The Sony MDR-7520 are above-average critical listening headphones, with a great build quality. They have a simple and straightforward design that looks premium and will work for most. They're also decently comfortable, although they do get a bit fatiguing and hot after a couple of hours of listening. On the upside, they have a decent sound quality that has a great mid-range and a good bass. However, they also sound a bit too sharp on some tracks, which may be a bit bothersome for some critical listeners.
The Sony MDR-7520 have a high-end closed-back over-ear design that's durable and well-made. The headband has a sturdy metal frame, a low profile once on your head, and is coated in a premium-looking pleather. They also have dense and durable ear cups that are decently comfortable around most ears. However, they do not have the best ear cup pads, which means they won't be as comfortable for longer listening sessions. They're also critical listening focused headphones, with no in-line remote or control scheme on their detachable audio cable so they won't be as convenient to use with your phone. They also do not fold to be more compact and aren't stable enough to be a good choice for sports.
The Sony MDR-7520 have a clean studio look that will work for most listeners. They feel high-end and durable, with a good blend of metal and plastic. The headband is covered in a pleather coating and has a low profile, once on your head, which most will prefer. The ear cups are oval with a matte finish that looks great, and a see-through mesh on the inside of the cup so you can see the angled dynamic drivers, which is pretty cool. They won't be the flashiest or the most fashion-forward headphones to use outdoors but their understated look and high-end design will work for most.
The Sony MDR-7520 are decently comfortable headphones. The ear cups are large enough for most ears, and they are not too tight on the head, like some of the other critical listening headphones we've tested, like the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. Unfortunately, the hinges of the 7520 do not swivel much, which does cause a bit of a clamping sensation after a couple of hours of listening. The ear cup pads are slightly better than the MDR-7506 but not as soft as the MDR-1A. Also since they are heavier than both the 1A and the 7506, you do feel them a bit more on your head during longer listening sessions.
These headphones do not have a control scheme and do not come with an additional audio cable with an in-line remote like some of the other wired designs.
The Sony MDR-7520, like most closed back over-ears, are not the most breathable headphones and will still make you ears make your ears fairly warm during long listening sessions. Their closed-back over-ear design prevents a good amount of airflow so they won't be suitable for exercising or working out but should be okay for more casual listening.
The Sony MDR7520 are not the most portable headphones. They're about average sized for an over-ear model, but do not fold into a more compact format like the MDR-7506. They're cumbersome to carry around on your person without a bag but on the upside, they come with a pretty good pouch.
The Sony MDR-7520 have a much better build quality than the similarly designed MDR 7506. The 7520 look and feel like they're made out of premium materials and they also have a sturdier metal headband design that feels very durable. The ear cups are dense, the cable is thick and rubberized, and the pleather coating on the headband looks very high-end. Unfortunately, the yokes are plastic, but on the upside, the plastic does feel dense and sturdy so they should easily survive a couple of accidental drops. The coating on the headband might wear and tear over time, but the headphones should last you a while.
The Sony MDR-7520 are decently stable headphones but will not be a good option for sports, running or working out. They are stable enough for most casual activities and critical listening. Also, since the hinges do not swivel as much and aren't as loose as the MDR-7506, they easily stay on your head when you're not moving around too much. However, they easily slip off your ears if you tilt your head too far, and they sway a lot while running so they will not be a good option for sports.
The Sony MDR-7520 are a decent sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. They have a very good, deep, and powerful bass, an excellent and clear mid-range, but a sub-par treble. Additionally, their bass is a bit boomy and prone to inconsistencies especially if you wear glasses. Also, their treble lacks some detail and sounds harsh and piercing on S and T sounds (sibilant). Overall, they are a decent and versatile pair of headphones, but their sharp sibilances may be a deal breaker for some. The cheaper MDR-7506 has a better-balanced and more consistent sound profile.
The bass is very good. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 21Hz, which is great. Low-bass, responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music and sound effects is within 0.2dB of our neutral target. Mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and punch of kick drums, is flat and even, but overemphasized by 3dB. High-bass, responsible for warmth, is hyped by more than 2dB. Overall the 7520 have a powerful and deep bass, but they may sound a bit muddy on certain tracks. Also, their bass delivery varies noticeably across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses. The response here represents the average bass response and your experience may vary.
The mid-range of the Sony 7520 is great. The response throughout the range is quite flat and even, and within 2dB of our neutral target. This suggests a well-balanced and clear reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. The subtle tilt favoring the higher frequencies though, makes their mid-range slightly forward sounding, which will be mostly noticeable on vocals and leads.
The treble of the MDR-7520 is sub-par. The response throughout the range is rather uneven. The 10dB dip around 5KHz negatively affect the detail and articulation of vocals and lead instruments. The 15dB peak around 10KHz makes the sibilances (S and T sounds) noticeably sharp and piercing. This will be mostly noticeable on vocals and cymbals.
The Sony MDR-7520 have an average-at-best frequency response consistency. The bass delivery is quite consistent across most people, however, we measured more than 4dB of drop in bass with our subject who wears glasses. In the treble range, they perform decently consistent across multiple re-seats.
The imaging is good. Weighted group delay is at 0.33, which is within good limits. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit well-match in frequency and amplitude response. This is important for the accurate localization and placement of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo image. However, we measured some phase mismatch in the bass range which could weaken the perception of their bass a little bit.
The Sony MDR-7520 have a mediocre-at-best soundstage. The PRTF graph shows a decent amount of pinna interaction and activation up to 5KHz, but the accuracy decreases noticeably above that frequency. There is not a notch present at the 10KHz region either. This suggests a relatively large soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the listener's head. Also, because of their closed-back design, their soundstage may feel less open and spacious compared to their open-back counterparts.
The harmonic distortion performance of the MDR-7520 is good. The overall amount of harmonic distortion is within good limits, and there is not a big jump in THD at higher volumes either. The decrease in THD at 100dB SPL around 5KHz is most likely due to the increased flexibility of the driver under heavier loads.
Sony MDR-7520 isolate passively against ambient noise, which will not be ideal for loud, noisy environments. They prevent some high-frequency sounds from seeping into your audio but it won't be enough for the loud, noisy conditions of public transit. They should be somewhat okay if you're able to achieve a proper seal around your ears and have a little music playing to drown out your surroundings. However, at very high volumes, your music may be audible to the people around you.
The isolation performance is mediocre. These headphones don't have active noise cancellation (ANC) and don't isolate in the bass range at all. This means they will fully let in the rumble of bus and airplane engines. In the mid-range, important for blocking speech, they isolate by 14dB, which is above-average. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieve 32dB of isolation, which is good.
The Sony MDR-7520 have an above-average leakage performance. The significant portion of the leakage is spread between 500Hz and 3KHz, which is a relatively broad range. The overall level of leakage is not very loud though. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 39dB SPL and peaks at 50dB SPL, which is the same as the noise floor of most offices.
These headphones have no active features and therefore do not require a battery. They also do not have a dedicated app or software for added customization options.
The Sony MDR-7520 are straightforward wired headphones with no in-line remote or microphone on their cable. This means they have practically no latency for watching movies and videos but do not have the convenient range of a wireless headphone. Also, since they have no mic, they will only have audio support when plugged into your consoles or PC.
The Sony MDR-7520 headphones are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a good Bluetooth headset for more casual use, check out the Sony WH-1000XM3.
These headphones come with a 1/8" TRS audio cable with no in-line remote. This means they will only provide audio when connected to your PC, phone, PS4 or Xbox One controller.
The Sony MDR-7520 do not have a dock. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7.
The Sony MDR-7520 do not have a wireless range since they're wired. If you want a good wireless headset for critical listening, consider the Sony WH-H900N.
The Sony MDR-7520 are well-made, closed-back, critical listening headphones. They have a premium and durable design, they're decently comfortable and deliver an above-average sound quality with a good amount of bass. Unfortunately, they also have a sharp spike in the treble range that could sound a bit piercing with already bright tracks. They're also not the most practical headphones to use outdoors since they have no control scheme, they do not block a lot of noise and they don't fold into a more compact format, to make them easier to carry around like some of the models compared below.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are a better value and better-sounding critical listening headphones than the Sony MDR-7520. The Sonys have a better more premium and durable build quality when compared to the M50x. They also have a lower profile on your head and an understated look and feel that some may prefer over the slightly plasticky design of the Audio-Technicas. On the other hand, the M50x sound more balanced. They have a deeper bass and better high frequencies that make them sound more exciting without losing too much detail in instrumentals and vocals. The M50x are also a bit more comfortable.
The Sony MDR-7506 are slightly better critical listening headphones than the Sony MDR-7520. The MDR-7506 offer a better value thanks to their mid-to-budget price range. They also have a more comfortable fit than the MDR-7520 and they sound better overall with more bass. On the other hand, the MDR-7520 are a much better build headphone. They have more premium look and design and feel a lot more durable than the MDR-7506. They also come with a detachable cable which further increases their durability compared to the MDR-7506.
The Sony MDR-1A are a better closed-back critical listening headphones than the Sony MDR-7520. The 1As are a lot more comfortable and sleeker looking than the 7520s. The 1A also have a better-balanced sound than the 7520s. They pack a bit more bass and do not sound as sharp on already bright tracks. On the upside, the 7520s feel a bit more durable than the 1As.
The Sennheiser HD 600 are better critical listening headphones if you want a wider soundstage and do not care about leakage. However, if you listen to your music at work, or in noise-sensitive environments, then the Sony MDR-7520 will be a better choice. The Sony have a better more durable build quality and than the HD 600. They also have a better bass range, and since they are closed-back, they isolate a bit more in noisy environments. On the other hand, the HD 600 have a more open sound that most critical listeners will prefer. They also have a slightly more comfortable fit, although they can be a little tight on the head.