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Sony MDR-ZX110 Review

Last updated: 8 months ago
6 min read
Editor
rating
2.8
Sony MDR-ZX110 on a tree

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While the Sony MDR-ZX110 build quality matches their price, they’re a joy to listen to and a worthy pick for under $10.

Most headphones under $10 and $20 follow a V-shaped sound signature, boosting the bass and the treble.

However, if you do some research, you can find quite a few hidden gems among the dirt. Sony MDR-ZX110 are one of those gems.

They’re built from cheap, thin plastic. Ear cups squeak and rattle when shaken, and the earpads feel like they’ll tear if you look at them incorrectly.

Interestingly, the most well-made thing on these on-ears are the durable cables, which are relatively thick and flat, preventing them from tangling.

However, the biggest star is the great sound quality. The audio output is balanced, with added warmth and a slight boost in the mid-range. Headphones sound smooth as butter.

Still, you can forget about details and small nuances in vocals. But for casual listening, the Sony MDR-ZX110 offer excellent value.

Do these Sony headphones deserve all the praise, or should you avoid them? Find all the pros and cons in the full review below.

  • Great sound for the price
  • Inexpensive
  • Foldable, travel-friendly design
  • No inline controls
  • Cheap build quality
Editor
rating
2.8
By HeadphonesAddict
User
ratings
3.2
User Ratings: 5
Our rating
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    3.0
  • Star Rating
    4.0
  • Star Rating
    2.0
  • Star Rating
    2.0
  • Star Rating
    2.5
User rating
  • 3.4
  • 3.3
  • 2.7
  • 3.1
  • 3.5
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CONTENTS (show more)

    Sound

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    Sony MDR-ZX110 offer a surprisingly full sound and a good balance across the frequency response. While their dynamic drivers aren’t very detailed, their sound quality is impressive for the price.

    Sony MDR-ZX110 Sound Test

    Sony MDR-ZX110 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Learn how to understand sound comparisons.

    Cheap headphones don’t necessarily equal lousy audio quality. Sony MDR-ZX110 only cost $10 yet have a sound quality of at least four times the price.

    Bass

    Lower frequencies have a modest boost, which adds warmness to the sound. The kick is reasonably tight, and the bass works well with most genres.

    Sony headphones offer good control for the price and manage to portray bass guitar notes with decent clarity. Even with more demanding tracks like “Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury” by Marillion.

    On the other hand, if you enjoy genres with a lot of double pedal action, you’ll find this pair of headphones a tad too slow.

    Furthermore, the extension into sub-bass isn’t impressive, so modern genres focusing on deep bass might sound a bit dull.

    Midrange

    The lower mids is fairly balanced, while the upper region is slightly boosted. Still, vocals sound natural, full, and without sibilance. The only things that are missing are fine details and voice texture.

    Instruments play pretty well for the most part. On busier tracks with lots of instrumentation, you might have difficulty distinguishing individual instruments.

    Treble

    Higher registers are, again, reasonably balanced and have a nice extension. Cymbals have a decent texture, which is good if you like listening to jazz.

    Unfortunately, as soon as the song becomes wild, the treble tends to lose itself in the mix.

    Sony MDR-ZX110 Frequency Response

    Sony MDR-ZX110 measurement
    Apart from the boost between 1.2kHz and 5kHz, the frequency response is fairly balanced.

    For a closed-back headphone, the soundstage is big enough not to hear all the sounds trapped in your head. Of course, for a more immersive experience, you’ll have to grab one of the best open-back headphones.

    The imaging, on the other hand, is terrible. The center image is entirely absent, which is a bit strange. I wouldn’t recommend these for playing video games. Even enabling Windows Sonic surround sound doesn’t help.

    Overall, the Sony MDR-ZX110 provide a good sound quality for a non-demanding user who just wants to enjoy his favorite music. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but for merely $10, you get more than what you expect.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    Despite their on-ear design, the Sony MDR-ZX110 provide a comfortable fit and a surprising level of stability. They do warm up your ears quickly, though.

    On-ear headphones aren’t known for the best comfort. Their ear pads press against your ears, causing your earlobes to start aching.

    Fortunately, Sony MDR-ZX110 offer a good balance between lightweight construction, squishy earpads, and a modest clamping force without too much pressure.

    The latter is gentle enough not to squish your ears yet strong enough to keep the headphones on your head.

    I tried jumping and shaking my head, simulating intense workouts and outdoor running. Surprisingly, I never felt like the headphones were about to fall off.

    As for overall comfort, you can wear them for at least an hour or two before taking a break.

    Sony MDR-ZX110 earpads
    Thin earpads aren’t of the best quality but are comfy enough for decently long listening sessions.

    Earpads’ padding are very thin, and the plastic layer on top feels more like paper than fake leather. However, it’s still better than having an exposed foam (like Grado headphones).

    The only problem is that your ears heat up fairly quickly. Tiny earpads prevent air from circulating, so expect sweaty ears during summer.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    2.0 Adequate

    Sony MDR-ZX110 feel light and plasticky and might break if stretched too far. While earpads are cheap, you can replace them.

    For $10, the build quality is as expected. The entire headphones have a cheap all-plastic design that doesn’t scream long-term durability.

    Headphones rattle when shaken, and the thin headband looks like it will break if you try and stretch it.

    Earcups fold inward to save some space. However, that hardly makes sense since you don’t get any carrying bag with the headphones.

    Sony MDR-ZX110 folded
    Earcups can fold inward to save some space in your bag.

    Moreover, the hinges for the folding mechanism don’t look too reassuring. They’re just another part that could potentially break.

    Earpads use a thin foam on top of a thin layer of plastic that looks like paper for wrapping gifts.

    The plastic will tear after about a year of regular use. Or start deteriorating after a few years, practically turning into dust.

    Thankfully, earpads are replaceable. You can get them for around $8 on Amazon or $3.5 on AliExpress.

    Of course, for the price of earpads, you might as well buy a brand new Sony MDR-ZX110. However, I encourage you to minimize waste and extend the longevity of your budget headphones.

    Finally, the cable is surprisingly thick and has a sturdy strain relief on the 3.5mm jack. The wire separates into 2 flat lines, which prevents tangling.

    Features

    Star Rating
    2.0 Adequate

    Besides the ability to fold the earcups, Sony MDR-ZX110 don’t provide any other feature.

    Lower price means Sony had to make many cuts. As usual, you can’t expect many features in a dirt-cheap product like these headphones.

    It’s actually quite surprising that this wired headphone have a folding mechanism. That is something you usually expect from slightly pricier headphones.

    However, that’s about it. There’s no remote control, volume control, inline mic, or detachable cable—just simple, barebone wired headphones.

    Sony MDR-ZX110 folding mechanism
    The plastic mechanism for folding the earcups of the Sony MDR-ZX110.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    2.5 Average

    Passive noise isolation isn’t bad, but it should be enough to reduce ambient noise on public transportation. Just be aware of the sound leakage.

    Adequate sound isolation is crucial if you want to hear your music in all its glory. In the case of Sony MDR-ZX110, they do an okay job blocking background noises.

    Since they don’t fully cover your ears, you can’t expect the same isolation level as with over-ear headphones.

    However, if you plan to use them for commuting, they should do their job well. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, there’s a similar Sony headset with active noise cancellation.

    It’s worth noting that these on-ear headphones let out some music. Sound leakage isn’t annoyingly loud, but a person next to you might hear your entire playlist.

    On the other hand, there’s almost no cable noise present, even when purposely shaking the wire.

    Sony MDR-ZX110 cable splitter
    Two flat wires form a robust cable that looks pretty durable.

    Should You Get Sony MDR-ZX110?

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    If you’re on a tight budget and looking for something under $20, save some money and grab these. They’re easily one of the best headphones in this price range.

    There’s nothing special about looks and features, and the overall durability is highly questionable.

    However, they’re worth it for the sound quality alone. Don’t expect sonic nirvana, but a smooth, balanced sound that works well with most music genres.

    If you own a more modern smartphone, you’ll also have to consider getting an AUX adapter, which usually costs around $10 (Samsung adapter or Apple adapter). Or you can turn them into wireless headphones with special Bluetooth adapters but it isn’t worth the extra cost.

    How do Sony MDR-ZX110 compare to the competition?

    • Headphones sound much better than most of the competition at this price.
    • They’re one of the few that offer foldable earcups.
    • Comfort and stability are rather good for on-ear headphones.
    • Some heaedphones in this price range offer at least a possibility for an inline remote and microphone.

    Sony MDR-ZX110 Alternatives

    Philips ErgoFit RP-HJE120

    Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 with used eartips

    Similarly-tuned wired earbuds but with better sub-bass extension thanks to better seal. The latter also means better isolation from outside noise.

    Also, earbuds are tinier, lighter, and more comfortable than the on-ear Sony’s.

    You can get the earbuds with inline remote control if you want to.

    Philips ErgoFit RP-HJE120 review

    Sony WI-C310

    Sony WI-C310 in the blue background

    Good-sounding wireless earbuds with an emphasis on the bass.

    They’re a good pick for commuters since they lack a dangling wire. And with up to 15 hours of battery, they can easily last a few days of use.

    In-ear headphones support USB-C charging and pack a built-in mic for making phone calls.

    Koss UR-20

    Koss UR-20

    Cheap over-ear alternative with a similar high-quality sound signature for the price. They’re also our pick for the best headphones under $20.

    Due to bigger earpads that go around your ears, the UR-20 are a bit comfier than the Sony MDR-ZX110.

    Both headphones share a similar plasticky construction with questionable durability. However, Koss headphones can’t fold like Sony’s.

    What’s in the Box?

    Sony MDR-ZX110 accessories
    • Sony MDR-ZX110 wired headphones
    • User manual

    Specifications

    Type: On-ear
    Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Back design: Closed
    Drivers: 30mm
    Frequency range: 12-22.000Hz
    Impedance: 24 Ohm
    Weight: 4.2 oz (120g)
    Mic & Controls: No
    Water resistance: None
    Battery life: /
    Charging time: /
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: /
    Wireless range: /
    Microphone: None

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