Brief: Lightweight portable headphone from Sony’s style-oriented PIIQ line
MSRP: $49.99 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $30 from amazon.com
Build Quality (6.5/10): The PQ2 is part of Sony’s PIIQ series of style-focused headphones – a design clearly taken out of the Skullcandy fashion playbook. The build is mostly plastic although there is a bit of rubber covering the hinges on the cups. The headband is padded in cloth while the earpads are made of thin pleather. Strangely, the PQ2 can neither fold nor collapse – not a great design choice for portability but leaves less to go wrong. The cable is a flat and slightly softer than the cords found on Sony’s XB-series models. Below the Y-split it becomes rather thick, almost square in cross section. The cord is terminated with an impressively heavy-duty L-plug. My particular pair is also colored differently on either side – one of the cups is blue and the other is green. The left/right markings written out in cursive are a nice touch.
Comfort (8/10): Though the structure of the PQ2 does not fold or collapse, the headphones have plenty of play in the cups and actually clamp rather softly. The plastic shell also weighs next to nothing and the cushy cloth-padded headband is one of the best I’ve come across in the PQ2’s price range.
Isolation (5.5/10): The moderate clamping force of the cups leaves much to be desired with the isolation of the PQ2 despite the closed-back design.
Sound (5.75/10): The PQ2’s flashy exterior belies a surprisingly tame and well-balanced sound signature. The 30mm drivers are a major upgrade from Sony’s older 30mm transducers used by models such as the MDR-770LP and compete well with most entry-level sets. The low end is mildly rolled-off, but punchy and enjoyable. Bass detail is mediocre but the softness and bloat of the 770LP are nowhere to be found. The PQ2 is still slightly warm – warmer, for example, than the more controlled and extended Urbanears Plattan – but not muddy considering the price.
The midrange of the PQ2 is balanced well with the bass response – similar to that of the Plattan, but appearing more prominent due to the less impactful bass of the Sonys. The similarly-priced MDR-770LP is far more mid-forward but lacks the crispness and detail of the PQ2. Guitars don’t have any bite with the 770LP while the PQ2 performs adequately. Clarity is good as well – on par with the more expensive Soundmagic P30 and Marshall Major. The PQ2 does lag behind the pricier sets in note thickness and smoothness, appearing a bit grainy but not quite harsh. The metallic highs of the brighter, thinner-sounding Pioneer SE-MJ71 are far more fatiguing than the slightly grainy top end of the Sonys. The presentation of the Sonys is not very impressive – there is some width to the soundstage but not very much depth, causing the headphones to sound rather flat. The PQ2 may not be as congested as the older entry-level Sonys tend to be, but it is average at best when it comes to instrument separation and layering.
Value (8/10): Sony’s style-focused portable is a cheap headphone done right – simple in construction, inoffensive in sound signature, lightweight, and comfortable. The sound of the PQ2 is well-balanced, clear, and punchy, making for a well-rounded listening experience. Those looking for deep, rumbling bass and high passive noise isolation will want to steer clear but otherwise, funky as it may look, the PQ2 is a reasonably-priced alternative to disappointing performers such as the Coloud Colors and Pioneer SE-MJ71.
Frequency Response: 10-24,000 Hz
Impedance: 24 Ω
Sensitivity: 100 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m); Angled Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A