I bought the EX71s and compared them to the Apple In-ear earphones and thought the Apple's were clearly superior in sound but no where near in comfort. I put the medium sized Sony ear pieces on the Apple ones and the sound was fantastic. I think I have found the perfect solution.

Posted by JeffNNJ on November 16, 2004 at 2:02 PM (PDT) Comment 21

The Apple's sound better than the EX71's? Is this a unanimous opinion?

Posted by Mani on November 16, 2004 at 6:06 PM (PDT) Comment 22

These are a major improvement over the EX71SL's. The rubber clips improve the fit for those like me who work out.

I ordered them from Audio Cubes on a Tuesday and received them on Friday. Only problem was I was sent the black pair.

I choose the white, but for some reason when the order was submitted, it recorded black. I failed to check the final page before submitting the order. However, they are cooperating and sending me the white pair and paying for the shipping.

If you liked the 71's, then you will love the 81's. Hope this helps.

Posted by G Sauce on November 16, 2004 at 7:15 PM (PDT) Comment 23

I have the 71's, and while the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired I have not found anything that can approach them in terms of comfort. So if I'm going to be listening to my ipod for 6 hours at a clip, I want something that won't make my ears hurt first, and then something that sounds perfect.

Anyway. The biggest drawback to the 71's is the stupid short cable coming from the left ear. The right ear has a long cable that wraps behind your head and connects to the cable from the left. This pulls on the left ear bud considerably, and is inane design. Do the 81's suffer from the same problem? Or did sony finally wise up and just have the cables from each ear the same length and meet in the middle (a la apple's miserable earbuds)?

Posted by anodyne on November 16, 2004 at 7:51 PM (PDT) Comment 24

Whoa funky earphones. Damn now I want one to replace the ones that came with my 'pod

does anyone know how can I get them in the UK? Or do I have to get them from Audiocubes? Assuming they mail to the UK. Thanks everyone

Posted by jijinlim on November 16, 2004 at 9:43 PM (PDT) Comment 25

They mail internationally, jijinlim. Quite nice postage rates too, actually.. EMS for $7 USD.

Posted by SuitCase on November 16, 2004 at 10:39 PM (PDT) Comment 26

At one point in my audiophile obsession I have owned 30 pairs of High End and Mid End Headphone out there for the past 10 years that Sony has made. I am a former Discman Junkie, but I must say I sill love and get by with my beloved MDR-EX70 (B)! I have had 3 pairs in three years and have spent countless hours of Discman, Mini Discman & I-pod listening enjoyment. I do agree with some of the points made about the headphones Sony makes, but please remember that the headphones that came before MDR-EX81SL were designed for the Discman and the Mini Discman. The MDR-EX71 was designed to fit Sony’s High End remote controls for the Discman and the Mini Discman not for the I-pod like many here may believe. Remember that not all products are created equally and with the same love as a pair of Bose or other high-end headphones. I do own a pair of MDR-EX81SL and I must say I like the look, feel and sound but like the MDR-EX71 the cord is still a issue with me, I am a non I-pod remote user! Don’t get me wrong if you like the remote use it but it is not for me.

Posted by TheExecutor on November 17, 2004 at 9:02 PM (PDT) Comment 27

How do they compare to the Shure E2s? For sound quality, for microphonics, for staying in when you're exercising, etc...

You can get the E2s for about $70 from if you hunt around here on ipodlounge for coupon codes... so not a huge price difference for what I'd imagine is a fairly substantial jump in quality.

Posted by JCO on November 18, 2004 at 8:37 AM (PDT) Comment 28

Is there anyone who can compare these to the Macally Podpro Noise Cancelling Headphones, both in terms of sound quality and passive isolation (I prefer not to use the active noise cancelling on my Macallys). thanks

Posted by Nuke666 on November 20, 2004 at 6:24 PM (PDT) Comment 29

I ordered a set of replacement 'rubbers' for my white 71s a while ago and Sony charged me something like $4.99/set of two. I ordered three sets just to have a few around.

I bought the white 71s from a guy in Hong Kong via ebay. They were about $55 including shipping costs. I love 'em and can't imagine why Sony would add the ear loop to these things. I've never had any trouble keeping them in my ears while running, working or working out.

I've also found them more comfortable than the Shure models because they don't create as much of a vacuum seal. I can wear them for hours and forget about them. When I tested the E3Cs I was disturbed by how tight and noticeable the seal was. I also couldn't wear them 'unsealed' just resting in my outer ear canal as I sometimes do with the 71s.

My main complaint is the non-symmetrical left and right cords. I'd like to see them meet in the middle instead of near the left ear. Otherwise a great product that in my opinion didn't need much improvement.

Posted by parkman on November 22, 2004 at 2:24 PM (PDT) Comment 30

Theday I was going to order the 71's, the review for these came out. Needless to say being the accessory whore that I am I immediately ordered them. I was looking to spend $40 but talked myself into $60 (incl. shipping from Japan). I am very happy with these. I have another pair of earbuds with the wraparound the ear clip and even those were not incredibly comfortable or decent sounding. I commend Sony on the silicon pad, once you figure out how to put it in your ear (pull on your earlobe and gently push it in) they seal out noise very nicely. The sound is incredible for earbuds, if there are some that sound better no wonder they cost $150+. Having not used any other comparable buds, I can't advise these over anything else. I can just say I am very happy with the comfort, sound, and confidence they will stay in, even with the snowboarding season coming up.


Posted by FancyLad on November 23, 2004 at 7:46 AM (PDT) Comment 31

Just got the 71s today from AudioCube direct from Japan. Quick and good service.

Pleasant surprise: fit and comfort. They are SO much more secure and comfortable in the ear than the std. Apple ear buds. For the folks that asked - I do wear glasses and these seem to cause no problems with my frames. The fit exceeded my expectations by a lot.

Unpleasant surprise: sound quality. To my ears, the sound is slightly inferior to the std. Apple ear buds. Certainly not up to the glowing review by the moderator here, even at this price point. Bass is not so much weak as it is muddy. as are the mids. After a lot of EQ adjusting in iTunes I can get them to sound OK, but not with the EQ options on the iPod. I admit sound quality is subjective and my taste is for flat response. And I know $50 ear buds aren't going to sound as flat as the $150+ type, but these are a disappointment. I have experience as a studio musician and producer in my earlier life so I don't if know if I qualify as an "audiofile" as one post requested, but I do know how to evaluate sound quality pretty well and how not to expect anything but really expensive stuff to sound "just like the record." But even with all these caveats, I wouldn't recommend these '71s unless a secure fit in your ear is your TOP priority. So maybe these are the set to use for jogging, and something better for all other use. Just a suggestion.

Posted by Slim on November 23, 2004 at 7:53 PM (PDT) Comment 32

ummm, are you sure you mean 71's? This review is of the 81's and says the sound quality is better than the 71's

Posted by Nuke666 on November 24, 2004 at 1:33 AM (PDT) Comment 33

and do these also have the uneven cords like the 71's, (left is longer than right) or are they an even Y shape like the Apple buds?

Posted by Nuke666 on November 24, 2004 at 1:35 AM (PDT) Comment 34

Just got my 81's today. Sorry I can't compare the sound to 71's. But I can say that they beat the HECK out of the default Apple buds and also are MUCH better than Koss' "The Plug". The sound is FANTASTIC, once you try them you will never be satisfied with anything else.

The FIT is also superb. Just set and forget. No constant fiddling to get a better position like with other buds.

Now the BAD news: they are extremely awkward to store in a pocket. The earhooks make them even more unwieldy than 71's. And you've still got the overly long 2-piece cord to deal with. I've taken to just using the short-end of the cord directly into my shirt pocket while listening.

But once you're done listening where to put the darn things? The included cloth pouch is a joke, and the cheap plastic earbud protector is an insult.

Somebody needs to market a nice hard case for these because I can tell that shoving them in and out of a pocket is just asking for them to break sooner than later.

Posted by jazmaan on November 24, 2004 at 12:52 PM (PDT) Comment 35

Also, I don't know what Slim's issue is posted above. I think the 81's sound wonderful for the price. If Slim can find a better sounding pair of earplugs under $100, I'll eat my hat.

Posted by jazmaan on November 24, 2004 at 12:58 PM (PDT) Comment 36

I just got these today and i love the sound. I believe they sound a little better than the 71's and the rubber headphone cojoiner is lighter than the metal one of the 71's. One problem though. The earhooks are not resting on my ears and i thought they were supposed to so the headphones do not fit as well as the 71's. Second, i though they could rotate, however, mine seems to rotate for about 5 degrees if not less. As a result, i am not getting the best fit. The phones look like they are about to fall off, they are not flush with the side of my head. Any tips on how to remedy this will be appreciated

Posted by Taire on November 24, 2004 at 3:28 PM (PDT) Comment 37

I am referring here to the ex71's which I just got off ebay. I too notice very bad bass response, instead of the good bass response reported here. (I know the ex81's are supposed to be better, but the 71's were called good, and mine just aren't.) In a side by side comparson with the stock ipod earphones, they lose miserably. (But the stock earphones are incredibly uncomfortable.) What gives?

Posted by Richken on November 25, 2004 at 10:25 AM (PDT) Comment 38

I just received my headpjones (Sony MDR-EX81) from Audio Cubes in less than a week. Unfortuantely, I was VERY disappointed. Not hearing the previous model (ex71), the ex81's bass is totally inadequate. Although high grades go to clarity, treble and mid-range, the lack of bass gave more of am-radio effect. I even fooled w/ iPod's bass settings, and then pressed buds firmly to ear. The latter worked, but hardly practical. Does any one concur?

Posted by Pat M on November 25, 2004 at 12:41 PM (PDT) Comment 39

How do these do when you are working out or running? Also how is the fit when you are wearing sunglasses? I'm going to choose between these and the etymotics but these have a better price of course. Thanks for your help!

Posted by kilik75 on November 26, 2004 at 5:52 PM (PDT) Comment 40

I recently purchased these headphones from, since they have the lowest price! These headphones are quite simply the best earbud headphones around $50. The sound is absolutely great. In the past, I have always liked earbud style headphones because they are somewhat more discreet than other types, but was always disappointed with the sound quality, especially the lack of bass. I use them for activities, too... gym, jogging, etc. And they have never become dislodged or even come close. They stay in place until I take them out. This alone is enough to spend $50. These Sony have completely restored my faith in earbuds.

Posted by PowerBook on November 28, 2004 at 3:19 PM (PDT) Comment 41

Purchased from Audiocube - fast delivery, $60 price.
Headphone sound quality is ok, bass response is weak. They do stay in place while exercising, but can be intrusive when wearing glasses (depending on style of temple). The cabling is bad (length & appearance) always having to unravel it from one thing or another - could be more streamlined and I don't understand the need for a midpoint jack. I'm not totally satisfied, will continue to look for ultimate earpiece.

Posted by SJG on November 29, 2004 at 9:02 PM (PDT) Comment 42

Typed "71s" by mistake, meant the "81s" (sorry Nuke666) and yes, the cord is evenly split, but longer than is really necessary

For Jazmaan: my impression is the same as Pat M.'s and SJG's. Sound quality is pretty subjective and unique to each individual, like all perception, but to me, even the Apple std ear buds (under $100) have better sound, despite all their ergonomic drawbacks. I concur with Pat M. the weak/muddy bass from the 81s sounds a little too much like AM radio.

Posted by Slim on November 29, 2004 at 9:41 PM (PDT) Comment 43

While I enjoy the sound quality of the 81's, I am having a horrible time getting the earphones to fit properly. I never thought I had abnormally large or small ears, but I just can't get the "rubber mounts" to rest properly on my ears or establish a proper seal with the flanges. When I do get a good seal, it's because I'm in front of a mirror and have adjusted it for a minute or so. I must be doing something wrong, because everyone else commends the 81 for its comfort. Help!!

Posted by Louis Chow on November 29, 2004 at 10:07 PM (PDT) Comment 44

I wear glasses and I am also having a hard time keeping the earphones in place, especially while jogging. Also, I have noticed that the volume level is substantially less with the 81"s. Perhaps I have a faulty set. When I compare them with a cheap set of Sony outside the ears , I have far less volume. Anybody else notice this problem?

Posted by taid on November 30, 2004 at 11:07 AM (PDT) Comment 45
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