Japanese Flagship: Sony MDR-EX1000

Here it is, the MDR-EX1000 flagship IEM from Sony, courtesy of my friend at Bankok’s Munkong Gadget.

Sony started with a huge 16mm dynamic driver that’s just about as big as you can find on any IEM (next to Final Audio Design’s FI-DC1601SS). The 16mm driver uses a modified Liquid Crystal Polymer material, and it is the best kind of material known to Sony for making diaphragms. A very high level of rigidity and a high level of internal loss of the modified Liquid Crystal Polymer result in a very accurate conversion from signal to sound waves. Additionally a “transverse field pressing” manufacturing method is used to boost the magnetic force of the 440kJ/m3 high power neodymium magnets used in the drivers, to achieve an even better sensitivity to the smallest changes in the signal. The adjustment of the acoustic materials is carried out by hand, as Sony believes this would yield the highest level of precision and the best tuning results.

Sony is quite known for implementing quite un-traditional industrial designs, and that continues in the EX1000’s housing design (actually we’ve seen this design before in the lesser EX300 and EX500 IEMs, but it’s been quite unique to Sony). Unlike the mammoth FAD’s FI-DC1601SS, Sony mounted the 16mm driver perpendicular to the direction of the ear canals. Though quite unconventional, this design gives us a thinner housing size and contributes to a better ergonomics of the earphones. The Magnesium alloy is one of the lightest and strongest material that you can form into unique shapes accurately, and that’s the material of choice for the EX1000’s housing. As a result, the rather large EX1000 IEM never feels heavy or burdensome. Moreover, a special structure is designed to integrate the driver right into the housing. This is beneficial for two reasons: to have a largest possible driver inside a smallest possible housing, and to cut off any unwanted air leakage and unwanted vibrations for better low frequency response. It seems that Sony have put a lot of research into the housing design, and it really shows in the EX1000. I can’t remember the last time any other IEMs that offers the wearing comfort of the EX1000 while still providing a very deep seal of the canals.

As visible from the illustration below, there are five different elements, outside of the housing and driver that Sony incorporated to further tune the frequency response.

A shot of the product information book that came with the EX1000.

 

The cables used in the EX1000 is a 7N-OFC Litz cord with extremely high purity (99.99999%). The cables are removable, and Sony supplied two different cable lengths with the EX1000: 0.6m and 1.2m. The shorter cable is designed to be used with other accessories, so you can plug the EX1000 to a microphone accessory to make phone calls with it. IEM cables are always problematic. You either have the stiff microphonics type, or you have a soft tangly type, and this still remain a big hit-and-miss area with IEMs. Not so with the EX1000. The cables are very soft and flexible, and somehow, due to their internal structure, you can crumple the cables and put them in the pocket, and they would not get tangled when you take them out for a listen. To help secure the IEMs (they are worn over the ear), Sony didn’t use some “low tech” technology like the steel wire you see on Westone ES cables, or the plastic hook you find on some other brands. Not that there is anything wrong with the hook on the Westone cables, but it’s always good to see a fancy material being used. A special TEKNOROTE material is used here, and it is very soft while able maintains its form to a specific shape.

Special connectors on the removable cable.

 

For the tips, Sony designed a special noise insulating tips that combines high density silicone on the tunnel part, low density silicone for a soft contact to the ear canals, and a pressure relieving urethane foam inside the gaps to help create a better seal for noise isolation. Sony supplied seven different pairs of regular tips that goes up incrementally both in height (for deeper seal) and diameter (for larger canals), and an additional three pairs of noise insulating tips.

The tips go wide as they go tall.

 

Compared to the feel of wearing a custom IEM like the JH16, the Sony feels quite different. Even as I am using the noise isolation tips, the JH16 ultimately still has the better seal because after all, it was custom molded to the shape of your ears. However, as everyone knows, the shape and dimension of our ears is not 100% constant. On a cold morning, the JH16 can feel quite uncomfortable in the ears, and having a hard shell only adds to the lack of comfort. Sony’s tips, on the other hand, is one of the softest tips I’ve encountered on any IEM (perhaps THE softest, if we don’t take Comply foams into the comparison). In this case, the fit of the JH16 is like taking a seat in a Formula car with precise fitting bucket seats, while the Sony is more like riding in a comfortable BMW 7 series with the ultra-luxurious leather seats. The Sony still has some room to play, and you need to do small amount of adjustments before you get a perfect fit. However, the shape of the housing really helps in making a good fit quick and painless.

Fancy case is not the abuse-proof type. But it’s fancy.

 

It takes a few minutes everytime I want to put the EX1000 as Sony intended it. In the long run, it’s like short anger management courses.

 

Sony EX1000 vs JH16Pro

 

Sound signature wise, the Sony is softer and more relaxed than the JH. The JH has always had a very precise, very agressive, full of PRaT kind of sound. Fast rock listeners will definitely go with the JH as it is just perfectly tuned for their music. The Sony, on the other hand, reminds me a lot of the MDR-R10 “King of Dynamics” headphone. A more romantic presentation, a longer decay, a sweeter midrange, and a smoother sound across the frequency range. The question of “better” will be largely determined by your music. Softer and mellower music would be better with the EX1000, while faster and music with strong beats is far better off with the JH16. The Sony is similar to the Audio Technica CK100 sound, but with a better tonal balance, soundstage, and without the signature BA transients. In comparison to another Japanese IEM like the Ortofon e-Q7, the Sony has a bit more toe-tapping factor than the Ortofon. It can play mellow songs quite well, but it’s not extremely mellow like the Ortofon. The Sony is also cleaner and less grainy than the Ortofon.

The marketing pamphlet of the EX1000 talks a lot about how their technological mumbo-jumbo promises a bass that will blow you over. Well, while the EX1000 is not thin sounding, the bass weight, punch, and quantity is not something that I’d boast with the EX1000. It’s not bass-light, though perhaps semi-bass-light would be a fitting adjective. I find myself using amplifiers that have more mid to low end weight such as the TTVJ Slim, Headstage Arrow, and the RSA Protector with the EX1000. The punch is pretty good, but it really won’t shake your eardrums like some of the triple-BA models like the Westone 3 or Triple.Fi 10, and quite far from the JH16’s volcanic bass. The bass is not too flabby or boomy, but is not incredibly tight either. I do feel, however, that the bass character is intentionally tuned like that, to match the overall voicing of the midrange and the treble. Remember that talk about “a more romantic presentation”, a longer decay, “reminds me of the R10” kind of sound? What I’m saying is that the bass character is fine and it should not be tuned any differently. Because as it is, the entire frequency range has a nice feel of coherence. In fact, I do feel that the single vs multi-driver debate resurfaces once again in the EX1000 vs JH16 comparison. While the 8-drivers JH16 have a more complete presentation throughout the frequency range, I feel that it can’t give the coherent sound that you find on single drivers like the EX1000. However, a slightly stronger punch and a slightly heavier bass weight on the EX1000 would be welcome addition.

Overall, the Sony is quite brighter than the JH16, though not excessively bright. It has a tendency to push its upper midrange forward, but the Sony also happens to have one of the sweetest sounding upper mid I’ve heard on IEMs, so I happily welcome the forward mids. If you listen to mostly newer mainstream recordings with overboosted trebles, then the JH darker sound should make for a better pairing. However, if you have a mix of quality Jazz recordings, stuff from Chesky or the other audiophile labels, and well recorded classical pieces, all of which are more neutral in the recording, then the Sony slightly brighter sound would fall right in place with those recordings. Personally, my music library is more of the second type, and so, often the JH customs feel too dark for me.

Both IEMs presents the soundstage and ambiance very well, though in their own way. The Sony clearly have a very good instrument separation, but the imaging is quite “all over the place”, unlike the more precise imaging of the JH16. The background is quite dark on the Sony, and the overall sound is very clean and grainless, but again the JH16 has a darker background than the Sony. The JH has a slightly wider soundstage, but the Sony has better depth and a more “surround” feel. The JH comes out to be the more precise sounding IEM, but the Sony shines in that it’s able to create a pleasing sense of ambiance on more recordings, while the JH is more ruthless and more truthful. Some pop recordings like John Mayer’s Continuum have pretty bad studio-recorded sound. The JH will pretty much presents the recording as it is, where the EX1000 will magically adds a nice feel of ambiance.

I definitely feel that the EX1000 is a very special IEM, and one that rightly deserves a flagship status. The ergonomics probably stands out as being one of the best part of the IEM. One of the main reason that I’ve preferred headphones over IEMs is the ergonomics factor. The EX1000 is the closest to a perfect ergonomic I’ve found on IEMs. No ill-designed housing that can’t fit your ears right, no tangly cables, no microphonics problems. The fit is very good, and I never feel the IEM to lack seal on my rather large ear canals. The overall feel of the IEM is very luxurious, almost like having the Stax Omega2 comfort level in the form of an IEM. Sound signature wise, it has quite a wide genre bandwith, though as I’ve said earlier, Rock fans would probably opt more for the JH stuff, or even the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10. But no IEM is perfect, and the Sony happens to have one of the most enjoyable sound signature I’ve found on IEM or headphones.

Previously, most people’s quest for a high end IEM would be limited to the customs molded stuff. Not anymore, as the Sony EX1000 is here to provide a fresh alternative to the high end IEM world.



Gears used for review:
IEMs: Sony MDR-EX1000, JHAudio JH16
Source: Ipod Classic, Hifiman HM-602
Amplilfiers: Pico Slim, Headstage Arrow, TTVJ Slim, RSA Protector

Japanese Flagship: Sony MDR-EX1000
4.67 (93.33%) 3 votes

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104 Comments

  • Reply December 29, 2010

    iyayy

    oh, so this can take the fight up to jh16?

    very interesting.

    btw is the sony design open or closed acoustic?

    • Reply December 29, 2010

      Mike

      Interesting indeed.

      Being a flagship product, I think everyone would be interested to see how this compare to the most popular flagship in the JH line. Hence the comparison.

      In most technicalities, the JH16 is better. But the Sony also has its own place. It all boils down to music choices, really. For Rock, it's hard to beat the JH. But for mellower and slower paced music that doesn't require as much PRaT, I think the Sony's presentation is better.

      🙂

      I think the Sony is totally closed.

      • Reply October 24, 2011

        soundbear

        I have yet to see a comparison to the DBA-02/B2.   I’m guessing their signature would be less romantic, more hard hitting and more decay/clarity on piano and strings than the ex1000’s.  I’m guessing that the ex1000’s will have more bass and soundstage than the DBA/B2.
           Also, besides comfort, it seems like the JH5 would compare more to the DBA signature yet with stronger bass.   I currently own the B2’s and do miss a stronger bass, but love the clarity(my GR07’s have the bass I’m looking for, but not clarity).  I mostly listen to 60’s rock, electric guitar and also irish music.   What do you think? 

        • Reply October 24, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi Soundbear,
          On the DBA-02 to EX1000 comparison: The DBA-02 is more upfront, less romantic (correct), more straightforward, shorter decay, and everything else you would associate with a BA. The EX1000 is smoother, more refined, more relaxed, a longer decay, a smoother but less articulate bass (it’s the usual Dynamic vs BA driver), and a more romantic midrange.
          The JH5 is noticeably darker than the DBA-02, and although I think instruments stand out far more on the JH5 due to the far blacker background and very spacious soundstage, if you’re used to the DBA-02’s brighter signature then the JH5 would sound dark.
          I think the JH5 would rock with 60s rock and electric guitar, but I don’t know, again since you’re used to the DBA-02 which is brighter than the JH5.

    • Reply December 29, 2010

      Mike

      Interesting indeed.

      Being a flagship product, I think everyone would be interested to see how this compare to the most popular flagship in the JH line. Hence the comparison.

      In most technicalities, the JH16 is better. But the Sony also has its own place. It all boils down to music choices, really. For Rock, it's hard to beat the JH. But for mellower and slower paced music that doesn't require as much PRaT, I think the Sony's presentation is better.

      Also, things like comfort is a big deal in IEMs, and the Sony is much more comfortable than the JH, even though my JH's impression is pretty spot on. It comes down to material, really. On the Sony, you have a very soft silicone tips touching the walls of your canals. On the JH, it's hard plastic.

      🙂

      I think the Sony is totally closed.

    • Reply December 29, 2010

      Mike

      Interesting indeed.

      Being a flagship product, I think everyone would be interested to see how this compare to the most popular flagship in the JH line. Hence the comparison.

      In most technicalities, the JH16 is better. But the Sony also has its own place. It all boils down to music choices, really. For Rock, it's hard to beat the JH. But for mellower and slower paced music that doesn't require as much PRaT, I think the Sony's presentation is better.

      Also, things like comfort is a big deal in IEMs, and the Sony is much more comfortable than the JH, even though my JH's impression is pretty spot on. It comes down to material, really. On the Sony, you have a very soft silicone tips touching the walls of your canals. On the JH, it's hard plastic.

      🙂

      I think the Sony is totally closed.

    • Reply December 29, 2010

      Mike

      Interesting indeed.

      Being a flagship product, I think everyone would be interested to see how this compare to the most popular flagship in the JH line. Hence the comparison.

      In most technicalities, the JH16 is better. But the Sony also has its own place. It all boils down to music choices, really. For Rock, it's hard to beat the JH. But for mellower and slower paced music that doesn't require as much PRaT, I think the Sony's presentation is better.

      Also, things like comfort is a big deal in IEMs, and the Sony is much more comfortable than the JH, even though my JH's impression is pretty spot on. It comes down to material, really. On the Sony, you have a very soft silicone tips touching the walls of your canals. On the JH, it's hard plastic.

      🙂

      I think the Sony is totally closed.

  • Reply December 29, 2010

    Mike K

    Thanks for the review. I'm glad to see that you managed to do an objective comparison of these IEMs. All too often people dismiss Sony (and other popular brands- even UE) simply because they're all too common, sold everywhere, or 'too cheap to be good'. Many reviewers or 'audiophiles' wouldn't take the time to do such a in-depth comparison simply because of prejudice. Your take on how there isn't one perfect IEM for everything is right on the money. People like fast and simple answers when often there are none. Anyone in the hi-fi world knows that B&W 801s and Martin Logan CLXs are both phenomenal speakers but cater to completely different musical tastes. Again, thanks again for doing this review!

    • Reply December 29, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Mike,
      I think your point is spot on. Ultimately manufacturers have different tuning philosophies, and I think that will determine their customer base a great deal. If I have to make a raw guess, I think the Sony will appeal to an older age group, while the JH to a younger age group.

  • Reply December 29, 2010

    Chris

    Nice review Mike! I'm intrigued by these because I think when Sony puts their mind to making something special, they really do a good job. Maybe these will fit the bill. How are they out of the Pico Slim? I noticed it was used to review, and this would be the amp I use for a portable solution. Just love that little amp…

    Thanks again for the impressions!

    • Reply December 29, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Chris,
      The Sony has a tendency to push its upper mid/treble forward, and the Pico Slim does the same thing as well. Personally I'd like to pair it with a darker amp like the Headstage Arrow.

      I think Sony is doing a lot of things right with the EX1000. The comfort is phenomenal, and it's one of the few IEMs I can wear comfortably while laying down. I still think that Sony is missing a lot of crowd by not making the bass on the EX1000 a little stronger. I'm quite sure that they could've done so if they wanted. In this case again the Arrow helps with its awesome bass-boost feature.

  • Reply December 29, 2010

    Franz

    Hi mike i heard that the ex1000 has mind blowing bass according to some reviews from headfi and yet your impressions are different? could it be due to the way it was burned in? i have the ex600 and i find the bass albeit light also. that might be the same case for the ex1000. anyway have you heard the 600? it would be great if you could compare them with the 1000 since they both utilize 16mm drivers. i know materials and casings used will change the sound sig but they possibly could have the same sound sig. i wanna know if its worth the price jump from $300 to $700

  • Reply December 29, 2010

    Erik Negakinu

    You've outdone yourself photography-wise this time. Very tasteful and a joy to behold. I do think it's hard to understand the sound coming from these from your review if you haven't heard the JH16 before though. After reading it, I don't feel I understand their signature. Then again, I'll probably never will since I won't audition. I can't justify that amount on a pair of universals. 🙂

    • Reply December 30, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks for the comments, Erik. Yeah it would probably be better if I can compare the EX1000 to some IEMs that you've heard previously.

      I was just thinking flagship IEM vs flagship IEM comparison with this article. 🙂

      So, what IEM are you using now? Perhaps I can try to explain the EX1000 sound a little better if I know your point of reference.

    • Reply December 30, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks for the compliments on the photo. I actually felt the main image was not that good. With IEMs, what I do is mount them on a string or wire, and then I delete the wire on post-processing.

      The background is a composite, and I thought it doesn't match the lighting on the IEMs too well. Good thing you didn't catch it though. 😛

  • Reply December 30, 2010

    BebopMcJiggy

    I don't suppose there is any chance your friend will lend you a MRD-Z1000 as well? 😀

  • Reply December 30, 2010

    Chris

    If you do a flagship vs. flagship IEM comparison, consider the Shure SE 530/35's to throw in the mix. That's what I'm using now…
    Oh, are you planning on trying the Westone ES5's? I want to get some customs, but am torn between the JH 13's and the ES5's. I don't think I would like the extra bass of the JH 16's…it's hard to decide when you can't hear them first.
    Thanks! 🙂

  • Reply December 30, 2010

    bbb

    It'd be curious to know how these compare to Monster Turbine Pro Copper and MD. Sounds like the Monster may be better due to better bass…

    • Reply December 30, 2010

      Mike

      Hi bbb,
      The Monster has a much stronger bass, yes. But I think its frequency balance has a few issues. The EX1000 on the other hand is much smoother and more refined.

  • Reply December 31, 2010

    Vitor Valeri

    Nice Review Mike. Thanks!

    I have the Sony MDR-EX510 and realized that after burn-in and the addition of special tips from Sony has a good sound and improves the bass gets stronger and ideal.Did you ever do that?

    • Reply December 31, 2010

      Mike

      Yea, it's fully burned in I believe. At least that's what the good folks at Munkong told me. I still find the bass a little on the low side.

  • Reply December 31, 2010

    kenny

    hello mike, would you happen to know how the EX1000 would compare with the Westone UM3X?

    • Reply January 1, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Kenny. Happy New Year.
      The UM3X is flatter. It's tonal balance is very flat as in there is no emphasis anywhere. The sound is very straightforward. Bass punch is much better in the UM3X. The EX1000 is a little upper mid-lower treble centric, the soundstage is bigger and more spacious. The decay is longer, the voicing is more "romantic" on the EX1000.

      • Reply January 2, 2011

        kenny

        happy new year to you too! thanks for your response, i'm wondering whether the EX1000 is a reasonable upgrade from the UM3X haha.

        • Reply January 3, 2011

          Mike

          It can be seen as an upgrade, but it'll also misses some things that you get with the UM3X now. The EX1000 is a slightly different direction tonally and voice wise than the UM3X. I personally couldn't take the soundstage of the UM3X though, and in that sense the EX1000 is an upgrade.

  • Reply January 2, 2011

    johanes w.

    on the diagram, there is shown two bass regulation screws?

    • Reply January 3, 2011

      Mike

      I couldn't find a way to access those screws. 🙁

  • Reply January 3, 2011

    orz

    Surely, this is the most expensive dynamic IEM in the market!!

    • Reply January 3, 2011

      Mike

      A little pricey at the MSRP, but street prices from Japan to Hong Kong to Jaben has been closer to the $500 range. Now that's exciting! 😀

  • Reply January 10, 2011

    magiken

    Mike, what is your take about the decay and transient of this new driver? Do you think it matches this description from one of the head-fier?

    "However, you might have noticed I used the word "almost" for EX1000's performance.

    As some of Head-Fi's veteran have noted, it is not easy for an earphone to be fast and have a nice decay to its sound. This is exactly where EX1000 falls flat on its face. It's almost too fast for its own good.

    When I tried listening to certain scores from games (FLACs from Final Fantasy X Soundtrack and Mass Effect Soundtrack), I found the piano and violin lifeless due to how fast the drivers in EX1000 goes and how the EX1000 dealt with the decay. For me, the presence of the piano and the violin disappeared because listening those instruments through these earphones would cause them to disappear almost as soon as you hear them. The echo of the strings and the ring of the piano keys are almost gone due to this one fault. So, listeners to any genres that heavily features any sort of string instruments and piano should be wary to these earphones."

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      The EX1000 has a typical dynamic driver transients. It's not blazing fast by any standards, though it's not sluggish either. Decay is just nice, and I don't think it's a problem for instruments. The JHs are shorter in the decay, and for that reason I actually prefer piano on the EX1000 than the JHs.
      If there is a problem with the decay, it would be with fast-complex bass passages.

      • Reply January 12, 2011

        magicken

        Thanks for the insight. That helps a lot. What is your thoughts comparing to RE-262, SM3 or e-Q7 or Grado 8. I'm looking for an IEM that has a similar mids and lows of RE-262 and the high of e-Q7 or RE-252.

        • Reply January 12, 2011

          Mike

          Sorry, but I haven't listened to the RE262-252 and so I can't comment about that. As for the Ortofon e-Q7, it has quite a relaxed and mellow treble, and I think people normally like the Ortofon for its mids and vocals, and I've haven't found any other IEM with a mellow sound like the Ortofon.The Earsonics SM3, I've only spend a short time with it, and in general it is quite similar to the UM3X with a few difference here and there.The EX1000 has a very clean treble and mids, moderate bass body and punch. The tonal balance is like a Shure SE530 but with significantly less bass. The treble and upper mids are also similar to the UE700, but warmer and sweeter. If you listen to slow paced music, Jazz, Instruments or Vocals, then the EX1000 can be a good match. For bass heavy music, Rock or Electronic, you'd probably be better off with the UM3X/SM3, TF10 or JH stuff.Hope that helps.

          • Reply January 13, 2011

            magicken

            That’s very interesting how you describe Ortofon e-Q7 as mellow which I assume as in musical. What caught my attention is two things: 1. Sony EX1000 has a similar sound signature to the Sony MDR-R10. 2. The most comfortable fit IEM. I can’t wait to audition one. I can’t imagine how the Sony MDR-Z1000 sounds like. I’m looking for my next purchase of IEM and headphone that sounds musical with enough details and timbre to sound real or natural. The closest one that I heard is the Hifima RE-262 and Ortofon e-Q7. The RE-262 is more subreal and 3D than Ortofon e-Q7 but it’s treble does not have enough detail like the RE-252. Most of my music collections are vocal, pop, instrumental, new age, and some jazz and classical. Ortofon e-Q5 and Grado-GR10 is also in my wish list.

            • Reply January 13, 2011

              Mike

              Yes, the Ortofon is mellow and musical. When I say mellow, I meant that it has a mellow character which would not blend well with fast music. However the Ortofon is one of the best for female vocals due to the mellow presentation. The EX1000 should be a good fit for most of your music, with the exception of, perhaps, pop, which is quite a vast genre. I really can't say how it'll compare to the RE-262 as I've never heard it. Compared to the e-Q7, I think the EX1000 has a wider genre bandwith. It is not as "specialized" as the Ortofon, and I think the treble on the EX1000 works better for instruments.

          • Reply February 18, 2012

            Ulrezaj

            Review of Hifiman RE-252, 262, and 272 please.

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Kevin W.

    Hi Mike,
    I’m pretty interested in this earphone, do you think that is a good upgrade compared to the audio technica ck10?
    If not, what do you think it’s better? (my “budget” is 600 dollars)

    • Reply January 12, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Kevin, it's hard for me to recommend you the Sony because I know nothing about your music preference or your history with IEMs ther than the CK10. Perhaps you can tell me several IEMs that you have used and liked, so I can get a sense of your preference.

      • Reply January 12, 2011

        Kevin W.

        Hi,

        I listen mainly to electronic, metal and some rock.

        my list of iem:

        SE530

        Super.fi 5eb

        CKM50

        And now I’m using the Ck10.

        I don’t understood how exactly is the sound signature of the EX1000. I prefer a more balanced sound, but I’m seeking for a bit warm signature.

        What I like more in the ck10 is the fast, detailed sound.

        • Reply January 13, 2011

          Mike

          Kevin, I think for electronic, metal, and rock, the EX1000 is not a very good fit. I'd take other IEMs such as the SF5Pro, TF10Pro, UM3X, or the JH Customs for your music.

  • Reply February 17, 2011

    Pete Manakit

    with the Westone 4 now shipping, it’d be an interesting comparison between the new IEM kings… bring on the W4 vs. EX1000 vs. SM3 shootout Mike!

    • Reply February 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi, Pete
      Lets wait until all the four drivers are out! The SM3 turned out to be not as hot as it was all hyped out to be.

    • Reply February 24, 2011

      Rudi0504

      Hi Mike, before i bought my Sony EX 1000, my wish List was Shure SE 535.
      Lucky in Hong Kong i can compare directly between Sony Ex 1000 vs Shure SE 535.
      At the end i bought Sony EX 1000, because the Sound Shure SE 535 is not much better than my Shure SE 530.( in my Ears ).

      Please let me know the sound comparison Betweem Sony EX 1000 vs Westone 4?

      i wish to buy Westone 4, if the sound better than Sony Ex 1000
      ( for my IEM collection,
      I own : UE 10 PRO Triple Fi, Shure SE 530, Westone 3, Westone UM 3 X with removable Cable, Monster Miles Davis, and Sony MDR EX 1000 )
      Thank you

      • Reply February 25, 2011

        Anonymous

        Hi Rudi,
        Still no experience with the Westone 4 here, but generally, manufacturers tend to have similar tones and voicing between models in one line up (i.e Westone 1, 2, 3, are all quite similar in the voicing). So I would think that ultimately it’s a choice between sound signatures. But given your list of IEMs, I think you’ll probably go and buy the Westone 4s anyway. 😉

        Then you can probably tell me how you like the 4s. 🙂

        • Reply February 25, 2011

          Rudi0504

          Dear Mike, thank you for your help
          it is better i buy the Westone 4 or ES 5?
          if you said the Voicing are similar and in Head Fi Org, nobody tested Sony MDR ERx 1000 vs Westone 4
          Thank you again for your advise

          • Reply February 25, 2011

            Anonymous

            Hi Rudi,
            That is another question that I think you have to try out for yourself. 🙂

            I feel that customs always have their own strengths that you can’t get with a universal fit IEM. The noise isolation is always better, and you always get that black background, ultra-wide soundstage that you can’t get with a universal. Even my 2 drivers JH5 is better than any of the universals in that sense (even compared to all the triple driver universals).

            As for the EX1000, I think you get a totally different kind of sound with its large, single driver technology. Recently a bunch of us on the local forum has been more into single drivers as they sound very coherent and especially the EX1000 has a midrange that I’ve yet to hear on a multi-driver BA. But the multi drivers BA always give you a more complete sound, especially when it comes to low-bass where single drivers often are very weak at.

            Cheers.

            • Reply February 25, 2011

              Rudi0504

              Dear Mike
              Thank you very much for your explanation regarding Universal IEM and custums IEM

              • Reply February 26, 2011

                Anonymous

                Looks like you should go with the ES5. 🙂

      • Reply February 26, 2011

        Anonymous

        Hi Rudi,
        Still no experience with the Westone 4 here, but generally,
        manufacturers tend to have similar tones and voicing between models in
        one line up (i.e Westone 1, 2, 3, are all quite similar in the voicing).
        So I would think that ultimately it’s a choice between sound signatures.
        But given your list of IEMs, I think you’ll probably go and buy the
        Westone 4s anyway. 😉

        Then you can probably tell me how you like the 4s. 🙂

        • Reply March 4, 2011

          Rudi0504

          Dear Mike
          I use LOD cable for Sony EX 10o0 combination from Silver and Cooper.( No Brand )
          Which LOD cable is the BEST LOD cable for Sony EX 1000 and my Iphone 4 ?
          Plaese advise
          Thank you and cheers

          • Reply March 4, 2011

            Anonymous

            I would get a good quality full-copper LOD for the EX1000 as I think it
            needs a little more body down.

            Cheers.

  • Reply April 27, 2011

    Mayoniizu

    mike,
    could you compare this head to head with se 535?
    I’m confused about choosing which I should get for upgrade… maybe because they’re in the same price range…

    • Reply April 27, 2011

      Anonymous

      Mmmm… no plans to do it for now, but the EX1000 has been winning more
      fans than the SE535 in my local forum.

  • Reply April 30, 2011

    andy

    Hi Mike,

    Can you compare it with shure 535 ?

    • Reply April 30, 2011

      Anonymous

      Briefly,
      The sony has a sweeter tonality, better coherence, more intimate, smoother overall. The SE535 has a more complete range of the frequencies, especially on bass. It is also warmer, more mid centric, compared to the upper mid centric ex1000.

      For slow medium paced music, Jazz, jazz vocals, the ex1000 is far better and more romantic, more intimate.
      For pop, hip hop, rock, the Shure pairs better. Faster paced, better energy, punchier bass.

      • Reply April 30, 2011

        andy

        That’s mean, for vocal only go for ex1000. 535 more all around than ex1000. I already try 535, it’s not fast enough for me :D.

        • Reply April 30, 2011

          Anonymous

          You can try the Triple.Fi 10 then. Should be faster than the 535.

          • Reply April 30, 2011

            andy

            Already try it, but i don’t like it :D. Compare to 535, i still like 535 than TF10, although it more faster TF10. I like vocal on 535, and it bass just perfect for my taste. TF10 to much bass for me.

            • Reply April 30, 2011

              Anonymous

              Yes, that’s a difficult choice.

              Try the 6-drivers TF10 remold from Unique Melody. I think you’ll like
              it. More linear transitions on the bass, less bloated bass, still the
              same forward character, even better treble I think (less dry, less thin).

              Otherwise try the Audiohub cable for the TF10. It’ll also bring the TF10
              closer to perfection. Smoother mids, smoother trebles, while still
              retaining most of its attack and speed.

              • Reply April 30, 2011

                andy

                I curious about 535 if i replace it’s original cable with after market cable, like silver dragon for IEM. Can it’s improve speed, more detail, and more brighter.

                • Reply April 30, 2011

                  Anonymous

                  I have no experience with that. Sure it’ll probably give more treble,
                  but you can’t guess how the rest of the frequencies will become.

                  • Reply April 30, 2011

                    andy

                    yeah, that’s what i afraid of. i just like it’s vocal and bass, just want more treble and speed without change it’s vocal and bass, to much asking i guest :D.
                    Thanks for advice.

                    • April 30, 2011

                      Anonymous

                      I think you should seriously consider the 6-drivers Triple.Fi.

  • Reply May 13, 2011

    reckoncile

    @headfonia  the ex1000 and jh16 photo would make a very nice wallpaper indeed! just wondering if a Sony DAP would give it any sort of synergy?

    • Reply May 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      EX1000 with a Sony DAP (The last one I listened to was the X1060) would
      be a good synergy, and yes some owners have said that they do indeed
      give a good synergy.

      The EX1000 is a bit too sharp in the treble. The warm Sony DAPs are more
      relaxed in the treble and has a full warm mids. Together they should
      pair very well.

      • Reply May 14, 2011

        Reckoncile

        @headfonia I agree with what you said about Sony DAPs. How is the strain relief on it? I have heard it isn’t very good compared with other Sony IEMS, like the  MDR-7550?

        • Reply May 14, 2011

          Anonymous

          Thanks.
          Strain relief? You mean like the part that prevents the cable to get
          pulled out from the housing? I haven’t heard any of my friends having
          problems with the strain relief, but I don’t know, it’s possible. Just
          have to see how they hold in long term use.

  • Reply May 14, 2011

    Reckoncile

    @headfonia any graininess with the treble at all? I’m getting to like this IEM =)

    • Reply May 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      The EX1000 is completely grain-free, even more than the JH16s. 🙂

      One word for warning is that the treble often gets too hot with
      mainstream recordings, and the PRaT is not too good for Rock. It’s a
      romantic, smooth, clean sounding IEM that works well for jazz,
      audiophile, female vocals and such.

      • Reply May 14, 2011

        Reckoncile

         @headfonia would an EQ or an amp help with that?

        • Reply May 14, 2011

          Anonymous

          An EQ would help.

          An amp probably not too much. Unless you can find an amp with very
          muffled trebles.

          • Reply May 14, 2011

            Reckoncile

             @headfonia then would compy tips work? maybe shure olives?

            • Reply May 14, 2011

              Anonymous

              Possible. But the Sony tips are so much better than the complys that I
              didn’t even bother trying. Perhaps someone else can help chime in.

  • Reply June 9, 2011

    Timboyork

    An amazing review because it doesn’t discuss how these phones sound!
    Apparently the box they’re stored in is more important.
    Give me a break.I have them and they are very balanced and handle vocals better than my SE535s yet also have a nice bass impact and aren’t too sibilant.
    Oh, and the box, the box you store them looks fantastic.
    But its a piece of crap.

    • Reply June 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Tim,
      It’s a two pages article and you can find the part talking about the sound on the second page. Please dont be so angry next time, after all, this is only headphones we’re talking about.

  • Reply June 10, 2011

    Anonymous

    I have merged the two pages into one page, simpler and less confusing.

  • Reply June 10, 2011

    molantuk

    hi mike.. what do you think about EX1000 and Alo Rx Mk2?
    is it good combination??
    thanks

  • Reply June 10, 2011

    molantuk

    hi mike.. what do you think about EX1000 and Alo Rx Mk2?
    is it good combination??
    thanks

    • Reply June 10, 2011

      Anonymous

      I would prefer to pair the EX1000 more with RSA Amps, to soften the
      treble a bit and add lower end body. The SR71A is my favorite, but I
      think something small like the Mustang or the Shadow would do just as well.

      Or give it a try with the JDSLabs.
      http://www.headfonia.com/60-pack-of-awesome-jdslabs-cmoy/

  • Reply June 28, 2011

    NC

    Having owned the EX1000 for quite sone time before I decided to let it go, I’m not sure why you failed o mention one of it’s biggest flaws, and hence quite a deal breaker for many, MANY listeners. The EX1000 has the absolute worst isolation amongst in ear monitors I’ve encountered to date. While everything you’ve mentioned with regards to the sound signature holds true, I don’t think the lack of isolation can go even slightly overlooked. It’s a dead on deal breaker for some, while those who prefer to enjoy their music, and at the same time not be completely cut off from their surroundings, the EX1000 is ideal for you. Even the provided “isolation” tips don’t make any noticeable difference here since the EX1000 is vented. Thus the lack of isolation is linked directly to the housing, and not the tips. As much as I love the EX1000’s signature and presentation, it’s vented housing kills it altogether. Much of the sound is ‘leaked’ out, and to my ears, that translates as potential loss of enjoyment. While I love headfonia’s reviews, I’d advise readers to be aware of the lack of isolation that is in a sense unavoidable with the EX1000’s, unless of course it plays in your favor.

    • Reply June 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hey, sorry about that, NC. I guess I didn’t make it explicit enough, but I did write something that hints to that direction:

      ————————————————————————————-
      Compared to the feel of wearing a custom IEM like the JH16, the Sony
      feels quite different. Even as I am using the noise isolation tips, the
      JH16 ultimately still has the better seal because after all, it was
      custom molded to the shape of your ears. However, as everyone knows, the
      shape and dimension of our ears is not 100% constant. On a cold
      morning, the JH16 can feel quite uncomfortable in the ears, and having a
      hard shell only adds to the lack of comfort. Sony’s tips, on the other
      hand, is one of the softest tips I’ve encountered on any IEM (perhaps
      THE softest, if we don’t take Comply foams into the comparison). In this
      case, the fit of the JH16 is like taking a seat in a Formula car with
      precise fitting bucket seats, while the Sony is more like riding in a
      comfortable BMW 7 series with the ultra-luxurious leather seats. The
      Sony still has some room to play, and you need to do small amount of
      adjustments before you get a perfect fit. However, the shape of the
      housing really helps in making a good fit quick and painless.
      ————————————————————————————

      Yes, that would be a deal breaker for people looking for isolation. I should update the article and add a sentence or two.

      Thanks!
       

      • Reply July 8, 2011

        NC

        Much appreciated. If and when you’re able to, I’d love to read your impression of the JVC FX700, which I personally prefer ever so slightly over the EX1000. Since both are vented, they’re quite fit for comparison. The JCV’s however offer enough sub bass for even bassheads, while I find the EX1000 not at all excessive, but just enough.

        • Reply July 8, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi NC,
          I think that differences in the bass sounds right since the EX1000 was
          never big on bass. For some people that’s enough reason to get the JVC.

          • Reply July 11, 2011

            NC

            After much A/B comparison, I find the EX1000 to be sonically above the FX700. The latter boasts amongst the best bass response in high end universal IEM’s, as well as exceptional timbre, while the former boasts impeccable attention to detail and clarity, and was levels above the FX700 in terms of pace, without missing a beat on even the busiest/fastest tracks. I’ve gotta be honest, were it not for this review, I’d have never revisited the EX1000’s, which at one point in time were not ideal for me due to lack of isolation, but when I looked past the black and white, I was convinced that of over a dozen high end universals I’ve come to own, the EX1000 marks the best of them. Thank you for your time and efforts!

            • Reply July 11, 2011

              Anonymous

              I’m happy that you’ve rediscovered the EX1000. I think you should give
              the JH5 a try though. It’s another IEM that I think more people should get.

  • Reply July 4, 2011

    Habu

    I have owned EX1000 for few months and all I can say is that these are best sounding IEMs what I have owned. I mostly listen electronic (Goa, Trance, Dub…), Pop, Rock and I find these perfect for these kind of music. Bass, mids and highs have almost perfect texture, details and quantity and large soundstage (thanks to those vents).

    Its hard to find anything lacking but I agree that some people want total isolation and these dont provide that. For me isolation is good enough. I actually prefer that I hear traffic noises when music is off 🙂 But mainly I use these indoors.

    • Reply July 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Nice.

      Have you tried the TF10 or the JH5Pro? 

    • Reply July 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Nice.

      Have you tried the TF10 or the JH5Pro? 

      • Reply July 4, 2011

        Habu

        No I haven’t. Maeby I should 🙂 Im quite new to IEM world.

        Originally I was looking Sennheiser IE8 but read so many good reviews about Sony EX1000 so I decided to buy those instead. And after few months I still think I made right choice. Maybe I wanted Mercedes instead of sport car 🙂 10 years ago things would be different 😀

        At the moment Im looking for headphones. I guess Sennheiser HD-25 would fit my taste but maeby Sony MDR-Z1000 would be more refined.

  • Reply August 4, 2011

    Reckoncile

    How do these compare with the j-phonic K2?

    • Reply August 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Reckoncile,
      Sorry, I have no idea.

  • Reply September 4, 2011

    Aza Pulido

    I Want so bad… come september 9 they’re mine!!!

    • Reply September 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Waiting, waiting…

    • Reply September 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Waiting, waiting…

  • Reply November 24, 2011

    :D

  • Reply February 6, 2012

    Anonymous

    Review of  Hifiman’s RE-262 please!

  • Reply April 16, 2012

    saeed zolfaghari

    hi mike! do you think that  ex1000 need an amp to be completely driven?

    thanks

  • Reply May 31, 2012

    Rob Smith

    Ive tried a lot of in Ears from beyers to Etymotic, and these are by far the best ive heard, Im unsure what you mean by dont isolate good enough, i found them to be near perfect BUT i do like to be able to hear something, and to be honest ive yet to see a pair of headphones that totally isolate, even the Bose etc dont do it perfect. The isolation for everybody else was as good as any other In Ear that being beyers 101s to Sony MDR Ex500s, the bit that i thought great was the bass responce from a lossless track, even some of my Piano Tracks from Stanton lanier i can hear the Hammer,
    I sat on the bed last night with all my headphones out
    Etymotic Micropro 4P
    Sony MDR EX500
    Beyedynamics 101s
    And tested all of them in line with the same song, by far the sonys topped the bill in all areas, ok so my ears may be tuned to that type of headset, but the Etys were terrible no Bass at all unless i shoved them through my eardrum and into my brain stem. They get my vote do the 1000s same isolation as 90% of In Ears and a great Bass reponce to hoot, and im still breaking them in

    • Reply June 4, 2012

      Mike

      Rob,
      The Etymotics may not be comfortable and they do need to be inserted quite deep, but they are #1 in terms of isolation, if you insert them deep enough.

      • Reply February 3, 2016

        AndroidVageta

        Of course they are because by the time you’ve inserted them deep enough you’ve destroyed your inner ear.

  • Reply May 31, 2012

    Rob Smith

    Mike i think your comment about custom fits was spot on, Anybody wanting that kind of isolation need to have the casts done, and then add the sonys youll have a very very excellent set, But i myself like to have a little outside air, so i can hear the fish wife sqwarking

    • Reply June 4, 2012

      Mike

      Yes the problem with IEMs is that it makes you anti-social. Portable headphones are nicer in that sense.

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