Note: This article was first published on 10th August 2018.
One of the latest products announced by Sony today is the flashy IER-Z1R you see here. Top-of-the-line in-ear monitors, these feature a HD Hybrid driver system that uses three newly developed drivers designed by the company for even better performance over the entire audio range. These are: a 5mm dynamic driver, a 12mm dynamic driver, and a balanced armature unit.
The 5mm driver is made of a newly developed aluminum coated LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymer) diaphragm and external magnetic circuit that is able to reproduce audio frequencies from 3Hz up to a stunning 100kHz.
Meanwhile, the 12mm driver uses a lightweight magnesium alloy dome that’s also highly rigid for better response. The edge of this dome is also made from aluminum coated LCP, giving it better flexibility for bass reproduction.
Finally, a balanced armature unit made of magnesium alloy is used for high frequencies. This works together with a new silver-coated copper voice coil and gold-plated terminals to increase the driving force of the unit, allowing it to pick up even the tiniest micro signals.
All three drivers are built into a magnesium alloy inner housing that works as an optimal sound path, blending the sound from each driver for ideal phase response and separation. The rigidity of the magnesium alloy also helps to eliminate unnecessary vibrations, thus letting you get the clearest signal possible.
The headphones come with a 5 pole 4.4mm balanced standard cable that’s made of silver-coated OFC (Oxygen-free Copper) with a silk thread that reduces noise and works as an insulator against vibration. Twisted pair wiring also helps the supplied cable reduce signal transmission loss for greater signal purity so you get only the purest sound.
We’re told Sony’s engineers consulted with various recording studios throughout the development process, getting recording artists to try various stages of prototypes; tuning the product based on the collected feedback.
Certainly an impressive back story for this pair of headphones. The earbuds feature a zirconium alloy outer housing with Perlage pattern face plate, giving a certain amount of bling to them, but we do think the overall product is premium enough to match the performance.
We had a short amount of time with the headphones and quickly put them through a short audition starting with Hins Cheung’s All because of you (完全因你.) This is a jazzy number heavily featuring Cheung’s vocals backed by a typical jazz band (piano, bass and drums), and we thought it really gave the headphones a chance to show off its lower mid to bass range.
Next, a recording of Hotel California by The Eagles (Hotel California album version) gave the IER-Z1R a chance to show off sparkling highs and with good detail. With this piece, we felt the bass was a little on the lean side, though there was nice warmth to make up for it.
Finishing off our brief audition with a recording of Barcarolle by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. This is bouncy piece has it all – from your strings to wood winds, and the headphones handle them all expertly, showing good finesse as well as transparency.
The IER-Z1R Signature series In-ear headphones will be available from all authorized Sony retailers from September onwards at an estimated retail price of S$2,499.