Review: Sony MDR-ZX330BT On-Ear Headphones
07Apr

Review: Sony MDR-ZX330BT On-Ear Headphones

Finding a true compromise, one in which everyone wins, is an art. It’s hard to get a sound quality that rivals the Oppo PM-3 in a headset that you can wear all day long for less than the cost of high-end floor speakers.

Unfortunately, what we see all too often in the world of technology are endless win-lose situations.

Sony’s $99 (£70, or about AU$130) MDR-ZX330BT does a lot right – it’s cleverly designed, light, comfortable and has a 30-hour battery life – but all that comes at a steep cost. It’s just not a great-sounding or great-feeling headset.

But, let’s start with the positives.

Design

Aesthetically speaking, the MDR-ZX330BT, the little brother to this year’s mid-range ZX770BT and ZX770BN, is genuinely good-looking. A simple all-black shell houses two 30mm drivers with a plastic, unpadded bridge spanning the two cans.

The ear cups themselves are a bit tight on the ear, but overall are plushy enough to wear for a few hours on a flight if the need should arise.

A set of standard controls and a volume rocker are found on the rim of the right driver, alongside a microUSB port that’s used for charging and the built-in mic for phone calls. The left driver, on the other hand, rocks a built-in NFC chip.

Sony MDR-ZX330BT

Pairing the device is a quick and painless process (either over Bluetooth or NFC) and should take but a few seconds to set up.

Where Sony’s MDR-ZX330BT falters in design is that it’s, unequivocally, one of the cheapest-feeling mid-range headsets around. That has to do, mostly, with the unpadded plastic bridge that connects the two ear cups and the overall lightness
(the headset weighs in at an ultra-light 150g).

Frankly, the ZX330BT isn’t something I’d feel comfortable tossing into my bag with a heavy 15-inch laptop and taking along with me on public transportation.

Sound quality

Should you find a safe environment to use it, however, the ZX330BT will surprise you with an ultra-crisp sound. That said, it lacks the overall depth and richness that higher-end headsets offer, but for a 150g pair of 30mm cans, I can’t complain much.

The shallow sound lends itself to more songs in the rock and country genres rather than anything in the bass-driven rap and electronic arenas or detail-rich classical music. Now, sound quality will vary depending on your source – Tidal at 1,411Kbps is going to sound much better than Spotify does at 320Kbps and worlds apart from Pandora’s 128Kbps.

Sony MDR-ZX330BT

If you really value pristine audio, though, you’ll probably want to step up to Sony’s MDR-1As or something in Sennheiser’s HD series. (But that’ll cost you plenty more.)

The good news in all this is that, thanks to its 30-hour battery, you’ll probably go a week (or more) in between charges.

After fully charging the headphones and listening to them for a few hours straight, I inadvertently left them untouched for two weeks. The next time I picked them up, they still had charge and were ready to play music without so much as a flash of the ominous red light of death.

When every device today comes with its own proprietary charger and what seems like a 60-minute battery life, it was both surprising and elating to find a pair of headphones that didn’t succumb to either.

Sony MDR-ZX330BT

Final verdict

Sony’s MDR-ZX330BT feels like an entry-level headset. It’s flimsy. It doesn’t sound as full as other $100 headphones do. It doesn’t have any special features to set it apart from the competition. It’s riddled with design compromises that make it a middling offering instead of a truly trendsetting headset.

But, while it won’t win any awards for being the sturdiest headset ever constructed, it’s also incredibly light and comfortable. At 150g, it won’t feel like a weight on your head and while they can be a bit tight around the ears, the earpieces are more or less as comfortable as unpadded headphones can be.

But, for $99 (£70 or about AU$130), the ZX330BT doesn’t break the bank. If you’re looking for a no-frills, wireless pair of headphones with stellar battery life, this could be a solid purchase. Just shop around a little more first, eh?










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Publicado el 07 de April del 2016
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