Greetings mate and Welcome aboard! Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear), all over again, so…
Before we get into the Sony MDR-7506 review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
This is part of my “Budget Kings” Series, which takes a look at some of the best options for under $100.
- Budget King #1: The semi-open back Koss KPH30i Review!
- Budget King #2: The open back Philips SHP9500 Review!
- Budget King #3: This review
- Budget King #4: The closed back Creative Aurvana Live! Review
- Budget King #5: The semi-open AKG K240 Studio Review!
- Budget King #6: The closed back Status Audio CB-1 Review!
Why did I place this third?
Both the 9500 and 30i outclass the 7506, but it’s still a highly relevant headphone and has been since 1991 when it first came out.
If you’re looking for closed-back mostly neutral headphones, the 7506 is definitely something to consider.
If you’re new to the hobby, the V6 has been around since the ’80s, with the 7506 coming along in 1991.
Both are studio staples and should have a place in every engineer’s cabinet.
Note: The V6 has been discontinued, so I’d look to the 7506 if you want to save some money.
Build and comfort are both extremely solid, but one reason it can’t take top honors is because of those flaky pads.
They will start to crack and peel after a year or two, and it’s really, really annoying. Luckily, they are replaceable so that’s a plus.
More on that later!
The other thing that holds these back is the propensity for the coiled cord to tangle.
I think the overall sound signature of these is a bit better than those, thus why it’s placed higher.
Note: The 40x is no longer a part of the Budget Kings.
In The Box
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
Limited 90-Day Warranty
- Type: Closed Back. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
- Fit: Circumaural.
- Impedance: 63 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 106db/mW
- Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20 kHz.
- Material: plastic, a bit of metal, faux leather.
- Color: black, blue, red, some gold
With that, let’s get rolling!
Build & Design
Even being rather loosey-goosey, 7506 is built incredibly well.
When I say “loosey-goosey”, what I mean is that it kind of feels flimsy in your hand, but not in the way you’re thinking.
It doesn’t feel cheap at all; it simply has a lot of moving parts.
There’s a bit of metal for the headband adjustments, but its mostly plastic stature feels really solid for such a cheap price point.
The headphone folds up nicely into a rather compact and portable package for on-the-go listening as well.
You can pretty much move and rotate the cups any way you want, which is nice for DJs and live shows, in addition to mixing/mastering in the studio.
On the outside of the cups,
you’ll see that unmistakable lettering that reads “Sony”, as well as “Dynamic Stereo Headphones”, “MDR-7506”, and “For Professional.”
The headband is stitched and provides sparse padding, and the top (as with the V6) reads “Studio Monitor” in hollow block letters.
The headband adjustment contains a super robust metal piece with numbered indicators and the mechanism itself clicks rather nicely as you’re moving it up and down.
It also stays in place rather well so you’ll never have to readjust after making the initial click.
The cable has always been a point of contention for me (and it probably will be for you as well), as it’s super annoying and tends to lose its coil over time (getting tangled and generally making you want to pull your hair out).
This is also true of the venerable V6, and unfortunately, neither is detachable but both terminate in a rugged 3.5mm jack.
It is possible to mod the headphone to make them detachable, but that’s an article for another time.
In any event,
The padding will also become an issue after about a year or 2.
While the M50’s pads harden and crack over time, the V6/7506’s flake and peel, leaving little bits and pieces behind EVERYWHERE.
You’ll start to notice them on the floor, on your desk, in your ears, etc.
It’s one of the worst design choices Sony could have ever made and hasn’t changed since both headphones’ inception.
While we’re on the subject of ears and pads, let’s delve into comfort a bit.
All things considered, these headphones are fairly comfortable but will dig into your ears after a while.
They are light and fit very snugly, but the ear cups are rather small.
I’ve always considered this to be a hybrid Circumaural (Around-Ear) and Supra-Aural (On-Ear) fit.
It isn’t quite one or the other.
They rest on your ears, and around them at the same time (sort of) if that makes sense.
It’s hard to explain, but will also depend on the size of your auricles.
If you have big a** dumbo-sized ones, you’re SOL BUDDY!
Cheers big ears!
I would say comfort is about average, maybe slightly below depending on who you are.
The other issue you may run into is the ear-cup padding simply becoming detached from the plastic.
There’s a tiny slit that runs around the circumference where the thin piece of the pad inserts.
Over time and with extended use and abuse, it may come loose and just fall out completely, causing you to have to re-insert it.
This can and will become a pain in the ass after a while.
The sound is a bit tricky to review since the 7506 are marketed as reference headphones and thus do a very good job in that regard.
They will sound wonderful with certain recordings, and not so great with others.
For that reason,
the 7506 is great for mixing by virtue of being some of the rawest and most honest headphones you’ll ever come across.
Mixing on them can be a bit of a chore because of the harshness and sibilance in the high-frequency ranges, but that same “issue” actually becomes a huge benefit when you’re trying to really dissect the mix and find flaws.
This is true for most headphones with a brighter treble around the 8-10kHz area.
Even so, the treble on the 7506 can become fatiguing to the point of exhaustion at times.
I found myself having to take them off and give my ears a rest because of this. What does Sibilant mean?
Keep in mind though that I would have them on my head for hours at a time when I was mixing a beat back then.
They still work for casual listening, and I love them for that because of how neutral and revealing they are (outside of the hot treble).
Many people, like my boy Brennan Parker, will find them incredibly enjoyable for simply listening to music casually and nothing else.
I would say if you plan on mixing with these, which you should as they are great, plan to do so at lower volumes in order to save your ears.
I also want to mention a great point that Fabian in the comments made down below and something I harp on quite a bit in articles and videos:
It’s that yes, the 7506’s treble can be a bit peaky at times, but a lot of the time it entirely depends on the track in question – how it was recorded, mixed, and mastered.
This is a concept that’s largely lost on snobby audiophiles who refuse to acknowledge some of the truths about basic sound engineering principles – ones that will never change.
And the reason they refuse?
It’s because they’ve never actually mixed down a track and thus can’t understand that it’s the producer behind the music that has a lot of say in how something is going to sound.
Before I go off on a rant, I will digress for now.
I love the bass response.
It’s tight, controlled, and never overpowering while providing incredible detail and clarity.
This was the first headphone where I was actually able to discern very subtle sounds in my mixes, as well as my favorite music in general.
They really do impress me in that regard and will likely cause you to look at music in an entirely different light.
songs that I thought I knew front to back revealed themselves to me fully.
For that reason, it was an epiphany in every sense of the word.
The bass does roll off a bit, but it thumps without booming – unlike other headphones with a poorly rendered response.
While those headphones come across as muddy and bloated, the 7506 is anything but.
This is most certainly the 7506’s bread and butter, as the mids sound pretty much perfect to my ears.
It’s in large part what makes this headphone so incredible for mixing, as this area is the most crucial in getting the song right and having it translate well to pretty much anything you might play the track on (speakers, other headphones, sound systems, car stereos, etc.)
As a result,
there’s really nothing to complain about.
You’ll notice vocals and instruments sound incredibly lively without really getting out of line or becoming too shouty or in your face.
the sound is incredibly revealing; you’re going to start hearing subtle details in the music that you weren’t aware of before with cheaper products.
This is what makes the 7506 an incredible value and pretty much a jaw-dropping experience for the beginner enthusiast like I was back then.
There are few headphones beyond this price point that reveal anything more, and this is in large part due to The Law of Diminishing Returns!
- Good for mixing at this price point. They aren’t perfect but get the job done. They are pretty analytical which lends itself well to studio applications.
- Exceptional clarity and detail. These headphones helped me discern small subtleties in my mixes as well as my favorite tunes.
- Solid Build. Aside from the ear cup issue, I could see these lasting long. They have been around since 1991, Sony’s gotta be doing something right, no?
- Tight, punchy low end.
- They are very flexible and fold in a myriad of different ways for added durability.
- They come with a nice carrying case and a 1/4″ adapter.
- The coiled cable can be a pain and get tangled frequently.
- Ear cups may start to peel after about a year or so, sometimes even falling out completely.
- Hot, sometimes essy treble.
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At 63 Ohms Impedance, the 7506 isn’t terribly hard to drive.
If you do decide on one, the E10K is what I would suggest as it’s cheap, sounds great, and is very versatile.
- Related: How to choose a headphone amp!
You can actually hook the E10K up to speakers as well, but the connection will be unbalanced. That may or may not matter to you.
That way, you can simultaneously mix with monitors and headphones and not even need to worry about getting a separate headphone Amp/DAC.
The 2i2 also provides balanced TRS outs for speakers with balanced inputs.
Who do these headphones benefit?
- Beatmakers on a budget looking for a good mixing option.
- Folks who like to hear subtle details in their music.
- Those who want great value, and an upgrade from their current earbuds or cheap headphones.
- People who want longevity out of their purchase. There is a reason these came out in 1991 (The dinosaur age) but are still around even now! Lol.
Sony’s MDR-7506 is a durable, long-lasting set of headphones that won’t break the bank.
The sound is exemplary overall, with a fantastic mid-range and a revelatory character that is perfect for the studio.
The treble can be harsh and fatiguing, the ear cups are prone to falling off, and the faux leather has a tendency to peel off after some time.
it’s a headphone that remains relevant even after 30+ years on the market.
For that reason, it’s an easy recommendation and a product I believe every person should experience at one point or another.
The 7506 was the first “good” headphone I ever purchased back in 2010, and I just purchased one again as you can tell from the brand-spankin’ new pictures in this article.
In other words, yeah, it’s totally worth the money and I’d highly advise you to stop what you’re doing and get one (link below).
I absolutely fell in love with it and for good reason.
It’s one of those “aha” moments when you go “This is what music is supposed to sound like.”
It’s not a perfect headphone or sound signature but comes pretty close.
I firmly believe every engineer, beatmaker, or producer should have one of these in their cabinet.
Ah, the Sony MDR 7506.
One of the most reviewed and popular headphones of the last 25+ years, dating all the way back to 1991 when it first came out.
To put that into perspective, 1991 was the year I got my Super Nintendo bundled with Super Mario World for Christmas. Yeah, I feel old.
This headphone happens to be the younger brother of the original V6 that came out in 1985, which was the very first headphone in a line of 7:
- Sony MDR-V6 (1985)
- Sony MDR-V600
- Sony MDR-7506 (1991)
- Sony MDR-7509HD
- Sony MDR-7510
- Sony MDR-7520
- Sony MDR-CD900ST
I have owned both the 7506 and V6 at one time or another, and both served me exceptionally well.
In fact, my very first set of “good” cans was indeed the MDR-7506 way back in 2010.
At the time, I was heavily into mixing beats and generally preferred listening through headphones.
While others might have preferred studio monitors, I always felt like I could hear the subtle intricacies of sound through headphones. What are Studio Monitors?
Nowadays I actually like both, but tend to gravitate toward headphones because I just love them so much. <3
I began making beats in 2007, and sampling in 2009.
In 2010 I knew that I needed to upgrade my setup in some way, as I was looking to improve the quality of my mixes. I was pretty much rocking an old Lenovo laptop and nothing else.
Before that, I had a desktop computer that you see pictured below, tower and all!
I don’t even remember what I was mixing with back then before I received the 7506 as a gift that year.
It could have been a Sony MDR-V150, but I can’t even be sure about that!
If I had to guess, it was these Logitechs that you see on either side of my computer monitor:
It’s rather strange to think about life before good headphones.
I sure as heck didn’t have any studio monitors yet either, and that wouldn’t come until 2014 when I purchased the JBL LSR 305s from Sweetwater.
When I finally got the 7506 in my hands and plugged them in, I was completely floored. I will never forget the feeling I got when I fired up a track and pressed play.
It’s almost indescribable.
Growing up in the ’90s, I was used to those cheap drugstore headphones and had never heard anything better. In fact, I just assumed that those products were as good as it got!
In retrospect, that sounds incredibly naive, but as a youngster in the pre-Napster days, this was all I had and all I knew.
The 7506 completely shattered my expectations and undoubtedly changed the way I looked at music during those early days. That is no exaggeration.
Once you’ve put good headphones on and hear what music is supposed to sound like, there’s no going back. This is the experience that the 7506 provides and is definitely one that you won’t ever forget.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sony MDR-7506 Review and came away with some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Would YOU purchase a 7506? Do you have prior experience with these classic headphones? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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