Over the last couple of weeks I have been trying out the latest wireless headphones from Sony; the MDR1-RBT over-ear Bluetooth headphones with NFC technology. While the full review is underway, I thought I would share my first impression and initial thoughts.
For a long time now I have been looking for a some wireless headphones that not only provides a good quality listening experience, but that also does not make you embarrassed to wear, as let’s face it, many of the current options for wireless headphones does not come near the cool factor of some its wired competitors. With the Sony MDR1-RBT I believe I have found a pair that comes close.
Design and build
While the Sony MDR1RBT does not necessarily have the same street cool factor that Beats by Dre or SMS Audio provides, I find that they have a timeless design that encompasses a certain air of audio sophistication. They might not be street cool, but they are definitely hitting a right note with my usage, which is primarily for commuting, travelling, and home/office use.
Build quality of the MR1-RBT feels good, although I would have wished they used more metal in some of the finishing instead of plastic, as I believe it would have given them more of a high-end feeling. That said, they are lightweight and very comfortable to wear with the padded headband and cushioned earpads. I have had no problem wearing them for hours. For protection during transport they also come with a carry pouch that provides a good level of protection, and with compartment for storing the associated cables.
Bluetooth 3.0 and NFC (Near Field Communication) made pairing the headphones with a variety of smartphones , tablets and computers a piece of cake. By downloading the NFC Easy Connect app on my Nexus 4 it was as simple as touching the two devices together and I was off listening to my music. There is also a power button the left ear that you hold down for about 7 seconds to get the MDR1-RBT headphones into pairing mode should you not have NFC on your smartphone/tablet/computer. I have not charged the headphones yet since getting them, and approaching 30 hours of playtime, so the battery life is way better than other Bluetooth headphones I have tried in the past. However should you run out of battery and no time to charge, they also come with a normal headphone cable. Both the USB charging port and the headphone jack is situated in the left ear, covered by flaps that are surprisingly not flimsical, although sometimes I feel that I am gonna break them off. It would have been good if Sony provided these with a similar headphone cable integration as with the other two models in the Prestige range.
While I’m still in the process of reviewing the audio performance, first impression lives up to expectations. While they don’t have Apt-X or similar for better audio streaming over Bluetooth, the audio quality is the best I have come across over Bluetooth to date. In fact, I have been pleasantly surprised. For my untrained ear, the differences between wired and wireless on these headphones are minimal. Where I have had issues with Bluetooth headphones in the past has been with a general flat sound and a lack of deep bass (I like a decent bass with my audio equipment). The MDR1-RBT has so far proven that they can deliver a good bass performance while still maintain clear and crisp sound across the spectrum. Sony has worked with artists to get the best out of the headphones, with specially engineered HD driver units (40mm Liquid Crystal Polymer Film diaphragm), ensuring that they deliver a balanced sound reproduction (4Hz to 80kHz), and it seems to have worked out well.
Sony lists the MDR1-RBT Prestige headphones at £399, but you can currently get them online from around £240. Personally I bought mines from Amazon UK at £247. I will be back with a full review over the next couple of weeks.