Sony MDR-7506 headphones review: Around since 1991 and still great

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The Good Sony's MDR-7506 closed-back, full-size headphones click with all music genres and are comfortable to wear for hours at a time. They sound excellent for their relatively modest price point.

The Bad With a coiled, pro-style cable and lack of an inline remote/microphone, some will find the 7506s less mobile-friendly than more modern headphones.

The Bottom Line They've been around since 1991, but the Sony MDR-7506s are still great sounding -- and fitting -- headphones for less than $100.

8.5 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Sound 9
  • Value 10

Introduced way back in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 has long been a favorite headphone of recording engineers and other sound professionals. The origins of its design date even further back, since the MDR-7506 is, in fact, a refresh of the Sony MDR-V6 that rolled out in 1985. Both models were designed for the pro market, but remain hugely popular with consumers.

While the two headphones have the same design and are very comfortable, they don't sound identical. Both offer very well-balanced sound and excellent clarity for their modest price points -- and both are great overall values. But the V6 makes a little more bass and sounds more laid-back and mellower while the 7506 is leaner with a more accentuated treble range, which makes it little crisper and livelier.

Design and features
Since the MDR-7506 has been in the Sony lineup for over 20 years, you don't have to make any guesses about the design's long-term durability. Some users claim the ear pads don't last more than a few years, but the pads are user-replaceable and cost just $9.99 a pair.

The MDR-7506 looks nearly identical the MDR-V6. Sarah Tew/CNET

That durability concern is hardly unique to the MDR-7506. Most similarly priced headphones' pads won't be around for the long haul, or the headphones will crap out long before the ear pads disintegrate. Some MDR-7506 owners noted the hinges break, and again, that's not an uncommon malady for $100 headphones. But most owners have no complaints.

The headphones weigh 8 ounces, which is slightly lighter than average for a full-size headphone. The mostly plastic design doesn't feel at all flimsy, and it helps that the outer ear cups are metal. Inside, you'll find 40mm drivers, and the headphones have a 63-ohm rated impedance.

The headphones are very comfortable, and their earpads are replaceable. Sarah Tew/CNET

The racetrack-shaped ear pads and headband aren't as thickly padded as those of many new headphones, but since head-clamping pressure is moderate I found them comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. That should be the case for all headphones, and it's downright essential for one designed for pro use.

The closed-back MDR-7506 blocks a good amount of external noise, and no one nearby will hear much sound escaping this headphone. Stretched out to the max, the coiled cable is about 10 feet long, and it's permanently attached to the left ear cup.

The headphones' lengthy -- and somewhat weighty -- coiled cord makes 7505s less ideally suited to mobile use. Sarah Tew/CNET

The extralong cable lacks a mic or remote, so the MDR-7506 may not be ideal for use with phones or portable music players. The cable is terminated with a gold-plated 3.5mm plug; a screw-on 6.3mm adapter plug is included for use with home or pro gear.