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Sony MDR-ZX700 review

Andrew Williams



Our Score


User Score


  • Great sound isolation
  • Balanced sound
  • Comfortable


  • Limited soundstage
  • Sound not as smooth as some

Review Price £61.61

Key Features: 50mm drivers; 1.2m cable; 1.8m cable extension; 3.5mm jack; Faux leather ear pads

Manufacturer: Sony

The Sony MDR-ZX700 headphones are the little brothers of the MDR-Z1000, Sony's top studio monitor headphones. They look virtually identical and both have 50mm drivers, but when one set costs almost £400 and the other just over £60, can they really compare? Let's see if Sony has just come up with the headphone bargain of the year.

Studio headphones are judged on slightly different criteria than a standard set of at-home or MP3 player cans. They're there so that whoever's listening to a mix can hear an accurate representation of its entire frequency spectrum. An overly bassy or over-bright sound will naturally ruin this, so studio headphones are rarely designed to thrill the ears. They also need to be able to survive a life of bumps and knocks in a recording studio. Surrounded by racks of studio equipment worth hundreds or thousands of pounds a pop, headphones aren't always given the most courteous treatment. MDR-ZX700 3

Although dubbed "studio" headphones, the Sony MDR-ZX700 aren't designed to spend a life in a professional recording studio. They use a 3.5mm (rather than 6.3mm) headphone jack, don't offer a removable cable and are a bit too cheap for the likes of Mark Ronson to take seriously. They do benefit from a design based around the studio-bound MDR-Z1000 model though.

These are as closed-backed as headphones get. The outer part of each cup is covered with very thick, very tough plastic. Working in conjunction with the generously-padded fake leather ear pads, this design supplies the MDR-ZX700 with excellent noise isolation. Factor-in that they're not ridiculously huge like some over-the-ears sets and you have a great set of commuter headphones.

MDR-ZX700 2

They don't block out the rumbles of engines as well as active noise cancelling headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 3, but are better at getting rid of the noise of other people's conversations ─ probably more annoying anyway. Just as important, they also stop your music from filtering out into the world. Comfort is also top-notch thanks to the well-padded headband and ear cups.

The cable filters down from just one ear cup, the left one. It's 1.2m long, and while it's not removable there's a 1.8m extension cable included in the box. This boosts the flexibility of the MDR-ZX700 substantially, letting them switch from on-the-go headphones to an at-home set just by clicking in a cable. There's no 3.5mm-to-6.3mm jack converter though, which is a shame.

MDR-ZX700 1

Build quality of these headphones is great throughout, but the materials used are something that separates the £65 MDR-ZX700 from the £400 MDR-Z1000. Where the more expensive set is made from magnesium, these headphones are plastic. There's nothing wrong with plastic-bodied headphones though - plenty of sets costing hundreds of pounds use the stuff.

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August 15, 2011, 12:32 am

Having bought these headphones a few months ago - fulfilled by Amazon - I never received the 1.8m extension cable.

Is there any way to get these without buying them separately?


August 15, 2011, 2:03 am

Hi James,

Absolutely. It's just a standard 3.5mm extension cable. For the cheapest price, eBay's the best best. You'll be able to get one for a few quid. Just search for "3.5mm extension". There will generally be some high quality options for a few pounds more too.

Alternatively, most high street electronics retailers (Currys/PC World/Maplin) should be able to sort you out too.


August 15, 2011, 3:54 am

Cheers, I was hoping to see if I could get it straight from Sony if I were meant to have got it bundled (maybe even free, you never know) but if it's only a cheapo one anyway it probably isn't worth it.


August 15, 2011, 1:24 pm

Ahh right. Not sure about getting it direct from Sony. It may be that they changed the pack very soon after release. Seems a bit odd though.


August 15, 2011, 3:40 pm

Ah it seems they may have been US imports (which would explain the US warranty thinking about it) where there seems to be no mention of an extension cable for their model.

Never mind.


August 16, 2011, 7:48 am

I talked to a customer service rep of U.S. Sony. He did not believe an extention cord was included. I will report back if otherwise.


August 16, 2011, 3:11 pm

Hi guys. Could anyone tell me how these compare to the Sennheiser HD202's please.

I own the above and am wondering if these are a substantial upgrade?


August 16, 2011, 5:01 pm

I'm liking the investigative work going on here guys. Two thumbs up!


November 7, 2011, 2:36 am

Could someone explain to me why these are rated 2 points higher than the Sennheiser HD 220 Originals for Value when they're apparently 1 point worse in terms of Sound Quality and almost double the price?


November 7, 2011, 4:00 am

Hi Fantastikid,

The scores can't really be compared that directly, as they're in different classes - in terms of both cost and type. The sound score only relates to the class each is part of - the HD 220s are budget on-ears and the MDR-ZX700s are mid-range over-ears. Having an absolute sound score is a nice idea, but not really practical when we review headphones from £15 to £2000.

The MDR-ZX700 sound better, and are better for home recording situations. Sennheiser's HD220 are more portable though. For an at-home set, I'd recommend the Sonys every time if you can afford the extra.


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