Another tough test is The Doors' masterpiece, Riders on the Storm. Few songs create as much enveloping atmosphere, with the rain end thunder overlaid on those trademark keyboard sounds and Jim Morrison's haunting vocals. Riders on the Storm needs to be played on a good hi-fi, with high end speakers - the result is a truly immersive experience, and one that simply blew away some of my friends when I built my first proper hi-fi, equipped with B&W speakers. Unfortunately, most headphones, even good ones, provide too narrow a sound stage to do Riders justice, but once again the PFR-V1s surprised me. The fact that these headphones sound more like high-end speakers makes them perfectly suited to very atmospheric and immersive music like this.
Sony claims that the PFR-V1s are equally suited to watching movies, although I'm not altogether convinced that any headphones are the best option for movies. Ultimately, no amount of clever sound processing is ever going to be a substitute for a proper multi-channel surround sound setup. That said, compared to standard headphones, the PFR-V1s definitely create a more convincing and wider sound stage when watching movies.
As with all good audio equipment, the PFR-V1s don't come cheap, and many will feel that over £230 is a ludicrous amount of money to pay for a pair of headphones. However, Sony is aiming its Personal Field Speaker headphones at people who are looking for quality, and are willing to pay to get it. Given the performance of these unconventional headphones, I don't feel that the price is high at all.
It's not too often that I'm genuinely surprised by a product, but that's exactly what happened when I placed the PFR-V1s on my head. Perhaps unfairly, I hadn't expected these headphones to sound anywhere near as good as they do, and even now I'm not quite sure how Sony has managed to create a sound as clear, full and completely immersive as this.
The unconventional design also makes for the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn - even after hours of listening I could hardly tell that the PFR-V1s were on my head. And despite the drivers being positioned a fair way from your ears, the majority of ambient noise disappears without the need for active noise cancelling or ear canal seals.
There's no denying that the Sony PFR-V1s don't come cheap, but that shouldn't put off the target buyer. In fact, I'll be buying a pair of these headphones as soon as I get paid, making the PFR-V1s a true Editor's Choice.