• 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

PenguinMusic

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 20, 2019
Messages
621
Likes
363
Hi,

As I said before, I own these headphones and others and as such I can do direct comparisons.
It is not "blind testing" or "double blind testing". I would not know how to do that properly. And, following SolderDude's advice, I do not pretend my ears are a measurement tool :)
It is just a totally SUBJECTIVE feeling after listening to the different headphones for several hours a day and several days in a row.

All I can say is that these headphones (I mean the MDR-Z1R) are those that sounds best to me in all my headphones.
They are even better than the Oppo PM-2 but of course, the latter being an open-back headphone, the comparison is not really accurate.

I have read a lot of "subjective" reviews and I found some reviewers stating that, with the tested device (headphone amp, or headphones, or amp or CD-player...) they could hear details and subtleties that they never heard before.
This is totally subjective of course...
But for the first time, that comment does reflect exactly my impressions on the Sony : it reveals A LOT of small details that I could not hear before, even on tracks heard like a zillion times.
But precision is not what would make me like something. I do not say it is not important, but it's not something to look for "alone".

And that is where the "magic" (no other word, it is magic as opposite to science) begins.
Because to MY EARS the MDR-Z1R manages to make the perfect alliance of precision, sound staging and "musicality".
In other words, the MDR-Z1R is probably not the headphone to master studio records.
But if you are looking for a headphone that you can wear for hours, that will provide goose bumps when listening to music and make you enjoy what you're listening to, then this is one to consider... with a little EQ. Without, it is too heavy on the "boom-boom" side.
But EQing headphones is natural... except (still to MY EARS) the Oppo PM-1/Oppo PM-2 that are the only phones I can really listen to with no EQ.

I am not trying to force my views upon any member of this group.
Each one can have his own tastes.
I am not saying that the MDR-Z1R is the best headphone that exists. I am just stating a PURELY PERSONAL OPINION.
Which is exactly what I am doing when I say that I have listened to and even own a couple of Focal headphones and liked none of them...
Mind you, I've also listened to other headphones that a lot of people in here are praising so much, namely the Sennheiser HD-800. And after having it at home for several weeks and really trying hard to like it (and It was a dream coming true when I could finally get it)... I simply did not achieve to to do it and sold them after a little less than 2 months.

You can call me stupid.
I probably am.
But personally, I do not think I would buy a set of headphones based on raw numbers.
Sure, I'll give them a look.
But I would not spend 150€ or more on headphones I could not listen to before I buy them.

So a HUGE THANK YOU TO CUCKOO.
Because he pointed out something that is really important for ME to know.
That I do not necessarily dislike things that do not comply with what SHOULD BE DONE.
And that I do not necessarily like things that comply with what should be done.
In other words : I liked flawed things as long as the flaws can give me some emotions.
That is why I like italian cars better than german ones in the end :)

Regards.
 
Last edited:

raif71

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
Messages
2,323
Likes
2,517
Just block the haters. When I first started blocking other posters, I was worried I would just fall into an echo chamber. I value debate and discussion.

Then I realized that blocking people that made my time on ASR less enjoyable maintained the discourse and just took the annoying posters out of my view.
I suppose it's like using EQ or filter. :)
 

raif71

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
Messages
2,323
Likes
2,517
Hi,

As I said before, I own these headphones and others and as such I can do direct comparisons.
It is not "blind testing" or "double blind testing". I would not know how to do that properly. And, following SolderDude's advice, I do not pretend my ears are a measurement tool :)
It is just a totally SUBJECTIVE feeling after listning to the different headphones for several hours a day and several days in a row.

All I can say is that these headphones (I mean the MDR-Z1R) are those that sounds best to me in all my headphones.
They are even better than the Oppo PM-2 but of course, the latter being open-back headphones, the comparison is not really accurate.

I have read a lot of "subjective" reviews and I found some reviewers stating that, with the tested device (headphone amp, or headphones, or amp or CD-player...) they could hear details and subtleties that they never heard before.
This is totally subjective of course...
But for the first time, that comment does reflect exactly my impressions on the Sony : it reveals A LOT of small details that I could not hear before, even on tracks heard like a zillion times.
But precision is not what would make me like something. I do not say it is not important, but it's not something to look for "alone".

And that is where the "magic" (no other word, it is magic as opposite to science) begins.
Because to MY EARS the MDR-Z1R manages to make the perfect alliance of precision, sound staging and "musicality".
In other words, the MDR-Z1R is probably not the headphone to master studio records.
But if you are looking for a headphone that you can wear for hours, that will provide goose bumps when listening to music and make you enjoy music, then this is one to consider... with a little EQ. Without, it is too heavy on the "boom-boom" side.
But EQing phones is natural... except (still to MY EARS) the Oppo PM-1/Oppo PM-2 that are the only phones I can really listen to with no EQ.

I am not trying to force my views upon any member of this group.
Each one can have his own tastes.
I am not saying that the MDR-Z1R is the best headphone that exists. I am just stating a PURELY PERSONAL OPINION.
Which is exactly what I am doing when I say that I have listened to and even own a couple of Focal headphones and liked none of them...
Mind you, I've also listened to other headphones that a lot of people in here are praising so much, namely the SennHeiser HD-800. And after having it at home for several weeks and really trying hard to like it (and It was a dream coming true when I could finally get it)... I simply did not achieve to to do it and sold them after a little less than 2 months.

You can call me stupid.
I probably am.
But personally, I do not think I would buy a set of headphones based on raw numbers.
Sure, I'll give them a look.
But I would not spend 150€ or more on headphones I could not listen to before I buy them.

So a HUGE THANK YOU TO CUCKOO.
Because he pointed out something that is really important for ME to know.
That I do not necessarily dislike things that do not comply with what SHOULD BE DONE.
And that I do not necessarily like things that comply with what should be done.
In other words : I liked flawed things as long as the flaws can give me some emotions.
That is why I like italian cars better than german ones in the end :)

Regards.
I truly understand. Subjective preferences matter too. You give cars as an example. I'll throw another one, tennis. Recently Djokovic won the US Open and 24 grand slams in total. Comparing him to Nadal and Federer, I find that I prefer Federer even though his grand slam total is fewest of the 3. Perhaps some take grandslams as the ultimate measure might choose Djokovic but to others, grandslams are not the be all and end all to liking a player.
 

PenguinMusic

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 20, 2019
Messages
621
Likes
363
I truly understand. Subjective preferences matter too. You give cars as an example. I'll throw another one, tennis. Recently Djokovic won the US Open and 24 grand slams in total. Comparing him to Nadal and Federer, I find that I prefer Federer even though his grand slam total is fewest of the 3. Perhaps some take grandslams as the ultimate measure might choose Djokovic but to others, grandslams are not the be all and end all to liking a player.

Hi,

Totally agree...

I'd sum it up that way :
- Who's the best serious tennis player : NADAL
- Who's the best classy tennis player : FEDERER
- Who's the best efficient tennis payer : DJOKOVIC

Still, I think the stats are impressive. If you add all three players, I think they won like 78 of the last 85 grand slams. Which leaves little room for others :)
 

taotone

Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2023
Messages
6
Likes
26
I welcome discussions with different opinions, but you may not have noticed some unpleasant sarcastic comments that occurred earlier.
I will continue to update content here, but I will choose to simply share data without saying too much about other things.
Recently, I received the Topping E2X2 and have completed all measurements. Tomorrow, I might share some data on the forum in advance, but I won't write it in too much detail since I'm also more interested in reading Amir's Review.

The comments here are probably the most toxic of any audio forum I have ever seen.

Dr Olive gave a talk at Canjam 2022 where he addressed the fallacies, misunderstandings and abuses of the Harman research, the haters on this forum commit those to a grotesque degree.

I have a collection of headphones, and the Sony ZR1 is one of my favourites - I can happily listen to it for hours without EQ. If I were forced to just have one pair I'd probably choose them as the best balance of comfort and sound quality for my preferences.

Some of the people who read this forum very much appreciate your subjective impressions as well as the data, I would certainly regard it as a loss if you stopped posting it simply because of the haters.
 

PenguinMusic

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 20, 2019
Messages
621
Likes
363
I have a collection of headphones, and the Sony ZR1 is one of my favourites - I can happily listen to it for hours without EQ. If I were forced to just have one pair I'd probably choose them as the best balance of comfort and sound quality for my preferences.
+1000

Some of the people who read this forum very much appreciate your subjective impressions as well as the data, I would certainly regard it as a loss if you stopped posting it simply because of the haters.
+ 10 000 000

Regards.
 

solderdude

Grand Contributor
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
15,743
Likes
35,608
Location
The Neitherlands
The comments here are probably the most toxic of any audio forum I have ever seen.
correction: SOME comments...

Dr Olive gave a talk at Canjam 2022 where he addressed the fallacies, misunderstandings and abuses of the Harman research, the haters on this forum commit those to a grotesque degree.
Most people on here regard THE target as gospel. Of course it isn't. Even dr Olive stated that the Harman target is merely a GUIDELINE that seems to satisfy the majority of (so clearly not all) tastes.
I even made a nice tile about it :)
index.php


I have a collection of headphones, and the Sony ZR1 is one of my favourites - I can happily listen to it for hours without EQ. If I were forced to just have one pair I'd probably choose them as the best balance of comfort and sound quality for my preferences.
That's what personal taste is all about. It may be different for other people. It may be well outside of someone's budget.
I mean the HE-1 now costs around € 80k in Europe. I really liked the sound but would never buy it.

That said, as with all purchases in life, when you like a product and it is worth the price to the buyer just go with it. Life is too short to deny yourself the pleasure of using it. Yes.. regardless of how it measures. One should realize that not all people think this way.

Some of the, what you consider haters, seem to be people that really believe in science. Believing, however, is just believing and so they just believe they are right just because they read some articles.
 
Last edited:

AdamG

Follow the Science, no matter where it may lead.
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Messages
4,569
Likes
14,686
Location
Reality
I'm tired of having to explain myself at length every time someone dismisses others with short sentence. I'm just sharing content on the ASR forum without any personal gain. I think I will delete the detailed experiences and introductions from all my previous and future reviews. They have taken up too much of my time for translation and correction, but all I've received in return is disappointment and exhaustion.

and GaryH,You've been liking every reply that opposes mine, and I've thought long and hard about the reason but couldn't figure it out. I've also contemplated how to make you stop, but in the end, it seems like I have no way to do so. Therefore, I've decided to show you a cute panda plush toy that I saw at the zoo yesterday.

View attachment 311512
He won’t be participating in this thread anymore. ASR is made up of a diverse group. Many are very passionate about getting the science right. In this endeavor we sometimes forget that there are real people behind the Avatars and the work that they do. Please try not to lump all of us into the same category/group. And please do use the report function when you read a comment or reply that goes beyond being Technical and crosses into the personal space. We have a large number of Engineers and highly Technical people here. As a result we can come across as abrasive and rude. But when this line is blurred by the inclusion of personal statements or attacks report it. We will not tolerate this type of behavior here.

It’s just two of us Brad and I working as Content Moderation. We get over a thousand new posts every day. We can’t possibly read every one. Using the report function helps bring our attention to the conversation. We are not all bad people here. Very many Members and Guests actually appreciate what you bring to the table very much. As has been suggested use the ignore feature to get rid of the haters. No matter where we go online we will find good and bad. ASR is sadly no different than the rest.

Thank you for your work and posting your Reviews here. Being a reviewer is a difficult job. Just look at the criticism and flak Amir takes on a daily basis, and this is his House!
 
Last edited:

Axo1989

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 9, 2022
Messages
2,665
Likes
2,681
Location
Sydney
They have to be one of the best looking, nicely finished headphones currently available. Even so, I can't see AUD$2499 (here) in them.

Indeed they are. Really well made and well detailed in almost every aspect. For example, the parabolic domed ear cups are actually woven stainless steel wire, black-chrome plated. But you'd hardly know it, there's no obvious bling.

I waited a year or so after release and bought mine when the street price dropped to half of retail (here in Sydney). But they appear to have gone up again since.

I really appreciated the review, thanks to the OP. I may add my thoughts on the sonics when I'm feeling a bit more zen.
 
Last edited:
OP
Cuckoo Studio

Cuckoo Studio

Member
Reviewer
Joined
Aug 13, 2022
Messages
97
Likes
851
The comments here are probably the most toxic of any audio forum I have ever seen.

Dr Olive gave a talk at Canjam 2022 where he addressed the fallacies, misunderstandings and abuses of the Harman research, the haters on this forum commit those to a grotesque degree.

I have a collection of headphones, and the Sony ZR1 is one of my favourites - I can happily listen to it for hours without EQ. If I were forced to just have one pair I'd probably choose them as the best balance of comfort and sound quality for my preferences.

Some of the people who read this forum very much appreciate your subjective impressions as well as the data, I would certainly regard it as a loss if you stopped posting it simply because of the haters.
He won’t be participating in this thread anymore. ASR is made up of a diverse group. Many are very passionate about getting the science right. In this endeavor we sometimes forget that there are real people behind the Avatars and the work that they do. Please try not to lump all of us into the same category/group. And please do use the report function when you read a comment or reply that goes beyond being Technical and crosses into the personal space. We have a large number of Engineers and highly Technical people here. As a result we can come across as abrasive and rude. But when this line is blurred by the inclusion of personal statements or attacks repot it. We will not tolerate this type of behavior here.

It’s just two of us Brad and I working as Content Moderation. We get over a thousand new posts every day. We can’t possibly read every one. Using the report function helps bring our attention to the conversation. We are not all bad people here. Very many Members and Guests actually appreciate what you bring to the table very much. As has been suggested use the ignore feature to get rid of the haters. No matter where we go online we will find good and bad. ASR is sadly no different than the rest.

Thank you for your work and posting your Reviews here. Being a reviewer is a difficult job. Just look at the criticism and flak Amir takes on a daily basis, and this is his House!
Thank you, I didn't know about the report function before. I will use it in the future. Your words mean a lot to me, and yes, I can't please everyone.
 

lewdish

Active Member
Joined
May 29, 2021
Messages
232
Likes
169
1694628873664.png


I did also notice that Z1R is also compatible w/ Sony 360VME if you want to develop an HRTF for it for spatial audio & cinema mix use cases but allegedly the tuning is less applicable than it is for the MV1 which is actually designed ground up for the application.
 

PenguinMusic

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 20, 2019
Messages
621
Likes
363
Those EQ profiles Neutron Player uses are not Oratory's profiles; they are AutoEQ's profiles, some of which are based on Oratory's measurement data.

Oratory's professional measurements (using a genuine industry standard GRAS rig, unlike the review here) and EQ for this headphone can be found below (without-EQ score 52/100):


Hi,

Just applied the settings on the linked page.
Indeed it sound quite nice :)
Will listen to it for a little longer and will then go back to the old setting and see if I can hear the difference.

Regards.
 

stevenswall

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
1,364
Likes
1,072
Location
Orem, UT
Dr Olive gave a talk at Canjam 2022 where he addressed the fallacies, misunderstandings and abuses of the Harman research, the haters on this forum commit those to a grotesque degree.

Tried googling for a link but I don't think this is the right video.


Is it one of the official seminars they do? Anyone know where it can be watched?
 

raif71

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
Messages
2,323
Likes
2,517
Tried googling for a link but I don't think this is the right video.


Is it one of the official seminars they do? Anyone know where it can be watched?
Dr Sean Olive kinda looks like an old DMS. Maybe it's just me.
 

markanini

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 15, 2019
Messages
1,641
Likes
1,689
Location
Scania
This unit doesn't look that bad, part of the upper bass hump is something I like to do with other sets I own. While other parts of the graph raises question about objective performance, I will still very much value hands-on impressions given. If you think about it equating all subjective descriptions to audiophile drivel means the shills win. In fact if you hand over the vernacular to them you see how depressing it gets, look at any recent headphone show review.

1694770749540.png
 
Last edited:

taotone

Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2023
Messages
6
Likes
26
Tried googling for a link but I don't think this is the right video.


Is it one of the official seminars they do? Anyone know where it can be watched?

I'm not sure the original session was recorded, this is a good video though the discussion somewhat assumes you had attended.

Many are very passionate about getting the science right.

Of course and that's the whole point of ASR - the science is why we are all here.

Mischaracterising the science by zealous over-application of statistical preference research is actually getting the science wrong!

If a headphone FR doesn't match the Harmon target it emphatically (according to Dr Olive) does not mean it's a poor headphone, venomous aspersions cast in the direction of the engineers/designers/consumers who happen to like the headphone are not justified.

Doesn't match Harman curve == junk headphone that deserves 100 toxic comments: is not what the science says.

Toxic and derisory comments are unpleasant, a pile on where the toxic comments actually misapply the science is absurd on top of it.
 

taotone

Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2023
Messages
6
Likes
26
This unit doesn't look that bad, part of the upper bass hump is something I like to do with other sets I own. While other parts of the graph raises question about objective performance, I will still very much value hands-on impressions given. If you think about it equating all subjective descriptions to audiophile drivel means the shills win. In fact if you hand over the vernacular to them you see how depressing it gets, look at any recent headphone show review.

View attachment 312142

The tuning in the 4-6K region is likely to do with trying to expand the soundstage for a closed back headphone, the extra bass is a Sony thing - they have their own unpublished research which seems to suggest they think their customers like that signature. Personally I prefer closer to Harmon there but that boost is not so egregious that it overwhelms all other considerations. The peaks on either side of the 4-6k recess may simply be a consequence of the tuning dip.

Of course it's perfectly valid to say "No, not for me. I prefer a closer Harmon match and I don't think this headphone works. The engineers took a swing, but it's a miss for me." It's also okay to say "Sony have not hit Harmon here, but on balance I think the compromises they have made work quite well for me, even though it may not be for most people."
 

PenguinMusic

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 20, 2019
Messages
621
Likes
363
Of course it's perfectly valid to say "No, not for me. I prefer a closer Harmon match and I don't think this headphone works. The engineers took a swing, but it's a miss for me." It's also okay to say "Sony have not hit Harmon here, but on balance I think the compromises they have made work quite well for me, even though it may not be for most people."

Hi,

Perfectly agreed.

Still, I must admit that I find it somewhat "strange" to see people decide to spend such a large amouint of money on the sight of numbers alone and without having a serious listening session before they open their wallets.
But again, that is me and my own thoughts.
As you say, it is perfectly valid to do otherwise.
 

markanini

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 15, 2019
Messages
1,641
Likes
1,689
Location
Scania
The tuning in the 4-6K region is likely to do with trying to expand the soundstage for a closed back headphone, the extra bass is a Sony thing - they have their own unpublished research which seems to suggest they think their customers like that signature. Personally I prefer closer to Harmon there but that boost is not so egregious that it overwhelms all other considerations. The peaks on either side of the 4-6k recess may simply be a consequence of the tuning dip.
I'm sure that Sony has the resources to conduct the internal research. OTOH marketing will always be favorable, no matter if the FR was arrived at deterministically, or focus groups actually chose theirs over competing products. That's why honest subjective reviews are helpful.

The scope of Harman target is general, and some ignorant people insist to be granular with it. It's smoothness should be telling enough why you shouldn't. It's like thinking pr0n is real life.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom