High-Resolution Audio has been a recurring buzzword in getting people to embrace the joy and expenditure of higher fidelity. And few other companies are as determined to make the idea mainstream like Sony, as is the case with their MDR-1A Hi-Res Stereo Headphones.
We appreciate headphones like these for two reasons: they are aspirational, and offer enough performance without too much associated snobbery. And yet, the MDR-1A are a fantastic pair for the majority, after the realization sets in that you could just as easily spend exponentially more for a vaguely similar privilege in listening superiority.
The MDR-1A sports a contemporary and stylish appearance, almost identical to the immediate MDR-1R predecessor with plush black leather padding, metal headband, and distinct red accents liven up some otherwise unassuming headphones. These are also some of the more lightweight wearables (7.94 oz) I worn in recent memory, contributing to elongated earpads with pillow-like comfort as the bulk slips effortlessly over the ears.
These are wired, but luxurious niceties like the gold-plated plug means detachable 3.5mm headphone cable and inline mic remote can be switched out on the fly. Lending the MDR-1A to smartphone duties. Sony does include both choices and carrying pouch right out of the box as the norm. However, we noticed that microphone control is native to Apple devices, but Android users will have download Sony’s Smart Key app for similar effect.
It probably goes without saying that the MDR-1A is built for Hi-Res Audio, an engaging introduction to a broader audiophile world. But this is a good thing because they do have a crisp openness to them, provided by those 40mm aluminum drivers and 3Hz-100KHz frequency range.
You feel it upon hearing the first note — the MDR-1A are dynamically accurate for the astute. The overall detail and top-end retains a well-mannered nature for acoustic and soul genres specifically, keeping harshness tame and extracting much of the unwanted edge from rapider pop and electronic rock songs. You get purified sound with nothing missed in translation, but it definitely helps to pair it with a compatible Walkman (Sony NW-ZX100) or portable amplifier (Oppo HA-2).
There’s a respectable exactness that captures every essential bit within the midrange, but these headphones do have a flatter profile when bass and vocals are presented. Waiting for the warmth and enthusiasm to envelope you amounts to something a mild feeling of anti-climactic, which is probably done to balance everything out in acceptable fashion. This also comes with the unintentional drawback of drudging up the worst from compressed music tracks if your collection is made of low-quality mp3 files.
If you’re fine with keeping some of your music civilized, then the MDR-1A are well-composed and very versatile. these are technically proficient and comfortable headphones for three hundred buckaroos, with only some niggles that keep it from achieving relative perfection. In short: neat, clean, and super nice with little complaint.