With the trend for Beats By Dre headphones at an all-time high via an almighty display of how branding and marketing can triumph, we decided to do some research. Bose, B&W and in particular Sony, have been producing headphones and mobile media players for years. Through experience, R&D and feedback, surely these established manufacturers have more to offer, beneath the hoopla of the marketing machine?
This isn’t designed to be an anti-Beats By Dre post but you have to question the quality of a product made by a cable company (Monster Inc.) and latterly HTC, a smartphone and tablet company. We really enjoy the way they look, and have respect for Beats By Dre but is the audio, comfort and quality there? We’ll leave that for you to judge, but what we can say about the Sony MDR-1A headphones £169 (and Sony Walkman® NW-ZX2 £950) after a week of testing- they are superb.
The crux of Sony’s victory here is High-Resolution Audio, which refers to a collection of digital processes allowing the encoding and playback of music using higher sampling rates than those used in CDs. From deep beats to soaring vocals, sound stays true for a seriously precise experience. There is some seriously tech-centric geekery on the Sony website but for the novices amongst us, this quality is best compared in TV terms- viewing in standard definition versus HD. The difference is staggering.
Equally noticeable, is the style and comfort of these headphone- made with pressure-relieving ear-pads and seamless stitching. They look as good as they feel too, with a sleek metal headband and black leather ear-pads. The enfolding design with ergonomic 3D ear-pads seals music in and keeps distractions out. Acoustics are reflected back towards your ears for the subtlest of sounds.
These are naturally best paired with Sony’s legendary Walkman® and their new flagship model; the High-Resolution Walkman® NW-ZX2 delivering High-Resolution Audio, for superb sound. This alongside, a 60hr battery life (33 hours’ playback), bluetooth and an expandable 128GB storage capacity. The NW-ZX2 is really an exercise in quality, with Sony flexing their muscles. It delivers High-Resolution Audio to its fullest potential, optimised through S-Master™ HX technology. Even compressed audio files are upscaled closer to High-Resolution Audio with DSEE HX™ for a rich studio sound.
If you take a look at the Sony website, the first thing you read about the headphones is, “Enjoy the subtlest nuances of studio-quality sound” – it’s probably the best way to describe them. The comfort, the style, the features- are ‘standard’ and as expected from music heavyweights Sony. So, for the true music lovers amongst us and a little more elegant, understated style with frighteningly good quality, take a look at Sony.