Retro Review- Sony MDR-G74SP. This will be a short review because its a fairly simple product with limited demands…and its been discontinued for some time. Part of Sony’s StreetStyle design back in the 90s/early 2000s, they were meant to be aesthetically “cool” with the adolescent/young adult market. In particular, this style was designed to be worn without wrecking the user’s fabulously gelled up hair. You can tell this review is for a much different segment than what I am currently accustomed to- basic consumers. Its not meant to be an enthusiast or audiophile grade product. It comes from a time when this was high grade sound to my ears and what I thought was high end. For a high school student with income just from summer work, it certainly was high end. The following is my IRL (In real life) review of the headphones after owning them for 13 years.
Design: The design is great for its intended audience- its a sleek behind the neck headband that avoids messing up the hair. At its time in the early 2000s, the headphone was much more popular than the earphone and having a pair like this was neat. In current times, I don’t think the street style design is in at all. Current designs are either large over/on ear headphones or in ears. But street style cans are kind of gone now. Sony now only has one street style headphone on their site. I liked the big cups it provided but in retrospect I do think the cups were larger than other similar headphones at the time and they kind of look funny on my head now. I liked that it came with an SP (short cable) cord with an extension. This was good for usage with remote style digital audio players. Its not as pertinent now that most people use their phones as players and remotes are very rarely used. The colors of black and silver were the only scheme available and it worked. I also liked that the headband folded up- this meant that it could become much more compact for transport- important for a headphone that has a big band like this.
Build quality: Quite good considering that in 13 years of use, the only real damage was the ear pads shredding- mostly from gym use. Considering I used them for the gym for some time, I’m surprised they don’t have sweat/water damage given they were not meant for sports. The plastic is of a durable quality and despite having many joints for the folding mechanism, still holds up today. The cable was well made- its a braided cloth that hasn’t shown any rips. It also hasn’t developed any kinks that a lot of cables exhibit. Overall, pretty good for its intended use
Sound Quality: This is going to be short because I really don’t know what to write about consumer grade headphones (I already struggle with writing about sound quality in high end headphones!). It sounds muddy to me. Minimal detail and nothing impactful. Is that is expected at this price range? Yes. I suppose for me I just don’t understand the lower end market anymore with my ears- once you subject yourself to flagship cans, its difficult to appreciate lower end models as much as you did before listening to the flagships. I do recall when I first listened to it, I enjoyed it. It did not have the hard bass impact I was hoping to hear from its predecessor, the MDR-G54 LP, but instead it traded the bass with more range in the mids and highs. For something that was meant more for style than sound, it sounded good.
Noise Isolation and Comfort: You can see the ports on this can here- tiny but present. This means the semi open nature lets in noise and in turn can also project the noise. Not that that really surprises- its an on ear unsealed can. This is good for walking around because you don’t want to be completely isolated from potential dangers- so it fulfills its role as a street style headphone. Its not going to be good for libraries or classrooms where ambient noise could come in, or your music could interrupt others. Comfortwise, these surprisingly do not have any ear hangars and simply have the arms rest on your ear joint area- there’s also no padding on the arm hangars. Its not really uncomfortable, but Sony has definitely done better with their own street style line up. They typically had some support mechanism with soft rubber to make sure no sharp edges were digging in your ears. Other than that, the headphones are very light and breathable- you can wear these for a very very long time without fatigue from the fit. They are also very flexible, so big heads like mine have no issues.
Conclusion: This review reflects my attempt to cover all my products, whether they are high end or not. High end is of course subjective (Sony’s high end is often not considered high end anyways!). This represents the struggle I have in rating this headphone in my current perspective with tuned ears for Hi-Fi sound. The sound of course is not the sole purpose of this model- its more about style. I don’t think that the sound necessarily hits it right out the park- its quite large and the triangle doesn’t hold the test of time IMHO. Anyways, the sound quality is better balanced than other street style headphones, but I’m not sure the target audience is looking for that- they are probably looking more for a u-shaped response with lots of hard bass and highs. I like the general build though, and the design, while not pretty today, has a nice foldable element to it. Its neat, in today’s push for minimalist standards and eliminating mechanical complexities. Anyways, would I buy it today? No. Would I buy it again back in the day? No, I don’t think I ever really loved it that much. The sound quality just wasn’t good enough to distinguish its slightly better than meh look to me. I mean this review took me a week to write and its a short review- I just wasn’t that interested in this headphone.
TLDR: Pros- neat foldable design, durable Cons- Sound quality is kind of meh- balanced sound is probably not the target audience’s preference