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Sony H.ear On review: A 'hi-res' headphone that comes in eye-catching colors

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The Good The Sony H.ear On MDR-100A is a stylish-looking over-ear headphone that comes in eye-catching colors and is very comfortable to wear. It delivers pleasant, detailed sound, and folds up into an included protective carrying pouch.

The Bad Finish can get scratched if dinged, which tarnishes the headphone's attractive look; a little pricey at $200; falls short of being a true "high-fidelity" headphone.

The Bottom Line While it would stand out from the competition more if it cost a little less, the Sony H.ear On MDR-100A is a likable over-ear headphone that's comfortable, sounds good, and is attractively designed.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

You can get Sony's H.ear On headphone ($200, ‎£150, AU$300) in standard "charcoal" black, but what makes it stand out is the vibrant, eye-catching colors it comes in, including cinnabar red, lime yellow, Bordeaux pink or the viridian blue pictured here, which has a lot of green in it.

I'm not sure how -- or why -- Sony came up with the "H.ear On" moniker, but this over-ear headphone's model number is the MDR-100A. Attractively designed, lightweight (8 ounces or 227g) and very comfortable to wear, it folds up to fit in a simple but stylish nylon carrying pouch.

Sony calls it a "premium Hi-Res" headphone, which implies that to get the most out of it you'll need a Hi-Res Audio-compatible portable music player, such as Sony's Walkman NWZ-A17 or the newer and more affordable NW-A25, which costs around $220 online.

The headphones fold up to fit in an included protective carrying pouch.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In the past we've tried more modestly priced high-resolution audio headphones and come away a bit underwhelmed. In other words, just because you put the Hi-Res Audio label on a box doesn't make the headphone a truly high-resolution headphone. At $250, Audio Technica's ATH-MSR7 is the cheapest true high-fidelity headphone we've tested. (We use the term "high-fidelity" to describe highly transparent headphones. Hi-Res is merely a marketing term).

But Sony says the H.ear On MDR-100AAP has Hi-Res Audio chops, with 40mm HD drivers that reproduce sounds up to 60 kHz, augmented bass that's "complemented by lightweight CCAW voice coils which yield high-linearity responses in high-pitched sounds" and domes of the acoustic diaphragms have been titanium-coated to minimize unwanted vibrations.

On a more mundane level, the detachable headphone cable has a one-button in-line remote and microphone that's suitable for making calls with Apple iOS, Android or Windows mobile devices. However, it lacks volume controls.

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