Impressions of the Sony MDR-CD900ST

This will be a rather quick set of impressions of the Sony MDR-CD900ST "Studio Monitoring" headphones which aren't very well known outside of Japan. They have been around since 1987 and were more recently replaced by the Sony M1ST and have been greatly overshadowed by the more accessible and widely known MDR-7506 series.

These were provided on quick loan by DriftingBunnies of DriftMechanics, a specialty keyboard manufacturer.

The CD900ST is somewhat of an on-ear, closed-back headphone that has about as thin of pads as you can possibly get. I say "somewhat" because they can potentially be over-the-ear in some cases. For me personally, the pads do go over my ear, but because of the shallow nature of them, they don't really feel like a typical closed-back over-ear and don't really feel like an on-ear either. 

That said, they are actually quite comfortable, as I've been able to wear them for several hours at a time, including a 2.5 hour livestream YouTube event recently. Typically, on-ear headphones are quite painful for me to wear for a while since my ears do stick out quite a bit and aren't really the best shape for these type of headphones, but this one has surprised me with it's fit.

The headphone is all black with a red stripe on each cup and mirrored polished trim along the outer cup edge. The cable is on the left cup only, and is non-detachable and terminated in a 1/4" jack. 

Sound Impressions

The general signature I found with the Sony MDR-CD900ST is that its a generally mid-range focused set with rolled-off bass and a recessed and darker treble creating an overall darker sound signature. With that though, there is gain centered around 4-5KHz that actually really accentuates and emphasizes this region where I think vocals, particularly female ones shine.

This bump here really helps make this headphone have a little flavor, and while it's bumped up in a narrower band than what I would normally listen to in my other headphones, it doesn't exhibit any harsh peakiness or strained vocals. For the most part, I think this headphone is pretty tame in its overall nature, which allows one to listen to it for hours without fatigue. 

This set does have some channel variance between L and R in the bass region likely due to the hole where the cable goes through on the left cup, which you can see in my measurements using my clone GRAS 43AG set, but in actual listening, it isn't noticeable really unless you're listening to single test tones and sweeps.

In listening to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album, there are many headphones or IEMs where I find this album coming across as very splashy or fatiguing. This is due to the constant and sparkly cymbals, hi-hats and twangy guitars. With the CD900ST, this is really never a problem, even "Second Hand News" and "Dreams" where there's just a never ending attack. 

Another thing I noticed about this album on this headphone is that the staging is a little further back than a lot of other stuff I use. That is, Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham's main vocals seem don't necessarily sound front and center, but a maybe more center/center on stage. Another analogy to this is the seat I am sitting at is no longer the first few rows, but perhaps middle of the crowd.

Finally, the depth and soundstage of this headphone isn't nearly the best I've tried. It's quite shallow and closed-in, but that may be great for its purpose, but not as wide and layered as my preferences go. Let's just say that this isn't going to beat out my Arya or an HD800s anytime soon.

Take into account this is only $200, and sounds generally pleasant, then it's not a bad deal. For my tastes, I would prefer something like and Sennheiser HD6XX at this price point, but that's an open-back headphone again.

So at $200 and being closed-back there are few options that I like. Yes, for me, I would take a used Audeze Sine myself, and those can be found for that price, and that's why my preferred portable, small closed-back headphone is, but I can't totally say that I was surprised to hear a somewhat enjoyable listen with this set of Sony headphones. Not really my signature preference, but it does work for vocal-centric music and for non-fatiguing isolated closed-back enjoyment.

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