me since i stay far away from the TV when gaming. The headphones are extremely lightweight. Heck, my HTC One is heavier. I consider this is a good thing because it contributes to better comfort, which I'll get to in a second.

 

Comfort: 

Absolutely remarkable. I never thought I'd ever say this in my entire life, but i think these are as comfortable if not slightly more comfortable than my Beyer DT880's, which are already ridiculously comfortable. You put them on and you forget about them, its not like they're on your head anymore. The difference between them and the Beyers is that the Sony's are more of a 'put them on and forget they're there'  headphone while the Beyers have more of a 'holy shi* the pads are soft as hell im never taking this headphone off!!'. I have wore these while playing BF4 and GTA V for more than 7 hours and never felt any discomfort. They don't even get warm over long periods of time like most other headphones. 

 

Easy to drive: 

These are 12ohms. You can drive them out of literally anything. They're also pretty sensitive. They do scale up well with better equipment/amping, but they'll do perfectly fine out of an mp3 player or even a phone.

 

Sound: 

 

These are not giant killers. They will not demolish you HD650's or put your Dt880's to shame, but they come very close. And they're also one of the best headphones i have ever heard below the $200 price tag. 

 

Overall sound signature:

The sound signature of these is very similar to that of the HD650's. Rolled off sub-bass (only very deep region) with a small midbass hump. Slightly forward lower mids with very smooth/rolled off highs. 

 

Detail: 

You may think that because of the toned down treble these would lack detail, but this is not the case. These are actually quite detailed. Of course, they don't have that crazy hyper-detail that cans like DT880 and K701 can produce, but they come very close. And they do without any fatigue.

 

Instrument Separation: 

Simply phenomenal. These can easily distinguish different instruments and place them in different places (thanks to the huge soundstage) without blending them in together or causing muddiness to the sound. Nothing feels mashed up, everything is spacious and airy.

 

Soundstage: 

The soundstage on these is excellent. Its wide and open. In terms of sheer width, it is wider than my DT880's. But thats not all, the soundstage has great depth and is very accurate. The imaging is also pretty epic as well. Definitely one of the strengths of this headphone.  

 

Across the spectrum: 

Bass: These have very good bass for an open back headphone. Sub-bass is rolled off, I'd say anything below 30 or 35hz is non-existent. There is a nice amount of midbass with a small midbass hump. These are not that bassy, but if the song calls for it, they will get the job done. The bass is definitely not basshead level. Not even close.

 

Midrange: The star of the show. Lower mids are slightly forward which gives male vocals some weight and authority to them. Overall the midrange is liquid smooth with no recession whatsoever. 

 

Treble: The highs are not significantly rolled off. I'd say everything above 16K is non-existent here. However, the highs are super smooth and can't cause any fatigue even at higher volumes. 

 

Kings of gaming: 

 

 

Thanks to the super-wide soundstage and the excellent imaging, these are amazing for gaming. Soundwhoring and footstep tracking has never been easier. If you play a lot of FPS games or basically any game that requires good imaging, look no further. These are the legendary for gaming, and i cant stress this enough. 

 

If you haven't noticed by now, i love these cans. 

 

Conlcusion: For under $200, you really cant go wrong with these. Never really heard anything as good in this price range. 

 

Beyerdynamic DT880 vs Sony MDR MA900

 

 

Build: 

Beyers have a reputation of being one of the best built headphones, and they do live up to that. The whole headphone is made mostly of metal and feels good in the hand. The headphone itself is not that heavy considering its size and whats its made of. These are sturdy and built to last, they fell a couple of times from my head and they were perfectly fine, not a single scratch. On the other hand, the Sony's feel much lighter, but that also comes in the cost of the build. The MA900's are not built very well in my opinion. Comparing those two is a joke. 

Winner: DT880.

 

Comfort: 

The hardest part is choosing a winner here. Both are extremely comfortable in their own ways. Beyers have super-soft pads which are just a pleasure to sit on your head. They just feel good, you never want to take them off. However, the clamping pressure on the DT880's is higher. The MA900's are as light as a feather. They don't have those super-soft pads the Beyers do, but their pads do the job. There is almost zero clamping pressure. All those factors lead to forgetting they are even on your head. 

Winner: MA900's.

 

Sound: 

Bass: The bass on both is very good. The DT880's have better texture in their bass and the bass extends much deeper than the Sony's. And thats one of the things that makes them terrific for movies. The bass does not bleed into the midrange one bit. It stays tight and controlled. 

 

The bass on the MA900's is slightly different. There is noticeably more midbass with a midbass hump and the bass rolls off too early for my tastes. I would classify neither as 'bassy' headphones. 

Winner: DT880

 

Midrange:

The Sony's have fantastic mids. Male vocals sound very nice with more weight to them than the Beyers. Lower mids are slightly forward. Pianos and stringed instruments sound wonderful. Combine that with the fact that they have a wide soundstage and you have a headphone that is perfect for acoustic and classical (which i rarely listen to btw). The midrange here is liquid smooth. 

 

Most Beyers are known to have recessed mids. This is the case with the DT770 and DT990. I find that the DT880 suffers in a minor way of this problem. The midrange is simply flat and uncolored, not recessed. Just the way it is supposed to be. However, on some SS amps, the mids do seem to be slightly behind. Thats why i only use my 880's with tube amps. Softens the highs and brings the mids out. Female vocals sound much better on the Beyers.

Winner: MA900

 

Highs: 

The highs on the DT880's are amazing. They extend higher than the Sony's and are cleaner. Detail is more apparent on the DT880's. I never really considered the 880's to have harsh highs. Yes, the treble is emphasized, with a spike around 7-10k. but i still find it to be unfatiguing. And im pretty sensitive to treble, even my M50's make my ears bleed of how harsh their treble is. The Beyers do it in a much softer way IMO. Dt880's are not  really the treble monsters people make them seem, especially when paired with a warm amp/source. However, after a couple of long hours of listening, the DT880's can cause fatigue.

 

The highs on the Sony's are not significantly recessed, but they're not exaggerated either. The highs extend up to 15 or 16k, and then roll off. Many people think the treble is recessed but personally i dont. The treble is just very smooth. It makes sibilant songs sound perfectly fine. 

Winner: DT880

 

Soundstage:

The Beyers have an excellent soundstage considering its a semi-open headphone. It is wide and has excellent accuracy.

The Sony's take soundstage to a whole new level. The soundstage is wider with the Sony's and has more depth to it. Imaging is also better on the Sony's.

 

DT880 advantages:

-Better overall clarity, more refined.

-The 880's are noticeably more detailed.

-Better for female vocals.

-Better bass.

-Better extension across the frequency.

-Faster.

-Built much better.

-Better genre versatility, in other words a better 'all-arounder'.

-Made in Germany (yes i consider that a pro)

-Better for movies.

 

MA900 advantages:

-Wider soundstage with more depth.

-Better soundstage accuracy.

-Better imaging.

-Better comfort (by an extremely narrow margin)

-Much smoother highs.

-A more laid-back, pleasant listening experience.

-Handles acoustic and pianos better, better for classical.

-Better for gaming.

-Better for male vocals.

-Much easier to drive, doesn't require an amp.

 

What i prefer for the genres i listen to: 

DT880: Drum and Bass, neurofunk, Vocal trance, electronic rock, alternative rock, Metal, reggae.

MA900: chillout, Hip-Hop/Rap, Orchestral Rock, Ambient, Nu Jazz, Indie Rock, downtempo, acoustic. 

 

The DT880's seem to do every genre in a very good way while the Sony's excel at some and suck at the other. 

 

Which is better?

Be in no doubt, the Beyer is the technically better headphone and i like it slightly more than the Sony's. However, for the price ($120-170), the Sony's come dangerously close and are better for starters without and amp, or for people who use their cans for gaming.


Edited by xkonfuzed - 10/17/13 at 5:05pm
post #2 of 16

Nice and concise review Bro!

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrollDragon View Post

Nice and concise review Bro!
Thanks man smily_headphones1.gif
post #4 of 16

Thanks for the review! 

 

I did have a quick question. I know people who own the MA900 talked about the possibility of switching pads. Since you have the DT880 on hand, could you try to fit the Beyerdynamic pads on the MA900 and let us know: 1, whether they fit, and 2, how the different pads affect the sound.

post #5 of 16

nice review

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by No_One411 View Post

Thanks for the review! 

I did have a quick question. I know people who own the MA900 talked about the possibility of switching pads. Since you have the DT880 on hand, could you try to fit the Beyerdynamic pads on the MA900 and let us know: 1, whether they fit, and 2, how the different pads affect the sound.
Of course. I was also curious about how these would change from pad to pad. I will try the Beyer pads today and post some impressions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nic Rhodes View Post

nice review
Thank you smily_headphones1.gif
post #7 of 16

Nice review. Look forward to the comparison :)

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LugBug1 View Post
 

Nice review. Look forward to the comparison :)

The comparison is up :D

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by No_One411 View Post

Thanks for the review! 

I did have a quick question. I know people who own the MA900 talked about the possibility of switching pads. Since you have the DT880 on hand, could you try to fit the Beyerdynamic pads on the MA900 and let us know: 1, whether they fit, and 2, how the different pads affect the sound.

I just tried fitting the Beyer pads on the ma900's and they don't seem to really fit properly. Just when I thought I got it right, the pads fell off the headphone and I couldn't get them to fit again.This may also be because of my terrible modding/pad swapping skills.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonfuzed View Post


I just tried fitting the Beyer pads on the ma900's and they don't seem to really fit properly. Just when I thought I got it right, the pads fell off the headphone and I couldn't get them to fit again.This may also be because of my terrible modding/pad swapping skills.

Thanks for trying! That's good to know.

 

Even if the pads don't, sounds like these are a winner.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by No_One411 View Post

Thanks for trying! That's good to know.

Even if the pads don't, sounds like these are a winner.
No problem smily_headphones1.gif

Yup, they certainly are a winner.
post #12 of 16

Excellent comparison, since I already own the DT880's I feel that the Sonys would not be for me, but when you do a HD600 / DT880 comparison then I'll be all ears. :D

Nice Job Bro!

:beerchug:

post #13 of 16

If this is your first review, I'll look forward to more in the future. Well written and very helpful. 

 

:beerchug:

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrollDragon View Post
 

Excellent comparison, since I already own the DT880's I feel that the Sonys would not be for me, but when you do a HD600 / DT880 comparison then I'll be all ears. :D

Nice Job Bro!

:beerchug:

Appreciate the feedback, thanks bro :beyersmile:. I don't recommend owning both the DT880's and HD600, but if you chose the Beyers in the first place, then you made the right choice. Imo they share more similarities than differences, so you're better off with something different in terms of sound signature.

 

Oh, and how are those new Russian tubes? 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LugBug1 View Post
 

If this is your first review, I'll look forward to more in the future. Well written and very helpful. 

 

:beerchug:

Thanks :) Its not my first review actually, I've done a couple of reviews before but i never did one as detailed/long as this one.

post #15 of 16
I been using this one for a year now. Yes they are good. But now for some reason I am looking at lcd3, hd800, and stax. If I spend 2000 bucks is it over 10 times better then the ma900? Got mine for 140 new.there is a place called headphone bar maybe I should go have a listening session first. Right now I can't even tell the difference between stock xonar stx and o2+odac.
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