With the surge in popularity of novelty headphone brands such as Skullcandy and Beats, other brands traditionally known for audio equipment such as Sony are now jostling for name recall on consumers’ minds. This is especially true considering the various brightly-colored designs these new brands have churned out in the past few years.
But with Sony’s release of the MDR-100AAP in October 2015, the Japanese electronics giant aims to ride the trend—on its own terms. Currently available in five different colors, it promises high-quality sound without sacrificing a slick design. So how does it fare? Read on to find out.
The Built and the Fit
Out of the box, the MDR-100AAP may look flimsy at first, with its relatively thin headband. But rest assured that these headphones are actually pretty sturdy. There are no shiny plastic pieces here, only a lightweight metal frame that sports a classy matte finish.
That lightweight construction contributes to its ease of use. These are arguably one of the most comfortable headphones out today; the draped ear pads fit the ears snugly, no matter your ear size or shape. It’s one of those headphones that you won’t worry about wearing all day while working at your desk.
And once you’re packing up, storing it is made easy. Other than its folding design, the MDR-100AAP’s cable can be also detached and wound up separately. The cable itself is just the right length (1.2 meters) and has a flat, tangle-free design that won’t get in the way of the headphones themselves.
However, while the earpieces can be folded in, they cannot be folded flat for storage—a minor quibble, especially when you want to maximize space in your bag.
If Goldilocks were looking for a pair of headphones, she would choose the MDR-100AAP. By delivering tracks in Hi-Res Audio, the MDR-100AAP gets everything just right. For starters, tracks are not too bass-heavy, nor do they sound too thin. Songs sound crystal-clear, clean from any noise.
With this seemingly perfect balance achieved, these headphones deliver sound so good, it’s similar to cinema-quality sound and is sometimes indistinguishable from listening live. Listening to a guitar arrangement with these headphones is an experience in itself—you could almost hear each pluck of the guitar strings by the artist.
This sound quality is even carried over to voice calls, as the MDR-100AAP’s built-in mic allows you to talk hands-free.
That said, this auditory experience is also due in part to the MDR-100AAP’s well-engineered build. Due to its snug fit, it offers a level of passive noise cancellation, shutting out a certain level of background noise.
The MDR-100AAP is also designed to work with the Sony Smart Key app. While the box only indicated that an Android app for the headphones is available on Google Play, a little Google-fu did point to the right app (as there are around 5 Sony apps available on the Play Store).
Once installed on your smartphone, the app is pretty straightforward—it allows you to specify which actions will happen when you press the small button on the cable.
But since the Smart Key app was originally built for the Sony Xperia smartphone series, functionalities may be limited on other Android devices. For example, clicking the MDR-100AAP’s button in an attempt to launch Spotify on a Xiaomi Mi3 was only met with the error message “No compatible music player available.” However, playing music or skipping on the next track while on Spotify was possible.
As a stand-alone pair of headphones, the Sony MDR-100AAP is worth every penny that you pay for it. By offering clean, crystal-clear sound, these headphones definitely deliver the Hi-Res Audio it promises. And while there are minor kinks to be ironed out, such as the ones on its official app, those do not take away from these headphones’ overall stellar performance.