• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Sony MDR-Z1R Headphone Review

Cuckoo Studio

Member
Reviewer
Joined
Aug 13, 2022
Messages
97
Likes
851
MDR-Z1R_2.6.1.jpg

Measurement Conditions Explanation And Chart Interpretation Of Cuckoo Studio Review​


We have received the Sony MDR-Z1R headphones sent by WSGM. appreciate his support for the channel.

MDR-Z1R_2.5.1.jpg


The Z1R comes in two versions: the in-ear version called IER-Z1R and the over-ear version called MDR-Z1R. Both of them are quite expensive, with the over-ear version consistently priced around $1500. The design direction of the MDR-Z1R is minimalist. It features an all-black body with no flashy elements. However, the large, non-centrally symmetrical raised fine mesh grille on the back gives it a strong sense of identity while remaining understated.

MDR-Z1R_2.9.1.jpg


The L&R markings are on the inner side, and the adjustment of the headband tension is very smooth. The angled driver design often seen in flagship headphones is also present. The cable is detachable, and a threaded design is implemented to securely fasten the cable. Despite weighing approximately 390g, which may seem heavy on paper, the dual-axis rotating design, along with the large and soft ear cups that can accommodate the entire ear, as well as the appropriate clamping force and cushioning on the headband, make it comfortable to wear the Z1R for extended periods without feeling fatigued.

MDR-Z1R_2.10.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.11.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.13.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.14.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.15.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.16.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.17.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.18.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.19.1.jpgMDR-Z1R_2.20.1.jpg

Let's take a look at its sound performance.

MDR-Z1R freq.jpg

Raw data for ASR:
Z1R RAW avg.jpg

to harman 2013 without bassboost:
Z1R TO HARMAN 2013.jpg

Frequency Response:
Using the Harman 2013 target curve as a reference, we can see that the sound of the MDR-Z1R exhibits a slight V-shaped curve. The overall attenuation in the mid frequencies controlled within 6dB range. There are some variable high-frequency peaks that change with the fit of the headphones, mainly distributed in the airy frequency range. Additionally, there is an peak around 3-4kHz that seems to closely resemble the human auditory peak, but with a relatively large Q value.
dis MDR-Z1R 86DB&96DB&104DB L.jpg
dis MDR-Z1R 86DB&96DB&104DB R.jpg


The MDR-Z1R exhibits excellent low distortion performance. Overall distortion above 100Hz can be controlled within -60dB below 0.1%. Below 100Hz, there is some typical distortion that is common in dynamic driver headphones, but the amount is not significant. Even when pushed to the limits during testing, it shows a relatively low level of distortion. The left and right channels maintain a high level of consistency in terms of distortion. The individual unit quality control is excellent.

MDR-Z1R-3D-Space-front-GIF.gif

MDR-Z1R-3D-Space-side-GIF.gif

The 6dB attenuation in the mid frequencies reduces the volume and creates a slightly distant feeling for the main instruments and vocals. The high frequencies, such as airiness and high-frequency percussion, have increased volume, but the amplitude is well-controlled. In terms of left and right consistency, the MDR-Z1R performs well among over-ear headphones, providing a solid center imaging. Apart from testing the internal assembly stability, the quality control and durability of the large ear cups are also put to the test.

MDR-Z1R_2.37.1.jpg


I have removed all subjective comments regarding my personal feelings. Whether you like this pair of headphones or not, please discuss it in the comments.
 

Attachments

  • MDR-Z1R_2.3.1.jpg
    MDR-Z1R_2.3.1.jpg
    147.1 KB · Views: 230
  • dis MDR-Z1R 86DB&96DB&104DB L.jpg
    dis MDR-Z1R 86DB&96DB&104DB L.jpg
    160.3 KB · Views: 203
  • dis MDR-Z1R 86DB&96DB&104DB R.jpg
    dis MDR-Z1R 86DB&96DB&104DB R.jpg
    160.6 KB · Views: 220
  • MDR-Z1R_2.4.1.jpg
    MDR-Z1R_2.4.1.jpg
    176.8 KB · Views: 199
  • MDR-Z1R_2.7.1.jpg
    MDR-Z1R_2.7.1.jpg
    130.6 KB · Views: 191
  • MDR-Z1R_2.8.1.jpg
    MDR-Z1R_2.8.1.jpg
    230.1 KB · Views: 177
Last edited:

Grotti

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
528
Likes
1,154
Excellent review, thank you very much for your effort. It's broad midrange dip seems to fit my taste, since I am using headphones mainly to listen to all kinds of heavy rock music at elevated levels in order to not disturb my neighbors (or my wife....). The Harman curve is subjectively to hot in this region and giving me ear fatigue after a short period of time. Might give it a try even though it comes at a steep price.
 
OP
Cuckoo Studio

Cuckoo Studio

Member
Reviewer
Joined
Aug 13, 2022
Messages
97
Likes
851
that is a really weird frequency response especially at this price, when you align the curves at 1kHz it's only bass and a ~3kHz peak
Ouch....
Why so huge peak around 3,5kh?
Yes, aligning at 1kHz is the most commonly used method, but I have found that sometimes aligning at 1kHz can create some "visual misconceptions" on headphones with a peak around 3kHz. It is actually easier to match the perceived sound to its true nature by aligning at around 500Hz, 200Hz, or actually simultaneously aligning at around 3kHz. For the MDR-Z1R, what you perceive is a dip in the midrange, not a peak at 3kHz. You can personally experience this for free at Sony stores in each country. For me, this dip within 6dB, along with a slight compensation for the 3kHz peak in the human ear, creates a very interesting and not easily fatiguing sound. However, different people may have different perceptions based on their auditory preferences and HRTF differences.
And of course, it is definitely not a pair of "objective" and "professional mixing" headphones.
 

ObjectiveSubjectivist

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 24, 2018
Messages
531
Likes
859
Location
Europe
Yes, aligning at 1kHz is the most commonly used method, but I have found that sometimes aligning at 1kHz can create some "visual misconceptions" on headphones with a peak around 3kHz. It is actually easier to match the perceived sound to its true nature by aligning at around 500Hz, 200Hz, or actually simultaneously aligning at around 3kHz. For the MDR-Z1R, what you perceive is a dip in the midrange, not a peak at 3kHz. You can personally experience this for free at Sony stores in each country. For me, this dip within 6dB, along with a slight compensation for the 3kHz peak in the human ear, creates a very interesting and not easily fatiguing sound. However, different people may have different perceptions based on their auditory preferences and HRTF differences.
And of course, it is definitely not a pair of "objective" and "professional mixing" headphones.
Actually I've never had a chance to listen them so cannot comment on sound. Still thanks for you observations. It seems like it looks worse on graph than in real life.
 

Soria Moria

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Messages
383
Likes
765
Location
Norway
I had this headphone. The resonance ruined it for me. Here’s what Oratory said about EQing it:
‘The Z1R is hard to EQ right. I personally haven't gotten really satisfying results with it. Limiting the EQ to only 5 bands (like on the ADI-2) isn't going to make this any easier.
It has very narrow-band (high-Q) resonances in the treble, and deviates rather strongly from the target (any target) in the kHz region too.
On top of that it varies quite a bit with exact positioning.

All of which are factors that make a headphone hard to be EQ'd.’
What a shame.
 
OP
Cuckoo Studio

Cuckoo Studio

Member
Reviewer
Joined
Aug 13, 2022
Messages
97
Likes
851
I had this headphone. The resonance ruined it for me. Here’s what Oratory said about EQing it:
‘The Z1R is hard to EQ right. I personally haven't gotten really satisfying results with it. Limiting the EQ to only 5 bands (like on the ADI-2) isn't going to make this any easier.
It has very narrow-band (high-Q) resonances in the treble, and deviates rather strongly from the target (any target) in the kHz region too.
On top of that it varies quite a bit with exact positioning.

All of which are factors that make a headphone hard to be EQ'd.’
What a shame.
Yes, that's also why I can't use it for professional work. High-frequency responses above 8kHz are like complex jagged puzzles for different people. Just listening to music doesn't cause any problems for me in that regard, but I completely understand how the same response can be bothersome for you.
 

cheapmessiah

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
231
Likes
374
Location
Mordor
Was that FR greenlit by an 80 year old product manager?
 

Soria Moria

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Messages
383
Likes
765
Location
Norway
Was that FR greenlit by an 80 year old product manager?
I also don't understand how products like these pass and get released. There is no way engineers are Sony didn't know about how flawed it is and especially the resonance. So why did they release it? Were they not given time to fix it or what? I don't understand how these processes work.
 

Multicore

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2021
Messages
1,589
Likes
1,652
Additionally, there is an interesting peak around 3-4kHz that seems to closely resemble the human auditory peak, but with a relatively large Q value, This makes the "V-shaped" sound of the MDR-Z1R sound interesting and unique.
"sounds interesting and unique." Is that a polite euphemism?
 

peniku8

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Messages
345
Likes
687
For the MDR-Z1R, what you perceive is a dip in the midrange, not a peak at 3kHz.
The headphones have a narrow Q peak at ~3kHz that's 7-10dB up relative to the frequencies right next to it.
If you, as a mixing engineer, don't perceive that as a peak, then I fear for your clients.
 

GXAlan

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
3,756
Likes
5,805
I also don't understand how products like these pass and get released. There is no way engineers are Sony didn't know about how flawed it is and especially the resonance. So why did they release it? Were they not given time to fix it or what? I don't understand how these processes work.
It’s odd. If you look at the Sony MDR-CD900ST and the newer MDR-MV1 which are designed for mixing, the measurements are much more in line with the Harman curve. The Sony Taiyo factory which makes the CD900ST makes the Z1R too.

Having played a lot with the Dolby Atmos HRTF and my Dirac enabled HTP-1, I can say that the squiggles at 7 and 12 kHz did translate into height to a greater degree than I would have expected. It is possible that some of what Sony is doing is that same thing.

The marketing press always emphasized phrases like
“As a headphone that expresses the atmosphere of live performance”
And
“The aim of making the sound of this machine is not only to faithfully reproduce the sound envisioned by the artist, but also to express the "feeling of air" in the space where you are listening to music”

Which is different from the description of something like the MDR-MV1
“By reproducing sound sources neutrally with High-Resolution Audio capability, each sound element can be monitored accurately. It assists the mixing and mastering stages by facilitating capture of the feel of the venue and space, as well as changes in sound details.”

Versus a complete absence of the word neutral on the Z1R and focus on
“elevates the high-resolution sound experience from one you listen to, to one you can feel.”


The voicing was intended to replicate Mark Wilder’s studio

He used Duntech Princess speakers which I presume are roughly similar to these
 

Maiky76

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
436
Likes
3,661
Location
French, living in China
View attachment 310930
Welcome to Cuckoo Studio review. I'm Anzol. The following content is presented from the perspective of a mixing engineer.

Measurement Conditions Explanation And Chart Interpretation Of Cuckoo Studio Review​


We have received the Sony MDR-Z1R headphones sent by WSGM. appreciate his support for the channel. Let's take a look at the performance of these flagship headphones.

View attachment 310929

The Z1R comes in two versions: the in-ear version called IER-Z1R and the over-ear version called MDR-Z1R. Both of them are quite expensive, with the over-ear version consistently priced around $1500. The design direction of the MDR-Z1R is minimalist. It features an all-black body with no flashy elements. However, the large, non-centrally symmetrical raised fine mesh grille on the back gives it a strong sense of identity while remaining understated.

View attachment 310933

The L&R markings are on the inner side, and the adjustment of the headband tension is very smooth. The angled driver design often seen in flagship headphones is also present. The cable is detachable, and a threaded design is implemented to securely fasten the cable. Despite weighing approximately 390g, which may seem heavy on paper, the dual-axis rotating design, along with the large and soft ear cups that can accommodate the entire ear, as well as the appropriate clamping force and cushioning on the headband, make it comfortable to wear the Z1R for extended periods without feeling fatigued.

View attachment 310934View attachment 310935View attachment 310936View attachment 310937View attachment 310938View attachment 310939View attachment 310940View attachment 310941View attachment 310942View attachment 310943

Let's take a look at its sound performance.

View attachment 310954
Raw data for ASR:
View attachment 310949
to harman 2013 without bassboost:
View attachment 310950
Frequency Response:
Using the Harman 2013 target curve as a reference, we can see that the sound of the MDR-Z1R exhibits a slight V-shaped curve. However, the transition from the low frequencies to the mid frequencies is relatively smooth. The overall attenuation in the mid frequencies can be controlled within a reasonable 6dB range. There are some variable high-frequency peaks that change with the fit of the headphones, mainly distributed in the airy frequency range. Additionally, there is an interesting peak around 3-4kHz that seems to closely resemble the human auditory peak, but with a relatively large Q value, This makes the "V-shaped" sound of the MDR-Z1R sound interesting and unique. It is a pair of headphones that keeps the instruments slightly distant from the listener but still within a natural range. In fact, this sound direction is quite clever. It easily pleases the ears of many curious first-time listeners, while also having a reasonably preferred range for serious audiophiles. It can be distinguished well from other flagship headphones with different tuning styles, such as the HD800 and T1, as they have their own distinct characteristics.
View attachment 310945View attachment 310946

The MDR-Z1R exhibits excellent low distortion performance. Overall distortion above 100Hz can be controlled within -60dB below 0.1%. Below 100Hz, there is some typical distortion that is common in dynamic driver headphones, but the amount is not significant. Even when pushed to the limits during testing, it shows a relatively low level of distortion. The left and right channels maintain a high level of consistency in terms of distortion. The individual unit quality control is excellent.

View attachment 310953
View attachment 310948
3D Mixing Space
The 6dB attenuation in the mid frequencies reduces the volume and creates a slightly distant feeling for the main instruments and vocals. The high frequencies, such as airiness and high-frequency percussion, have increased volume, but the amplitude is well-controlled. In terms of left and right consistency, the MDR-Z1R performs well among over-ear headphones, providing a solid center imaging. Apart from testing the internal assembly stability, the quality control and durability of the large ear cups are also put to the test. Thanks to its low distortion and neutral sound, the Z1R delivers a clean and transparent sound without introducing any additional coloration or smearing.

Subjectively speaking, as mentioned earlier, the MDR-Z1R provides a very interesting V-shaped sound signature. The slightly distant main instruments, combined with the subtle high frequencies and relatively emphasized low frequencies, make its sound very pleasing to the listeners. It has a strong sense of immersion and most genres of music sound enjoyable to me personally. For me, it is a typical example of a headphone that doesn't perfectly match the Harman curve but still delivers a great listening experience.

View attachment 310944

Like other flagship headphones we have reviewed, the MDR-Z1R is not intended for everyone. However, among similarly positioned expensive headphones, its understated appearance and restrained yet interesting sound personality make it even more impressive.

Thanks for posting the data.
If you could directly attach the files (txt, csv, etc. any human readable format really) that would be great...

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

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.
    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 regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-5#post-989169
  • https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-6#post-992119
  • NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.
Good L/R match.
Lots of resonances -> variability unit to unit could be an issue, maybe overdone the EQ
The Measurement set up, although decent, is not an exact match for Harman's therefore the scores might not be accurate.

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

Score no EQ: 71.7
Score with EQ: 105.5

Code:
Sony MDR Z1R EQ Flat 96000Hz
September112023-111623

Preamp: -5.2 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 158.09 Hz Gain -5.57 dB Q 0.84
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 606.74 Hz Gain 1.06 dB Q 2.7
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1570.17 Hz Gain -0.95 dB Q 0.55
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2763.61 Hz Gain 3.29 dB Q 5.95
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3263.23 Hz Gain -8.43 dB Q 6
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 4256.23 Hz Gain 5.98 dB Q 3.41
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 6008.98 Hz Gain 4.55 dB Q 4.56
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 6770.96 Hz Gain -3.66 dB Q 5.96
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 8503.5 Hz Gain -2.49 dB Q 6
Filter 10: ON PK Fc 10109.1 Hz Gain -8.05 dB Q 5.94

Sony MDR Z1R EQ Flat 96000Hz.png
 

Attachments

  • Sony MDR Z1R EQ Flat 96000Hz.txt
    567 bytes · Views: 67
Top Bottom