Sony MDR-1AM2 - Lightweight headphones that deliver robust, detailed sound over a wide frequency range
Sony MDR-1AM2 - Cutaway view of the 40mm precision drivers with aluminum-coated, Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragms
From Sony: MDR-1AM2 Headphones
Sony MDR-1AM2 - Included balanced cable connects to some Sony Walkman high-res portable players (sold separately)
Our take on the Sony MDR-1AM2 by Crutchfield's Jeff Miller
The lightweight Sony MDR-1AM2 headphones team up nicely with a Sony Walkman portable music player (sold separately).
Back to the basics
Sony designed the MDR-1AM2 headphones to do two things right: Sound good and feel good. Those happen to be the characteristics I value most in a set of headphones — and Sony delivered on both.
I give so-called "trickle-down” technology partial credit for the sound quality. Sony borrowed much of the driver design here from breakthroughs they made while developing their flagship closed-back Sony MDR-Z1R headphones. As for the comfort? Sony headphones have always been known to fit pleasantly and fuss-free, but this model feels especially lightweight.
The lightest over-ears I've ever worn?
Maybe it's recency bias, but I don't remember ever wearing a lighter pair of over-ear headphones. They don't seem fragile or delicate — I'd be comfortable toting them in a backpack — they just feel ultra-light. “It's like they forgot to put anything inside them,” my editor quipped as he held them.
Of course, I knew that wasn't true the moment I put them on and played music.
My listening session
There were a number of things that surprised me when listening to the MDR-1AM2, but I was first struck by the size of the soundstage. It usually takes physically larger headphones to produce an outside-the-head experience like this. And the dynamics, imaging, and separation within were all splendid, too.
While I auditioned these headphones, the sad news broke that we lost Aretha Franklin. I immediately felt compelled to throw on Amazing Grace, one of my favorite live albums. She recorded this in '72 at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. It felt as if I was sitting in the congregation, watching the magic unfold before me — applause and shouts of "Amen" all around.
I powered the headphones with my Audioquest DragonFly Black V1.5 headphone amp, and the performance sparkled with energy. On “God Will Take Care of You,” Bernard Purdie's cymbals shimmered in from the right, before Chuck Rainey's bass snuck in from the left. This presentation put the MDR-1AM2's wide range of sound on full display. The highs and upper mids were especially pronounced. (In fact, I listened to the song on other headphones, and didn't even notice the cymbals.) But not at the expense of the low-end — which still packed a mighty punch.
When the Queen herself came in, her sweet, powerful vocals were rightly prominent, yet the backing band, organ, and choir were mixed in nicely. It's a little hard to speak analytically with all the emotion involved. But I've listened to this album several times — through many different speakers and headphones — and I rarely get the same, spot-on sense of place. And man is this a place I want to be.
Specially designed drivers
How do the MDR-1AM2 headphones produce sound so accurately and powerfully? Sony designed the 40mm drivers based off the extra-large drivers they developed for their top-shelf MDR-Z1R model. They use strong, aluminum-coated diaphragms that can move fluidly. These ultra-light diaphragms start and stop quickly to reproduce mids and vocals with precision and detail.
Exploded view of the MDR-1AM2's intricate driver system.
And they can really move some air. Rather than use a traditional grille, Sony opted for a Fibonacci pattern that helps keep air flowing in a specific way that lowers resonance. Vents on both ear cups also help accentuate the bass (while also allowing some noise to creep in if you're listening in a loud environment).
Several ways to connect
These headphones are efficient enough that you can plug them directly to your phone. A remote/mic cable is included with an unbalanced 3.5mm mini plug. Still, you can expect even better sonic results on the go with a portable high-resolution music player.
The MDR-1AM2s are also one of the first models in this price range to include a cable with a 4.4mm balanced headphone plug. Sony developed this new industry standard connection to help cut down on signal noise and distortion. You'll find this connection on Sony's NW-ZX300 Walkman®.
- closed-back, over-the-ear headphones
- extra-lightweight design
- dynamic 40mm drivers with aluminum-coated, Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragms
- tuned for pristine, detailed mids and highs
- delivers a wide-range frequency response
- Fibonacci patterned grille for natural, efficient airflow
- inspired by the spiral pattern of a sunflower
- earcups are softly padded for long-lasting comfort and fold flat for easy storage
Accessories and Specs:
- 47-inch cable with in-line remote and microphone for taking calls and controlling music with an Android device
- 47-inch silver-coated oxygen-free cable with balanced 4.4mm headphone plug
- carry pouch included
- frequency response: 3-100,000 Hz
- sensitivity: 98 dB
- impedance: 16 ohms
- weight: 6.60 oz.
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
What's in the Box:
- Over-the-ear headphones
- 49" Audio connecting cable with in-line 1-button remote/microphone (right angled 3.5mm plug)
- 49" Balanced audio connecting cable (right angled 4.4mm plug)
- Storage pouch
- Operating Instructions
- Warranty sheet (US & Canada)
Sony MDR-1AM2 Reviews
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Features and Specs
|Earcup Width x Height||3.086" x 1.667"|
|Mic For Taking Calls||Yes|
|Frequency Response||3-100k Hz|
|Cord Length||49" + 49"|
|1/4-inch Adapter Included||No|
|Parts Warranty||1 Year|
|Labor Warranty||1 Year|
Overview: The Sony MDR-1AM2 is the "Mark 2" version of the original high-resolution, over-ear headphones. These lightweight, ultra-comfortable headphones have a closed back and soft, synthetic leather ear pads to seal the sound inside, and distracting noise outside. Two cables are included with the headphones, one for use with your smartphone or tablet, and another with balanced connections. The headphones also include a black storage pouch with a drawstring closure.
Drivers: The MDR-1AM2 is equipped with 40mm ALCP (Aluminum-coated Liquid Polymer) dome-type drivers that deliver a wide frequency response, ranging from sub-harmonic lows (3 Hz) to ultra-sonic highs (up to 100kHz) for natural, soothing sound reproduction. The drivers are protected by a patterned grille which allows the sound through without coloration or distortion.
Beat Response Control: The MDR-1AM2 features small ports on the top of each ear cup. Beat Response Control helps improve the transient characteristics of bass frequencies for better accuracy.
Detachable Cables: The headphones come with two 49" detachable cables with silver-coated OFC (oxygen-free copper) conductors. OFC cable ensures maximum signal transfer with minimal degradation. One cable comes with an in-line remote/microphone that is compatible with most smartphones, including iPhones, Android, and Blackberry. The other cable has balanced connections for better sound quality and less transmission loss. Balanced cables have completely separate left and right channel wiring, compared to conventional headphone cables that have a shared ground wire. The balanced cable has the new 4.4mm Pentaconn connector that is found in newer headphone amplifiers and DACs.
SmartKey App: Designed for Sony Xperia Android smartphones, the SmartKey app, available for free download from Google Play, allows you to personalize the functions of the in-line one-button remote. Requires Android 4.0 and up.
- Frequency Response: 3Hz - 100kHz
- Impedance: 16 ohms at 1 kHz
- Power Handling Capacity: 1500mW
- Sensitivity: 98dB / mW
- Weight: 6.5 ounces (w/o cable); 7.3 ounces (with cable)
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