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Sony MDR-770LP Review

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Brief: Unique-looking slim portable headphone from Sony utilizing 30mm drivers

MSRP: $49.99 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $21 from amazon.com

Build Quality (7.5/10): The MDR-770LP utilizes a simple structure composed of a single-piece headband wrapped in a rubbery material and two oval driver housings able to move vertically two or so inches. No extraneous styling cues break the form of the headphones – even the color-coded L/R markings are hidden on the inside of the headband. Inconspicuous Sony logos are placed on the glossy plastic bits at either end of the headband. The earpads and single-piece headband pad are all made out of porous foam. The cable is perhaps the best part of the construction – smooth and flexible, it is flattened in cross section above the y-split and thick and sturdy below. A meaty 3.5mm I-plug completes the picture.

Comfort (8/10): Though the 770LP is a supraaural headphone, it is not a tightly-clamping one and there is a good amount of freedom afforded to the earcups by the structure. The foam padding is soft and smooth and the headphones generally remain comfortable for quite a while. Those with larger heads or sensitivity towards supraaural fitment may not be as happy with the 770LP as I am, though.

Isolation (3.5/10): The pads of the 770LP are small and really can’t seal out a whole lot of outside noise. The headphones also leak a fair amount

Sound (4.75/10): Far less unique than its styling, the sound signature of the 770LP focuses on the lower half of the frequency spectrum and fails to impress in any major way. The bass is punchy and strong but lacks definition and detail. There is a sizeable mid-bass hump, which gives the headphones a warm overall tone and a fuller, rounder note presentation, not unlike that of the Bose Triport. If not for the forward midrange, the bass of the 770LP would likely sound more bloated than it does. As it stands, the low end at the very least appears to be kept in check by the powerful midrange. The mids are warm and very forward but again sound muddy and ill-defined. The peculiar balance results in an overall lack of depth in the presentation and the tendency towards note thickness exhibited by the Sonys limits the resolution. Neither the clarity nor the detail level of the 770LP is anything to write home about. In fact, even Sony’s own teen-oriented MDR-PQ2 performs better when it comes to crispness, clarity, and detail and provides a far more nuanced overall sound despite its recessed midrange.

The treble of the 770LP is probably the cleanest part of the spectrum, which is not saying a whole lot for this particular headphone. The top end is laid-back and devoid of sparkle. Compared to the midrange, the treble appears lacking in energy almost to the point of being lifeless. There is also some unexpected unevenness and grain to both the midrange and treble, which occasionally causes the 770LP to sound overly harsh on guitar-heavy tracks. Top-end roll-off is less noticeable than with the UrbanEars Plattan but still quite obvious next to a more balanced set such as the Sennheiser HD428. The presentation, likewise, is decent but not particularly impressive. Compared to the similarly-priced MDR-PQ2, the MDR-770LP lacks a bit of top-to-bottom and front-to-rear positioning. Width is fairly average on both – clearly no match for the semi-open Sennheiser PX90 or the crisp and airy HD428. Some of the instrumental separation, too, falls victim to the thicker note presentation and mid-forward balance of the 770LP – the headphone really seems to go to great lengths to make itself difficult to recommend for those in search of fidelity.

Value (6/10): The portable headphone market is dominated by a few simple styles that get re-hashed ad nauseam and the design of the 770LP is definitely refreshing. Build quality and comfort, too, are better than I expected. Unfortunately, the fashion-forward headphone falls flat on the sound quality front, with the utter lack of sonic clarity presenting the biggest issue. The only good thing I have to say for Sony is that I appreciate the improvement in driver performance between the 770LP and the newer – and cheaper – MDR-PQ2.

Manufacturer Specs:
Frequency Response: 12-24,000 Hz
Impedance: 24 Ω
Sensitivity: 107 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m); Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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