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Sony MDR-1ADAC

12/9/2014 8:17:13 PM
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$499
Type: closed-back, dynamic; driver: 40mm; frequency response: 4Hz to 40,000Hz (digital input), 4Hz to 100,000Hz (analogue input); impedance: 24 ohms; battery life: 7hr 30min

 

The Sony MDR-1ADAC and Focal Spirit Classic are likely to be on the shortlist of those searching for headphones in the $500 range. But they could not be more different - both in looks and sonics.

While the Spirit Classic catches the eye with its classy brown tone, the MDR-1ADAC blends into the background with its mostly black finish.

The MDR-1ADAC also has a built-in and rechargeable Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC). This converts digital data from the music into analogue signals that are required to drive the headphones.

The DAC mode is activated when you connect the headphones via a Lightning cable to an Apple device or a micro-USB cable for other devices.

Essentially, the inclusion of a DAC promises better sound for the listener, as many smartphones and computers do not come with premium DACs.

With the DAC mode activated, I heard a bass-heavy sound quality that differs from the Focal Spirit Classic's more neutral quality. The Sony MDR-1ADAC would be great for electronic, dance, 70s disco, hip-hop and some pop music.

It simply is fun to use and I found myself tapping my toes to each track, something I did not always do with the Focal Spirit Classic.

On the flip side, the higher frequencies in tracks such as Michael Jackson's I Just Can't Stop Loving You and Bee Gee's Nights On Broadway were sometimes drowned out due to the dominance of the bass.

Switching off the DAC resulted in a poorer sound quality.

Bass response was still strong, but highs and mids became even weaker. It was almost like using a different pair of headphones.

Despite weighing 300g, the MDR-1ADAC felt comfortable to wear. The earcups swivel so you can lay the headphones flat to make stowing them in a bag easier.

 
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