Sony MDR7506 Review

sony mdr7506 review: the headphone on top of a checkered cloth

Of all the studio microphones available these days, the Sony MDR7506 is undoubtedly one of the best. Amazingly, though these are some of the oldest studio headphones still in production, they’re also still in high demand and come at a very reasonable price. There are newer, flashier things out there these days, but sometimes the tried and true things are best. We can’t help thinking that’s the case when it comes to the Sony MDR7506, so we’ve taken a good look at how they perform and compared them to three other solid headphone choices in the same range.

What Is the Sony MDR7506? 

This closed-back stereo studio headphone set is designed for professional use but also works for enjoying music on an everyday basis. While you can get better studio headphones and better personal listening headphones, it’s hard to find a combination that works as well as the Sony MDR7506, at a comparable price, and without comprising too much on either end.

The original Sony MDR7506 came out in 1991, but it was based on the design of the MDR-V6 from 1985. The fact that this design is still going strong and still popular with recording engineers and similar professionals tells you a lot about the Sony MDR7506.

Product Specs 

These are lightweight headphones of just eight ounces, and while they’re made of plastic, they don’t have a flimsy feel. The headphones come with 40mm drivers, a long coiled cable, and a quarter-inch 3.5mm stereo jack with a 6.3mm adaptor. The gold connectors ensure that you’re always getting high-quality sound.

You can use this both professionally in the studio and just to listen to music: but it’s not going to do well on the go. If you go running with these, you’re liable to lose them pretty quickly. However the cable is very durable, so you don’t have to worry about fraying or signal loss with the Sony MDR7506.

Fit and Feel

As far as wearing the Sony MDR7506 goes, these headphones don’t offer the kind of thickly padded ear pads that you’ll find on other models. The ear pads do block out a lot of noise, though, and there isn’t much leakage, either.

The cable is 10 feet long when stretched out, and while that’s perfect for the studio or at a desk, it’s going to be a pain if you’re walking around or need to move a lot. The cable attaches to the left ear cup and is a bit on the hefty side.

Performance

While you might be able to find technically better sounds in higher-priced models, the Sony MDR7506 just sounds…right. All the levels work together very well, and it performs with every musical genre; though some users find the Sony MDR7506 less useful with tracks featuring a lot of heavy sub-bass. Playback feels open, broad, and properly stereo. Vocals and treble sounds particularly come through clearly, and the overall effect is very crisp.

Pricing 

Most of the items on our list cost right around $100, and some you might be able to score for as low as $75 if you catch just the right deal. The most expensive we looked at runs about $150 but can be gotten cheaper at the right time. More expensive models typically offer better sound balance, more noise isolation, and designs meant to last.

How It Compares 


Sony MDR7506

Audio Technica ATH M50X

Sennheiser HD 559

Grado SR80

Image

Sony MDR7506 headset

Image Source: Amazon

Audio Technica ATH M50X

Image Source: Amazon

Sennheiser HD 559

Image Source: Amazon

Grado SR80

Image Source: Amazon

Comfort

Sound Quality

Design Quality

Noise Isolation

Price

We’ve picked three competitors of the Sony MDR7506 to review. All of these are at the upper end of the budget-level studio headphone offerings in terms of price and performance. In addition to the Sony MDR7506, we look at the:

  • Audio Technica ATH M50X
  • Sennheiser HD 559
  • Grado SR80

Sony MDR7506 

Sony MDR7506 headset

Image Source: Amazon

Price 

$$

Comfort 

These are pretty comfortable headphones especially given how old the design is. Sony achieves this in part by making them so light that they don’t feel too tense lying on your ears. The adjustability is great, and these headphones will fit people with both large and small heads.

Sound Quality 

The Sony MDR7506 is the perfect choice for critical listening, and you get some serious quality that you would normally expect to pay a lot more for. The 40mm drivers produce plenty of sound, and it’s easy to identify and mix the different levels.

Unlike some other budget stereo headphones, the Sony MDR7506 manages to give quite a good bass. The mid-tones aren’t muddy, and the highs are balanced. These headphones also perform well for casual personal listening. The sound isn’t perfect; don’t get us wrong. But for the price,you’ll struggle to find anything better.

Design Quality 

Overall, this is a good design. If it weren’t, Sony wouldn’t still be making and selling the Sony MDR7506 today! However, we felt the folding design felt just a little bit weak, and while we appreciate the ability to make it more compact, we worry about how long they’ll hold up to constant folding and unfolding.

Noise Isolation 

The Sony MDR7506 offers good isolation and can be used by recording artists as well as mixers and board specialists. They don’t have the same level of isolation that you’d get from a true noise canceling headset meant to work with your mobile phone, but that isn’t their function, and they are unlikely to disappoint.

Pros

  • Durable for the price
  • Excellent sound for the price
  • Comfortable
  • Useful in a variety of situations

Cons

  • Not mobile-friendly
  • Not for bass heads
  • Folding design feels flimsy

Audio Technica ATH M50X 

Audio Technica ATH M50X

Image Source: Amazon

These are the most expensive headphones we looked at and an internet favorite. Like the Sony MDR7506, they’re meant to cross over from studio to personal use. They come with 40mm drivers, a quarter-inch 3.5mm adaptor, three kinds of audio cables, and a wireless option or an upgrade. One thing to note is that Audio Technica use proprietary connectors, so if you lose or break the ones it comes with, you’ll have to get new ones directly from them.

Price 

$$$

Comfort 

These offer good padding and solid comfort. At 10 ounces, they’re a bit heavier than the Sony MdR7506, but they still feel comfortable. Their closed-back design does mean hot ears after a while.

Sound Quality 

The sound is where these headphones really shine. They don’t cost anything close to what a professional set of headphones would run, but they offer a

sound that’s pretty close to professional. The stereo imaging is excellent, dynamic impact works well, and most people find the tone balance just about perfect.

To cross over into the personal listening category, these headphones do amp up the bass just a bit,andd that’s nice for personal listening. While that might be good in the studio if you’re mixing or recording bass-heavy tunes, if you’re doing acoustics or classic rock, you may wish you could tone it down a bit.

Design Quality 

We were reasonably impressed with the quality of these headphones. They look good but aren’t obnoxious and come in a few color choices. They are all plastic and feel that way, but it’s a quality build nonetheless. The rotating ear cups are useful for storing and making minor adjustments for comfort.

Noise Isolation 

In this category of headphones, you can’t get better noise isolation than what the ATH M50X offers. They aren’t actively noise canceling, but they aren’t priced like it, either.

Pros

  • Excellent sound with robust bass
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Good noise isolation
  • Long cords and many connection choices

Cons

  • Proprietary cord connections
  • Bass may be too strong for some applications

Sennheiser HD 559 

Sennheiser HD 559

Image Source: Amazon

You get an excellent two-year warranty with these headphones, which is the best of any we reviewed. Their proprietary Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement design is meant to channel sound directly towards your ear for better sound.

Price 

$$

Comfort 

Sannheiser is renowned for the comfort of their headphones, and these are no exception. The headband has plenty of padding, the ear cups are soft as butter, and the only complaint we have is that they start off a bit tight. They loosen quickly, however, and are very comfortable after that.

Sound Quality 

Sound quality is great with these headphones. The E.A.R. tech does indeed make it sound like you’re standing in the middle of the room where the music is being played. You get more bass than you might expect, and the high tones are even. However, if mixing is what you’re doing, you might not find it as easy to separate sounds as you would with the Sony MDR7506.

Design Quality 

These headphones will go the distance and we appreciate that. However, we do wish they folded or came with a case, as that would make them easier to tote around.

Noise Isolation 

Pros

  • Spacious soundstage
  • Very comfortable
  • Good warranty
  • Strong bass

Cons

  • No noise isolation
  • No included adaptor for 6.3mm plug

Grado SR80 

Grado SR80

Image Source: Amazon

Price 

$$

Comfort 

These headphones really appeal to the retro in us, and while that’s great, you do get some retro comfort issues. The cord is enormous and as heavy as it looks. The headphones themselves don’t typically feel heavy, but some people don’t find them all that comfy. It’s a very personal thing with the Grado. Where they do shine is in ear heat: unlike every other model we reviewed, these will actually keep your ears cool.

Sound Quality 

Sound quality with the Grado is superb for the price. They have an unparalleled dynamic response in their category, and you won’t have any trouble getting the highest notes. Bass is a bit subdued, and the only real issue is distortion at the lowest frequency ranges.

Design Quality 

Everybody loves the vented ear cups, while only some people enjoy the retro look. There are some things nobody finds desirable, like the solder points on the speakers that are open to the air and vulnerable to the slightest drop of moisture.

Noise Isolation 

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Great open performance
  • Keep ears cool

Cons

  • Solder points unprotected
  • Not comfortable for everyone

Conclusion 

There’s a place for each of these headphones. The question is whether your place is that place. Here’s what we recommend:

Best Overall 

The Audio Technica ATH M50X is the winner in this lineup, which is why they’re a bit more expensive. They have great isolation, excellent sound, are very comfortable, and will last you a long time.

Best Budget 

If you want something almost as good as the Audio Technica but want to spend anywhere from $50 to $75 less, depending on where and when you buy, the Sony MDR7506 is our recommendation. In nearly every respect it rivals the ATH M50X but at a lot lower price.

If you want something that only works in the studio and offers good sound at a low price, either the Sennheiser or the Grado are solid offerings that will perform well. The choice is up to you: happy listening!

Featured Image Source: Pixabay.com

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