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Get to know the Sony MDR-V6.

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Guarded by a very thin mesh, the speakers of the are 40mm wide, and easy to wipe earwax and other gunk off of.

Speaker Image

The backs of the s are very plain, though they do feature labeling quite prominently.

Back Image

Wrapped in faux leather, the metal band of the adjusts to fit all sizes of noggin, and carries a very visible distinction between left and right channels. Additionally, the ear cups can fold inward, allowing for easier stowing.

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Ten feet long, the cable of the s are made with a heavy-duty wire, and strong insulation.

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The cable of the s end in a normal-looking 1/8th inch plug. You can also screw on the 1/4th inch adapter for older systems, or amplifiers if you decide to use one.

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Leading out of the left ear cup is the cableguard to the 's cord. It is made of a somewhat thick rubber, and should survive most casual abuse.

The packaging includes a 1/4th inch adapter, carrying pouch, and of course, your s.

In the Box Image

For the most part, the s should be able to handle most wear and tear associated with transport and casual use, but they aren't invincible. If you do end up accidentally breaking the cable, there's no replacing it, so be careful how you stow the cord.

While it is true that these headphones are nothing special to look at, there's something to be said for the simple design of the s. They aren't too flashy, and they definitely don't look too cheap: they look like no-nonsense headphones.

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For an entry-level set of headphones, these cans have a fantastic frequency response for monitoring. Notice how the line stays relatively flat throughout the entire range of frequencies? This is exceptionally good for music and audio creation because there isn't much that the headphones will do to mislead the listener: what you hear on these headphones is what people are likely to hear on their speakers (provided they're monitors too).

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This is also especially good for those of you sitting at your computer to listen to your music as well. Because the frequency response is flat, and doesn't emphasize or underemphasize any frequency to a large degree, you can virtually equalize your music without too much distortion. Very cool.

Frequency Response Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Frequency_Response) While there is a bit of distortion in the lowest end, it's really not enough to ruin anybody's day, as it is well below what most people can hear.
Distortion Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Distortion) Here too, the s aren't perfect, but the channel preference errors shown here are very close to inaudible, and you'll definitely not hear them if you don't know what to look for.
Tracking Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Tracking) All things considered, the s do block out a fair amount of outside noise, provided there isn't much low-frequency noise in your general vicinity. You _will_ hear air conditioners, motors, people banging around in the other room _et cetera_, but for the most part, high-end noise will be severely muffled.
Isolation Graph
[Click here for more information on our isolation test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Isolation) Unfortunately the s do leak a bit of noise, though it's nowhere near enough to be a gigantic concern if you keep your volume in check. Given that these headphones see their best use near the computer with their giant cord, chances are good that you'll be far away from people to begin with. [Click here for more information on our leakage test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Leakage) Despite the s' ability to blast tunes at a level of 112.7dB before hitting a 3% level of distortion (higher than most iPods can output), we strongly advise you to reconsider listening to your audio at such a volume. In fact, it is very likely that you'll [damage your hearing](https://www.reviewed.com/headphones/News/Noise-Induced-Hearing-Loss-and-You.htm#dbexpl) if you do. [Click here for more on our maximum usable volume test](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Maximum Usable Volume) You'll notice immediately that while the s don't put a ton of pressure on your noggin, they do manage to stay in place. The band is adjustable, and overall the fit is fairly comfortable.
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Over time, however, the s do tend to build up a bit of heat, and if you sweat at all, the padding can get a little itchy where it touches your pinna. It loses a tiny bit of score here for that, as this problem was reported in less than a third of test subjects.

There's really not much you can do to customize these cans aside from using the adapter, and shoving them into a carrying case. We suppose you could paint them, but that's generally not recommended.

With a long cord measuring in at 10 feet long, the s are not well-suited for mobile use, nor do they have any in-line accessories. Capping off that behemoth of a cable is a standard 1/8th inch plug, which is threaded to lock in the 1/4th inch adapter if you choose to use it.

Plug Image

DJs rejoice, as the s come with a carrying pouch made out of the same faux leather as the band covering. It does a fairly good job of keeping junk away from the drivers, and is fairly easy to stuff into a bag or backpack without much trouble. Still, it doesn't seal all the way, so be wary of the adapter falling out if you just let it bounce around in there.

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Aside from the ability to pull off the ear pads to wipe them down with a damp cloth or alcohol, there's really not much else you can do to maintain your cans. Still, these are fairly durable, so this shouldn't be a huge concern.

Design

By design, both of these headphones are fairly durable, but the Audio-Technica cans are much heavier and can take more abuse. Additionally, they have far greater cup movement, which allows for one-ear listening if you’re a fan of that sort of thing. Both can be folded up to be stowed in their included pouches.

Frequency Response

For studio monitoring, the Sony MDR-V6s have a much more desirable frequency response, as it is more or less flat, while that of the ATH-M50s boosts bass quite a bit, and also has a few ranges of underemphasis that could lead to bad leveling in audio recording.

Distortion

The Sony MDR-V6s have a small bit of distortion in the low end, but the ATH-M50s have a famously low level of total harmonic distortion.

Tracking

Neither set of headphones has perfect tracking, but the issues in channel preference are largely inaudible for both, and you shouldn’t really hear them in either set of cans.

Isolation

The Sony MDR-V6s block out a bit more sound than the ATH-M50s do.

Comfort

If you don’t like the heft of the ATH-M50s, the Sony MDR-V6s are a bit lighter, as well as a little bit softer. Still, there are those out there who don’t mesh well with the included pads for the Sony MDR-V6s, and in that case, the ATH-M50s might suit you better. The only way to know for sure is to try them on for yourself.

Verdict

Because both sets of headphones are fairly far into their life cycle (the Sony MDR-V6s in particular have been around for over a decade), you can find them both at price points that are far below their original selling point. Because of this, the Sony MDR-V6s can be found for under $100, while the ATH-M50s are typically between $100 and $150. If you’re looking to save a bit of money, the Sony MDR-V6s are a fantastic buy, though there are definitely a couple advantages to picking up the ATH-M50s.

Design

As you might be able to guess from the pricetag, the HD 800s are serious headphones. Not only do they have open backs to allow full driver movement, but they also have detachable cables, and a very fine-tuned (but fragile) construction. In contrast, the Sony MDR-V6s are built more cheaply, but if you knock them around a bit, they’ll continue to work.

Frequency Response

The HD 800s have a closer to ideal frequency response here, resembling very closely what a human ear without any hearing damage should hear. The Sony MDR-V6s, on the other hand, have a few blemishes here and there.

Distortion

Where the Sony MDR-V6s have some incredibly minor issues in the low end, the HD 800s have a super low distortion measure.

Tracking

Like most headphones, neither are perfect in their measured channel preferences, but their errors are so minor as to be inaudible.

Isolation

The Sony MDR-V6s actually block out a decent amount of highs and mids, though they let low-end noise in virtually unimpeded. The HD 800s basically don’t block any sound at all, so they’re best suited for the studio: away from any outside noise.

Comfort

Despite our usual line about trying each on for yourself, the Sennheiser HD 800s are more comfortable than the Sony MDR-V6s. Not only are they light, but they have a huge area of contact on your head. Their padding is softer than what can be found on the Sony MDR-V6s, and it is very easy to forget that they’re on your head after a while.

Verdict

This one comes down to price and environment, as the price gulf between the two headphones is massive. Why compare the two, then? Because the Sony MDR-V6s actually do fairly well given their price, and it’s worth noting that their frequency response is only a few errors away from somewhat resembling that of a much better headphone. Their added attenuation is a plus, but when it comes to studio monitoring, the Sennheiser HD 800s are king.

Design

By design, the Sony MDR-V6s are less durable and flashy than the Beats Pro. Not only that, but the Monster headphones have a removable cable that can be plugged into either side of your headphones, and a metal construction. Still, the Sony MDR-V6s do their job at a much lower price.

Frequency Response

Here’s the true test of the marketing surrounding both headphones. While the Beats Pros are billed as having “studio quality sound,” they flat-out do not, and that’s actually okay. The Sony MDR-V6s have a more or less flat response that is best suited for studio monitoring, and the Beats Pros have an erratic response that emphasizes bass frequencies heavily, making them better suited for casual music listening. They have anything but studio sound.

Distortion

Neither set of headphones has an audible level of distortion, but the Sony MDR-V6s do have a teeny tiny low-end problem.

Tracking

Both sets of headphones have extremely minor channel preference errors, but they are so small that you’d never hear them when listening to music.

Isolation

Despite the Beats Pros’ all-metal construction, the Sony MDR-V6s actually attenuate more noise, getting your that much more removed from your surroundings.

Comfort

While we defer to your judgment on the comfort level of headphones (we all have different heads), it is worthy of note that the Beats Pros’ band does take some breaking in, and they also are much heavier than the Sony MDR-V6s. See if you can try each on before you buy.

Verdict

This one really comes down to two things: price and intended use. For starters, the Sony MDR-V6s are about $100, and are great for studio monitoring. The Beats Pros, on the other hand, are upwards of $400 and better for casual music listening. Whatever our intended use, the information to make the best decision for you is written above.

There's a reason that the s have been around so long, and it's that they are fantastic headphones at an equally good price point. For anyone with a music-making hobby, they are probably the best headphones you can grab for under $100 for studio monitoring, and that's invaluable. Because they also block out a fair amount of high-end noise, they can also be used in a somewhat noisy environment and still work better than even some more expensive monitors.

While it is true that most readers on our site look for headphones to listen to music on, there are a few of you out there looking for cans that will work for a more specialized purpose, and the s fit this bill. They have a flat frequency response, extremely minor distortion, and are durable (and affordable) enough to not worry so much about treating them gingerly. They work, day in and day out. Even if you only want a set of headphones by the computer, the flat frequency response means that you can equalize them very easily.

If you're looking to save some cash, and think the s will suit your needs, the s can be found online under $100, which is a very big bang for your buck. Sure, they've been around for years and years, but there's a good reason, and that's because they're solid headphones.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

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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