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Sony MDR MA900 Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by lumos, May 8, 2013.
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  1. racebit
    You know some people are afraid to die alone, I am afraid to die without a working MA900...
    I am not sure how long each MA900 will last, but I am also not sure how long I will last...
    It may be that someone will make a better and more confortable headphone, and it may be that the first MA900 will outlast me, but we never know...
    cskippy likes this.
  2. Tony51
    I had no luck with mine. I purchased the ma900 twice at different occasions but they seem to have a bass issue distortion at a specific bass hz and I finally gave up on them. The overall sound and vocals we're excellent, it was just that specific bass notes with some songs that it wouldn't play smooth. The ma900 we're the most comfortable headphones I've ever wore.
  3. racebit
    Have you tried it with another source/amp? Sometimes there are issues with specific HP+DAC+Amp combos.
    I have such a problem with my X2 and one specific song start. Not yet with the MA900, but I only have it for about one month.
  4. Tony51
    From memory, I paired it with my sony Walkman ZX2 and the Fiio E12 portable amp. I have about 30 headphones and not one sounds bad paired with the Walkman.
    My Astell&Kern 120ii on the other hand, I didn't like the signature on any of my headphones. So I sold it for a fiio X7mk2.
    What are you paired with?
    Anyway, I wanted to love the ma900. Bummer.

  5. Hanafuda
    The Z1R recently took frontline honors from my MA900, but that's what it took. And no plans to let go of my MA900, either.
    Sp12er3 likes this.
  6. racebit
    The Mojo is the only amp I ever had, besides the PC boards.
    I nailed it first time. At first I didn't valued it too much, being a mobile device, and I never listening mobile. But I received it about two years ago, connected to the PC via optical cable, no drivers, and it has been there all this time, never even diconnected the cable. And there is always two headphones connected, but it keeps changing. I like to be able to compare directly and to change quickly according to type of sound/song. At first it was F1 for the confort, and X2 for the bass, now I am getting more options. It seems the Hugo has 3 outputs, but too expensive. Heck I don't even use all of Mojo (don't use USB or DSD).
    Tony51 likes this.
  7. racebit
    With the F1 I can touch on the ear with all five fingers at the same time. That tells how open and confortable it is. With the MA900 I can't touch the ear even with just the one small finger.
    But it is for a good reason, the 70mm driver only allows a much smaller opening, although much bigger than all other open headphones, that have none.
    Tony51 likes this.
  8. racebit
    I looked lately at botth the Z7 and Z1R, but deicided for the Focal Clear instead. I prefer open, and in this case the Clear seems Clearly superior on sound... maybe even on the confort, but I am not sure there.
  9. muscleking
    250 euro is expensive. i bought 2 before one new one used for 200 canadian and 180 canadian. sold both after some use on ebay for more. i think these are worth more now. the wife kept asking me to get it back. she hook up these to yamaha digital piano and she said it sounded best. bought a bunch of headphones costing more after and she doesn't like. i tested the grado gh2 on the piano and sounded really good. she hated the look of grado. i said they are nice headphones. she has a bit ear infection after giving birth recently so haven't play the piano for a while. since she liked the sony so much i almost pulled trigger on a z1r. but hooked to the piano may not sound as good as ma900. to my ears ma900 is good but cant compare to any headphones i own now, Beyer T1 2nd generation, Audeze Sine, Klipsh x20i, grado GH2 and stax 4170. i think she likes it for the comfort. but that is true. out of all these headphones i listed and i had many more in similar range before and ma900 comfort is king. guess i'll have to keep an eye on craiglist to see i can find another one and this time keep it.

    the new one i got from an ebay seller years ago and he was trying to sell me 2 new ones i said one is good enough. back then USD = CAD dollars (must be quite a few years ago) and was 200 bucks shipped. now i realized that is one of the better deals i had on headphones seeing people willing to pay the price of a z7 for these now.

    the second time i owned the used one it didn't sound as impressive as the first time. which i just started with audio and first full size was audio technical AD700. then i got the stax 4170 and T1 in between of picking up the ma900 the second time. the ma900 works best with a xonar stx sound card actually. compare to much more expensive dacs like SMSL m8 and little dot mkiii. kind miss that sound card now.
  10. Hanafuda
    Sounds like the right choice for you. I prefer open headphones too, but my wife doesn't lol. I bought the Z1R because I needed a closed headphone, despite some mixed opinions (the Tyll thing) it routinely was referred to in reviews as probably the best sounding closed headphone on the market (and then inevitably compared against all the open-backed flagships anyway), and most importantly I was able to get it new in Tokyo for $1250. In fact, I got the Z1R and the WM1A w/ some accessories (case, screen glass, remote control) for under $2300 total. If I had to pay full US retail, no fn way. Superb headphones though, I love them.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  11. racebit
    After this post of yours I went checking all Z1R reviews again, and I am not sure anymore, between the Z1R and the Clear. Or at least which one this year.. .
    Do you have any idea why Tyller would give such bad review on those when all others seem more or less positive? Could be a bad sample? It seems on the Utopia it was a too good sample, he reckonned later!
  12. racebit
    I agree the MA900 may be outdated sonically, but as you say confort wise is still number one, and my guess is that will not change soon.
    As you say the prices tend go up, and although I paied double than what I could have paied 2-3 years ago, In the future it will be even more expensive, specially new.

    Regarding amps, in the beginnig I was also leaning towards a sound card, but the possibility of picking PC noise, made me go to full noise isolation: No electrical connection to the PC, only optical. And as the mojo operates on battery there is no noise from the mains either.
  13. racebit
    I just found the Z1R thread (including Jude post)...lots to digest... Also it was really off-topic here. Thanks for mentioning the Z1R though!
  14. Hanafuda
    Off-topic but this MA900 thread isn't exactly sizzling with activity, so I think your interest is worth a reply. I'm no pro-headphone-aphile though - I'm a thoroughly mid-fi dude. But I'll tell you what I think. First, as I said above, I jumped on the Z1R / WM1A combo because I was able to make out like a bandit on the purchase. In the US where Sony has their authorized dealers by the balls and full retail pricing prevails on their upscale stuff, those two items would be $3500. My ceiling for what it was worth to me to upgrade my gear was really more like $2k max, but I stretched it to $2300 because hey, what a deal.

    I can't compare the Z1R to the Focal Clear for you, nor would I think it a proper comparison. The Z1R is a closed headphone. In reviews you will see it said that the Z1R sounds like an open headphone. Ehhh, yes and no. If you know anything about the Z1R, then you know the earcup is a stainless steel mesh over a special thick paper in a parabolic shape (traditional Japanese washi-style, Candian softwoods, yada yada.) Thing is, it really works. It practically eliminates interior resonance, and does a decent job at isolating too. At reasonable listening volumes, my wife and daughter both say they can't hear a thing from me now. And I am in my own little world, isolated from them. It's not enough to block out TV being watched in the same room, but I have IEM's that can't do that either. But anyway, I guess it's because that paper liner is air-permeable even if its not sound permeable, but what the Z1R doesn't do is put a lot of pressure on the ear canal like almost any other closed headphone I've tried. Treble detail is there, but no icepick. Bass thump is there, but no feeling of a physical assault on your eardrum. Drastically reduced fatigue over long listening sessions. This, in my experience, is one of the major "pros" of an open headphone vs. closed. But the Z1R has this "pro." It's the best closed-headphone you're gonna find, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Focal Clear sounds a little better. It's easier to make an open headphone sound good, period. But my wife and daughter are in the kitchen making something right now. I'm listening to some J.J. Cale and I can't hear them, and they can't hear me. That's the justification for the cost differential of Clear vs. Z1R.

    I can compare the Z1R to the MA900. It was actually rather shocking to me, a little while ago I tried them both out on my WM1A, the MA900 on the single-ended jack and the Z1R on balanced. On comfort, the MA900 trounces the Z1R and everything else (I haven't tried the F1). You know this already. It weighs nothing and feels like nothing on your head. The Z1R is extremely comfortable though - thick padding, soft leather, very luxurious. But it's there, on your head, you know it. You might forget you're even wearing the MA900, but with the Z1R you will know its there, but be impressed by how comfortable it is. It is also exceptionally well-built. Metal and leather. Precise clicks. Memory foam. No cable microphonics unless you purposely induce it. And for sound -- this is why I was shocked. I plugged the MA900 in my WM1A when I first got it a few weeks ago, just to function-check the DAP. But today I really listened to it, and the Z1R has spoiled me, badly. The MA900 now sounds very restricted in bass and treble extension, lacking detail, muddy bass, and lacking sparkle. I didn't find anything lacking with the MA900's sound before the Z1R. For the money, obviously the Z1R should sound a lot better, but I didn't expect it to take the shine off my MA900 so drastically. Example: Steely Dan, Rikki Don't Lose That Number, marimba intro. With the MA900 I can hear every note, but it's 'slurred' just the slightest bit during the fast run. With the Z1R, I not only hear each note distinctly from the next, I can hear the mallet smacks. Impressive. I catch extra detail and more space to instruments than I've heard before on familiar music with these headphones all the time.

    Again, I can't help you with Z1R vs. Clear. If I had a home environment where an open headphone was appropriate more frequently, I might have gotten something different. But I'm very happy with the Z1R, and since my wife doesn't have to hear my music anymore she likes it too.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
    Sp12er3 and Tony51 like this.
  15. racebit
    Thank you very much for the help. I am a mid-fi too.

    Isolation is not important to me, and I even prefer to be able to listen to something that may happen around me. That is why the Z1R not being fully closed is an advantage to me. Also because, as you say, to not put so much air pressure on the ears. In any case I don't listen at high volumes, to save my ears, so I would get no sound out but still could listen to loud outside sound.

    Regarding confort, One point I think like less about the Z1R is the leather pads.I find fabric more confortable than leather, and even velour, specially because of sweating.

    I am getting more determined to get a Z1R. I may prefer the more musical to the more analytical. In the long term I may end getting both a Z1R and a Clear, but at least one year apart. The choice of the first could be determined (like your) by lower prices opportunity. Both are recent so no likelly stock-off prices soon, but the Clear is not even in stock in europe it seems. There is a professional version with different cables and color that I do not appreciate. I think the reason is focal is busy manufacturing the Elex. Also it is rumored they will discontinue Elear, being outdated by Clear improvements, and I think they may replace it with another model based on the Elex. Or if no Elear replacement model, maybe they lower Clear price, or at least offer a cheaper vanilla version without case and 3 cables. So maybe is best to wait for dust to settle at focal. Maybe import a Z1R from Japan, it will end me at 1500 euros, compared to 2000 euros at amazons in europe.

    Regarding the WM1A, does it also allow the use of two heaphones simultaneously, and without any noticeable drop/change? With the Mojo I also don't notice any change on 1st headphone when I connect disconnect the second one. But the Mojo does not have balanced output, both are single.
    Also did you notice a noticeable difference on balanced vs non-balanced on the Z1R?

    Thanks again for your inputs. Coming from a fellow mid-fier, are very welcome.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
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