The Sony RX1 when announced promised a new era of digital photography for the masses. Up until that point, full-frame digital cameras were either huge SLR-shaped devices or hugely expensive manual-focus Leica rangefinders. The best we were able to hope for were APS-C compacts – starting with the Sigma DP line, then the Leica X1 and Fuji X100. I remember thinking when I first held the Fuji X100: “Surely this is the best it can get for compact cameras?” Apparently Sony had other ideas.
The Sony RX1 marked a complete shift in what I thought was possible from digital cameras, especially compact cameras. Every other large-sensor compact up until that point had some element of compromise in order to retain the ‘compact’ element – be that limited usable ISO range (of the Sigma DP line) or slow lens. When the RX1 was announced, it replaced in my mind the desire to buy full-frame mirrorless (which, at the time, was limited to the Leica M9) – here was a full frame sensor compact married to a superb 35mm Zeiss optic, capable of beautiful results. That, strange as it may seem, was a full five years ago in 2012. Since then we’ve seen the A7 range, the RX1R, RX1R mk2 (42.4mp!), the Leica Q and even Pentax finally came out with a full-frame DSLR. But in my opinion, having tried most of the alternatives, nothing quite comes close to the simplicity and beauty of the original RX1/R.
Examples of the type of output this sensor/lens combination can create can make you weak at the knees, so I’ll leave that for another post. If you ever get the chance to pick one of these cameras up, even only as a demo – make sure you do and prepare yourself for a treat.
TL;DR – beautiful design, excellently made and a balanced enjoyable sound make the M1BT a firm favourite.
When Apple announced their plans to ditch the 3.5mm jack from their new iPhone 7 in 2016, many people were up in arms. “But all our headphones have wires!” they cried. “What will we do?!” Others wept. Some of us with bluetooth headphones simply shrugged our shoulders. Philips’ M1BT have been around since 2014, so this is a pretty late review, however 2+ years with them has given me a good understanding of their qualities. Read on…
The M1BT are on-ear cans which sit snugly (but not too tight) allowing some degree of noise isolation. The pads are made of a soft leather less prone to sweating than other pairs I’ve tried and stay comfortable for hours of listening. Initial wearing caused some headaches as due to the nature of the clamping force I felt excessive downward pressure from the band on my head, but as the band relaxed it became much more comfortable and is now unnoticeable when I’m out and about. I’d rate comfort, after an initial break-in period a solid 7/10
Arrives in a standard Philips box with pouch, micro-USB charging cable and custom 3.5mm cable with teeth to fit snugly into the phones. 8/10
As an on-ear headphone there’s some clamping needed to get sufficient isolation with these cans, however they’re never uncomfortable and the sound is rich, full and enjoyable. To get deeper bass with some music styles you will need to up the volume, but for classical, jazz etc it’s quite easy to make out details in tracks that lesser cans would muffle. 8.5/10
Build quality is excellent – I’ve used these on and off daily for the past three years and they’ve never had a problem – headband is robust, earpads are still in excellent shape. 8/10
Minimalist, well-constructed and with a pleasing audio performance it’s hard not to recommend these. They’re compact, very light and with the leather headband look stylish and different to busier designs. 8/10
TL;DR – These bass-monsters won’t win awards for detail or accuracy, but they remain fun for those who seek strong bass and are comfortable, well-built and look the part.
Sony’s MDR XB950AP/H belongs to the Extra Bass line of cans, ostensibly as part of a strategy to grab the Beats generation as they mature and look for headphones that appear more sophisticated. Having not owned a bass-heavy set since my JVC HAFX1X died several years ago when the Sonys popped up in a flash deal on Amazon I decided to give them a go and see what they had to offer.
For testing purposes I used these over several hours attached to laptop/iPad, watching TV shows and playing a mixture of games. They got mildly warm, but not uncomfortably so, and all along they felt comfortable. These are around-ear headphones (see here for headphone/earphone differences), and with very little clamping force you can quite easily wear them for long periods without discomfort. 8/10
These beasts are all about that bass, so don’t expect open-backed levels of clarity or detail. What you get here is fun, booming mid-bass but enough low-bass to be satisfying without too much roll-off. Don’t come to these cans looking for neutral sound or the analytical nature of a studio monitor – these are consumer-class headphones designed to meet a need. I use these to listen to movies on my laptop, or play Fallout 4 – and for those purposes they sound great, fulfilling my needs. 7/10
Build quality is very sturdy, it’s one of the best things about the set. I can hang them where I like, wear them outside, drape them off the side of my monitor and feel safe knowing they can take some abuse. 8.5/10
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, well-built, bassy set of headphones you can use and abuse, then you should consider these Sony XB950AP/H’s. 7.5/10