Some don’t find Sony a fanciful can, more of it being just the type of cans that are preceded by the brand and looks rather than by its performance. I personally find the Sony MDR-Z7 quite expensive for its performance (currently priced at P27000 but I think it should have been priced at least P15000). However, I have been hunting for a good travel headphones and I chanced upon MDR-1A which I thought might be a good pair considering my needs. So I looked for one but unfortunately it was out of stock in most shops during that time so I had to kip a little bit. Then a fellow audiophile, Al Francis Ong turned up saying he’s got his Sony MDR-1R on sale since he was not overly fond of it. That tickled my fancy thinking that it may sound close to the real thing so I gave it a go with the hopes that it may not sound as good as the MDR-1A would, but may be a good alternative.

Off with the impressions, the build seems to be a good one for MDR-1R. I am not excited with a lot of hinges in a can, but this seems to have been built with durability in mind. The cups swing inwards but one will not worry about it having swivel issues. Swivels are made of chrome with smooth movements, much to my relief, something that I have had issues with my cans in the past.

It also sports a detachable 3.5mm cable which seems stable enough. I, however, would have been happier if the plug had some sort of locking mechanism which could have secured the cable to the cans more, but after tugging it a few times, the plug doesn’t seem to come off easily. It would take a bit of force to yank it off.

The biggest issue that I found from the can was the foam pads. Sure it was comfy, perhaps one of the softest that I have tried, but the leather seems to be the kind which can peel off easily over time. Good thing I am able to secure decent aftermarket foam pads; replacements won’t be an issue. At least for now.

Now for some sound quality test:

Tears For Fears
Woman In Chains

Imaging is aces for the MDR-1R. The shifts in the instruments are truly enjoyable, carefully alternating between the two cups. It was even more pleasurable how Roland Orzabal’s/Oleta Adams’ voices harmonize with each other. Guitars sounded crisp and clean. Bass is quite lovely for me, not pounding my temples but is omnipresent. Highs are discernible, enough to bring the sparkle in without any harshness at all.

Eva Cassidy
Fields Of Gold

The melodious voice of late Eva Cassidy was the focus on the track, with the acoustic leaning more of a compliment to the harmony, and it was properly justified by MDR-1R. Vocals were forward, but not too forward. I would say it was just enough to lull me to sleep. The track was excellently executed by the can.

Mr. Big
Green-Tinted Sixties Mind

The virtuoso that is Paul Gilbert nailed the guitars in the intro, and was properly detailed by MDR-1R. Drums where pounding but was of the right amount not to drown the rhythm and Eric Martin’s voice. The guitar solo was raunchy and crisp, while Billy Sheehan’s basslines were still very clear. I enjoyed this track immensely using the MDR-1R.

The MDR-1R sports a closed back cans, so isolation ranges from fair to good. It can shut off some outside noise but still allowed me to hear some honking from other vehicles outside.

I intend to give the MDR-1A a try to justify how the MDR-1R fares against it, but given how the MDR-1R does against its price I would say you get what you paid for unlike others in the market which performs like it should have been priced twice. But then again, getting a sound of how it was valued should not be a bad deal afterall.

Marlowe Cruz

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