Sony MDR-EX800ST

asanjuan2003

New Head-Fier
Pros: Balanced. Bass for days.
Cons: Supa long cable.
Set-up:
Foobar2000 > Steinberg UR22 mk2 > Sony MDR-ex800st
Playing Flac, DSD (converted to flac because of DAC), CD (using external drive), AAC.
Using Silicone Tips (Medium)

Looks:
Shell:
plastic but neat looking. Sticks out your ears because it has a 16mm driver.
Cable: Supa long & thin.

Sound:
Initial Impression:
Flat sound signature. A little boring at first.
Detail: Really great, on par if not slightly better than the $300-$500 headphones I’ve owned in the past: Senn HD600, AKG K240DF, AKG K712, Beyer DT150, Sony MDR-CD900st.
Soundstage: It’s good for a pro iem.
Separation: Instruments can be heard with high clarity.
Bass: Like a boss!
Mids: Slightly recessed sometimes. When I listen to Diana Krall’s Love Scenes album, they don’t sound recessed. Very clear and extended.
Treble: Can be sibilant with a few albums. That means it is really good most of the time.

Music: I prefer to listen to jazz and slower songs with the ex800st. I don’t really enjoy listening to rock w/ this iem because it is very technical. I mean you will hear the music as is but it kinda makes rock or pop not as exciting to listen to if that makes sense.

Compared to my Sony XBA N3: these iems are at the same price range & level of clarity.
Ex800st is flat and balanced.
Ex800st is more detailed.
Ex800st is less fun sounding.
Ex800st is more revealing of sources.
My mind tells me that the 800st is technically better but I'm using the N3 more..a lot more.

My Final thoughts: Not cheap @ $200 but a steal considering what it can do. The Sony MDR-ex800st is the best reference IEM at its price range.
Pros: Staging,Clarity,Mids and Bass if you MOD.
Cons: Cable is pretty horrific.
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 Sony MDR-EX800ST​
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IrvineKwang
IrvineKwang
@Hawaiibadboy Thanks for the review..
EX800ST+Tape Mod+Powerful Amp.....muah!
Hawaiibadboy
Hawaiibadboy
drbluenewmexico
drbluenewmexico
thanks HBB! the video skips from 11:53 to 12 30 but I'm guessing i put a tiny bit of tape
over that vent that is seen at 11 53! then poke a pin hole in it to increase soundstage?
that will be easy!

RikudouGoku

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sub/mid-bass quality
Mids
Massive Soundstage (width)
Very good treble texture
Timbre
Responds well to EQ
Versatile in what it can play
Cons: Lack of accessories
Very weird fit
Stock cable with very bad memory hook
Treble peak needs to be tamed with EQ
Very bad isolation
Proprietary connection
Below average instrument separation/detail at this price
20200819_154504.jpg

EDIT 2021-02-15: Seems my unit is actually filterless. May be the reason why I needed EQ to tame the treble.

Disclaimer: I bought this unit second hand from amazon japan at my own expense.

Price: Around 200 usd

Specifications:

Format: Closed Dynamic

Driver Unit: 16mm, dome type (CCAW employed)

Maximum input: 500mW

Impedance: 16 ohms

Sound pressure sensitivity: 108dB/mW

Playback frequency: 3 - 28,000 Hz

Cable length: 1.6m Litz wire Y type cord

Plug: Gold-plated L type stereo mini plug

Weight: 7g

20200819_154558.jpg

Accessories:

S/M/L tips

Carry pouch

20200819_154558.jpg

Cable: A very standard (It is longer than normal though at 1,6 meters) non-braided cable. They are thin like noodles so I expect durability to be quite low on it and the connector and divider are soft plastic. Tangles itself quite easy (as you can see on the picture) but has a working (very tight) chin-slider.

I recommend getting a 3rd party cable (you can get adapters from MMCX to the “EXK” connection that it uses on AliExpress) because the memory hooks are quite bad in the stock cable, making the fit even worse. Measured at 0,5 ohms.

20200819_154622.jpg

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20200819_155120.jpg

Build: A very unique shell both in terms of looks and fit. They aren’t that big, but with the way these fit they do stick out of your ears. They are made out of plastic though.

Fit: These do fit me but it is very finicky, not good enough to use for physical activities as they need some readjustment from time to time. It is a bit weird though in terms of how you look like when you are wearing them. So, I don’t recommend using them outside, unless you want some attention.

Comfort: pretty good even with the awkward fit. These feel more like a bullet style iem than a custom iem.

Isolation: Very bad (doesn’t even block out the noise from a pedestal fan), since the shell doesn’t cover my entire ear and because it has a huge vent.

DISCLAIMER: EQ will be used for the EX800ST during this entire review, I do not recommend the EX800ST without EQ so if you can’t use EQ you don’t need to waste more of your time.

Setup: Ibasso DX160 (low gain, Volume around 48, EQ settings at the bottom of this review), Stock cable, Final Audio Type E LL tips

Lows: Sub-bass focused over mid-bass. Very clean, fast, tight and textured. Extension is very good and rumbles a lot. A very natural sounding bass.

Mid-bass: Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), individual bass strikes is distinct and clear with good quantity to make it fun. Tight and fast but texture is a bit lacking. The (02:55-03:01) section with the chopper sound isn’t very clear.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), pretty good texture with good tightness and speed. Needs a little bit more quantity to make it more fun though.

Sub-bass: Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), very good extension but needs to rumble a bit more. The punch is powerful, tight and fast.

Will Sparks – Sick like that (03:08-03:22), very good texture, speed and tightness along with quantity. Making it powerful but very clean.

Mids: The mids are very reference like, where the vocals are either forward or recessed when they should be. Male/female vocal balancing is also very good.

Female-vocals: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), very forward, clean and detailed vocals. Sounds very natural.

Yuki Hayashi – MightU (01:58-02:55), Very forward, clean and detailed. Sounds very natural.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), energetic while not sharp and natural, very hard to do all these at the same time.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Crescent (02:07-02:26), energetic but shouty.

Male-vocals: Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (00:57-01:17), clean and natural and no bleed from the bass either.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), warm but still detailed. Very natural.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), forward and a bit sharp electric guitar.

Deuce – America (03:03-03:16), energetic and a bit shouty, vocals are more forward than the instruments.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), well textured cellos/violins, clean and natural.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), cymbals are a bit recessed but still natural.

Pretty good extension and air is present.

Soundstage: Extremely big soundstage, both in depth and width. But the width is one of the biggest I have ever heard.

Tonality: Bass boosted neutral. Leaning a bit more on the warmer side but can adapt to sounding brighter on brighter songs. Timbre is very good as expected from a single DD.

Details: Below average

Instrument Separation: Below average

Songs that highlight the IEM:

Good genres: Trance, EDM, Hip-hop, Rock, metal, Pop, Kpop, Jpop, orchestral, OST, Hiroyuki Sawano, Linkin Park

Bad genres: Very versatile but maybe for classic it has too much bass.



Comparisons:

IEM: Blon BL-03 (mesh mod)

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), extension is better on the EX800ST and also rumbles more. The punch is more powerful and has more texture on the EX800ST but speed and tightness are equal.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), cleaner bass on the 03 but texture, tightness and speed are similar. Both are lacking some quantity.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), better control and higher quality on the EX800ST.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), cleaner and less peaky while vocals are a bit less forward on the EX800ST, sounds more natural too.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), sharp on the 03 but not on the EX800ST, sounds better on the EX800ST.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), sounds more natural on the EX800ST but cleaner on the 03 due to the bass on the EX800ST being a bit muddy in comparison.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), much sharper electric guitars on the 03, but a bit cleaner overall.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), much more textured and natural on the EX800ST, the cellos are also much more forward on it where as it is a bit recessed on the 03.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), cleaner and more natural on the 03, makes the EX800ST seem a bit muddy in comparison.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), the 03 can’t compete with the soundstage of the EX800ST at all. Instrument separation and detail is also better while timbre is equal.

Overall: The 03 is a great iem but the EX800ST is overall a better iem.

IEM: Fiio FH3

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), rumble and extension are similar, but the punch on the FH3 is a lot more textured, tighter, faster and has more quantity while sounding cleaner.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), more textured, tighter, faster and more quantity on the FH3 while being cleaner.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), much faster, tighter, textured and a bit more quantity while being cleaner on the FH3.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), cleaner, more natural and detailed on the FH3.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), not sharp on the FH3, while it is a bit sharp on the EX800ST in comparison.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), more natural, cleaner and more detailed on the FH3.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), much sharper electric guitars on the EX800ST.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), more textured on the EX800ST and timbre is a bit better on it. The FH3 is brighter and makes it sound more natural though.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), much cleaner, natural and detailed on the FH3.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), soundstage is wider on the EX800ST but deeper on the FH3. Instrument separation, detail and timbre are better on the FH3. Sounds much more natural and cleaner.

Overall: The FH3 is basically much better than the EX800ST in almost every way.

IEM: LZ A6 (pink filter)

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), The extension is much better on the A6 while the EX800ST rumbles more. The punch is much tighter, faster and textured while also having more quantity than the EX800ST.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), texture, quantity, speed and tightness are much better on the A6 while it is also much more detailed and cleaner.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), much faster, tighter and textured on the A6 while quantity is a bit more.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), more natural and forward (vocals) on the EX800ST, but it is much cleaner and more detailed on the A6.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), a bit sharper on the A6, while it is much more detailed and cleaner.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), cleaner and more detailed on the A6, but vocals are more forward and natural on the EX800ST.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), much sharper electric guitars on the EX800ST and much more detailed and cleaner on the A6.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), more textured and cleaner on the A6. Although the cellos are more natural on the EX800ST due to the warmth while the violins are more natural on the A6 due to the brightness.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), much cleaner, natural and detailed on the A6.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), much deeper soundstage on the A6 while width is also a bit bigger. Details and instrument separation are much better on the A6 too.

Timbre is better on the EX800ST but sounds more natural on the A6 due to the tonality and technicalities. The EX800ST sounds muddy in comparison.

Overall: The A6 is performing on a much higher level than the EX800ST in basically every way.


Conclusion: The EX800ST is an iem that has definitely withstood the test of time and is a very good iem especially with its huge soundstage (width). I recommend this if you want a single DD with impressive soundstage, but EQ is recommended due to the peak around 5-6kHZ.

EQ for the EX800st:

Low shelf: 80 HZ, Q:0.64, Gain: 2.5dB

Low shelf: 150HZ, Q:1.1, Gain: 1.5dB

Peak EQ: 3700HZ, Q:1.5, Gain: 2dB

Peak EQ: 5350 HZ, Q:3.4, Gain: -7dB

Preamp: -4dB

Reference songs:
Last edited:
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FastAndClean
FastAndClean
thanks bro, for me the blessing is a bit warm to be honest, that just shows how different we can hear sometimes
RikudouGoku
J
jmwant
I really appreciate mentioning the reference tracks. For someone who's trying to make an educated decision on their next buy, this will help a lot.

chinerino

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: great all rounder, good bass and mids , great sound stage, neutral (DF-neutral), good sound stage and imaging capabilities, clarity, detailed, and pretty good separation.
Cons: Stock cable is pretty annoying and bad, proprietary connection, fit may be a nightmare for many (not me, thank god for the chin slider), upper mid range or treble may sometimes get grainy, and upper treble rolls off
Driver Setup: Single 16 mm Dynamic Driver


Price: $320 - $370 SGD



Intro

Disclaimer: this review is done on my accord and I purchased this set at full price from Amazon at a price of around $320 SGD.


As many would have heard of it by now, the SONY MDR EX1000ST being one of the revered IEMs in the market now, the EX800 (or MDR7550) is its little brother and it is no slouch when it comes to sonic performance. As of now, the EX1000 are all out of stock IIRC and only the EX800 are available in most legitimate stores or you can purchase them online like me via amazon. The EX1000 was a huge hit and gained a reputation of being one of the best reference IEM in the market and today we are going to take a look at the EX800 if it is a worthy competitor on its own.



e65eb0_912327ff10ac4262b57b0424463f89f0~mv2.webp



Packaging and Accessories (Score: 5/10)


There isn’t much to look at here, the unit came in white box and inside the box, there is a carrying case and a set of tips included. The box may look shady and some might doubt its authenticity but no worries, it is meant to be like that. At the back and at the top of the white box, there should be a printed label saying “MDR-EX800ST” and a bunch of japanese characters.


Overall, the experience was kind of underwhelming given the price as compared to modern day offerings (like the Moondrop KXXs) but it is simple and includes the essentials so I will give it a pass since the main value comes from sound.


Build quality and Fit (Score: 7/10)


The design of these IEMs are really unique and unseen-of anywhere else (other than its siblings), initially I had trouble knowing how to wear these and it took me some time to get a proper fit (the model name should be facing your ear when you wear it). The EX800s are meant to leak (it plays a part in its sonic qualities) and it has a vent at the back of the driver housing so do take note of that while we continue this review.

The EX800 is made of durable plastic and they are pretty light on the ears so I could really wear them for very long hours and the tips provided actually fit my ears pretty well! But, I disagree with its cable and the memory wire sucked real bad…. It does not follow the shape of my ears easily and it constantly falls off my ears while I am wearing it, however there is a chin slider that I usually pull up near my chin such that the cable doesn’t fall off.


The stock cable build quality is average, nothing special and nothing fancy. Do take note that it uses a proprietary connection (you will need to turn the connection cover like a carabiner with a lock) so replacement cables might get costly since it is not widely available as compared to 2-pins and MMCX.

I will give this unit a 7 for its build quality of the IEM in general as I only have issues with its cables and initially, its design but I got used to it so take note of this point!


Sound (Score: 8.5/10)


e65eb0_136fb976153e475a8215697ac44f4d50~mv2.webp



Frequency graph of the Sony MDR EX800ST at the courtesy of Crinacle.


The EX800ST sounds neutral but with a tiny hint of warmness and I usually used it as a reference to compare with other IEMs in terms of frequency response. This unit is actually quite sensitive so you do not really need a dedicated amp for it which also means you can listen to it on the go. I will just list a few tracks that I often use to test since I already owned this unit for quite some time.


Sources used

  • Topping D10 > JDS ATOM
  • Ibasso DX120
  • IPhone XR
Music tracks listened to

  • Everybody Changes (Keane: Hopes and Fears)
  • Secrets (One Republic: Dreaming Out Loud)
  • Salute D’amour (YoYoMa)
  • New Light (John Meyer)
  • Cry (Cigarette After Sex: Cry)
  • HALO MCC OST
  • Violin concerto in D major allegro
  • 1812 Overture
  • Magnum O Mysterium (Choir)
  • Ophelia (The Lumineers)
  • Hello (Adele)
Bass (Score: 8.5/10)


I am actually quite impressed with the bass response of this unit, it's full, the “oomph” is very satisfying, and at the same time it does not sound too out of place or overpowering the other frequencies. I have nothing much to say about this region as it is really good in my opinion and I will summarise this region as powerful, clean and full.


Mids (Score: 8.5/10)


Other than its upper-mid range, I have little to no qualms with it at all! Male vocals are really pronounced and clear, not much bass bleeding, and something that I really like about its mid range is its realism and texture. Cello sounds are really addictive when listening to YoYoMa’s entire album which I did not expect from a reference monitor that was made to monitor tracks. However, its upper mid range is pretty aggressive especially when it comes to female vocals such Adele and it just becomes a bit too fatiguing to listen to after a while.


Treble (Score: 7.5/10)


The treble on the EX800ST is prolly its weakest attribute, although it does not sound sibilant at all which is very important for me since I am very sensitive to treble, it does sound unpolished? Many may say that it is grainy and rolled-off but I would not blame it since it is very common in single DD setups. They just can't do treble as well as BAs or Electrostats. However, it still does certain things really well such as detail retrieval and instrument separation which become very apparent in busy instrumental tracks and orchestral pieces. Given its limitations, I would say I'm quite satisfied with this region other than its treble roll-off and rough edges in this region.


Overall and other sonic elements


The MDR EX800ST is truly a benchmark that is hard to beat. It sounds open (of course because it leaks and a trade-off with isolation) its soundstage is above average for an IEM and imaging is quite precise. If you enjoy an open-sounding IEM with very good technical ability then this is it, the MDR EX800ST will not disappoint you in this aspect but its tuning does take off a few points in its tonality which is still good but not as good as its technical abilities.


Conclusion


I am convinced of this unit’s capabilities and I am very pleased with it. I really enjoy neutral sound signatures and this unit does it really well! However i'm going to take a few points off for its treble performance as well as cable since it really bothered me quite a lot. Do give this unit a try for its impeccable sonic qualities which is very rare at this price point but do take note that the fit does require some time for you to get used to and locate that sweet spot.

kochiyadragons

New Head-Fier
Pros: Accurate sound, price
Cons: Isolation
     To sum up, this is my another favorite beside Shure SE425 (my main IEM for 6 years) I have purchased this IEM at Yodobashi Camera by 18000 Japanese yen (about 160$ at the time) This is the top of the mountain of the sony dynamic in-ear. MDR-EX1000 are more spacial and musical in compare to this IEM, and EX600 (discontinued) is somehow bassy and entertaining.
 
     The sound is very relaxing, but tight at the same time. I know it is contradictory. The mid-stage sound is very dynamic but delicate, and it never get you tired to listen music. Musical but referential. This is the only IEM I have ever know IEM with sound accuracy without exhaustion. If I say ER-4S as the de facto standard sound for the single BA IEM, this is the de facto natural sound for dynamic IEM. This is the IEM for who need to listen very detail of the music for their work. This IEM is designed by Sony for music creator, so package is completely white without ornament. This is not even a consumer product but for professional users. Bass is mediocre amount, but quality of the bass is awesome. It is powerful bass, but not exhausting. The best sound range is the mid. I could even visually see every single of sound particle when I listen through this IEM. Treble is very transparent and delicate. Overall, it is high quality monitoring IEM for reasonable price. I strongly believe 18000 yen is too cheap for its sound and build quality. 
 
    However, isolation is very terrible. You can still use comply by reversing its side (sounds just weird, but I have learned it from friend of mine who is also audiophile) if you like to use it at outside. 
 
     The cable connector is Sony's own standard, so not compatible with other company's IEM. I also found this IEM changes its sound when I replace the cable to EX1000's one. Somehow gives more detail and space for its sound.
ryanjsoo
ryanjsoo
To reply to a person in particular, just type "​@" the person's username. For example, @kochiyadragons
kochiyadragons
kochiyadragons
kochiyadragons
kochiyadragons
Thanks for your comment @Hawaiibadboy!

lllandline

New Head-Fier
Pros: They are unique.
1) Neutral sound. Great for mixing. Consider this fact while reading other pros.
2) Bass is powerful and has no limits.
3) Realistic mids.
4) Overall sound is bold and powerful.
5) Stock sound is very open and light; however, soundstage is maybe a half a meter in diameter. Bigger than in any of my IEMs (excluding DM6's, these are just as big), but still not as big as you might've thought after reading some reviews.
6) Separation is top-notch.
Cons: 1) Treble roll-off kills realism in sound. It is not THAT severe, but will lose to armatures like ZS6.
2) Bass isn't that great in terms of it's quality, it's just the amount of it. Sub-bass is crippled by big vents, closing them causes bass to become boomy trash, I'm not that kind of basshead. Can actually be fixed with EQ.
3) 5.5kHz-6kKz peak that kills the pleasure of listening to these earphones. Can be fixed through equalizing. Treble can be fixed, but to some degree. They are just physically unable to provide great treble, unfortunately. Otherwise I would've ended up my audiophile journey right now.
4) Somewhat low-res feeling, I guess that's what people call grainy treble, kills realism even more.
5) Sound leaks a lot, no isolation, awkward fit with stock cable and long tips. I don't really care about such things, though.
Stock cable is really, really bad, I thought that cable-believers are silly people before I've purchased MMCX adapters and good copper cable for these earphones.
Considered selling them as many times as realizing that I've nearly made a big mistake.
Bought them for 200$ with shipping.
Was definitely disappointed after first listen. Well, they are seriously source-dependent.
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FastAndClean
FastAndClean
before years i heard the EX1000 considered by many to be the king of dynamic drivers, it was grainy and aggressive in the upper mids with no treble extension, kind of uneven sounding, have no idea why so many people love them so much
Sp12er3
Sp12er3
I agree with all of the point here, it's pretty strange IEM.
Must add that I think what people pointing about soundstage is mistaking them for openness, this is very, quite open.
For people used to BAvs treble and detail, the grain masking things would make them sound pretty low fi, but when you start listening between the line it is still very textured and full, something I haven't found on any DD IEM I've tried.
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