Sony MDR-1RNC review

High in luxury, with slightly mixed noise-cancelling Tested at £330

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

High in luxury, with slightly mixed noise-cancelling


  • +

    Lovely build quality

  • +

    Excellent detail


  • -

    Noise-cancelling brings brightness

  • -

    High price

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These aren't cheap, costing £450 if you buy them from Sony. It's lucky, then, that we've found them far cheaper by shopping around.

First impressions for the MDR-1RNC are good. They certainly look like £450 headphones – build is impeccable, plus they're comfortable and just the right weight.

Switch on the noise-cancelling and it's a peculiar effect. All the low frequencies are drained from your surroundings, but midrange and treble remain – so in an office you can hear the tippity-tap of keyboards.

There's also a brittle quality to high frequencies in this mode. Bass is fast and tight, but lacks punch.

On the plus side, the soundstage is lovely and wide, and the detail on offer is fantastic. Turn the noise-cancelling off and that brittleness reduces, replaced by guts and punch.

These headphones are a real mixed bag. We don't like the brightness that the noise-cancelling brings, but we love the luxurious feel and warm, friendly sound you get without it.

Do they sound £150 better than our current Award-winner, the Bose QuietComfort 15s? No. Do they feel £150 better? Most definitely.

See all our headphone Best Buys

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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