Last year I picked up and reviewed the MDR-1RBT headphones from Sony, this year they released a "budget" model, the MDR-10RBT and will also be releasing the MDR-1RBTmk2; which will have the same design as the 1RBT.
Since one of the issues I had previously was the quality and build of the 1RBT to begin with, the 10RBT has corrected everything I ever disliked about the "flagship" model of the line. The thinner headband and more sleek lines are much appreciated for portable use. They picked up a few of the better design cues from the Parrot Zik headphones that were "designed by Stark"; mixing it with the better looking parts of the 1R line, for just a damn good looking pair of headphones. These headphones also retail for $150 less than the 1RBTs and weigh a bit less. Some may feel that they used cheaper materials in the 10RBT but I certainly do not feel that way. The materials are on par, with the hinge of the ear cups having a wider turning radius in both directions than ANY of the Sony headphones I've used besides the "DJ" models that turn all the way around. The ear cups themselves seem to be better stitched and look less "home sewn". The fit of the headphone is pretty loose, but not as loose as the 1RBTs. I prefer that they are a little more snug so I can get a good seal on my head to prevent the headphones from moving. I also have a pretty big head though not enormous. I am comfortable with the adjustment down about 1 or 2 notches down on each side.
Sound quality is on-par with the 1RBT, I think these are slightly less bass-y and a tinge muddier on the low end but over the 3 hours I used the 10RBTs they progressively got better and more sounded clear. So a burn-in is definitely necessary on these headphones. They will probably sound even better after a week or so. The sound stage on these headphones are VERY wide. So wide in fact that if the headphones move a little (like when I turn to look behind me) the sound actually changes slightly. I'm not sure if I like or dislike this, but it is a little jarring to hear the music change slightly when you turn your head. Most of my listening was done over Bluetooth while working out and though it was good, plugging in through the 3.5mm jack passthrough is where the top notch quality really is. Audio is definitely more crisp and volume levels are slightly higher when plugged in, not that it is what these headphones are for, but allowing the option for cable pass though should be mandatory now on all BT headphones.
Going back to the design, which is what I love most about these guys. On the 1RBT all the ports (usb, 3.5mm) were covered, which for when you want to plug in you have to pull the tab off to charge or plug-in to listen. I hate this feature on any device, when you're plugged in to listen, it looks like you(very poorly) hacked your headphones, with the plastic flap kind of hanging down like your headphone had a hangnail. No longer! Both ports are uncovered (much like the Zik) and not only look seamless, they look down right "industrial sexy". The band around the ear cup is now silver painted instead of black and you would easily mistake them as brushed aluminum at first glance. Plugging a micro USB cable in for the first time feels tight. I wasn't sure it was all the way in at first, about 1mm of the metal plug actually sticks out, so don't try to jam it in too hard.
The buttons (VOL UP & DOWN; Power) as well as the toggle for REW,PLAY,FWD are all solid and give a nice throw when you click down on them. Unlike any previous Sony Headphones I've ever owned; the 10R line seems to turn the opposite way when you fold them in. previously my headphones always turned up as I placed them down on my neck. These actually turn down and the ear cup is against my shoulders when I have them around my neck... This is actually preferred by me as debris and dirt could fall into the ear cups while it's around your neck when they're turned up... Cudos to Sony for changing that up.
Everything about the 10RBT works better for me than the 1Rs and I'm happy Sony has made these changes. It's sleeker, sexier and still holds at LEAST 95% of the sound quality of it's more expensive cousin, but at a much more palatable price. I even would recommend getting these over the standar 10Rs, as for the $50 extra, it really is worth it to have the option of both Bluetooth or cabled. You'll need to purchase a cable that has controls (VOL, FF, REW,PLAY) on it if you prefer having those features on the cable though (which are included in the 1R). Sony even has added AAC and Apt-X bluetooth profiles this time around, something the 1R lacked... though most of you probably will never use it as no iPhones and many Android phones don't use Apt-X and generally most people don't encode in AAC unless they purchased their music from iTunes directly.
My one suggestion for headphones like this would be to have passive controls through the headphone controls when plugged in. It would require a specialized cable of course (that has the 3 stripped 3.5mm plug) but it would be great if when plugged in you can use the same controls as when you're using Bluetooth. As it is when you plug your 3.5mm jack into the headphone, the BT turns off and none of your controls can be used to control the phone.
Edited by MrXiro - 11/19/13 at 3:13pm