Picture of the Sony DR-EX12iP Headset Earbuds, carton front view.

Sony Make Believe Headphones DR EX12iP Review

The Sony Make Believe DR EX12iP headphones shine in their crystal clear high-end, treble clarity.  But this is at the expense of a strong bass presence.

Sony Make Believe Headphones First Remarks

We’d describe the Sony Make Believe headphones as a basically natural-sounding, in ear headphone.  The speakers are rather small (9mm).  They remind us of those small radio ear buds of half a century ago.  But these Sony Make Believe headphones sound much better than those tinny, no bass earphones of decades past.

Picture of the Sony DR-EX12iP headphones unpacked.
Sony DR-EX12iP headphones unpacked.

Sony Make Believe headphones offer almost all that you would want. E.g. Weak but non distorted bass, to strong mid range, to snappy and resonant high frequencies. They don’t distort, even when playing an iPad at full volume.  Note  though that they may not play as loudly as other, larger driver models. Yet they insert into the ear easily, and come out just as fast. Wearing them rarely grows tiresome, and their low-mass and flexible cable cuts microphonics.

Sony Make Believe headphones have rigid strain relief at each speaker unit, and Sony put flexible strain relief at the gold-plated 3.5mm plug end of the cord.   Yet we find no strain relief at each ear driver or at the mic / remote control. None exists at the Y cord vertex either. This is where the single cord splits into two (left and right). But they appear well built for as low-cost as they are. These headphones give months, or years of trouble-free listening, talking, and remote controlling of players and phones.





Sony Make Believe DR-EX12iP Headphones Benefits, Pros, Features, and Advantages 

Printed Users Guide

The users guide tells of how to safely listen and avoid hearing loss. It also shows how to use the built-in in-line remote control and mic with mobile devices and services found on Apple and Apple compatible mobile devices.

Strain Relief on Some Joints

Flexible strain relief on the 3.5 mm male plug (that plugs into your audio device), and rigid relief at each earpiece.

Sony Make Believe Headphones Feature a Cord Slider

This slider lets you adjust how big the Y cable joint is, where the left and right ear driver cables come together into one. This raises comfort and lowers snagging on clothes buttons and zippers.

They Have a Gold Plated Plug

Sony DR EX12iP Make Believe headphones have a gold-plated 3.5mm male plug, along with light-weight, low mass Litz cable. Though light, the cable seems quite flexible and rugged. We’ve used this headset for months on daily walks around the city. We have jerked them hard, many times when we dropped the attached iPod Nano. Still they work perfectly.

Very Low Microphonics

The cable also does not carry vibrations too much into the ear pieces. nor does the built-in mic pick up much when chatting on the phone through them.

In Ear Design

The Sony Make Believe headphones drivers insert deep into the ear, to the far end of the ear canal, for better sound and noise isolation.





Sony Make Believe Headphones Resist Water

Smaller sound ports mean less speaker exposure to sweat, rain, and debris.

Good Sound

Reproduces low-mid, mid range, and high audio sounds clearly. Not too much sound coloriing or harshness thus. But as noted, the bass output seems lower when listening on flat. Yet on the whole, they sound pretty flat, while delivering the extra bass or treble you might want, if you use an equalizer.

Good Bass, with Help

The 9 mm drivers here, while pretty good at sounding out the highs in the music, weaken the lows when playing on flat. This is likely due to the very small size of these buds.  On the good side though, these earphones accept boosted bass from an equalizer without distorting it much.  So you can compensate for the reduced bass if your mobile device has an equalizer.

Good Highs, without Help

But the crisp highs are a marked plus over other, cheaper earbuds that we’ve tested.  Further, remote mic offers good response for speech; iPhone cellphone chats sound great on both ends of the call.

Sony Make Believe Headphones Have LEFT and RIGHT Channel Labels on Speakers

The left and right earbuds are embossed with easy-to-read L and R letters, found on the rear side of each bud. Easy to find thus.

Fit Well Either Way

Hard to confuse LEFT and RIGHT speakers. Sony Make Believe headphones use a symmetrical ear bud design, in which the LEFT bud fits most comfortably and sounds the best, in the left ear, and the RIGHT bud fits best into the RIGHT ear.

Decent sensitivity

These headphones produce somewhat higher levels of clipping free volume than the original iPod stock buds for a given volume setting.

Long Cable

Over three feet of highly flexible cable is provided from the bottom of the Y vertex to the plug, and another twelve inches of cable from the top of the Y to the drivers.

Low Sound Leakage on these Sony Make Believe Headphones

You could make the drivers in other earphones repel each other if you held them the right way. And they’d stick to some surfaces. But no discernible magnetism leaks out of these drivers.





Many Color Choices

Sony Make Believe headphones come in many  colors, including the black model reviewed here.

Three Sets of Ear Tips

Sony includes three color-coded pairs of ear tips (small, medium, and large).

90-Day Warranty

Back view picture of the carton.
Back view of the carton.

Sony Make Believe DR-EX12iP Headphones Disadvantages, Problems, Cons, Limitations, and Concerns

Must Have Ear Tips

The little flexible cushions can come off the drivers.  Easily lost.

These Sony Make Believe Headphones are a Bit Pricey

These are somewhat expensive earbuds. Indeed most of us hate expense. But you  get what you pay for in this Sony Make Believe headphones.  You get a good-sounding, well-documented earphone.

At between $17 and $32 per pair, based on where you shop, these earphones still cost a bit less than Apple’s Earpods.  They have about as much reduced sound quality as they save you in dollars.

But after having gotten used to the $10 to $15 caliber earbuds, it was at first hard to embrace this added cost over the cheapest units. That is, until we spent several albums listening to out music collection on the iPad Mini through them. this Sony product is a higher class product than sub-$10 earphones we’d enjoyed for years.

After testing a few of those low-medium to low-end models, we now accept that to get truly transparent audio, you simply cannot skimp on your earphones.  Indeed, these Make Believe headphones by Sony are cheaper and sound cheaper. They simply appear as a lower class of headphone than the Earpods. But they sound good enough in a pinch.

In Ear Design Means Less Sanitary

These ear buts are more apt to become misaligned, and though they touch the eardrum and block the ear canal when fully inserted, you still hear the outside sounds pretty well.

Can Hurt Ears

Do not play them too loud for too long.  Why?  Because they can output enough volume to mask out outside noises like cars coming. Plus, long periods of loud listening can damage your hearing.  So we advise against playing these while walking along and crossing busy streets. While they still allow in much external sound, they still, while playing your music loudly, may keep you from hearing approaching cars and trucks.





No Travel Pouch Comes with These Sony Make Believe Headphones

A travel pouch we feel is a needed feature with earbuds. But with a little effort, you can easily  wrap back up your Sony earphones and keep them in a plastic zipper lock bag.

Reduce Outside Noises

May be wrong for certain spaces, where the user would like to hear well the sounds around her. Since these headphones  fully “stop up” the ear canal, they somewhat reduce outside noises.  So you may not hear sounds you want to hear (like your baby crying or husband calling).

Could Annoy Neighbors

On the other hand, the amount of sound isolation goes both ways.  The DR-EX12iP does not keep the music inside the ear very well. So likewise, some music gets out.  So you may disturb nearby passengers on trains and planes, if you play your music too loudly.

Unfortunately, Sony Make Believe Headphones Easily Pop Out of your Ears

The mini size means that they can easily be pulled or jerked out of the ear. Even when not tugged, gravity can loosen them after just a few minutes.  So they need frequent adjustment to keep them well set in the ear for best bass sound.

Probably Not Fixable

Given the small cables and mini plug here, you likely cannot repair these Sony Make Believe headphones. Why? Because the the wires inside are hair-thin. So once they break, they’re done. We don’t mind this for el cheapo earbuds. But we’d like to be able to fix our headphones should they fail.  The more they cost, the more we wish to repair them when they break. Of course!

Picture of the Sony DR-EX12iP Headset Earbuds, carton front view.
Sony DR-EX12iP Headset Earbuds, carton front view.

Specifications for the Sony DR EX12iP Make Believe Headphones

  • Type: Closed dynamic.
  • Driver unit: 9mm dome  (CCAW).
  • Power handling: 100 milliwatts.
  • Frequency response: 8 – 22,000 Hz.
  • Impedance: 16 ohms.
  • Sensitivity: 100 DB/mW.
  • Cord: 1.2M, 47.5 inches Litz cable, type Y.
  • Plug: Gold plated, four conductor plug, which is compatible with iPods, iPads, and iPhones.




Our Rating for These Sony Make Believe Headphones

We’d rate these earphones at 85 out of 100.  Far from the best earbuds we’ve tested, they’re still among the best priced, given their not-so-cheap sound. But they fall out too often and require all-too-frequent adjustments to keep them properly positioned in the ear.   While they’re great for kids and novice listeners, we fear that you’d grow out of these buds quickly.  So we cannot recommend them to any audiophiles or refined music listeners.

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References for Sony Make Believe Headphones

    1. Earbuds, Earphones, and Headphones on Wikipedia
    2. Official Product Support Page
    3. Where to Buy the Sony DR-EX12iP Headphones

Revision History

    • 2019-05-05: Added tags, deleted ad script code, and added subheadings and key phrase targeting for ‘Sony Make Believe Headphones’.
    • 2015-09-28: Originally published.
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