The prospect of high-performance wireless surround headphones should be a mouthwatering one for home cinema enthusiasts. After all, it’s not always possible to run your AV system at full throttle, so the idea of multichannel private listening has great appeal.
The two-piece MDR-HW700DS comprises headphones and HDMI surround processor. The latter sports three HDMI inputs and one output, plus optical digital audio in/outputs and a pair of stereo phono inputs. Typically users will forgo the control buttons on the processor itself and run the system entirely via the headphones. A small knob on the bottom of the right-hand earpad calls up the menu system for the processor onscreen. The cans also offer input and DSP effect controls, plus a volume dial; mastering these takes a little time.
Delivering the 9.1-channel soundstage is proprietary Virtualphones Technology. This surround simulacrum adds two additional rear channels and a pair of front heights to the standard 5.1 mix. Imaging is surprisingly accurate. Running the sound channel check on The Expendables 2 Blu-ray, the headphones accurately placed all the channels in a 7.1 mix and made a good stab at recreating the Neo:X 11.1-channel option too. There’s a real sense of scale and spaciousness to the soundstage.
Overall, these are a compelling alternative to a full-blown speaker experience. The headphones reach deep and transmission is interference free. Finally you don’t have to compromise on volume or immersion when you want to crank it in the small hours!
HCC verdict: 5/5
£450 approx, www.sony.co.uk
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