I thought I needed a new set of cans. I’ve been using a vintage pair of Sanyo E888 lightweight phones that the hi-fi press were given with a Sanyo ‘Walkman’ to keep us quiet on a long press trip sometime in the early 1980s. The E888s are brash with little deep bass but are detailed and fairly dynamic.

Online research and my micro budget threw up the Sony MDR-V150. Sony calls them DJ monitoring phones. £10 on Amazon plus delivery; Sony Centre price is £17 (£18 rrp). So I checked out the local Sony Centre, which like my local HMV was selling the phones for £19.99. (HMV had a half-price sale on most phones, except the MDR-V150, which was encouraging).

They are not comfortable. I wanted on-ear phones but the unpadded headband was too much for my bald head. Two 10 x 1cm strips of camera light seal foam later I have a comfortable padded headband.

IMG_0025.jpgThey are well enough made with a good 2m lead and -praise be – a mini-jack housing that doesn’t foul iPad cases. Low impedance means loud on iPad and über loud on iMac and laptop.

I’ve professionally reviewed tens, if not hundreds, of headphones in a previous life – and yet I’ve never heard anything quite like these Sonys before. They have the oddest frequency response and sound quality. The sound is not exactly dull but its heavy it as though the designers wanted a ‘presence’ boost but put it too low down. There’s certainly no tizz or splash as they really lack any top-end dynamics or punch. Completely inoffensive the Sonys don’t seem to facilitate any musical insight into what’s playing, only occasionally coming alive with an unusually balanced recording like the Midori/van Immerseel Beethoven Sonatas for Violin and Pianoforte (Zig-Zag Territoire B0083T0Y0Q).

Main use will be to de-click and edit vinyl rips. One thing in favour of the MDR-V150s is that they do not make a meal of surface noise or clicks and pops. The present the kind of detail balance you’d hear from loudspeakers (treble is certainly not over emphasised) and they have made me less paranoid about removing ever tick and click from my vinyl rips. I’d be keen to know what would have been a better choice…


Sony MDR-V150 with custom padded headband




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