The Sony MDR-7506 professional headphones have been around about 10 years, selling by the thousands. As a comfortable-wearing, sealed headphone with reasonably good sounding audio, the MDR-7506s became commonplace in live rigs, studio consoles, broadcast studios and everything in between.
Much as I have always liked the utility of the MDR-7506 ($189 retail), I always thought it was lacking the audio reproduction refinement that a truly premium headphone has. Now, along comes the MDR-7509 ($250) , which improves the sonics with updated drivers.
Like the MDR-7506, the lightweight MDR-7509 features sealed drivers for better sound isolation, foldable ear pieces for stashing the ‘phones inside the included handy carrying pouch, and a heavy-duty coiled cord with a screw-on, 1/4-inch adapter that fits over the standard 1/8-inch jack.
Specifications include a wide 5 Hz to 30 kHz frequency rage, but Sony does not list the all-important dB tolerance. Sensitivity is 107 dB at 1mW at 1 meter; impedance is 24 ohms at 1 kHz.
In my listening tests, sources included a Sony TCD-D7 portable DAT recorder with a portable SBM A/D adapter, a Sony studio DAT recorder, Audio-by-Van Alstine FET-Valve preamp/headphone amp and a Mackie MS-1402 mixer.
Comparing the MDR-7509 to the MDR-7506, I found the MDR-7509 to have a significantly smoother high-midrange and treble that made it much more comfortable when listening over the long term. This frequency-response smoothness is more to my liking. Although not quite as natural as the more expensive “open driver” Grado headphones that I often use, the MDR-7509 is a lot closer to an audiophile headphone than the MDR-7506.
Like its little brother, the MDR-7509 does a pretty good job of shutting out background noise – although not quite as well as an Audio-Technica D-40 sealed headphone I had on hand.
All in all, the Sony MDR-7509 offers a significant step up in audio quality, but you are going to have to pay for it. Street prices come in at less than $200 for the MDR-7509 and less than $100 for the MDR-7506.
In my opinion, though, the money is worth the extra degree of accuracy.