• SPECIFICATIONS
  • Driver: 40 mm dynamic – Dome type Delta Zero Sensor
  • Frequency Range: 3–100,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB/mW
  • Cable Length: 1.2 m
  • Programmable Buttons: 6
  • Dimensions: 115 x 65 x 37 mm
  • Weight: 127g
  • Pros:
  • Light
  • Comfortable
  • Cons:
  • Price

Upgrading The Resolution

Sony audio may not be the one we normally associate with audiophile quality, but that perception might be changing. Released late last year, the Sony MDR 1A is the successor to the MDR 1R. Sony claims that it is superior to its predecessor, a claim we were keen to verify.

Headphones are usually sold as is, meaning you have a box with just the headphone inside. But that’s not so with Sony’s MDR 1A, since it’s a premium product. Sony has packaged it with extras, including a carry case and two detachable cables. One cable even comes with a microphone, so that you can connect it to a smartphone and take calls.

At a glance, the MDR 1A doesn’t look any different from the 1R. However, a closer look reveals minor changes to the ear cups. On the 1A, the cups and paddings are more angled for better fit, and the body also has a more textured feel. Just like the 1R, you get to two choices when it comes to colour – one in stylish black with red trim, or the more laid-back silver and brown one.

The MDR 1A is, hands down, more comfortable than the 1R. It uses aluminium for the head strap’s base as well as the ear cups, leaving the rest of the body plastic. This allows it to have both a solid build and stay lightweight. While using the 1A, we’ve never felt the need to take it off because it’s so comfortable. It doesn’t clamp too hard, nor is it heavy enough to prevent extended use.

As with many Sony headphones, it has good bass that’s well controlled so it’s ideal for those who like listening to pop or rock. The treble is also exceptional, with great detail and separation. Even the mids are accurate too. Simply put, you’ll enjoy almost any genre of music with the MDR 1A.

Being Hi Res Audio (HRA) capable, Sony claims that the MDR 1A can even make lossy MP3 files sound good. In practice, you should still have files with a bit-rate of at least 320kbps. For testing, we plugged it to a smartphone and listened to some tracks on Spotify. We wouldn’t say it blew us away, but the MDR 1A did output fantastic sound quality even with lossy audio.

For all its quality, this pair of headphone costs a bit more than other options in the market offering the same quality. But if comfort is your number one point of consideration, you can’t go wrong with Sony’s MDR 1A.

CHIP CONCLUDE: Amazing sound quality and super comfortable, this is the kind of headphone you can wear for hours on end.

(previously published in issue January 2016)

Sony MDR-1A