Launched in 1991, the MDR-7506 is still one of the unavoidable references on the monitoring headphones market, alongside the no less famous HD-25 and DT770. Sony’s only headphone, still available just about everywhere, has indeed forged a solid reputation in the business, so much so that the manufacturer has still not given it a legitimate successor after its thirty years of existence.

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Like all good monitoring headphones, the Sony MDR-7506 derives a large part of its reputation from its sound reproduction: some describe it as “neutral”, “faithful”, other more nuanced opinions report a unique coloration very useful for certain uses… Still, it has left its mark. The other strong argument of the MDR-7506 is its price, the headphones being proposed under the 100 € bar, while some other references, including those mentioned above, are sold around 130 €.

The first contact with the MDR-7506 is rather engaging. Its sober, “svelte” design, and the majority use of plastic make it a surprisingly light headset (215 g without the cable, 300 g with the cable). Even if the earpieces have a little too easy tendency to tip over at each manipulation, we also greatly appreciate the foldable aspect which allows to store and carry the headset much more easily. As for the wide headband, it supports good torsion, without being totally flexible.

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If a few metal parts reinforce some critical areas of the helmet’s skeleton (hinges and rods to deploy the headband), however, we can’t say that the MDR-7506 inspires great robustness and reliability in the long run. The finishing touches are very basic, the plastic parts are not very dense and therefore potentially fragile, just like the poor quality leatherette used on the ear pads. The latter crumbles quite quickly, so regular replacement of the ear pads is necessary to keep the headphones in good condition for as long as possible; the problem is well known to the manufacturer and users, and pairs can easily be purchased separately. Prominent cables and the inability to detach the main cable are also additional points of fragility, especially if the headset is going to be carried around very regularly.

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The The MDR-7506 is a headset that fits quickly and easily on the head, while staying in place. The notched headband adjustment provides ample headroom for all body types. Due to the light weight and low pinch effect of the ear cups – which allows for a good fit and better weight distribution of the headset – the very little padding in the headband is hardly noticeable. On the other hand, it is not excluded that a break is necessary during long sessions of use.

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<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> La grande légèreté du MDR-7506 est appréciable. Néanmoins, le poids ajouté par le câble torsadé peut parfois se faire ressentir à la longue.

The high lightness of the MDR-7506 is appreciable.

Nevertheless, the added weight of the twisted cable can sometimes be felt over time.

The design of the MDR-7506’s earpieces, on the other hand, is much more divisive. If we can indeed reproach a small lack of softness in the contact with the pads, or their ability to retain heat, it is especially the lack of depth of the earpieces that poses a problem. The space left to house the horns is indeed very limited, and they are quickly pressed against the speaker grille. The level of discomfort varies according to morphology: some will be able to cope with it without too many problems – despite a little discomfort that will require regular breaks -, while others will simply not be able to put on the headphones for more than ten minutes. According to our tests and testimonials, the latter case remains rather rare, but there is no doubt that a test session is necessary before or at the time of purchasing this helmet.

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Another point to make clear is that the MDR-7506 is clearly not the most isolating closed-back headset on the market. It offers decent passive isolation in the mids and highs, but almost no isolation in the lows: a point that is more or less important to take into account depending on your use. Despite this, the headphones still manage to offer a low level of acoustic leakage, even at high volumes, which is particularly reassuring in recording situations, for example.

A large part of the MDR-7506’s reputation comes from its particular sound signature. It’s not the most natural or versatile of sounds, but some aspects of it are interesting for certain purposes.

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The MDR-7506’s uniqueness lies above all in its atypical treatment of the upper midrange. Contrary toCompared to the majority of monitoring headphones, and other types of headphones for that matter, which are more or less attenuated, the Sony headphones generously enhance the entire upper midrange region: a region that is all the more critical because human hearing is most sensitive to it. The overall rendering is thus very energetic and sharp, the feeling of clarity and sound “presence” are exacerbated. This coloration obviously impacts many sources, but it is most noticeable on vocals (both female and male, especially if they are saturated), electric guitars – once again most obviously on saturation/distortion effects -, synthesizers, snare drums, and more specifically sources rich in harmonics. The resulting sharp emphasis on these elements can be relevant for shaping the timbre of an instrument more easily, or for singers and guitarists in recording situations, for example. If this specific processing is clearly not the most natural, it also has another, more pragmatic consequence: the acceleration of hearing fatigue. Listening to the MDR-7506 is not at all easy on human hearing. Even if the headphones are sufficiently precise and clean not to be absolutely aggressive, certain mixes or instruments can sound “abrasive” and therefore exhausting, especially at high listening levels. It will be advisable to remain relatively wise on the volume and to take regular breaks to preserve your ears during long sessions of use.

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<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Mesure du Taux de Distorsion Harmonique (normalisée à 94 dB SPL, à 1 kHz)

Harmonic Distortion Ratio measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL, at 1 kHz)


The MDR-7506 not only acts as a sonic “magnifying glass”, but also changes the perception of stereo space. While there is absolutely nothing to criticize in terms of the width of the soundstage – the headphones show excellent stereo separation – or the very nice extension in the higher frequencies – which greatly help in the good reproduction of details and room effects -, one cannot ignore the obvious lack of depth. Elements usually located in more distant, subtle, sometimes even almost undetectable planes, are placed in the front of the stage. Once again, the treatment provided by these headphones is not very realistic and can cause problems for visualizing and working on the more distant planes of the sound space in a mixing situation. On the other hand, it comes in handy if you want to effortlessly detect certain details or possible unwanted elements during a recording, for example: a point made all the more “useful” by the fact that the MDR-7506 is not incredibly isolating, so you don’t have to be at very high listening volume to cover surrounding noise.

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–><!–[if IE 9]>Mesure de la réactivité des membranes : ondes carrées à 50 Hz

Measuring the reactivity of the membranes: square waves at 50 Hz

To a much lesser extent, there are also some small comments that can be made about bass reproduction. The MDR-7506 offers a level of definition and detail that is at least satisfactory in this region, with a good balance. The base is well marked and the feeling of impact is well reproduced, that said, we sometimes note a small lack of control of the loudspeakers after each attack: this translates into a small lack of punch, of percussion, on the strikes of drums (bass drum, bass tom in particular) and a resonance sometimes a little too marked. The very slight “blur” effect is not very problematic on a solo instrument, but it can become a little more annoying when it is a question of distinguishing perfectly several instruments at the same time (drums, bass/double bass, cello, piano/synthesizer, tuba, bassoon…).

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Strong points

  • Good level of detail and definition, good extension in the highest frequencies.

  • Very good stereophonic separation.

  • An interesting sound signature for certain uses (in sound recording in particular).

  • Foldable and compact design.

  • Few acoustic leaks, even at high volume.

Weaknesses

  • Too much emphasis on the high mids (and quickly exhausting for the hearing).

  • Sound scene crushed in the foreground.

  • Some points of design to be re-examined (cable not detachable, quality of manufacture of the cushions, elements out of plastic a little cheap).

  • Earpieces not very deep.

  • We knew closed headphones more insulating.

Conclusion

on a testé on a aimé

If the MDR-7506 has made a special place for itself in studios and among sound engineers, it is for good reasons, but for very good reasons

s specific needs. Sony’s monitoring headphones are indeed a very interesting tool in certain cases, to detect defects in a recording, to shape the timbre of certain sources more easily, or to help certain instrumentalists during a recording. It is however much less adapted to a polyvalent use, for mixing for example, or simply to be used during long hours. By default, you might be better off with a DT-770 Pro or ATH-M50 in closed design, or a DT-990 Pro in open design.

Sub-Notes

  • Manufacturing
  • Accessories
  • Comfort
  • Connections
  • Audio