Sony MDR-SA5000 DJ Stereo Headphones Review  

Posted by nipatr_nvb in , , ,

Sony MDR-SA5000 : Incredible detail, speed, and claritySony remaps the land of high-end headphones once again

I've owned quite a few high-end headphones over the last few years, but this new model from Sony take a page from Metallica, and kills 'em all. The comfort and design are unparalleled, and the materials used are top-notch, outclassing similarly priced and even more expensive cans. The sound is unprecedented, certainly among sub-$1000 dynamic headphones. The frequency spectrum is amazingly well balanced, from the deepest bass to the highest treble, with no readily apparent gaps or peaks. The frequencies transition very smoothly, which results in virtually no listener fatigue. Detail is excellent, surpassing all other dynamic headphones I've heard, rivaling that of the expensive, esoteric electrostatic models. Individual instruments and sounds are rendered wonderfully, each with it's own distinct static place in the spectrum, and are placed with pinpoint precision around your head.

If you listen to a lower-quality source or amp, the SA5000 might not be for you, as it will spit that garbage right back into your face. In that situation, more forgiving cans like the Sennheisers or Grados would be better suited. If you have some great sounding gear though, like my Benchmark DAC-1, then the SA5000 will give you the detail and transparency that other cans will hide.

Here are my impressions of a few other prominent high-end cans compared to the SA5000:

Grado RS1 (An ergonomic nightmare, and no benchmark for build quality, the Grado succeeds in making even a lowly MP3 player sound exciting to listen to. However, it achieves this through a bumped upper bass and upper mids, which can grow annoying when used on a high-class source and amp, which reveals these colorations. Also has the most distortion (sibilance) and least frequency extension of the group. It's best attribute is that bass boost, which is quite thumpin' with the right music.)

Sennheiser HD650 (This headphone makes almost anything quite listenable, with its slow, decay-oriented presentation, and muted high end, it takes the edge right off even the harshest recordings. This is good if you like your hi-fi to whisper sweet lullabies, however it makes the sound quite dull and lifeless compared to any of the other cans mention. The Zu Mobius cable helps fix this, and extend the lower and upper ends, but it is still no match for the detail and accuracy of the SA5000.)

Sony MDR-CD3000 (The SA5000's predecessor, by comparison has bloated bass and a lacking midrange. The extreme frequencies are also underrepresented. Its only "advantage" is an artificially wide soundstage that can make a studio rock recording sound more like a live concert. The cans are also VERY large and bulky, which makes them a tad annoying to wear, though they are very soft.)

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 29, 2008 at Saturday, November 29, 2008 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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