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Sony MDR-CD900ST Japan Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 86 71.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 23 19.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 9 7.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 2 1.7%

  • Total voters
    120
The deviations from the target are similar to AKG K712 FWIW
View attachment 372782

I'm not sure this headphone should have been considered for content consumption in the first place. Clearly it can't be competitive with it's FR. DMS should not have talked about it other than a quirky curiosity.
To be fair, Crinacle's measurements indicate that the Yaxi pads are adding treble and midbass (depending on the model). This should push them into "fairly decent" territory, especially considering that there are not a lot of low-price options that sound decent and have good build quality.
 
Perhaps the lack of bass helps compensate for vocal head resonance when singing. Like when you talk/sing with your ears plugged.
 
To be fair, Crinacle's measurements indicate that the Yaxi pads are adding treble and midbass (depending on the model). This should push them into "fairly decent" territory, especially considering that there are not a lot of low-price options that sound decent and have good build quality.
It's hard in practice to recommend a product based on it's modified state with third party accessories, also drives up the price. While alternatives are not super numerous, I'll give that, it's not zero.
 
I used to aspire to own high end Sony headphones 15-20 years ago. Glad we ave good now to make a more informed decision.
 
If there are such obvious leaks in 45CA, then for people, this headset has lost the need to wear it seriously.
Having experience with 45CA, you shouldn't use seal on the fixture as a consistent indicator of on-head performance.

There are quite a few headphones with contoured or shallow pads which seal poorly on 45CA but are fine on a real head (e.g. vintage Stax Lambdas).
Pads that are designed to couple to rounded, soft human skin can do poorly with a hard flat plane.

That said, I have also owned CD900ST and it does indeed roll off that much and seal poorly in normal use, so I don't totally disagree with you.
 
That’s kind of harsh toward the person who loaned it, don’t you agree?

These are mine. I have lent Amir all sorts of gear, ranging from golfing panther to headless panthers.

I have always believed in the value of measurements, but many underestimate the consequence of the circle of confusion.

Macross Delta is one of my favorite anime shows. (2015). Here, you see one of the singers using the CD900ST while recording.

1717377259528.png


The final mix is done at
(which uses Genelec).

If you take a look at this song from the album, try listening it on a Harman target headphone versus something with the high/low rolloff and tell me what sounds more accurate …


The power of measurements is that if we KNOW the MDR-CD900ST is being used in production, we can take a neutral/flat Harman target and roll of the HF and LF aggressively and see if it’s a preferred rendition.

J-pop is often “bright” but live J-pop concerts on Blu-Ray don’t seem bright. Now we have an inkling that a good reason is that the mixes are done with headphones which are crazily rolled off!

This is why I have never truly felt that “faithful to the recording” made sense unless dealing with home theater, where there are a lot more standards.
 
I don't really see the point of these for recording vocals (and I see one in something like NS10s). It's probably less fatiguing cause the plosives/sibilance is reduced? that could make sense for longer recording sessions as raw vocals can be ear-piercing.
 
I don't really see the point of these for recording vocals (and I see one in something like NS10s). It's probably less fatiguing cause the plosives/sibilance is reduced? that could make sense for longer recording sessions as raw vocals can be ear-piercing.
Look at the sensitivity, its easy to turn up loud, which singers want during tracking. The FR will tire your ears less as a bonus, your analysis is spot on.
 
Look at the sensitivity, its easy to turn up loud, which singers want during tracking. The FR will tire your ears less as a bonus, your analysis is spot on.

In the interview with the designer that I posted, there is this comment when talking about the CD900ST.

“The reference was the CBS/Sony studio main speakers (manufactured in-house). “​


Which gets to the idea that if the in house speakers at the time were not that good, and they made headphones that were designed to match the “not that good” setup….

An English global site has this to say:

Headphones/Monitor Speaker/Recorder​

Sony made the standard monitoring equipment

MDR-CD900ST is a monitoring headphone boasting an absolute market share, from commercial studios to private studios in Japan. It was originally developed for the purpose of using at the CBS Sony Shinanomachi Studio (now Sony Music Studio), but was later released as a commercial studio-use headphone in 1989. Furthermore, after it was launched for the general public in 1995, it penetrated not only studio personnel but also many creators and musicians, and still has many loyal users as a standard monitoring headphone.

The reason why MDR-CD900ST gained much support is because of its thorough pursuit of quality and durability, required in the professional world, and its adoption of an independently developed driver unit.

With it, it is possible to obtain a clear sound quality with the original sound image and little distortion, achieving a resolution suitable for monitoring. Also, although it can be said that MDR-7506, endorsed mainly in North America, is positioned as the overseas version of MDR-CD900ST, it was originally made for overseas studios, and it is different from MDR-CD900ST in sound quality as well as in the point that the headband is foldable and that a curl cord is adopted as the cable. It also has a large share in studios around the world.

On the other hand, Sony also made monitor speakers. Staring with the passive type near field monitor SMS-3, which is the closed-type, Sony introduced the compact, single unit SMS-1P in 1997, and the 2-way bi-amplified powered monitor SMS-2P in 2000. In particular, engineers who worked on Sony's “Presh series” radio cassette recorders, often seen in studios even today, were involved with the development of SMS-1P's amplifier, and, while being compact, its speedy sound was widely accepted for monitoring use by professional engineers, creators, and keyboard players. Although it has been discontinued, it is known as a classic piece of equipment still seen at various sites even today.

What is interesting is this
1717386925528.png

Paper which says that the firmness of the cartilage in your ear affects how you hear the region above 1.5 kHz.


I will say that the subjective sound signature is what I said. Not a lot of bass (like the MDR-7506). Great for vocals. Highs are extremely rolled off. Extremely comfortable for long listening.

I think the measurements are pretty clear. Tread carefully as these deviate far from the standard Harman science.
 
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I'd bet the drivers inside are the same ones used in the 7506 and that they sound roughly the same.
Theyre different, people have posted about it and theres lots of modders for these. 7506,v6,&cd900ST all have different drivers. The film/membrane materials and coils are all different.

That being said I still really like the CD900ST despite its flaws. Compared to the V6 & 7506 it sounds a lot nicer to me. (Obv subjective) but these are like 30-40 year old designs now. A lot of artists are really accustomed to the sound of the CD900ST in asia

I think Crin's graph shows the CD900ST a lil nicer to look at in comparison. I think the 1-2K dip is fine, i dub this like the hifi-esque tuning which most audiophiles tend to like some minor dip in this region and its common among alot of headphones. The slower roll off after 4K is subjective, but the midrange really is nice on these imo. Bass is pretty much like every other headphone from this era. Otherwise its still good as a mixing/production headphone if your used to this kind of sound.

I forget the name, but the Sony engineer who designed their monitors (even in the newer monitor MDR-M1ST) said that the seal is imperative for these as they're attributed to their tonality so they were designed to have the response that they do. It wasnt accidental, they have really thin pads on purpose, you can get bigger pads and it gives it more resonance in / around your ear boosting both the highs and lows. You can get them much closer to harman if you want. I own 2 pairs of the CD900St one that has the Yaxi pad mod (thicker) and another that is just the OEM stock thin pads, tbh I find myself going toward the OEM sound pretty often.


1717395644167.png
 
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These are mine. I have lent Amir all sorts of gear, ranging from golfing panther to headless panthers.

I have always believed in the value of measurements, but many underestimate the consequence of the circle of confusion.

Macross Delta is one of my favorite anime shows. (2015). Here, you see one of the singers using the CD900ST while recording.

View attachment 372854

The final mix is done at
(which uses Genelec).

If you take a look at this song from the album, try listening it on a Harman target headphone versus something with the high/low rolloff and tell me what sounds more accurate …


The power of measurements is that if we KNOW the MDR-CD900ST is being used in production, we can take a neutral/flat Harman target and roll of the HF and LF aggressively and see if it’s a preferred rendition.

J-pop is often “bright” but live J-pop concerts on Blu-Ray don’t seem bright. Now we have an inkling that a good reason is that the mixes are done with headphones which are crazily rolled off!

This is why I have never truly felt that “faithful to the recording” made sense unless dealing with home theater, where there are a lot more standards.

If you check out Sony's First Take channel 99% of their artists there use the CD900ST, its the most commonly used monitor headphone in all of Japan cause they own so many major studios and labels. Its more common than their latest M1ST headphone which i'm not a big fan of (along w/ most people) Most artists there actually prefer the CD900ST over the newer M1ST cause of the midrange response, and I agree w/ it
 
Theyre different, people have posted about it and theres lots of modders for these. 7506,v6,&cd900ST all have different drivers. The film/membrane materials and coils are all different.

That being said I still really like the CD900ST despite its flaws. Compared to the V6 & 7506 it sounds a lot nicer to me. (Obv subjective) but these are like 30-40 year old designs now. A lot of artists are really accustomed to the sound of the CD900ST in asia

I think Crin's graph shows the CD900ST a lil nicer to look at in comparison. I think the 1-2K dip is fine, i dub this like the hifi-esque tuning which most audiophiles tend to like some minor dip in this region and its common among alot of headphones. The slower roll off after 4K is subjective, but the midrange really is nice on these imo. Bass is pretty much like every other headphone from this era. Otherwise its still good as a mixing/production headphone if your used to this kind of sound.

I forget the name, but the Sony engineer who designed their monitors (even in the newer monitor MDR-M1ST) said that the seal is imperative for these as they're attributed to their tonality so they were designed to have the response that they do. It wasnt accidental, they have really thin pads on purpose, you can get bigger pads and it gives it more resonance in / around your ear boosting both the highs and lows. You can get them much closer to harman if you want. I own 2 pairs of the CD900St one that has the Yaxi pad mod (thicker) and another that is just the OEM stock thin pads, tbh I find myself going toward the OEM sound pretty often.


View attachment 372877

Thanks for the detailed information. If they are as common as stated, I'm guessing that spare parts are widely availa
Theyre different, people have posted about it and theres lots of modders for these. 7506,v6,&cd900ST all have different drivers. The film/membrane materials and coils are all different.

That being said I still really like the CD900ST despite its flaws. Compared to the V6 & 7506 it sounds a lot nicer to me. (Obv subjective) but these are like 30-40 year old designs now. A lot of artists are really accustomed to the sound of the CD900ST in asia

I think Crin's graph shows the CD900ST a lil nicer to look at in comparison. I think the 1-2K dip is fine, i dub this like the hifi-esque tuning which most audiophiles tend to like some minor dip in this region and its common among alot of headphones. The slower roll off after 4K is subjective, but the midrange really is nice on these imo. Bass is pretty much like every other headphone from this era. Otherwise its still good as a mixing/production headphone if your used to this kind of sound.

I forget the name, but the Sony engineer who designed their monitors (even in the newer monitor MDR-M1ST) said that the seal is imperative for these as they're attributed to their tonality so they were designed to have the response that they do. It wasnt accidental, they have really thin pads on purpose, you can get bigger pads and it gives it more resonance in / around your ear boosting both the highs and lows. You can get them much closer to harman if you want. I own 2 pairs of the CD900St one that has the Yaxi pad mod (thicker) and another that is just the OEM stock thin pads, tbh I find myself going toward the OEM sound pretty often.


View attachment 372877

Thank you, this is some useful and interesting information.
 
Lightweight at 200 g and can be worn for long periods of time.
All components, from drivers to screws, are available for repair and easy to fix.
Low enough price to supply dozens of staff members.
Good sound insulation.

Suitable for use as a monitor for studio recordings where the performer checks his own sound, or as an operator using a gun microphone for outdoor interviews.
Not suitable for creating or enjoying sound.

There is a rumour that the cue box CSM-2000 used in Sony Music Studio was tuned for the MDR-CD900ST.
 
Here's what some audiophiles seem to be saying to fans of these headphones: "You guys are too happy with your light, cheap headphone,, which conforms to the Harmon curve and works well in many different professional scenarios. YOU NEED TO STOP USING IT NOW."

If the pro audio people in Japan and the US think well of the CD900ST (and its successor) and the MDR-7506 and find that they are good tools that HELP THEM DO THEIR JOBS, who are we to tell them that these cans suck and that they'd be much better off with a headphone that has significant bass extension, and which is also possibly heavier and more expensive and has airlock earpads?

The other thing I would add is, why do people think these headphones are so terrible for enjoying music? Maybe cause I'm a boomer, but I MUCH prefer the Sonys to the heavy Koss Pro4AA, which was all we had in the 1970s. They are certainly much less fatiguing to wear.
 
Macross Delta is one of my favorite anime shows. (2015). Here, you see one of the singers using the CD900ST while recording.

Macross always gets top talent for the music for all of its various spin-offs. I'm generally a fan of lots of the music, but not so much the series itself. Sadly, the same with the Gundam series as well.

They do seem to be the "go to headphones" for lots of anime as well as non-anime studio work.



Problem with the above is I can't confirm the exact Sony model used. They look the same from what I can see.
 
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