Picture of the Sony MDR-EX10LP In Ear Rock'n Buds Earbuds, front view.

Sony Make Believe MDR-EX10LP In-Ear Rock’n Buds Earphones Headphones Review

The Sony Make Believe MDR-EX10LP Earbuds excel in their punchy midrange, but suffer from weak bass as well as treble response.

The 9mm dome drivers here, while acceptable at reproducing the musical highs without seeming to retreat from the task, the lows, due to the pointlessly small size of these buds, do indeed suffer. What you gain in miniaturization, you lose in richness of sound.  But on the bright side, these earbuds will accept boosted bass from an equalizer at moderate volume levels without egregiously distorting it. So you can restore the reduced bass if your media player has an equalizer.

We’d describe these as a basically FM radio-sounding, in ear headphone, whose ear drivers are too small for to provide both adequate fit and realistic sound; sort of like those transistor radio ear buds your grandfather used when listening to baseball games, though admittedly, these sound much fuller than those private-listening single ear buttons of decades past. The sub-miniature size means that they can easily be jerked out of the ear, and even when not tugged, gravity and slippage can loosen them after just a few short songs. So frequent adjustment to maintain correct positioning for best bass sound is necessary. Also, these needlessly small speakers impart a lacking bass response. However, the tight midrange helps offset the limitations of these cheaper.  No microphone here.  Not sure what subdues the high end so much here, but subdued it is.  So the MDR-EX10LP is better suited for casual music listening than cell phone conversations.    Nor is any remote control function included.  So you’ll be unable to pause your iPod or adjust the volume via the earphones themselves.

Picture of the Sony MDR-EX10LP In Ear Rock'n Buds Earbuds, unpacked view.
Sony MDR-EX10LP In Ear Rock’n Buds Earbuds, unpacked view.

At between $8 and $18 per pair, depending on where you buy, these earphones cost significantly less than Apple’s Earpods model ($29.99), and feature about as much sacrificed sound quality as well.  If you’re at all sensitive to how faithfully your earbuds recreate your music, then up your ante, and forego these for the Earpods.  You won’t be sorry.

Still though, for the casual listener, who doesn’t wish to worry about damaging or losing a costly pair of buds, the MDR-EX10LP headset offers practically everything that’s important, from weak but non distorted bass, to strong midrange, to humble yet perceptible high frequencies. They don’t distort, even when playing an iPad at full volume, though they may not play as loudly as other, larger driver diaphragm models. They insert into the outer ear easily, and remove just as quickly, and wearing them rarely grows tiresome except for the frequent re adjusting if you’re moving about while wearing them.  Plus, their low-mass and flexible cable minimizes microphonics.

Rigid strain relief is provided at each speaker unit, and Sony has incorporated flexible strain relief at the gold-plated 3.5mm plug end of the cord. However, we find no strain relief at each ear driver or at the microphone / remote control. None exists at the Y either, where the single cord splits into two (left and right). Nonetheless, they appear reasonably well constructed for as low-cost as they are, for months, or perhaps years of trouble-free listening, talking, and remote controlling an iPod or iPhone.

Benefits, Pros, Features, and Advantages

Included users manual. Instructions tell of how to safely listen and avoid possible hearing loss, as well as detailed procedures for how to use the built-in in-line remote control and microphone with various devices and services found on Apple and Apple compatible mobile devices.

Strain relief on some joints. Flexible and effective strain relief on the 3.5 mm male plug (that inserts into your audio device).  Each earpiece also features rigid strain relief as well.  However, the cord Y slider has none.

Cord slider. Allows you to adjust how big the Y cable joint is, where the left and right ear driver cables come together into one. This augments comfort and reduces catching and snagging on clothes buttons and zippers.

In ear. The MDR-EX10LP drivers insert deep into the ear, touching the eardrum, for improved fidelity and isolation from surrounding sounds and noises.

Water resistant. Smaller sound ports along with the closed air design, means less exposure of the drivers inside, to sweat, rain, and other foreign debris.

Good fidelity. Reproduces low-mid, midrange, and lower-high audio frequencies well. Not excessive sound coloration or harshness thus, although as noted, the bass and high treble output appears reduced when playing on flat. But in sum, they sound reasonably flat, but can deliver the extra bass or treble you desire, if you apply an audio equalizer.

Visible LEFT and RIGHT channel identification. The left and right earbuds are embossed with easy-to-read L and R letters respectively, located on the rear side of the driver assembly. Easy to find thus.

Symmetrical driver design. Hard to confuse LEFT and RIGHT speakers. The MDR-EX10LP implements 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, producing somewhat higher levels of clipping free volume as the original iPod stock buds for a given volume setting.

Long audio cable. Over three feet of highly flexible Litz audio cable is provided from the bottom of the Y vertex to the plug, and an additional twelve inches of cable from the top of the Y to the drivers.

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

Multiple colors available. The come in numerous colors including black, .

Multiple ear cushion tips included. Sony provides three pairs (small, medium, and large) rubber silicone ear tips, color coded for easy matching of sizes between left and right ears.

90-day limited warranty.

Picture of the Sony MDR-EX10LP In-Ear Rock'n Buds Earbuds, carton back view.
Sony MDR-EX10LP In-Ear Rock’n Buds Earbuds, carton back view.

Disadvantages, Problems, Cons, Limitations, and Concerns

No travel pouch included. However, with a little effort, they can easily be wrapped back up and stored in a plastic zipper lock bag.

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

In ear design means less sanitary. They’re more apt to become misaligned, and though they touch the eardrum when fully inserted, you still hear the outside environment rather well.

Easy to hurt ears. Be careful though, not to blast them too loudly, because they can generate enough volume to mask out exterior sounds like trucks coming. We’d recommend against playing these while walking along and across busy roads, because while they still allow in much external sound, they still, particularly while playing your music loudly, may prevent you from hearing approaching vehicles.

Reduce outside noises. May be inappropriate for certain environments, where the user would like to hear well the surrounding noise. Since these buds “stop up” the ear canal, they somewhat reduce outside noises from being heard while listening. So you may not perceive important sounds (like your baby crying or husband calling).

Could annoy neighboring travelers. On the other hand, since the degree of sound isolation is reciprocal (works equally as well (or not) for keeping internal sound in while fencing external sounds out), and the MDR-EX10LP does not keep the music inside the ear very well. So you may disturb nearby passengers on trains and planes, if you play your music too loudly.

Likely not fixable. Given the highly mini Litz cables and connections here, these earphones cannot be repaired practically, as the wires inside are hair-thin. So once they break, they’re finished. No biggie for el cheapo earbuds. But we’d like to be able to fix our earbuds should they fail, the more expensive they become.

No gold plated connector. A stereo gold-plated 3.5mm male plug would promote longer-lasting, reliable connectivity with less intermittent operation as the plug becomes dirty or corroded.


  • 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, 47.25 inches Litz cable, type Y.
  • Plug: Right-angle, L-shaped three conductor plug, which is compatible with iPods, iPads, and iPhones.  However, no fourth conductor for remote operation.

Our Rating

We’d rate the Sony Make Believe MDR-EX10LP In-Ear Rock’n Buds Headphones ear buds at 82 out of 100. Far from the best earbuds, they’re among the best priced nonetheless, given their more apparently costly sound. But they fall out of ears too often and require all-too-frequent adjustments to keep them properly positioned. While they’re great for kids and beginner listeners, we think that you’d grow disenchanted with them quickly. So we defer recommending them to any audiophiles or refined music listeners, to someone else.  *grin*

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Revision History

  • 2015-09-28: Originally published.