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Sony IER-M7

  1. gerelmx1986
    IER-M7, a Neutral yet Musical Sounding IEM
    Written by gerelmx1986
    Published Sep 11, 2019
    Pros - Sound quality neutral yet muaical. DD-bass timbre from a BA setup. Sturdy built
    Cons - Vacumm seal.makes.removal and insertion uncomfortable. Price for a quad BA
    A little about me

    I'm an audiophile but not the Graphs and number ones, more of a music lover type of audiophile who seeks the best true sound quality. My Genre of choice is Classical music from renaissance to Classism and abit of nationalism like Grieg, Dvorak.

    Unboxing & Accessories
    Good unboxing experience, as with the IER-Z1R, that I've already reviewed, it has plenty of accessories.

    The IER-M7 Package comes in a white cardboard box with the augmented image of the product. Slide this box to reveal a Black box with the top engraved the Sony logo. The box opens up in a clamshell fashion, unlike the Z1R, it has just one "floor".

    15681936482057450354397580840113.jpg 15681936735272915133627385436982.jpg

    The Silicone tips come in sizes: SS, S, MS, M, ML, L and LL. The Triple comfort tips come in SS, S, MS, M, ML and L.. the tips of the M7 are black instead of white (gray for.the triple comforts)

    15681941735473862427273483713339.jpg 15681941989706319601677761182460.jpg 15681942766688180007652693447186.jpg
    It also comes with two cables: one 3.5mm unbalanced and a 4.4mm balanced cable. Next is a small cubic shaped case made of plastic instead of metal and leather like in the more expensive IER-Z1R. Inside this case is a short clip and a cable organizer to store the IEMs in the case. The case innards are like a soft wool finish.
    Build Quality, Fit/Ergonomics, Isolation

    The build of the IER-M7 is good
    It is made up of lightweight yet durable glossy plastic. The nozzles are made of brass. The tip of the nozzles are covered by a filter to prevent debris getting inside and possibly damaging the drivers.

    The back face.plates have no design, just plain black face.

    The MMcx connectors sit flush on the body to provide a secure tight connection, as with the IER-Z1R, the M7 connectors don't spin.

    The cables are plastic coated, yet they feel supple and pliable, they're not stiff or thick heavy as other cables.

    Wearing comfort is great they stay put thanks to the small profile and ear hooks. The biggest issue for comfort is that with silicone tips there is a vacuum effect when removing or inserting them giving any discomfort similar to cabin pressurization on an aircraft. With triple comfort or custom tips this effects luckily disappears.

    15681955355557119339586308976429.jpg 15681955523012499697663259833250.jpg 15681955696196575860033617258902.jpg 15681956033076905985503157613282.jpg 15681956722184699680066091912736.jpg 15681956924772851206858658414931.jpg 1568195728822864562522123477461.jpg 15681956356969207591423822253672.jpg

    Sound Quality
    They are the best full BA setup IEMs I have ever heard to date, in summary, they sound quite balanced yet a bit of fun. The BA bass has the timbre of a DD but without that decay and body.

    SOURCE: Sony NW-WM1A Fw 3.01, 4.4 output w/ Lossless files ranging from 16 & 24 bit flac to DSD (some ripped with a Pioneer BDP-160)

    Bass: The bass region has emphasis it digs deep but unlike a DD it decays fairly quickly removing the special.physical feeling that a DD provides. Yet I find the bass quite remarkable as it sounds like a DD from.a BA driver!

    Mids: the mids are forwarder than the IER-Z1R, giving nice details to vocals. They feel natural not over boosted.

    Highs: The highs are pretty well extended without being sibilant, no, they aren't recessed at all, very airy presentation with capability for details and resolution, despite this the M7 doesn't reach the level of.inner resolution of the Z1R.

    Soundstage & Instrument separation: it is not huge as the IER-Z1R more small like the FiiO FA7, just above average size lacking in lateral separation.

    Instruments are well-separated even in complex passages with many instruments/fast notes.

    With silicone tips the sound is more neutral sounding, bass quantity decreases significantly. With triple comform tips the bass increases a bit more in the mid and upper sub bass giving them a bit of rumble, yet remaining.neutral in the rest of spectrum.

    With custom tips (the custom art) the sound becomes.more vivid, bass emphasis in.all regions and better vocals giving the sensation of live monitoring.

    Compared to my Previous Sony IEM, the XBA-Z5: the IER-M7 have better bass control and texture, better bass extension but with faster decay. Better mids, same soundstage size perhaps a bit smaller, Very airy treble and well extended (this was the Achilles heel of the Z5 a very rolled-off treble, every time i wanted to play a hi-res track, the Z5 wanted to give that extra detail but this tuning didn't allow them to, simply hearing this brick-wall annoyed me). The isolation and fit is clearly better ad IER-M7 has no vents

    Compared to his TOTL sibling the IER-Z1R , clearly the Z1R wins in alls aspects such as bigger soundstage, more natural timbre, deeper and physical bass feeling. Other than that the M7 has nice.mifs and yeah the M7 is no slouch, let's say it is 60% of the IER-Z1R.

    A more fair comparison is with the similarly equipped FiiO FA7, both are quad BA earphones. Th M7 has better tonality as the FiiO FA7 has too much mid bass that invades the rest of the spectrum. The Sony IER-M7 has more flat tonality .

    The tuning of the FA7 made all sound congested and veiled with virtually no separation and smallish soundstage. The IER-M7 has better staging and separation
    Doesn't sound veiled nor congested.

    Very nice sounding IEMs from sony, neutral frequency with a dash of.fun to it
    They offer great isolation levels and yes they're very capable n terms of resolution and detail retrieval.

    It is a shame they're wrongly priced at 800€ (got them for 521€, which for.me, is a decent price) and therefore overshadowed by their siblings IER-Z1R and IER-M9

    +Great bass extension and texture & control
    +BA bass sounds like DD bass
    + comfortable tuning. Neutral yet musical
    +Very capable.of detail retrieval
    +Airy highs without being sibilant
    +ZERO Hiss
    +Vast array of accessories included
    +Stupendous Isolation levels
    +Sturdy build.

    -vacuum, pressurization effects make insert/removal uncomfortable
    -Require power to really shine
    -Very revealing of bad recordings, bad music files (e.g. MP3 at lower than 320 kbps)
    -Very dependent on tip fit
      earfonia, Sp12er3, Pokemonn and 2 others like this.
    1. Sp12er3
      How does it goes when you switch the tips from Z1R Hybrid to the ones form M7?
      Sp12er3, Sep 14, 2019 at 12:07 PM
    2. gerelmx1986
      @Sp12er3 thr sound is just a teeny bit less bassier and there is no.more vacuum effect
      And the IER-Z1R with the M7 tips is a bit more bassy, better skin grip of the.tip so the Z1R stays low longer in the ear
      gerelmx1986, Sep 14, 2019 at 1:56 PM
  2. sagebeard
    An ode to the IER-M7
    Written by sagebeard
    Published Nov 19, 2018
    Pros - Brilliant isolation
    Sweet, warm, comfy tonality
    Excellent technicalities
    Great timbre, without any BA weirdness
    some of the best stock cabling I've seen so far
    Cons - Earguides are rather finicky
    Requires surprising amount of power
    Very tip dependent
    can be source-picky

    A company dear to many, yet puzzling all the same. An truly idiosyncratic company, always taking their own road, taking massive pride in their in-house R&D department that approaches many things in audio-land radically different from the other companies. Usually for the worse, but every once in a while, they shine brilliantly.

    Perhaps it is because of that, that their products are such this much of a 'Hit or miss'. With many of their high end offerings being lambasted as overpriced or poor value, and their consumer offerings being merely average. A far cry from the market, if not world leading brilliance they used to show in their legendary ES-line audio portfolio from the 70's and 80's, until their eventual decline in the 90's.

    Yet, despite the often harsh criticism, Sony has had some brilliant offerings nonetheless. from my personal favourite the MA900, to the legendary Qualias and R10, to the exceptional MDR-EX1000 and beyond.

    The current upward trend started with the revitalisation of their Walkman and high-res branding with the, at the time, wicked expensive ZX1 and the stellar midrange A15/A17 DAPs. Around that same time, from 2012 onwards, they've released a whole slew of high end headphones that all ended up being various degrees of disappointment despite absolutely stellar build, design and more personal, ergonomics. Even today, their wired headphones are a far cry from being good when looking purely at musical enjoyment. With the latest round of gear they've seemingly crept back into the notoriously fickle audiophiliac hearts again.But I digress, their headphones we'll save for another day. It's all about the little IEM that could, the IER-M7

    Sony BA?!

    While Sony's 'HiFi' oriented Headphones have all been rather questionable in recent years, their IEM have seen an amazing progression. The current trend started in 2012 with their well received, but otherwise unassuming XBA-1, 2, 3 and 4. Finally having finalised their in-house R&D on balanced armature drivers, they started to aggressively market their proprietary D-class implementation (called S-MASTER-HX) in daps, and the fresh balanced armature IEM in a renewed attack into the portable high end.

    While this may not sound too impressive, this really kinda is, as right now, there really are only 3 major producers with the tech and know-how to make high end balanced armatures. Knowles, whose BA you see in virtually all bespoke IEM on the market today. Sonion, whose BA are mostly used by some Asian companies, notably for tweeters. And then Sony, who stubbornly spent years and many millions developing their own BA with a very different approach just because they could.

    The main difference being that all their BA designs using a side-firing configuration without ducting, whereas virtually all other BA's on the market use a duct to fire into the horizontal plane. Internally too, they have extensively tried different configurations of Armature geometry and diaphragm driving that were often quite different from the usual Sonion and Knowles structures. The most recent design, undoubtedly being the latest and greatest by Sony, being a suspended T-shaped Drivebar, instead of the typical S (or U) shaped armature bar where the driving rod attaches to. [The pushrod too, being part of the diaphragm along a wide base, rather than the typical separate driving rod connecting the armature bar and diaphragm.](https://imgur.com/tRfMDiS)

    Sony claims that this particular design fixes most, if not all, of the sonic oddities BA suffer from traditionally. Perhaps best by enthusiasts known as BA timbre and BA bass.

    Sweet, sweet, Sound

    Now, as a disclaimer perhaps, I want to say that as I got myself further and further into the rabbit hole of audiophilia, I started caring less and less about measurements for personal audio in particular. Two things measuring the same can sound vastly different, and some things that seem bad on paper still manage to strike a musical chord.

    Tend to prefer darker signatures.

    Bulk of listening done on ZX300, balanced, all DSP disabled. TC50S and Sony hybrid MS eartips used. Written while listening to it on AGD NFB11.38, no DSP, Hybrid MS. Imported from SG on release day.


    South of neutral, warm, smooth, slightly bassy, very high levels of 'can't believe it's not DD!'. stellar. While not cheap at all, I'd argue this still being good value. splitting up a review in the typical 'low-mid-high' structure doesn't sit well with me beyond what I just wrote, so we'll go on a slight detour and discover some music from the depths of my HDDs.

    • Steely dan - Aja
    Ah, let's start off with a cliché, Steely Dan's mini album, Aja. Stellar on speakers, but exhibits a bit of haze and recessed vocals on personal audio in general.

    Peg is a fun upbeat track that is excellent for demonstrating the strength of Sony's newfangled BA in the lows. None of the limp wristed affair of yesteryears BA, or the overly dry, dead sounding bass many BA based IEM seem exhibit. Very pleasant mid-bass bloom and extension down below. If I didn't know better, I wouldn't doubt Sony telling me it's a hybrid design. It's that good.

    Deacon Blues. Brilliant layering here. While the vocals take a bit of a back-seat to the instruments, the separation more than makes up for it. The snares nicely textured, and cymbals retain their shimmer and extension into the air without being sparkly or bright. Did I mention these being oh so very pleasant?

    Josie. hmhm... yummy guitar texture, and the synth keys on the background are very nicely rendered, crisp without excess presence.

    • ARIA PIANO COLLECTION II "DIPARTENZA" - Kubota Mineta & Senoo Takeshi
    Aria is, and most likely will forever be my favourite anime. Mellow, slow, sweet. Perhaps a bit like this pair of In-ears.
    While the album itself doesn't scream hifi very much, with the little crackles, background noise and slightly stuffy microphone. The ambiance, the total picture is there and then some. Each note and chord distinct, the sustain being held to the very end. The minute little noises of a live recording, the felt of the pedals touching, the the occasional bounceback of a pedal, key or hammer, it's all there. Everything rendered in all its glory without ever becoming harsh, or punishing. Showing the flaws oh so pleasantly. Gentle Piano, Mediocre recording, lovely composition.

    • Hush by a little girl - Sana [鎖那]
    Next up... Female vocals? well, female vocals of the Japanese kind. Very sweet, quite a bit higher pitched than our western language counterparts. Still. Despite being relatively dark, the vocals still take a good prominent in the mix, but perhaps lacks a little of the fun sparkle and shimmer many Japanese headphone manufacturers like to tune for it seems. Despite the mix on this album being quite congested on many lesser iem, the excellent layering and separation here keep everything quite clean still. While vocal shimmer, lower treble energy seems a touch polite, the extension itself is rather good for an iem of this signature. the air and extension is quite notable on things like snares and cymbals, which really die down quickly with lesser extension/IEM.

    • Harmonia - Akiko Shikata [志方あきこ]
    While still japanese vocals here, Akiko Shikata really does firmly fall into the categories of female vocalists with their range reaching into the lower range of the spectrum. That being said, her range truly is absolutely tremendous.
    Treble response may be relaxed, the extension is good, and more importantly, the midrange is excellent. A very sweet and smooth interpretation of ‘Neutral’ without a doubt. Accurate, yet retains silky soft smoothness. Working wonders here. Lower female vocals, classical/nylon guitars, woodwinds/flutes and various medieval instruments are bloody amazing on these. fabulous stuff.

    • The Gloaming - 2
    smooth and rich. This really, again, showcases the strengths of the these IEM. Opulent, lush mids without getting thick or congested, and yet again, smooth without sacrificing details. Massively enjoyable here. Not many words really to say here, it's a stellar pairing.
    A more general note, Great staging too! it's not very large, but the separation is very very good, better than HS1551 or EX1000 levels of good I think, the staging reasonably precise too, but the stage itself is on the small side. If EX1K was a full blown orchestra or open air performance, the M7 is akin to a (living)room performance.


    As you may have noticed, this iem really plays nice with a wide range of genres with excellent technicalities that really doesn't yield much to its famed detail oriented monster of a brother, the EX1000 and handily beats out virtually everything under its price bracket, exception being made*. As a package, I'd take over both the SE535/SE846 as those are just musically dead and sterile sounding, and severely lacking in extension. The RHA IEM all shrill and terrible treble texture and presentation, the AKG iem… not worth mentioning really.
    I'd also pick them over the excellent Acoustune 1551's, mostly due to my preference for darker signatures and very specific use case as main portable iem, as the IER-M7 is absolutely amazing at isolation, being a non-vented design.

    The whole package

    Sony are masters of packaging, masters of the packaging experience. Their high end offerings all have exceptional packaging in general, to the point where it's a shame to toss the boxes out or even damage that stuff.
    No boring peli-case with some foam inserts, no cheap feeling cardboard construction with some moulded plastic and inserted pieces. Instead, you get a gorgeous matte black box made from 3-4 mm thick longfiber cardboard of amazing quality and finish, already feeling real premium with its imposing heft. Inside, ample space to give each separate part their own place, two amazingly flexible cables that could arguably go toe to toe with bespoke cables in terms of ergonomics and perhaps even looks. Not only that, you get the whole range, and even some unreleased,of sony's own Hybrid silicon tips and the new, and truly impressive, TC50 'foamed silicone' tips. Both of which are exceptional in both fit and sound compared to many other tips. Also included is a cute little storage with thick fabric walls, the typical sony fabric lining and a very sturdy plastic cap and bottom, The stitching and finish really outdoes quite a few aftermarket solutions.

    Bottom line

    These are good. really, very good. With the caveat being, do you like it cozy, dark and sweet?
    Only real weaknesses to me are the slight lack of lower-treble energy at times, and the lower mids can be a little too thick for certain genres, like metal or distortion-heavy rock. But I wouldn't recommend warm IEM for that in the first place. :p

    TL;DR M7 is lovable wallflower doing everything it's asked with stride and attention, without drawing any attention to itself, mellow and shy, oh so very sweet.

    The sole exception being the Acoustune HS1551, which retails for 300-400, and is an all round excellent iem, but with a much more V-shaped tuning and much lesser isolation, along with less comfy staging and tonality.
    1. DatDudeNic
      LOL reading your intro about sony made laugh so hard especially the "various degrees of disappointment" even though i love sony for their daps and some of their iems i just can't help but laugh! Great review none the less!
      DatDudeNic, Sep 15, 2019 at 2:19 AM