Sony MDR-MV1

Sony MDR-MV1

Verdict

A fun, engaging pair of open-backed wired headphones, and though the MDR-MV1 are from Sony’s professional side, they do a fine job when used for home listening.

Pros

  • Super comfortable to wear
  • Surprisingly big bass for an open-back pair
  • Easy to drive
  • Fun, spacious and dynamic performance

Cons

  • Some might feel bass is overdone
  • Not really for portable use


  • Frequency rangeAccepts a signal from 5Hz to 80kHz

  • Open-backed designLets sound leak out for a bigger soundstage

  • ImpedanceLow impedance means it can be driven easily by laptops and smartphones

Introduction

There’s been a resurgence in wired headphones recently, and we’re also seeing a variety hitting the spotlight, such as the Sony MDR-MV1.

These are studio monitor headphones for mastering and mixing audio in a professional space. You might be wondering why I’m reviewing them, and to be honest, I had the same feeling, until I gave them a listen.

The MDR-MV1 aren’t the typical choice for home listening but for audiophiles, I think you’ll want to give this pair closer attention.

Design

  • Lightweight frame
  • Open-backed design

These headphones are unbelievably comfortable to wear. As these are headphones designed for a mixing space, they’re intended to be worn for hours on end with soft, breathable earpads that Sony claims are intended for creators to immerse themselves in their work without distraction. They’re very comfortable to wear, the clamping force is light but the quality of earpads means the headphone hugs the head well. These aren’t headphones that’ll fling off your head if you turn too quickly.

Sony MDR MV1 earpadsSony MDR MV1 earpads
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The headband offers a nice plush feel on top, and you can adjust the fit through the slider (not a stepless one), while there’s a degree of movement to rotate the earcups so they better conform to your head.

The MV1 also feature an open-backed design, which means the outer part of the earcup has a transparent mesh that lets sound out as well as in. In a home environment people could hear what you’re playing if they get close enough, but there are positives in that the soundstage becomes bigger and wider as a result.

The cable is detachable and terminates in a 6.3mm plug with a 3.5mm mini jack adapter. There is no carry case or pouch.

Sony MDR MV1 cable and adapterSony MDR MV1 cable and adapter
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Specification

  • Wide frequency range
  • HD dynamic drivers
  • Hi-Res Audio compatible

Sony states the frequency response is from 5Hz to 80kHz. That’s a large spectrum of the frequency range to cover, especially as human ears won’t be able to hear much of it.

If the headphones are tuned for that frequency range however, you’ll be able to “feel” it rather than hear it, as well as offering more control over the frequencies that you can hear. That’s the theory anyway.

Sony MDR MV1 headband sliderSony MDR MV1 headband slider
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The wide frequency range also means the headphones cater to Hi-Res Audio standards. These headphones have been tuned to listen to spatial audio such as Sony’s own 360 Reality Audio standard, though as far as I can tell, it’s difficult to hear 360 Reality Audio through desktop music streaming apps (I may be mistaken). Tidal will also be dropping 360 Reality Audio from July 24th, 2024; making it even harder still.

The drivers – or as Sony describes them, HD drivers – have been engineered to deliver a low-distortion performance through its high-compliance diaphragm shape and corrugation design. It should, so Sony says, allow the headphones to reproduce audio in both the low and super high range.

Sony MDR MV1 physical connectorSony MDR MV1 physical connector
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Impedance is a low 24 ohms, which makes these headphones very easy to drive (your laptop or smartphone shouldn’t have a problem). Sensitivity is 100dB so these headphones can get fairly loud when pushed.

Sound Quality

  • Energetic, dynamic sound
  • Big bass
  • Smooth, detail rich midrange

Sony describes the sound profile of these wired headphones as neutral, and in a sense that is true as they’re neither necessarily crisp or lean, nor do they feature (much) warmth to colour the sound.

Whenever I think of the word neutral I also think of the word balance; the top, mid, and low frequency bands holding hands in harmony, neither one standing out too much from the other. Balance isn’t quite the word I’d apply to these headphones – and I don’t have a problem with that.

Sony MDR MV1 headbandSony MDR MV1 headband
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

For an open-backed pair of headphones, the MDR-MV1 have a surprisingly big bass performance, showcasing the kind of power and punch to low frequencies that I’d expect from a closed-back design. Compare them to the Sivga P-II and the Sony gives low frequencies much more slam and attack than the reserved and disciplined bass afforded by a similarly priced Sivga pair.

There’s lots of detail to be found across the board – the midrange sounds smooth but is also detail rich. With Faye Webster’s Better Distractions the Sony proffer an excellent sense of clarity to her voice, the percussive elements of the track are both punchy and weighty, the highs suitably clear and bright.

There’s not the same level of sharpness or discipline to the bass compared to the Austrian Audio Hi-X65, but for what are a pair of reference headphones, the MDR-MV1 are surprisingly fun and boisterous.

Sony MDR MV1 earcups detailSony MDR MV1 earcups detail
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The soundstage is very wide and spacious, and the way the headphones’ imagining of the soundstage feels different from other open-backed headphones, as if there’s more height to the soundstage while instruments and vocals are brought forward towards the listener rather than held back. The feeling is one more of immersion.

I’ve even used these headphones to listen to recordings I’ve taken of meetings and the focus on voices is excellent. If you do transcribe, these headphones work well in that context.

Back to music, and listening to GoGo Penguin’s Erased by Sunlight, the treble hits hard and bright without being splashy, though there have been tracks where the Sony can sound a little too peaky with the highs. For the most part, transients/leading edges are well controlled, music is vividly realised by these headphones but still handled in a natural way.

You can easily place the spatial relationship between instruments in tracks or hear an instrument move and travel across the soundstage. There’s always something happening that you can pick out, a detail you hadn’t quite noticed before with the Sony good at retrieving low level details as well as bringing out the dynamism and flourish in tracks such as Joe Hisashi’s Water Traveller.

Sony MDR MV1 open backed designSony MDR MV1 open backed design
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Even with low bit-rate Spotify streams the Sony still manages to uncover detail and parlay a sense of dynamism. Of course, it’s better to listen to a higher quality music service such as Qobuz – the MDR-MV1 become much more revealing the better the source – but they’re still a good listen even if the source is compromised.

It’s with a listen to Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry About A Thing that sums up the MDR-MV1’s qualities the best. It takes about two minutes of the track before I start taking down notes – these headphones offer such a fluid and expressive sound that I sit there and just enjoy the music. I don’t think there’s a better compliment than that.

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Should you buy it?

You should buy for their fun, musical sound

Plenty of slam to the bass, bright and clear highs, a clear and smooth midrange performance – the Sony MDR-MV1 are a lot of fun to listen to across a wide range of music genres.

You should not buy if you desire more balance

If it’s more of a neutral and balanced performance that you’re looking for, then the Sony cans aren’t quite that, especially with the bass performance. The Austrian Audio Hi-X65 present a more disciplined and sharper sound.

Final Thoughts

For what’s deemed to be a reference pair of headphones, Sony MDR-MV1 are a surprisingly fun and musical listening experience. The rich and deep bass may put some off who are looking for discipline and balance but the headphones’ dynamic range, wide soundstage and detail rich sound make for a fun and engaging listen.

They’re not the sharpest sounding headphones. A pair like the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 offer a more finely tuned sense of precision and crispness, as well as a bass performance that’s reined in comparatively to the Sony, but if you are considering a pair of headphones for home listening, this pair from Sony’s professional range should at the very least on your shortlist. They offer as much fun as I’ve had from any headphones in 2024.

How we test

We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Tested with real world use

FAQs

What adapters does the Sony MDR-MV1 come with?

The MDR-MV1 terminates in a 6.3mm jack, with a 3.5mm adapter provided.

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