Sony's new flagship, over ears, closed back headphone

Sony MDR-Z7

Rating:
4.04545/5,
Tags:
  • Sony's new flagship, over ears, closed back headphone

Recent Reviews

  1. ZOMBIEWINEGUM
    A beautiful headphone with mediocre sound
    Written by ZOMBIEWINEGUM
    Published May 23, 2017
    2.0/5,
    Pros - build
    comfort
    Cons - price
    sound
    I bought these headphones from the head-fi classifieds for £260 in good as new condition.

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    Build

    Simply beautiful. Everything a high end headphone should be. Every part you touch is metal, leather or high quality pleather. The headband extends with satisfying clicks, the cups rotate smoothly. A truly impeccable build worthy of a flagship headphone.

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    Looks are understated and attractive. Black and silver, with small red accents to indicate right are the only colours visible when worn. Large black cups have the timeless Sony logo etched into them, silver in colour. When not being worn, within the cup you can see the huge 70mm driver, greenish gold in colour. Very impressive.

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    Comfort

    Exactly as comfortable as you would expect having seen the huge pads. Soft with a large opening then envelops your ear, the headphones are very comfortable for extended listening periods. Being closed, however, I do find that they can get a little warm at times. The headband has ample padding, evenly distributing the (little) weight over your head. I don't get any hot spots from this headband.

    Sound

    Bass: Big and boomy. Bass is accentuated a lot, likely satisfying most bass heads. Bass lacks some articulation and tightness, also lacking the very lowest rumble, but makes a great effort for a dynamic driver. The bass also has a strange feel to it, in that it sounds detached from the rest of the music at times, like you are using a subwoofer in your room. Perhaps this is due to the very large driver, I like it a lot.

    Mids: The worst part of the headphone, the mids are distant and lacking a certain realism at times. Some vocals can sound fine, albeit recessed, but other just sound messed up, particularly female vocals. Disappointing for such an expensive headphone. Bass can also bleed into the mids a little, making them sound muffled.

    Treble: Detailed, but a little hard. Treble presentation is on the darker side but manages to retain most detail. I also don't hear any nasty peaks or sibilance. The overall treble presentation is a little hard, however. A downgrade from the liquid smooth treble of the MSR7s.

    Soundstage / imaging: Soundstage is quite large, not huge but good for a closed headphone. It does not ever sound congested and instruments have quite a bit of air around them. Imaging is precise, not as pinpoint accurate as the MSR7s, but still impressive. These would make quite good gaming headphones.

    Summary

    I want to love these headphones, but there are simply too many flaws in the sound. It seems some strange choices were made in making these headphones. The physical presentation is that of an audiophile flagship, but the sound is more consumer oriented, as if Sony is trying to appeal the a more average listener. I feel like in trying to appeal to the larger audience, Sony has made an even more niche product, an expensive, consumer oriented headphone with most of the technical competencies of an audiophile headphone, with the price of an audiophile headphone to boot.

    In the end, do I recommend these at their £550 asking price? Absolutely not. If you can get them second hand around the price I did (£260), they are a reasonably good deal.

    At retail I'll give them 2.5/5
  2. gerelmx1986
    MDR-Z7
    Written by gerelmx1986
    Published Feb 12, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - warm n´smooth Sound quality, soundstage, Build quality, confortable, balanced capable
    Cons - Poor isolation
     
    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​

     ​

    The Z7 come in the now-usual sony double "layered" box, a Huge white cardboard showing the product amplified photo, some specs in the back (marketing[​IMG]). removing the cardboard revelas a Lux black box with the SONY logo in the middle, open that box and the Z7s greet you. kind like a jewel box,  covered in black soft silky cloth to give that BLING
    BLING factor.
     
    They come with two pairs of cables, a Starbdard Single-end and a Balanced dual-3.5mm cable and a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter nothing more
     
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    Build Quality, Fit/Ergonomics​

     ​

    The Build of these is superb, they are metal encased,  they feel cold to the touch and in my ears for a while, they seem to be very robust made, anyways i won't be dropping them just because they are metal.
     
    The fit very confortable covering my entire ear, The créate a tiny bit of pressure but that is more than okay. I find the cables are way too long, even for home use. Te cables are the best i have seen. The pads are thick plush made of the real thing and not pleather, just in summer you can get sweaty with these (yeah is Winter at the time of review but have already seen 34°C)
     
     The headband is made of metal all is metal made and they feel very robust
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    They feature removable cables, the mechanism has a screwing lock mechanism which looks great and is gold plated, plus the extender to fit your head has nice markings from 1 to 10 and it is slotted, it clicks nice
     
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    Sound Quality​

     ​

    In one word how i would describe these MARVELOUS, I love the big sound the output for a "closed" can. They are vented or semi-open that means you can hear most sounds from outside, even me typing this review but muffled, my Neighbor's dogs barking. I like the trade-off of open design and the BIG soundstage they give.
     
    My gear used for them:  Sony Walkman WM1A and sony Xperia XA and Sont VAIO fit 14A and a Dell Latitude, this time tested with  16/44.1K Fand 24/44.1 ~ 96K FLAC files
     
    BASS: the bass on these  has a presence but i am not saying Boomy or always present, it's the kind of warmth I like, well textured and controlled bass, kicks hard and very deep, I don't see any signs of mid-bass bloat, in fact i feel the bass of Z7 well controlled and smooth.
     
    Cellos sound very natural the charcteristic of the grunt and runble of the deep bass is represnet as if you lsitened to the real thing for real, Yo-yo Ma's rendition of Bach 6 cello suites (1983, colubia records CD remaster) is very wonderful expression of the instrument, goes very deep. With Organ works is just equally phantastic, as it rumbles very nice deep that sometimes i get this tickling sensation on my ears needing a scratch :). Same for Harpsichord, pianos, string or wind quintest/quartets/trios etc gives the authority to the bass instruments and tonal body of the works.
     
    What impress me is that Z7, despite having this big bass, it renders the Kettle drums with a crsipy BANG, not the usualy BOOOM BOOOM you get with other IEM or headphones, bach Brandenburgs, in these the kettles a nice crispy bang and does not smear on quick drum rolling, stays authoritative. Chamber organs display a deepest bass i have ever Heard wow, Locatelli trio sonatas
     
    MIDS. The mids on these are well presented perhaps slightly recessed but not that much, they give the sense of airiness, there is no signs of Mids-dstorting, there is no sharpness nor shouty. Violins, violas, female vocals are well represented, very organic and natural No signs of bass leaking, very coherent, yet detailed headphone but not to the extreme of super revealing. This contributes to the musical nature of these.
     
    HIGHS:  The highs in these are very sweet, non-fatiguing, recessed yes but at the same time they don't let details escape. Harpsichord and organs are troublesome with such a high extension in some headphones like *cough* MDR-1R *COUGH* way too Sharp that i had ringing ears, with Z7 i can listen for hours and i don't get faitigued at all
     
    SOUNDSTAGE & SEPARATION: WOW jus WOW a LIVE-LIKE EXPERENCE yes!! LIVE EXPERIENCE, a sound I never heard from any HP, not even the Ultrasone HFI 780, soundstage is BIG and airy (depends on setting not the same stage from a concert hall and a small studio room). Separatio is also very precise, i can distinguish many instruments  and pinpoint them, can distinguish a cello from a Viola, a cor-anglis from an oboe and  the inaudible instrumnets (Harpsichors, Bassoon) come to life in the satge. Symphonic works, large choral wokrs (think thomas tallis Spem in alium) rendered with greatness and nothing gest blurred smeary all sections of an orchestra well rendered, strings and flutes & brass even when being played at pianissimo levels
     
    The staging is so damn 3D that i get this enveloping effect in both ears very well, te most 3D-sounding HP i have ever heard that it has removed my itch of getting a custom multi-driver speaker-setup
     
    For the price range i got them THEY ARE A  BARGAIN they compete easy with $1K or more HPs, in summary, very controlled bass that adds musicality, airy mids and highs that contribute to the HUGE Soundstage and 3Dness, overall they are great for classical, fairy smooth and nothing stands out
     
    Their signature is like an oversized XBA-Z5 but wiht less bass forcé, both are equally good SONY audio products
     
    A Comparisons with other IEMs & devices i have owned​

     ​

    XBA-Z5 VS MDR-Z7: They have the same signature, same driver technology except that z5 is an hybrid of BA and DD and Z7 are 70mm DD only, both have THAT SOUNDSTAGE, perhaps Z5, has a slightly bigger soundstage than Z7.
     
    MDR-Z7 VS XBA-A3: Z7s are more smooth sounding with zero treble zing, no verdone treble on Z7 compared to the boosted trebles of the XBA-A3, bass on Z7 is more controlled down and not as prominent as the A3, the A3 are more V-shaped for me than the Z7s
     
    MDR-Z7 vs MDR-1R: The Z7 win hands-down,  more smoother signature, more natural presentation, bigger soundstage than the 1R. Simply the 1R had a very Sharp signature too mid-centered and hot tebles to get that resolution for high-res audio, IMHO way too overdone, Harpsichords sounded way too strinent as well as strings, Z7 have a nice recessed trebles yet very detailed making Harpsichord bearable to listen to.
     
     
    Driven By XA: OK sounding but as we know smartphones can't do what a dedicated audio rig can, ok mids, ok highs, slightly boomy bass, reduced soundstage
    Driven by sony VAIO flip PC (2014 14'' inch): Not as great as the XA, a boomier sounding signature, veiled.
    DELL LATITUDE 36400: The oworst ofender of the last two, worse than the VAIO, terribly boombastic and so veiled that i think i am lsitening to some beats by Dr dre
     
    Driven by  WM1A: very airy, clean presentation, damn 3D soundatging, lean signature not at all boomy. WM1A drives them well on SE and high gain benefit  for difficult tracks (low volume masters)
     
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    1. View previous replies...
    2. ImperialBlade
      Why should I have to agree with the masses? I like what i like and I hear what I hear. Let's agree to disagree. 
      ImperialBlade, Feb 15, 2017
    3. gerelmx1986
      Yes i have read other's reviews and know mine differs alot from what others say, namely a dark oriented signature which i don't find them that dark
      gerelmx1986, Feb 16, 2017
    4. Raketen
      These are not perfect but I agree and am also finding Z7 enjoyable for classical- definitely relaxed sound but instruments seem accurate in timbre and spatial cues are very good and not congested even with Mahler while also forgiving for older lo-fi recordings which can be handy w/ classical.
      Raketen, Feb 19, 2017
  3. MegaDerpBro
    Sony MDR Z7: Fantastic Comfort and Build, needs work to sound its best
    Written by MegaDerpBro
    Published Dec 30, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - The comfort is out of this world, phenomenal sound stage for a closed headphone, sound once modded
    Cons - Sound before modding is mediocre, cups feel less premium than the rest of the build
     Hi, this is my first review of any headphones, and I'm aware that these are probably quite odd headphones to start on, but I got them at Christmas, and I think I've listened to these both with and without the mods a sufficient amount to be able to give a review. First things first, my use case is listening to a mixture of Noise Rock/Post-Hardcore, EDM and Alternative Rock, and also using these for YouTube and gaming. I'm generally a fan of a bass-boosted sound signature for all of these things, as it just makes them sound more fun to me.
     
    As a point of comparison, my previous headphones are the original Sennheiser Momentum Over-ears, another warm set, though much smaller and lighter. Both have been driven from my Phone, and from my PC (onboard only, though I intend to get a Schiit Stack at some point in the next month or so, and it should be noted, my PCs onboard Audio is fairly good). I've also had most of the low price IEMs that get recommended on the sub, KZ ATEs, Xiaomi Piston 1/2/3 etc, but they occupy a very different product category, and have demoed other fashion/casual use headphones like the B&O H8 and the MDR 1000Xs
     
    Build Quality,  Design and Comfort
     
    The MDR Z7 has absolutely fantastic build quality, being constructed mostly from aluminium and leather, with only some internal parts of the headband being plastic. The leather on the top of the headband is relatively thick and solid, with a heavy, visible grain, while the underside is a much softer smoother leather over a plush foam, however the edges of the leather part of the headband cover a hard part of the structure of the headband. These hard parts don't touch my head, though depending on the size and shape of your head, they might. The adjustment sliders of the headphones are aluminium, with a nice clicky action when resizing the headphones, with 10 notches on each side providing a good range for expansion. The slider housings are a high polish aluminium, while the sliders themselves are a sandblasted finish. The headband is attached to the earcups by an aluminium gimbal which encompasses half of the cup, and allow maybe 20 degrees of pivot inward and 5 degrees of pivot outward. the tilt and swivel of the cup gives them a good range of motion to help with fit. Overall, the headband is fantastically solid and well built. The earcups are definitely the part of the build I like least, as while the magnesium is probably high quality, and the mottled texture on the outside of the cups is both attractive and feels good in the hand, they feel very thin and hollow, and feel very plastic. Otherwise, the cups are nicely shaped and attractive, and feature venting at both the top and bottom of the cans to make them slightly open. (Spoiler for the Modding section) the actual construction of the headphones internally is very solid, and reassuring, but the cups are thin and undamped.
     
    Moving on from the cups, we come to the earpads; made from a thicker version of the leather on the underside of the headband, and filled with a soft foam, these pads are frankly glorious. They're angled, along with the driver baffles, to give good internal clearance for my ears. They're insanely soft, thick and cover a large area of the head, meaning a low pressure on the sides of the head. They're also replaceable, though you need a precision screwdriver to get them off, and the size of the cup means that getting replacements may be difficult, though I'm not 100% on that, and short of changing them out for velours to try to boost treble and soundstage, I don't see any point in swapping pads. Living in Britain, I have yet to see what these cans are like in high temperatures, but I'm expecting a fair bit of sweating.
     
    So what does all of the above mean for comfort? They're fantastic. The pads combined with the soft headband, and the good pivoting of the cups mean they shape perfectly to the head, and the clamping pressure for me is perfect; tight enough to get a good seal and for them to stay on, but not painful at all. Compared to the Momentums (which I've found very comfortable, and are over ears for me, I know some people have issues with the smallish pads), the MDR Z7 is in a whole new league. The moderate 335g weight (without cable) is well distributed. Talking of the cable, these come with two: a 3m 3.5mm terminated cable and a (I think) 2m dual 3.5mm balanced cable for use with Sony DAC/Amps. Ive only used the Single ended cable, so I can only really give feedback on that. I really like the cable, it's a good length, with nice rubberized sleeving with a slight texture. It hasn't held its shape from packaging and is very flexible, and the jacks at either end are solid, with locking connectors at the headphone end. According to some on Head-Fi, it ruins the audio quality of the headphone and must be replaced with the highest grade Silver and Snake Oil cables money can buy, but I'm gonna doubt that one for now. Moving on...
     
    Sound (Pre-Mod) 
     
     The sound of these things straight out of the box can be described as very warm, with midbass that even I, a big fan of Bass, thought was over the top, overshadowing the rest of the range badly, whilst also being somewhat boomy due to the reverberation in the cups. That's not to say they sounded horrible, it's just that for any music other than a few EDM songs, I found the bass too overpowering and that songs ended up having large parts obscured. EQ'ing the midbass down by ~2-4dB really helped, and brought these into a much much more reasonable sound signature, whilst maintaining a nice warm sound. They also benefit from having better amping than a cell phone, with the bass being significantly more punchy and tight on my PC.
     
    The sub-bass extension is decent but not incredible, at least as stock, but with some slight EQ it can be brought up to a much better position in the mix. The bass impact is pretty fantastic, (most impact at stock without EQ, but the boominess is not a worthwhile trade off to me) and I imagine that this is due to the relatively massive 70mm drivers. Bass Texture and speed is ok at stock, but the reverb from the cups is kind of killer in this regard, obscuring a fair amount of detail by making decay slower.
     
    As stock, the midrange is somewhat lacking, obscured by the bass, and with a dip around 1.6khz that messes with vocals and leaves a slight hollow sound to some songs. outside of this dip, the midrange is fairly enjoyable, though the bass bloom means it can be hard to tell. EQ'd the midrange sounds pretty nice, with a warm tone but good detail, at least compared to the other audio equipment I've heard, and a good tone for the music I listen to, fitting my sonic preferences quite well.
     
    The Treble of the Z7 is somewhat unusual, with a big dip and a peak, at 4 and 8 KHz respectively, which mean it can sound bright at times, and sound like the treble is totally lacking at others. Again, this is an area i found hard to evaluate at stock because it feels so overshadowed. Once the Bass was EQ'd down slightly, it seemed like the treble outside of the dip was enjoyable, and the peak brought some nice detail into the sound.
     
    These are essentially closed headphones, yet the sound stage and imaging, even out of the box was very surprising, offering good width and separation, though sometimes the sound seems to only come from either side of the head, with very little in the middle of the soundscape, with some sounds which moved from one side to the other skipping across the part immediately in front of me. This was most noticeable in gaming, where it made finding enemies off of sound slightly awkward, as an enemy who was five degrees right, and one which was 30 degrees right would sound identical, with sound only coming from the front if the source was directly ahead. Away from centre stage there is a good range of separation and positioning
     
    Modding
     
     The biggest recommendation I can make for anyone considering a pair of these is that they buy some medical porous tape and Precision Screwdrivers. The biggest downside of these headphones, a bloated reverb-y midbass is largely due to the lack of damping in the cups, and the improvements from remedying this are surprising in the extreme. I opened up the cups, following a guide found on head fi, and applied a couple of layers of damping to the inside of the cups, and to part of the back of the drivers. I may also add some dynamat to the drivers in future as it apparently further improves the sound. The midbass is tamed and reverb reduced, meaning the rest of the range is brought up, and everything gains a great deal of clarity. The bass speed is much better, as is the texture making them better for EDM, provided you don't mid the decrease in impact. The other mod I recommend is adding some foam behind the pads to prevent them covering the drivers as much, as it boosts the treble slightly, making them slightly V shaped, and making the sound signature have more air to it, and as such, widening the sound stage slightly. The experience of modding these was interesting, as it was the only time I disliked the fantastic build quality, as all of the screws were difficult to remove, meaning i needed to apply a fair amount of pressure to turn them, and a couple of little slips have left my headband with a couple of nasty scratches. Thankfully, aside from this, the cans are easy to disassemble, with no glue or awkward clips, so reassembly was swift.
     
    Post mod sound
     
     So, the sound after modding can probably be guessed from a few qualifiers in the pre mod section, and from the modding section, but to give more accurate feedback, I'll say that the bass has been tamed to give a more enjoyable sound, which fits a wider range of genres, and an improved treble response which brings out the best in these headphones, adding detail and soundstage. The midrange still has the dip, so I still use some EQ to fix that and boost the sub bass slightly, but the mod really does do wonders. For a total cost of £3.50 and a couple of hours, I feel like this is essential. It was also kind of fun to dismantle something and tweak it, so this may not be my last venture into modding.
     
    Isolation
     
    The isolation of these headphones is odd. with sound playing, they isolate from the outside quite well for a vented can, probably due to the large pads and drivers blocking out most of the outside air, but with no sound, they isolate very poorly, letting in huge amounts of sound. Outside the headphones, leakage is fairly bad, with others being able to hear what I'm listening to from nearby if the room is quiet, or just hearing a small noise in a louder environment.
     
    Amping
     
     As I said, these can be driven to a high volume from a smartphone but they do appreciate a bit more power to tighten up the sound. They need more amping than my Momentums, but as a non-portable large headphone, with a massive driver, they manage to be very efficient.
     
    Conclusion
     
    If you need some warm headphones with a closed back, and you can get these for less than MSRP, they're probably worth considering, if you don't mind modding them. The comfort is fantastic, and the sound, while not necessarily to everyone's taste for music can be improved easily and works well for movies and gaming. All in all, well worth the ~£200 these were bought for.
      CavemanSponge likes this.
  4. Kramer01
    AWESOME
    Written by Kramer01
    Published Dec 31, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound, Bass(Quality and Quantity), Soundsatge, Scale of Sound, Bulid Quality
    Cons - High quality protein leather it may be within an hour your pink bits will get moist. Headband padding too soft. Replacement earpads not available.
    PLEASE READ THE WHOLE REVIEW TO GET WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY. [​IMG]
     
    Atleast 250 hours of break-in is required to open up the bass extension and midrange. Burn in is a controversial subject but the Z7 absolutely NEEDS it to sound its best. The Z7 sounds a bit thin and string instruments and piano lack the proper weight when you first start listening to music.
     
    HOW DO THEY PERFORM(not sound)
     
    You know it when you hear it -- the MDR-Z7 just sounds right. The balance of bass, midrange and treble is as smooth as can be, the stereo soundstage is very spacious, and dynamic range is, well, dynamic. What I'm saying here is the MDR-Z7 is for audiophiles who want to hear the sound as accurately as possible, so there's no jacked-up bass or zippy treble -- the MDR-Z7 just tells it like it is. It's also one of the more comfortable over-the-ear headphones around, so you can listen longer without fatigue.
     
    Body and Soul is what separates the Z7 from other cans.  There's more substance to the sound, more body, balanced with remarkable resolution of fine detail. This headphone sounds fuller, grander, bigger and richer than the HD650. The Z7 is downright soulful, and this may sound strange, but it makes digital recordings sound more like analog recordings, and that's a complement.
    The Z7 pulled me further inside Adele's 25 CD than the HD650 did. HD650 sounds clear and clean but it was also ruthless in revealing that Adele's latest album is not at all well mastered plus it sounded thinner and insubstantial. I preferred the Z7's sweeter tonal balance. It's a more romantic flavor, and voices sound especially natural, Adele's million years ago sounded absolutely FANTASTIC. This is a better song than Hello IMHO.

    This tells us one important fact about the Z7: The Z7 glosses over harshness and artefacts in OK sources and presents the recordings in the best manner possible. With the HD650 Adels's 25 was not enjoyable at all plus it sounded thin(not in a good way) and this was a constant with almost all modern contemporary music. If you mostly listen to well-recorded acoustic music the extra crispness of the 650 will not be a problem , but if you're more into pop, rock or any mainstream music, the HD650's extra crispness has a downside. It lets you hear much more clearly how compressed and harsh a lot of that music sounds.

    The MDR-Z7' approach makes even harsh recordings enjoyable .Put another way, the MDR-Z7 takes just enough of the edge off to tame the harshest recordings but still has excellent clarity and crispness to let great recordings shine.  After only a fairly brief period of listening, it seemed increasingly clear that the larger drivers(70mm) in the Z7 might well reach 3Hz in some meaningless sense but where they are doing something more useful is giving the Sony an refinement that many rival designs can’t emulate.

    The refined nature of the Z7 means that although it is exceptionally good with great recordings, it makes a commendable job with material that is less polished. The performance with Spotify was perfectly listenable and the Z7 has to be fed a fairly compressed signal before it becomes truly unhappy. 

    Next I moved on to Pink Floyd's DSOT MoFi recordings and with these the HD650 was very enjoyable but when I moved to the Sony it absolutely killed any brief romance I had going on with the HD650.

    Sony makes great play of high res in the promo material for the Z7 and by way of justification of this, the Z7 responds to the better mastering and higher bitrates of high res to good effect. If you have material that is well mastered, the Sony is a seriously talented partner to explore this connection with. The Z7’s ability to produce real scale and soundstage is richly rewarded by higher quality material. 

    As I have suspected before at times, the difference is the mastering not the sample rate - great 16/44.1kHz files are equally impressive - but as record labels generally try and make the effort when selling high res files to master them properly, this is a good source of really finding out what the Z7 is capable of. Their ability to handle large scale material is excellent as well. 
     
    There is a realism and tangibility to the way the Sony recreates music that is both consistent and consistently good. 
     
     
    Now we come to the important part: Here is what I discovered after spending 6 months with the Z7.

    Where some cans, most notably the Senns and HifiMans, focus on an almost hyper-precise sound of pristine clarity and purity, others tend more toward a warm, inviting, hearty, and organic sound. The Z7 falls in that latter camp, but with two important twists. First, unlike other warmth-orientated cans, the Z7 in no way sounds softly focussed, or lacking in resolution or detail. On the contrary, its focus is tack-sharp and its ability to resolve fine textural and transient details is fully competitive with the best in its genre.

    Second, and again unlike many other organic-sounding cans, the Z7 does not soften, underplay, or round off either transient sounds or dynamic contrasts in the music. Instead, the Z7 renders transient sounds with sharply defined (although never exaggerated) leading edges, while also giving dynamic contrasts, including crescendos and decrescendos large and small, their full due

    These are great media cans too:  With the TV and Movie material I tried with them, they were brilliant.
     
    A highlight moment was when I was watching Season 1 of How to get away with murder. In the episode the night lila died, Rebecca goes to the frat house and while she is texting Lila, in the background a monster audio system can be heard producing pulsating low bass sounds. It is the kind of bass you hear when you go to clubs and step out for a while or go to the washrooms but you can still clearly hear the low pulsating bass. On the Z7 that bass sounded so realistic, big, powerful and gloriously detailed it was startling. Switched over to the HD650 and meh was the response.
     
    While watching Jurassic Park 1 BluRay the T-Rex footsteps can not only be heard they are clearly felt. When the T-Rex steps out of the enclosure for the first time and roars(or whatever T-rex's do) that sound was so powerful and the dynamic contrast b/w that and the other sounds was awesome.
     
    HOW DO THEY SOUND...
     
    I was looking for an organic sounding full size headphone that was easy to drive and worked well with portable sources so b4 buying a can I researched a lot and zeroed in on the Z7. I read multiple reviews b4 buying the Z7 and all of them stated that it is a sensitive can and works well with portable sources and it does so I went ahead and bought one.
     
    Do they work well with portable sources like DAP's and cell phones... yes they do but and its a big BUT..... 
     
    From the outset, few aspects of the Sony’s performance are immediately noticeable. These are extremely sensitive headphones considering their driver size and genuinely refined and considering that the Z7 is not open backed, very open and spacious. 
     
    Under amped the Z7 sounded clean and authoritative. The bass is tight, but noticeably more full(thick) than I was used to with other cans that the Z7 had displaced. Upper bass, too, was powerful and well articulated, and while the midrange and treble were smooth and unaggressive, the overall impression was of a warm, rich, powerful sound. Transients could be startlingly dynamic, but there was a lack of snap and sparkle unless I really turned up the volume. 
     
    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Z7 for a few weeks through my DAP, but I was troubled by the soundstage limitations and, increasingly, by the abiding warmth of the Z7 tonal balance. Some might describe the Z7's sound as smooth, unaggressive, and rich; it certainly was all of that, but those characteristics were also constant, in that they were imposed on all sources. It seemed hard to believe that such a sound, however much it might appeal to some tastes, could be acceptable for a brand's flagship audiophile headphone. Clearly, some experimentation was called for in amplification, DAC and cabling
     
    I replaced the DX90, a lovely DAP to be sure, with a Conductor Virtuoso(don't know why I tried this earlier), and connected the latter to my PC with an AQ Coffee USB cable.
    All of my listening was done with JRMC 19 and jPlay feeding the USB inputs of a Conductor Virtuoso. Burson Conductor Virtuoso ESS Sabre is rated at 4W output into 16 ohms, so power was not an issue.
     
    WOW. With the Conductor Virtuoso, the Z7 sound was still recognizable, but the headphones sounded as if they'd been cured of head colds. The other thing that occurred to me was that, the soundstage was wider and soo big.  Now to reconsider . . .It didn't take special effort to recognize that the Z7's wonderfully articulate bass and lower midrange were well proportioned to a cleanly detailed upper midrange and extended treble.  This new musical balance made listening a toe-tapping pleasure. When properly amped the sensitive nature gives the Z7 a pleasantly open performance and there is a sense of effortlessness to the way it goes about making music that is extremely pleasant.
     
    The Z7 had full extended bass but not disproportionately so, yet that bass is clean and precise all the way up to the midrange. For relishing the intricacies of the scoring for lower strings and brass I have not heard the Sony's equal. Sure, it may not have gone as low as some bigger speakers or subwoofers, but it conveyed all the requisite weight of percussion instruments without obscuring any detail. The Z7's midrange clarity was similarly impressive—I could hear intimate musical details that, through lesser headphones, were not so apparent/lost.
     
    I could no longer delay the expected gratification of hearing Mozart's piano sonatas. No disappointment. This was truly wonderful, and probably the best and most enjoyable reproduction of an acoustic piano in headphones that I've heard. 
     
    I had anticipated that I would still find the Sony's extreme treble muted, but that bias was easily dispelled, treble was present in balance to the rest of the sound. 
     
    If the Z7 have a fault, it was not in dynamics or transient response. These headphones can be startling, especially if I foolishly began with the level a bit too high. Somehow, the Z7 always let me know when the volume setting for the music I was playing was not just right. If I set it too high, I got a punch in the face. If I set it too low, the sparkle and presence noticeably dimmed. I haven't had this with any other headphone.
     
    Compared to the HD650, the Z7 distinguished itself with its strong, explicit low end, massive scale of sound and the soft, silky smoothness of its treble. Both of these models have a detailed midrange, but the Senns have less heft, even when heft was demanded by the recording. Dynamics for me were better on the Z7.
     
    The Senns and Z7 were capable of throwing big soundstages that seemed to nearly wrap around my head but they both presented the music differently. It is thus impossible to say which of these headphones offered a more accurate depiction of the original recorded event. My preference leans towards the Sony MDR Z7 as the most truthful presentation
     
     
    CONCLUSION

    The Sony MDR-Z7 is an impressive headphone. Mated to suitable amplification, it offers honest, organic and detailed sound.

     
    FOR ME it joins a select group of accurate and enjoyable headphones.   
     
    Sony has made another statement product. Much more exciting though is that this product harks back to the Sony of old. This is a products that goes its own way in engineering and technology and is peerlessly built. From an audio perspective, this is the sort of engineering that is exciting and singular enough to make one become a fanboy all over again. 
     
     
      volly, Hi 5, xba3 and 2 others like this.
    1. Whitigir
      Excellent review, and yes Z7 is that musical and magical . I love it, and the price it is going for nowadays make it a steal !
      Whitigir, Dec 31, 2015
    2. Hi 5
      Superb Review! And a joy to read!

      A headphone that is often misunderstood and highly underrated.

      The Z7 is simply stunning
      Hi 5, Oct 27, 2016
  5. Whitigir
    Excellent musical, realistic, spacious, punchy and detailed sounds
    Written by Whitigir
    Published Aug 11, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Excellent craftsmanship, lightweight, comfortable, very musical while being detailed, excellent highs, easily driven.
    Cons - Some sub-bass could be runny, and lacking energy. Expensive cables option......
    As a proud owner of NW-ZX2 with the capability of high-resolution music. It made so much senses to me to get a hold of a pair of headphones that has the largest widest frequency respond range 4-100khz MDR-Z7. The pricing and some negatives review on the Z7 almost hold me back from not buying it. Finally I pulled the trigger and straight imported from Japan. Thanks to Amazon and PremiumJapan. I am not regret one bit about this purchase of both devices ZX2 and Z7. Actually, I love it too much.

    First impressions from the HP is that it is super wet, super smooth. Listen to it is like looking into the purest form of water in a pond, clear, transparent continuous, and even the lightest wind blow could causes some waves forms. This expression result into a very relaxed, enjoyable music environment. That is not all, when I got to the comfort zone of loudness, close my eyes, and I could tell there is instrument housing resonances within drum beats, cymbals hits, different cymbals sizes while the singer is right in the front, sometime slightly to the left or right, depend on the tracks. The placements are beautifully laid out, tonality is crazily accurate that I could tell there were two different sizes of guitars playing on the same chord with a slight offset of power and delay. While not being intrusive that offend your ears drums say being too harsh, thin, sharp, whatsoever.

    When I pair it with iPad Air 2 I could get similar onto the loudness, but the sub bass was very weak, thin sounding throughout the whole spectrums. Tried it with RXV450 by aux in and headphone out....more textures, but similarly thin, and not punchy enough. It magic happens when pair alone with ZX2.

    Finally, Sony listened and answered, a universal high-end HP that can be paired with any present devices regardless of output power. Z7 is rated by 2W and 70ohms. The Z7 is lightweight that I could wear for hours, lay on bed with a soft pillow, walk around with. It look great, sophisciated and expensive. It is also a semi open HP, which comes very handy. It attenuated some outside noises and allow a better listening experiences, pause your music and carry on a conversation. Turn it on and it doesn't leak sound too badly that my wife would kick my ass out of the bed.

    Soundstage: very wide, airy, it is like listening to a live performance in a stadium. Together with the excellent placement of instruments and vocal. It brings the listening experience to another level as the best seat in the house.

    Soundspace: there is a hint of the stage and music surrounding me but they mainly appears on and off the stage from left and right. It 3rd dimension is not too well perceived....this probably will be an improvement with upgraded cables ?

    Tonality: excellent, the possibility to tell the differences cymbals sizes from the music, the drums, the guitars, and vivid placements. The density body is thick and fully reproduced, the energy flows within each tone body is vivid, continuous and well timed accurate decays. I would say it is very realistic for me listening straight out of ZX2.

    Bass: not too boomy, but accurate, spacious, powerful mid bass punches, energetic rumbles, full textures and very defined. In some songs the bass may be slow to respond and express the separations between the sub bass and mid bass, sometimes a bit runny on deep and powerful bass. It is not like it is bad (probably lacking some space), but more like it has the potential to do so....again, Sony offer upgraded cables for a reason ? Who know, I am going to get my aftermarket cables soon, and will let you all know of the experiences. Over all, if your genres are Modern Pop, Ballads, Blues, Classical, I think you may enjoy this pair a lot as the bass is neither too much nor too lacking with dense body, and of good decays, I love it when listening to Pop and Ballads. Very relax and realistic.

    Vocal: excellent, the details of the vocal is too defined. There are some songs with duet, the vocals between the apsingers may get confusing, but the Z7 definitely differentiate them no matter how confusing they get as the detail and energy of each singer vocal would be vividly presenting. The emotions of which the singer express could be beautifully expressed by Z7

    Mid: Thick, detailed, spacious, transient details and sub dynamics are well presenting. Mid spectrum is beautiful, yeah. Just beautiful as all strings and instruments are so smooth and flowing with details. Very very realistic indeed.

    Highs: detailed, good texture and tonality. It is neither too bright nor lacking, but rather very energetic. It appears to be very organic, full of energy as the density of a cymbal hit is fully presenting, it may get a little dark for some people who witness and know the true tonality of the cymbals hit, but it does not lack the texture or body, neither rolled off. Well decays. All I can say is that the highs are well presenting, warmer in expression but detailing, wet, and smooth. It neither too offensive, nor too colored, it gets realistic just a bit warmer and wetter, that is the best I can describe it.

    Overall: it is very lushy, wet, smooth, fluid, detailing, realistic and musical. It is not the typical clinical or analytical pair of headphones, but rather musical, enjoyable, smooth, realistic, a high level of musical enjoyment perhap....and not high level of headphones monitoring...:wink:.

    In my personal opinion, it is a Jackpot. I am a fan of detailed, realistic, neutral sounding headphones warmer is better, as I enjoy mostly pop and ballads. I always want to hear the instrument vividly, be able to imagine it with emotion. Pairing with ZX2 was an excellent blind purchase made by me. The sound was jaw dropping and heart thumping that I can not stop listening. Thank you Sony! For both ZX2 as an excellent DAPs and Z7 as an excellent musically detailed headphones.

    Design: Made in Japan!!! I am sick of made in China stuff....no really. Anyways, it look, feel like a Porsche. My wife say it is the LV of headphones :D. Not sure if she implys the cost or the design! Ears cups are universal and comfy. I just love this thing so much. The craftsmanship, where it made and design alone are worth the price I paid for. About sound quality! Wet! And lovely.:) As I said this for ZX2 "too cheap!!!" Price/performance ratio!


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      Mink, Hi 5 and xba3 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Whitigir
      Thank you :). Glad to be of helps.  I will have my Balanced TRRS Silver Cables Soon as an upgrade instead of a KimberKable from Sony.  Anyways, I will make sure to review it with the upgrade cables as well.
      Whitigir, Aug 13, 2015
    3. Whitigir
      Whitigir, Aug 21, 2015
    4. GoodGucciGoo
      After reading your review I'm more tempted to get my hands on these!!!!
      GoodGucciGoo, Sep 21, 2016
  6. Beginner008
    Beautifully crafted but sound somewhat imbalance!
    Written by Beginner008
    Published Feb 13, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Very high quality built, comfortable, very revealing bass.
    Cons - Price, what balance cable is that?
    (Updated: I returned it and bought it again, see bottom for reason)
     
    I got it for around a week.
     
    This is the most beautifully made headphone I came across. Most of the parts are made in some type of alloy, polished to the perfect finish. The body were also alloy painted in a beautiful dark gray, with the Sony logo laser on it. The ear cups are soft and comfortable, I wear them for hours without any problem.
     
    In most articles I read, they keep talking about the balanced cable on this headphone. I had a hard time understanding how they can classify this as balanced. There are only 2 connection that are used. That is single end to me, even if 3 conductors are connect to them, its still single end! Please look up balanced cable on Wikipedia for reasons.
     
     
    (Updated 2014/2/17) Sound:
     
    Bass:  I hear details I never heard before. But it lacked the punch that you may expected from a closed headphone.
     
    Mid:  Better then HD650
     
    Treble:  A little dark.
     
     
    This headphone is so revealing that any imperfection on your source will show. Need a good amp to pair with it.
     
     
    Update (2015/2/17):
     
    I went to a local audio store today to continue my search for a replacement of my K240DF. There are every single mid-fi headphones there for audition. I tried the HD600, HD650, a few Grado. Then, I saw the Z7 there so I just tried it again to compare to the others. But to my surprise, there was no mid range recess with this unit (original cable, single ended), Its not as open as the the HD650, but it sound more balance and is the best in those I tried. So I just brought it again with the Kimber Kable. I listen to it again on my iPhone 5s with the Kimber Kable on my way back and there is no recess on female vocal at all ?!
     
    The original Z7 was brought from a Sony Store with a serial number in the 200's. The one that in the demo room and my new one are both in the 7000's range. I will listen to it some more and then get back to you when I get home tonight.
     
    Update (2015/2/17):
     
    Turn out that the original problem was with the headphone amp in the RME UCX, it is recess in the female vocal freq. When listen with Apogee Duet or directly from the iPhone, there is no problem at all. I never noticed any of those with my AKG K240DF. Because of this, I change the rating to 4 stars!
      MrTechAgent and Pokemonn like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. GL1TCH3D
      I tried these recently running off my AK120 and I didn't like them at all.

      Bass heavy, imbalanced, not very natural sounding
      GL1TCH3D, Feb 14, 2015
    3. takato14
      these are pretty ****ty

      except in build/comfort, that's almost perfect
      takato14, Feb 14, 2015
    4. Kramer01
      @Beginner008
       
       
      I’m looking to buy this headphone and have a few questions about it. If the owners could help me out it would be great. 
       
      Please… pretty please.
       
      A little background: I’m not a fan of uber neutral, linear sounding cans, they work well with certain types of music but for me they r ultimately not a fun listen. I like my headphones to have warm, engaging, punchy and detailed sound with a prominent and healthy bass body. Bass should not be boosted but what is there should not be presented in a diluted manner.
       
      I like to FEEL it not just hear it. I DON’T WANT ANOTHER THIN, COLD SOUNDING HEADPHONE.
       
      I had the HD 650(used with HA160D) for about 7-8 months and for listening to the music I listen to it just wasn’t right. For me it was brilliant for watching bluray titles and Netflix but for most real world contemporary music it just didn’t do it for me.
       
      I listen to a lot of rock, some metal, pop, Blues, R&B and some rap, but mostly rock. Stuff like Blur, oasis, radiohead, black keys, the who, queens of the stone age, AC/DC, black Sabbath you get the picture.
       
      Will be using the Z7 with HA160 D for listening to music watching bluray titles, netfilx, youtube etc. Source PC> Jriver 19 with jplay driver.
       
      Most of my music is 16 bit flac the rest 320kbps mp3
       
      A friend works for Sony and through him I’m getting a brand new one from Sony for nearly $200 less than retail.
       
      Currently I own the Senn IE80 and the Beyer COP.
       
      THE QUESTIONS
      Removable Earpads ? Real leather?
      The mids: Are they really recessed or thin sounding as some people have pointed out??
      Bass: is it detailed and does it have detail throughout the bass frequencies, and is it deep reaching with good pacing and PRAT??
      Sub bass: Does it have body, power, kick, slam and presence??
      Clarity and  openness?
      Sound stage?
      Detail retrieval??Treble??Comfort and clamping pressure?? Comparable to HD650        
      Kramer01, Apr 26, 2015
  7. CJ09
    Sony MDR-Z7, on the very cusp of greatness
    Written by CJ09
    Published Jan 30, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sublime build and comfrt, Good sound through even low power devices, Warm and easy to like sonic signature
    Cons - Suffer from an apparent boominess at higher volumes on mid bass heavy tracks, would be nice to have the Kimber cable included in the box
    These have been part of my set-up for about 2 months. 
     
    The set-up has consisted mainly of:
    Phonitor 2 fed by a Mdac or Dacmagic (Main Rig)
    Portable use saw it used with a NuForce Udac
    Gaming saw it from a Ps4 into a Denon AVR.
     
    Other headphones I have in my collection and were used alongside the Sony's include:
    Audio Technica ATH W 5000
    Denon ADH 7100
    Sennheiser HD 800
    Beyerdynamic T1
    Audeze LCD 2 Fazor
    Sennheiser Momentum on-ear
    JBL Synchros 700
     
    Packaging
     
    Ordered these for the low price of $500, they arrived in a nice box with serial number in the box with two cables and the 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter. Nothing fancy but perfectly acceptable at this price point 
     
    Build Quality
     
    This headphone is built like a beautiful well engineered German vehicle. Everything about it screams quality when you hold it. The metal hinges are solid but smooth, the sliding adjustment mechanism is smooth as silk but still solid. The headphone is finished nicely and the ear-pads are soft and supple. I only wish the likes of Denon and Audeze would put this much effort in making the Headphones feel like quality.
     
    Sound Quality
     
    Down to the important part, the sound. The signature of these phones is on the warm side (Think Denon, JBL, the New Beats). The massive driver excels at delivering low bass with lots of volume and detail in it. The headphone signature is V-shaped to my ears, but not drastically so. 
     
    I expected the Sony's to be more hard hitting and bass orientated than what they are (not a bad thing) but the Denon's still beat them in the Bass department for outright slam and fun. The Sony's are actually very pleasant to listen to over extended periods of time, and they convey a surprisingly good amount of detail in the high frequency arena. The Mid's are clear and present, but they never stand out or truly impress when compared to the Audeze or especially the Audio Technica ATH W 5000.
     
    The problematic aspect to the Sony's is that I have struggled immensely to pin point the problem with their sound, but for certain mid bass heavy music they don't sound as accomplished or enticing as they do with Electro or even some more vocal orientated music. I suspect the problem lies with a bump in the mid-bass region and lack of damping behind the drivers (the headphones are actually ported to alleviate the boominess). What is odd is that the deep bass remains clear and free from any boomy or lingering artifacts, it is the mid-bass region that seemingly suffers from this issue.
     
    I have found that slightly untamed mid-bass persisted through all my available sources but almost dissipated completely when I engaged the cross-feed settings on the Phonitor (I love this amp).
     
    What is perhaps somewhat disappointing is that without this blemish to the mid-bass these would be excellent five star headphones that offer an exciting yet detailed and fairly accurate portrayal of multiple genres and from multiple sources.
     
    Conclusion
     
    These are immensely comfortable and well built headphones. They excel with electro (think Yello, Depeche Mode, Boris Blank new works) and don't disappoint with vocals (male and female). They have a slight blemish to the sound in that they suffer from a slightly boomy mid-bass that can be distracting at higher volumes with the right (or wrong) track.
     
    They are probably the best headphone I own for gaming, they have the impact to impress, but also the delicacy to convey fine details and not be fatiguing over long sessions. They are also excellent value for money as you will struggle immensely to find a headphone that does so much right and so little wrong for the money.
     
    I really hope the headphone manufacturing world takes a page from Sony's immense build quality, but I think Sony missed out on an opportunity to really create something special here by not damping the headphones properly.
      Vanquished likes this.
  8. Nap-Chiang
    A little disappointment
    Written by Nap-Chiang
    Published Jan 24, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Good comfort, Great build quality, Warm sound, Good detail.
    Cons - Thin sound. SO-SO-thin. Somewhat boring.
    IMG_0516.jpg
     
    I have to talk about my expectation on this Headphone first. 
    I am not a senior audiophile. 3 years ago, my first pair of AKG K601 lead me into this wonderful world of audiophile. This pair of AKG K601 showed me what is true sound of high fidelity, sequentially I bought some other AKGs, Beyers, and Sennheisers; I felled in love with all of them, and developed a bias love of European headphones.
    For a long time, my bias love of European headphones made me reject all the Japanese headphones; until 1 years ago, my friend gave a me pair of Denon AH-D 600 as gift, and this headphone surprised me.  The sound of Denon AH-D 600 is not as neutral as AKGs, and not as spacial as Sennheisers; but the sound of it is so fun, so vivid, and its emphasizing in bass sounds great.Taking its price in consideration, AH-D 600 comes the best "quality and fun per dollar" headphone, it makes me start to think that Japanese headphones have high performance vs price ratio. Not long ago, I bought Denon AH-D 7100, and I think it is great, too. The sound stage of AH-D 7100 are not as wide as the open cans, but it presents a exquisite sound stage to you; it just like the country Japan, small but every bit of it is meticulous handcrafted. 
    Sony is one of the major audio manufacture of Japan, I think I should give their headphone products a try (especially, their R10 has so many fans). Therefore, I bought this pair of Z7 as my first taste of Sony headphone, I image it will sound fun and addictive, just like Denons.
    However, I am disappointed!! The build quality and wearing comfort of this headphone are great and beyond doubts. The sound is thin, dull, and extreme ordinary, (maybe I have too much expectation on it) it's not the sound I expect from a pair of flagship headphone of one of the major audio manufacturers in the world; it's sound like an average pair of $200 headphone, other than that, I cannot find any other words to describe it.
     
    (The set-up I used-1. PC>Denon DA300>SPL Phonitor Mini> Sony MDR-Z7, PC>TEAC UD-H01>Lehmann Linear> Sony MDR-Z7)
     
    (I apologize for my writing skill, if you find this review is hard to read, sorry) 
      SofaSamuraiX, keroro0071 and gahung like this.
    1. Currawong
      After the Denon house sound, everything else sounds thin. 
      Currawong, Jan 27, 2015
    2. Mr Makarov
      Absolutely agree with Currawong. Only headphone that was a clear upgrade over Denons (for me anyways) was Sennheiser HD700 (and only amped, while Denon sounds good out of anything). 
      Mr Makarov, Jul 20, 2015
  9. dweaver
    Wonderfully comfortable big sounding headphone with equally beautiful design.
    Written by dweaver
    Published Nov 25, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Warm signature that is designed to allow the listener to experience louder musical grandeur without ear fatigue
    Cons - At lower volumes the lower treble energy and increased bass creates a sound that can lack some dynamics and detail.
    20141125_061716.jpg

    OK, before I get into my review of the MDR-Z7 I feel a need to give some background and history of my time on head-fi. It might help make sense of my love of this headphone and why at the same time I am going against the sonic grain of some of my recent reviews and general mid/treble centric preferences.

    When I started out on Head-fi I was the proud owner of the original Bose Triport earphones and thought they were pretty good until I started to read about sound and realized I wanted something more. I then started down my low-mid-fi days of trying to find something cheap that would meet my desires. Interspersed among this lower end gear was the occasional splash into what I thought was higher end gear such as the original Monster Turbine IEM's.
     
    After several IEM's I started to check out headphones versus IEM's and have bounced back and forth between these to areas since. My first full size big phone was the venerable ATH-AD700 which was a revelation of what a headphone could do in regards to a larger sound stage, I was so impressed a gave away my AD700 to my Mother and bought the AD900 figuring it would be  step up. The AD900 introduced me to my love hate relationship with mid-range/treble centric headphones. I then bought the Sennheiser HD600 and loved that signature as well. Then I got a great deal on a pair of Denon D7000 which opened my second love love of quality bass and sparkly treble. But in the end I sold all 3 of these headphones as I just could find something I was in love with sonically. The AD900 was to strident and thin sounding, the HD600 was to balanced, and the D7000 to V shaped. I then went through a round of Shure headphones buying the 940, 1440, and 1540, all ended up being sold as I again found issues with the signature and or the build and comfort of each. So my search continued. During this search I went back to my IEM roots and tried a few more IEM's including the XBA-H1/H3 both which ended up being traded or sold as again I found myself not satisfied with the signature of each IEM. I also snuck an AKG K550 in the mix and ended up reviewing the new K545 (which I still own and love, it is V shaped but has enough upper mids that I find it very good for a portion of my music). I then bought and modded a pair of Q701 which I also love and still own. After an afternoon of testing the Sony MDR 7520 and AKG K712 Pro I ended up ordering a pair of the K712 Pro and even declared them best for my mid/treble love as I would not sacrifice those areas for bass.

    Then something strange happened. I won an RHA contest to review their new flagship IEM the T10i. When the T10i arrived my initial impression was these are fun, but WAY TO BASSY! But I ws determined to give them a proper chance before I wrote up my review. So I started burning them in nightly and put away my other IEM's and just used the T10i. After a week of using the T10i suddenly my other IEM's and headphones were starting to sound thin and fatiguing (to be honest my K712 caused ear fatigue when  got them even though I loved their mid-range and treble detail). After another week I was starting to use the T10i a lot and preferred it's relaxed sound for longer listening sessions.

    Meanwhile I was reading and trying to ignore all the Sony MDR Z7/Z5 talk, but I would be lying if I didn't say I was intrigued... I then bought a pair of MDR10RBT to test out blue tooth technology to see how it had improved and suddenly found myself splitting all my head time between the T10i and the MDR10RBT (the MDR10RBT are now my permanent winter muffs LOL).

    But my intrigue regarding the MDR Zx products wouldn't go away and was whetted by my MDR10R. So when I found out the local Sony stores were carrying the Z7 I knew I had to have a listen. My first taste ended up being an A/B session between my MDR10R and the Z7 through the new PHA3. I could tell there was a ton more space and size in the Z7 and big improvements in all sonic areas. I left the store impressed but unconvinced because I wasn't sure if it was the headphone or the better DAC/Amp. So I went back to another store and tried nothing but my LG G3 as a source. 45 minutes later I reluctantly left the store with the Z7 in hand and a football in my gut because I had just laid out $700+ dollars!

    So 3 weeks into using the Z7, here I am writing this review. In case you haven't guessed, I LIKE THE Z7 A LOT!
     
    So now begins the hard part, how do I write an unbiased review???
     
    Simple, I am going to spend a paragraph and discuss the sonic qualities  of the Z7 and explain who in my opinion should look at it and who will likely want to take a pass based off those sonic qualities. Then from there I get to just talk about why I love this headphone without fear of upsetting anyone [​IMG].
     
    The general description of the Z7 signature is big, bass-y, and relaxed without sacrificing the mid-range and treble... sort of [​IMG]. By this I mean the mid-range is clear and detailed but warm and the treble is clear but not as detailed and airy as other headphones like the K712 or the Beyerdynamic T1, especially at lower volume levels. So if you want neutral or you want mid/treble centric sound then simply move on as the Z7 won't fit those needs. Also the sound stage while nice and big and decently accurate for a closed headphone will simply not keep up with a good open headphone.

    So is that it then, is the Z7 a lost cause????

    HECK NO!!!
     
    Once you get past the basic description of the sound signature and delve into what makes this headphone tick then things get interesting. In my opinion the very things that will give many head-fi'ers cause to pause ultimately may be why they should consider this headphone as second option and for many quite possibly their main headphone.

    Each headphone manufacturer should hopefully have a goal in mind when they make a headphone and hopefully that goal isn't to simply make money. In the case of the Z7 I think Sony wanted to make something with a BIG EXPERIENCE but without sacrificing the music in the process. For me when I think BIG EXPERIENCE I think concerts, block buster movies, live orchestra's, followed by intimate Jazz sessions where you can feel the music pulsating with life. In my opinion one aspect of all these venues is the music or sound track has to be louder than what we listen to most of the time. So how does one create a headphone that achieves these qualities without making people go deaf?

    The Z7 attempts this balancing act by going deep for the bass and uses air flow versus raw impact and punch. This allows the Z7 to present bass in a way that doesn't simply get louder as you turn up the volume. Instead of just getting louder is starts to show detail an nuance. Similarly the mid-range which is slightly warmer can be listened to out a louder volume and like the bass shows more my detail as the volume goes up. Treble on the other hand can't scale the same way as the bass and warmer mid-range so Sony dampened the treble so as the volume was increased the treble would gain clarity to match the bass and mid-range at it's optimal moderate to loud volume level. In my opinion at moderate to loud levels Sony has NAILED this signature. I can listen for hours being completely immersed in my music and loving the grandeur of it all and then simply remove the headphone with ZERO ear fatigue. Further more when I want to just relax or focus on some task with music in the background, I can turn the volume down and get a less dynamic but still enjoyable level of music. The only thing I can not accomplish with the Z7 is a low volume listening session with tons of detail and dynamics. But that is where my SECONDARY headphones will come in...

    So in case you didn't catch that, my "better technical" headphones have been relegated to second fiddle! For years I worked hard to convince myself to listen at low volumes only and use extremely technical oriented IEM's or headphones to allow me to dissect my music. The problem with that approach was that I lost what was most important to me, AWE AND GRANDEUR! I fell in love with music because it moved me and for good or bad volume played a roll in that process. Music moved me because it quite often MOVED ME!

    On top of all this Sony has made one of the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn. It just simply disappears when I put it on. The pads are soft and enveloping without being super hot (I am sitting in my hot stuffy computer office as I type this and the headphones have not bothered me for the past hour plus I have been typing). Plus they are flawlessly designed and manufactured including a masterfully designed cable and connection system.

    Sure I would rather have had a case included, maybe an extra set of earpads. Heck I would have been ecstatic if these had been priced at the $500 price point! But regardless of these missing niceties or wishful lower pricing I do think the Z7 earns it's keep if barely.

    One final discussion I think is important. There was / is lots of talk about this headphone as it compares to past Sony masterpieces. I think this is immensely unfair to the Z7. Sony had a goal for each headphone they have made. Please focus on their goal for this headphone instead of wishing they would just make a new Mona Lisa 2.0!

    I am going to go against tradition in how I usually score a headphone breaking it down into general areas like bass, midrange, treble, and sound stage, instead I am going to give a few song impressions:

    Babel by Mumford and Sons - The bass in the song is thicker and slower than the a headphone like the Q701 but enjoyable as the speed is not so off that it becomes to slow. Vocals are slightly heavy / warm in a way that is more meatier. There is a drop off in detail in the upper registers as compared to a headphone like the Q701 but I get a similar sense of immediacy as different areas are accented on the Z7. I would say the Z7 is more intimate sounding than a mid/treble centric headphone as the vocals sound slightly closer and as mentioned, warmer.
     
    Your my Thrill by Diana Krall - At the beginning of the song the piano sounds thick and weighty and when the bass kicks in there is a nice heavy note that is detailed and full of decay. When Diana's voice starts she sounds very sultry and very close. You can hear the drum kit but cymbals are not very prominent acting more as an accompaniment rather than taking center stage. The over all sense is that your watching Diana play in a small intimate club that is warm and inviting.
     
    Anvil of Crom by Basil Poledouris - from Conan the Barbarian - The kettle drums have a nice full sound and the brass also sounds full and vibrant. The cymbals in the background actually sound very clean and have great articulation but loose some of the shimmer and airiness as compared to a neutral or mid/treble centric headphone. The violins are slightly dark and not quite ethereal but blend very well in the over all soundscape being presented. The instrument separation is clean but is done by a reduction in shimmer of instruments like the cymbals. The sound is what I would expect to hear at the movies. Given that this is a movie sound track I feel the Z7 offers a faithful reproduction of the sound intended.
     
    Symphony No 3 by Arvo Part - The cellos at the beginning of the track I am using sound very full and thick. The sense of sound stage is enveloping as the different cellos and later instruments join the music. Brass instruments sound exceptionally poignant. I feel completely surrounded while the song plays and can feel the emotion and atmosphere of the music completely. The song hits a very heavy dark section that is simply so well done it sweeps me away. Then violins kick in and they are vibrant and clear. Small bells are played 3/4 of the way through the song and are again clear and poignant, followed by a minimalist violin section that is clear followed by a wonderful brass section that is restrained and poignant before descending into a deep kettle drum bass filled crescendo that is simply awe inspiring. When this song ended the next Arvo Part song "I am the True Vine" kicked in and the voices were so vibrant and couldn't help but listen as they sing... This song clearly shows how a well designed bass oriented headphone can completely transform a song into an experience versus just listening to a song.
     
    Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd - The initial bass and synthesizers sound amazing with good pop to the drums and organ like for the synthesizers. There is a wonderful 3D aura throughout the song with the vocals being perfectly placed. The drum kit is detailed but never more than accompaniment to the song. The guitar solo is relaxed and clean but not so relaxed as to be boring, it carries you down the song pulling you into the feeling of the song. Little details like the pin prick are wonderfully articulated.
     
    Money by Pink Floyd - The cash registers at the beginning of the song sound great and never harsh. The bass guitar kick in and sound very full and wonderfully present, when the drums kick in they have a nice kick to them and the cymbals sound clear but never bright always acting as just an accompaniment. The vocals again are weighty and perfectly placed in the song. Guitars and saxaphone have vibrancy and clarity. The songs is simply immersive surrounding you as it plays out, again with a wonderful 3D sound field.
     
    Lullaby - by Loreena McKennit - The start of the song with the thunder is very compelling and larger than life. Loreena's voice sounds very ethereal and full. All the accompanying instruments sound poignant and clear. When the male actor starts to give his speech his voice is full and very powerful while Loreena's singing in the background never looses it's ethereal qualities. The song feels like an experience versus just music.
     
    A quick discussion on burn in (brain and physical). If your used to a brighter signature you will likely need to listen to this headphone exclusively for up to a week to give your brain a chance to adjust. If you still just don't like the signature nothing with likely change that opinion. If on the other hand, you like it but are not sure you like it enough because either the bass is to big or the treble to dull I suggest you give these another week and burn them in religiously every night, as I do feel the bass settles down a bit and the treble also improves. So you might find yourself going from being on the fence to being sold on this headphone.
     In my overall score I am giving this headphone a 5 because I feel it is simply awe inspiring when used at moderate volume levels. But I have knocked it's value down to about a 4 and it's overall audio quality to about 4.5 as I do think it's price is at the extreme edge of what is acceptable and there is a trade off in sound quality at lower volumes from an audiophile perspective.
      jude, grizzlybeast, czcsfb and 3 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. bb rodriquez
      Thanks for the great review! I realize I'm a bit late. Your whole review preface follows remarkably close to my headphone purchase path in the past few years. Base on your review I went a head and pulled the trigger on these. All I have to say "Wow!" These headphone pump out some wonderful sound. They do seem to really really like music that is recorded and mastered well. 
      bb rodriquez, Mar 23, 2015
    3. Kramer01
      @dweaver
       
      Thanks for your detailed review
       
      I’m looking to buy this headphone and have a few questions about it. If you could help me out it would be great. 
       
      Please… pretty please.
       
      A little background: I’m not a fan of uber neutral, linear sounding cans, they work well with certain types of music but for me they r ultimately not a fun listen. I like my headphones to have warm, engaging, punchy and detailed sound with a prominent and healthy bass body. Bass should not be boosted but what is there should not be presented in a diluted manner.
       
      I like to FEEL it not just hear it. I DON’T WANT ANOTHER THIN, COLD SOUNDING HEADPHONE.
       
      I had the HD 650(used with HA160D) for about 7-8 months and for listening to the music I listen to it just wasn’t right for me. For me it was brilliant for watching bluray titles and Netflix but for most real world contemporary music it just didn’t do it for me.
       
      I listen to a lot of rock, some metal, pop, Blues, R&B and some rap, but mostly rock. Stuff like Blur, oasis, radiohead, black keys, the who, queens of the stone age, AC/DC, black Sabbath you get the picture.
       
      Will be using the Z7 with HA160 D for listening to music, watching bluray titles, netfilx, youtube etc. Source PC> Jriver 19 with jplay driver.
       
      Most of my music is 16 bit flac the rest 320kbps mp3
       
      A friend works for Sony and through him I’m getting a brand new one from Sony for nearly $200 less than retail.
       
      Currently I own the Senn IE80 and the Beyer COP.
       
      THE QUESTIONS
      Removable Earpads ? Real leather?
      The mids: Are they really recessed or thin sounding as some people have pointed out??
      Bass: is it detailed and does it have detail throughout the bass frequencies, and is it deep reaching with good pacing and PRAT??
      Sub bass: Does it have body, power, kick, slam and presence??
      Clarity and  openness?
      Sound stage?Detail retrieval??Treble??Comfort and clamping pressure?? Comparable to HD650        
      Kramer01, Apr 26, 2015
    4. dropbassnotbomb
      Spot on review!! iBasso dx50 line out >> Cayin C5 >> Z7 is pretty much like an end game for me. Sony is evil.
      dropbassnotbomb, Aug 31, 2015
  10. Byrnie
    The unfortunately disappointing Sony Z7. I wanted to like these headphones so much but it just wasn't meant to be
    Written by Byrnie
    Published Nov 11, 2014
    3.0/5,
    After reading about Sony’s flagship headphone, I knew I had to try it out. My first pair of $100 headphones was the Sony MDR-V600 and I loved them. I have a history with Sony products. My first Sony purchases were the Sony walkman and discman. I’m not sure I would consider myself a Sony “fanboy” but I have owned many of their products and appreciate their quality. After a little trip to Amazon.com, I had Sony’s flagship headphone on it’s way to my house.

    The packaging was nice on these even though it was only cardboard. I would have liked a sturdy case/pouch included for travel purposes. There are two different cables included, one with your standard 1/4 inch headphone jack and the other cable with Sony’s proprietary balanced headphone jack. The build quality on these cans was wonderful and they were quite comfortable. The Z7 is listed as a closed headphone but at the same time it has two vents on it, which really makes it more of a semi-open headphone.

    The positives:
    • Great comfort
    • Wonderful build quality
    • Nice mids
    • Very stylish


    The negatives:
    • Bass bleeds into the mids a bit
    • Highs are noticeably recessed
    • Expensive sticker price considering the performance
    • Ear pads got hot after a half hour


    I really think these headphones should be at least $200 cheaper. I find the sound quality of the Shure SRH-1540 ($500) to be better in almost all areas minus build quality (by a small margin). I also compared these to my Fostex TH900 ($1500), which to my ears, are much better than the Z7s. That’s not to say the Z7s aren’t good headphones but at $700 there are better options out there for less money. Next up for review are the Philips X2 headphones.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. namhkim
      I just got my pair!
      I wish there's one review of Z7 with PHA3 using balanced cable..
      namhkim, Mar 31, 2015
    3. Kramer01
      @Byrnie
      I’m looking to buy this headphone and have a few questions about it. If the owners could help me out it would be great. 
       
      Please… pretty please.
       
      A little background: I’m not a fan of uber neutral, linear sounding cans, they work well with certain types of music but for me they r ultimately not a fun listen. I like my headphones to have warm, engaging, punchy and detailed sound with a prominent and healthy bass body. Bass should not be boosted but what is there should not be presented in a diluted manner.
       
      I like to FEEL it not just hear it. I DON’T WANT ANOTHER THIN, COLD SOUNDING HEADPHONE.
       
      I had the HD 650(used with HA160D) for about 7-8 months and for listening to the music I listen to it just wasn’t right. For me it was brilliant for watching bluray titles and Netflix but for most real world contemporary music it just didn’t do it for me.
       
      I listen to a lot of rock, some metal, pop, Blues, R&B and some rap, but mostly rock. Stuff like Blur, oasis, radiohead, black keys, the who, queens of the stone age, AC/DC, black Sabbath you get the picture.
       
      Will be using the Z7 with HA160 D for listening to music watching bluray titles, netfilx, youtube etc. Source PC> Jriver 19 with jplay driver.
       
      Most of my music is 16 bit flac the rest 320kbps mp3
       
      A friend works for Sony and through him I’m getting a brand new one from Sony for nearly $200 less than retail.
       
      Currently I own the Senn IE80 and the Beyer COP.
       
      THE QUESTIONS
      Removable Earpads ? Real leather?
      The mids: Are they really recessed or thin sounding as some people have pointed out??
      Bass: is it detailed and does it have detail throughout the bass frequencies, and is it deep reaching with good pacing and PRAT??
      Sub bass: Does it have body, power, kick, slam and presence??
      Clarity and  openness?
      Sound stage?
      Detail retrieval??
      Treble??
      Comfort and clamping pressure?? Comparable to HD650        
      Kramer01, Apr 26, 2015
    4. Byrnie
      Kramer, for me the headphones that I have enjoyed more than the Z7 (and these all happen to have a cheaper price tag on them):
      -Philips X2
      -V-Moda M100 (I did find it a little too much subbass for my liking)
      -Shure SRH-1540
      Byrnie, May 26, 2015

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