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CNET First Look
Sony MDR-1A: Supercomfortable over-ear headphone gets a performance boostThe $300 MDR-1A looks very similar to its predecessor, the MDR-1R, but it sounds slightly better and has some small design improvements.
I'm David Carnoy, and this is the Sony MDR-1A, a $300 over-ear headphone. It's the successor to the MDR-1R, which we liked a lot when we reviewed it a few years ago. That earlier model was known for being extremely comfortable, and the very similar looking one A is equally comfortable, if not slightly moreso with slightly different shaped ear cuffs. It's lightweight for an over ear headphone, and the ear pads are very soft. The headphones fit snuggly, but not too snuggly, and should fit a variety of head sizes, as well. In terms of accessories you get two standard length one point two meter cables, one of which has an inline remote and microphone. It's geared toward Android phones but also works with iPhones. A decent carrying pouch is also included, and Sony also sells three optional higher end cables. For this headphone if you want to try to eek out even better sound. As far as performance goes, the MDR 1A just sounds right. The balance of base, mid range, and treble is as smooth as can be. The stereo sound stage is spacious, and dynamic range is, well, dynamic. What were saying here is that the MDR1A is for audio files who wanna hear the sound as accurately as possible, so there's no jacked up bass or zippy treble, the MDR1A just tells it like it is. Compared to the older MDR1R, this model sounded clear from the bass all the way to the treble, vocals and guitars are brought into sharper focus over the MDR1A. The differences aren't huge, but they're there. The Audio Technica ATH-MRS7 offers even better clarity, but there is a down side to that. If you do have well-recorded music, it will come in handy. But if you are listening to pop, rock, or any other mainstream music. The MDR's softer presentation takes the edge off harsher recordings, which is a good thing. Which of these so-called premium over-ear headphones you like better really comes down to taste. We like the Sony MDR-1 a lot and it's well worth considering, if you're looking for a full-size headphone in the $250 to $300 price range. I'm David Carnoy, thanks for watching.