Sony PFR-V1 headphones review: Sony PFR-V1 headphones

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Sound quality; speaker-like listening experience.

The Bad Price; not amazingly comfortable; inconvenient for most listening environments.

The Bottom Line An interesting product, but not one we'd ever pay nearly £250 to own. Too many other headphones offer superior sound quality, although they won't give you the unique speaker-like experience the PFR-V1s do. But if you hate headphones and love speakers, you may fall in love

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Before you turn up your nose in disgust, it's important not to dismiss these headphones based on looks alone. They are -- at heart -- simply a new type of headphone, in the same way earbuds were when they first came on the market in the '90s.

For around £245, the Sony PFR-V1s aren't offered at a low price point to entice anyone erring on the cautious side when considering their next purchase. But you'd be daft not to give them a chance because we've found some killer features.

Design
We'll forgive you for your initial looks of disapproval; we too were put off at first by the PFR-V1's head brace-esque form factor. It's not visually appealing unless you're a cyborg, and the ping pong ball-shaped enclosures are a couple of steps removed from even the more adventurous of headphone shapes. Yet you won't notice this weirdness when wearing them on your lonesome, which is undoubtedly the situation Sony expects this model to be used in.

The two 'prongs' connected to each enclosure sit just behind the ear's tragus, and actually function as bass reflex ports. Each prong is hollow, allowing bass to escape from the speaker enclosure and out of a small opening at the prong's tip. We had a few people try them out for comfort -- most found them fairly comfortable, but one or two complained. You're likely to find them unusual, but fairly comfortable eventually -- keep your receipt just in case!

Features
Open-back headphones produce a wider, more -- ahem -- 'open' sound than earphones or typical headphones, but they still place the majority of the music in the centre of your head. Conversely, speakers place music in front of you, creating a more believable sound stage. Sony's PFR-V1s aim to bridge the gap between headphone and speaker, by positioning the PFR-V1's drivers at an angle towards your ears instead of flat up against them.

Since this requires more power than most MP3 players are capable of generating, Sony includes an in-line headphone amplifier, powered by two AAA batteries. This adds considerable weight to the headphones, but if you're sitting down it's unlikely to be an issue.

Performance
Once you get used to the unusual feeling of wearing the PFR-V1s, you'll notice two things: firstly, the distinct lack of bass; secondly, the music is no longer in the middle of your skull -- it's now just in front of your eyes. It's quaint; different, but not quite as revolutionary as we hoped for.

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Where to Buy

Sony PFR-V1 - headphones

Part Number: PFRV1.CE7
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 96 g
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Features gold-plated plug
  • Type headphones