Worse sound than earbuds on the same price, good for workout
Aug 11, 2012 (Updated Oct 6, 2012)
Review by natalinopt
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Lightweight; don’t fall easily; anti-tangle cord; small 90º angle plug
Cons:Muffled sound; uncomfortable; average sound isolation
The Bottom Line: Disappointing sound and ergonomics that can't be used for extended periods of time. Audiophiles should run away.
Recommend this product?
Even though these headphones are made of plastic, they do not feel flimsy at all. The headband is thick and the articulations feel sturdy. The build quality looks and feels high. There aren’t any visible imperfections. The cord has a good length for portable devices but is too short (120 cm) for living room use, it is also very thick (3,5 mm) and has a circular cross-section that splits into two semicircles for each headphone. In fact, the cord is so good that it seems like it won’t tangle no matter what I do. The “L” shaped plug is unobtrusive and is thin near the gold-plated contacts, this is very useful as it will fit any socket even if it sits deeper than the surface of the device. As a detail, the right headphone is marked with a red stripe which makes it very convenient to fit the headphones correctly without looking for small “L” or “R” letters.
When using the headphones for extended periods of time they become uncomfortable. They are very light but the headband is not cushioned, this means a plastic strip with sharp edges carving your skull, constantly. It is also very stiff, squeezing the ears of those who have a larger head. For athletes this might be a plus as they don’t fall easily. Nonetheless, I have to readjust them every 30 minutes and I can’t use them for more than 2 hours.
SOUND QUALITY + EQ TWEAKING
There is the myth that headphones need to be “burned-in” before they can sound as they should. So, before anything else, let me state that I am reviewing these headphones after only 5 hours of use. And they don’t sound very good. I can compare them to LED TV's that have an exaggerated 100-200 Hz response to compensate for the lack of any real 0-100Hz bass response. The MDR-ZX300 sound wrong. I get headaches every time I use them.
UPDATE: One week later I stopped having headaches but they still sound wrong.
I tried to fix the problems of these headphones by testing and tweaking. The first thing I should mention is that there seems to be a severe drop in frequency response below 30-35Hz and above 17000-17500Hz. When tweaking the equalizer I used high quality rips of different genres of music as well as white noise and single tones. I also tried different software equalizers but always got the same effect.
UPDATE: The MDR-ZX300 seemed, to me, to sound better with a cut of -5dB around 200Hz and a boost of 5dB bellow 100Hz and above 14Khz.
However, no matter how much time I spend, these headphones always sound like an indoors concert using overpowered speakers. I can’t help but think that this is due to fact that we’re talking about closed-cup headphones. My despair is so much that I feel tempted to drill a hole on the outside of the cups just to prove my point.
UPDATE: I actually dismantled them and tried them without cups. It made no difference.
PRIVACY / EXTERIOR NOISE
My wife complains a lot about the volume on my headphones. They are very sensitive and require very low volumes to get the same amount of sound when compared to other headphones, however, I don’t think I use loud volumes at all. It is also easy for me to hear exterior noises when listening to music. These aren’t very good conclusions when we’re talking about closed cup headphones. In these MDR-ZX300, I feel like I got all the cons and none of the pros of the closed cup headphone.
The cups can be twisted on an angle of 90º, allowing the headphones to be stored in a bag occupying a cilindrical space with roughly 20cm of diameter and 3cm of height. You still need to be careful with how you put them on your bag to avoid breaking the wire near the cup or perfurating the diafragm. I feel like this is portable enough considering that we're talking about supra-aural headphones.
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