Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
Sony's Street Style behind-the-neck headphones have been popular for more than a decade, so they were long overdue for an update. The Sony MDR-G58V headphone set ($25 list) is one of the new wave Street Style models, featuring a built-in volume control that lets you adjust the volume without having to reach your player's controls. These superlightweight headphones come in at less than 2 ounces, and their nonslip design hugs your ears, so they're ideal for jogging, aerobics, or grooving to your music. Our only quibble from an ergonomic standpoint was that the ear pads applied a little too much pressure on the ear; we found the MDR-G58V slightly uncomfortable after an hour or so.
The G58V's dark metallic-blue earpieces house 30mm-diameter drive units, which are larger than the drivers found in many portable headphones. Sony claims its Acoustic Twin Turbo Circuit provides solid bass response and clear treble. The 5-foot-long oxygen-free copper cord is fitted with a gold-plated 1/8-inch miniplug.
We relied on our iPod and a Jens of Sweden MP-110 MP3 player for all of our listening tests. The G58V was efficient enough to play at high volumes with either player. Bass, midrange, and treble were nicely balanced, so tracks from John Hiatt's Perfectly Good Guitar CD had just the right amount of gritty edge. Then again, the G58V's detail might be too much of a good thing for some listeners. We noted our bargain Sennheiser PX 30 headphones were much warmer, with less treble sparkle.
If you're looking to save a little money, you can step down to the $20 MDR-G54LP, which doesn't have the built-in volume control and has a tad less bass. But the better bargain in the Street Style line is the MDR-G74SL. For as little as $10 more than the G58V, it offers a folding neckband for easy storage and--more importantly--superior sound quality.
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