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Sony MH1C

Sony MH1C Review

Sony MH1C
Added Jun 2013

Details: Sony headset designed for the Xperia line of smartphones
MSRP: $79.99 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price:$31 from (bulk packaging); $55 from
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 15Ω| Sens: 115 dB/V | Freq: 1-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ L-plug J-cord with mic & 4-button Xperia remote (works as conventional 1-button with Android devices)
Nozzle Size: 3mm | Preferred tips: stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down

Accessories (1.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (4 sizes) and shirt clip
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The MH1C is rather well-made, with a metal housing, flexible strain reliefs, and a sturdy flat cable. However, it is this rubbery, j-style (asymmetric) cable that can also make the earphones very to use. The 4-button remote is designed for Sony Xperia phones but offers partial functionality with many other devices
Isolation (3.5/5) – Isolation is quite good
Microphonics (3/5) – J-corded IEMs typically manage to avoid microphonics but the rubbery flat cable in the MH1C still carries a lot of noise
Comfort (4/5) – The skinny housings and flexible tips of the MH1C provide a comfortable fit but the j-cord makes it difficult to wear the earphones cable-up

Sound (8.1/10) – Designed for smartphone users in search of great audio quality, the MH1C provides a warm, clear, and smooth sound only made more impressive by the reasonable price of the headset. The bass is deep and full, with an emphasis on sub-bass rather than mid-bass. Generally speaking, the MH1C has rather good bass quality with less mid-bass bloat than the Audio-Technica CKM500, for example. Considering the bass quantity, control is rather good although it’s still not as tight as the bass of the VSonic VC02 or the pricier Philips Fidelio S1.

The mids of the MH1C are not as prominent as the low end, but they are pleasantly warm and smooth. The treble, likewise, is very inoffensive without sacrificing overall refinement. I did sometimes wish for better overall balance as the bass emphasis of the MH1C results in occasional veiling, but the clarity is generally very good.

Better still is the high volume performance of the MH1C – the earphone remains very composed when played loud and its silky-smooth signature is conducive toward high-volume listening. Compared to the Brainwavz M5, for instance, the MH1C has less prominent mids and highs but is also smoother and more natural. Whereas the M5 can begin to distort slightly at high volumes, the MH1C produces no audible distortion.

The soundstage of the MH1C is a little narrower compared to the half in-ear ATH-CKM500 and the pricier Philips Fidelio S1 but the overall presentation is very good, providing a moderately airy and open sound despite the warm tone with good soundstage width and depth.

Select comparisons:

LG Quadbeat HSS-F420 ($32)

Not unlike the MH1C, the Quadbeat is a stock headset included with many LG smartphones. The sound signature of the Quadbeat is on the v-shaped side compared to the MH1C and its bass, especially subbass, is lower in quantity. The low end of the Quadbeat is a little tighter but the difference isn’t drastic. The LGs also sacrifice some of the warmth and fullness of the Sonys, giving up the excellent note thickness of the MH1C for a bit of added clarity, aided also by the extra treble energy of the Quadbeat. Next to the warm and smooth MH1C, the treble of the Quadbeat sounds brighter and harsher overall.

I ended up preferring the sound of the MH1C, which overall sounded more natural and convincing despite the extra bass. On a user-friendliness note, while I found the cable of the Quadbeat to be a lot more tolerable than that of the MH1C, its extra-soft stock eartips did not work for me and had to be replaced with a set of standard bi-flanges of the MEElectronics variety. The Quadbeat was also more sensitive, reaching loud volumes very easily.

VSonic VC02 ($49)

The VC02 is one of clearest and most balanced sub-$100 earphones I’ve ever heard, with a tiny 3mm dynamic driver providing a uniquely delicate, yet punchy sound. Unsurprisingly, the MH1C has a lot more bass and much warmer overall tone than the VC02. Its mids and treble are recessed in comparison to its bass whereas the VSonic set is rather well-balanced. The VC02 sounds brighter and thinner overall than the MH1C. It is clearer and more accurate, but the treble is harsher in comparison. The bass of the VC02 is surprisingly punchy considering its commitment to an accurate sound but remains tighter than that of the Sony.

In terms of overall usabilit, both sets can be a little frustrating – the VC02 sounds best with a rather deep fit and has detachable cables that are not connected to the housings as securely as I’d like. It really is an enthusiast’s IEM, requiring some care in use and storage. The MH1C is easier to fit and has a built-in remote and mic but also utilizes a cable that is rubbery and microphonic in comparison to the soft and flexible cord of the VC02.

VSonic VSD1 ($43)

The VSD1 was released as a budget version of VSonic’s popular GR07 model, providing a less analytical sound than the VC02 but retaining its technical performance. In comparison to the MH1C, the VSD1 is less bassy, boasting better overall balance and more neutral tone. Bass quality is similar between the two but the VSD1 is a touch clearer overall and boasts more treble presence. As with the pricier GR07, its treble does have a slight predisposition towards sibilance in comparison to the buttery-smooth MH1C. The soundstage is a touch wider with the VSD1 and again the VSonic is noticeably more sensitive than the Sony.

THL Recommended Badge 2014Value (9.5/10) – Despite my issues with its j-style cable, microphonics, and proprietary remote, the MH1C offers fantastic sound quality for the asking price, and beyond. The bass is deep and full, and the overall sound is smooth and inviting. As long as its skew towards bass is not an issue, this is a fantastic mid-range earphone for beginners and veterans alike, and one that offers as much audio quality per dollar as anything else I’ve come across.

Pros: Great deep bass & outstanding overall sound quality; comfortable form factor; good noise isolation
Cons: Rubbery, flat, j-style cable can be aggravating



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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.


110 Responses

  1. Hi ijoker, I am using Mh1c for almost 2 years. It sound really good, but fit is awe full n now I am looking for an upgrade. Is jvc fxd80 is a good option. Also what about sony’s now h.ear in ?

  2. Would be interested in the results of that – I’ve only tried the original QuadBeat but I thought it was a very capable IEM with a pretty unique (at its price point) sound tuning.

  3. Many thanks! That mild v-shaped sound part scares me a little, but I guess I can fix it with EQ. I’ll order the TX-2 soon, and will do a comparison with my soon-to-arrive LG QB3.

  4. This is an easy one – that describes the Philips much better than the Sony – it is brighter, has tighter, less enhanced bass, and the clarity is better as well. The only thing the TX2 isn’t is flat – it still has a bit of bass boost and some upper midrange/treble hype as well, giving it a mildly v-shaped sound.

  5. I’m looking for a cheap immediate solution due to my tight budget and have come down to this Sony and Philips TX2. I’m looking for something flat sounding, less bass boom and bloat preferably brighter high and clearer mids. Probably asking too much at the price but which one of the Philips and the Sony would suit me better?

  6. Thanks for the reply, I did ask u about this coz out of the box they were well balanced but after just like 1hr imbalance starts. So I searched and found quite a few people are taking about this in threads like this

    So I thought that was a known issue with mh1/mh1c’s.
    But anyways I have just talked to seller and he is ready to replace. Hope the replacement ones would be fine.

  7. Channel imbalance is almost always a manufacturing defect. It’s rare but it happens, especially with less expensive earphones, and isn’t something you should be fixing yourself (because most likely it’s caused by something mechanical inside the earphones that you can’t fix). Hopefully you are able to get them exchanged…

  8. Hey man though u recommended me mh1c’s I instead gone for mh1’s as they were half the price. Initial impressions were nice but after using for a while there was a noticiable imbalance in sound from left earpiece. So i adjust it via app by lowering 40% from right earpiece and did a burn in for about 5hrs. After that it lowers down to 20%, then I did burn in again with 0% right earpiece volume and 100% on left for 3hrs, now volume on right ear is lowered. I did burn in again with normal settings for 10hrs and now volume levels seems ok but it still goes up and down by 5-20% on left earpiece.
    Btw I am using it with zenfone 2 with which only audio is supported.
    Did u know or faced this issue with mh1c ?
    Will it be any better if I use it with adaptor or I got a faulty unit ?

  9. The Xiaomi Piston 2, but that’s discontinued. Generally speaking, these are extremely hard to match for sound. The IEMs that are a relatively close sound tuning match generally don’t perform as well, and those that do are tuned differently.

    Best bet may be something like a DUNU Trident at $25-ish. Not as good as the MH1C for sound, but has a more conventional form factor and still follows a warm-and-smooth sound tuning.

  10. I bought those from Amazon for 6 Euro and the sound is simply jaw-dropping, but they are totally unwearable. Even if you don’t move at all. Is there another cheap IEM, which sounds as close as possible? I’m thinking about the Sony MDR-EX650, but can’t find many reviews.

  11. I don’t mean bass-less either. “Lean” is a note thickness measure. Too thick and things start to sound muddy and bloated. Not having tried the MH750, though, it is hard for me to say how a good MH1C should compare.

    Sadly, the RE400 cannot be made to reach MH1-level sub-bass.

  12. When i say “lean” i don’t mean “bass-less”. The MH750 has strong bass, but it isn’t bloated. High-mids are clear & sharp, i can enjoy the “distortion growl” of heavy rock guitars. Treble is good but never harsh. According to Head-fiers the MH1 was supposed to be an upgrade with the same sound-signature, albeit fuller & warmer. However the MH1C i got had too much bloat in the mid-bass & low-mids, plus high mids dissapeared taking away clarity & impact of electric guitars. Instruments blended together. Seems plenty of Head-fiers reported the same thing in the MH1 thread.

    I could test my luck trying to get another MH1, or cut my losses & just get something like a HiFiMan RE400 instead. Does the HiFiMan respond well to an EQ sub-bass boost up to the level of the MH1? (lol)

    (P.s. Thanks for replying, still appreciate your efforts!)

  13. Hmm.. not knowing what a bad MH1C sounds like I can’t guess at how much of an improvement you’ll get with a luckyears unit but considering the MH1C is not a very lean IEM to begin with, I’d say it’s probably not worth spending $90 to get a good one.

  14. Hi again ljokerl.

    I bought an MH1C from Hong Kong for USD 30 but was disappointed. It seems I might have gotten one of those defective ones with bloated low-mid & mid-bass, plus missing high-mids. It sounded NOTHING like my lean Sony MH750 which I loved (was supposed to be a same sound-signature upgrade). is selling them USD 60 re-cabled & shipped to Malaysia. I don’t need it re-cabled, i just assume that buying from audio-lovers would net me better quality-control. I don’t have much cash (weak currency, 30USD can buy 15 full meals here). Would it still be worth it to waste up to 90 USD on the hunt for a good mw1, or is it better to just cut my losses and go for something else that is less risky?

  15. Depends on whether those tips fit you well in the first place but the MH1C is pretty slim so there’s nothing stopping the ovals from forming a seal.

  16. Similar sound tuning to the Sennheisers – both have the deep and punchy bass, relaxed mids, and smooth and non-fatiguing (but not rolled-off) treble. I’m not sure it’s worth the money either, considering the huge price gap. Ultimately down to your needs and finances, though. If the larger soundstage and slightly tighter bass of the IE80 is important to you, maybe it’s worth it.

  17. Hi Joker. How do these compare to the Sennheiser IE80? I am aware of the much higher price of the IE80s, but I’m curious how much better are these compare to the MH1c I currently own (2 pairs). I’m only interested in sound quality. I’m not sure it it’s worth the money. I haven’t had the chance to listen to the IE80.
    Most of the time I’m listening to electronic music and I quite like the laid-back sound of the MH1c (almost fatigue free, laid back mids, quite punchy bass, nice highs but not overwhelming).

  18. I answered a similar MH1C upgrade question here yesterday:

    Long story short, the XBA-H3 is an upgrade but don’t expect it to be anywhere close to the value for money of an MH1C (well, pretty much nothing is anyway, but the XBA-H3 is especially pricy). The EPH-100 from Yamaha is much better from a value standpoint even though it’s not quite as refined as the H3 overall (but close). It does have a slightly bassier sig with a few other improvements here and there (but again won’t be a night and day difference in basics like clarity, if you’re expecting that)

  19. Thanks a lot for excellent reviews of tons of IEM for audio community.After reading lots of appreciation about sony mh1 from head fi and trying 1 pair I end up with buying 13 pairs since they were so cheap( around 13 Euro each inc. shipping) and really impressive sound quality.I have been using them almost 5 months and now I am thinking to upgrade it.My budget is around 400 euro.As you mentioned in the thread already that its sound is not that common to upgrade and might need to lean towards more bass (or highs). But I will be happy even there is more bass but the sound signature should be very close to it with fuller , richer with more soundstage.Thinking of XBA H3 but i dont
    know if it is really an worty upgrade. Thanks

  20. Glad it works well for you! I know this style of cabling is also very popular in Asia, which is why manufactures like JVC and Sony sometimes have two different versions of their in-ears – a j-corded one for the Japan market and a y-corded one for elsewhere.

  21. I’d like to comment on the J shape of the earphones: to me this is absolutely brilliant. The long cable of the right earpiece enables me to pass it behind my neck while keeping the mike close to my mouth since near the left ear piece. I am never able to do so using a Y shaped contraption. And this is very useful as when I need to talk to someone, I can safely pop out both buds without having to fuddle with the cable.

  22. So I have now had 2 pairs of these headphones and here is my take on them.
    The sound is brilliant considering i paid sub £20 for them. The whole range is clear and although the bass can feel a touch overbearing and the treble get a touch harsh on clash heavy metal tracks they remain clear and warm almost all the time.

    The Build quality is where these get really good. I trash my headphones just, wear them in bed and shove them in pockets, these haven’t flinched a bit. The buds that come with them seem to fall off the headphone a lot so i switched to some smaller sony ones which i got with some XBA 1 headphones (cannot recommend them as they totally lack bass volume)and these complete the headphones.

    On my nexus 4, 5 and 7 (1st ed) the three button mic works perfectly. Volume and track skipping all work. The mic can be a little quiet on calls it seems but nothing too terrible.

    Finally I would like to mention the J cord, I glued the shirt clip to the headphones and use that to keep them in place otherwise it tugs out so that might be something others could benefit from.

    Would I recommend them? Yes but only if you aren’t going to be bothered by some little niggles with the fit and cable etc

    I found them unwearable without the shirt clip.

    Want a Y cord then buy the steel series flux (better sound but i hear bad things about build quality)

  23. This is the most uneasy iem I have ever used. Sound quality is awesome, but if want an iem for gym or on the go, then this is surely not the option for you. One need to adjust them every ten seconds LITERALLY…..

  24. I would like to have this comparison if you’re OK ! And I would like to know how did you remove that white filter too !

  25. Not a clue. If the EX650 is like the old EX600, it’s probably brighter, clearer, and more balanced than these but lacks the bass impact and depth – and the treble smoothness – that the MH1C offers.

  26. I removed the outer white paper filter and now it sounds too good. Earlier it sounded a bit muffled / damped / unclear / less detailed, but now it’s good. Did a side by side comparison with Piston 2. I feel the Piston 2’s sound signature to be cheap. Anyone who wants a side by side comparison with VSD1s and Piston2 can let me know

  27. By too much bass, do you mean that this can be really annoying or you can just adjust it with a little EQ ?
    And that will be my final question, sorry for annoying you so much.

  28. Good enough – yes. Is it the clearest thing in the world? No – there’s too much bass for that. But for the price and sound signature, I have no problems with it whatsoever.

  29. Thank you very much for your answer ! Yeah, I think I will go for them.
    Could you tell me about the clarity of the instruments ? Do you think it is good enough for this kind of music ?

  30. Should be fine for soundtracks in general – they’re smooth and warm, maybe not the most exciting and in your face, but very refined for the price you’re paying. To me, 30€ is a good price for them if that’s the type of sound you’re after.

  31. Hey Joker !

    So I would like to know if the MH1C would sound great with this type of music ?
    You probably know it already but I just love it and I want to be sure that I will be able to enjoy it at the fullest.

    And for 30€ , do you think the MH1C are a good deal ?

    Thank you very much !

  32. The Trident doesn’t have a ton of bass, but it seems to be your best bet. Not sure how it compares to the EP630 but it has slightly more prominent mids than the MH1C and a slightly bassier sound (same goes for comparing it with the E10). Small drivers aren’t a problem – there are tons of great-sounding sets with even smaller drivers, like the Shure SE215 and Yamaha EPH-100, for instance, that also have no distortion.

    MH1 and MH1C are different. The MH1C uses a standard iPhone-type plug while the MH1 might need an adapter to work with the majority of devices. There’s some info in the comments below, and also a testimonial from someone with Trident who ended up returning the MH1.

  33. Hello Sir. I’m upgrading from the Creative EP630 (but would still prefer a similar sound signature). I also heard the Soundmagic E10 but didnt like its slightly recessed mid and was not satisfied with its soft bass notes. I’m looking for a warm, sweet and smooth(even if its dark) sound with good bass for around 40$ and based on your guide, I zeroed in on the Sony MH1C and DUNU Trident. But the MH1C is not available easily now in India and the Trident has a relatively small 6.8mm driver. I’m just worried whether the smaller driver size is an issue for bass or distortion. Also, how different are the MH1C and Trident in the bass and sub bass department? Thanks in advance.

  34. The DN-1000 is quite a bit brighter than the MH1C so it tends to be less smooth and forgiving. It’s just a different sound presentation. If you’re okay with that, it’s a very good earphone.

  35. Thanks for the reply! 🙂 if I go with the DN-1000 from DUNU, will i’ll be too off? I read about it’s bass, soundstage and ok isolation. And it seems a good pairing with my DX50. What do you think?

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