Sony MA-900

Sony MA-900

The MDR-MA900 is a full open-air type headphone released by Sony a few years ago, and quickly discontinued. It was meant to be a successor to the not very known MDR-F1 that came out in the middle of the 90s. Both are among the rare headphones with a fully open enclosure and a complete lack of seal between the housing, pads and ears. The AKG K1000, Raal SR1 or Mysphere are the more open variants in this category.

The MA-900 uses large 70mm angled drivers and is extremely light, at under 200g, which is basically nothing for a circum headphone. Comfort is excellent : no strong clamping force, great pads but the headband can occasionally give me small hotspots after 15-20 minutes. Its shape doesnt fit the curve of my head perfectly.

It is very easy to drive and can be run from anything. Build is quite good, but I am  skeptical about the yokes and headband on the long-term. Sadly, genuine pads replacements can’t be found anymore.

○ Release : 2012
○ Current status : Discontinued
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 196g
○ Impedance : 12 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : 104 dB/mW
○ Average used price : $180-300

Sony MDR-MA900

Sound Impression

I quite prefer the MA-900 to its predecessor, the MDR-F1. The latter might have a more spacious and dynamic presentation, but the MA-900 has a much better and pleasant frequency response (without EQ), similar to the Sennheiser HD650.

The MA-900 is pretty balanced sounding, with a small warm tint. Bass has a small mid-bass boost to counterbalance the sub-bass roll-off, which is usual with this type of design. Midrange is very good, although a bit honky sounding from 1 to 3 khz. Treble is the more problematic area for me. The low-treble (4-7khz) is ever so slightly too edgy for me, and the upper registers (past 10 khz) lack energy and sparkle. The MA-900 lacks treble extension and air.

Technicalities aren’t that great, and it falls right in the middle of the “mid-fi” segment. Resolution capabitilies are a big step behind the Sennheiser HD650 which sounds simply more refined (and with better treble finesse) in comparison. Stage is indeed wide, but not as spacious as the F1 or the AKG K701. Dynamics are rather average and decays is on the slower side.

The slightly warm tonality, envelopping stage and not very punchy dynamics make the Sony MA-900 a rather relaxing experience, great for movies, gaming and all kinds of music (except if you like sub-bass).

Used prices range from $200 to $300, which is a bit steep and above its price before it got discontinued. I personally think the HD650 (or HD580/HD600) are better values with a more resolving presentation and better tonality, but the MA-900 light weight and relaxed presentation can still be very likeable, and its tonality is better than the majority of headphones on the market.


Measurements & Resource


  • Jeff

    This could be the difference between old and younger ears or equipment pairing but I found the the MA900 an extremely enjoyable listening experience with Bass that was enjoyable and controlled. In my evaluation I mainly used four devices, Oppo HA-2SE, Dethonray Honey H1, XDuoo XD05 BAL, and iFi Gryphon. Now I will also disclose at this point I am apparently the only person on earth that dislikes the HD650/6XX. Now before everyone looses it I’m a big Sennheiser fan I just a fan of the HD600 sound, and I think the 660S sounds better then the 650.

    This open headphone takes a little listening time to acclimate your ear too. As you listen and change artists they reveal their tone and capabilities. I agree the MA900 is a mid centric headphone so vocals, strings are fantastic. They also do a very good job with sound stage, placement, placement. They are not as resolving as a Sennheiser but their tuning design was clearly target to a elevated home listening experience. I think they meet the mark they set for themselves. The MDR MA900 is a great listen, if you can find one.

  • Edger

    Hi Jeff,

    How MDR MA900 sounds with XDuoo XD05 BAL? Headphones have extremely low impedance and XD05 is pretty powerful on other hand. What is the volume knob position for comfortable volume? How the sound (lows, mids and highs)? Is there sinergy? Thanks in advance for your response!

  • Ging

    Now that i got philips x2hr, i think it sounds better than ma900, i listen to a lot of rock music, and ma900 bores me now too early, plus vocals sound like they are overwhelmed by other instruments, and vocals are behind ‘fog’ or something

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