Thanks largely to a certain brand of celebrity-endorsed headphones, wearing proper headphones in the street is now socially acceptable. The Sony MDR-V55 offer themselves up as "DJ style" so, as Sony puts it, you can take your tracks to the street.
The passing reference to Beats isn't completely lost on the V55 either: on walking into our favourite sandwich shop, the proprietor Mario glanced and assumed we were rocking Beats by Dr Dre. But is there more substance to these headphones? Can the Sony MDR-V55 step away from of the lure of that rival brand?
- Best noise-cancelling headphones: The best 'phones to block out external sounds
- 7 best workout headphones you can buy today
We like the V55 a lot. The DJ styling in reality means that they offer a great deal of flexibility, less important if you are using headphones while lounging on the sofa, but perfect when mobile.
The on-ear cups are reversible, so you can flip the rest of the headphones out of the way when holding them to one ear. They also swivel, so you can easily position them on your head, leaving an ear free, whether you're on the decks or ordering a fat chicken and bacon sandwich.
The earcups themselves have a reasonable amount of padding, but given that these headphones are lightweight at 220g, there isn't a need for a huge amount of padding. The headband is soft enough, but again, doesn't have a huge amount of padding.
This keeps the bulk down, which we like, as these headphones will fold up small enough to slip into your bag when you want to ditch them.
Various colour schemes are available, we tested the black and red. We like the way the flat non-tangle cable carries the colour around the left earcup, matching the foam inside. We also like the big, brash, confident Sony letting across the top of the headband.
In longer use, the V55 do get a little warm and after an hour of listening, we'd find that we needed to let our ears out for air. Aside from that, we found them comfortable enough for long periods of use.
They sound great too. These come from the "extra bass" side of Sony's line-up of headphones and bass is something they handle well, delivering the meat of a wide variety of dance tracks with real purpose. Stepping away from the bass, we're impressed with the output across genres.
Being critical, if would be fair to say that there could be increased clarity, which you'll get on most expensive 'phones, but at £89.00 (from sony.co.uk) we can't complain.
An important point for us however, is that the V55 remain distortion free as you move through the volume scale, even at uncomfortably high volumes, the bass retains the precision it has lower down the volume scale. If you like bass-heavy tracks, like dance music, then the Sony MDR-V55 may suit you down to the ground.
Isolation and leakage
The flexibility of the design means that it's easy to get the earcups to sit and seal well against your ear. We found that they blocked out mostly all background noise as a result.
However, on the flipside of this argument, there is a degree of sound leakage from them, so when you're sitting on the train listening to fat beats, the person sitting next to will be as well.
Whether this is going to be a problem depends on where you are and how loud your music is, but it's something to bear in mind: you are not in a soundproof bubble.
We liked the Sony MDR-V55 as soon as we set eyes on them. The plastics used in the construction are perhaps a reflection of the affordable price point, but they've been sturdy enough in the time we've been using them.
The sound is great too and, combined with the comfort and the relatively low profile of these on-ear headphones, we've been very happy wearing them out and about.
They aren't ideal for mobile use, thanks to the lack of any sort of controls for mobile phones or MP3 players, but that's not the primary focus of these headphones. The 1.2m cable could be a little longer too, but this is perhaps a personal preference point.
All in all, if you want some headphones, DJ or not, that sound great and pack up nicely, then the Sony MDR-V55 are definitely worth a look.