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Sony MDR-10RC review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £150
inc VAT

Great sounding headphones but they tend to slip off when you move


The Sony MDR-10RC headphones are a lightweight, well-made and attractive pair of folding on-ear headphones. The headphones are part of Sony’s high-resolution audio range, so the MDR-10RC’s 40mm neodymium drivers are a cut above what you’re likely to find in other compact headphones. They have a wide frequency response of 5Hz to 40KHz, about twice that of most headphones, to take advantage of high-resolution audio files.

While most people can’t actually hear frequencies above around 20,000Hz, there are plenty of arguments for reproducing high frequencies. Many people simply want their headphones’ audio to be as close to an original recording as possible. It’s also worth noting that the MDR-10RCs don’t cost significantly more than comparable headphones without such a broad frequency response.

Sony MDR-10RC

Sony has opted for a neutral and balanced audio profile. This flat sound means there’s no extra bass and no added brightness to treble sounds. What you hear is the music’s own sound balance, as produced.

It’s a welcome change from bass-heavy fashion headphones and the excessive brightness of some balanced-armature in-ear headphones that sell at around the same £150 price. All our music sounded fantastic, from delicate recordings of acoustic instruments in tracks such as Dowland’s Lachrimae Antiquae to bass-heavy hardstyle and busy extreme metal tracks that blast sound across a wide frequency range. We were also impressed by the spacious, open nature of the sound and great sense of direction that benefited live recordings in particular. Overall sound quality compares well with our reference Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphones.

The MDR-10RCs’ folding parts are very well made, with metal hinges that won’t break after a few uses. The headphones are hardy, too, and coped well with being rattled around in a backpack day after day. Unfortunately, less attention has been paid to some aspects of the headphones’ construction. The on-ear design, in combination with the slick leather-effect headband and ear pads, meant the MDR10-RC’s tended to slide off at the slightest opportunity.

Sony MDR-10RC

This wasn’t restricted to those of us with narrow skulls, either. There’s a good amount of flex in the headband, which is great, but those with larger heads are still likely to find the MDR-10RCs sliding slowly towards the ground when they look down. The MDR-10RC’s are not the best headphones to use when running. The replaceable headphone cable, with a single built in pause/answer button and microphone is a welcome touch, but it doesn’t lock in place on the headphones and we found that it tended to pull out if we caught the cable when moving. We’d have much preferred the MDR-10RCs to use a locking cable.

Unsurprisingly for lightweight on-ear headphones, they don’t provide much sound isolation. You’ll have to increase your player’s volume to full if you want to listen on a loud underground train, which is bad for your ears. At least they don’t leak too badly at normal indoor listening volumes, to the relief of our officemates.

We’d love to give the MDR-10RC headphones five stars. They sound great and although their support for high-frequency sound is unlikely to revolutionise the listening experience of the average human, the quality of the drivers is immediately apparent. However, their poor grip and habit of slipping off the head are major problems in a pair of headphones designed to be used on the move. We still prefer the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ears overall. Buy Now from Amazon




Typeon-ear headphones
Active noise-cancellingno
Power sourcenone
Frequency response5Hz-40,000Hz
Impedence40 ohms
Plug type3.5mm headset jack plug
Inline volumeYes
Cable length1.20m
Extrassoft carrying pouch

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