Sony Q010-MDR1 Headphone Reviews
||Cable Length (cm)
|Frequency Response (Hz)
||5 - 120000
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Review by Senior Member padam on 16 Aug 11 15:04
The Sony Qualia 010 is really one of those puzzling headphones.
Sony really messed it up by designing a headphone that works only at a precise position and yet very difficult to adjust, they wanted it to be a one-person headphone but if they wanted it to be individual - which they certainly achieved, I admit - why didn't they design something else that can make this headphone more individual apart from the fit if they knew it is so sensitive to that? Since they killed the Qualia product line it is starting to evolve into a classic anyway. If it isn't in that sweet spot it sounds like a tin-can. Most people need the small headband to get the thing fit and yet they did not sell a lot with the smallest size headband so you probably get one with a middle size one and have to tinker it with a sponge or similar to make the thing seal (unless you are ready to pay a small fortune for the small size!). Not elegant at all with a headphone as expensive and utterly beautiful as this, it could well be showed in one of those modern science fiction movies. You can see where Sennheiser took inspiration for the HD800 - or a bit more than that. But how it sounds when you finally overcome the (first) most annoying problem?
Well in a word depending on your taste (and setup) it can be quite incredible or it can be less impressive. A lot of people seem to prefer the even more expensive MDR-R10 which I haven't had the pleasure to hear but I probably understand why (let's suppose the technical ratings would be less and yet it would still be more pleasure to listen to). That headphone was described as a Stradivarius violin. This is more like an ultra high performance digital instrument.
What this is about is the ultimate detail and transparency. It was mainly designed with high resolution audio in mind but the detail and dynamics it can bring out from even the standard redbook CD format is outstanding. On the downside, it is also very sensitive to the recording quality (can bite in the treble) and everything else that is in the signal change so you have to work quite hard to finally get the results and strike the right balance between smoothness and transparency. And it is not going to be a musical headphone which is why sometimes it is is described as a bit artificial, some say it is uncoloured I would say it is coloured in a special way. As I wrote, they need a handful amount of tuning to get them sound right. It is nice than even at that time when this wasn't that popular as it is now, Sony thought about people who want to replace the stock cable but it needs that as well.
On the technical side of things there isn't much to dislike. The soundstage is huge, layered and as I wrote the detail and extension (and imaging) are incredible, the bass dynamics with balanced drive is especially impressive even at low volume this headphone works really well. The way the housing was designed makes it a very efficient headphone but that does not mean it does not like a healthy dose of (balanced) power to bring out the bass dynamics.
The build quality feels very solid as you would expect from something this exclusive but some say the carbon fibre headband is quite fragile and since the fit is tricky it is advisable to take extra caution when fiddling with it. Afterwards it is very comfortable because it is featherweight.
As it stands I still have some little issues with the sound but somehow the user can adopt and it do seem to make the music 'alive' and sometimes it 'disappears' so I like it a lot and it seems to show a tremendous amount of potential so with fine-tuning the cables, right source etc. I expect them to be even more amazing than they are now.
P.S.: the midrange should deserve a higher rating but it is the tonality that might be "off" for some people.