Don’t Buy Sony Headphones

I love my iPod, but I cannot stand the stock earbuds. They’re uncomfortable and I don’t understand how people can live with them. So, I was happy when I was given Sony’s MDR-EX71 (AKA Fontopia) headphones as a gift for Christmas 6 months ago. Reviews were favorable and they sounded better than the stock headphones. There’s more low end in the Fontopias than in the stock headphones, plus they’re about 100 times more comfortable. They come with 3 sets of earbuds (small, medium, large) and they were really the best set of compact headphones I’ve ever owned, despite the awkward shape of the wire. The wires don’t branch out in the center; they come up to the left ear and then branch from that to the right ear. That was the hardest thing to adjust to and I never saw the purpose other than the displaying of the Sony logo.

Today, I was editing a video for work on iMovie when our IT director came to talk to me about how annoying it must be to watch this video. I had my headphones on when he started. I took them off to talk. Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden I had no sound from my left channel when I went back to work.

How could this be? Did something happen in the 60 second conversation that I was unaware of? It couldn’t be the headphones…it was probably the iMac. So, unplug the headphones from the iMac, plug them into my iPod. Still no left channel.

These are somewhat expensive headphones. They list at a price of around $50. They sound great but the cables are weak, or the earbuds don’t work right, or whatever the complaints listed on Amazon that I looked at after the fact say. This sucks. I felt like half of me died.

I’ve probably ruined any chances of salvaging them by sticking a pin in the hole to see if maybe I could fix something. The answer? No.

Yet, despite the bad reviews there are people that still rate the headphones something like 4 stars even though they break within 6 months. There are reviews like “I like them so much that I’m on my 3rd pair!” I’m not into the idea of renting headphones. I want headphones that are going to last at the very least 3 years. If I have to spend $50 (they’re actually $30 most places now) for headphones and buy 2 pairs a year, I might as well get the expensive ones from Shure.

So, until I buy new ones I’m stuck with the stock headphones. I hid them in a drawer hoping that I’d never have to see them again, yet knowing that there may be a day when they may be useful again. I won’t be buying Sony branded ones again. Can anyone make recommendations?

4 thoughts on “Don’t Buy Sony Headphones”

  1. I like Sony MDR-V150’s myself. Yeah, it’s Sony, but they’re the bigger overear headphones, and despite constant abuse (including spilling water one one of the phones and having it freeze overnight), mine have held up pretty well for a year. They’re only $20-30, supposedly “studio monitor” (though i personally think they underrepresent higher frequencies when you try to master with them), they have a nice long cord and comfortable faux leather pads on them, and they are really good in terms of how much sound bleeds out of them if you use them for recording or working around other people. Ideal work phones. <br/><br/>Yeah, you may not look that hip when you’re wearing them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that all earbuds are crap and break too easily; paying more than $10 for a pair is pretty laughable, no matter how good they sound. After all, the connection between the cord and the speaker has to also serve as a handle (unless you gingerly pinch the bud when you pull them out) and as support for the weight of the cable (as well as your CD player if you drop it), and reinforcing that would just add weight or bulk, thereby defeating the purpose of using buds instead of overear phones. If you insist on using earbuds, I’d say at least get ones with sport clips (the ones with a clip that slides behind your ear). They’re more comfortable, and I have a pair of $10 Sony’s (what can I say, I’m a Sony whore when it comes to consumer-grade audio) that I got 2 years ago that still work (admittedly they don’t sound QUITE as good as they used to, but then again, they sat on the back speakers of a car that sat in the sun for a whole summer). <br/><br/>Not to make too many excuses for Sony (even though, as I mentioned, I’m a Sony whore), but unless you handle them like they’re made of thin glass, ALL headphones are prone to getting fucked up in some way after a while. One of my friend’s who DJ’s had a huge pair of $150 Pioneer cans that looked like they could stop a bullet and sounded like headmounted Marshall stacks, but after 8 months, the headband bent or broke, and now he’s got basically a pair of Marshall stacks that he can hang on the top of his head an inch or so away from his ears. <br/><br/>Ya can’t win, so I say the hell with it, go cheap (at least until you can get a production company to write off your audiophilia). And as far as I’ve seen, Sony’s the cheapest way to go without getting headphones that sound like the speaker on a Speak and Spell (God, how many times have I fallen for Coby’s?).

  2. Hmm I have the same pair you mentioned in your post and they’ve been going strong since December even with the heavy abuse I put up against them. They’re full of sand, and tugged on pretty viciously a few times a day. Hope they hold out the rest of my deployment, my choices are limited over here.

  3. I splurged a bit and bought the Shure E2Cs. Good reviews, apparently robust cable, 30 day money back guarantee, and a 2 year warranty. Should arrive next week.

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