Posted in good design, things we like by hemmant jha on February 10, 2009


A lot has been written about the ‘in your head‘ quality of sound as heard through headphones. Attempts have been made through physical and electronic means to help create a more ‘you are there’ sensation [similar to a live performance or reproduction through loudspeakers] while using headphones, rather than ‘there’s a sound trapped in your head’.

At thinkmore, we only write about things we like enough to own – our thoughts are based on personal experience. In that tradition, this post documents a recent attempt by Sony – a portable device for the reproduction of sound. Of late, Sony has not produced many remarkable audio products with focus on the enthusiast. There’s obviously limited appeal in the mass market / big box retail for a product that appears a bit odd and performs differently from the norm. Suffice it to say, we should all be glad that such research is still carried on, and that sometimes such ideas escape the shackles of corporate confinement and make their way to us.

There’s been exhaustive coverage of the PFR-V1 at Gizmodo, Engadget, trustedreviews. I’ve added my own thoughts and images below.

When worn, the transducers are located away from one’s ears and the sound is directed at the ear from a distance [not forced into it]. By following this method, these headphones are able to make full use of the shape and sound modulating properties of the outer ear, which is how we’re used to hearing all sounds around us. As a result, the PFR-V1 presents sound in a uniquely familiar and natural way.

Altogether, this is a remarkable device – extremely comfortable, with clear, extended, non-fatiguing sound and marvelous quality of construction. The details and finishes are very well resolved [this is something that sets Sony apart from most other manufacturers, even in mass market products], down to thoughtful touches like the conductive coating on the outriggers that touch one’s ears. The coating maintains parity with one’s body temperature – the foreign object touching the skin is soon forgotten. The focus remains on the sound and its presentation. The spheres and frame components are crafted from metal. The physical appearance is a natural progression of the original concept and the engineering solutions – nothing is hidden, the core idea is on display. Pride of ownership in spades. 

Clearly, the product was developed by engineers and designers with a real interest and insight into the art and science of sound reproduction – brilliant.



6 Responses

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  1. Joshua Wentz said, on March 1, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    These look beautiful, and after a solid, intense month of living in my headphones, my ears are tired and stuffy… they want something like this.

  2. 57 « thinkmore said, on March 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    […] price. I’ve owned many headphones since, some many times the price, some more refined, some very different –  and remarkably enough, the SR60s still sound wonderful and special after all these […]

  3. 69 « thinkmore said, on April 17, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    […] While major labels struggle to find their place in the new world, younger labels, even one-man labels, have found opportunity to thrive. Since the advent of recorded sound, it has never been easier [than it is today] to share music, to produce music in a collaborative way across borders, to record and edit music, to stamp discs and create limited runs of custom packaging, to market a product across the entire world simultaneously and instantly. Essentially, all it should take to create a modern, worthy and independent label is good music, good marketing, good packaging – good stuff. One such noteworthy label is Sidedown Audio. It is the brainchild of Joshua Wentz, founder of Sidedown, a decidedly random design agency. I had the pleasure of meeting JW a few years ago, when he wrote about a product we had designed – I liked his writing and his approach to design, and we’ve kept in touch since. He keeps me posted about the goings on at Sidedown, and now I bring his label to you [disclaimer : I do not stand to benefit financially from this post : thinkmore believes that good efforts should be encouraged. We’ve featured other noteworthy efforts here : A , B , C , D , E ].  […]

  4. Brian said, on May 1, 2009 at 12:53 am

    I think you and I are among the few insightful enough to buy these. Indeed they are wonderful and have earned a rightful place alongside my trusty Grados.

  5. 79 « thinkmore said, on May 6, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    […] chutzpah – something clearly pushed for by an aggressive design team, and something that magically made it to mass […]

  6. 182 « thinkmore said, on May 11, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    […] of sound. We’ve written about and commented on sound, music and music making equipment here, here, here, here, here, here, here and […]

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