Pros - Light, engaging, good clear midrange,non-instrusive highs
Cons - Padding could be softer, low frequency lacking, nothing special in aesthetics
Source and amp: Using the Objective O2 amp and ODAC combo
Build quality and comfort:
Headband pad is a little too firm, may need break in. Initially putting them on, the headband is feeling is evidently there but with time it slowly disappears. Earpads are not the softest nor particularly t thick but the low clamping force and lightness of the headphones make it acceptable.
Build quality is ok but reasonable in keeping the headphone light weight. Only the cup holder part of the headphone is magnesium, the rest is plastic.
Good driver depth for people with dumbo-like ears as they are angled steeper than the HD558 and AD900X.
When I put these , I was quickly reminded of my HD558 upgraded in almost every aspect. The sound signature is similar; forward and engaging but not in your face like grados. As someone who mostly uses Grados, I did not get the impression that these are dark sounding at all; HD558 is darker sounding. The highs may not be the most extended but it is not offensive making it well rounded for just about anything thrown at it. The sound is more crisp sounding than the HD558; clarity across the board is an improvement on the MA900. There is a good amount of detail but do not expect micro detail level extraction. The midrange sounds lively and works quite well with voices without sounding nasally for both female and male voices; I thought it worked well with both. The midrange sounds layered and is transparent; it is not thick sounding. The midrange is evidently clearer than the HD558, especially vocals on the MA900 I much prefer over the HD558. The whole sound in general sounds more open and spaced apart. Sometimes vocals on the HD558 sound like they come from 1 point in the middle where as it doesn't on the MA900. The highs and mids work well together and sound balanced to me without one being too overly powering. In the bass region though, the HD558 hits harder and the low frequencies are louder. Low bass rumble is hard to hear on the Sony; maybe it is due to the housing enclosures as the HD558 is more encapsulating than the MA900 in physical design. I find the bass even lighter than the AD900X on the low end. I can totally picture a new buyer asking where the bass is; the only clear weakness. For me, it is fine but I can see someone wanting more. Both have a good midbass impact to make them enjoyable with pop music. The sound stage is not significantly wider than the HD558 but expect some improvement in depth and width just don't expect a world's difference. There is definitely a better sense of air. The separation is better on the MA900 vs the HD558; it is simply easier to differentiate fore ground and background. Also maybe for some office users, it's important to note that the MA900 leaks out sound more than the HD558 so you may annoy some coworkers nearby almost as much as Grados.
Would I buy these again? Yes I would. I may be looking to sell my HD558 now. I like the whole sound and wasn't sure what to expect in terms of sound. They met my expectations for the price and in some aspects exceeded. I thought the sound stage would be wider but I can't imagine anything wider than the AD900X. Not 100% sold on the general consensus that these are the most comfortable headphones ever but we'll see what happens through pad break-in although they are certainly light but weight alone does not determine comfort. If you like the HD558 but didn't like the midrange much, you may want to give these a try. Other than the bass, it's a clear step above the HD558 in every aspect in terms of sound. Crispy is the one word I would use to describe these.
Pros - Very nice with instrumental music (violin, guitar), modern jazz, classical, psych/stoner rock. Epic soundstage in fps games (quake live, cs: go)
Cons - Could be better with some other than instrumental progressive metal music. You can hear distortion on high volumes (80<) in windows 7
Wow, i am soundwhoring in fps games now, i feel more aware of suroundings, and enemies steps distance, you can easily say the difference between some slightly cheaper and very cheap headphones!!! Had senn's HD429 + 558 + 598 open backs, and akg 550 closed backs before, oh man, sony are better in soundstage among them all, not sure by what margin, i'm not audiophile, but since i've started checking more expensive headphones like sens 5xx series, akg, i can tell the difference.
They are very light and comfortable, the other most comfortable headhpones i ever had (using right now) motorizer headphones. I love thin cable, makes me want to take them out with my smartphone sometimes, cable is very handy. They look fragile in photos and once you open the box, and when you take them in hand, you easily feel - they are sturdy, firm, flexible headband of metal, cloth material and rubber tubes inside shouts - quality. Seriously, when you put them on your head and turn the player on, you don't even care if they look fragile. Thin, firm, metal headband is another reason to fall in love with them.
I'm not good talking about lows mids and highs at all. All i can say these cans are lovely with music for me, just because they don't have overpowering bass, it's there, it's tight, not tiring, i love it. Instrumental music, modern jazz, classical, psychedelic/stoner rock (hidden orchestra, kingston wall, animals as leaders), they'll do fine with these genres. Female voice sounds great with these. Wish they were somewhat better with crushing heavy more agressive metal other than instrumental progressive metal. I am not very good at reviewing headphones.
Pros - Comfort, Build quality, Pleasing warmish neutral sound signature, Easy to drive, Not source or amp finicky(also a con)
Cons - Grainy and veiled sound, Limited scalibility, Lacks refinement, Not the most coherent
Sony MDR-MA900 Review
In the past I compared the Sony MDR-MA900 to the then similarly price AKG K612 Pro. I'm doing this review because I have the MA900 in my possession for a certain amount of time and I came to a better understanding exactly why I felt the way I do about the MA900 compared to the K612. I currently use the K712 as my main headphone but it is quite different sounding than the MA900 and I feel the MA900 is better compared to my HD 545 and K612 than the K712. The systems I am reviewing the headphones on is the HRT Music Streamer II+ as the DAC and both the Hifiman EF2A(with stock tubes, RTC tubes, Siemens tubes, GE tubes, and RCA tubes) and the FiiO E12 as well as many other sources such as my laptop, iPod Touch 5th Gen, etc. This is going to be a relatively short review as I'm going to get to what I like about the headphone and what I think it does well and what I don't like about and what I feel it falls short at.
I'm going to state this now while the amps have minor impact on the sound, it's not really going to make or break the sound like it does on my other headphones. The sound does get cleaned up some with better systems but nothing that drastic as say what happened to my now dead Sennheiser HD 555 which honestly outclasses the MA900 when amped well, the HD 555 has since been replaced by the superior yet older HD 545. As long as the DAC is good enough quality it sounds relatively similar on anything. This likely has to do with the impedance resistor and in fact most of my issues with this headphones sound may be related to it. The problem with the lack of scalability is that the higher you scale up the gear the worse this headphones sounds comparably to other headphones.
Pros: Comfort: This is the standout benefit of this headphone, it's just a featherweight with very mild clamp but is also secure on the head. There is an amazing sense of breathability and they can be worn for hours easily. Some minor quibbles with the comfort is the pads take some getting used to, the headband is sort of small so it may bother some at first, and it needs to be adjusted so the ears don't really touch the drivers.
Tonal Balance: I think one of the best things about this headphone is it's tonal balance, it has a very nice tonal balance, neutral and laid-back with a slightly warm touch to it, which makes it an pleasing and musical headphone that does well with most genres of music and it's a bit on the forgiving side so this makes it good for a variety of recordings.
Build Quality: Contrary to initial reports and suggestions I find the build quality of this headphone to be really good from the actual housing design to the cable itself. The lightweight build suggest heavy cheap plastic use, but this headphone felt well-built from when I first had it in my hands, it also has a good amount of magnesium alloy in the outer grills and yolks, the headband pad area also seems to be reinforced with metal. The cable was a concern for actual worry at first and it does seem to lack some strain relief on the plug but the cable is far sturdier than it appears and it retains no memory, the pair is about a year old and has had the cable run over numerous time with a computer chair and the cable shows no marks of scuffing, the headphone has also been dropped a few times with no marks or anything. These things seem to be built to last.
Soundstage Presentation: This headphone has an amazing soundstage presentation, it has one of the most speaker-like soundstages I've ever heard from a headphone and that's something truly special about this headphone. If someone is looking for a speaker-like sound, it doesn't become much more speaker-like than the MA900.
Easy to Drive: This headphone takes very little work to make it sound how it should or it's best because it sounds relatively similar on just about anything with the biggest improvements seeming to come from the DAC. This is a wonderful headphone for those who don't want to fiddle with amplification.
Cons: Transparency & Clarity: This is what I found to be the headphone biggest and most notable flaw and it's what led me to let it go. All other flaws are relatively minor compared to this one, so I'm going to just focus on this con of the headphone in the review. I'm just going to state it simply this headphone is veiled and grainy. There is a veil and grain throughout the entire sound. This wasn't a big deal when I first got the headphone, but after a while and especially after getting other headphones and upgrading my system more this problem became a bigger and bigger deal. The constant grain that seems ever present in the range, mostly midrange prevents this headphone from having a black background and seems to mask some of the more subtle musical cues and details in a recording. Once I started appreciating and grasping refinement and things such as transparency, a black background, musical depth, etc. better; I started to like this headphone less and less to the point where I have trouble listening to it. I believe it's simply a case where my standards and preference of sound causes me to stop being able to appreciate this headphone much anymore.
Pros - Wide Sounstage, well defined instruments and vocals, neutral sounding, Very Comfortable
Cons - not too good in terms of analytical capability, not so exciting to listen to
I actually just bought this headphone and expect it to perform well.
However, when I compare it to my Beyerdynamic T90, or even my DT990 pro, this headphone actually lacks a bit of the analytical capability.
You feel like the driver can't keep up with sound when you listen to something that has sound going back and forth the left and right earcups.
Another point is that, when it comes to a lot of instruments playing together, they tend to blend together into a mess. These are probably my complaints with the headphone.
Even so, I do have a lot of like to this headphone. The comfort is phenomenal. It is easily the most comfortable headphone I have ever worn. It's feather-light.
Build on this is actually pretty good. Its magnesium, so it doesnt break so easily.
I also found this can extremely good for movies and everyday use. Because of the wide soundstage, it makes you blend into the movie environment pretty easily. Easy to identify sound locations also makes it good for gaming.
Overall, I feel like recommending this headphone to someone who is looking for an everyday use headphone and hasn't tried something higher end. They won't get disappointed.
If you only want sound quality, in this price range, get the DT990 pro (given that it is cheaper and sound better.)
Pros - A polite but engaging presentation, easy to drive, comfort, soundstage, great price!
Cons - Build & looks
The MA900 is “less headphone & more music”. The build is sparse, minimalist and does raise some doubts about durability. The magnesium alloy frame is the backbone holding the plastic enclosed lollipop drivers. The cable is nothing special and I never had issues with tangling. This headphone may not rank high on the build category but remember that it well makes up for it in comfort.The clamping force is delicate, but the headphone sits comfortably on the head – the 70mm drivers cover the ear with ample space to breath! You can wear this headphone for hours and not feel the stress of something sitting on the head. I will confidently say that the comfort offered by the MA900 is unmatched by any headphone in this price range or even several times higher. Kudos to Sony!
the MA900 has a sweet and lovable presentation. It is polite and smooth, yet has enough bite for an engaging but relaxing listen. Treble is well presented and is without any sibilance. The clarity in the treble is apparent since the rest of frequencies are well balanced.Though the overall presentation of the MA900 slants to the warmer side, the treble presence is balanced to provide a good sense of detail and transparency. Some may feel the treble to be a bit too bright (compared to, say the HD650), but in my opinion it is just right! If my memory serves right it’s just like the HD600 tonally and is refreshing to listen to coming from the HD650.
Mids are transparent, detailed and bring out the palpability without any bleed from the bass regions.Surprisingly good bass for a open headphone! The bass is with texture and speed in the upper and midbass regions. There is of course some amount of “boominess” in the bass but that is still forgivable for an open headphone. The whole “Bass lens” acronym had me worried but all’s good. This is by no measure a “bass-head can” but should satisfy most listeners looking for a good bass performance. The attack and punch of the lower frequencies are however slightly distant in the vast soundstage.
The sprawling “soundscapes” that the MA900 fleshes out is fabulous! This is also where the angled drivers do their magic, and magic it is! Better soundstage presentation in terms of size and accuracy are impossible to find in this price class and can only be experienced in models like the Hifiman HE500 & Sennheiser HD800.The other headphone with such a lavish soundstage that I have listened to is the AKG 240DF, then again it definitely not as musical nor easy to drive! As a design advantage, open headphones generally have a more wide and nautral soundstage. The MA900 in particular with its large 70mm driver, angled driver placement takes the open design to new highs.
Perhaps the biggest asset of the MA900 is its undemanding nature when it comes to other gear in its signal route. I listened to the MA900 through a Burson HA160 Headphone amp/DAC Magic, Macbook pro headphone output, Dell XPS M1530 headphone out, iPod Classic headphone out, iPod LOD to Fiio E11 & O2 headphone amp. Remarkably the overall presentation and much of the detail and clarity remains across the different gear.
There is no question in my mind that the MA900 is an excellent buy at the price and performance levels (as good as the HD600!). It goes well with most music genres and could become the “go-to headphone” for music lovers not wanting the hassle of having additional gear or heavy headphones.
Cons - lack of coherence, no sub bass, harsh upper mids.
Ok, this is a headphone that I've been meaning to try out for a while. So after spending most of the day with them I'm going to give a few quick impressions. (I don't believe in burn-in mechanically with dynamic drivers)
I've listened to all my usual recordings for testing equipment, from ECM Jazz, recent top notch classical recordings, Ambient from the likes of Tim Hecker, BT, Jon Hopkins. and some favorite rock Zepplin, Black Crowes. REM.
This is just my opinion...
First impression was very good, smaller soundstage than what I was expecting but nice and airy. They are soo light! You can forget that you are wearing them.
Going through some quality classical recordings mainly symphonic and the sound is very light and weightless. Floating there. Not much bottom end though. I put some Beethoven quartets on and the bass is much better suited here. The cello sounds very detailed and punchy. Played some Jaavi Sibelius and I noticed some added texture to the strings. Nice, but not sure if its pronounced a bit too much.
With jazz I'm enjoying all the air and placement of instruments, but I'm immediately struck by a slight lack of oomph at the bottom end. By that I mean the kick of the drums with the double bass. Its very distant. There is bass plenty in quantity, only its kind of stuck at the lower mids and refuses to budge! I'm also now detecting some sizzle in the upper mids. Snare drum is pronounced or emphasized a little. I'm admittedly a bit of a tonehead so I appreciate realism more than any other attribute from headphones. So as the hours go by I'm getting more annoyed by the this. In fact this is the first headphone that has actually caused me some fatigue in a long while... (and I own HD800 and K701) Its the forward upper mids that are ringing.
Ambient music works very well with these. Because of the forward mids all of the fine details and layering come across very well. The air of these is great for creating a big floating wall of noise. Really great with this genre of music. Electronica with deep bass is great from the top to mids but they fall short at giving you any bass satisfaction. E/Qing them doesn't help at all. They just can't give you sub bass.
Rock music, I'm again a little disappointed. Electric guitar sounds great (Grado great) 'Whats the Frequency Kenneth' guitar sounds gritty and raw. Perfect tone. But as soon as the other instruments take part all focus gets lost for me. There is instant burring. This recording is commendable for its simplicity. A headphone such as the HD600 will clearly define the four instruments in use and create the space, even though they don't have that big a soundstage. What we have here is an airy sound, but the instruments are squashed too much together. Very forward and a little intrusive for my liking. I'm constantly thinking Grado. Maybe a Grado with a rolled off very top end and big airy pads.
I used a Necosoundlab dual mono SS amp for my impressions with Arcam and Cambridge audio dacs, tried them on my other amps but there was clearly a massive impedance mismatch. I would not use these with anything of high impedance.
Remember these are just my honest opinions, and I can see why peeps like them, especially if you appreciate forward mids. But I wouldn't put them up against a DT880, HD600/650, K701. All these headphone are a clear league above these. You could ask what do you expect for the price of these?? Well for the same price you could buy a lot of good used headphones that will be better or a brand new K701.
The MDR MA900 is a fantastic headphone and even fantasticererer at the price of $200. The soundstage is just unbelievable, trumping cans that cost more than twice it's price (HD650, HD600, DT880). The imaging is also great, and the best thing about the soundstage is how focused it is. Neither the vocals, nor the bass are lost in this soundstage (amazing!).
Let's take a break from the sound.
These are hands down the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn, so if your thinking about the comfort, just stop it because it's just silly. I read someones impressions somewhere and he described the comfort as it being like a hat: after a few minutes, you forget they're even there.
The build is... well the materials themselves are good, while also keeping the actual weight of the headphones very low, but the structural design has its flaws. Dropping these is ok, but sitting on them, won't break them, but it may just mess with the swivel mechanism or something of that sort. The headphones actually look nice, but are not very inspiring when you have them in your hands.
Sound: The mids are very clear and the instruments sound true to the source. The bass is surprisingly good. EQ makes the bass actually better than a lot of other closed cans at the same price. On it's own, and this is just me, it lacks impact for pop, hip hop, and r&b, but its great for rock, jazz, etc. The highs are slightly recessed (EQ to the rescue).
Overall, they trash every closed can I've heard (and that's without an amp).