The Sony MDR-7509HDs are pro headphones designed for flat response.
Sony's MDR-7509HDs ($265) are high-quality headphones aimed at audio professionals. They are designed to offer flat response over a wide frequency range and to be comfortable to wear for extended periods. The HD in the name indicates that the headphones' frequency response (5 Hz to 80 kHz) is wide enough for clean reproduction of high-resolution audio.
Ear to Ear
The MDR-7509HDs feature a circumaural (closed-back) design to keep outside noise to a minimum. Sony clearly paid attention to the details on these headphones. I was impressed with touches like the markings on the adjustable-length side pieces, which allow for precise size adjustment; the cable that terminates in a minijack with a ¼-inch adapter on top of it, giving you the flexibility to connect to both consumer and pro gear; and comfortably cushioned earpieces that can be folded up for storage or flipped around for one-ear, off-the-head listening.
Like on its other pro headphones, Sony chose to use a coiled cable with the MDR-7509HDs. According to a company spokesperson, the coiled design was chosen because it's less likely to get tangled. Although the coiled look is kind of retro and clunky, if it prevents the cable from getting wrapped around the bottom of my control-room chair (which inevitably happens with headphones with straight cables), I can happily live with it.
Naturally, what's most important for headphones is their sound, and in this respect the MDR-7509HDs shine. I listened to a variety of music through them, including some 24-bit, 96 kHz tracks. The response was clear and clean, even when cranked up louder than I'd normally listen. The highs were present and fairly revealing — almost harsh sounding, but not quite. The MDR-7509HDs sounded brighter on the same sources than another pair of high-end studio headphones that I compared them to. The high-end detail on the Sonys is so good that I even noticed some sibilance on a spoken word track that I didn't hear with the other pair.
The bass response was full and relatively tight sounding — for headphones, that is. No matter what their specs, I've never found that I can accurately judge a mix's bottom end using only headphones, and the MDR-7509HDs are no exception. There are some situations, such as in live sound, live recording, or broadcast, where you may have to make mix decisions while wearing cans. Certainly, the MDR-7509HDs are superior in that application to consumer headphones, which are designed to sound “good” rather than flat. Without extensive testing, it's hard to say whether mixing with the MDR-7509HDs will give you better results than you'd get with other, similarly priced pro headphones.
What is clear is that Sony has succeeded in its goal to make headphones that offer excellent sonics and comfort. If you're looking for quality studio headphones, you're sure to be impressed with the MDR-7509HDs.
Value (1 through 5): 4