The Sony MDR-1ABT are wireless Bluetooth headphones that don’t scrimp on sound quality or tech. They’re about as up to date as you could hope for, offering features in line with the current Hi-Res Audio trend.
The Sony MDR-1ABT look, no surprise, an awful lot like the
MDR-1A headphones we reviewed earlier this year. Sony’s headphones have a distinct
style, and it’s a sound one that offers a hint of urban flavour while being a lot more neutral than a pair of Beats headphones.
Of course, some may take issue with the Sony MDR-1ABT’s familiarity. The MDR-1As are £170 headphones, these are £300 ones, without any obvious upgrade in build quality.
First, wireless is optional. There’s a 3.5mm socket for when you run out of battery or can’t be bothered to go wireless, and there’s a cable in the box. On the underside of one cup is a mic for handsfree calls and there’s just one
button on the Sony MDR-1ABT, the power button.
The Sony MDR-1ABT use a kind of digital processing called DSEE HX that claims to upscale non Hi-Res audio to a quality comparable to the good stuff.It sounds to us like this happens as part of the DAC chain: the part that converts
the digital wireless signal into the analogue one that eventually drives the 40mm dynamic drivers used here. Plus it’s what makes sense from a technical perspective.
As with any wireless or noise cancelling set of headphones, before buying the Sony MDR-1ABT, you need to make sure you need their spotlight feature. Because (stating the obvious) you do pay for it.
What we have here are solid just-sub-£200 headphones whose wireless antics elevate them into the real big leagues, price-wise. And while we imagine 99 per cent of people will like the Sony MDR-1ABT sound, better-built
and better-sounding non-wireless headphones are available for less. It’s down to that awkward truth: where a cheaper set might add on £30-40 for wireless, this one gains £130.