Sony is often a forgotten company when it comes to high performance headphones. In fact, many discard Sony as a mass consumption brand that specializes in cheap crowd pleasers, like the noise cancelling WH-1000. But Sony does cater to the audiophile as well. Such is the case with the MDR-Z7M2, which is the successor to the Z7. But at $200 more than the older version, is the new Z7M2 worth the high price tag? Let’s find out in this Sony MDR-Z7M2 Over-Ear Headphones Review.
Sony MDR-Z7M2 Over-Ear Headphones Review
IN the BOX
Unimatch Plug Adapter (Gold-Plated)
Headphone Cable (3 m)
Balanced Headphone Cable (1.2 m)
I’m a big fan of the fit on these cans. In general, Sony’s headphones tend to be pretty light and comfy around the ears. And while the MDR-Z7M2 is not the lightest Sony headphone I’ve tried, it feels uncombersome while maintaining a snug feel. The earpads on the Z7M2 are nice and wide, and the leather is perfectly pudgy. The headband has some serious padding as well. It’s a casually luxurious feel, like wearing velvet sweatpants to work. Sound isolation is decent too.
I was interested to find out what upgrades Sony has made from the Z7 to the Z7M2, since they have have a ton of similarities. While both closed-back models house 70mm drivers, the major change is the driver magnet, which is double the size of the older version. The bigger magnet increases the driving power and speed of response. As a result, you should expect a higher level of clarity in sound.
Another noticeable difference is the hanger and slider (the outside metal parts that hold the headphone together). Sony advertised the Z7 as being an all metal, high density design. With the Z7M2, Sony boasts aluminum-alloyed design. Hmm. I thought aluminum was metal too. Anyway, the old hanger and slider is silver, and the new one is black.
While the frequency range on the Z7M2 is the same as the older version, at 4 – 100,000Hz, Sony lowered the sensitivity and impedance to 98 dB and 56 Ohms respectively. Because of the Z7M2’s relatively low impedance, it’s pretty easy to drive. I recommend a small amp, but there is enough volume to juice these cans from your phone.
Like the Z7, the Z7M2 comes with a detachable balanced cable in addition to the regular ol’ cable. But Sony has shortened the size of the 4.4mm balanced cable to about 4 feet from 6 feet.
Overall Impressions: Clean but lacking in meat and detail. Overpriced?
It’s been a while since I’ve listened to a high performance Sony headphone, but based on some of their cheaper models I expected bigger lows. In terms of bass, Sony has shown some restraint. Listening to pop music, they just weren’t forward leaning enough to do justice to the genre. And I’m no bass-head, but you can forget hip -hop. Even the rockers out there might be disappointed by the slightly lackluster feel of the low-end. It’s just not fleshy enough to give big rock songs the body they deserve. That being said, the Z7M2 has some nice grip. So, if you like your bass as dry as a Vermouthless martini, you’ll like the low-end sound profile. But where the Z7M2 really shines is in its low-end transparency and detail. The Z7M2’s low-end is perfect for jazz and classical. Listening to some double bass, these cans conveyed a natural timbre and a nice amount of resolve. And cellos in the lower frequencies sounded nuanced, melodic and emotive.
We’ve got a very present midrange here. And though the low end doesn’t have a ton of richness, the low-mids are given fair play. Still, there’s a slight emphasis in the upper mids, bringing vocals a touch forward. Because the midrange gives you all the colors of the rainbow, you will get a sense of fullness minus the richness of the lows. But the Z7M2 excels at presenting a clean profile. Though instruments in this range are less detailed than they are in the lows, the separation is great. Listening to folk music, guitar strums that reached the lower mids were spotless and neatly layered over the rest of the instrumentation.
Anticipate clean and smooth highs. But strings in these frequencies conveyed less detail than I would expect from a headphone at this price. And percussion and synth instruments didn’t have that crispness or sparkle that makes high frequencies fun. Still, it’s a reasonably easy listening experience with minimal piercing in the highest frequencies.
Sony does a decent job here. Although it may not be the most spacious soundstage I’ve heard in this price range, there’s an impressive sense of dimension, especially in terms of height. Instrument placement feels accurate.
I’m a bit disappointed, folks. Don’t get me wrong. This is a very clean headphone with some nice separation. But where’s the personality? There’s no defining quality in these cans that blows me away. And I wouldn’t fault it for being less than spectacular if it was a few hundred bucks cheaper. But at $900, Sony is beginning to compete with more charismatic models from Focal and Audeze, like the LCD2 Closed-Back. In comparison, the Z7M2 seems overpriced.
You can find these headphones for the best price at:
Audio 46: Sony MDR-Z7M2 Over-Ear Headphones (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount)
Driver: 2.76” Dome Type
Impedance: 56 Ohms
Frequency Response: 4 – 100,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 98 dB
Weight: 12 Oz