Regular rock shows the same sort of distinction, and with Clapton’s “Layla”, The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, and The Beatles classic “A Day In The Life”, we’re hearing what appears to be closer to the speaker experience from a strong pair that you wouldn’t want to give up.
There’s warmth in the recreation, a solid thumping from the bass made by real instruments, and a slight amount of fuzz from a recording before the remastering skills found with new technology in the past couple of decades.
Clearer remastered tracks do sound clear, that said, such as in the new version of “Landed” by Ben Folds, and the excellent mixing of “The Space Between” from Dave Matthews Band. The distinction between the instruments is very noticeable here, even as the mids take priority, the bass and highs still just as noticeable as ever.
Really, these headphones are about as balanced as balanced could be, and after two hours of listening, comfy too. We don’t really need to take them off, except, you know, for leaving our desk.
Next up is hip-hop, and Gorillaz starts this off with “Feel Good Inc” and a solid punch in the bass while a rounded electric bass takes up the slack in this section, the vocals strutting their stuff with clear separation. We hear more of that distinction in Galactic’s “Find My Home” and The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”, each pushing out heavy sets of bass and vocals that seem to take a slight back seat to these lows, but only marginally slow.
R&B also gets a work out, the punch of the bass drum and snare in Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” clear while percussion makes itself present over the top, the sound of MJ clicking, and his vocals, all working together to produce a sound where the bass doesn’t totally overpower, especially in the chorus.
Soul produces the same sort distinction, something we can attest to hearing in Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”, helped when we pumped the volume up on these tracks.
That’s something we do need to note, and that’s because while most large headphones require a headphone amp to really get the most out of their sound, or to even get an adequate amount of sound, the Sony MDR-Z7 headphones can work with the volume pushed out by headphones or tablets to get enough.
For our headphone test running through Google Play Music, we found that at two notches below the lowest setting, our volume was high enough on the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact to be loud and detailed. Two higher and at 100 percent, and those with slight hearing issues should still be satisfied.
In fact, plugged into an iMac, the output was high enough even at around 20 percent of the volume, telling us that these headphones aren’t likely to struggle when used with a computer, though an amplifier is likely to be preferred regardless.
Our headphone test doesn’t stop with soul, though, transitioning to pop and modern music.
Here, the Sony MDR-Z7 headphones perform just as well, keeping Maroon 5’s “Sugar” balanced, alongside Katy Perry’s “Roar”, the former close and tight with snappy percussion, bass, guitar, and vocals, while the latter was separated well and supported strong spatial differences between the ominous synth in the back, the mids and highs of the vocals and light percussion in the middle.
Jazz and blues heads up the next section, with Jonny Lang’s “Bump In The Road” loud and vibrant through the vocals and guitars, the bass pushing forward, with the same excellent recreation occurring on “Fever” from The Black Keys and “I Will Wait” performed by Mumford & Sons.
Jazz was mentioned, too, and Dave Brubeck’s “Maria” is soft in the highs, spread across the noticeable but never forced too hard bass, the percussion delicate as the high hat is tapped gently, with much the same softness found in Nat King Cole’s “It’s Only A Paper Moon”, outside of the bass which was solid and round.
Our go-to testing track, Coltrane’s “Blue Train” was as good as we’ve ever heard, balanced, warm, and with a solid amount of bass to the drums and upright, the soundspace practically found in the centre of the instruments without too much distance to speak of.
Finally, there’s classical Yo-Yo Ma’s solo rendition of Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1 in G” was rich in detail, the croaking of the strings evident, though it did need a little more volume here on our phone and tablet.
Indeed, after our tests, it’s clear that these are an excellent pair of large headphones, and a return to that quality we always hope for when we remember Sony’s love for audio.
That said, with a cost of $500 less, they’re definitely a decent value, especially if you want a pair of great cans but can’t justify the over thousand dollar price of others.
Some might find Sony’s Z7 headphones a tad heavy, we found the cans to be comfy, cozy, and delightful in their recreation of the tracks we were keen to listen to.
At a hair under $800, they’re certainly not going to be for everyone either, but if we had the spare money, this would be a pair we’d happily invest in, with a sound that is excellent and easy to fall in love with.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating1 Vote
Beautifully rich sound; Very balanced; Not overly proprietary cable, based on 3.5mm with screw in sections that hold in place well; Insanely comfortable; Wearable in public thanks to a fairly simple design;