FOR Comfortable; spacious presentation; deep, agile bass AGAINST Recessed vocals; lack a bit of get-up-and-go
Sony is continuing to fly the flag for high-resolution audio, and this latest push zeros in on higher-quality Bluetooth streaming. The company claims its new proprietary Bluetooth codec, LDAC, transmits data three times more efficiently than standard Bluetooth encoding – supposedly maintaining a maximum bit depth and frequency of up to 24-bit/96khz – so in theory, most hi-res music shouldn’t suffer as much compression in the transmission.
Tap and swipe controls
Both the source and headphone/speaker must be equipped with the codec. Right now, these MDR-1ABTS – wireless versions of the MDR-1AS (£120) – are one of the first Ldac-compatible products, alongside Sony’s high-end NW-ZX2 Walkman and a handful of wireless speakers, AV amps and soundbars.
That doesn’t make the MDR-1ABTS redundant with your smartphone or tablet – they’ll simply stream using standard Bluetooth. NFC functionality enables one-touch pairing – the badge on the left earcup marks the spot.
On the right earcup you’ll find touch controls neatly embedded: tapping the earcup plays and pauses songs, and picks up calls. Swiping it allows you to skip tracks or change volume.
Comfort is first rate
The plastic earcups and chrome-like details may not seem particularly up-market, but the soft-yet-supportive leather earpads make up for it. Mounting them on your head is like snuggling into the sweet spot on your sofa. There’s generous support beneath the headband too, though the Sonys feel fairly lightweight to wear anyway. The cups swivel to fold flat into the material storage pouch, though it would be nice if they folded inwards too.
Sony is no newbie to the wireless game and its experience shows. The MDR-1ABT’S sound is clean, open and sweet-sounding with not the slightest hint of the snap, crackle and pop often associated with wireless playback.
Smooth, refined and laid-back, the Sonys paint the orchestration in Wycliffe Gordon’s vividly on an open, airy canvas: trumpets left, clarinets right, with trombones and drums precisely drawn inbetween. Said trombones dig down deep and true without ever hitting rock, proving a good character reference for the Sonys’ agile low-end too. There’s plenty of detail revealed by their openness, and no sign of tonal bias here. In fact, the Sonys’ rendition is one you could nod off to in your favourite armchair.
(You Will) Set The World On Fire,