Sony MDR-ZX660AP review

These rugged headphones could last a lifetime... Tested at £50

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Not capable enough to worry the class-leaders, but still worth an audition – not least if looks are a priority


  • +

    Well-built, attractive design

  • +

    Spacious, solid sound


  • -

    Muggy midrange and treble

  • -

    Need more dynamic subtlety

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Sony's had a great deal of success with its MDR-EX650AP budget in-ears, and now it's going for gold in the on-ear marekt with the MDR-ZX660APs.

One thing’s for sure, they certainly have the look of a title-holder.


If you thought £50 could only stretch to economical materials and cheap-looking designs, think again.

A smart fusion of matte plastic and 'pleather', the Sonys come in a plush champagne finish, alongside white or black (we’d say it was more charcoal) to go with your best suit. There are also black finishes with choice of green, orange or blue trims.

These rugged Sonys are built to last, though not too big to hang around your neck or occupy the side pocket of your gym bag.

Even the flat (1.2m) cable, which guarantees you won’t spend the first song of your playlist untangling knots, is reliably hardy.

The well-cushioned pads cling securely onto your ears like their life depends on it, but they are not so tight that it’s uncomfortable.

For cans without active noise-cancelling, they’re pretty good at keeping out street noise too.

And if the fit isn’t quite right the first time, the supportive headband’s sliding adjustment can extend both sides for greater flexibility.

MORE: Awards 2015: On-ear headphones


The first thing that hits us is their open, spacious sound. The monumental riffs in The Jeff Healey Band’s cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps have acres of room, with accompanying instruments planted precisely and naturally around them.

There’s decent detail and texture too, and the delivery is lathered with rhythmic energy, encouraging enthusiastic toe-tapping to the walking bass line.

Generous helpings of bass (albeit not the punchiest around) lend a hand to a solid midrange, giving a hefty backing to the presentation.

Sadly, that pronounced low-end overrides the rest of frequency range. The knock-on effects are a slightly muggy midrange, where piano notes lose their crisp edge, and a subdued treble.

This not only costs the Sonys tonal balance, but outright bite and clarity too.


They can’t compete with the class-leading AKG Y50s, which have the upper hand in dynamic subtlety too.

What's more, the MDR- ZX660AP’s monotone pitch can’t quite capture the intensity of the track’s dynamic swings.

Despite sonic deficiencies, these Sonys are a good option for the money, and they could well last a lifetime.

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What Hi-Fi?

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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