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Sony MDR-V6
World's Best $70 Pro Headphones

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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Sony MDR-V6

Sony MDR-V6. larger. (7.4 oz./210g without cord, about $70). larger. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at Adorama or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

 

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Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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The Sony MDR-V6 are an extremely sensitive, folding, isolating headphone that's great for enjoying music, travel and monitoring professional field recordings.

The MDR-V6 is one of today's longest-lived audio products because it's so good and so reasonably priced. When I worked in radio in the late 1970s through early 1980s, all my friends carried their Sony MDR-V6 to the shows they DJed. (I preferred the less expensive, American-made Koss 4AA for patriotism's sake.) Back when digital audio was just being invented by Sony, Sony would tie these MDR-V6 headphones to their latest professional digital audio recorders at AES shows to amaze us with the quality of digital sound. In fact, that's why the MDR-V6 says FOR DIGITAL all over it; an historical artifact from the early 1980s.

The all-metal plug is pure genius, and has been for over thirty years: it's a 3.5mm plug, with a screw-on ¼" adapter for use with professional gear. With the adapter screwed-on, it's as good as a real ¼" metal plug. The adapter is interchangeable with the screw-in adapters that come with most Beyer headphones, too.

The MDR-V6 is a fully professional product: all-metal plugs with strain reliefs, coiled cords and even most of each headphone outer case is black anodized aluminum. Not bad for $70, and they sound great.

 

Versus the Sony MDR-7506

This MDR-V6 is the original version of the world's most popular professional headphone, the Sony MDR-7506, which is just a slight cosmetic variation with an added presence peak. They each sell for about the same price, depending which is on sale that week.

I prefer the sound of this MDR-V6 over the MDR-7506 for music enjoyment, while the 7506 has more of a presence peak that might be more helpful ferreting out noise for live monitoring. The 7506 outsells this V6, but not for any particular reason other than Sony promoting it more.

While all the specifications appear the same and the only difference appears to be the 7506's gold-color plugs and saying "PROFESSIONAL" in blue instead of "for DIGITAL" in red, this MDR-V6's frequency range is rated as 5 ~ 30,000 Hz, while the 7506 is rated only as 10 ~ 20,000 Hz, and I greatly prefer this V6's smoother response over the 7506's more peaked response.

This MDR-V6 sounds great for music, while the 7506 is optimized more to highlight noise, distortion and recording defects. Both have great and somewhat boosted deep bass. Don't mix or master with these, since your mixes will be a bit thin. Use Stax or the Beyer DT 880.

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Sony MDR-V6 box

Back of Sony MDR-V6 box.

 

Technology

Around-the-ear, isolating closed headphones.

40mm diameter driver.

Neodymium Magnet

Fake leather around-the-ear pads.

 

Impedance

63 Ω at 1 kHz, rated.

 

Sensitivity

106 dB SPL at 1 milliwatt.

1 mW at a rated 63 Ω is 251 mV.

At 1 volt, this would be 118 dB SPL.

At 100 mV, this would be 98 dB SPL.

 

Power Handling

500 mW rated.

1 watt maximum.

Yikes! That's 133 dB SPL rated, 136 dB SPL maximum. 120 dB causes pain, and anything over 115 dB SPL can cause immediate and permanent hearing damage.

 

Frequency Range

5 ~ 30,000 Hz, no conditions specified.

The Sony MDR-7506 is only rated as 10 ~ 20,000 Hz.

 

Cord and Plug

Coiled.

3 meters (10 feet) when extended.

3.5mm plug with "Unimatch" screw-in ¼" adapter.

 

Weight

210 grams (7.4 ounces), actual measured, without cord.

 

Quality

Made in Thailand.

 

IncludedSony MDR-V6 box

Sony MDR-V6 as shipped.

 

Sony MDR-V6 box

Sony MDR-V6 with included sack and paperwork.

MDR-V6 headphones.

Screw-in ¼" adapter.

Plasticy drawstring carry pouch.

Paperwork.

 

Price

2012 November and December: $70.

2012 May: $110.

 

Introduced

I've seen these in the field since at least the early 1980s, probably the late 1970s.

 

Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

 

Sensitivity

The MDR-V6 are extremely sensitive. Even with just an iPod, it's easy to make yourself deaf. You won't want or need any extra amplification with your MDR-V6.

Watching movies on an iPad, I only have to run the volume at about 5/8. With music on an iPod, I never have to go anywhere near full level, even on the quietest classical recordings. Somewhere around halfway is plenty.

Among the many reasons the MDR-V6 are so popular is that they play loud on anything. Even plugged into a DSLR or camcorder, they should play loud enough to let you check for noise and hear even the softest sections.

Their rated sensitivity is 106 dB with 1 mW of input, about 10 dB more than most headphones. They are rated 2 dB more sensitive than the $570 Beyer T70p, but in actual use from most (constant-voltage) sources, the apparent sensitivity of the 32 Ω T70p is greater than the 60 Ω MDR-V6.

 

Sound

For about $100, the MDR-V6 sound like a million bucks. The only headphones that come close are the $160 Audio-Technica ATH-M50, which sound very similar, but even smoother and more open.

These MDR-V6 are smooth and have outstanding deep bass. When compared far more expensive headphones, the differences are subtle. Better headphones may have slightly smoother sound with a little better clarity, while many other more expensive headphones sound worse, with nasty midrange peaks absent in the MDR-V6.

Unlike other $100 headphones, the MDR-V6 sound great for symphonic and classical music, for which the peakier MDR-7506 do not.

The MDR-V6 are designed to work great plugged into iPods and portable devices, and need no extra amplification. While it would be silly to spend $1,000 on an amplifier to use with a $100 pair of headphones, if you have a Woo Audio WA6-SE, I've never heard these headphones sound better on any other amplifier.

 

Colouration

The MDR-V6 have almost no midrange presence boost, with very little honk.

 

Isolation

The MDR-V6 have pretty good isolation from outside sound, and allow almost no sound leakage to the outside.

The MDR-V6 do a perfect job of keeping themselves sealed to my head, with little pressure, and never get sweaty. This is a lot better than the Beyer T70p, which often don't seal well to my head.

 

Bass

The MDR-V6's bass response is excellent. It's deep, solid and strong without ever being boomy.

The V6 have better bass accuracy than most more expensive headphones. For instance, the Beyer T70p often doesn't give good head seal, so its bass leaks out around the edges.

The bass response doesn't vary much at all if you press them harder to your head, which is great. Even with light pressure they have great bass.

The MDR-V6 also are great for enjoying movies on your iPad.

 

Materials and Mechanics

The MDR-V6 is a pretty tough professional headphone. It's built to take a lot of abuse from people who work at TV stations and don't have to pay for these themselves.

The plug and adapters are all-metal.

The smaller round part of each headphone's external case to which the yokes attach is aluminum.

The wiring is external, you can catch the little wires that run into the top of each earpiece on twigs if you're running thorough the brush.

The hinges and height adjusters seem like stainless steel, with numbered click-stops!

 

Ergonomics

They're light, isolate well and stay on my head as I move around.

The coiled cord beats a long straight cord for portable use.

The 3.5mm screw-plug plugs right into an iPad even in in a thick case.

The MDR-V6 are fantastic for travel; they fold right up and are much more practical and comfortable than in-ear headphones. They are perfect to fold up and jam into a DSLR case.

The MDR-V6 stay adjusted to your head size when off your head, unlike most Beyer headphones that reset themselves back into the headband.

The V6 are much lighter than other around-the-ear headphones, another reason they are so popular.

They're warm and comfy.

They are sometimes a little floppy as you're unfolding them.

 

Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

These Sony MDR-V6 headphones have impressed me for decades. They sound and feel great, have magnificent deep bass, have plenty of sensitivity so they never need external amplification, and fold-up for travel. For about $100, they are a steal.

The $160 Audio-Technica ATH-M50 sound a little better, but are also bigger and heavier. I prefer the ATH-M50 for travel because they fold flat to lie against my iPad in my bag, while these MDR-V6 fold more into a ball to go in with my socks.

For DSLR video monitoring where you need to hear what's wrong while you can still do something about it, get the MDR-7506 instead, but for enjoying music and audio, get these MDR-V6.

If you've found the time, effort and expense I put into creating and sharing this review helpful, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at Adorama or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

 

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May 2012