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Sony Japan MDR-7506 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 32 41.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 34 44.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 6 7.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 5 6.5%

  • Total voters
    77

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of a Sony MDR-7506 made in Japan using "Samarium Cobalt" which is different than the neodymium magnet used laater. It is on kind loan from a member.
Sony MDR-7056 Japan Version review.jpg

Naturally the headphone looks and feels the same as MDR-7506. Owner wants to know how closely it measures relative to international version so I am going to go through this review quickly.

Sony MDR-7506 Japanese Headphone Measurements
As with other variations of this headphone, measuring them is very challenging as they barely cover the artificial ear on my GRAS 45CA fixture, showing high variability below a few hundred hertz. This is the best I got:

Sony MDR-7056 Japan Version Frequency Response Measurement.png


Ignoring the bass differences, it seems that its treble response is more under control than later MDR-7506. But then again, it has a dip so may lose on spatial qualities.

Distortion is off the charts at it was for US MDR-7506:
Sony MDR-7056 Japan Version relative THD ditortion Response Measurement.png

Sony MDR-7056 Japan Version THD ditortion Response Measurement.png


Group delay is uneventful other than resonances:
Sony MDR-7056 Japan Version Group Delay Response Measurement.png


Impedance is unchanged:
Sony MDR-7056 Japan Version Impedance Response Measurement.png

As is sensitivity:
Best Japanese Headphone Review 2024.png


Conclusions
High variability makes it hard to know if we have measurement differences or true technical ones. I say in treble range there seems to be a difference as varying the fit did not modify that. Since I did not listen to them, I don't have much else to offer. I let you all discuss it. :)

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • Sony MDR-7506 Japan.zip
    34 KB · Views: 33
Last edited:
Thanks for the review, this is interesting...
 
Thanks. I am not the expert on these, but I believe globally the original 7506 had Samarium cobalt. That is, this is a vintage US market headphone that’s made in Japan, found NOS with new ear pads. Sort of like Made in Germany vs Made in Ireland Sennheisser.

So these are 90’s era MDR-7506’s are made in Japan, sold in US.

Very interesting that there are differences!
 
There will also be differences between regular 7506 due to production spread. The left-right balance of both measured headphones differs as well so this could point to product tolerances not being tight. This is to be expected at this price point and production numbers as well.
 
All we need now is someone to send Amir the Sony MDR-MV1 and we will have all of the Sony “professional” headphones characterized :)
 
Here are some thoughts about the EQ.
Please report your findings, positive or negative!

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve (and other constrains) with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score, start your journey here or there.
    There is a presentation by S. Olive here.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo, the boosts and preamp gain (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regard to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here and here
  • NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.
So so L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 63.6
Score with EQ: 102.5

Code:
Sony MDR-7506 Japan xls APO EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz
June072024-172125

Preamp: -10.00 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 24.7 Hz Gain 9.93 dB Q 0.46
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 196.1 Hz Gain 4.64 dB Q 2.31
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 324.0 Hz Gain -1.47 dB Q 2.65
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2041.2 Hz Gain -1.87 dB Q 1.62
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3578.9 Hz Gain 4.86 dB Q 4.56
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 8256.2 Hz Gain -4.91 dB Q 4.97

Sony MDR-7506 Japan xls APO EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.png
 

Attachments

  • Sony MDR-7506 Japan xls APO EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.txt
    378 bytes · Views: 25
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Since I did not listen to them, I don't have much else to offer. I let you all discuss it
As your listening impressions are not scientific, I don't know what the site offered this time? Should it not be enough with the measurement for you to make a judgement? Listening impressions are never scientific so they shouldn't be necessary - right?

Or what is your standpoint here?

//
 
Thanks for the review. There are two typos. "laater" in the first line and "internation" in the first graph.
 
MDR-7506es have been ubiquitous in the broadcast industry, both in-studio and on location, for what seems like decades. I have always called them 'boom and tinkle.' Their measured bass distortion and excess treble validate my snarky nickname.
 
Most headphones share two defects. A drop off in low frequencies and uneven high frequency response. In the better ones the low frequency drop off starts lower and can be equalized without causing excessive distortion. The high frequency unevenness starts very high and likewise may be equalized.
 
I still remember how nice these were as a first set of serious headphones. We need a series on ASR for apple earbuds for a proper comparison, but I always liked these better. First headphones I ever repaired, then modded with detachable cables. Swapping broken drivers out really demonstrated the manufacturing tolerances and they sounded noticeably more equal ear to ear once swapped, making any headset kind of a gamble. After five years with these in my backpack, the whole concept of how headphones worked seemed far less opaque, and that alone was worth the experience. I wonder if they'll ever manufacture a harman compliant equivalent without huge bass issues.
 
Here is Sean Olive on the MDR-7506:

"It does very well.. It sort of falls in between an AE and and OE headphone-- until you have small pinna. It's extremely good value... It's a little bright for some people but overall good balance. . . It's reassuring that a Pro headphone used for decades has good balance. Looks pretty good for a $80 Pro headphone. Put to shame many models costing hundreds more." (Source: an exchange on Twitter in Nov. 2021.)


mdr7506 fr plot,jpg.jpg
 
As your listening impressions are not scientific, I don't know what the site offered this time? Should it not be enough with the measurement for you to make a judgement? Listening impressions are never scientific so they shouldn't be necessary - right?

Or what is your standpoint here?

//
Your question implies that the measurement tech is highly reliable. Do you have any data to make you confident of that?
 
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As your listening impressions are not scientific, I don't know what the site offered this time? Should it not be enough with the measurement for you to make a judgement? Listening impressions are never scientific so they shouldn't be necessary - right?

Or what is your standpoint here?

//
I believe the idea is that for some devices, like DACs, the performance can be fully captured by the published measurements. However, extrapolating how a speaker will sound from the published measurements is not yet a solved problem, in which case, I believe there is value to having the same trained listener report on their listening experience. I would have liked it if this test had included a listening test.
 
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Pretty poor. It's an oldie but not a goodie! The oldies are not often goodies, and and the newies are also not that often goodies, but maybe slightly more so! Yep, headphones have been getting better recently.....just want a company to really get on board with easy & effective measuring of personal HRTF (along with necessary DSP) so that speakers in a room can be more accurately synthesised.
 
Both the MDR-7506 and MDR-CD900ST are designed for an artist listening to his/her own voice in a studio. That's why the MDR-CD900ST is still being treated as an industry standard in Japan.

IMHO buy it if you know what your are going to use these headphones for, and you know their unique characteristics.
 
Your question implies that the measurement tech is highly reliable. Do you have any data to make you confident of that?
I think that if one publish data and there is no warning that it isn't precise, I take for granted that it is resonable accurate. - in these cases say within... 3%... yes, that a good figure.

Would you say it is enough to say that is highly reliable?

A name that includes "science" warrants accuracy and truth - no?

//
 
I think that if one publish data and there is no warning that it isn't precise, I take for granted that it is resonable accurate. - in these cases say within... 3%... yes, that a good figure.
There is no way to make such a quantification in headphone measurements. As I noted in this review, there were a lot of variations in how you mount the headphone. My general rule is that headphone measurements are about 60 to 70% representative. We lack accuracy above 10 kHz and bass is variable on many. This is for tonality. For distortion, I have found listening tests to be far more powerful and predictive than measurements when it comes to dynamic limitations.
 
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