Sony MDR-EX81 Earphones | iLounge



they look pretty identical besides the clip ons.

Posted by frankthetank on November 15, 2004 at 12:34 PM (PDT)


Any second opinions? I have the MDR-51's and am upset that they're so bass heavy. If these do solve that, they'll probably be the next pair I buy.

Posted by andres in Miami on November 15, 2004 at 2:06 PM (PDT)


How do these work with those of us who wear glasses? I've tried this type of clip on buds before and found that the "clip" part interferes with the arms on my glasses.

Posted by biskil in Newport, RI on November 15, 2004 at 2:13 PM (PDT)


These look pretty nice, I might get myself a set as a christmas present, unless I decide to spend some extra and get some etys.

Posted by m00j in Brisbane, Australia on November 15, 2004 at 3:04 PM (PDT)


I have the 71s and, while I do love them, I couldn.t disagree about the bass more. Mine have no bass. Well, more like very little. I have tried all the different ear sizes and adjustments and nothing. Nada, Zilch. Kinda disappointing since they do sound good. Has anyone else had this problem?

Posted by Eric R. Ortega in Las Vegas on November 15, 2004 at 5:11 PM (PDT)


Eric R. Ortega

Make sure you're putting them in your ear as you would earplugs. Otherwise you'll get no bass response. When you have them in, every sound around you should sound muted. If they don't, then you don't have them in correctly.

I'm guessing it's more user-error than a problem with the product.

Posted by OMGWTFSTFU in United States on November 15, 2004 at 6:52 PM (PDT)


Hrm, they look promising. Rectifying the 'boomy' bass on the EX71's makes these my next purchase, should my EX71's get broken. Hoping they don't, but now I won't mind so much...

Posted by Elithrar in Perth, Australia on November 16, 2004 at 1:54 AM (PDT)


I just bought some to replace my Sony NC-11s. Waiting on the shipping. I liked the NC-11s, I just find the cord and the noise cancelling unit to be very awkward. This review has got me thinking really favourably of the EX81s now.. they look comfy and should sound fine for usage outdoors where you can't discern the extra fidelty in sound all too well anyway. I'll try and comment back here when I have an opinion.

Posted by SuitCase in Sydney, Australia on November 16, 2004 at 2:23 AM (PDT)


These look great. However in the warmer months when you wear no jacket and are a guy who carries no purse, how the heck do you store these in a jeans, pants or shorts pocket?

One reason I love ear buds is that they don't interfere with easy storage in a pocket without carrying an annoying case...

Posted by mflat5 in USA on November 16, 2004 at 5:08 AM (PDT)


I ordered these earphones yesterday after reading this review. I own the EX71s & I agree, the bass is WAY too boomy & muddy.

I also wear glasses. Hopefully the ear clip-on thing won't be a big deal. I'll report back once the new phones have arrived.

Posted by eben on November 16, 2004 at 7:11 AM (PDT)


the reviewer refers to the ER6 and ER6i's a bit, yet there is no way to use that as a guide because they haven't been reviewed here. the lower-end etymotics are some of the most significant products in the ipod headphone market, and i think that the most significant ipod-dedicated website on the web should review them. PLEASE

Posted by heAdphoneBoy on November 16, 2004 at 8:28 AM (PDT)


When are they going to reduce the cost of replacement plugs?!

I have a pair of EX51s that (for the price) are awesome, but I lost one of the medium plugs. It will be nearly the cost of the earphones just to replace the meduim plugs. I'm currently using one of the large plugs, but the fit is not good. ARRRRRRG! I can't really recommend these headphones until Sony fixes this.

Posted by theREALiPodRob on November 16, 2004 at 8:34 AM (PDT)


good review jeremy, very detailed and honest. Thats what keeps me coming back... I really wish you'd review the Bang & Olufsen A8 Headphones though. I think they sound very nice for everyday use and in terms of ipod meeting criteria, I think they work well, especially if you have a black case. Cheers!

Posted by apple juice in USA on November 16, 2004 at 8:36 AM (PDT)


MDR-EX71 vs MDR-EX81
which is better?

Posted by ..........? on November 16, 2004 at 8:37 AM (PDT)


Just to say I picked up a pair of SONYs in Tokyo about a year ago (when the Apple store opened in Ginza) and they are fantastic. They were about USD50 (¥5000) but I don't have the catalog number handy. Of course now I'm hankering after the Etymotics smile

The lesson is that almost anything is an improvement over the Apple ones...

Thanks for all the great reviews BTW.

Posted by iPodPartout in Old Europe on November 16, 2004 at 9:00 AM (PDT)


Does anyone know when these headphones will be on sale in US stores such as or

Posted by Brian Schneider on November 16, 2004 at 9:10 AM (PDT)


Sony already/also has the ...EX71's available with a neckband: MDR-NX1 Earphones. Available in white. Asian webshops sell them and with current USD rates well under the prices here in the UK or continental EU (37 euro incl shipping). Actually same price as the EX71.

Posted by brencce on November 16, 2004 at 10:12 AM (PDT)


To the poster above who was lamenting the loss of his Sony plug . . .

. . . this happened to me, too. I went to my local Radio Shack & found some cheap & very comfortable replacements. If you're in the U.S. give it a try.

To the other poster asking for a review of the Etymotics: I have a pair of ER-4Ps. Since they reproduce music so transparently, my first suggestion is that your music needs to be encoded at least at 128K, and preferably in AAC format. These phones well and truly reproduce exactly what is played through them. Listening to them, you have the curious sensation that music is being piped directly into your head as opposed to using earphones (trust me, this makes sense). Chances are you'll hear things that you've never heard before, even in tracks that you know like the back of your hand. And if your music is encoded poorly, or if your source was bad to begin with, well, you'll hear that, too.

They're extremely accurate which means that if you're into heavy bass, they're probably not for you. (Hip hop freaks, beware.) I find that classical music especially sounds incredible through them. Broad and spacious, with remarkable frequency range. And the better the encoding, the more you hear.

The only drawback I've found is that they can be very uncomfortable to wear (thus my purchase of the EX81s). They're not earphones, they're canal phones. (I went whole hog & had custom earmolds designed and they STILL don't feel great.) They go pretty deeply into your ears. This takes some getting used to, both in terms of the way they feel and the extreme isolation they produce. The isolation's great for hearing your music (and thus being able to play it at VERY low levels), but it's not so good if you're walking through NYC and trying not to get hit by a bus.

ER-4Ps in short:

Pros: Amazing musical fidelity and reproduction. Great isolation that can in turn save your hearing through lower volume levels.

Cons: Bass can feel somewhat lacking. Uncomfortable. May require custom earmolds for some. Expensive ($330).

Posted by eben on November 16, 2004 at 11:03 AM (PDT)


i HAD the 51s and they broke after three months of use. they're not very durable, and it doesn't appear that the 81s are any sturdier... it would make more sense to me to spend an extra $20 and get the shure e2cs (there are plenty of places with them for $70) instead.

Posted by docslytherin on November 16, 2004 at 11:07 AM (PDT)


I wouldn't want them in white... but they look good.. might put them on the Christmas list.

Posted by Syph in Cambridge on November 16, 2004 at 11:11 AM (PDT)

Page 1 of 8 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Shop for Accessories: Cases, speakers, chargers, etc.