The Sony MDR V6 is a highly regarded, closed back audiophile headphone that is at it’s best in a studio environment. It’s extremely flat, and won’t really amaze you in anyway. It’s a mixing/reference can that proves to be very honest and neutral in it’s sound signature & presentation. It boasts a pristine clarity, but isn’t bass heavy. What the V6’s will give you is a tight, clear, controlled bass but nothing overpowering.
What’s startling to me about the MDR V6’s is that they have been around since the early 80’s, and maybe even late 70’s. If you look closely enough, you will see these around everywhere. They will last you a LONG time, and are about as reliable as it gets for studio monitoring. The sound spectrum is flawlessly represented here, although there may be a slight grain in the mid-range at first. You will start to hear things in recordings that you previously thought absent.
Long life. As mentioned above, there have been people raving about the longevity factor with these. Being that they came out before I was even born, you can see why. If the term revolutionary could ever be used properly in context, it would be regarding these headphones.
Nearly indestructible. These have a proven track record of being some of the most rock solid headphones on the planet.
Trusted. These will be your go to solution, and they have proven time and again to deliver results in a studio monitoring environment as well as a casual setting.
Plug. All metal plug with strain relief is a nice added touch. It contributes greatly to their build and reliability over time. Uses a 3.5 mm jack with 1/4″ adapter.
No amp needed. They will play plenty loud on anything you use them with.
Very comfortable. Across the board this was an almost universal consensus.
Good for gaming because of that comfort factor, and the fact that you can hear very subtle nuances in sound.
Excels in both critical and casual listening situations.
They fold up nicely, but aren’t really meant for on the go situations due to the coiled chord.
Ear cushions will need to be replaced after some time, and the ear-cup may actually fall off. This was one of the main gripes with the V6’s. Being that I’ve owned the 7506’s, I can attest to this problem. The 2 are nearly identical, and the ear cup issue was one of my main dislikes about the phone.
A few reviewers have said that the left (or right) side has gone out after about a year + of use.
Don’t do well on the go, being that the coiled cable is bulky. It’s also non detachable.
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These don’t need an amp, and by most accounts they sound plenty loud enough with any of your portable devices. There were a few reviewers who mentioned that the sound and bass is boosted a bit overall with an amp like:
One reviewer in particular said that he had previously owned them years back, loved them, but was not as impressed with the sound after he bought them years later. Only when he added a portable Amp/DAC combo did he recall that amazing sound again.
I would say you can always add an amp later if need be, given how many people were really impressed with them right out of the box.
Who these headphones benefit?
People looking for a flat neutral sound, conducive to mixing. Critical listeners.
Casual listeners looking for a crispy, uncolored sound. They do great with:
A very neutral, flat, and even sounding set of headphones. They will not amaze you in anyway in regards to bass response, but the low end is tight and controlled. Overall they give you a pristine clarity and are some of the longest lasting cans in existence. Main gripe is the ear-cup issue. Other less common complaints are:
somewhat loose construction
left or right side of ear going out
folds when you don’t want them to fold; i.e. a bit flimsy
It’s a bit tricky to review these cans because the good folks at Audio Technica came out with a slightly updated model of the M50’s. Enter Sandman, the M50x’s! There are a few marked differences between the two:
A choice of different colors. Subject to Change.
contoured ear cups that seal tighter for improved isolation
A tad more bass
Other than that they are exactly the same, and one of the best pairs of high entry level headphones on the market. If you are new to the world of audiophiles, these will make you look at music in an entirely different way. That’s not to say that they are better than everything else out there. But as “first foray” (if you will), they will change your entire perspective on how music should sound. These have been one of the most commonly reviewed, talked about, and purchased sets over the last few years.
Nowadays I would recommend them more to the consumer looking for astounding quality. When you put these on your jaw may drop if you’ve grown accustomed to cheap earbuds and CVS pharmacy headsets. Even if you haven’t, they do boast a pretty huge sound that somehow manages to remain controlled for the most part.
The strongest quality about these puppies has got to be their durability though. I’ve had mine since Jan. 2013, and I kind of abuse them on purpose now. That sounds incredibly bad. It’s like I’ve been in this long term relationship and now I’m bored with them. I dropped them the other day on purpose just to show my friend at work how durable they are. I’ve slept with them (not like that lol), tossed them, shoved them in my pack everyday, ran over the cable countless times with my computer chair, tugged at the cable in various ways, and found them in the most obscure places around my bed the next morning. They just don’t falter. At all. I’m pretty sure if a nuclear bomb hit right now they would survive. Dead serious.
Deep, tight bass response.
Extreme and vivid clarity between each instrument.
Great channel separation.
Crisp highs, booming lows.
Great sound-stage for a closed back model.
Great for hip-hop/rap (a bass-heads dream).
Very comfortable over a long period.
Sturdy build quality, not to heavy, not too light..
They contort in a myriad of different ways for added flexibility.
Great carrying case.
Wire is protected by a chromed metal coil at the end. The adapter and plug are both very rugged.
They can really take quite a bit of abuse.
Great for mixing in studio.
They are pretty neutral, and although there is an emphasis on the low end, it doesn’t feel artificial or bloated.
The ear pads are prone to cracking after sometime.
While great for mixing in studio, the closed back design (sound trapped inside) can be fatiguing after awhile. You will need to take a break every so often.
Straight cable is a bit long, making them a little less portable. You will need a rubber band or twist tie if you’re looking to wear them out and about. There is also a coiled cable version of these as well.
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At 38 Ohms, none. They will do just fine with any mobile device, tablet, phone, iPad, iPod, etc.
People looking for a long term solution. A headphone that will stand the test of time both in solid build quality as well as great sound.
People looking for convenience. At 32 Ohm, these will sound great with any device you may have.
EDM (electronic dance music) listeners
In general, everyone! They are a great all around set. I’ve had them since January of 2013 and have used them everyday in just about any application you can think of. They are remarkable in that sense. They can handle most anything you throw at ’em. Just don’t actually throw things at them, they will be sad.
A great set of consumer headphones that also work extremely well for mixing. The bass is tight and punchy, and for the most part controlled. The ear-pads are prone to cracking after a couple of years, and they can get a bit fatiguing after really long listening sessions. They are the best example of an all around great headphone that does well in nearly every instance you can think of.
Similarities & Differences
Both are closed back and possess the moniker of “studio monitor headphone”. I’ll be honest: I have used the M50’s to fine effect for mixing, but to me they have a bit to much of a boosted low end to be called reference headphones. They are more for the casual consumer. They are very detailed though. You will start to hear things in recordings that were previously thought to be absent, or you just didn’t know were ever there.
Both are nearly indestructible. A guy on Head Fi claims he’s had his pair for 28 years or something crazy like that. I believe him, especially given how many amazon reviews echo the same sentiments. These babies will last you probably forever. The M50’s are no different, and I touched on that in the open. They are just jaw dropping durable. I just threw them across the room with no shame. Lol.
Neither require separate amplification, but some say the MDR V6’s do benefit from it. Don’t feel obligated to buy an amp until you’ve heard the sound and can make a good decision.
Both have replaceable ear-cups. If my experience is any indication, you will be replacing them every few years. Maybe sooner, maybe later. It just depends.
Sound. The MDR V6’s are geared towards the producer/engineer looking for a true reference sound as opposed to pure enjoyment. The bass on the V6’s is somewhat light, and overall lighter than the 7506, it’s almost identical twin. The bass and overall signature of the M50’s is big and loud. It’s a headphone that you will put on and be instantly floored. The bass goes down pretty deep, but rarely ever feels bloated or cheap. There are very few instances in which it can get muddy. A lot of people including myself in the past have called this headphone somewhat neutral. It really isn’t. It’s more on the colored side.
Cable. The original M50 was either/or. Either you bought a straight cabled version or a coiled cable version. The M50x comes with both options, and the cable is detachable. The V6’s cable is not detachable, and it only comes in a coiled version.
If you’re looking for an affordable mixing/reference solution, the Sony MDR V6 may be the best option in this price range. In another article I recommended the Shure SRH440. The only downside to those is that they aren’t durable at all, and comfort can also be an issue. The V6 is time tested and very neutral, with a little less bass emphasis than the 7506. The only issues with these is the somewhat harsh treble range, and the peeling ear-cups.
As for the M50/M50x? I do recommend it wholeheartedly for the casual listener, but I wouldn’t buy this one strictly for mixing. It does do pretty well in studio, but you’ll come to find out it’s more of a jack of all trades type of can. It may just be the best buy for the casual consumer or otherwise. The 50x also improves on a lot of what the original was missing, and comes in a plethora of color choices..
Are you looking for the absolute best mixing/reference headphone? Want to be 100% sure? Look no further than the Sennheiser HD 600. It’s just about the best price to performance ratio on the market, and has been around since 1997. It’s been called the “Genre master” and the Gold Standard, and serves as the benchmark to which all other headphones should be compared.
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.