Sony H.ear On Wireless MDR-100ABN – REVIEW

With the Sony H.ear On Wireless headphones, a very specific sound signature and a variety of colors provide a pretty niche headset.

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Hey everyone, Jimmy with Jim’s Review Room. Several fans here have told me Sony were releasing an update to their MDR-100 line with the MDR-100ABN’s.  They’re wireless which a lot of consumers are demanding these days. In addition, they also feature active noise cancelling capabilities.  I personally bought this at the retail price of $350 which when compared to the competition is somewhat expensive.  But for updated prices, I placed my affiliate link above, click on that and you can see what updated prices are today.

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PHYSICAL DESIGN
Going over the physical features first, the one thing that surprised me as soon as I opened the package was the coloring.  In pictures, on the website, I was expecting a flat color scheme, but in person, it’s an anodized look that reflects light at different angles giving a lot of personality to the pair of headphones.  Up top the headband uses the familiar ratchet system that’s more sensitive than other headphones I’ve used; however, during testing, the headphones do not extend accidentally when bumped or when you’re in movement.

Moving down on either side, the ear cups do swivel just enough to fit most heads, but I’ll detail more information in my comfort test shortly.  One of the biggest things though, although the earcups don’t fold completely flat, the earcups do fold in for stowing which is a huge plus.  There is a carrying case provided which doesn’t come with the wired pair of the Sony Hear On wireless headphones, so it’s a nice plus if you need the extra protection.  However, from my use of throwing these in my bag without the case, and bumping into other headphones, no scratches were evident and the finish held up really well.

DURABILITY
And since we’re on the topic of durability, doing my stress test – I’m aware this type  of abuse generally doesn’t happen in real life, but hey, it’s nice to know how well these can last – the 100ABN’s did perfect with no creaks or squeaks, and the metal band kept its original form without deforming the headphones themselves.

BATTERY LIFE
Finishing up the features, on the left earcup, there’s the Noise Cancelling on and off button, with power down below.  A micro-USB port to charge the headphones and regarding battery life since we’re here, Sony claims up to 20 hours of use, with my test of leaving this at 50% volume and noise cancelling on the entire day, I was able to achieve over 24 hours of use, which is on the top-tier of wireless performance. While the Zik 2.0’s last only 6 hours or so and the Sennheiser Momentum’s lasting around 20 hrs as well.

But getting back to the earcups, you have a physical 3.5mm port and last is the microphone either for noise cancelling performance and or to use these headphones with phone calls.  One the right earcup, pause, play and skip with volume rocker buttons below.  The only thing that was a slight nuisance, there’s a bump with volume up, but when feeling for volume down, the button feels almost flush with the earcup.  Not a big deal, but something that I did notice.

LDAC & ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLING
The very last features you can’t see, this has NFC for easy pairing.  Just tap your NFC device and this will pair with your headphones pretty easily via Bluetooth.  LDAC, which is Sony’s own technology, like Apt-X, ensures the wireless transmission of audio keeps its quality, though LDAC goes one step further, supporting High-Resolution audio files.  And very last, the noise cancelling on these is very well done.  I tested these in the city, on the streets, it blocks out nearly everything.  In the office, the hum of my computer is completely silent, and most other noises around me virtually disappear.  The noise cancelling performed as well as the Parrot Zik’s in my opinion, very close to the Bose QC25’s but just not quite there, but very good though.  The only area I noticed where there was still sound coming in was when I was at a Starbucks and people were talking around me.  For some reason, I could hear that while most other environments were mostly quiet.

COMFORT
And last regarding comfort, these weigh in just under 300 grams, anything under 300 I usually find comfortable.  They’re not the lightest, but overtime wearing these, the 100ABN’s worked for the most part well.  As much as I love the Sennheiser Wireless Momentum’s, I noticed the Sony H.ear On Wireless headphones snugged around my ear better than the Sennheisers, but I did notice slight wearing fatigue or pressure at the crown of the head after wearing these for about an hour.  No jawline discomfort and my ears didn’t sweat.  Overall, they’re good, but not perfect at least for my head.

AUDIO PERFORMANCE
When comparing to the previous noise cancelling headphones, the 100-ABN’s are flatter in the bass department.  Very tight, and considerably conservative to the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless.  If you’re familiar with the Bose QC25’s bass levels, the Sony’s provide just a bit more than that, but it’s not bass boosted sounding and deep as the other Senny’s, Parrot Ziks, or the JBL’s.  If you like a flatter sound signature, consider the 100abn’s. The midrange is very clear considering the bass doesn’t come over to the vocals and affect the audio characteristics.  It’s not bright, but has a really clean and crisp sound signature.  Regarding highs, the Sony’s overall I feel are very well balanced and the high’s were kept intact with great quality and minimal to no roll-off on the top end, yet not letting it get too loose and having that ear ringing and ear-piercing screeches.

Regarding sound stage, it’s surprisingly pretty open with hearing directions from the left and right, but forward and back as well.  The Sennheiser’s still held out better in depth, but the Sony’s are one of the best compared to the competition.  As for loudness, these do get loud enough for me and I don’t think most will have problems in that department.   As for sound leaking, they do leak a moderate amount at higher volumes – yet on the plus side, as with most good pairs of wireless headphones, the signal was never lost when walking to the other side of the house.

So, in the end, I think the new Sony 100ABN’s are great as an overall pair of headphones.  There’s definitely some strong suits while the sound signature might be a bit more niche for folks.  I would say, if you’re into this sound characteristic, go for it, as almost every other area, the headphones does well in.  The Sony H.ear On Wireless, I think are a strong competitor to whats out there. Again, I’m Jimmy with Jim’s Review Room. You guys take care, and I’ll see you on the next one.