Sony MDR-EX71 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Sony Model MDR-EX71
Headphone Type Canal Headband Type None
Weight (g) 48 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Plastic Isolation (dB) 6
Impedance (ohms) 16 Cable Length (cm) 120
Frequency Response (Hz) 6 - 23000  
Connector 3.5mm Street Price US$45
Buy from Amazon.com  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 6.1 Bass Impact 6.3
Bass Quality 3.5 Mids Quality 3.8
Highs Quality 3.4 Soundstage 4.1
Detail 4.2 Portability 7.9
Isolation 5.3 Comfort 7.0
Durability 4.7 Improvement With Amplification 1.6
Value for Money 5.7    
Overall Score 4.8 Total Reviews 11

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Reviews by our members

Review by Lead Reviewer commando on 03 Aug 06  22:44
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality5
Highs Quality5
Detail5
Comfort6
Durability7
Value8

These are great little canal phones, and they're fantastic value. They isolate a little, but not as much as the more expensive canal phone. This makes them more approriate for some situations, but not appropriate for air travel or noisy environments.

Some people say the bass is bloated, I think it's a little too strong, but it's not bad. Clarity is good, and the sound is ballanced overall. They do need a little time to burn in, and they keep improving with use for a couple of hundred hours.

I returned the Shure E3s and bought these instead, and i'm very happy with that decision, in terms of both sound and value.

Review by Senior Member qazwsx on 24 May 07  18:34
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality4
Mids Quality4
Highs Quality2
Detail3
Comfort7
Durability7
Value6

I had these earbuds way before I started collecting some good-end gear, boought them about two years ago. I found these emptying my closet, and I figured I would give them a shot two years later.

The sound quality, IMO, is similar to the JVC HAFX33 Marshmallows--good for all of the bad reasons, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. The sound is above tolerable, especially in the bass region, in that the bass seems well-extended and nicely punchy at all times. The problems? The mids and highs. These canalphones have a noticeably recessed midrange, and instead really blast that upper-midrange/lower highs that gives you a sense of fake-highs. These canalphones also seem a bit on the detailess side. In general this paragraph is a bit harsh for a pair of $40 canalphones, so I'll sum up by saying these canalphones have really good bass, with the tendancy to have harsh and fake sounding highs. These canalphones are comfortable, and Sony-durable. Isolation isn't spectacular, but enough when music is playing. I don't think I need to mention they are small and lightweight.

Not a bad set if you're looking for a bassy set of canalphones.

Review by Senior Member logogogue on 11 Apr 06  11:38
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact5
Bass Quality3
Mids Quality4
Highs Quality4
Detail5
Comfort8
Durability3
Value5

Seems like a very ubiquitous unit for the ipod set, especially in the subways of NYC. I still use these for cycling because of the short cord to my shuffle on the arm but I have a lot of gripes and quibbles. 1.) Not very durable. I am on my third unit, on warranty exchanges, because the covering keeps deteriorating and the wires become exposed. Also I have trashed 2 units totally because the cord is very fragile. So beware of snagging it on anything and having the cord yanked even pretty gently. (This is no more punishment than I give to other headphones I use.) 2.) Although the short cord is convenient if you have an arm-band/remote control setup, it is annoying to have a heavy (in the context of portability) extension cord plug, which weighs down the cord just enough to tug at my ears where I am conscious of it. Also the extension cord makes it unmanageably long. 3.) The sound is SONY; which can be good or bad, depending on your frame of ears. The bass, while heavy and deep for rock/electronic/etc music, is pretty sloppy compared to other similarly priced units. The highs can be fatiguing on long listening sessions and at higher dB. (even with an amp)

However with all that said, for the money, (internet pricing) its not a bad unit to use at the gym or for casual listening on your commute. For a fine alternative, that sounds more musical to my ears, and addresses my quibbles above, try the new Sennheiser CX300.

Review by Senior Member rjleong on 18 Jan 05  15:43
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality3
Mids Quality2
Highs Quality1
Detail3
Comfort6
Durability2
Value4

The Sony MDR-EX71 is seriously overrated by quite a few people. The bass is boomy and uncontrolled, and the highs are painfully screechy. The mids are also undistinguished, as well. And though the MDR-EX71 is comfortable to wear, it is extremely difficult to get a proper seal with the supplied sleeves, resulting in mediocre isolation.

You get what you pay for, in the case of in-ear 'phones.

Review by Member CraneyR on 07 Oct 08  10:50
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact5
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality4
Highs Quality2
Detail5
Comfort3
Durability5
Value5

I bought those earphones mainly to use them in gym. In the first time, Sony MDR-EX71 was quite impressive powerful bass and clear mids. Especially it was good in reproducing the sound of guitars and cymbals. But later on I found out that the overall sound was harsh, and highs were inferior. To make sure that I am right try to listen to the bell ring or human speech, oh yes violin on those earphones. While listening to the words, please pay attention to the sounds such as ch and sh and find out for yourself that Sony MDR-EX71 are absolutely not adequate for movie listening . The quality of bass is good but its impact is unpleasant, that is why some listeners would say that it is way too strong while the others state that it is boomy. I would say if the person likes hard metal or rock Sony MDR-EX71 would fit just him. But again how to say? As you see my dear friends, I also find out that those headphones were not durable. The rubber on my left headphone spliced up in two; even though during two years, I rarely used them. Then, I lost one of the sleeves again and again. Oh just forget, it is almost impossible to find it. Therefore, if someone is looking for a long lasting pair of headphones for multiple purpose I would definitely NOT recommend him or her Sony MDR-EX71.

Review by Member acurarbkg6 on 15 Jul 06  17:32
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality5
Detail7
Comfort10
Durability4
Value7

Right now, I'm on my second pair of these canalphones after my Plugs gave up the ghost (on one side anyway).

Soundstage is pretty good on these headphones; they give you a basic indication as to where all of the musicians were located while recording. Naturally, if you are looking for absolute perfection in this category (i.e. telling that the vocalist was exactly x inches away from the mic boom), then these headphones won't suffice.

Bass response on these headphones is pretty good, even though they are slightly exaggerated by design. Lows are pretty boomy and controlled, and can be heard nicely on most occassions. Mid- and high-range noise are slightly muddled, but not to a severe point (like many low-cost Sony headphones).

One aspect that these headphones shine on is comfort. On several occassions, I have slept with these headphones in my ears with no problems at all. Reading from reviews, I know that I'm not the only owner of these phones to confess to this. They are very comfortable to wear at all times of the day.

Isolation is pretty good, but some louder ambient noise can still seep through (children laughing on a subway car, a common occurrance at that). Koss Plugs excel in this category, so a possibility of a cross-mod (Koss Plug tips with these buds) is completely open. However, it really all depends on the ear in question; my ears are relatively small and very hard to please, so I may be a minority in this case.

The only real downside I have about these headphones is durability; they are very easy to break and inherently do not last long. Whether you treat these like your bookbag or like your prized possession, do not expect an incredible lifespan. The warranty on these headphones is not long, but its' always good to keep your receipt just in case.

In the end, the EX71s are worth the $40, but I'd advise that you buy them over the Internet, as they are significantly cheaper there.

Review by Member jonli on 19 Nov 05  12:16
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality4
Mids Quality4
Highs Quality4
Detail4
Comfort9
Durability5
Value9

If you're a portable music listener and you love bass from earbud/canal headphones, these are perfect. I use these headphones everyday at work connected to my PC to listen to MP3's. While the overall quality of sound isn't what you get from full-size cans, you get more than what you paid for at $25. I use the MDR-EX51's (same model without the extension cord) with my iPod.

Overall, the bass is heavy but a bit muddy and the highs can be a bit strained, but if you like Rock, Electronic, or Hip-Hop they perform more than adequately. Classical music and Jazz tend to expose a bit more of their weaknesses. Isolation wise, they're perfect for the office. It drowns out the standard chatter of conversations and phone calls, but isn't too much to stop me from hearing the phone ring. I've used them while mowing the lawn, but I'd recommend some canal phones with better isolation like some Etymotic or Shure cans.

Review by Member LennyB22 on 06 Jul 05  18:34
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality2
Mids Quality3
Highs Quality4
Detail3
Comfort6
Durability5
Value4

I personaly expected a lot more out of the sony ex71's, especially after so many people love them. The bottom end (bass) dominates the sound and is annoying giving you a headache, after a while. The bass is boomy and the mids are covered and underexpressed. The highs have some distortion (hard to discover but there). On the other hand they are very loud headphones even louder than the newer ex 81's. They are optimized for portable devices. Design is clean and modernly styled, really appealing with 2 color choices. Small and convenient. I personaly didn't like the over the shoulder cable which had way to much slack and bunched up, taking away from the beauty of the headphones (this also happens with th ex81's also). My choice definently go with the ex 81's (even if the clip around the ear discourages you,) the sound is much better and flatter. Another option may be the mdr-a35 (different type of headphone) look at that review for more information.

Review by Member hackeron on 03 Apr 05  23:54
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality1
Mids Quality1
Highs Quality1
Detail2
Comfort6
Durability1
Value4

The bass impact is insane. Its so bloated and over-exaggerated that even female voices sound bassy. Its like listening to a poorly configured 16" subwoofer. So yes, it is shocking such bass is possible from canalphones, but after a while, its just too much. You cant listen to a talk show without hearing deep bass in the voice of everyone.

Coupled with non existent mids and shrilling highs, they make up for some really poor listening experience in the long run.

While I clearly noticed more detail and even soundstage in them compared to my Z680 speakers and the overall comfort level isnt bad, I would advise everyone to stay away. Comparing them to the more modern stock earbuds, they just dont offer enough value for money anymore.

Other than that, surprisingly enough, I would say the portability is terrible. The wire is extremely tangly and starts to stretch and stick to clothing. If there is also even the slightest breeze, the wind noise is unbearable. So cant take them outside, fiddling with the wire for 5 mintues on the train is also not that great (isolation isnt enough either).

I would just like to end on durability. While they are physically hard to break and can withstand enough rough usage, one of the drivers always burns out after a while. I would say 50% of my EX51/EX70/EX71's developed problems with one of the drivers during warranty period, while the rest developed problems right after warranty period. So durability level is also very poor.

Review by Member donaldekelly on 15 Mar 05  18:46
Individual review
Bass Extension4
Bass Impact4
Bass Quality3
Mids Quality5
Highs Quality5
Detail5
Comfort7
Durability6
Value4

I actually have the EX51s which I hear sound pretty much like the 71s. If this is not true my comments are not on target.

Review by Member Dura on 07 Jan 05  07:23
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality2
Mids Quality4
Highs Quality4
Detail4
Comfort9
Durability7
Value7

They sound terible to my ears,but are suitable for players with less resolution, and it's a excellent introduction the canalphones, considering price, ease of use and comfort.

Sony MDR-EX71
Sony MDR-EX71