Are Sony MDR-100ABN The Best Value For Money Headphones?
As a consumer, what do you expect from a good pair of wireless headphones?
Rich and clear Sound?
Excellent Noise Cancellation?
Long battery life?
Stylish looks that turn heads in envy?
Shouldn’t cost a bomb?
What if I tell you… Sony MDR-100ABN has got all of them!
I see you are interested now.
Design & Features
Sony MDR-100ABN are an incredibly good looking headphones that are so different from the rest of the others.
The smooth and uniform overall design give them a very premium look. At the same time, they are quite hip and peppy in all five brightly coloured options (shown in the picture below).
The matte-plastic headband and the earcups merge with each other quite well and look like they are crafted as a single piece. The minimalist design saves the looks of these brightly coloured headphones and makes them appealing to even the first-class passengers.
However, if you are not into bright colours, there is a matte-black option for you which are still quite attractive. Apart from a simple Sony Wireless branding and a NFC logo, these headphones are quite clean.
On the left earcup, you have a 2.5 mm wire jack, a mini-USB charger, mic, a switch On/Off button and a button to switch On/Off the noise cancellation. All the buttons are fairly apart to avoid pressing the wrong button.
On the right earcup, there is a slider-cum-button for skipping forward/backward, music pause/play or receiving/rejecting a call. There is also a separate volume up/down button on the same side.
When the looks matter as much as the technology, the sound and the comfort.
Since the controls are placed on both the sides, they are laid out quite spaciously. The controls are easy to find and use while you’re wearing them.
After you have switched on the headphones, you don’t need to use the left side controls anymore. All the other buttons to control your music or manage calls are on the right side.
Many popular headphone manufacturers keep all the controls on one side to make them more intuitive but that makes them quite cluttered and confusing.
They are shipped in a beautiful matching-coloured case, and a 2.5 mm jack wire for the wired listening. There is no airline adapter, but then you can only expect so much at ~$200 price point.
Overall, a well made piece of headphones!
Are they comfortable to wear?
The earcup and headband cushion is made of premium faux-leather which is quite soft. There is sufficient room around the ears inside the earcups and it should fit those with larger ears too.
I found the clamping force of these headphones to be slightly more than Bose QC35 or Sennheiser PXC 550. Sony MDR-100ABN are heavier (290 gms) than the others (Bose QC35 at 236 gms or Sennheiser PXC 550 at 227 gms).
Due to weight and higher clamping force, they can be slightly less comfortable at times. When I say slightly, I mean exactly that – slightly as I didn’t have much issues wearing them at a stretch in a long train ride.
Headband can be stretched quite a lot and should even fit people with bigger heads. There is limited rotational movement of earcups but enough to fit all face shapes. However, due to limited movement, you can’t easily rest them flat around your neck.
I found them less comfortable than Bose QC35 or Sony MDR-1000X, but definitely more comfortable than Sennheiser PXC 550.
If sound quality is the only thing that matters to you in a headphones, you will not be disappointed. Sony has done some pretty impressive work with these headphones and I wouldn’t be lying if I told you that I preferred the sound of Sony MDR-100ABN over Bose QC35.
Sony claims to reproduce frequencies of 40 KHz to deliver powerful low range bass. I’m not a big fan of justifying sound with frequency numbers. I agree that the sound is quite punchy, bass-heavy yet focussed and very clear as compared to more balanced, restrictive sound of Bose QC35.
Sony MDR-100ABN handled the lows really well and the bass is tight and is very much present in every track. Mids are quite detailed and crisp which brings more clarity to the music. You might find the highs (high-frequency sounds) to be slightly lacking but still stable.
But hey, let’s accept that we are not going to use any bluetooth headphones for video editing or sound production. While transferring sound over Bluetooth, the headphones distort the actual sound and reconstruct (reproduce) them. Therefore, it is impossible to get the real sound signature over Bluetooth.
100ABNs do a great job at reproducing the sound signature that sounds good to the ears, though not the true sound. A slight more crisp high-frequency would have been much appreciated though.
There is slight sound leakage at higher volumes and if you are using them in office, try not to increase the volume too loud or else your colleagues will either complain or laugh at your music choices!
For some reasons, I didn’t get a very good sound when attached to my MacBook Pro using the wire provided. I tried to listen to attaching the wire on several smartphones, and they sounded perfectly well without any loss of sound clarity.
Do Sony MDR-100ABN support Qualcomm aptX?
If you have a device that also support Qualcomm aptX codec, you will experience a richer sound on these headphones.
aptX is an audio codec that improves the quality of audio sent over Bluetooth. But if your smartphone doesn’t support aptX, an aptX supported headphone won’t make much difference.
Ok, I know this is the part you were waiting for.
A good sound quality headphones with a poor noise cancellation kills the whole music experience during travels or outdoors. And thankfully, Sony MDR-100ABN certainly don’t disappoint in this department.
They are almost as good as you would expect them to be – they cut out most of the noise digitally and let you enjoy a quieter background. At medium or high volume levels, you won’t hear any background noise even in a relatively louder square or noisy subway.
At lower volume levels or between the tracks, you can still hear some background noise. Sony’s proprietary noise cancelling AI detects the ambient sound and adjusts the optimum noise cancelling mode to give you a better experience.
The microphones are positioned on the upper side of the earcups (hidden under the attached hinges). They tend to catch a lot of wind if it’s too windy and produce a hissing sound. I had to really block the microphones on both sides or remove the headphones to cut out the noise.
If you live in Chicago or any of the windy regions, you might want to first test them out in wind! Or probably you should just stay away from these headphones.
As you might have expected, the noise cancellation in Sony MDR-100ABN is not as good as other higher priced headphones like Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 or Sony MDR-1000X. I would rate their noise cancellation at 90% – 95% of Bose QC35 which means they still perform a great job at giving you a noiseless background.
Bluetooth connectivity is as good and quick as any other high-end wireless headphones. Sony MDR-100ABN is NFC supported and you can connect your headphones via NFC by tapping your phone on the left earcup.
For me, connecting via Bluetooth or NFC is equally convenient and I connect with Bluetooth more often than NFC.
There were no connection errors, nor hiccups over Bluetooth. The wireless range is also comparable to other headphones around 10 meters.
You might experience some hiccups, if the streaming device is in another room. That is due to the interference caused by walls but this was the case with most of the headphones to some level.
On an average daily usage of 2 – 3 hours, they can last for 2 weeks easily. Even with the ANC on and at medium volume, they could easily last for 24 – 25 hours.
With a great battery life of over 20 hours, there shouldn’t be anything to complain about in the battery section. Right?
There is no physical notification of battery level and it doesn’t automatically notify you of it either. To know the battery level is to press the On/Off switch once and a female voice will tell you if the battery level is low/medium/high.
It takes 6 hours to fully charge an empty battery which is a big down-side. You can’t use these headphones while they are charging via the USB.
Another thing I didn’t like about the battery of Sony MDR-100 ABN is that when the battery is low, there is no notifications or warning. You just have to ensure that you charge them from time to time or keep pressing the battery indicator to be aware of the battery level.
According to me, this is something you should really consider while buying them. And if you are using them everyday, you are better off charging the battery every week.
UK – Amazon
India – Amazon
Who should buy this?
“Everything for Everyone” is a good way to describe these headphones. Sony MDR-100ABN are great for people with good taste in music but want to keep it under budget.
They are for people who like bright-colours and bass-heavy music. Travellers and daily commuters will like them. Not just for music, you’ll love watching movies with these headphones on.
I won’t recommend them to people who forget to charge their devices regularly. If you like to hang your headphones around your neck, they can’t be turned flat. Also, not recommended for people in windy areas.
Overall, they are a great value-for-money headphones.
What Others Think
Check out Sony MDR-100ABN instruction manual here : Sony Website
If you have any questions related to this product, please write them in the comments. We would be happy to answer them.