Reviewed on Apr 18, 2016


Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
Mixed Usage
Critical Listening
Home Theater
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sony MDR-ZX550BN are sub-par Bluetooth headphones. They are stylish, stable and provide great control over your audio. Unfortunately, they have a weak, lackluster bass reproduction and poorly isolate listeners. They should not be your first choice to block the ambient noise of international traveling.

Test Results
Design 6.5
Sound 5.3
Isolation 6.4
Active Features 6.4
  • Lightweight, stable and wireless design.
  • Stable fit.
  • Good, ergonomic audio controls.
  • Poor isolation.
  • Weak bass and sharp treble.
  • Plasticky build quality.
  1. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.0. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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The Sony MDR-ZX550BN are lightweight headphones that deliver good button layout and functionality. They are stylish looking and moderately comfortable, but unfortunately, have a weak build quality. Also, the on-ear design may not be comfortable for everyone, especially after long listening sessions.


The Sony MDR-ZX550BN have a straightforward and stylish design. The blue colored, circular ear cups add flare to the matte, all-black color scheme. The design of the headband and hinge also contributes to the minimalist appeal.

6.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.38 lbs
Clamping Force
0.66 lbs

The Sony MDR-ZX550BN have a typical fit for an on-ear design. The circular ear cups rest on the ear and provide moderate comfort thanks to the swivel mechanism. However, they apply a slight pressure on the head, which can get uncomfortable after long listening sessions. The minimalist design also provides no padding on the headband.

8.3 Controls
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Above-average
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through : N/A
Additional Buttons : No

Button layout and design are above average. Functionality wise the Sony ZX550BN provide volume, call/music and skip controls as well as the power and noise cancelling enabling buttons. Unfortunately, the greater amount of control is offset by poor tactile feedback on some of the very flat buttons, which are a slight letdown.

7.5 Stability

The Sony MDR-ZX550BN are quite stable on the head. They are hard to dislodge and have no cables that can get tangled up or hooked on to anything. They are easily able to stay on the head during casual listening sessions and even while running. However, they are not designed for sports and may move around during very high-intensity activities.

6.4 Portability
L : 7.28 "
W : 6.69 "
H : 1.38 "
Volume : 67.11 Cu. Inches
Stand required : N/A

The Sony MDR-ZX550BN are above-average portable headphones. They will easily fit in a backpack or handbag, and the ear cups lay flat to take up less space. Unfortunately, they don't fold up into a more compact format don't come with a carrying case or pouch, which is a little disappointing.

0 Case
Type : No case

6.0 Build Quality

The build quality of these headphones is below average. The all-plastic build does not seem durable. The headband being relatively thin and entirely made out of plastic could break of deform under moderate stress. The swivel mechanism is also a little flimsy and feels susceptible to breaking.

8.1 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 2.1 C

Detachable : No

Comes with a USB charging cable.



The Sony MDR-ZX550BN are a poor sounding pair of closed-back on-ear headphones. They have a poor and weak bass, a forward and boxy sounding mid-range, and an inconsistent and sibilant treble. On the plus side, they produce little distortion.

4.7 Bass
Std. Err.
7.0 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
80.0 Hz
-11.17 dB
-3.41 dB
0.77 dB

6.3 Mid
Std. Err.
4.89 dB
2.39 dB
6.12 dB
4.13 dB

3.2 Treble
Std. Err.
7.9 dB
-4.49 dB
4.42 dB
5.84 dB

9.2 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
Weighted THD @ 100



These headphones do not isolate well. Their active noise cancelling, barely reduces the noise that seeps into the ear cups. Making the Sony MDR-ZX550BN unideal for use in loud environments, especially in environments with low-frequency noise like on a plane or a train. Fortunately, they do not leak too much, even at higher volumes.

5.3 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
-10.72 dB
-2.29 dB
-6.85 dB
-25.05 dB
10.85 dB

Poor isolation. The active noise cancellation fails to provide more than -6dB of reduction and is barely noticeable. The passive isolation provided by the ear cups is below average, but still mildly effective in blocking treble sounds.

8.4 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
31.26 dB

Very good leakage results. Listening to these headphones at loud volumes shouldn't be an issue in most situations, which is expected with a closed on-ear design.


Active Features

The MDR-ZX550BN have an above average battery life of 24.4 hours and a decent set of wireless features. They support aptX and also have NFC which makes them relatively easy to pair with mobile devices. Unfortunately, they do not have the best wireless range and take quite a bit of time to charge.

7.3 Wireless
Bluetooth 3.0
Obstructed Range
28 ft
Line of Sight Range
95 ft

These headphones have a mediocre wireless range. They're not ideal for large offices or big homes with a lot of walls. This shouldn't be much of an inconvenience if you often carry your Bluetooth source on you, like your phone. But if the Bluetooth source is difficult to move around then the below 30 ft wireless range these headphones provide may not be enough. On the upside, they offer NFC and are simple to pair with most devices.

2.5 Latency
Base Latency
210 ms
aptX Latency
168 ms
aptX(LL) Latency

7.5 Battery
Battery Type
Battery Life
24.4 hrs
Charge Time
3.3 hrs
Audio while charging
Passive Playback

The Sony MDR-ZX550BN have a decent battery performance. They deliver up to 24 hrs of continuous playtime, which means you won't have to recharge them throughout the day. Unfortunately, they take quite a bit of time to charge can't stream audio while charging.

0 App Support

No compatible app.

In the box

  • Sony MDR-ZX550BN Headphones
  • USB cable
  • Manual

6.4 Mixed Usage

The Sony MDR-ZX550BN are mediocre everyday headphones. They don't feel very durable and have a subpar sound quality. They also struggle with isolation.

5.5 Critical Listening

Below-average for critical listening. They have a skewed and poorly balanced sound quality. Soundstage is also limited due to their closed back on-ear design.

6.3 Commute/Travel

Below-average for commuting. They, barely block any ambient noise from seeping into your audio. They won't fare well in loud environments

6.9 Sports/Fitness

Decent as sports headphones. They're lightweight comfortable and not too bulky. They're relatively easy to carry around and have a decent control scheme.

6.9 Office

Mediocre for office use. They won't block the chatter of a busy office but also don't leak too much.

5.4 Home Theater

Subpar for home theater use. They have a bit too much latency for watching videos and movies. They're not the most comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

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