Sony MDR-CD3000 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Sony Model MDR-CD3000
Headphone Type Closed Circumaural Headband Type Double
Weight (g) 400 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Other Isolation (dB) 0
Impedance (ohms) 32 Cable Length (cm) 300
Frequency Response (Hz) 20 - 20000  
Connector 3.5mm with 6.5mm adaptor Street Price US$379
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Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 5.8 Bass Impact 5.8
Bass Quality 6.0 Mids Quality 6.8
Highs Quality 7.3 Soundstage 7.3
Detail 7.8 Portability 1.5
Isolation 0.8 Comfort 7.8
Durability 4.3 Improvement With Amplification 5.0
Value for Money 4.8    
Overall Score 6.6 Total Reviews 4

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Reviews by our members

Review by Lead Reviewer commando on 14 Nov 15  15:00
Individual review
Bass Extension4
Bass Impact3
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality8

These are great headphones: comfortable and detailed, with great clarity and very little veil. I owned them for 6 months, but I sold them for two reasons:
1) The don't isolate at all, despite being classed as closed headphones, and I need isolating headphones for work.
2) They're pretty expensive.

I replaced them with A900s and i'm very happy :)

Review by Senior Member nickchen on 16 Feb 08  00:55
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality7

Ah, my favourite cans, better than ###*. I've tried electrostatics, the upper AT range, the teutonic triple and some Alessandros - but none of these pleased me as much as the old rattly Sony.

Its sheer technical abilities (except the soundstage) aren't exactly highend - somewhere on the DT880 level or even slightly below. The bass is a bit dry and lacks some deep end layers, the mids are very smooth but lack airyness, the infamous highs have a slight metallic touch.

The CD3000 _hates_ poor recordings such as 128-160 kbit MP3s. Consequently, I went into permanent "delete bloodthirstiness" mode since the old Sony became my main fon. Even a DT880 can be regarded as "generous" in comparison.

But who cares. There are enough Audio CDs and >192 kbit files left. With these, the CD3000 provides a very special smooth tone, which suits perfectly for every genre with lots of synthesizers in it. In combination with its exaggerated soundscape, it simply excells at stuff like Aphex Twin or Underworld. As musical experience, they stand somewhat unrivaled in respect of electronica IMO.

Downside of this calibration is the fact that stringed and acoustical genres sound a bit...well, absurd. Someone at headfi got it to the point stating "You know a headphone is wonky when it makes nylon strings sound metallic."

Contrary of an allrounder. If you like electronica and belong to team treble, the CD3000 is maybe even worth the nutty 2nd hand prices you have to pay for it actually. Being elder also generally helps: Out of biological reasons, the highs don't pierce so badly then (twens tend to hate them).

Stay away completely from the CD3K if things are a bit on the conventional side with your genres and listening habits. Consider your budget and handicraft abilities: 2nd hand CD3000s tend to fall apart nowadays, the price for spare parts such as earpads (if available) is frightening.

Somewhat a pity that a successor is not in sight. I heartly disagree that the awful SA5000 or the muddy AT A9*0 might be regarded as such.

*Edit by admin for language

Review by Senior Member Iron_Dreamer on 01 Jul 07  12:06
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality7

The Sony CD3000 is a very unique sounding, looking, and feeling headphone, that can have quite a love-it or hate-it reaction. It is now unfortunately discontinued and hard to come by, with even used pairs selling for in excess of $400, a price that perhaps only a die-hard lover should come to stomach.

The CD3000 always sounds bright however, mis-matched gear can make them unbearably so. On a well-matched system the treble is definitely very present, but does not distract from the rest of the sound spectrum. The treble is not quite as clean or smooth as some, despite good extension. The mids are quite nice and fairly lifelike, though not quite world-class. The bass is somewhat well extended but not as impactful or well-controlled as some similarly high end cans.

The highlight of the CD3000 is most certainly its cavernous soundstage that separates instruments into their own locations better than all but only the very best headphones. The first time I heard these cans, I was mesmerized by the expansiveness and surrounding nature of the soundstage. The angled drivers undoubtedly help these cans project a frontal soundstage better than many competitors. The drawback of the soundstage is almost a philosophical one, in that the CD3000 makes virtually any recording sound expansive and airy, which while very interesting and entertaining, is hardly transparent or natural. It is great for giving live rock albums that stadium ambiance and feel.

These headphones are HUGE and not suited for portable use under any circumstances, since they fit quite loosely and are prone to come of upon sudden movement. They are among the most comfortable cans I've worn, but you are always conscious of their presence, and must occasional boost the cups back up slightly on the head to compensate for the loose fit. The plastic and pleather construction, though surprisingly light, does not seem as rugged or durable as other high-end cans though.

The CD3000 by no means requires an amp, but they do need good matching gear to sound their best (i.e. not overly bright). This may or may not include an amp, depending on the initial synergy of gear, and their ability to output sufficient current.

You buy the CD3000 for their soundstage, and keep them if you can find gear that allows them to sound detailed without sounding overly bright. If you do not like a healthy dose of treble, or if you like a smoothed over high end, these are not the cans for you. Also despite being closed they block out little more sound than open cans (though they leak very little), so take that into consideration if you are looking at them for their closed-ness, because it is a gimmick at best. At the current prices, the CD3000 is only an average buy, since there are quite a few cheaper competitors that are just as technically proficient and comfortable, if not more so. Unless you're sure the CD3000 is just the kind of sound you're looking for, or have enough money to not care, I'd be wary about diving straight into a set.

NOTE: You can have your CD3000 re-cabled or modified with wooden headphone cups by This increases the detail, improves the already superb soundstage, and can shift the tonal balance, depending on the wood selected. If you love your CD3000, than the Headphile mods can take you to an even higher level of satisfaction.

My ratings:
Bass Extension: 7
Bass Impact: 6
Bass Quality: 7
Mids Quality: 6
Highs Quality: 7
Soundstage: 8
Detail: 8
Portability: 0
Isolation: 2
Comfort: 8
Durability: 5
Improvement with Amplification: 6
Value for the Money: 5

Review by Senior Member TrevorNetwork on 17 Dec 04  12:08
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality7

The MDR-CD3000 is a decent all-arounder. I would classify it as "mid-fi" in the headphone world. For me the headphone averages about a 7/10 sonically, but loses points for its boomby, undetailed bass. The detail on this headphone is good, but I would consider it somewhat artifical sounding. Quite possibly due to its boosted highs. Although the weight of these headphones is reasonable, they easily fall off one's head. The general build quality is what I would consider somewhat below average. Aesthetically I feel they are below average. This is due to the poor quality of the pleather pads, "plasticy" look and feel, and uninsprired look.

Modifications made by Headphile would boost my subjective aesthetics rating, and somewhat alleviate the bass boom.

Sony MDR-CD3000
Sony MDR-CD3000