Sony MDR-Z1R Measurements: Head-Fi HQ’s compared to InnerFidelity’s
InnerFidelity’s review and measurements of the Sony MDR-Z1R were not consistent with our experiences with that headphone, so we measured two MDR-Z1R’s at Head-Fi HQ, and here’s what we found. Click here to see the measurements and impressions.
There are 14 comments on Sony MDR-Z1R Measurements: Head-Fi HQ’s compared to InnerFidelity’s so far... join the discussion!
I can tell you--my pair of Z1R's do not seem nearly as peaky as Tyll's pair. Mine have a slight U or W frequency response, but nothing as severe as Tyll's measurements seem to indicate. Also, mine don't seem to have huge distortion on the bass side either. Mine seem very much like Jude measured on his rig.
This goes to show a few things:
1. Use measurements only as one part of your evaluation criteria for headphones. Use your ears too!
2. If you are gonna use measurements, make sure you evaluate a few different sources before you get your pirchforks out.
3a. Headphone to headphone variation may be more pervasive than we thought
3b. Tyll just keeps getting defective pairs. This looks like either his rig is broken or he has now evaluated 3 different TOTL headphones that were defective.
Not sure which is worse or more likely. If his rig has been broken this whole time--his entire Wall of Fame should be put into question.
IMHO, it is normal variability of headphones. Having built a few (hundred thousand) headphones in my career, and a few (million) transducers as well, I can assure you that getting tighter than +/- 2 dB from system to system is an incredibly expensive, difficult proposition that requires a LOT of customization and work on each unit.
If you're doing anything other than a few dozen or a hundred or so headphones/systems in a month, it simply is too expensive to hand-match everything to the level most consumers expect, unless you are charging $1500+ per pair as a small brand (and two or three times that as a big brand).
Even high-end studio monitors, those costing $10,000 or more, are rarely matched closer than +/- 2 dB from channel to channel - and that is typically only in the midrange (300 Hz to 5 kHz or so).
The last run of headphones I did (about 3 weeks ago, 500 pairs) had a standard deviation of 2.6 dB from 100 Hz to 6 kHz - and we were really happy with that result, as it was a pretty high level of consistency. We'll see if we can maintain that for the next build (DVT stage, about 1500 units) but for now it's quite tight - but probably seems completely unusable to most consumers...
"If his rig has been broken this whole time--his entire Wall of Fame should be put into question."
Is the wall of fame predicated on a graph?
As many others have chimed in, my personal experiences with 4-5 different pairs of Z1Rs, plus my personal pair, all very much line up with Jude's measurements. Had I heard the sound portrayed in the innerfidelity review at RMAF, I would have never purchased my pair.
Tyll's aren't the only pair that measure that way. Not cool imho for Jude to presume that Tyll's setup must be wrong just because it differs from his (Jude's) results.
Are Sony a sponsor of this forum?
Jude just confirmed, Sony is not a sponsor. But I think this issue might have to do with the conditions of the headphones Tyll measured before he got them (not sure of his source for them)?
June 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm
We had a pair of Z1R's show up at the Denver meet, which really left me quite impressed. An attendee at that meet pulled the trigger on a pair, and we (two of us and another member that was visiting) met up later for a 3hr mini-meet to compare this with some other headphones.
The set he had purchased sounded pretty bad and were in line with what Tyll wrote. Boomy bottom end that not so subtly encroached on the mids. It really left me puzzled and very much disappointed. We were comparing them with a set of Ether C Flow's and various Fostex closed sets, they (the Sony's) got knocked out pretty quickly. I did ask the person who brought the Sony's to burn them in longer (he had said he had already burned them in for about 150hrs, if I remember correctly). But I asked him to burn them in longer, convinced that it would make a difference. I followed up with him a week or so later, he said he had burned them in, but they still sounded the same, boomy on the bottom.
Either there is a huge discrepancy between individual sets, terrible quality control. Or the meet environment wasn't all too suitable for close listening. In-excusable in either case, especially considering their price tag.
June 16, 2017 at 5:19 pm
Could it be the gears used that affect the result?
June 16, 2017 at 5:52 pm
We tested on several systems. Several recordings, different people hearing the same thing.
Other headphones didn't exhibit the same troublesome sound characteristic we heard on the Sony (which should have followed the source, if that was the problem).
June 18, 2017 at 11:57 am
Tried burning it in for a a couple hundred more hours. I think the bass may have tightened up a bit, but it doesn't sound anything like the one from the Denver meet. My vote is QC issues, or at least one that is not up to snuff.
I think it's more likely to be inconsistancies in the manufacture of the HP's than any defects in Tyll's testing rig. I'm basing this on Tyll's re-evaluation of the LCD4 and the Utopia that you can find on Innerfidelity. I also base it on my poor testing rig, my two ears. I heard the LCD4 twice at CanJam SoCal last year. First was at the Audeze table where it was plugged into the King amp. My impression was the same as Tyll's. It sounded dull and a little lifeless in the treble. Later I heard another LCD4 at the Woo table using a WA7, an amp that I happen to own. The second LCD4 sounded much better than the first and what I would expect from a TOTL headphone. (I still wouldn't pay 4 grand for it though.) At first I thought the difference was in the amps. A few months later I heard the Utopia at the Head-Fi meet in San Francisco, also at the Woo exhibit. It didn't sound at all like the headphone that Tyll praised so highly. I haven't heard a second copy of the Utopia but I have to believe that the issue is with the HP's and not the test equipment.
Ttyl is a great person and his review on the Beats made me laugh! LOL
June 21, 2017 at 10:57 pm
I’ve never so much as laid eyes on a pair of Sony MDR-Z1Rs, so I have no dog in this hunt. However, there are several comments that I think can be made.
1) Unlike the case of speakers, where there is at least relatively standard ways to measure them, there is no such standard for headphones. Every headphone measuring system gives somewhat different results, especially at low frequencies, where the efficacy of the seal makes a difference, particularly for open headphones, and at high frequencies, where the wavelengths are similar to, or smaller than, the dimensions of the headphones and ear. In this latter region, standing waves can/will produce apparent resonances which are placement dependent. Differences in measured frequency response are particularly common between different measuring jigs in the high frequency region because of this, and thus should be taken with a grain (or salt shaker full) of salt whether they are done with a $20 microphone or a $5000 microphone. Thus, they are IMO, more useful in comparing the relative frequency responses between different headphones, than in determining the absolute frequency response of any particular headphone.
2) In addition, there is good evidence from in-ear measurements that flat measured frequency response produced by, say, loudspeakers as measured by microphones, becomes anything but flat when processed by the head shadow, external ear and canal. There are proposed “average” curves which are supposed to compensate for this to flatten out the actual measured response to a subjective flat response, but there is, as of yet, no standard.
3) As a result, measured frequency responses of headphones are very much subject to interpretation, and not a matter of “it’s flat” or “it’s not flat.” This is particularly true at the top end of the spectrum, where as noted above, measurements are problematic. This is where the experience of the person doing the measuring makes a significant difference – the combination of subjective judgment and doing measurements of many headphones assists in determining which frequency response deviations are significant, something that cannot necessarily be done looking at the wiggly lines on the paper. Thus, measurements are, at best, suggestive and supportive rather than definitive IMHO.
4) Measuring two samples is very likely inadequate to draw conclusions about anything, and hence Jude’s “assumption” (I remember someone pointing out years ago that assume = ass + u + me) about Tyll’s sample is premature. Much better to measure than assume.
5) Tyll hears and measures a peak around 10 kHz, and uses his measurements to support his subjective impression. Jude doesn’t hear or measure a peak, and uses his measurement to support his subjective opinion. Since Jude’s measurement jig is different from Tyll’s, and given the problems with measuring at high frequencies, there is not necessarily a contradiction in the measurements. Some other measurements done on other samples and other measurement jigs support Tyll’s measurements, and apparently other measurements support Jude’s. Without measuring their respective samples on each other’s measurement jigs, it is premature to assume that one or the other sample is defective or out of spec, or that one or the other measurement jig is defective. It could be due to a difference in measuring technique, in the measurement jig, or in the samples. It is possible that Tyll’s sample would measure like the others on Jude’s rig, or that Jude’s sample would measure the same as Tyll’s on Tyll’s rig. It is possible that Jude won’t hear a 10 kHz peak on Tyll’s sample. Until they swap samples, we just don’t know.
6) Leaving aside the high frequency peak or lack thereof, there is still the excessive bass level relative to the midrange that appears in both Tyll’s and Jude’s measurements. That may be pleasant, but it is not accurate.
7) AFAIK, Tylls’ Wall of Fame is based on his assessment of the sound quality and price of the headphones in question, not on his measurements.