The Sony MDR-10R is a new addition to the MDR range of headphones. From the first looks, you can see that the shape of the headphone is oval and oblong.
The ear-cups of the Sony MDR-10R are clad in faux leather. Extremely ergonomic, the egg-shaped earcups are tilted and sit nicely around the ears of the user. However, we found the headband to be a bit on the thinner side and definitely preferred the wide hammock found on the Philips Fidelio X1. Better contact with the top of the user’s head would have helped the Sony headphones achieve better comfort levels with gentler contact pressure.
Given that headphones today are commonly paired with a smartphone as the playback source, Sony has given the MDR-10R a certain portability factor. Both the ear-cups can be rotated and the headphones can be folded flat. In this orientation, they can be slipped inside a simple soft carrying case for transport although we much preferred the hard carrying case that accompanied the Sennheiser Momentum.
Clear and pristine highs greet the listener when the Sony MDR-10R is put to work. The trebles from these headphones take center-stage and can be prominently heard in the mix. This helps the cans render the intricate guitar work of Hotel California in sublime fashion. On Melt My Heart To Stone, the high registers are still impressive for how they grab the listener’s attention but they lack the warmth of tone displayed by the Philips Fidelio X1.
The MDR10R also boasts Sony’s High Resolution Audio feature, which is supposed to breathe life back into compressed music files. While it may not bring an MP3 up to FLAC quality, we did hear the subtle nuances and underlying instrumentation for Elements of Life by Tiesto, which lends some credence to the feature’s claims.
Most aspects of the MDR10R’s performance are above average but fail to completely wow. A decent soundstage helps reproduce stereo effect well, but is unable to match the width of the soundstage experienced when listening to the Creative Evo Zx. Similarly the transient response is decent, but the Fidelio X1 offered a more natural sound. Bass performance is the Achilles heel of the Sony MDR-10R. We found the low frequencies from the headphones to have
PRISTINE HIGHS GREET THE LISTENER WHEN THE SONY MDR10R IS PUT TO
the definition and controlled reproduction required, but the bass lacked the impact and oomph evidenced by the Sennheiser Momentum.
It is also important to note that the MDR-10R has the highest impedance, of 40 Ohms, out of all the headphones we tested. Conventional wisdom suggests that 32 Ohms is the upper limit of loads that can be driven by source devices such as notebooks, smartphones and tablets without the need for a dedicated amplifier. While we experienced no real performance drop, we cannot guarantee that all portable devices will be able to properly drive the Sony MDR-10R to its full potential.