Sony MDR-MV1 Headphones Review

The Sony MDR-MV1 is the newest and one of the very few open-back headphones in this well-known brand's collection of audio gears. The MDR-MV1 retails for approximately $399 and I happened to impulsively buy this recently and now will tell you why I like it so much!

The MDR-MV1 is super lightweight. It reminds me quite a bit of some of the low-end Audio-Technica open-back headphones in terms of lightweight and construction. It has an aluminum perforated outer cup design, and plastic yokes. The headband is very reminiscent of other Sony monitor headphones with their staple red and blue R/L indicators on each side.

The total  weight of this headphone is 222 grams, making it ultra-light and awesome to wear. The micro-suede pads add to the overall comfort of wearing these headphones and making them easily wearable for many, many hours. And that's a good thing, because this thing keeps staying on my head for some reason.

The cable plugs into the left cup and is a standard 3.5mm cable. The included cable has a TRSS 4-pole connector into the cup, but a standard TRS 3-pole 3.5mm stereo jack also works fine. The included cable terminates into a 6.35 mm (1/4 inch) jack, but it also comes with a 3.5mm pigtail adapter to make it work with a multitude of sources. For me, I actually ended up buying a 3.5mm TRSS to 4.4mm balanced cable that I primarily use with my sources.

Sound Impressions

The MDR-MV1 has a very balanced tonality that borders upon the V-Shaped sound signature that you could find in other Sony consumer headphones. It does not quite steer all the way there, but it's an aggressive U-Shape (which I prefer).

The bass range is lifted quite high for being an open-back. In fact, I don't know of many open-backs that has the amount of sub-bass and mid-bass quantity that this MDR-MV1 has, and that's the most impressive thing about this headphone. While its not as resolving and textured as the Hifiman Susvara, it does more than an adequate job for putting good presence to bass guitars and drum kicks. I really enjoy having a more fuller bass response than my other headphones can provide here.

The mid-range has a slightly recessed tuning, much like what you'd expect from listening to a Hifiman, Audeze, or something like the Sennheiser HD800S, and differs quite a bit from the Sennheiser HD600 and HD650 headphones which I find as a standard for this price point. The HD600 series is very mid-focused with great timbre and pushes this mid-range and vocals fairly foward. The MV1 takes a different approach, and has it set just a bit further back, and some may find this timbre to be a little off, but I really enjoy the more distant stage. 

Deep male vocals such as The National's Matt Berninger come in with full grit and deep undertones thanks for the elevated bass range, and this is one of the few open-back headphones I enjoy rock music with -- something that only more recently, the ZMF Atrium has provided, and the semi-open back emu/Fostex headphones give.

The added treble does sometimes make female vocals sound a little thin, but male vocals are quite rich to counter it. That treble peak in the graph is scary-looking, and it gave me quite a pause for weeks as I decided whether to give this tempting headphone a shot. In the end, I don't find it a problem at all. No sibilance in even the worst tracks I tried -- stuff like Rhianna and Norah Jones. In fact, I don't find this headphone fatiguing at all, and I listen to it for hours on end without pause, and main with female vocals and strings -- things where too much treble can sizzle and give headaches easily.

The soundstage of the Sony MDR-MV1 is a little bit more big and open than a traditional studio headphone, and larger than the HD600, which is more intimate in presentation. While it's not as large as say the Sennheiser HD800S or most of the Hifiman headphones, it falls somewhere in the middle.

Final Impressions

The Sony MDR-MV1 is a headphone that keeps staying on my head, and is quickly becoming the one I reach out for despite owning the legendary Sennheiser HD600 and Hifiman Susvara, which both sit next to it on the headphone stands. I continue to grab the MV1 because it's the most comfortable headphone I've worn, and it has a very balanced and suitable tuning that works so well with rock music primarily, but is also well-suited for any genre really. 

This one has well-exceeded my expectations, and I'm very happy my impulses got the better of me.

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