Sony MDR-Z7 Headphones

As the brand that pretty much introduced the world and personal listening using its Walkman in the late seventies, Sony has a long and revered heritage among private sound buffs.

The MDR-Z7 is the flagship in its extensive Hi-Res Audio headphone variety, and has a sophisticated feel thanks to its brushed-metal framework and plush soft-leather earpads and headband. Oppo's PM-2 is arguably its closest competition in terms of build quality and comfort, but that is where the similarities end.

It is a closed-back design employing large 70mm dynamic drivers. These use an aluminium-coated, liquid crystal polymer diaphragm in the closed-back enclosure assembled from high-density metal which really helps to reduce vibrations and keep audio steady.

It is also one of the lightest at only 335g despite being among the larger here. The flexible and light metal headband is readily fixed and fits perfectly around my head providing great comfort. Interchangeable cables come in a 3m length terminated using a 3.5mm jack and a 2m balanced connection carrying separate left and right cables that Sony says will enhance station separation.

Sound quality

As a closed-back design, the MDR-Z7 offers substantial isolation from outside noise as well as the over- ear cushions neatly envelope my ears.

Sensitivity is on a par with the majority of models in the group and it's not difficult to drive from both test sources. Connected using the 3m unbalanced cable that is drawn-out, it does a great job of delivering a reasonably neutral audio across the frequency range that is grand. It sounds pretty even, but there is a bit more bass punch in the lower registers which makes it appear that touch more sumptuous in comparison to the Fostex TH500RP - its closest price rival. Bass isn't quite as well integrated as frequencies farther up the range, although the Sony has an energetic performance nevertheless.

Vocal performances are positioned within it using a really little forwardness that finds Lorde's sung sit somewhat over the rest of the components of the track rather than placed at the center of my brow and have great clarity. Soundstaging is respectable too, but not exceedingly wide and the MDR-Z7 includes a marginally narrower and confined feel than its opponents here, making some tracks feel a little shut in. It does have a lot of scale with high frequency detail that really helps to give the Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G Major some sense of sweep, and it also boasts a nicely judged and highly believable tonality.

This Sony headphone gives one of these performances that is easy to hear and is not especially fussy about data rates of poorer-quality recordings.

It is entertaining with just about everything I play, and while it's exceptionally engaging it isn't exactly the most insightful headphone on evaluation.

Sony MDR-Z7 Headphones photo

Review price £549 / $823.5