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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. Hanafuda
    No, the unbalanced and unbalanced outputs on the 1A/1Z will not function simultaneously. If headphones are plugged into both anyway, the balanced out is active.

    Yes, and it's because POWER. The power output on the 1A/1Z balanced output is almost 5 times as much as the output of the unbalanced jack. More amplification power = better driven speaker at same volume levels and improved dynamics, or so I've always heard. And listening to the Z1R on my 1A bears that out. I don't think the unbalanced jack's 60mW per channel is enough to do the Z1R justice, and I have to crank it up to get a decent volume. The 250mW per channel from the balanced side though is very acceptable. Not optimal, but I'm fine with it, love it even. On balanced high gain, most of my listening is done at a volume of between 55-70, out of the 1A's max of 120. But I'd really like to hear the Z1R with the TA-ZH1ES amp, which outputs 1200mW per channel. I like being able to move from room to room though, so a stationary amp isn't something I'm likely to purchase anytime soon.

    This is not to say an unbalanced amp is inferior. But for electrical engineering reasons I didn't study in school, a balanced amp circuit produces much more wattage from the same voltage. That's why it's a great solution for portable use (battery). The WM1A will run nearly as long on balanced as it will on the unbalanced output, but pumping out almost 5x the power. Which means almost any headphone can be driven satisfactorily. Maybe not a 600ohm Beyerdynamic, but almost any.

    Here's an interesting read about balanced vs. unbalanced headphone amps. The author is emphatic that balanced doesn't mean better sound quality, but he acknowledges the power advantage to balanced for a battery-powered system.


    The 60mW per channel output on the 1A's unbalanced output is very suitable for the MA900, btw.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
    Sp12er3 and racebit like this.
  2. racebit

    The output power depends on headphone impedance. Not to mention the impedance varies with frequency, but it seems it is always talked for the 1KHz reference.
    For my Mojo it is about 216 mW for 62.4 ohm (Z1R is 64 ohm), so seems OK too. (I checked it here https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/report/amp/chord-mojo.php )

    Another interesting thing from this link table is that with lower impedance loads (for example the MA900 12 ohm), the max output power increases, but max power without distortion decreases.

    It is also good that you use half volume with the Z1R, because as the data on the link above indicates, the max power decreases with lower distortion levels (different class), or, what we would expect, that max levels bring more distortion.

    Thanks a lot for the Benchmark Media link. Very very interesting. it rings some with me, as my roots are Electronics.
    One thing to add, is that while Chord Mojo does not have balanced output, it's higher-end brothers, the Chord Hugo 1 and 2 ($2700), also do not have. The designer simply said Hugo would not benefit from this. The Chord table top versions (designed also as pre-amps for speakers) however do have balanced outputs. So it seems to go with Benchmark's statement that balanced is important with speakers (voltage amplification) and not with headphones (current output).
    I am happy therefore that my Mojo may not be handicapped for not having balanced output (as I use it with headphones only).

    I only listen at the desk, the Mojo is always connected to the charger, so power consumption is not important to me.

    Thanks a lot for all your inputs, I learned a lot, both from your words and also from the researches I made following your words.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
    Sp12er3 and Hanafuda like this.
  3. muscleking
    end up buying another ma900 yesterday on ebay. about 260 canadian shipped after global shipping charges. i added ma900 in search and showed up bought right away after like 2 months didn't see anything. the wife happy. a bit more than i expect to pay but not gonna sell it again this time. picked up an audeze el8 open as well wonder which is better.
    Sp12er3 likes this.
  4. Sp12er3
    Happy to see more traffic here again, still lovin my MA900 as always... it's nearing its end of warranty now... next month and I'll be in trouble if it has a problem, tho I'm not too worried, local service centre is close to me.
    I wonder whether I can get a replacement earpads form there when it need to go too.. hmm..

    New News today is the release of MDR Z7 Mk2, another implementation of the 70 mm driver, now this is interesting... I'm looking at it as a more reachable (cost-wise) upgrade from the MA900 rather than stretching myself thin to the Z1R :)
  5. Sp12er3
    hmm, i actually have those Hybrid Brainwavz... it still has the foam tho... might do cutting it like you did cause I'm not really prefering the change it brings, it became a bit more veiled and the bass is a bit too much.
  6. Yevgen Chupak
    There was a few sellers on eBay but it's better to get Bayers pads form 770 990 or any other cans. u will get MUCH more comfort and padding.
  7. Sp12er3
    hmmm, I tried a couple Dt770 but those pads are never my fav part of them... but maybe it just need better housing in the form of the Sony... hm hm. ok noted
  8. Yevgen Chupak
    I'm more than happy with mine. They are much thicker and my ears never touch those drivers unlike it was with originals. Can't detect much difference soundwise.
  9. Malfunkt

    Have wanted to buy an MA900 for a while now, and have rarely ever seen them come up for sale. That's probably a good sign. And, now I kinda know why. Picked up this even rarer MDR-F1 this week.

    Sure, not the last word in technicality, but honestly, the dynamic driver is quite good. It's both the tuning of this headphone and its imaging capability that has me enamoured. (also looks like an alien sculpture).

    Sonically, larger and bit more natural in sound than my 800! I think the 800, has a slight artificial sound and sharpness, the F1 has less of this. The 800 uses both it enclosure and frequency curve to get its big sound, whereas the F1 has a different set of tricks including that massive open baffle, crossfeed, and bass reflex. Compared to the 650, this is more open, still a bit soft up top but not as veiled. Nice lows and fairly well extended. More immediate punch than the 800.

    This one shown in the photo needs some new pads, and re-terminated, but after that it may become my daily driver.
  10. racebit
    Welcome to the club. I also have a F1 and MA900. The F1 was my best headphone for many years, but it is very shy on bass. The MA900 has a good bass with its 70mm driver, and is a very good upgrade to the F1.
    The F1 remains however the comfort king. It is the only headphone I can use in very hot days/nights. The MA900 it very comfortable though and I can use it for many hours, except on those very hot days.
    I also have the Focal Clear, which is very uncomfortable compared to what I am used to with the Sonys, and even compared to the Philips X2.
    I will buy soon a Z1R which it think will be more comfortable then the Clear, but nowhere near the MA900.
    So ideal lineup: F1 for very hot days, Z1R for the best sound, and MA900 to use most of the time. It is a coincidence that they are all Sony.
    If no matter the price I could have only one headphone it would be the MA900. If I could have only two headphones it would be the MA900 and Z1R.

    Hanafuda, went for this duo, he got end game very fast. A wise guy. He's the one who got my attention on the Z1R. I went for the Clear first because I got a very good deal on it, but I will go for the Z1R as soon as a good deal appears.

    Regarding buying an MA900, the only place I know for some time now is this dealer in amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B007DCCK60
    Until a week or so they had 5 on stock at 399, and they had it for some time. Recently they sold them all, and have now one at 499. This may be the last one to ever be sold as new anywhere. Even in Japan they can't be found new for some time. Of course you can buy used ones, for example from amazon.co.jp.

    Regarding the F1 pads, I found I prefer to insert some padding inside, so that my ears don't touch anything. It was very comfortable as it was originally, but it is even better now. I loose a bit more bass, but I use the F1 for the extreme comfort, not frequency response.

    In this picture you can see the padding, it is a white electrical cable, RF (TV) cable:
    SonyF1MA900.JPG .
    BTW, it is amazing that with the F1 I can touch my ear with all 5 fingers simultaneously, where with the MA900 I can not even touch with the one small finger. That is because of the 50mm vs 70mm driver.
    This tells how well ventilated the F1 is.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
    Malfunkt likes this.
  11. Hanafuda

    I have them both and you're quite correct. The Z1R is extremely comfortable, but in a different way. It's "there" but cozy, soft. The MA900 isn't there.
  12. Roderick
    Just got the ma900's. To me it seems these are what I expected F1 to be. Sadly I can't do a side by side comparison because I sold the F1 only a day before I received ma900. Did not want to make the buyer wait and I had been trying to sell F1 for months anyway.

    So... I felt F1 seriously lacked resolution and ma900 fixes that problem. Even the soundstage was not as big I thought it would be. Ma900 is improvement in that too. Ma900 soundstage is not that far away from hd800 soundstage but sony's sound more natural. Quite similar soundstage, layering Instrument seperation as on jvc dx1000.

    It's still early but these definately deserve my attention. Time will tell if these are keepers. I need to get rid off some of my headphones and it will be a tough shootout between Sony, ollo S4, onkyo a800, k701 and dt880...maybe even hd800 because it's tonality just rubs me the wrong way.
    Philimon and Sp12er3 like this.
  13. Sp12er3
    The MA900 is just the most non intrusive headphone I owns, it basically disappear on my head with very natural sound sig, it's big soundstage feels like having 2 stereo speakers in front of me, Good one too.

    The AKG is overall more detailed, also faster but it just doesn't have the bass for daily IMO, best for monitoring and music listening, but are limited in genre. Haven't heard of the HD800 yet, but I've tried the S version, that one is, well IMO much better, it has comparable soundstage to the MA, more defined than the non S version I think, which I heard can be too big for some. Bass is noticeable as well, it has more than the AKG and it's a fast bass as well, detail is incomparable, really. It's a good TOTL can to aspire to.

    But the MA and AKG combo is enough to suit anything I need for now. I can't reach that far with my current paycheck anyway haha.

    Hope you find the Sony to your liking, me I can't separate from it, if it ever breaks id do anything to resuscitate it, really.
  14. Hanafuda

    I bet it won't be hard at all. Wait and keep using the MA900 for a few weeks / month, then try those others and see how tough the decision is.
    Sp12er3 likes this.
  15. dogears
    plus the hd800 is very hard to please :p
    Sp12er3 likes this.
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