Making my way through the torch-lit corridors of the Headphone Dungeon, I enter the Chamber of Understanding (my review office). After placing my double-mocha latte beside a keepsake orc skull, I sit down to review the new Sony MDR-Z7M2. At $899, this Sony may not be the ideal headphone for everyone. But just who would benefit from its sound?
Sony MDR-Z7M2 Review
Released last month as an updated version to the already-aging MDR-Z7, the Z7M2 features a refreshed 70mm driver as well as larger magnets. (Always with the magnets.) That being said, I’m eager to delve into the sound as I was a bit nonplussed with the original Z7. As a bassy, cludgy puddle of sound soup, I quickly found myself ditching the original Z7 in favor of the more impressive and cheaper Final Audio Sonorous VI (at $699). Now, I’m curious to see if the Sony MDR-Z7M2 offers an improved listening experience.
The overall dimensions of the Sony MDR-Z7M2 deviate little from its predecessor. Humongous, over-ear cups fully envelop my freakishly large ears. Deep leather padding adds an extra level of comfort, too, for longer listening sessions. Reinforced at the extenders, the headband still makes liberal use of leather padding as well. The result is a secure but no less comfortable fit.
Sony includes two cables with the Z7M2 – a 10 ft (3 m) single-ended cable with a 3.5 mm connection and a 4 ft (1.2 m) balanced cable that uses Sony’s 4.4 mm Pentacon standard. Both cables connect to the headphones via a 3.5 mm plug, with screw-on collars that prevent unintended disconnection.
At the heart of this Sony lies a 70 mm driver – tweaked to operate more efficiently with a slightly lower sensitivity. Perhaps the biggest difference in this newer driver is the addition of a Fibonacci-patterned grill for attenuating high frequencies.
Surprisingly, the Sony MDR-Z7M2 offers a sound that will appeal to casual consumers and audiophiles alike.
In the low end, that 70mm driver offers a similar level of detail to the original Z7, with crawling, dark detail that seems fat and thick in my ears. The bass, too, adds a hefty sense of gravity to this part of the frequency range. Pop, rock, and hip-hop sound other-worldly here, drilling a precise, immaculate rhythm into my skull.
When it comes to midrange, the Sony offers a slightly recessed sound with a fair amount of detail. On vocal-heavy tracks, this part of the frequency range doesn’t disappoint. However, on tracks with lots of bass or low-end detail, the bottom of the frequency range seems to overwhelm the mids. At higher volumes, this impression lessens somewhat, but that will require you to pump plenty of volume into these cans.
Highs show marked improvement over the earlier Z7. According to Sony, this improvement may be owed to the Fibonacci grill, patterned to attenuate the highs. To my ears, the highs remain more articulate and accurate than before, leading to an overall emotive listening experience with good extension in the highs and lows.
For some genres, this sound works well. Fans of hip-hop, some rock, and electronica, as well as pop, might appreciate the thundering lows and glistening highs. However, the recessed midrange seems a little less impressive, and may throw a damper on any classical or acoustic tunes.
The Sony MDR-Z7M2 offers an interesting listening experience for many genres. If you’re a classical or acoustic fan, or just want the best all-around sound for your money, I recommend the Final Audio Sonorous VI. Sure, it might lack the massive low end and bass found on the Sony, but it will offer a more accurate overall listening experience.
For fans of hip-hop, rock, pop, and even electronica, the Z7M2 offers a fun sound that can only be discounted from an objective standpoint. The rich lows and heavy bass – in tandem with those sweet highs – will deliver an engaging profile, but at the expense of across-the-board accuracy.
Who is it for? Anyone looking for a high-end, fun headphone with a thick, driving low end and good bass. Are there better headphones out there at this price point? Yes – fans of larger, premium headphones would also do well to consider the Audeze LCD-2 Closed. But that headphone requires more amplification and still doesn’t offer as much emphasis on the lows.
Headphone Dungeon Score
Four skulls on the Headphone Dungeon’s Skull-o-matic Scoreboard. The Sony MDR-Z7M2 is a decent headphone if not class-leading. For the money, other models may provide a different sound better-suited to different listening tastes. However, as an over-ear headphone that replaces the older MDR-Z7, the Z7M2 still succeeds with a comfortable fit, decent detail, and impressive extension.
Closed, dynamic (circumaural)
2.76″, dome type (CCAW Voice Coil )
56 ohms at 1 kHz
Aluminum-coated LCP diaphragm
4 Hz–100,000 Hz
Headphone cable (Approx. 9.84 ft [3 m], silver-coated OFC strands, Gold-plated stereo mini plug) , Balanced-connection Headphone cable (Approx. 3.94 ft [1.2 m], silver-coated OFC strands, L-shaped gold-plated balanced standard plug)
Headphone cable (Gold-plated stereo mini plug) , Balanced-connection headphone cable (L-shaped gold-plated balanced standard plug)
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