Disclaimer: The star of this weeks’ picture Sunday is Sony’s MDR-Z1R. We got this sample on loan for a few weeks from Sony Japan. This post is a part of our Picture Sunday series.
The MDR-Z1R I borrowed from Sony shipped back two weeks ago. Simultaneously, I’m tested HiFiman’s Susvara and had another high-end headphone go through my office. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that of the three, the Sony spent the least time on my head. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- I had a lot of deliveries and my doorbell isn’t that loud.
- I was out of office a lot.
- The MDR-Z1R is so pretty that I preferred to hold it, pet it, and sniff it.
- I’m doing my damned best to finish a review of Susvara for ohm.
- While I love how the MDR-Z1R puts together a mid-rich sound, I’m not generally a mid-rich guy.
It wasn’t the last point that had me mainly fingering rather than listening to the MDR-1ZR. Three weeks seems like a lot, but it’s not enough to get accustomed to three different products, particularly when in the office you have Sony’s toppest-end DAP, their latest FPGA DAC, and a plush headphone. Each was as fine as your first LatinX crush, but thicker across the middle.
What most surprised me about the MDR-Z1R is how well it appeared to isolate. To me its grill patterned insinuated a semi-open design. But it appears to be properly closed, if not sealed like a good-old DT770. I went to Sony HQ to ask about this. Stripped of its grill, pads, and hangar, the cap itself deadens air like nothing I hitherto had heard. Which explains what essentially is as reverb-free as I’ve experienced.
As far as I can tell, the MDR-Z1R is engineered for two things: meaty vocals and mids, and, through dead reverb super clear transmission to the ears. I’ve got an interview to publish, which I hope will illuminate some of the headphone’s design parameters, as well as show off the dedication of its designers. With it, I’ve got a few good words to say about the MDR-Z1R, and few words of warning regarding its mids, and warmth.
For my part, I love the MDR-Z1R, just not for trance, electronic, heavy metal, or industrial jazz. It’s a headphone made for vocals and for small ensembles and which elides absolute extension for a warm, intimate touch, and one into whose arms I’d jump if only I wasn’t such a trance head. My guess is that between Lieven and me, the Sony would closer match Lieven’s listening preferences.