Sony MDR-R10 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Sony Model MDR-R10
Headphone Type Closed Circumaural Headband Type Double
Weight (g) 400 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Wood Isolation (dB) 10
Impedance (ohms) 40 Cable Length (cm) 300
Frequency Response (Hz) 20 - 20000  
Connector 6.5mm Street Price US$4000
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Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 6.8 Bass Impact 5.8
Bass Quality 8.0 Mids Quality 9.4
Highs Quality 8.8 Soundstage 8.4
Detail 8.4 Portability 1.8
Isolation 5.0 Comfort 9.2
Durability 8.0 Improvement With Amplification 7.8
Value for Money 4.8    
Overall Score 8.4 Total Reviews 5

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member jinx20001 on 22 Apr 08  09:22
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality7

i only need to say one thing for these...over priced! NUFF SAID

Review by Senior Member PsychoZX on 29 Jul 06  16:35
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality10
Highs Quality10

Bass Extension - I find the bass to very extended on these headphones.

Bass Impact – This can be very amp dependent. In the right setup the bass can be quite impactful. Although if you are expecting L3000 or PS1 impact then you will be dissapointed.

Bass Quality – Some of the best quality bass in any headphone in my opinion.

Mids Quality – Best mids in any headphone i've ever heard, period.

Highs Quality - The highs are also some of the best i've heard. To me they seem to be as close to perfect i've experienced yet. They are extended very high and don't seem to be to sharp nor to soft.

Soundstage – Very large soundstage and the best imaging i've heard in any headphone. I give this a perfect 10 even considering the K1000. I find that although the K1000 has a larger soundstage the R10 has better imaging. So to me they are equal but different in this category.

Detail – These have some of the best detail of any headphone besides the Qualia 010.

Portability – N/A, these were not designed to be portable

Isolation – I find that while the isolation isn't quite as good as with other closed headphones it is much better than any open headphone could ever be in this department.

Comfort – These are the most comfortable headphones I have ever had the pleasure of putting on.

Durability – These headphones are built very well, but the wood can easily be scratched.

Improvement With Amplification - These headphones are some of the most amp dependent heaphones I know of outside of the K1000s. Their sound can vary quite a bit depending on what system they are in.

Value for money - These are the best headphones I have ever heard but there is a premium to be paid for that.

Review by Senior Member TrevorNetwork on 18 Jan 05  14:45
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality9

I am currently in possession of a set of R10s. Serial number 0013 to be exact. The build quality is excellent, there is absolutely no plastic on these. Just wood, leather, metal, and silk. The silk cord is thick, and insulated with silicone. The R10 exudes quality.

For the record I disagree with a reviewer before me citing that the L3000 are "baby R10s". That is simply not true. If one spends any amount of time with both as I have it is quite apparent that Sony and Audio-Technica have very different sonic goals.

The R10 have magical midrange. It excels in detail, clarity, soundstaging, and imagic. The timbre is phenomenal. There is no "wood" colouring of note. In fact, I do not find the R10 coloured at all. The midrange is placed out front of the wearer. Horns and cymbals in particular are of note. The R10 is the midrange king.

The bass of the R10 is satisfying, however unlike other reviewers I do not feel extension or impact of the R10's bass is anything special. Other headphones easily best the R10 in both those catagories. The R10's midbass however is excellent. This is where low voices, and some percussion resides.

The highs of the R10 are excellent. However, in the wrong setup they can become harsh. In the right setup I found the R10's treble liquid, and very satisfying. Again, horns and cymbal harmonics sound excellent on the R10. No problem here at all.

I rated portability, and isolation an "N/A". The R10 are NOT portable, nor to they isolate. Follow the instuctions for reviewing people. The R10s can be powered in a somewhat by an iPod, but this does not indicate they are portable.

As for amplifier recommendations, I feel there are many. The R10s have a greatly overstated selectiveness for systems. In fact, the MPX3 sounds horrible with the R10 for example. So although a maxed out Supra may sound good, a SinglePower amplifier is far from required for the full R10 "experience".

Review by Senior Member Sol Rage on 30 Dec 04  16:49
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality10
Highs Quality9

To imagine that almost a year ago, before buying these headphones new from Amazon, I was skeptical that any pair of cans could justify a $2000 price tag, and then to look at the huge smile on my face now is a revelation. To me, true audiophile headphones always seem way overpiced. You end up paying more for looks than for sound quality. And then I hear that these come with a leather case and fancy booklet leather headband and fancy wooden housing and i thought "no way could they possibly be worth $2000".

But becuase of Amazon's return policy I gave it a shot. When I bought them I had a rather modest sound system. All mid priced NAD products with Sennheiser HD650 headphones. Now, don't get me wrong, I love high end systems. I have friends who've spent upwards of $30,000 on sound systems. But I've always been happy with my "low price, high quality" system.

To say the R10s changed that would be an understatement. To listen to them on my NAD system was amazing. My first listen was with Radiohead's OK Computer. An album so densely layered that I figured no headphone could ever properly sort through it ALL. Not only did the R10s do just that, they did it while making the album sound more alive than I ever thought possible. The guitars on Subterranean Homesick Alien shimmered and sparkled, Yorke's voice on Exit Music positively ached. Well, one album down, one absolutely stunned music listener.

For my next listen I wanted to try something completely different. I put on one of my many Mozart recordings. I chose his 25th symphony. I didn't think I could be "wow'd" again like with OK Computer but I was completely and utterly wrong. The R10s and classical music were made for each other, no doubt about it. Not much to say about that except my jaw was on the floor.

After one week of this I decided it was time for a change. To give the R10s the system they deserved. After a good amount of research, trying, and meets, I found a great deal on a Rega Jupiter from a guy who wanted my Beyer DT880s and NAD cd player. The amp was next. If it's one thing I learned from the meets I went to, the R10s and Single Power amps were made for each other. I called up Mikhail from Single Power and he made a Supra to my exact specs complete with some NOS 67N7s. The cable were even trickier. Mikhail recommended Virtual Dynamics Master series. A few months later I found a guy who had several sets for sale and just like that my setup was complete.

Why am I typing all this? Because words cannot express how important the system your using the R10s in is! I know alot of headphones are tricky, system wise, but the R10s absolutely LOVE Single Power amps and Virtual Dynamics cables. I've had a chance to try them with so many different setups since and every time they lose some of their magic when matched with anything else. Funny enough the source doesn't seem as imporant as the amp. The R10s also sounded great through the top of the line Music Fidelity I heard them through but the Jupiter had more groove.

Anyway, onto the explanation of each rating:

Bass extension - 8: People seem to think the R10s have a bass problem. This is partially true. It REALLY depends on what system they're in. With the Supra and Ken-Rad VT-231 imput tubes there is NO bass problem. The bass doesn't extend as low as the L3000s, Qualias or PS1s though. For that, and its amp/tube dependancy i'm detracting two points.

Bass impact - 6: I wonder how the other reviewer can justify the "3" rating. Sure the bass on the R10s isn't THAT impactful, but i wouldn't say it's real soft either. Once again, it really depends on the amp/tubes you use. The Supra and Ken Rad VT231 or Sylvania 67N7W give the R10s a very nice bass impact. Nothing approacing Grado or even Sennheiser like, but isn't impact really a personal preferance thing thing instead of a good/bad thing?

Bass Quality - 9: To me, this is what it comes down to. I'd take quality over extension and impact anyday. With the right amp and tubes the R10s bass quality is very tight, articulate and well defined. Among the absolute best I've heard in fact. Listening to great bass lines like Queen's Another One Bites the Dust, Radiohead's National Anthem, or Cream's Sunshine of Your Love put a HUGE smile on my face by how clear they were. The R10s control the bass so well it's unbelievable.

Mids Quality - 10: THIS is what it's all about for the R10s. The mids rule the show and they aren't afraid to let everyone know. I've yet to hear another headphone even come close to matching the magic of the R10s lush, gorgeous midrange. Vocals, acoustic guitars and pianos, strings, anything in this frequency just shines with an orgasmic like quality. It's what draws so many people to these cans and it's what keeps them here.

Highs Quality - 9: While the mids steal the show, the highs are no slouch either. Smooth, creamy, yet clear as a bell. They don't reach as high as the AKG K1000s I heard, and aren't as sharp as the Qualias or CD3000s, but I think that would offset the midrange. With some harder rock or metal recordings this can really take an edge off which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. But more often than not I really love the sound of the highs throughought the register.

Soundstage - 9: The other highlight of the show. It would deserve a 10 if not for the AKG K1000s, which are the kings when it comes to soundstage and Qualias which are perhaps a little better soundstage wise. But for closed headphones the soundstage is nothing short of jaw dropping. The imaging is amazing as well. Every instrument is EXACTLY where it should be and the dynamics and effects of the huge soundstage on classical recordings, especially, is stunning.

Detail - 9: Wasn't sure whether to give them an 8 or 9 here. Compared to the Qualias they're almost veiled, but compared to the Qualias every headphone is veiled. So I think the fact that these are probably tied with the Omegas for the second most detailed headphones I've heard is enough to warrant the 9 rating. And detailed they are. When you get into this price range detail shouldn't be a factor and the R10s deliver with aplomb. If you want to put all your albums uner a microscope, go get the Qualias. If you want to really FEEL the music, find some R10s.

Portability - 5: I wasn't really sure how to rate this. The headphones themselves are huge and not portable at all. But with the carrying case they are quite portable. But you would look rather silly wearing these in public. Of course that big smile on your face would probably be worth it.

Isolation - 7: Compared to canalphones these don't cut out every bit of sound. But the closed design is quite good and they don't leak much sound at all. I'd say more than Senn 280 or 650, less than any Grado or Audio Technica.

Comfort - 10: Along with the Qualias the absolute most comfortable headphones I've ever had the pleasure of having sit on my head. The stretchable headband adjusts to fit your head and the greek lambskin earcovers are as soft as advertsed. They are as light as a feather on your head and after a while you even forget they're there at all. The earpads might get hot in the summer, but this isn't a problem for me as I have central air and heat (more people should invest in this).

Durability - 10: They seem really solidly built to me. I have an excellent track record with headphones though. I take excellent care of my gear and with these it's out of the case, on my head, off my head, into the case.

Improved With Amplification - 10: Not only is it necessary, it's very simple: If you want the R10s, you want a Single Power amp. Never have I heard a headphone and amp combo so perfectly matched. They bring out the absolute best in each other so much it isn't funny. Anyone who rates either product shouldn't even do it without hearing the combo first.

Value for Money - 5: I'm not a rich man. If I were, this might be a higher rating. $4000 is beyond ridiculous to pay for a headphone. $2000, for me, seemed about right for the quality. If i had the money, I could even go as high as $3000 knowing what I know now about system matching the R10s. I'm so glad I gobbled up the Amazon deal while it lasted.

I always feel the need to end reviews in a grand way but I'm not sure how to here. To say these headphones are the absolute best I've ever tried is an accurate statement. The Qualias are just too analytical, sterile, and cold. The Omegas are too dark and lack punch. The L3000s are like baby R10s, but why get the baby when you can get the daddy? The PS1s are the great rock and metal headphones and if I had the money I'd have a pair of them too to just play my hard rock and metal albums. But the R10s have an old soul. One that's about feel like no other. In this high tech digital world it seems the R10s are being forgotten. I guess I'm just old fashioned. But I say give me headphones that make me feel the music and not just hear it.

Review by Senior Member ayt999 on 17 Dec 04  10:16
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact3
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality9

these are another pair of great headphones, but since it has a lot of treble energy (to me at least) and I tend to prefer cans with a solid bass support I don't like them as much as some of my other headphones. despite that, they are a pleasure to listen to with classical music and perform superbly in general.

but then, I don't mind the bass of the grado PS1 and might even use a bassboost funtion when listening to the PS1 so my opinions are most likely skewed when it comes to balanced sound. :)

the overall score seems to put a lot of emphasis on the bass extention and bass impact so with my current figures it gets a fairly low overall ranking. despite what it currently says, I feel that it should be ranked higher overall since I feel that sound quality is more important than the amount of bass it produces. I am not going to change those numbers so it gets a higher overall ranking, but will put this as a footnote to my review.

Sony MDR-R10
Sony MDR-R10