Last week’s Hong Kong High-End Audio-Visual Show featured a number of spectacular products that look to change and enhance the way we listen to music. Among the 45+ Exhibitors was Sony, who was not looking to be upstaged in any sense. Revealing the next line of products from their most high-end series, these blockbuster devices are without a doubt Audio Showpieces, and, without a fraction of a shadow of a speck of a doubt, very, very High End.

Let’s take a look at the In-Ear pieces on display at the event: The IER-Z1R In Ear Headphones. On the surface, the buds look pretty sparkly, but with devices made to be so small and comfortable there’s not much room for Sony to fill them with expensive and stylish features, so they look fairly simplistic for the most part.

For a review of the speaker, click here

Now, onto the technical specs – These headphones are a closed hybrid design with the expected set of included accessories for buds of this price range – twelve extra included bud sizes for differing ears, a cleaning cloth, a carrying case, and a clip for easy transport and to prevent the wires from getting tangled.

The IE-Z1R takes on a hybrid design approach, using two different sound drivers to cover a larger range of sound. The Z1R is set up to mimic a true acoustic setup, which is an impressive ambition for a pair of in-ear buds. For comparison purposes, many other non-hybrid buds aim to mimic more of a stage set, without accounting for the acoustics of how the music would shift within a stage or studio space.

In layman’s terms, this device is meant to allow music professionals to simulate how their music would sound on a live stage, with speakers blasting the notes they produce. This means that for the average consumer, these earbuds would come much closer to replicating the feel of live music, and would lessen the feeling of “produced” sound created by most cheap or common buds.

The devices support a range from as low as 3Hz to as high as 100,000Hz. For comparison, cheaper pairs of earbuds generally support a range from as low as 8Hz to as high as 25,000Hz.

According to early device impressions from an expert reviewer on Head-Fi, all the work and research on producing a true acoustic sound does pay off to a large degree. He also states that the buds allow users to more easily discern sounds from one another by achieving a black background, which is a very difficult and coveted achievment in terms of headphone design.

To explain: When plugging in a pair of earbuds and starting to play an audio track, you will often hear a bit of “white noise” in the background as the buds begin to receive signals. White noise is a rapid mesh of sound of varying frequencies – from 20 to 20k Hz, normally – that fires off in an incomprehensibly fast slew of sound which melds together to create a kind of “shushing” noise. Some find it relaxing, but its usually used to reduce the harshness of sound in a room. Here’s some white noise.

The effect is a wall of sound that makes the beats of music – or whatever else you’re listening to – less distinct overall. By reducing the harshness of sounds, you also make it more difficult to tell middling sounds from one another.

Black noise is the exact opposite: Nothing.  By focusing on high internal loss, the IER buds manage to eliminate much of the regular white noise that comes with in-ear buds, making sounds heard with these devices a lot more particular and specific. It’s a technical achievement by Sony that’s done well in this iteration of its highest quality “signature” headphone brand.

If you’re into writing or editing tracks and are looking to take your passion with you on the subway to work, this device is what you’re looking for. Those willing to spend the money will find that these devices allow them a greater-than-usual glimpse into the truth of what their tunes will sound like when they take them to a real, acoustic stage.

Featured Image Via Official Sony IER-Z1R Headphone Product Page

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I’m a nerd with a wild sense of humor. I’m very good at running tabletop games (Like Dungeons & Dragons), or at least that’s what my players would tell you. I spend about as much time writing new content for those games as I do working on jobs or internships, and love every second of it. I'm a lover of dogs and mint chocolate chip, and my favorite dinosaur is the ankylosaurus. I also play racquetball with friends at least four times a week, go to the gym six times a week, and go for jogs around the neighborhood when I have time, because health is important and stuff. Eat them greens, yo.
  • Maya Asregadoo

    I’d love to try these!

  • Caroline Walker

    I would like to try these as well, as an ex sound designer, I am very picky about my earbuds.

  • Alyssa

    They sounds cool, but I bet there are a ton of money