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Sony MDRV6 Headphone Review (with/without BRAINWAVZ Pad)

Rate these headphones:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 88 55.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 52 32.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 11 6.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 8 5.0%

  • Total voters
    159

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests, Equalization and detailed measurements of the Sony MDRV6 headphone with aftermarket Brainwavz suede pads. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $495 plus $19 for the pad.
Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones BRAINWAVZ Suede pad review.jpg

No, you are not seeing double. After testing the MDRV6 from the member (right), I went to look up its cost on Amazon and it tells me I already purchased one back in 2017 (left)! It was sitting in a box with a bunch of other headphones I bought initially as I was getting into headphone testing. Other than being used a few times, it is in as new condition. So I went back and measured it as well listening to it.

As you will see noted in the measurements I could not get a proper seal on the member headphone on the right channel. I thought that was bad until I tested my stock one. That was *much* worse in both channels with the right channel also delivering significantly lower volume no matter what I did on my Gras 45CA testing rig. Ah, the fun of testing headphones....

Sony MDRV6 Headphone Measurement
Let's start with the MDRV6 with upgraded Brainwavz suede pad:
Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones frequency response measurement.png

We see both good and bad news. Good news is a lot of bass combined with good compliance to about 3 kHz. There is a dip at 200 Hz which is also there in other measurements including my own MDR-7506 headphone measurements. But the depth here is much worse which is likely due to higher level of bass I managed to achieve in this test. Switching to my stock MDRV6 we see that combination effect:
Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones frequency response stock pad measurement.png

I tried many techniques and simply could not get better measurements. The headband is not round and it forces the cups to sit in a certain manner that causes good bit of leakage impacting bass measurements. As I noted though, there is good bit of channel differential which lasts well into the measurement bandwidth. This has to be a driver mismatch. We see a bit of it in the member sample indicating a common issue that is much worse in my sample. That factor aside, is this an issue of measurement on the fixture and would disappear on one's head? I take a shot at answering that in the listening test section.

Here is the relative frequency response for EQ development using member MDRV6:
Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones relative frequency response measurement.png


Should not be too difficult to compensate assuming we ignore the channel differential in bass.

Distortion was sadly quite high in mid frequencies in addition to bass:
Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones relative distortion response stock pad measurement.png

The inset shows the same for the stock pads indicating a lot of similarity outside of bass region (which in the stock version seems worse due to lower measured amplitude).

Absolutely level of distortion shows the same issue:
Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones THD distortion response stock pad measurement.png


That distortion area corresponds to a dip in frequency response and also a discontinuity in phase response at 3.2 kHz:

Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones Group Delay response measurement.png


Impedance is flattish and low:
Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones Impedance BRAINWAVZ Suede pad measurement.png


Combined with above average sensitivity should make the MDRV6 easy to drive:
best sony headphone review 2024.png


Sony MDRV-6 Headphone Listening Test and Equalization
I started my testing with the member MDV6 with suede pads. First listen was not bad at all, with just some brightness. It was not until I equalized it that I realized one could do better:
Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones velour pad equalization eq measurement.png


Once there (with levels of filters adjusted by ear), the sound was enjoyable across large set of reference tracks. I then turned off EQ and switched to stock pads. I was shocked that the response seemed dull and nothing like the member headphone! Turning on the EQ made some difference but didn't transform the sound like it did with the member MDRV-6. The sound was also closed in which could be due to one channel being weaker where such information existed. The difference is likely due to both pad difference and driver mismatch issues in my new stock sample. No question I preferred the member headphone and by a good bit.

Conclusions
Sometimes a mistake leads to new discoveries and such is the case here. By not remembering I already had an MDRV6, I managed to test both it and the member unit with upgraded pad. Neither objective response is what we like to see but the upgraded unit was closer to the mark there, and subjectively in listening tests. In my book, this is a fail for Sony at the prices they are charging. Yes, this is an iconic headphone (I am pretty sure I had bought another years ago which is buried some place). But time has come and gone and clearly the headphone is flawed both technically (distortion and tonality) and as far as production quality.

I can't recommend the stock Sony MDRV-6. The upgraded sample from the member with Brainwavz pad gets the nod from me especially with EQ.

-----------
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/
 

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Ifrit

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They used to be like $90 back in the day. Now, out of production they are in the category of holy grail for some, I guess.
And they definitely getting much much worse with time, it's hard to listen to the ones that are 4-5 years old.
 
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amirm

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I thought that was very high. I looked up my order and you are right: I only paid $74 for it.

Here are the Manufacturer Specifications:


IMG_0556.jpeg
 
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frogmeat69

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I thought the $495 price was a typo, but someone is actually trying to sell a used unit for that much, and I am sure since they are no longer in production, some sucker will buy it, :facepalm:.
I owned the 7506 model a while back, glad I made my money back on Ebay, didn't like them one bit.
 

GXAlan

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Oh wow. I think the readership will be in for a treat if you test mine soon :). We definitely see the difference between your V6 from 2017 and your 7506 from 2020! Both should be neodymium magnets.

It’s also funny to see what your wrote in your 7506 review

So I purchased a V6 but hardly used it and unfortunately have little memory of it. I think I gave it to one of my sons years ago.”
 

solderdude

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Had the V6 shortly (got them as a gift) and gifted them to someone else soon after.
Not an enjoyable headphone but works fine as a tool for monitoring.
Pads are too shallow to be comfy anyway.
Was before I had a measurement fixture.
 

Gatordaddy

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Aren't this and the still widely available 7506 almost identical? I don't see why anyone in their right mind would pay 500 dollars for a middling 100 dollar headphone
 

GXAlan

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Aren't this and the still widely available 7506 almost identical? I don't see why anyone in their right mind would pay 500 dollars for a middling 100 dollar headphone


“The MDR-7506 and the MDR-V6 share the same part number for their driver and all other parts (except gold-plated 1/4" and 3.5mm connectors, and earcup covers embossed with model numbers), but the magnet therein is known to vary according to various Sony documentation. The MDR-7506 was introduced with a samarium–cobalt magnet, as was originally used in the MDR-V6.[11] However, at some point, the MDR-7506 switched to the slightly more powerful neodymium magnet.[12] These changes were made without changing the driver part number. In addition, Sony's own store website specifications for the MDR-V6 also list a neodymium magnet, further calling into question whether the MDR-V6 and MDR-7506 actually use different magnet types in their drivers.”

The V6 has a common ground, while the 7506 has individual grounds.

—-
You also have the MDR-CD900ST in the mix of Sony studio headphones.



“The consumer MDR-CD900 was released in 1985 and production ended in 1990. MDR-CD900 has a folding mechanism and is a curl cord. Overseas, it is sold under the model number "MDR-V6" with slightly different specifications.

At the time, the monitor headphones used at the CBS/Sony studio in Shinanomachi had a fairly round sound, and although voices could be heard well, I felt it was lacking. After all, I learned that the voice has a very high priority in the studio, and that the timbre is what matters, so I started creating the sound of monitor headphones for the studio based on the MDR-CD900. During development, digital recording was also just beginning, and we wanted to find new sounds.

Three years after the MDR-CD900, we developed a new headphone called the MDR-CD900CBS (1988) for use only within CBS/Sony's Shinanomachi and Roppongi studios. The sound is different from the original MDR-CD900, but I think it's more advanced than the studio headphones of the time.

While we were creating the sound in the studio, we talked about how we were concerned about the sharpness of the low range, and while we were talking about it, we even poked holes in the headphones with a pencil to make fine adjustments.

After completion, the sound of the CBS/Sony Studio headphones gradually became popular with musicians, and the headphones were not only used at the CBS/Sony studios, but were also sold to other studios. At that time, you decided to name it MDR-CD900ST.

My motivation was that I wanted to become the standard for studios, but even before that, I think I wanted to create something that would allow me to fully create the sound of digital recording.”
 
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amirm

amirm

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Back in 1990s when I was working closely with major use labels, the Sony MDRV-6 was one of the accepted "standards." (the other two were Stax and Sennheiser HD560 (?)). This is why I bought all three to test our audio system fidelity as to predict what the label reaction would be. They definitely took you seriously if you showed up with any of these three.
 

Geert

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I introduced the MDR-7506 in our studio 30 years ago. Back then, in Europe, the Beyerdynamic DT 150 was one of the standard studio headphones. About 3 times as expensive as the MDR-7506 if I recall correctly, and it measured like this:

index.php


Take into account that in a recording or broadcast studio you have tens of headphones for all the performers, so price differences add up.

Just to show that you need to consider the context.
 

AdamG

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High and widespread Distortion, especially in the low frequency zone. Where user preference makes up 30% or more of the weighted user preference score. And arguably the area many users will want to boost with EQ/PEQ. Seriously reduces the performance value. Many a bad sounding and performing Headphone can be redeemed by the proper application of Eq. Sadly it appears not to be the case here. Application of Eq will only produce even greater production of distortion and noise.

Sony can certainly do better than this and they have done. Just not here. Voted Headless Panther unless you plan to use these as demonstration props for comparison purposes. Using them on occasion as a reminder of what you don’t want in a headphone has some value. Bonus points for demonstrating how far we have come since the 1990’s. ;)
 

IAtaman

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Interesting. FR Looks very funky and channel imbalance looks worrying.

FR looks quite similar to HP13 from the study, which most people think is 7506.

1705826612741.png
index.php



Interestingly enough, untrained people find these headphones (assuming it is indeed HP13 in the study) slightly more preferable than the target itself.

It is not obvious to me at all why that would be the case.

1705826726416.png



Listeners of course were using another pair of headphones tuned to FR of these headphones for testing so they would not be exposed to distortion of these headphones, whether it is audible or not.
 
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Robbo99999

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Overpriced rubbish really. Looks like they'd be inconsistencies in being able to wear them to get a good seal, combined with the poor channel matching, large error in frequency response at 200Hz (and also in 2-8kHz region & also no notch at 9kHz which indicates there'd be a massive peak at 9kHz when you wear them), high distortion, and high price means it gets lowest vote from me.
 

Thomas_A

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I introduced the MDR-7506 in our studio 30 years ago. Back then, in Europe, the Beyerdynamic DT 150 was one of the standard studio headphones. About 3 times as expensive as the MDR-7506 if I recall correctly, and it measured like this:

index.php


Take into account that in a recording or broadcast studio you have tens of headphones for all the performers, so price differences add up.

Just to show that you need to consider the context.
While it is bass heavy, DT-150 can use the DT-100 pads and be quite neutral, IMO. Similar to the pad switch done with the Sonys, I had a hope that Amir should have measured them with the DT-100 pads as well.
 

Matias

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This shows how much better value the latest IEMs tested are comparatively. Much better frequency response, lowest distortion and a fraction of the price. To me this is as obsolete as a typewriter in 2024.
 
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pavuol

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I introduced the MDR-7506 in our studio 30 years ago. Back then, in Europe, the Beyerdynamic DT 150 was one of the standard studio headphones.
How was the durability during professional use?

Revision history in the service manual spans over 20 years which is pretty impressive too. Another question stands, if the spare parts were available for reasonable prices..
2024-01-21 12_43_39-Sony MDR-V6 Service Manual (Page 4 of 4) _ ManualsLib.jpg
 
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