Sony MDR-Z1R

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by mrweirdude, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    Yeah, I also tried the Z1R's with the TA-ZH1ES, connected to my 1Z, which should be the true Sony TOTL stack, and still had the same issues. And call me crazy, but if a $3.2K source connected to a $2.2K headphone amp can't drive a $2.2K HP from the same company, then I'm not going to go searching for the perfect combination outside of their stable.

    In my 2-channel experience (which runs about a decade longer than my HP obsession) I've had highly reputable speaker designers tell me precisely what amps they used for voicing their transducers and their preferred cables and it's never let me down. If Sony can't get this right (when their DAP is kick ass and they have more resources then just about any other company in the space) then what the flippin' heck. Game over man, game over... (RIP Bill Paxton)
     
  2. Chianti

    Chianti Rando

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    After a couple of days with Z1R, I have settled on the EQ curve below. This is probably 80% the way where I'm going to end up after more fine tuning:
    [​IMG]
    With the EQ in place, I removed the tape from the phone's bass ports (no longer needed).

    This profile doesn't invalidate Tyll's measurements, rather incorporates some of his findings.
    The Z1R takes EQ very very well, most of its qualities persist - it sounds a little bit less "open", but for that you can always flip a switch and turn off the EQ ...
    Qualifier: I can only hear up to 16k (all things must pass ...) - so don't trust my EQ >15k if your hearing is much better ...

    To apply the EQ, I'm using Roon -> Loopback -> Audio Hijack running DMG Equilibrium -> SU1
    Configuration B: Audirvana with Equilibrium plug-in
    For mobile use of Z1R with EQ on iPhone -> Hugo 2 (whenever it arrives ...), I just discovered the free CapTune app from Sennheiser, which allows 10-band EQ on Tidal (!)
     
  3. Boops

    Boops Friend

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    Impressions from the loaner tour:

    My initial impressions of the Z1Rs were pretty positive. I listened to them at CanJam in NYC at Sony’s table. I had to choose from their selection of music, which was not that extensive, but I was intrigued enough by what I heard to get in on the loaner tour. After having some extended time with these on my own gear with my own music, I’m much less enthusiastic.

    To get this out the way, I still love the industrial design and ergonomics. They are easily the best I’ve encountered among the flagships. Extremely light for their size and comfortable. Exquisite materials. Great design on the headband adjustment and cable attachments. I even love the weird, bulbous mesh earcups. They made my ears a little sweaty, but no big deal.

    Sonically, these are a very mixed bag. They do a pretty nice job with vocals. Both male and female voices sounded rich, present, alive. Tracks with layered vocals or multiple singers can be especially beautiful. The resolution these are capable of, combined with the spaciousness of the soundstage was great with tracks like this and often gives the impression of being right in the middle of the music. But, they have the tendency to misbehave and get rough, edgy and fatiguing when singers really start to belt out notes or sing lyrics with a lot of sibilants.

    Every aspect of this headphone suffers from this strange mix of good and bad. The boosted bass is authoritative and fun in EDM and modern studio pop. But in recordings of real instruments, both electric and acoustic, it's overdone. Pianos end up sounding damped and unrealistic, live rock bands sound unbalanced and way too bassy. The treble can be beautiful at times, but there are unfortunate holes in the FR that make cymbals sound especially off. Detail retrieval is decent, except when a wall of bass is throwing a wet blanket over everything, which happens often.

    To sum up: the Z1Rs do some things very well, but some things very poorly. They are probably the most uneven flagship headphone I’ve heard and don’t excel in any one area except for build/design. They often seem to be putting a foot wrong. The peaks and valleys in the FR and the constant competition between good and bad qualities add up to a general impression of incoherence.

    My chain is Mac USB → Gumby → EC BW2. I listened to the Sonys exclusively for 3 days before making comparisons to Utopia and 650s (stock), which are my go-tos.
     
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  4. spwath

    spwath Pubeless Playboy

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    yeah, i would love their comfort and build in a cheaper phone. I liked the sound for the time i had it on loaner.
     
  5. Ringingears

    Ringingears Honorary BFF

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    Last impressions from the loaner tour. On first listen was impressed with the sound. Seemed to have a pleasing FR. Enjoyed the extra bass. Not a basshead. Seemed about the right amount. Sounded very good on all the usual. Eagles HFO etc. Then tried some classical and opera. This is when the "good cop bad cop" nature of the headphones, as has been described repeatly, began to appear. Sub-bass pushing up into the higher frequencies. Certain treble notes somewhat piercing. This has all been covered before so I won't repeat it here. Overall the sound to me was like a 3-way speaker in which the crossover network did an uneven job at intergrating the drivers. Only other thing to add, if you are still with me. :D I found a Saturday with the house to myself all day. Listened to them for over 8 hours with breaks. Played my best stuff and some just O.K. recordings. By early evening something strange began to occur. I really started to like the sound. Really really like it. Was tapping my feet, singing (badly) along with my favorites. (No alcohol involved just to be clear). Then I realized I was playing music that I know extremely well. My only hypothesis was that my brain was correcting the errors somehow.
    Finished about 1 a.m. Great evening of music. Auditory accommodation perhaps?

    I can see how some people enjoy this headphone. It does do some things very well. To test my hunch, I tried some of the same tracks I really enjoyed the night before the next afternoon. All the issues with this headphone were back, even worse actually. Asked a friend with good ears to take a quick listen. He got through two Mark Knopfler tracks. "Something's really off with the vocals, how much do these cost?". It just seems to me that Sony has the technology to make a world class headphone. It just can't decide how to tune it to take advantage of the tech. Some people may enjoy this can. Just not me. And not at $2300. However if they could make it sound the way it did after my 8 hours of listening right from the start, I'd be saving up right now.

    Did a little research online, and was struck by this. I will leave with this quote.

    "The auditory cortex plays an important yet ambiguous role in hearing. When the auditory information passes into the cortex, the specifics of what exactly takes place are unclear. There is a large degree of individual variation in the auditory cortex, as noted by biologist James Beament, who wrote,
    “The cortex is so complex that the most we may ever hope for is to understand it in principle, since the evidence we already have suggests that no two cortices work in precisely the same way." |{

    Edit: Might explain the Ember II mystery.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
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  6. PeteMullersKeyboard

    PeteMullersKeyboard Rando

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    Wondering if anyone who's spent a reasonable amount of time with LCD4s has heard these.

    Really interested in a closed-back, given my new, longer commute, and occasional loudness around the house. Of course, will be interesting to see how these stack up against the 820s, I'm sure there will be quite a difference. I'd like to hear the Z1Rs but it sounds like they are simply not worth the money. A shame, as I love the way they look and they certainly seem to be some of the best-built headphones available right now. And, like some others here, I really *wanted* Sony to knock it out of the park...I've been a big fan of their products for a long time now. Was lucky enough to grow up around a Sony SACD player and for years now have owned one of their flagship SXRD TVs, and of course have had plenty of hours on Playstation like many other people my age.

    Would be interesting to see where the "speaker amp" road goes, but like someone else mentioned a while back...not enough people will care. Either way, it looks like they have quite a strong built-in sound signature that's hard to override.
     
  7. Phoebus7

    Phoebus7 Rando

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    I am currently using the Sony Z1R with LH Labs Geek Pulse Xfi and Chord Mojo and wanted to know what is are the upgrade path for dac/amp combo to improve midrange and get more details out of the Z1r. I am very happy with these but wondering if I can further improve the performance. I am not using stock cable Forza copper balanced cables. Thanks
     
  8. DanHowardArt

    DanHowardArt Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    For me, this is my EDM/ Drum n Bass dream headphone. Well produced electronic music binds so well with the sound signature, especially that visceral (thanks Jason) bass and wide soundstage and imaging. But like others have mentioned, that treble spike in the 7 -10Khz can be odd. In some songs, let's take Outkast's "Unhappy" for example, that spike latches on to that electronic hi-hat pattern in the song and puts it right in your face and is quite distracting. Equalizing down those regions makes it a lot more enjoyable.

    After awhile demo-ing and finally pulling the trigger and sitting down for a long while with them, I really enjoy these. They are a fun headphone by every definition. It's not going to be my all-around since it's quite picky with rock and anything with heavy treble, but I don't see parting ways with it.

    I've been using it on the HD DAC-1. Looking forward to trying it with a balanced amp in the future.
     
  9. bclark8923

    bclark8923 Rando

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    Just spent the last day and a half listening to these on my main rig and I'm struggling to explain why I both like and don't like them. I'm using a Metrum Pavane Level 3 -> Liquid Carbon X (SE). I prefer a slightly warmer tonality and the bass->mids sound perfect to me (maybe a slight less mid-bass would be better but I like the sub bass extension), but from upper mids through the treble somethings just seems "off" especially with cymbals. Also pretty sure there's a strange reverb/reflection thing going on. I also get sibilance on these where other TOTL headphones I've heard don't. These sound similar to the HD650 to me with a bit more bass, a touch more air (albeit unevenly) and a much larger sound stage.

    That being said of all the closed backs I've heard I'd probably take this over all of them.

    For reference I compare my headphones tonality against my speaker system (pavane -> parasound halo -> Ascend Sierra 2 + Rythmik L12)
     
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  10. Gofspar

    Gofspar Almost "Made"

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    I've had the Z1R on loan from a friend for awhile now, and I will say this, bass texture is great, mids are definitely warm, and I absolutely hate the treble tonality. it's a dictionary definition of weeb tuning

    friend gave me the a-ok to mod the shit out of these. my suspicion for the 3k resonance is the material they use for the driver backing is too dense/reflective and is causing a resonance between that and the magnesium dome, cup is pretty much free of resonances and the resonance is still there when played free-air.

    I don't fancy using acetone and a xacto to replace the damping paper on a $2300 headphone, but it's looking like that will be the solution unless I want to muck around with front-side damping as a last resort.

    ontop of that, the magnet is cucked and is definitely underpowered and doesn't help that these are already underdamped.

    For anyone who cares, heres what the inside of your Z1R looks like.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  11. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Too sensitive for SBAF

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    I take exception to that, @Gofspar. Even my weeb ears didn't care for the treble on those, haha.

    Jokes aside, interesting to see that Sony's marketing spiel about the cups basically being acoustically transparent (or whatever it was they said— all I recall was that they made a huge deal about the cups on these) was true, though I think it quite an odd oversight that they'd then proceed to dampen the driver with material that's plenty bad enough with resonances.

    Flatten 3kHz a bit and bring down the 10k spike down by a LOT and these would be great basshead cans, though I feel that the quality of the bass isn't quite all that great as to justify the price. Fostex TH-900 was definitely better in that department. I A/Bed both the Sony and my HP-3 in-store out of a WM1A using unfamiliar tracks, except for Daft Punk's Get Lucky, which sounded a bit... boomy? Bass on the Klipsch was a tad tauter, though still too big for my tastes.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
     
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  12. David De Lucena

    David De Lucena Science Nut

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    using this headphone with their walkman nw-wm1z and the Zana deux amp, the sound was very enjoyable, relaxing, smooth. in the same day, we used a dragonfly red, and I almost cried in pain and dispair.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  13. Tenantman18

    Tenantman18 Rando

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    I can't help but chuckle when listening to the Z1R. It needs 'love' so it can give its best. Tube amplification, modify the Sony stock cable to tame the upper-frequency glare..no more ouch! Play with damping the ports.. less is more. And last use the best DAC you have in the house for enjoyable playback on a different level. Not the uber of detail coupled with non-standard acoustic signature but these phones are fun!
     
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  14. Ringingears

    Ringingears Honorary BFF

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    Yes. All that for the low low price of $2300! Plus tax and VAT or import duties depending. I’ll stick to my HD600’s.
     
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  15. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Me too, I think Bill could do it he being modest.
    The issue is again having to resort to modding a dam $2000 plus headphone which is a shame that it NEEDS to be moded.

    Haha your being modest.
    These headphone are BEGGING to be moded.
    The price will keep them away from many though.

    Truthfully, as Jimmy pointed out, he aludes the "tune" of these cans looks very specific (design issue).

    It also shows no form of internal damping, or other tuning variables inside.(from Tyll review pics)..
    So for Sony to say they had some studio engineers to help with the "tunning" is hard to believe how.
    If so, I bet they mostly used EDM or computer music to listen to these cans, lol.


    I believe so also.

    The excessive bass bloat and distortion (coloration) can fairly easily be addressed with use of internal damping...

    But the driver peakiness (with CSD ringing), and also IMO it's fairly weak control (shown in impulse ans square waves) is a way more difficult problem to address.

    Regardless, if anyone wants to take a chance to improve them, I would be willing to mod them, just PM me.
    I won't say I can completely solve those issues, but I have never stopped modifying many others (800,HEK,Denon,zmf,etc).
    Just dealing with tube amps slowed me down.
    :rolleyes:
     
  16. maverickronin

    maverickronin Friend

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    I'm having a real hard time thinking of anything that wouldn't benefit from either mods or EQ.

    I have a small enough list of things that are at least acceptable stock...
     
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