Sony MDR-J20 Headband Headphones - Black/Silver

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Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
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Works Fine - Good Sound - They Stay On While Active

Aug 17, 2008 (Updated Aug 17, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Inexpensive Over the Ear Design, reasonably comfortable

Cons:Sound is OK, not fantastic

The Bottom Line: Good compromise headphones for working out and other activities.


I've been looking for the ultimate set of headphones while working out for decades. Exercising is boring, so I started with a Walkman (listening to taped audio books) and evolved over the years to my current iPod (listening primarily to Podcasts - mostly from National Public Radio).

We also spend a lot of time doing long passages on our sailboat. On night watch I like listening to Podcasts to keep my attention up.

I have not been satisfied with any of the headphones supplied with any of the players I've owned over the years, nor could I find any after market phones I liked. These MDR-J20 headphones come reasonably close so I'm giving them a good review.

My preferences for working out headphone are quite different than what I use prefer when I'm stationary. At my desk, or sitting down listening to music, I prefer a big over-the-ear set with pads that completely cover the ears. This reduces any background noise and provides much better sound reproduction.

Unlike some folks, I won't use headphones while bicycling for safety reasons: I want to hear any approaching traffic.

My criteria for workout headphones include:

1. Decent Sound Reproduction - however I primarily listen to the spoken word, I don't think any headphones of this type would be fantastic for music listening. The sound from these Sony's is good but not fantastic. I'm willing to accept this compromise

2. Comfort - I hate the feel of the in the ear models (earbuds). These Sony's fit over the ear and are quite comfortable. I've tried the type with headbands (behind and over the head) and found them hard to adjust just right.

3. Not Hot/Sweat Resistant - I sweat somewhere around a liter an hour when engaged in a heavy workout. I found that the earbud models start slipping out of my ears or the sweat messes up the sound. Also, putting in earbuds after swimming can be quite problematic. Not a problem with these Sony's.

4. They Stay Put - You can only listen if the headphones stay where you can hear the sound. Earbuds keep popping out for me - these Sony's stay in place and haven't fallen off or had misalignment causing sound degradation for me as yet.

5. Tangle Resistant Cord - the configuration of the Sony cord with the fatter main cable branching off to two narrow cables close to the left earpiece is pretty tangle resistant and it makes it very easy to remember which earpiece is the left one!

6. Decent Volume - I've had a few headphones that could not be driven to a decent volume by some audio sources. These Sony's provide a reasonable volume at a pretty low output setting.

7. Rugged Construction - I've tossed these Sony's around in my Gym bag and they have held up fine. The over the ear piece is a pliable plastic that seems like it would last.

All in all - these Sony headphones meet, but don't exceed my criteria.


Recommend this product? Yes


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