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Reviewed on Jun 14, 2018

Sony MDR-ZX110NC HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
5.7
Mixed Usage
6.4
Critical Listening
5.4
Commute/Travel
5.7
Sports/Fitness
5.5
Office
5.5
TV
5.4
Gaming
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC are mediocre mixed usage headphones that have decent audio reproduction and don't leak much. Unfortunately, they feel cheaply made and poorly isolate listeners from ambient noise. They don't fare well in loud, noisy environments and also have no control options when connected to your phone which is disappointing

Test Results
Design 5.4
Sound 6.5
Isolation 5.8
Microphone 0
Active Features 7.6
Connectivity 4.8
Pros
  • Decent audio reproduction.
  • Minimal leakage.
Cons
  • Flimsy build.
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Unstable fit; easily falls off your head.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.
  1. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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5.4

Design

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC are lightweight, decent-looking headphones. Unfortunately, they are not durable or stable on the head. Their all-plastic design is a little cheap and poorly padded, and they do not offer any control over your audio. On the upside, they are not too tight on the head which adds a little to their comfort level.

Style

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC are decent-looking headphones but offer nothing remarkable with their style. They have a matte all-black color scheme. The ear cups have a stylized back cover that adds a little more flair to the design. These headphones won't stand out, but their understated style will work for some.

6.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.33 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.72 lbs

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC have a lightweight design, and the headband does not exert too much pressure on the ears. However, the lack of padding on the headband and the slightly stiff ear cups that do not swivel, make these headphones a little uncomfortable. Also, the small ear cups of the on-ear design might not be for everyone.

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

Button layout and functionality is disappointing. There is only one noise canceling switch, which means you will have no control over your audio.

8.2 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 1.9 C

These headphones are fairly breathable on-ears. They do not cover your ears entirely, like most over-ear designs, so they do not obstruct as much airflow. They will be breathable enough for sports but unfortunately, their poor stability is not suitable for running and exercising.

6.8 Portability
L : 4.72 "
W : 6.10 "
H : 1.57 "
Volume : 45.42 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The Sony MDRZX110NC are above-average portable on-ear headphones. They conveniently fold up into a much more compact format and can easily be carried around in a bag and will fit in some larger pockets. However, they are not as small as some other on-ear models headphones and will still feel a little cumbersome for some listeners.

0 Case
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A
5.0 Build Quality

The build quality is below-average. The all-plastic design and thin headband looks cheap and does not feel durable. The headband might snap under moderate physical stress, and the unique hinge mechanisms are additional weak points to an already fragile design. The ear cups, on the other hand, are relatively dense, which is a plus.

4.5 Stability

These headphones do not deliver a stable fit. They will easily slip off your ears during high-intensity activities and would not be suitable for running or any kind of sports use. They don't apply enough pressure to maintain their position when you tilt your head. The audio cables are also non-detachable, which will pull the headphones off your head if they get caught on something.

Cable
Detachable : No
Length : 4.06 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

These headphones do not come with any additional cables.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
6.5

Sound

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC is an average sounding pair of closed-back on-ear headphones. They have a deep and powerful bass, a very well-balanced mid-range, and an even treble. However, their bass delivery is prone to quite a bit of inconsistency across multiple users and the treble lacks detail and brightness. Overall, their sound profile is rather heavy in the bass range, and veiled in the treble range. This makes them a decent choice for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and Hip-hop, but are not the ideal choice for classical or vocal-centric music since they won't produce the most present and detailed vocals and lead instruments.

7.7 Bass
Std. Err.
:
3.36 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
25.2 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-0.17 dB
Mid-Bass
:
4.07 dB
High-Bass
:
4.41 dB

The Sony MDRZX110NC have a good bass. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 25Hz, which is great. Low-bass is also within 0.2dB of our target, suggesting a balanced production of thumping and rumbling sounds. However, mid-bass and high-bass are consistently overemphasized by more than 4dB. This results in a bass that is slightly too heavy and muddy. Also, their bass delivery varies significantly 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.
:
1.83 dB
Low-Mid
:
1.78 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-0.03 dB
High-Mid
:
1.51 dB

The mid-range is great. The overall response throughout the range is quite flat and even, suggesting a clear and well-balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. Low-mid, is slightly hyped, which could thicken vocals a bit, but the effect will be quite subtle. Mid-mid is flat and virtually flawless, but high-mid is slightly overemphasized similar to low-mid. This could make the mid-range a bit forward and intense, but again, at 1.5dB, the effect will be very subtle.

5.5 Treble
Std. Err.
:
5.49 dB
Low-Treble
:
-4.58 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-0.47 dB
High-Treble
:
-5.08 dB

The treble performance is sub-par. The response throughout the range is even, which is good, but not quite balanced. The 10dB dip around 5KHz negatively affects the detail and brightness of sound, especially on vocals and lead instruments. Also, the peak around 10KHz could make these headphones a bit sibilant (sharp on S and Ts) which will be mostly noticeable on vocals and cymbals.

5.8 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.03 dB

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC have a poor frequency response consistency. The maximum deviation in the bass range across our five human subjects is more than 15dB at 20Hz, which is quite noticeably. These inconsistencies in bass delivery are also present throughout the rest of the bass range. In the treble range, however, the Sony is quite consistent below 10KHz.

6.8 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.25
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.78
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
6.51
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
12.13

The imaging performance of the ZX110NC is decent. Weighted group delay is at 0.25, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response never crosses the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. In terms of driver matching, our test unit was well-matched in frequency and amplitude response, but showed significant phase mismatch in the bass and mid ranges. The suggests a stereo image that is well-balanced and good for locating objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo field, by may be a bit weak and too wide in the lower frequencies.

4.1 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
3.56 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
3.04 dB
PRTF Distance
:
2.22 dB
Openness
:
5.4
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
1.9
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC have a poor soundstage. The on-ear design of these headphones prevents them from interacting with and activating the resonances of the pinna in a way a loudspeaker would do. This can be seen in the PRTF graph, where there's little pinna activation below 5KHz, and the interaction above that has little accuracy. There's not a notch present around the 10KHz area either. This suggests a soundstage that is perceived as small and located inside the listener's head.

6.6 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
3.34
Weighted THD @ 100
:
25.307

The harmonic distortion performance is average. The overall amount of harmonic distortion is elevated in both bass and treble range, especially around 4KHz. This suggests that these headphones may struggle to produce a clean bass at high volumes, and could sound harsh around 4KHz. On the upside, there is not a big jump in THD between the 90dB and 100dB SPL passes.

5.8

Isolation

Noise isolation is weak. The Sony MDRZX110NC barely cancel ambient noise and would not fare well in loud environments. Their active isolation is not sufficient for the level of noise involved in commuting or traveling. On the upside, they won't disturb the people around you even at high volumes because they don't leak much.

4.5 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-8.5 dB
Bass
:
0.64 dB
Mid
:
-4.61 dB
Treble
:
-21.85 dB
Self-Noise
:
10.45 dB

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC have a poor isolation. The ANC (active noise cancelling) system of these headphones don't seem to be doing much, and the performance is nearly identical to when the ANC is off. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits, they don't provide any isolation. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they achieve 5dB of isolation which is inadequate. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds, they reduce outside noise by 21dB, which is average.

8.3 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
31.99 dB

The leakage performance is great. The significant portion of the leakage is concentrated in the treble range between 2Khz and 5KHz, which is a narrow range. The overall level of the leakage is quiet too. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 32dB SPL and peaks at 47dB SPL, which is just below the noise floor of an average office.

0

Microphone

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

The Sony MDRZX110NC do not come with a microphone. For a wired headphone with a good in-line microphone, check out the Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear II, the QuietComfort 25 or the Apple EarPods.

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-ZX110NC do not have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.

7.6

Active Features

The Sony MDRZX110NC only have noise canceling as an active feature and no app support. This means they do use AAA battery to power the active noise cancelling but lack both wireless features or a customizable app, to enhance their sound. On the upside, the AAA cell delivers an excellent 87 hours of continuous playback, which is ideal for road trips without needing to change the batteries throughout the day.

8.5 Battery
Battery Type
:
AAA
Battery Life
:
87.9 hrs
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
No

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC have very long battery life that will easily deliver a weekend's worth of continuous playback. They use an AAA battery but thanks to the long battery life you won't have to swap out the battery as often. Unfortunately, they have no power saving features, but on the upside, they can be used passively when the battery runs out.

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

These headphones do not come with an additional app for added customization options.

4.8

Connectivity

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC are wired headphones that do not support Bluetooth. They have a simple non-detachable cable with a 1/8TRRS connector and no in-line remote. This means they will only provide audio when connected your phone, console controllers, or audio devices. They have nearly zero latency since they're wired but will not have the convenient range of wireless headphones.

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

The Sony MDRZX110NC are wired headphones and do not support Bluetooth.

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 have a non-detachable cable with a 1/8"TRRS connector. They do not have a mic or an inline remote so they will only provide audio when connected to most devices.

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

There is no charging dock or base for these headphones. For a good gaming headset with a dock, check out the SteelSeries Arctis 7.

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

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC are wired headphones limited by the range of their relatively short audio cable.

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

As these headphones are wired, there is essentially no latency when gaming or watching movies but they will not have the convenient range of wireless headphones.

In the box

  • Sony MDR-ZX110NC Headphones
  • Airline adapter
  • AAA Battery
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC deliver a decent sound but have a lot of flaws. Their build quality is plasticky and feels cheaply made. They're not very stable and quickly fall off the head during physical activity. The active noise cancellation is weak and poorly isolate listeners from the ambient noise of loud environments. Fortunately, they don't leak much and won't disturb the people around you even at higher volumes. See our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones under $100, the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 and the best on-ear headphones.

5.7 Mixed Usage

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC deliver a decent sound but a mediocre mixed usage experience. They feel cheaply built and poorly isolate listeners from ambient noise. They're a low budget pair for casual listening or recording thanks to their low leakage but lack too many features to be versatile enough for all use cases.

6.4 Critical Listening

The Sony MDR-ZX110NC have decent sound quality for critical listening. Instruments and vocals are not drowned out, even if they lack a bit of clarity, and the bass packs an adequate amount of punch. However, they have a poor soundstage and lack the detail that good critical listening headphones provide.

5.4 Commute/Travel

Not ideal for commuting. The small ear cups don't efficiently prevent ambient noise from entering your audio.

5.7 Sports/Fitness

Subpar for sports. They're lightweight and relatively portable but too unstable to use while jogging. They also don't have a decent control scheme, and the non-detachable cable could bothersome during strenuous exercise.

5.5 Office

Below-average for office use. The Sony MDR-ZX110NC won't block the ambient chatter of a lively office from seeping into your audio. On the upside, they don't leak much.

5.5 TV

Average for watching videos. The Sony MDRZX110NC sound decent and they have no latency since they're wired. Unfortunately, they have a short audio cable, so they won't be the ideal headphones to comfortably watch movies with from you couch unless you have a line-in extension cord.

5.4 Gaming

Sub-par for gaming. These headphones do not have a mic or any app support. They're also limited by the range of their relatively short audio cable. On the upside, since they're wired, they have very low latency although they are not the ideal choice for gaming due to their lack of features.

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