Review: Sony MDR-X10 Headphones

The concept of “personal music” has become so embedded in modern culture that we no longer even entertain the idea of not pocketing our music and piping it directly into our brains.

For those of us minted prior to the iPod age, the Sony brand is synonymous with creating and laying that foundation with its Walkman line of portable players. Clearly, much has changed since the early ’80s, and Sony has been leapfrogged by many competitors in portable music. But that doesn’t mean the big “S” doesn’t know a good thing when it hears it. That’s why the company has teamed up with British mega-producer and singing-show lightning rod Simon Cowell to develop the MDR-X10, a premium on-the-ear headphone.

The industrial design of these “X Factor” headphones, all matte and polished silver polycarbonate, is thoughtful and aesthetically pleasing. However, the ear pads on the X10 are rather deceiving — they’re not hollowed out like most bigger cans on the market. Instead, they’re flat, but when placed over your head, the cushy memory foam envelopes your ear without significantly altering the sound-channeling shape of the ear’s cartilage. This design creates an excellent acoustic seal that markedly diminishes the incursion of outside ambient sound. Another pleasing design element is the removable, single-sided flat cable that comes in two flavors — one is a plain straight cable with a mini phone jack, and the other is an iGadget-friendly cable with an in-line mic/remote assembly.

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