Inexpensive, but Quite Serviceable: Sony MDR-210 Headphones

Aug 15, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:lightweight, inexpensive

Cons:low fidelity

The Bottom Line: If you only want to listen to AM radio without upsetting the guy in the next cubicle, they're great. Just don't count on them for a hifi experience.


You get what you pay for, or so I'm told, and within certain limits that sentiment is usually reliable. So if you don't want much, then you shouldn't pay much; and in this particular case, the old saw held true. I wanted a pair of cheap headphones that would plug into a desktop CPU and let me listen to online weather reports (tropical storm Eduardo was headed my way and I have no radio in the office). A pair of Sony MDR-210LP Headphones were acceptably cheap at the Target store next door, and proved to be exactly what I needed at the time.


The MDR-210LPs are an over-the-head design, lightweight nylon phones that tether the wearer to the source with a five-foot-long flat cable that terminates in a 3.5mm stereo pin plug, suitable for most MP3 players and other mini music devices. An adapter is included that allows plugging the 'phones into full-size ¼-inch (6.25mm) sockets for studio headphones (Sony calls the plug system Unimatch®). The cord is single-sided, feeding only into the wearer's left side. Each earpiece has a 30mm driver based on a ferrite magnet, with a coarse foam covering for cushioning and to absorb moisture; the headband adjusts by some two inches on each side for a variety of head sizes. Except for the conductors in the wiring, the plugs, and the magnetic portions of the drivers, the whole works are lightweight plastic. All told, the set weighs about two ounces (excluding the cord), a far cry from the monster Koss headphones of my college days.


Compared to even Koss headphones of three decades ago, however, the MDR-210LPs don't exactly create a symphony hall inside the cranium. Bass tones are fairly fuzzy - though noticeably less so than when listening to the same audio on cheap in-the-ear phones - and high tones are rather tinny. These headphones are much better-suited to listening to talk shows (AM or FM) or privacy (and courtesy) when listening to television broadcasts or streaming audio/video on a computer than they are for listening to music. That's especially true if you consider yourself any sort of audiophile at all. The sound quality is what you'd expect for a pair of headphones that cost about ten dollars: not particularly impressive. They also do little to shut out ambient noise, which could be a positive in a setting where one needs to stay aware of what's going on, such as an office. Their light weight and adjustability make them comfortable to wear, though the short cord works much better for portable than stationary devices.


Overall a pair of headphones that costs very little and offers pretty much the same. Recommended for listening to the spoken word or low-fidelity broadcasts or podcasts and other applications where one does not intend to "get lost" in the audio. Not recommended for music and/or high-fidelity audio.



For a more satisfying audio experience, I like my Creative Technology EP-630 noise-canceling ear buds.


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