The Sony MDR-1AM2 was announced in January 2018. and replaces the Sony MDR-1A launched in 2016. The 1A series are the affordable premium range of wired headphones with 40mm HD drivers with a retail price of S$429. The uber-premium signature series from Sony is the Z1R with a 70mm driver and a price tag of S$2599.
The 1AM2 retains the same design as the old MDR-1R series which I reviewed back in 2012. While it may appear dated, Sony seems wanting to keep this design to show that these headphones are part of the same product line.
The headphones come with both standard 3.5mm unbalanced cables with mic and 4.4mm balanced cables. This is a better deal than the previous MDR-1A which does not come with the balanced cable.
The ear cushions are cosy and soft, the headband has sufficient flex and plush. I would prefer to have a little more room around my ears, and the ears can get warm after wearing for a brief period, especially not in humid places like Singapore, unless you use them in air-con places. Sound isolation is rather good, though.
The audio quality on the MDR-1AM2 is pleasant and easy to enjoy. It delivers that signature Sony sound: firm bass with sufficient presence and kick without sounding too bloated and overpowering, midrange that is just nice again without sounding too bloated and fat, and a treble that presents the main instruments with sizzling texture, and the roominess felt through the higher frequency response (this headphones can theoretically produce up to 100kHz). The overall sound staging is relatively tight and close, hence when the source music gets busy, it can sound somewhat messy. If you prefer a more pushy and exciting sound for your headphones, the 1AM2 will keep your feet tapping. Putting the headphones through balanced cables and playing through premium DAP like Sony NW-ZX300 will further achieve a more spatial and detailed highs to bring out high-definition sound.
When comparing to the MDR-1A, I thought that the first generation has slightly more mid-bass. When compared to the Sennheiser HD600 series (particularly the HD6XX), the Sony turns out colder, more articulated, while Sennheiser has better midrange, fuller vocals, less prominent highs, less pushy bass. It offers better stereo coherence, wider sound staging.
Given Sony’s decades of audio experience, there is an audio tuning that Sony is proud of. The MDR-1AM2 sticks to that tuning, and for listeners who like that character, the 1AM2 achieves beautifully. Music tracks with intimate vocals and subtly musical bass will benefit from this headphones, while pop tracks might still sound good, though it might bring out the best of the headphones.
- Headphone Type: Closed Dynamic
- Driver Unit: 40mm Neodymium
- Impedance: 16 ohm
- Frequency response: 3 – 100,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 98dB
- Weight: 187g
- Price: S$429
- Lightweight, cushy
- Includes balanced cables for the same price
- Ear cushions too small, gets warm quickly
- Treble might sound crowded on complex music