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The EX600s are fairly uncomfortable, very lightweight, and easy to safely tote around.

The Sony MDR-EX600s are in-ears, yes, but they seem to be fine sitting at the very outside of the ear canal, rather than digging in deep. The re-enforced cabling at the top of the bud helps the wire to withstand use-related friction, and it definitely redistributes weight to your pinna (outer ear) well. Not exactly comfortable, but not painful either.

The Sony MDR-EX600s come packaged with a carrying case that has a decent cable management system.

Conveniently enough, the Sony MDR-EX600s come packaged with a carrying case that has a decent cable management system, so you won’t cause a bunch of internal wear and tear on your (admittedly replaceable) cables. The case is rigid and seems durable enough, so feel free to jam it into your bag on the morning commute or a long car or plane ride.

When you buy a set of in-ears, one of the first things you’ll notice is the fact that the cables are probably going to be the first thing to break, and those of the MDR-EX600s are especially fragile. One of the nicer features we see on these in-ears is the ability to replace broken cables when they do bite the dust, not only protecting your investment in good headphones, but also your sanity should something break before a long trip. You'll notice the odd-looking coupling where the cable meets the earbud is actually a screw apparatus that allows you to easily detach the cable in the event of breakage.

The MDR-EX600s don’t truly impress, but they won’t make you recoil in horror either.

The MDR-EX600s have a wonky response, with some odd areas of underemphasis. On the whole though, the bass frequencies aren’t boosted to an unreasonable level, and the MDR-EX600s stay roughly within our ideal limits. Essentially, the necessary variety of sounds are more or less evenly represented, which is relatively good.

Their distortion was minimal, and their tracking (channel favoring) was perfect.

Their distortion was minimal, and their tracking (channel favoring) was perfect, as far as perceptibility is concerned. However, the distortion does pick up considerably at high volumes if you like to make your skull rattle.

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Interestingly enough, of the many sleeves included with the MDR-EX600s are "noise cancelling" sleeves that actually do a worse job at attenuation (noise cancellation) than the regular sleeves by themselves. Overall, expect fairly average isolation results, but keep in mind that in-ears by their very design prevent a lot of outside noise from reaching your ear canal.

The Sony MDR-EX600s are good ear buds—they are neither amazing, nor are they terrible.

The MDR-EX600s (MSRP $199) offer average audio performance, but aren’t really anything special in any one category—they certainly aren’t the best isolators or value buy for their cost. That being said, they are extremely durable as far as in-ears go, and really, there are so many factors going into an informed purchase that there are plenty of reasons to pick these up over other headphones if you like what you see here. You’re definitely getting what you pay for, which is a plus, but keep in mind that there are headphones out there that cost less and perform with a more impressive flair than these do at the tradeoff of lower durability.

The Sony MDR-EX600s are a good buy for their price. They have no major drawbacks, but neither do they have any outstanding strengths. Combining this with their durability and portability, we have to favor them, but if you're looking for real power-house cans, there are better (and cheaper!) choices out there.

Here's why:

A decent overall result, but not without problems worth discussing in more detail.

Frequency response is a test we run to determine how much credence a pair of headphones gives to the Hertz spectrum. The range of Hertz, when applied to music, is an indicator of pitch level, and how well the product handles that range of sounds. Ideally, we want to see equal credence given to the lowest bass tones all the way up to the highest echelons of human hearing.

The MDR-EX600s stay roughly within ideal limits. Unfortunately they do seem to severely downplay frequencies in the 4-7kHz range by about 10dB, where you’ll find some shimmer of cymbals, sibilance and the middle treble frequencies will sound half as loud in comparison to the rest of your music. Some people like this, but it’s something to be aware of.

The MDR-EX600s come with special noise cancelling sleeves, but you're better off without them.

The Sony MDR-EX600s do a decent job isolating their produced sound from ambient noise, but not in the way that you'd expect: they don’t block out any lower-pitched sounds, nor do they do a great job with mid-tones. Included with the Sony MDR-EX600s are a set of “noise canceling” sleeves. Somehow, they seem to do a worse job than the regular sleeves at blocking out sound, only blocking out a maximum of 35dB in a very short range, and falling off to less than 10dB at 1kHz.

In-ears typically corral and contain their own sound very well, as they’re pumping it directly into your ear canal, but the MDR-EX600s for some reason seemed to leak a bit more sound than we expected. You’re not likely to disturb people sitting next to you in a car or train, but if you’re listening to them at night, you may pester your partner a bit.

These headphones can also blast your music at 119.89 dB before hitting the magic distortion level that becomes annoying (3%). Like we iterate ad nauseam, please don’t listen to your MDR-EX600s at or even near this level. We would really hate to hear that one of our readers had damaged their hearing unintentionally. It’s nice to know that these in-ears have that capability in theory, but it’s not something you should be testing on your own.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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