Split Per­son­ali$es

Sony MDR-1AM2

HWM (Singapore) - - TEST - By Kenny Yeo


With its com­pact de­sign and great sound, the MDR-1AM2 is a great trav­el­ing com­pan­ion.

The MDR-1AM2 is the lat­est in Sony’s MDR-1 series of closed-back over-head headphones for por­ta­ble use. Not much has changed on the de­sign front. There’s a new color - sil­ver - but the over­all de­sign re­mains the same, which isn’t a bad thing since the MDR-1 series of headphones have al­ways looked sleek and stylish.

Com­fort is good mostly be­cause the MDR-1AM2 is ex­tremely light at just 187g. Ad­di­tion­ally, the soft syn­thetic leather that lines the head­band is soft and am­ple. The ear cups and ear pads don’t look all that big, and the ear pads are quite shal­low, but they wrap around and t my ears com­fort­ably. It is witch­craft. The words ‘snug’ and ‘plush’ come to mind when I put on the MDR-1AM2. How­ever, if you have large ears, I sus­pect the MDR-1AM2 will t more like on-ear headphones rather than over-ear headphones.

The MDR-1AM2 comes with a hand­ful of accessories. There’s a soft carry pouch and two ca­bles. One ter­mi­nates in an L-shape 3.5mm jack and has an in­line re­mote con­trol and mi­cro­phone for con­trol­ling play­back and tak­ing calls when hooked up to a phone. The other ca­ble ter­mi­nates in Sony’s new 4.4mm Pen­ta­conn bal­anced con­nec­tor. Both ca­bles are 1.2 me­ters long, which makes them suit­able for por­ta­ble use. Un­for­tu­nately, there aren’t many de­vices (out­side of Sony) that sup­port this new con­nec­tor right now.

Lis­ten­ing to the MDR-1AM2, I found the headphones to have a bit of a split per­son­al­ity. At typ­i­cal or reg­u­lar lis­ten­ing vol­umes, the MDR-1AM2 has a rather pleas­ing sig­na­ture with strong, punchy bass; present and smooth mids; and a slightly pro­nounced but still bear­able tre­ble. How­ever, at higher vol­umes, the MDR-1AM2 takes on a con­sid­er­ably harsher sound and be­comes shouty and strained. At higher vol­umes, its up­per mids and tre­ble be­comes pierc­ing and has an articial, shim­mer­ing qual­ity about it. Take note of this and be sure to try lis­ten­ing to the MDR-1AM2 at var­i­ous lis­ten­ing lev­els when au­di­tion­ing it.

Com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sor, the MDR-1AM2 sounds markedly brighter, cleaner, and more de­tailed. The older MDR-1A has a warmer and darker sound, with fuller bass and less present mids and highs. It is im­pos­si­ble to say if that’s an out­right im­prove­ment, but I found my­self reach­ing for the MDR-1AM2 more than the MDR-1A be­cause of its richer mid-range and more de­tailed sound.

In fact, I thought the MDR1AM2 holds up quite nicely even in the face of Sony’s $2,599 ag­ship MDR-Z1R. The hum­ble MDR-1AM2 can’t match the MDR-Z1R for sound­stage, imag­ing, nor re­solve, but I thought it was more bal­anced in tone, en­gag­ing, and nat­u­ral-sound­ing, which is re­mark­able when you con­sider the MDR-1AM2 costs a frac­tion at $429.

All in all, the MDR-1AM2 is an ex­cel­lent pair of headphones for por­ta­ble use. They sound de­cent and they are ex­pertly de­signed and su­per por­ta­ble. They are well worth a lis­ten if you are look­ing for a stylish pair of sealed over-ear headphones that you can take with you ev­ery­where you go.

The earpads are soft and plush, which con­trib­utes to the over­all wear­ing com­fort.

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