Awesome or Gimmick ? Sonys MDR-1ADAC
Dec 1, 2014 at 9:00 PM Post #32 of 167

Whitigir

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  I was able to try a test pair at my local HiFi store, they are pretty good, but not $400 good.

Thank you for your reviews.  I was Itching to know this.  I was expecting these to sport the same drivers as the one in MDR-10R, which were not that impressive.  I don't even think it is worth the money.  I am surprised to know the S-Master in this pair isn't doing it any good though
 
Dec 1, 2014 at 10:35 PM Post #33 of 167

LajostheHun

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It depends who you ask,the reviews are inconclusive so far.I would agree that the price needs to come down, which will be same time next year.
 
Dec 22, 2014 at 11:18 PM Post #34 of 167

elektron

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  I was able to try a test pair at my local HiFi store, they are pretty good, but not $400 good.

 
Keep in mind that they take a while to break in.  The bass, in particular, gets better over time - the initial harshness is all but gone after a couple of months and the sub-bass extends a bit lower too (although don't get them for the sub-bass).
 
Another important point to remember when trying them at the store, is that the Aptx is not on by default - you need to hold the Vol+ rocker while turning them on to enable it (the blue light will then blink 3 times).  Of course, this will only matter when testing with FLAC / ALAC material (as you should).
 
And last but not least, are you sure you tested the MK2 version in the store?  To the best of my knowledge the 1RBTMK2 are not available in the US stores.
 
Remember, these are $400 closed cans, and wireless to boot, including a long feature set including S-Master, hi-res audio capability, DSEE, NFC, AptX, 30-hour battery, playback controls, mic (althogh the mic is next to unusable), a dedicated phone button and, arguably, the best comfort in the segment.
 
Therefore, it would be unreasonable to expect them to sound like $400 open wired / passive cans.  Heck, the Zik 2.0 cost the same (at least in my country) and don't even have AptX (but they do have a gimmicky app that adds room reverb).
 
Having said all that, I wouldn't pay $400 for the MDR-1RBTMK2 either, just because I hate paying full retail for anything.  In fact, I paid about half that for a brand new grey import (through a local seller) and extremely happy with them at that price.
 
I am really looking forward to pairing them with a Z4 Compact next year, providing my current phone holds up for a few more months.
 
Dec 22, 2014 at 11:43 PM Post #35 of 167

LajostheHun

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Keep in mind that they take a while to break in.  The bass, in particular, gets better over time - the initial harshness is all but gone after a couple of months and the sub-bass extends a bit lower too (although don't get them for the sub-bass).
 
Another important point to remember when trying them at the store, is that the Aptx is not on by default - you need to hold the Vol+ rocker while turning them on to enable it (the blue light will then blink 3 times).  Of course, this will only matter when testing with FLAC / ALAC material (as you should).
 
And last but not least, are you sure you tested the MK2 version in the store?  To the best of my knowledge the 1RBTMK2 are not available in the US stores.
 
Remember, these are $400 closed cans, and wireless to boot, including a long feature set including S-Master, hi-res audio capability, DSEE, NFC, AptX, 30-hour battery, playback controls, mic (althogh the mic is next to unusable), a dedicated phone button and, arguably, the best comfort in the segment.
 
Therefore, it would be unreasonable to expect them to sound like $400 open wired / passive cans.  Heck, the Zik 2.0 cost the same (at least in my country) and don't even have AptX (but they do have a gimmicky app that adds room reverb).
 
Having said all that, I wouldn't pay $400 for the MDR-1RBTMK2 either, just because I hate paying full retail for anything.  In fact, I paid about half that for a brand new grey import (through a local seller) and extremely happy with them at that price.
 
I am really looking forward to pairing them with a Z4 Compact next year, providing my current phone holds up for a few more months.

I don't think he was talking about the BT version, this thread is about the wired can with built in DAC and amp.
 
Dec 23, 2014 at 12:42 AM Post #36 of 167

elektron

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  I don't think he was talking about the BT version, this thread is about the wired can with built in DAC and amp.

 
On second reading, I think you're right.  There was an earlier discussion regarding active BT headphones with built-in S-Master, so I thought his comment was related to that rather than the original post.
 
Dec 23, 2014 at 4:25 AM Post #37 of 167

maxli86

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I have tested this with the MDR-1A and to be frank MDR-1A sound better without the build in DAC.
Mid and bass sounded similar on the MDR-1ADAC but the soundstage is much smaller
and not to mention the frequency response is lower for digital connection.
Songs with low frequency may not play that well on the MDR-1ADAC than the MDR-1A. 
My advice, get the MDR-1A will do as it doesn't even need to be amp to sound nice.
 
Dec 23, 2014 at 5:20 AM Post #38 of 167

LajostheHun

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  I have tested this with the MDR-1A and to be frank MDR-1A sound better without the build in DAC.
Mid and bass sounded similar on the MDR-1ADAC but the soundstage is much smaller
and not to mention the frequency response is lower for digital connection.
Songs with low frequency may not play that well on the MDR-1ADAC than the MDR-1A. 
My advice, get the MDR-1A will do as it doesn't even need to be amp to sound nice.

It's kind of hard to decipher what you saying there other than you like the MDR1-A better.
 
Jan 13, 2015 at 11:31 PM Post #40 of 167

jjcoolaus

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I just got my pair yesterday. I paid $399 from JB Hi-Fi in Australia. They were on sale, down from 499 which is their standard price.
https://www.jbhifi.com.au/headphones-dj/headphones/sony/sony-mdr1adac-hi-res-headphones-with-us-dac-black/646636/
 
Previously to getting these I was using the Sony MDR1RBT MKII bluetooth headphones.
 
Previously to that I was using a JDS Labs C5D connected to SoundMAGIC HP100.
 
The sound is great but not quite as great as the JDS Labs/SoundMAGIC combo.
 
I was listening to some FLAC files this morning (one was 24/192) with PowerAmp music player in Android. Phone is a Galaxy Note 4.
 
I found that if I used EQ it caused distortion, unless you use the limiter in PowerAmp, and even then it can introduce some unwanted distortion, dpeending on the track though.
 
There is no in-built EQ into the headphones which is both a good and a bad thing. It's always nice to have a EQ (or some bass boost at the very least) and those who don't want it can leave it off. EQ actually increased the volume of the headphones too - it was as if poweramp's EQ was interfering with the DAC which is entirely possible.
 
Why even turn EQ on? There isn't quite enough treble at the high end, and the bass is there at the low end but a bit recessed.
 
I definitely wouldn't use software EQ with my previous JDS Labs/SoundMAGIC combo, as the C5D has it's own bass boost that is fantastic.
 
If your familiar with the sound of the MDR1R, this is similar to that, and although it's very early days in my listening, there is a sub-bass response finally and you don't have to damage your hearing to find it. I am hoping this will improve over time and get quite nice in the end.
 
The end result with the MDR1RBT MKII is that mid-range bass really popped out nicely, but sub bass was still virtually non-existent so I am hopeful I will be happy enough with the bass in this once it's had a chance to burn in.
 
When I say burn in - no I don't leave my headphones on a 60 hour rotation of tracks, I just let it burn in naturally over the first few months of daily use.
 
By the way the volume on this is fine. On the bus into work this morning, it was easily more than enough to be heard over the engine noise.
 
Although it is a rotary volume control, it is easy to find with headphones on, easy to adjust and easy to fine tune. The volume control is well made and I expect the flimsy buttons on my previous bluetooth model to break first :p
 
The sound stage is fairly narrow, definitely worse than the HP100 but that doesn't really bother me.
 
Battery takes around 4 hours to charge, and whilst I haven't had a chance to test battery life, Sony claims 5 hours maximum.
 
The microUSB cable for phones is EXCELLENT - it's tough, secure, and well built. This is one thing that I could never find satisfaction with C5D is a good micro USB to mini USB cable that will actually stay attached to the phone in your pocket and not split or fray after only a few months of use.
 
Walking around the city today I will note there was a bit of a "walking thump" but definitely not the worst I've ever heard. Walking thump is where you get a soft bass thump through your headphones every time you take a step. There is also a little bit of cable rub noise from clothing v cable, but I found that was rare and didn't bother me so much.
 
The manual is here: http://pdf.crse.com/manuals/4544744521.pdf but don't waste your time. It essentially says step 1) plug in cable, step 2) turn on headphones, step 3) enjoy music LOL It is a very sparse user guide. The Help guide is far more useful and provides lots of info on precautions and troubleshooting.
 
I note the help guide says: "In particularly dry air conditions, noise or sound skipping may occur, or mild tingling may be felt on your ears. This is a result of static electricity accumulated in the body, and not a malfunction of the headphones. The effect can be minimized by wearing clothes made from natural materials."
Read it here: http://helpguide.sony.net/mdr/1adac/v1/en2/contents/TP0000551039.html
 
Not sure how that lycra crowd would go, but I'm fat and I don't get around on bicycles. Anyway that's still concerning and it will be interesting to see what happens next week when our weather really heats up again (I live in Australia) and I start wearing silk shirts to work.
 
The cable is long enough (i'm around 180cm or 6 ft tall) with plenty of slack. The cable "behaves" well in that it doesn't curl or twist up at all, and it will stay close to your clothes.
 
There was some reasonably strong wind around this morning, I didn't experience any wind noise with these and I was impressed by that. The bass reflex port is at the top of the earcups and is obfuscated by the hinge the headband is attached to.
 
Sound isolation is reasonable but not as good as the SoundMAGIC, which are superb. On public transport you will hear your music easily but when nothing is playing, yes you will still be able to hear some sounds around you.
 
In the office I have just put these on. I can *just* hear 2 people talking near me, it's very muffled though. I cannot make out what they are saying. The background noise from my PC fan and my USB powered beverage cooler/warmer (which is much louder than my PC) is all gone. I cannot hear people talking further away.
 
In terms of comfort there is no change from the MDR1RBT. Initially I was concerned because the earcups *look* smaller but I measured them and they are the same 10cm across that the MDR1R is.
 
Also, phone calls DO NOT come through your headphones. You will need to take them off when a call comes in, and use the earpeice/speaker on your phone. You can leave the cable plugged in if you like.
 
I'm yet to test this with lollipop (i have a LG G3 that has Android 5.0) to see if the behaviour around calls is any different, but it's probably the same.
 
So in short:
- yes the sound on this is better than the MDR1R
- there is actually a sub bass response but bass heads will still be disappointed.
- leave any EQ on your phone off, it does more harm than good
- I will still use the MDR1RBT's on the weekends. Trying to juggle this, an umbrella and a bottle of water when a call comes in will not be fun.
 
By the way I have a thick case on my phone. Most chargers don't fit into it (the microusb plug isn't long enough), but the Samsung chargers do. This cable clips in there very nicely. There is no resistance like it is going to fall out or anything - it is a secure tight fit and I will say it again - this cable is fantastic and it has really impressed me.
 
It's a proprietary plug that plugs into the headphones though so replacements could be difficult to come by, should it ever break.
 
I'm considering maybe, possibly, upgrading to Beyerdynamic T70P later this year to get some more bass response back without the need for an amp. In the meantime though, I'll be happy with these.
 
  Active headphones are good, but I doubt it can touch anything with an external DAC.  Now, if somebody can invent a powerhouse with slim profile DAC...that would be just perfect

 
It can't. If you use an external DAC now, I dare say this is a step down for you, but it's definitely a step up in convenience as you no longer have to carry around a box the size and weight of a 2nd phone in your pocket.
 
If you have never had a DAC before and would like to dip your toe into the world of lossless digital music, this is a great place to start. This + the tidal streaming service is a pretty good combo :)
 
Jan 14, 2015 at 1:30 AM Post #41 of 167

elektron

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Thanks for the detailed review.  I was especially interested in your comparison to the MDR-1RBTMK2 as I am a current owner who is not using an external DAC (and not planning on getting one).
 
Do I understand correctly that your initial impression is that the main improvement over the 1RBTMK2 is better sub-bass?  If that's the case I'm not sure I could justify the upgrade as I'm not going back to corded cans unless I'm promised absolute audio nirvana, but it would be interesting how these compare to the upcoming MDR-1ABT.
 
On another note, the Tidal service is not technically hi-res streaming - it's CD-quality, which you can enjoy wirelessly with your MK2s in the AptX mode, without the need for a DAC.  I have found FLAC quality to be very good on the MK2s.
 
It's also worth mentioning that Qobuz has been providing a similar service for some time now.
 
Would be interesting to see how they perform after a burn in.
 
Jan 14, 2015 at 6:28 PM Post #42 of 167

jjcoolaus

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  Do I understand correctly that your initial impression is that the main improvement over the 1RBTMK2 is better sub-bass?  If that's the case I'm not sure I could justify the upgrade as I'm not going back to corded cans unless I'm promised absolute audio nirvana, but it would be interesting how these compare to the upcoming MDR-1ABT.

 
You can hear more detail and the isolation is better. But if you though the treble or midrange is a bit lacking in the 1RBTMK2 then I think you will be disappointed.
 
Also if you always put your MK2's into the APTx mode (by holding down volume + when turning on) then you won't have much a difference with these.
 
I listen to A LOT of online radio, from 32kbps AAC talk stations all the way up to 320kbps MP3 streams.
 
One thing I noticed today: The ADAC is very forgiving with lower bit rate media. Listening to AAC streams with the MK2 sometimes you might get a slight shriek or sudden spike in the treble, that doesn't occur at all with these.
 
Sony say they have designed these to upscale low bit rate media nicely, and I believe them. It could also be like comparing a "box car" driving through the mud to a 4WD driving through the mud - as in the very fact that an external DAC is being used probably makes the low bitrate much better. It might be like a freezer manufacturer telling me it will keep my food colder than the competing fridge technology does - i'm not sure on that one - but the claim stacks up in real life let's put it that way.
 
The other advantage to going back to wired for me is wifi interference. I use a wifi mobile broadband modem to give me cheaper data in the city ($3.34 per Gb vs $10 per Gb), while my main number remains with Australia's most expensive carrier for the enhanced voice quailty (and wow does HD voice sound great) and rural coverage (i go rural often). With bluetooth headphones I often find that music can be interrupted or drop out (even playing from local files) because bluetooth and wifi are operating in similar bands and interfering with each other. That's rare (but does happen) with the MK2 but it's REALLY bad on the Bluedio R+ 8 Track whcih I also own.
 
Also if you are often maxing out the volume on your MK2's because the bluetooth output isn't strong enough on your phone, then I think you will be happier with these.
 
Please Sony, let the MDR-1ABT have APTx on by default (or at least let the user choose a setting that sticks). It's one of the most annoying things for an audiophile using the MDR-1BT MK2.
 
Jan 15, 2015 at 1:40 AM Post #43 of 167

elektron

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You can hear more detail and the isolation is better. But if you though the treble or midrange is a bit lacking in the 1RBTMK2 then I think you will be disappointed.
 
Also if you always put your MK2's into the APTx mode (by holding down volume + when turning on) then you won't have much a difference with these.
 
I listen to A LOT of online radio, from 32kbps AAC talk stations all the way up to 320kbps MP3 streams.
 
One thing I noticed today: The ADAC is very forgiving with lower bit rate media. Listening to AAC streams with the MK2 sometimes you might get a slight shriek or sudden spike in the treble, that doesn't occur at all with these.
 
Sony say they have designed these to upscale low bit rate media nicely, and I believe them. It could also be like comparing a "box car" driving through the mud to a 4WD driving through the mud - as in the very fact that an external DAC is being used probably makes the low bitrate much better. It might be like a freezer manufacturer telling me it will keep my food colder than the competing fridge technology does - i'm not sure on that one - but the claim stacks up in real life let's put it that way.
 
The other advantage to going back to wired for me is wifi interference. I use a wifi mobile broadband modem to give me cheaper data in the city ($3.34 per Gb vs $10 per Gb), while my main number remains with Australia's most expensive carrier for the enhanced voice quailty (and wow does HD voice sound great) and rural coverage (i go rural often). With bluetooth headphones I often find that music can be interrupted or drop out (even playing from local files) because bluetooth and wifi are operating in similar bands and interfering with each other. That's rare (but does happen) with the MK2 but it's REALLY bad on the Bluedio R+ 8 Track whcih I also own.
 
Also if you are often maxing out the volume on your MK2's because the bluetooth output isn't strong enough on your phone, then I think you will be happier with these.
 
Please Sony, let the MDR-1ABT have APTx on by default (or at least let the user choose a setting that sticks). It's one of the most annoying things for an audiophile using the MDR-1BT MK2.

 
Thanks for the response and the apt metaphors.
 
I don't think I've ever had wireless interference issues with my MK2s and have never maxed out the volume, so the 1ADAC would offer limited advantages in that regard.
 
I couldn't agree more about the nuisance of having to power up in the AptX mode all the time.  I think Sony is the only manufacturer that forces you to do that.  Somehow I'm not sure if MDR-1ABT will fix that if this is the design direction they've taken with their new active and bluetooth headphones.
 
Feb 27, 2015 at 6:51 PM Post #44 of 167

RandomHajile

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i got these yesterday, using them digitally with my a15 walkman and laptop with the sony hi res audio player program

they are great, dont go that loud, maybe thats a UK/europe thing... but they do the the job very well, i have the 7520 and the z7 to compare with, and the cd900st.

but these do get my ears hot over a half hour, more so than the above headphones.
 
Mar 12, 2015 at 7:57 AM Post #45 of 167

RandomHajile

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Whoever also has these, may I ask what volume you normally listen at?!

I know it's hard to pin point as its a rotating volume dial with no numbers.

But with me I normally listen to it at 90 to 100% and even then it's feels like that's totally adequate.

I'm just checking if the UK/eu version is volume limited :frowning2:

As the specs list it as 1500mah output (at 40ohm) and that's like 15x the output of the a15 walkman analog output. !!

Thanks in advance
 

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