Introduced in the past in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 is definitely a favorite headphone of recording engineers and other sound professionals. The origins of its design date even more back, because the MDR-7506 is, actually, a refresh of the Sony MDR-V6 that rolled out in 1985. Both models were suitable for the pro market, but remain hugely favored by consumers.

As the two headphones have the same design and are incredibly comfortable, they don’t really sound identical. Both offer very well-balanced sound and excellent clarity because of their modest price points — and both are excellent overall values. However the V6 makes a bit more bass and sounds more laid-back and mellower as the 7506 is leaner with a far more accentuated treble range, that makes it little crisper and livelier.

Design and features
Since the MDR-7506 has been around the Sony lineup for over twenty years, you don’t need to make any guesses about the design’s long-term durability. Some users claim the ear pads don’t last lots of years, however the pads are user-replaceable and cost just $9.99 a pair.

The MDR-7506 looks practically identical the MDR-V6. Sarah Tew/CNET
That strength concern is hardly unique to the MDR-7506. Most similarly priced headphones’ pads will not be around for the long term, or the headphones will crap out a long time before the ear pads disintegrate. Some MDR-7506 owners noted the hinges break, and again, that isn’t an uncommon malady for $100 headphones. But most owners haven’t any complaints.

The headphones weigh 8 ounces, which is slightly lighter than average for a full-size headphone. The mostly plastic design doesn’t feel at all flimsy, and it can help that the outer ear cups are metal. Inside, you will discover 40mm drivers, and the headphones have a 63-ohm rated impedance.

The racetrack-shaped ear pads and headband aren’t as thickly padded as those of several new headphones, but since head-clamping pressure is moderate I came across them comfortable to wear for long periods of time. That needs to be the case for all headphones, and it’s really downright needed for one suitable for pro use.

The closed-back MDR-7506 blocks adequate external noise, and no person near by will hear much sound escaping this headphone. Extended to the max, the coiled cable is approximately 10 feet long, and it’s really permanently mounted on the left ear cup.

The extralong cable lacks a mic or remote, therefore the MDR-7506 may well not be well suited for use with phones or lightweight music players. The cable is terminated with a gold-plated 3.5mm plug; a screw-on 6.3mm adapter plug is roofed for use with home or pro gear.

If you are looking for dissimilarities between this model and the MDR-V6, that model includes a nickel-plated 3.5mm plug and 6.3mm adapter. Also, the MDR-V6’s connector housing is matte silver, as the MDR-7506’s is matte black.

I love that the MDR-7506’s “L” and “R” markings are color-coded and simple to see in dim light. A no-frills black vinyl carrying bag is roofed. The headphone includes a 90-day warranty.

Performance
Pay attention to the MDR-7506 and you will know why it’s remained in the Sony lineup for 22 years. Nothing about the sound is out-of-place: the bass-midrange-treble balance is accurate, and every music genre sounds great. It’s no wonder so many professionals have relied on the MDR-7506 to record and mix music, radio, movies, and Television shows. Audiophiles with limited funds will discover a lot to love concerning this headphone.

The MDR-7506 sounded more open and less “canned” compared to the Noontec Zoro on-ear headphones. Switching between your two, the MDR-7506’s stereo imaging was broader, less stuck inside my head, and the Sony was convenient and provided better isolation from external noise. The Zoro’s treble detail is fairly nice, however the MDR-7506 sounded more natural overall. The main one area where in fact the Zoro definitively trounced the MDR-7506 was volume capability; it might play a whole lot louder on my iPod Classic.

The included carrying pouch. Sarah Tew/CNET
Impressed as I was with the MDR-7506, it made sense to next pit among the best $200 headphones, the Audio Technica ATH M50, against the MDR-7506. The M50’s sound is richer and weightier in tonal balance. The MDR-7506 is thinner and brighter, that i didn’t like as much. The M50 may be the better headphone, nonetheless it does cost almost doubly much. (When you can afford it, it’s worth upgrading.)

Comparing the MDR-7506 with the MDR-V6 was interesting; anyone who claims both of these lookalikes sound the same must have their hearing tested. First, the MDR-V6 makes more and fuller bass while MDR-7506 is leaner — vocals sound more immediate, and the treble range is accentuated. As noted, the MDR-V6 is comparatively laid-back and mellower, as the MDR-7506 crisper and livelier.

Conclusion
Apart from the fact that the MDR-7506 and the MDR-V6 involve some drawbacks for mobile use — namely the long, coiled cord and insufficient a built-in microphone for cell-phone calls — both headphones have aged very well and I’m glad Sony has let them be.

As noted, as the two models look practically identical, they don’t really sound identical. I cannot say they’re day-and-night opposites — both headphones share an identical overall sound — however the variations are significant, so it is simply a matter of picking the the one that matches your taste. I’d choose the MDR-V6 — I recommend it — but CNET Executive Editor David Carnoy, who edited this review, desired the MDR-7506. Therefore did CNET editor Matthew Moskovciak.