Whenever a pair of headphones claims to have street cred in an urbanite fashion, warning alarms sound at TR towers - because you can bet that a lot of the time it'll mean flabby, boomy bass that spoils the sound entirely. Thankfully that's not the case here.
The Sony PQ1 headphones provide a decent thud, but it's mostly free of the bloat heard in some style-driven alternatives - much less so than the MDR-XB700. It's evidence that Sony is usually a safe pair of hands to entrust a set of headphones to, although this set is certainly not perfect.
There's quite a bit of treble roll-off at the top-end, resulting in a slightly boxed-in sound. The soundscape isn't as wide as some alternatives either, such as the Cresyn C720H and Lindy Premium Hi-Fi, limiting quite how epic they can make your music seem. As you might imagine, they are a little more bouncy and fun than the relatively staid MDR-ZX700, but we'd opt for that more sensible-looking model on sound alone.
However, they don't lose out on the scale benefits of full-size headphones entirely. The 40mm drivers provide more clout and scale than most comparable in-ear pairs, but in around the £70 mark is where headphones start to get really very good, and these can't quite match the best.
What we shouldn't forget, though, is that for many buyers the Sony PQ1 will be an alternative to the over-ears Monster Beats, rather than something more ordinary-looking. In this light, it's hard not to see them as pretty good value. Here at TrustedReviews, we tend to value performance over loud styling, especially when this styling is arguably a bit dubious. Other subtler pairs of headphones bring better sound quality and greater comfort for the same money. However, they are a sonic improvement over Sony's XB-series headphones.
Style-driven headphones with 40mm drivers, the Sony PQ1 are a cheaper alternative to the Monster Beats if a bold look is high on your priority list. However, if you care more about sound than anything else, stronger performers are available at the same price. At least these 'phones don't fall into the trap of cramming in as much bass as possible, but treble roll-off and limited insight stop them from competing with the best.