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Universal Fit item created by sfzero, Jan 27, 2011
Pros - Bass Slam, Dynamics, Sound stage and imaging, Resolution, Clarity, Comfort
Cons - Isolation, Source dependent, Treble peakiness
It's been nearly six years since the EX1000s were first launched, at that time, with a launch price of $999, they attracted much uproar over the rising price of audio gear, how times have changed since then...
In short, how have they held up? Very, very well.
The first thing one notices about the EX1000 is the rather awkward shell shape, which protrudes out of the ear by a large margin, while weird at first, it actually makes for a very comfortable wearing experience, especially for those who have small ears that may find the normal blend of multi-ba shells too big for their ears. Unfortunately, isolation is sacrificed as a result, so for those looking for Ety-level isolation, look elsewhere.
Once these are on ears and music is being played through them from a good source, some qualities start to stand out:
Bass slam and decay is one of the best I've heard in an IEM, these big dynamic drivers can move a lot of air quickly, while there isn't a big amount of bass presence, whenever called for, the EX1000 punches unflinchingly hard and extends very deep, without any of the "mushiness" that can be present in some BA IEMs.
Soundstage and separation is excellent for an IEM, this is probably due to the fact that the driver is much further from the ears than a normal IEM, as a result, they throw out a big, 3-D stage, making it easy to separate instruments and vocals.
Clarity, possibly as a result of the staging, is also very good, every element of the music can be separated onto its own plane, with a black background in between the elements, which makes picking out small details in the tracks relatively easy, even if the Sonys may lose out on ultimate resolution to the modern crop of TOTL IEMs, midrange is detailed while being very grain-free.
Highly Dynamic*, the EX1000 can brutally assault your eardrums on loud sections of tracks, while presenting music in a very soft manner in quiet sections, just about all the multi-BA IEMs that it was compared to suffered from some compression compared to the Sonys.
Treble emphasis, from IF's FR graph, one can see noticeable peaks at the 5k and 7-8k mark, this corroborates to sibilance in vocals and cymbal "splashiness", which combined with the general treble lean, can make these seem somewhat fatiguing.
*Source dependent, from something like a mobile phone, dynamics and clarity suffer, the EX1000s are inefficient for IEMs and prefer more power in the source, I personally use HM650, which powers the Sonys very well.
In conclusion, for those of you sick of the BA driver wars, and the countless thousand dollar, hundred BA IEMs that spawn from it, I will highly recommend you take a look at these Sonys, while they lose out on isolation and treble smoothness, they offer qualities that, 6 years later, are very hard to match by much more expensive competition.
Pros - Clarity and sub bass extension with excellent mids and the largest stage I have heard in an IEM
Cons - Tip rolling is a necessity and the non Japanese versions are definitely packed differently and maybe more
Pros - high fidelity at this price.
Cons - hard to replace cable
USED Shure E5, 425, 535
EX1000 is a good start to have a taste of pro sound.
Islation is not that good when music isnt playing.
Pros - Soundstage, imaging, high resolution, details, clarity, treble, extended bass, natural sounding
Cons - Unforgiving, DAC/Amp picky, very fatiguing, poor isolation, poor fit, uncomfortable, unconventional/unpractical, low-value
The Sony MDR-EX1000 is truly a legendary IEM but in a world of its own. Not even the latest XBA, or XBA hybrid Z series could rival its intimidating large single-dynamic driver setup.
(my EX1000 in its current state, after 4 long years of service, I've finally decided to sell it off to someone who would appreciate them more)
After having used it for almost 4 years, I would like to give the Head-Fi community and anyone reading this a well thought out, simple, relatively short yet heartfelt review, based purely on experience.
I purchased these on my 17th birthday, with my saved up allowance from Amazon. It was an upgrade from MDR-EX082. Back then I wasn't a seasoned audiophile, and had no idea what I was getting into. Immediately I thought I got ripped off, because I played 256kbps iTunes mp3 directly from my Sony A818. Everything sounded boring, rough, lacking bass and the lushy mids I had hoped to hear from the EXK. A quick share of these remarks with a friend who was an audiophile and Head-Fi member at the time thankfully steered me on the right path, and told me about all the magic (science) behind hi-fi sound.
Since then I have used the MDR-EX1000 with over 20 types of different high quality brand-name tips, stock EX600 cable to RK-EX1000LP cable upgrade (from Japan), plusSound Audio Exo Series cyro-treated custom cables, from a variety of different source + amp combination. All kinds of music genres, bit-rates and formats were thrown at them. I have also done comparisons with numerous other contemporary high-end IEMs. I have to say I've come to a stop with trying to unleash the full potentials of the MDR-EX1000. No matter how well I customize them for me personally, or how well I try to perceive them, all the drawbacks and extensive issues of this cult IEM refrain me from keeping them as my favourite IEM title.
I'm not gonna get into the sound too much, there are way too many reviews everywhere for that, as there should be. The EX1000 is the best sounding single-dynamic driver IEM in the world. Period. Not even the beautiful wood HA-FX700 could beat it in absolute terms of sound quality. Its out-of-the-head soundstage rivals full-size headphones, and will wow you. Be careful though, they are extremely unforgiving and picky with sources. Feeding them the wrong DAC, DAC + AMP combo, or music files will have you thinking they are $20 Skullcandy, not even Monoprice. The EXK is by no means a must-try IEM. If you never had the chance to hear it, don't be disappointed by that.
I am one of those who think sound quality isn't the whole deal for a headphones' selling point. In fact, what breaks the deal for EX1000 is its ridiculous impracticality as a "stage or studio monitor," as marketed by Sony. For the current street price of around $300 USD, you can get yourself a pair of much better IEMs instead, often multiple-BA driven with excellent performance-to-price ratio. It's hard to say it's not from a subjective view, since people have different priorities for an IEM. An "IEM" should be noise-isolating, comfortable for at least 2 hours of continuous wear, and non-fatiguing aurally. In all regards, the EX1000 is poor as an IEM according to my criteria. It is only savored by its superior, distinctive and highly-resolving sound quality.
The EX1000 is a poor performing IEM as a whole. Its inadequate design and weight causes your ear and ear-canal to ache no matter how well the cable or tips fit you. Its housing with 2 huge vents will leak sound in-and-out worse than earbuds with some decent foam. Wind-noise is one of the biggest issues; wearing these outside is as smart a choice as driving a sedan off-road. Many people would prefer slight but well-managed cable microphonics over having all kinds of other noises directly affecting the quality of your music. (on a side note, I've tried sealing off the vents/holes with a few different kinds of tape. It was a stupid idea, don't try it.)
Sony EXK is loaded with many other trifles that are very perplexing. The housing is rather easy to chip and scratch, despite the excellent material and craftsmanship. The outer clear coating will degrade if not stored within a casing at all times. The nozzles are long but cannot be inserted deeply: IF you do manage to get a deep insertion, chances are the sound will not be improved either, instead your ear-canals might become mildly damaged. There are more problems I've had with the EXK, but these are just rants I'm throwing out; I know a lot of friends whom share the same passion for the EX1000 as I did, but they are willing to make daring sacrifices for its sound. I, on the other hand, am just fed up with them.
To summarize, the EXK might be your perfect IEMs, but I think it more likely went like this: you try them, liked the sound but hated every other aspect of it mentioned in my lengthy review, and sold them off. I've used my EXK daily for 4 years now, and I think this review have summed up all my mixed feelings for the EXK. I enjoy them greatly in libraries, in-n-about the house, and other quiet public places while being stationary. However, any other application will be a disaster and worsen your listening experience.
Thus, I believe those who've read this review would agree with me (to a certain degree?) that perhaps a portable or a smaller over-ear headphone, such as the Sennheiser Momentum, would be a much better choice overall. I am currently using a ATH-CK10 and Westone UM3X RC side by side, and I'd have to say they are much better investments as IEMs than what the EXK has to offer. The EXK has qualities and potential that fail to deliver in the better way, no matter how hard I've tried to stick with them.
Thanks for reading my review, I appreciate any comments or feedback! Have a nice day.
Pros - tight bass and very detailed, excellent midrange clarity, highs clear and crystalline in presentation. excellent quality build.
Cons - that crystalline high presentation can be a little tiresome at higher volumes. getting great fit takes time.
have had these aswell as other high end IEM's and these are truely excellent however not my personal fav's.
these IEM's produce a wonderful full airy sound, among the clearest sound i have heard there is no such thing as veil with these the presentation is top quality and they were clearly designed to sound ''high definition'' to the average consumer, what does stick out tho is the sharp high presentation with anything but the highest quality recordings and at higher volume is van take away a little from the sound.
bass is excellent and you can tell immediately the driver is tight and strong designed to give a tighter sound and nothing about the sound is flabby at all. when driven by a good quality strong source these phones shine down low, its very strong with no noticeable distortion at any volume clearly anchoring that tight presentation down.
the midrange again is excellent with very very airy presentation, very spacious and with very little ''noise'', its a black, clean and clear midrange that due to the swaying towards a sharp presentation comes through very well, had these been more bass orientated the clarity of mids may have suffered.
overall i cant give these anything less than 5 stars because they are simply an excellent set of headphones, durable, sound quality that makes you proud of the achievement sony has made here. as i said at the beginning of the review these are not my fav universals, i prefer shures se 535, just a tad nicer sound to me.
Pros - Fast Bass, Nice Mids, A Lot Of Accessories, Build Quality, Detachable Cable
Cons - Isolation, Bright Treble
First of all, I’d like to thank Mach3 (Peter) for generously lending me his Sony EX1000s. I am not affiliated nor against Sony in any way.
Sony needs no introduction to the audio world and I’m sure that a lot of you would have heard Sony EX1000 as Sony’s previous flagship IEM. The Sony EX IEM line has been replaced with the newer XBA line, which many, including me believe is inferior to the EX line. The new Sony flagship, the XBA-4 has a dark sound signature while the EX1000 has a bright sound. This is now discontinued I believe, but they can still be bought.
Sorry for the bad photo quality
Testing Gear & Accessories
All testing was made via my HDP-R10 and Sansa Clip+ with a Fiio E6. First of all, these are not very source dependant. They sounded great right out of a Sansa Clip+, but when hooked up to a Fiio E6 amp, the soundstage grew and separation improved a bit. However, when I used it on my HDP-R10, I was truly impressed for the first time. The soundstage became much bigger and the separation and detail increased quite a lot. Also worth mentioning is that the sound became a lot cleaner and less grainy, hugely improving my listening experience.
I was given the box it came in and there was a very nice looking leather case which looked great but I am less sure of the actual usefulness of it. It also came with a full set of Sony hybrid tips which should fit everyone. There were some manuals and that was it. Rather good, but I just wished the case offered more protection like a Pelican or a UE metal case. There was no IEM cleaner, but there is some material stopping stuff from getting in, so I don’t mind it so much.
Isolation, Design & Cable
Since this is a vented dynamic driver IEM, it isolates extremely poorly, being the least isolating IEM that I have ever heard. Just to give you an idea, the isolation level is even less that the Sennheiser IE8 or IE80s. Also, as you may have read elsewhere, these are quite susceptible to wind noise.
The design is not bad, but they do stick out quite a bit and if you go outside with them, they might attract quite some unwanted attention. While I think that they look quite cool, it stops being cool when people start thinking that they might be hearing aids. The build quality is superb and although I won’t spend a long time with them, I know that they will last a long time.
I am actually quite undecided as to whether I like this cable. While it is very supple and easy to use, the strain relief on the jack is quite loose and the cable is thin and I keep on thinking that it may break after a while of normal use. The ear guides are very comfortable, but the memory function is terrible and it is very hard to mould them to the shape of your ear.
This is the reason why most people buy IEMs, for their sound. After writing all that, we are finally at the sound section. I will be breaking this part into a few sections like in my previous reviews and as you will soon see, I am still unsure as to whether I like it or not but if you are a basshead or looking for a neutral IEM, this is not it.
Being a dynamic driver, I was expecting quite a lot of bass despite the reviews that I had read. While the bass is very nice, these do not nearly have as much bass as a typical dynamic driver IEM; it actually reminded me of a greatly improved TWFK driver. While this does not have much impact, the quality is exceptional and it does reach far down and has some rumble. It really does have great control, better than most BA IEMs that I have heard, but I find myself longing for a harder impact. Now that the quantity part is over, let’s get to the quality. All I can say is that it is great! The details are easily made out and is very fast, not having any bloat whatsoever on any songs that I threw at it. The bass was exceptional, being punchy, fast and full of detail but lacked impact IMO. However, some people will prefer the less bassy sound of the EX1000 compared to other IEMs.
The mids are absolutely wonderful IMO of course. They are a bit on the thin side and female vocals sound realistic and very lifelike. They are very textured and I feel like I can hear the singer more clearly compared to the similarly priced Westone 4 for example. When I first heard them, the mids were shrill and overly thin, but after ten minutes of listening, my ears adapted and they sounded absolutely awesome. OK, now to male vocals, where things start to get a bit dodgy. They sound a bit thin and much less realistic than female vocals. They are, however, still extremely enjoyable and there are still tons of detail. There was a bit of sibilance, but it isn’t annoying to me. Vocal separation was simply astonishing. I didn’t expect them to be so good, being the best that I’ve heard other than the UM Miracle, Rhapsodio RDB v1 and the AKG K3003, all of which are more expensive. They certainly pass with flying colours in the mids even though male vocals did not sound as convincing as they could be. The other aspects more than made up for it.
This is the section that I am still almost completely undecided on. The treble has a boost and has extra sparkle, a tiny bit similar to TWFK based drivers, but much less sibilant but I do feel like for me personally it is too much and it makes everything sound overly sharp. I do find that sometimes cymbals linger a bit too long and dominate in parts of music where it isn’t supposed to. Sure, I do like a slightly brighter that neutral treble, but this is just too much for me, but not by much. It is still enjoyable. The detail in the treble however, is great and you can hear the cymbals crashing very clearly and it is packed with detail. It extends very high and you don’t feel like you are missing anything at all. The treble problem is mainly with just the cymbals and other instruments such as the trumpet are rendered realistically, without an excessive treble boost. Once again, I feel like the treble is a bit too exaggerated but I’m sure that there are others who feel differently.
The presentation of the EX1000 is something that I really enjoyed. The soundstage is extremely large and I really can picture a stage in front of me, with the performers not too close and in your face nor too far.
I personally perceive accuracy as how similar it sounds to a live presentation and I’m glad to say that the Sony EX1000 has done well. It has a treble boost as mentioned above and I do find that as a result of that, it colours the sounds, but for the better or worse is for you to decide depending on what your preferences are. It does still sound realistic but it is not for someone looking for a neutral IEM.
Imaging and Soundstage
As mentioned above, the soundstage is very good for an IEM, one of the largest soundstages that I have heard in an IEM, up to the level of the Sennheiser IE8 if I remember correctly. This is the first IEM that I have ever heard that I think might beat the IE8.
The imaging is certainly one of its strong points and you can easily point out where everything is, but I have heard better imaging from some IEMs, but not by much.
This is the part that I was shocked the most – in a good way thankfully. It performed well out of it’s price range and did well on whatever track I threw at it. I don’t own the Westone 4, but from when I heard it a while ago, the separation on this is significantly better if I remember correctly. On congested tracks, it never gets too hard to tell each instrument from the other.
This does have a lot of tiny details, but if you listen to a TOTL IEM, you will realise that these are still missing the minute microdetails. I am not surprised however, with these costing less than half of most TOTL IEMs. This does make it more forgiving of badly mastered tracks which can be both interpreted as good and bad. I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Audio is really about your sound signature, what type of sound you like. For example, while I found the highs of these a bit shrill, you might find them just right. I would recommend that you try them before you buy them. After a few hours of listening to music, my ears have grown accustomed to the bright sound. I do believe that Sony has produced a world class IEM and priced it correctly, making it good value for money. I would recommend these to people who like a brighter sound signature and don’t mind the low level of isolation.
Pros - Comfortable design, fantastic build quality, beautiful and emotive sound
Cons - No Isolation and wind noise issues restrict portable use, rawness and grain to the treble
Along with the summary below, I have a review thread comparing the Sony EX1000, 7550, XBA-4 and XBA-40 here:
I also have a comparison review on youtube of the EX1000 vs the 7550. If you like the video check out my channel for more reviews
Note: In the review I state that the EX1000 is made in Thailand, this is incorrect. It is made in Japan.
The EX1000's have incredible build quality and feel like jewellery in your hand thanks to the premium magnesium alloy bodies. The unusual ear hanger design is very comfortable but offers very little environmental isolation and cause a great deal of wind noise, making these somewhat awkwardly positioned as a portable earphone with restricted portable applications.
The EX1000 has a beautiful, emotive and slightly dry sound with deeply extended bass and articulate mids. They also have a tremendously wide sound-stage thanks to the unusual design and low isolation. They have peaks in the treble which make female vocals sound magical, but on modern studio recordings they can sound harsh and grainy at times. They do best with classical or mellow acoustic music in my experience.
The EX1000 is unmistakably a flagship earphone for Sony, but has a number of quirks. If you are looking for a flagship dynamic driver this is definitely one of the best options, though personally I prefer the 7550 for a wider variety of music.
Pros - Super open sounding, Beautifully relaxed, Sony “house sound” nostalgia.
Cons - Its rather expensive, highs have a jumpy spike in them, isolate meh.
Sony MDR-EX1000 Quick Review
(Thread here, http://www.head-fi.org/t/656811/sony-mdr-ex100-quick-review )
Thanks to SwimSonny for the loan.
Brief: Sony shows what it can do when its wants to.
Price: Circa £400
Specification: Driver Unit 16mm, Dome type (CCAW adopted), Sensitivity 108dB/mW, Power Handling Capacity 200mW, Impedance 32ohms at 1kHz, Frequency Response 3-30,000Hz, Magnet Neodymium, Cord 7N-OFC litz cord adopted Y-type / Detachable Cord Length 1.2m / 0.6m, Plug L-shaped stereo mini plug (Gold) (1.2m cord) / Stereo mini plug (Gold) (0.6m cord), Weight (Without Cord) Approx. 8g
Accessories: Hybrid silicone rubber earbuds (SSx2, Sx2, MSx2, Mx2, MLx2, Lx2, LLx2), Noise isolation earbuds (Sx2, Mx2, Lx2), Carrying case, 1.2m cord / 0.6m cord, Operating Instructions. You get more tips than you’ll know what to do with and the case, while lovely it’s not something to go in your pocket.
Isolation: A bit meh, they don’t isolate well at all. They are rather open then they sound it too so if you want something for blocking out noise these aren’t it. It’s barely passable for blocking out traffic noise and I wouldn’t bother with these for the Tube or a flight.
Comfort/Fit: Well these are a bit odd. Firstly they are massive, secondly they are a really weird shape. I had no bother with them but they sat so loosely on my ear they never seemed secure, not that they fell out or moved. Comfort was rather good, they weigh nothing and were very gentle on the ear.
Aesthetics: They make a visual statement. I can’t say I like that statement as they are massive, noticeable and they say I sure as hell am no freebie included set of buds.
Sound: So I’d seen lots of good things about these then they vanished from the radar. Sony is a massive company that essentially has the potential to outspend every headphone maker and are probably the best known consumer electronics brand in the world. They aren’t known however for rocking the earphone world, the old EX700 was regarded as good but a pain to use and never really stood out. The EX1000 is rather more expensive and there is a lot more competition now. Sony has come out with something really nice though. I still don’t love its shape and its sound quality isn’t earth shattering. You know that price tag is very high and I don’t think it quite commands it but acoustically Sony isn’t disappointing. The on paper low end claims 3Hz which is ungodly low. Likewise the highs on paper go well beyond human hearing so it should have no trouble with either. The low end though with that massive driver I expected more volume. Its very well behaved, smooth and a touch relaxed bass. It’s one of those beguiling basses that are so reserved and polite until you demand more and it comes to life but still seems so laid back. It is pretty fast yet has this relaxed gentility to it in the very Sony way. It never seems hurried or stressed. It’s a quite a beautiful presentation. Mids too have this every no nonchalant air to them. Sooooooo relaxed, so airy, so effortlessly offered up. “Painters Song” feels so softly, clearly, openly and languidly presented. It feels intimate but it’s not up close and personal. In something’s this is super lovely but it seems incapable of bringing those vocal up and in your face like something’s need. The highs, they do extend well but they in the lower high end have a bit of a spike. They do have a habit of being peaky and randomly leaping out at you (the EX700 did this too as have many other Sony’s) the detail otherwise is rather good if not the most explicit. This isn’t an analytical IEM, it’s about being beautiful. This spike detracts from that beauty but these are still very nice. The sound stage is rather big, above all they are a tremendous ability to sound distant and ever so open.
The balance on them is fairly natural with a bit of an emphasis on the highish spike that can jump out and turn to sibilance. Also I can’t help but feel these should have more bass, that driver is more than capable but I feel Sony steered away from big bass due to the recent trend of ridiculous bass levels in others.
N.B. It all works stupendously nicely with acoustic tracks.
Value: Hmm these are a prestige product and you pay for that Sony name and a fair premium. Still many of us grew up with the Sony “house sound” as they essentially owned the 80’s for consumer audio. This is that same sound but with rather impressive clarity.
Pro’s: Super open sounding, Beautifully relaxed, Sony “house sound” nostalgia.
Con’s: Its rather expensive, highs have a jumpy spike in them, isolate meh.
Pros - Deep impactful bass, Soundstage
Cons - Bright treble
Got my EXK couple of days back fresh from Japan Late to the party but what the heck~ Wanted a pair of dynamic IEMs to complement my TF10s while waiting for K3003 to cool off a little on the price hehe.. (would definitely help if they came out with a version with removable cables too!)
Out of the box virgin listen was kinda disappointing. Sibilance is really pretty bad... not just on female vocals but also on some male vocals as well. Crossed my fingers and started burning em in on white noise over 30 hours with volume set to 2 notches above my usual listening volume.
Happy to say that miraculously I haven't been detecting much sibilance hence. Some peaks still exist, but hardly as bad as that first listen. Enjoying the bass difference in dynamics... almost as deep and tight as headphones like my Ed 8, definitely alot more natural sounding drums than BA phones.
Ergonomics wise.. the included eartips didn't work out for my oily ears... kept popping out. So I got myself some Comply TX-200s (T-400 from my TF10 works too) with ear wax guards, to prevent any ear wax from clogging up the filter that the EXK strangely has exposed. Might have helped damp the treble spikes a tad too. After having survived with the TF10 for so long, I'm kinda of an expert in stuffing in strange objects in my ear, so the EXKs were easy to go in. Tilting the earphones to the front some helps relieve the pain that it causes when upright too. Personally I don't find isolation an issue once the music's playing... can't understand why it's such an issue on so many forums >..<
My EXK came with the RK-EX1000 cables... with hollow tubings that don't inspire too much confidence. I wouldn't want to try stretching the cables by accident... Otherwise they seem to do the job well, and do not get tangled up unlike my TF10's Null Audio Lune cables.
Hope to see even more improvements with the Fostex HP-P1!
With about 150hrs clocked on it, I'm finding myself nodding my head and tapping my feet everytime I put these on with the HP-P1 Still some slight sibilance, but not overbearing and does not spoil the musicality. Thankfully there isn't any issues with Jamie Cullum, Diana Krall or Norah Jones! I've replaced my Ultrasone Ed8 with these babies for my portable setup~
Pros - amazing soundstage, homogeneity
Cons - nothing to complain
To make it short:
Get one if you find them, the EX1000 are Sonys best inears, maybe for a longer time.
Use a fitting player that can handle the impedance, and you get breathtaking results.
One of the very best soundstages I ever heard, no BA comes close to it.
Frequency response ist good, highs can be sometimes 'special', but it is not a big deal. IMHO it's more problematic if the player is sensible to the slight impedance peak around 5 kHz. Try it out. Also try different eartips ... but you know, for sure.
Some people say, the EX1000 is close to $ 1k customized BAs, and so I do!
It's a real bargain now, and a shame, that Sony discontinued it.