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Sony MDR-EX70LP Headphones - anyone?

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  • Sony MDR-EX70LP Headphones - anyone?

    Hi gang, after doing much research and soul-searching, I went out this weekend and bought the Sony MDR-EX70LP "20th Anniversary Fontopia Headphones."

    They are pretty much the latest evolution of the Sony earbud headphones, and the big difference is that they are of the "earplug" design, using silicone attachments to go hold the device in your ear while blocking out ambient noise. They seem to be similar in design to many in-ear monitors, except that they are not wireless and cost a fraction of what the in-ear monitors do.

    Evidently, they have new-type drivers and a totally enclosed design which permits an advertised 6Hz to 23KHz frequency response range. I can't vouch for that, but so far, my observations are:

    - Very secure and comfortable. There were 3 different sizes of silicone ear inserts included, and I was able to fit them to where they were comfy and will probably stay secure in my ears during a live performance.

    - Super low-profile. With my (considerable) hair hanging loose, they were totally invisible, as opposed to conventional headphones.

    - Isolation seems pretty good so far. Not having tried them with my band yet, I ran a home test. I cranked up my massive home stereo with one CD, while playing a raw mix of one of my band's songs thru the headphones. I couldn't hear what the big stereo was playing, and it is pushing 2 sets of Bose loudspeakers with about 440w/channel @4 Ohms. Loud.

    - The bass-handling capability seems far beyond any other "Walkman-style" lightweight or earbud-type headphones I've tried before.

    - The cost was only $50 at a U.S. nationwide electronics chain.

    My whole goal was to try and find the perfect (for me) headphones for stage monitoring. I play along with a click & sequenced keyboard parts during my band's shows, and need a way of hearing the click over the roar of my Zildjian Z Customs, as well as monitoring my V-Drums. I don't always count on the house monitor mix, as it has left me wanting in the past. The other main consideration was visual - I didn't want a set of headphones poking out while I was onstage. I've done it before, and seeing video & pix of it have left me with the opinion that it just doesn't look good. I need something that sounds good, isolates me from excess ambient noise, is comfortable, visually unobtrusive, and doesn't cost much. Tall order, eh?

    The litmus test will come this week, when I have a rehearsal tomorrow and a gig on Thursday night with these babies. One drawback so far is that the cord is relatively short, at about 4' or so. I have a headphone extension cord, which I'll be using for performance, though, so it shouldn't be a major issue.

    In the meantime, has anyone else tried these with E-drums? If so, what were your observations? Thanks, and I'll update my report as more info is gathered in field testing...



    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

  • #2
    Great review, Danny. I haven't tried them actually, but have long been an in ear monitoring fan. This sounds like it could be a really efficient and economincal hybrid option. Keep us posted of your findings in live conditions.


    • #3
      Thanks, Doc. My sudden interest in new monitoring came from a recent health scare. Had ongoing discomfort in my left ear, accompanied by muffled hearing and a "water-in-the-ear" sensation. Was told after MD exam that I had a ruptured eardrum, and permanent loss of hearing. Was referred to an Ear/Nose/Throat (ENT) specialist. After waiting 2 weeks in mental anguish, the ENT appointment came.

      The doc looked inside, exclaimed "Ohhh, hold on a minute...", reached inside with some tiny forceps, and removed a callus-like builup of skin from over my eardrum. Underneath, the eardrum was fine, but irritation from a persistent ear infection had caused, over many months, a defensive reaction from my body. Hurt like hell when he peeled it off the tympanic membrane, but it was like flipping a switch and turning my hearing back on!

      Tested me, pronounced my hearing as normal (fantastic for a long-time musician!) and I'm now waiting on my expensive new musician's earplugs from the doc. I knew that I had to find something that was low-profile, accurate, and had some isolation qualities. I was looking into noise-cancelling headphones, but these seemed to offer some of the same benefits while being much more visually subdued.

      We'll see...

      Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.


      • #4
        Hi fartnokker

        Hope the earphone thing works out for you. It's great to be able to isolate your ears from all that noise.

        I'm worried for you, though.

        Since you have a hybrid kit, and are now going to an efficiently isolating earphone, I think you may have to rely on your sound guy like never before.

        I think that you're going to need a dead perfect FOH mix, which includes your drums and cymbals, along with your click and keyboard inputs, so you can play with the proper dynamics between cymbals and your drums.

        Maybe I've got the whole situation wrong and your sound guy will be adjusting everything all the time and all will be hunky-dory, but..

        it seems that this will be the first time you effectively are not using your ears themselves to a large degree. (Previously, even with headphones on, you still heard the cymbals)?

        What I mean is, with the new earphones, you won't be picking up any of the sounds from the stage, you will only be getting what is fed to you.

        So, you are going to need to hear everything, and you will need to hear the final front of house mix, I would think, in order for you to understand the dynamics of the drums in concert with the miked cymbals.

        Does this make sense?

        Hopefully at your rehearsal you can work it all out.
        Immensely powerful yet with a liquid cat-quick elegance


        • #5
          The first time I performed using in-ears with my e-drums I couldn't hear my accoustic cymbals in my mix (great isolation, alright!). I ended up overdoing some crash hits in a couple songs...I could tell by the cringing expression on some of the faces near my cymbals at the time . I now use e-crashes and a miked acoustic HH and ride (all mixed in against the band and also a click). It can be quite a challenge sometimes keeping this stuff balanced...
          E-drums: TD-20, RT-5S triggers on snare/toms, KD-7s, VH12, CY-14Cs, CY-15R, Pintech splash.
          A-drums: Zickos (amber) w/ all Zildjians.


          • #6
            Thanks for the replys, guys. I guess I didn't give enuff background info before.

            I've been using (nearly) total isolation headphones for about a year now with my band, so I'm used to not hearing much in the way of cymbals. Caused me to crack a couple of my Paiste Signature crashes months ago by overcompensating & hitting to hard, but since I've switched to the Z Customs, everything is cool.

            We are using a line mixer to send the V-Drums and the sequenced keyboard parts, mixing them down to 2 balanced outs. The sound guy can run an overhead or two for my cymbals, if needed. That's how we usually do it. The only difference I'm incurring here is the style of headphones I'm using, not the isolation.

            I've been using some Audio-Technica cans live; in rehearsal and for recording work (with my band and sessions), I carry my own hybrid set of phones. I disassembled a DC aviation headset and spliced in the internals of a decent set of JVC headphones. Believe me, they are utterly silent with regard to ambient noise, and clamp onto my head with crushing force. They are superb functionally, but look kinda gnarly with the big bulbous earpieces and industrial-sized headband.

            Just giving some amplifying (no pun intended) data...


            Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.


            • #7
              Well, (sniff), I guess its all right then, little fartnokker. But take your warm coat, its cold outside. And eat your vegetables.
              Immensely powerful yet with a liquid cat-quick elegance


              • #8
                In most xlnt search engine I quote ...
                Originally posted by snared:
                Anyone know of a good set of headphones? I've just ordered my drums but haven't decided on headphones yet.
                Headphones are too big, heavy and awkward for me (and besides, they mess up my hair).

                The Sony MDR-EX70's sound every bit as good as those others for mega-bucks less.


                Here is URL ...


                • #9
                  Right you are, Marc! Sorry I dissed you there; I remember that thread, but didn't remember your reference to the little Sony plugs. Do you use them for live performance? How've they held up over a little time, and with the big low-end transients that the V-Drums can kick out?

                  And thanks, GingerBaker! On a Harley-Davidson mailing list I'm on, there's a "Granny Ginger" there... You are starting to sound like her! :P Thanks for taking the time to provide such a detailed answer, tho.

                  Seriously though, folks, one of my only concerns with these earphones is the same as always: How to avoid the weight of the headphone extension cord (a necessary item) pulling down on them while I'm playing??? I have a little clip thingy that came from my Audio-Technica headset microphone that I've tried in the past, with mixed results. Anyone have an innovative solution? Thanks again, folkses!


                  Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.


                  • #10
                    Danny - I have not used these "live". These are some pretty tuff little dudes. I take them to work with me and use them all day while I work. The sound is totally awesome for such small light-weight critters. I dig the way they block out outside noise. I use miniplug extensions instead of 1/4" coil (you're right - too heavy & awkward), gives me complete freedom of movement on the V's.

                    Many, many years ago Sony had a similar set. I used those so much that the insulation wore out and the wiring broke after 4 years. When I went to buy a new set, they were discontinued. Their replacement models all sounded like sh!t for the next few years and I was getting really p!ssed. I decided to take one more "leap of faith" on these, and my search was over. After playing every medium I had thru them, I went out and purchased a couple of "backups", just in case Sony pulls another bonehead stunt like before. My briefcase is never without a set. Maybe it's just me, but these puppies sound as good as those "professional" sets and are hundreds and hundreds of $ less. In this case (IMNSHO), the most expensive is not the best.



                    • #11
                      So far I have to agree with you, Marc, even though I've only heard 'em thru my home stereo. They compared quite well to my AKG's on CD's.

                      I was just looking on Radio Shack's website and they have a 1/8" stereo 16-foot extension cable (shielded) for $10. Think I'm gonna get it.

                      I'll post some field test results with the V-Drums after tomorrow night's rehearsal.


                      Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.


                      • #12
                        Careful Farto, the Sony MDR-EX70LP earbuds are fragile as ****e. I've been wearin 'em 5x a week @ da gym w/me Sony Vaio music clip for the past few months. I had to replace them after the first 2 days (they're so damn small I placed them on the ground for a sec near a legpress & forgot em!).

                        They do sound great, I agree. & I imagine they'd be great for in-ear monitoring. I prefer Sony's MDR-7506 studio monitors for all other apps, personally. The dinky earphones feel like they'd be ripped to bits once I walked away from my V's w/out remembering to remove them.

                        Dig them into your ears, using the smaller buds, for the best bass response. & why did I only get 2 sets of silicone earbuds?! Damn.

                        Thanx. Alex & me V's! http://photos.yahoo.com/flexapr


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Alexander:
                          Careful Farto, the Sony MDR-EX70LP earbuds are fragile ...

                          That's obvious, all earphones are.

                          I placed them on the ground for a sec near a legpress & forgot em!).


                          ... dinky earphones feel like they'd be ripped to bits once I walked away from my V's w/out remembering to remove them.

                          I've done just that many times. They just simply pop right out of my ear/s. They've held up well. They're so light and natural-fitting, it's easy to forget you're wearing them. The frequency of this happening is decaying. That pop to the ear must be building up some kind of sub-conscious early warning system.

                          Let us know how it went Danny.



                          • #14
                            Danny, I've found that the easiest way to alleviate the headphone coil drag is to get the extension cord you mentioned. I bought a 6' for around $6-$7 at The Shack and found it was long enough to do the trick.

                            Coiled cords are a drag, indeed!


                            • #15
                              UPDATE: Just bought a 16' 1/8" stereo-to-1/8" stereo extension cord for the headphones. Radio Shack, $10. Will use in conjunction with MDR-EX70LP's and report tomorrow. Headed off to rehearsal in about 20 minutes now...


                              Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.