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Reviewed on Sep 26, 2018

Sony MDR-7520
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
6.1
Mixed Usage
7.2
Critical Listening
5.7
Commute/Travel
5.7
Sports/Fitness
5.9
Office
5.8
TV
5.5
Gaming
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

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.

Test Results
Design 6.7
Sound 7.1
Isolation 6.6
Microphone 0
Active Features 0
Connectivity 4.8
Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Above average audio reproduction.
Cons
  • A bit too bright on some tracks.
  • Slightly bulky design.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.

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Black MDR-7520
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6.7

Design

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.

Style

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.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
:
1 lbs

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.

0 Controls
Ease of use : N/A
Feedback : N/A
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : N/A
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : N/A

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.

6.3 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 6.1 C

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.

5.9 Portability
L : 7 "
W : 5 "
H : 3.2 "
Volume : 112 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

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.

6.5 Case
Type : Pouch
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

The Sony MDR-7520 come with a pretty durable pouch.

8.0 Build Quality

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.

6.5 Stability

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.

Cable
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.6 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

These headphones come with a 4.6ft, 1/8" TRS coiled audio cable that can easily stretch to 10ft.

Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.1

Sound

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.

8.3 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.49 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
21.19 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-0.23 dB
Mid-Bass
:
3.28 dB
High-Bass
:
2.53 dB

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.

8.6 Mid
Std. Err.
:
1.91 dB
Low-Mid
:
-1.82 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-1.3 dB
High-Mid
:
-0.05 dB

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.

5.3 Treble
Std. Err.
:
5.62 dB
Low-Treble
:
-0.53 dB
Mid-Treble
:
0.73 dB
High-Treble
:
-2.39 dB

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.

6.2 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.85 dB

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.

7.5 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.33
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.39
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.75
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
19.4

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.

5.9 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
2.52 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
5.36 dB
PRTF Distance
:
9.73 dB
Openness
:
3.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
3.4
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

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.

7.8 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
0.719
Weighted THD @ 100
:
2.355

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.

6.6

Isolation

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.

6.4 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-14.68 dB
Bass
:
0.55 dB
Mid
:
-13.6 dB
Treble
:
-32.33 dB
Self-Noise
:
0 dB

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.

7.1 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
39.29 dB

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.

0

Microphone

Integrated
:
N/A
In-line
:
N/A
Boom
:
N/A
Detachable Boom
:
N/A

The Sony MDR-7520 do not come with a microphone. For a wired headphone with a good in-line microphone, check out the Sony-WH-1000XM2, the WH-1000XM3 or the WH-H900N.

0 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
N/A
LFE
:
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
:
N/A
HFE
:
N/A
Weighted THD
:
N/A
Gain
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a microphone so the recording quality has not been tested.

0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise : N/A
Speech + Subway Noise : N/A
SpNR
:
N/A

The Sony MDR-7520 do not have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.

0

Active Features

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.

N/A Battery
Battery Type
:
N/A
Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A

These are passive headphones with no active components and no battery.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

The headphones do not have a dedicated, compatible app for added customization.

4.8

Connectivity

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.

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A

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.

7.2 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio Only

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.

0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A

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.

0 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A

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.

10 Latency
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

These headphones have practically no latency since they have a wired design. Unfortunately, this also means that they're limited by the range of the audio cable.

In the box

  • Sony MDR-7520 headphones
  • 1/8" to 1/4" adapter
  • Carrying pouch

Compared to other Headphones

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.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

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.

Sony MDR-7506

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.

Sony MDR-1A

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.

Sennheiser HD 600

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.

Conclusion

6.1 Mixed Usage
The Sony MDR-7520 are average mixed usage headphones but perform better for critical listening. They have a good, premium design, a decent sound, and low leakage. They're also decently comfortable and but they're not the most versatile headphones. They won't be ideal for sports or loud environments and they do not have any active features so they won't be as convenient for all users. Their sound quality is also a bit too sharp on some tracks.
7.2 Critical Listening
Decent for critical listening. The Sony MDR-7520 have an above-average sound with a good bass and a great mid-range. They also have good imaging and THD. However, their treble will sound sharp which may get fatiguing during longer listening sessions. They also do not have the best soundstage, since they are closed-back headphones but on the upside, their sound quality should cater well enough to most songs and genres. They just won't be the ideal headphone for critical listeners and the much cheaper MDR-7506 sound a little better which may be a better value for your money if you only care about sound.
5.7 Commute/Travel
Not ideal for commuting. They do not block a lot of noise block noise in loud environments and have no additional features, like noise canceling or in-line controls, to make commuting easier.
5.7 Sports/Fitness
Subpar for sports. These headphones are not stable enough to exercise or jog with. Also like most closed-back over-ears, they will make you sweat a bit more with demanding activities since they do not have the most breathable design.
5.9 Office
Mediocre for office use. They don't leak much, so you won't disturb your colleagues. However, they do not block a lot of noise which may not be ideal for very noisy and lively workplaces.
5.8 TV
Mediocre-at-best for home theater use. The Sony MDR-7520 have a decent sound that's suitable for music and movies and no latency since they're wired. However, the cable won't be long enough to comfortably watch TV from your couch, although the coiled cable does stretch farther than most.
5.5 Gaming
Average for gaming. They have a decent sound and a low latency wired connection but are not as convenient or as customizable as most wireless gaming headsets. Also, they don't have a microphone, but on the upside, if you do not need voice chat, then they could be a decent option for consoles and PCs since they will provide audio for both the PS4 and Xbox One.

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