When it comes to top quality high-end headphones, the range Sony products that hits our shores is sparse. In the overseas market, the top-end of the Sony headphone range has been blessed with units that have been highly regarded amongst audio enthusiasts. A welcomed entry the Australian market, the Sony MDR-EX85LP in-ear headphones offer great sound quality at a fairly competitive price.
- Smooth texture, Great overall sound quality, Comfortable design
- Some sibilance, Slightly fatiguing
A great portable in-ear headphone from Sony, the EX85LPs are great for easy listening, offering a smooth sound and comfortable design.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
While not resting nearly as deep as some full IEMs (in-ear monitors) like the Shure E4c, the EX85LPs are in-ear headphones, meaning they slip slightly into the ear canal, rather than resting outside of it like regular earbuds. The benefits of this are twofold as it brings your eardrum closer to the sound while also helping to block out external noise.
The key thing when analysing any pair of headphones is sound quality and in this regard the EX85LPs were impressive. They offer a very smooth, liquid sound that should please people looking for an easy listening headphone. As such, we found it more suited to background or casual listening, rather than focused, intensive sessions.
Its bass is slow, giving a somewhat dark sound, but it doesn't extend as deep as other models we've looked at doesn't overpower the music. The highs are slightly recessed and a little rolled off, but this suits the smooth texture of the headphones quite well. Meanwhile the mid-range is rich and detailed, with good levels of separation and nice placement of individual instruments, however there was a noticeable harshness there, that was a little offputting. The EX85LPs' soundstage is quite small, creating the feeling of a small hall or theatre, but this is to be expected from an in-ear headphone.
We only had two main complaints with the sound. Firstly, there was some notable sibilance. Sibilance is where "S" or "Ch" sounds are stretched or annunciated too strongly, and it can give a somewhat harsh tone to that part of the music. The second issue was despite being relatively smooth, we found the EX85LPs to be quite fatiguing, meaning long listening sessions strained the ears. Depending on how badly this affects you, it may or may not be an issue.
We found the EX85LP to be very comfortable. They use a small rubber tip that comes in multiple sizes and it can easily be switched out to fit your ear canal. It slips in very easily and achieves a comfortable seal that can be worn for hours. These headphones don't cancel exterior noise as well as most other IEMs, but this is due to the fact that they don't slide in quite as deep. Nevertheless, they are still better than a pair of earbuds or over-the-head style headphones in this regard.
Aesthetically they are quite pleasing, with an all black tip and silver base. We noticed they had a tendency to get dirty a lot quicker than other in-ear headphones we've reviewed, but a little cleaning quickly rectified the issue.
Overall the EX85LPs are a strong entry into the portable headphone space by Sony. They offer most things one could want in a pair of headphones, including a smooth, detailed sound and a comfortable design. While there are other headphones on the market that sound better, and the harsh, fatiguing sound may put some people off, the overall combination of comfort, quality and cost makes these a strong choice.
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