A few months ago, I was hired to work on the audio engineering team at a production camp put on by Sony. One of the events at this camp was a demo of Sony’s immersive audio tools, and this was my first experience with their MDR-MV1 headphones. Sony’s immersive audio team has been pushing hard to develop tools for producing and mixing in immersive audio formats. This definitely isn’t a review about immersive audio, however, if you’ve dabbled with 360 Reality Audio or Atmos you know the challenges of getting these formats to translate into stereo headphones. In search of a solution, the team at Sony set out to design a perfect pair of headphones for monitoring spatial audio. Let me be extra clear: The MDR-MV1s are just stereo headphones. All the specs that help these headphones translate audio in 3D also allow them to reproduce the same stereo format that’s been around for over half a century. To help our ears hear spatial audio, our monitoring needs to be remarkably transparent, and these open-back headphones have noticeably minimal acoustic resonance. They’re incredibly detailed and rated by the manufacturer as flat from 5 Hz to 80 kHz. Bonus comfort features include a detachable cable and an incredibly lightweight headset (approximately half of a pound). Seriously, these are the lightest headphones I’ve ever trusted for professional work. If you think this all sounds nice, even just for normal stereo work, you’re absolutely right! While trying to build best-in-class headphones for immersive audio, Sony just happened to make my new favorite stereo headphones. These have been my daily drivers since I first tried them on.

I’m learning to be comfortable mixing in headphones. Out of caution, I first began using headphones while working in unfamiliar studios. I’d pack a pair of trusted headphones (that I reference often) to prevent any surprises when returning home to familiar monitors. More recently, I’ve begun taking extended trips away from home with the confidence that I can deliver mixes to my clients (while wearing headphones) anywhere I can power up my computer. As I’ve grown used to long hours in headphones, I’ve formed strong opinions about what I need if I’m going to keep these on my ears all day. The first time I put on the MDR-MV1s, they kind of blew my mind. The light weight and neutral sound can almost fool you into thinking you’re not wearing them! I’m pretty cautious about changing my monitoring, and I only trust what I’m familiar with! Yet somehow, I immediately recognized that these MDR-MV1s were just voiced so naturally, and they really are extremely comfortable to wear. It’s been nearly three months, and they’re still my primary headphones for working both at home and abroad. I couldn’t be happier.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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