Picture Sunday: Sony MDR-Z1R

The star of this week’s Picture Sunday is the just announced SONY MDR-Z1R headphone. Check out other recent Picture Posts Here, and Here.

Sony surprised everyone this week by announcing a brand new top of the line headphone, a new DAP and a desktop sized unit. At IFA they had about a dozen of these new setups available for listening and so I took the shuttle to hall 20 where Sony always does his stuff.

Sony also had displays in the middle of the gigantic booth where they were showing how these new products were made and they took the new units apart piece by piece. I have to admit I really like the design of both the new headphone as well as the DAP but at the same time Sony did not blow me away.

I have read very different things about the sound impressions of people who like me got the chance to listen to them. First of all show conditions are far from ideal as there is a lot of noise and the time you can spend with the gear is limited. Second, there have been hundreds of people before you listening to the headphone and god knows how they messed up the DAP settings. Third, it is hard to tell what sounds like what if you’re listening to both a new phone and DAP.


My experience with the beautiful MDR-Z1R wasn’t really positive. It sounded very bassy and muffled overal and I can’t believe a new flagship would sounds like this. So probably someone did something wrong there. Let’s hope that anyway. DAP wise I can only say that it looks good but it is extremely heavy, the heaviest portable unit I ever got my hands on and I really can’t get what they were thinking doing that. I do hope I get to listen to it soon as the SQ probably is great.Will it beat the AK380? We’ll see…

Design-wise this new MDR-Z1R is gorgeous and refreshing, Sony certainly got the design part right.

More soon! I hope.

4.1/5 - (38 votes)

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.


  • Reply September 5, 2016


    Nice picture, the headphone looks awesome!

    I look forward to a review of the new Sony products here on headfonia, even though everything is way above my budget 🙂

  • Reply September 5, 2016

    Barun C

    Nice pictures Lieven, but looks can deceive and it seems the case here as well. Sony has just followed the AK route for pricing DAPs now, which is unfortunate considering Sony is such a big company.

    Beating AK 380, hmm. Beating the Questyle QP1R, HiFiMaN HM-901 and LPG in terms of the SQ alone will be a tough task for the new Sony DAPs, even though it is priced 2-3 times of the competition mentioned above. Same goes for the AK 380.

    For the headphones, your impressions seems to suggest that Sony has gone with the general Sony IEM house sound, if that’s the case then, they will not be able to compete with the new stuff coming out, down the pipeline from Focal, Mr. Speakers and may be a few other names as well.

  • Reply September 7, 2016


    no more disqus…

    I was curious if the DAP had any eq settings applied during listening.

    • Reply September 7, 2016


      That’s what we all wonder, and which I secretly hope

  • Reply November 2, 2016


    I feel the same as you when I was listening to both the headphones and the new Sony flagship DAP(with the sony amp).Compared to my LCDX system at home, which cost roughly the same as the sony system, but with seriously built dac and amp. The Sony system at the show did not sound impressive to me at all. My thought is that, sony NW-WM1Z is just a dap not a real desktop dac and the sony amp may not suit the headphones (MDR-Z1R) the most. The other factor maybe the cables used in the system (Interconnects, Power Cord) are generally lower quality than mine. That’s why i couldn’t judge neither the dap, nor the headphones (I brought my HM901 balanced with in order to test the MDR-Z1R, but I couldn’t, because the new sony headphones jack is not a normal 3.5 or 6.3mm, but they use a 4.4mm TRRRS at the show.)

    I used to post on head-fi that I will give my impression about the new sony dap and headphones, but I haven’t written anything till now, because I think it’s unfair to talk about the products, if you dont have time and are not in a proper environment to listen to them (just like you mentioned L.).

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