Sony MDR ZX100 Review


In these tough times (a phrase that's totally not overused), people like to adventure into cheaper markets to get more for their money. For many things out there, it makes good sense. Why should I pay £1.50 for branded biscuits when I can get the same version unbranded for 5 times less?

But I'm not here to talk about biscuits; I'm here to talk about headphones. Now, being tight with your cash when it comes to technology is always a bit of a minefield. In other words: if you spend only £250 on a laptop, chances are it will be immensely crap. But headphones are interesting: you see many people very happy with cans costing no more than a tenner. I was intrigued by this, so back in April this year I purchased a pair of Sony MDR ZX100 headphones for a grand total of £12.

So, the real question is this: can you get away with paying so little, or is it really just the classic case of 'you get what you pay for'? Well if we judge from build quality alone, you do seem to get what you pay for. These headphones are far from ugly, but the plastic they're made from is very cheap, flimsy and squeaky. There's no padding along the top either, so long periods of use does result in a good deal of uncomfortable feelings. The larger your head is, the more you're going to hate these cans.

Noise cancellation? There isn't any. It's not exactly the headphones fault; they just weren't designed to keep the outside world away from you. It's also worth mentioning that these leak sound very easily as well, so if you're partial to listening to the Cheeky Girls while on the bus, I'm afraid it won't be just your dirty little secret.

But on to the most important part of any headphones - the sound quality. I'm pleased to report here that you certainly get your £12 in this segment, and perhaps arguably then some more. Sound is not what you'd call vibrant or punchy, but it's crisp and clear. It's one of those headphones that allow you to hear things in a song that other devices can't pick up. But don't get me wrong: the bass is adorably weak, and there's not much high range sound at all. These will work if you're not into your thumping drum'n'bass music.

Other small issues? Well, the cable is a bit on the short side. And the design of the ear pieces themselves are a bit small, which means they sit on your ears rather than over them. Now, push your ears against your head and keep it there for a long period of time. Trust me, it gets painful after a while. But that's exactly what these headphones do. Pleasant they be not.

Chances are, if you buy cheap headphones like these you aren't going to keep them treasured in your sound recording studio. No, you're going to be carrying them around - which means listening them on mobile devices. So what's it like when you plug these things in your phone? The answer is quiet. You lose no quality, but you do lose volume. This means the outside noises are going to leak in easily, and the fact these aren't sound proof is only salt to the wound.

The solution would to buy a headphone amp, available from about £20. But then that defeats the point of cheap headphones. However, this problem is associated with pretty much headphone set out there - so don't take this as a personal attack. My advice would be: if you're always out and about, stick with some good quality earphones instead.

Overview - ratings takes price into consideration

Sound quality: 

  • Bass: 
  • Mids 
  • Highs 
  • Crispness 

Build quality: 
Noise cancellation: 
Noise leakage: 
Max volume (before distortion)