Sony MDR-ZX600 headphones

The Sony MDR-ZX600 is a set of on-ear headphones. They pick-up on some of the style points of the DJ-specific and more highly specified MDR-V55 headphones we reviewed recently, but arrive at a surprisingly affordable price point.

Do Sony's ZX600 deliver on their promise to feel every beat, or are they cast in the shadow of better headphones? 

Design

With an on-ear design, the cups are lovingly finished in brushed aluminium with the Sony logo central, to leave no one in any doubt about where your allegiances lie.  

Unlike some models, the ZX600 don't fold, so they aren't ideal for travel, but the cups fold flat to make them easier to stash in your bag. The cups also swivel, so it's easy to get the ideal position on your head.

The headband is finished in soft leather, leather effect material, as are the pads on the ear cups and the result is a comfortable set of headphones. They can get a little warm during long periods of wear, but on our typical one to two-hour sessions, we never found this to be too much of a problem. 

There is a degree of expansion in the headband too, so the ZX600 will fit your noggin, whether it's large or small.

We like the colour coordination that Sony has introduced to its designs. We saw the same thing on the V55, and on our review sample the blue flat cable reflects colour highlights in the design. The fibre cover to the monitors matches, as does the encircling ring around the aluminium back, making for a neat overall effect, that gives the impression of good quality. 

The lightweight nature of these headphones makes them ideal for those on the move and we've worn them walking. They are also compact, meaning they will fit under your hood when that summer shower arrives. 

The build quality is also pretty good. The cables feel secure and that's a common weakness of some headphones at the more affordable end of the scale. Perhaps we'd like the swivel points to be a little more substantial, but for the price, we can't complain.

Performance

The flexibility of the cups means that getting a good fit on your head is easy. They offer a degree of noise isolation thanks to that fit, although it was apparent that once the volume is turned up there is an amount of sound leakage too, so consider those around you when sitting on the bus.

The good fit means that performance is good and bass especially benefits, with nice rich bass tones punching through. Set against the similar V55, we'd say the more expensive model have a clearer overall sound, so you get more definition across the range from bass to high tones, but given the price gap, the ZX600 do sound very good.

We tested the ZX600 over several weeks, in all conditions, with all types of music. The result is that they are very capable, especially given the sub-£60 price. Whether it's grime, garage, house or classical, the ZX600 step up to the mark to deliver a good quality sound. 

The 40mm drivers also deliver that performance throughout the volume range. Firing up Plan B's gritty Ill Manors, the ZX600 have no problem delivering the track at full volume. There's no sign of distortion at top volume, even when pushing meaty a bass line.

Verdict

The Sony MDR-ZX600 headphones represent a viable alternative to expensive models. The lightweight nature, affordable price and solid performance make these on-ear headphones worthy of consideration if you want to bring your tunes to life on the move.

If you can afford to spend more, then there are headphone that will offer you better performance, from Sony's V55, up to the likes of the Bowers & Wilkins P5. As they are, these Sony's will likely be seen as something of a viable affordable alternative to something like the Beats Solo.

There are some shortcomings. They aren't the most substantial and they don't fold for travel, but for bang for your buck, the Sony MDR-ZX600 are certainly worth considering.