The MDR-1AM2 is the latest in Sony’s MDR-1 series of closed-back over-head headphones for portable use. Not much has changed on the design front. There’s a new color - silver - but the overall design remains the same, which isn’t a bad thing since the MDR-1 series of headphones have always looked sleek and stylish.
Comfort is good mostly because the MDR-1AM2 is extremely light at just 187g. Additionally, the soft synthetic leather that lines the headband is soft and ample. The ear cups and ear pads don’t look all that big, and the ear pads are quite shallow, but they wrap around and fit my ears comfortably. It is witchcraft. The words ‘snug’ and ‘plush’ come to mind when I put on the MDR-1AM2. However, if you have large ears, I suspect the MDR-1AM2 will fit more like on-ear headphones rather than over-ear headphones.
The MDR-1AM2 comes with a handful of accessories. There’s a soft carry pouch and two cables. One terminates in an L-shape 3.5mm jack and has an inline remote control and microphone for controlling playback and taking calls when hooked up to a phone. The other cable terminates in Sony’s new 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced connector. Both cables are 1.2 meters long, which makes them suitable for portable use. Unfortunately, there aren’t many devices (outside of Sony) that support this new connector right now.
Listening to the MDR-1AM2, I found the headphones to have a bit of a split personality. At typical or regular listening volumes, the MDR-1AM2 has a rather pleasing signature with strong, punchy bass; present and smooth mids; and a slightly pronounced but still bearable treble. However, at higher volumes, the MDR-1AM2 takes on a considerably harsher sound and becomes shouty and strained. At higher volumes, its upper mids and treble becomes piercing and has an artificial, shimmering quality about it. Take note of this and be sure to try listening to the MDR-1AM2 at various listening levels when auditioning it.
Compared to its predecessor, the MDR-1AM2 sounds markedly brighter, cleaner, and more detailed. The older MDR-1A has a warmer and darker sound, with fuller bass and less present mids and highs. It is impossible to say if that’s an outright improvement, but I found myself reaching for the MDR-1AM2 more than the MDR-1A because of its richer mid-range and more detailed sound.
In fact, I thought the MDR- 1AM2 holds up quite nicely even in the face of Sony’s $2,599 flagship MDR-Z1R. The humble MDR-1AM2 can’t match the MDR-Z1R for soundstage, imaging, nor resolve, but I thought it was more balanced in tone, engaging, and natural-sounding, which is remarkable when you consider the MDR-1AM2 costs a fraction at $429.
All in all, the MDR-1AM2 is an excellent pair of headphones for portable use. They sound decent and they are expertly designed and super portable. They are well worth a listen if you are looking for a stylish pair of sealed over-ear headphones that you can take with you everywhere you go.
The earpads are soft and plush, which contributes to the overall wearing comfort.
With its compact design and great sound, the MDR-1AM2 is a great traveling companion.
PICTURES SONY, 123RF