Picture of the Sony MDR-V4 Dynamic Headphones, right side view.

Sony MDR V4 Stereo Headphones Review

We’ve owned the Sony MDR-V4 Headphones for several years. This gave us a chance to play them on many CD players, iPads, mixing boards, headphone amps, and stereo receivers.

The MDR-V4 dynamic earphones offer good sound of any unit in their price class. They reproduce the high frequencies clearly.  Not too strong on the bass, especially once you’re used to hearing them.  They sound like the larger, closed back cup V5s and V6 headphones.  In fact, they V4 has a similar look and build to those others.  Though their compact, light-weight drivers produce less bass, they generate crystal crisp highs and loud mid range.  The MDR-V4 earphones offer enough dynamic range to deliver the nearly full effects from media players.

Picture of the Sony MDR-V4 Digital Headphones, lateral view.
Sony MDR-V4 Digital Headphones, lateral view.

The reduced bass output makes these digital monitor phones quite nice for iPod listening.  Why?  Because the iPods are strong on the bass anyhow. These phones compensate for that.  But even with low bass, boosting the bass with an equalizer overcomes this limit  without adding distortion at average volumes.

Given the small cost, we found little to gripe about in the MDR V4 foldable earphones. Except that is, that the pads wear out quickly.  They start flaking after less than two years. We changed them on ours once so far. But you can buy replacement ear cushion sets for under $10 apiece.

So if $15 to $30 is all you’d care to spend, then get these.  We highly recommend the MDR-V4 indeed. For that money, you get a fairly flat and lasting audio headset.

Benefits, Pros, Features, and Advantages of the Sony MDR-V4 Digital Dynamic Stereo Headphones 

Lightweight Headphones

We found these extremely light; especially after having adapted to wearing the Sony 7509 cans for a few years prior. This offering is even lighter than our Sennheiser HD-650 phones.

Long Wearing Comfort

You could wear these for hours at a stretch without discomfort. The music will likely grate on your mind before these phones fatigue your ears and head.

Soft Outside-Ear Cups

There are foamy, soft ear cushions, coated with a thin, highly flexible black and satiny film. This gives them a soft, leathery feel.

Adjustable Headband on these Sony MDR V4 Earphones

Light enough. Plus, the MDRV4s offer a wide enough range of headband adjustment.  In fact, each can does not press too hard against eyeglasses if you wear them. So you need not take off your glasses while listening. Further, the MDR-V4 does not weigh down or bend the temple pieces and frames.

Over Ear Design

The cushions have round openings that work well as an ear-surrounding or over-the-ear design. Yet they rest on top of the ear, rather than going around it.

Drivers are Very Close to Ear Entrance

The soft cushions are small-sized in circumference, but not at all deep. Thus, the front of the driver speaker touches the ear. But again with the overall softness of the pads, this does not interfere with long listening comfort.

Look as Good as They Sound

The unit is black with silver trim. Plus, it has a red and gold “For Digital” sticker on the back of each phone.  This gives them a modern, hi-tech look.

The Sony MDR V4 Headphones Feature Compact, Fold-Up Speakers

The MDR-V4 offers “retractable” earpieces.  These can fold up inside the headband. So this shrinks the overall unit size down small enough to fit in the included black pouch.

Exceptional Headroom

Can play sufficiently loud, with the wide dynamic range over most of the audio frequency spectrum. This makes them particularly suited for widely varying musical volume levels such as found in classical music.

Plenty of Volume, Bass, and Treble

These play loud enough to hurt the ears without any noted gain in distortion or loss in fidelity.

Repairable Coil Cord

While the connecting audio cable is not detachable via unplugging it, replacement is not hard. You can buy new cables from many internet vendors.

Non Symmetrical Shaped Earpieces on the Sony MDR V4 Stereo Headphones

Wear with equal comfort either way (left earphone on left ear, or left earphone on right ear). The angle adjustment on each earpiece probably accounts for this nice feature. Helps when listing to some CDs with the channels reversed.  That is, where they mastered the stereo left and right channels backwards from the original LP or single versions.

Bear Rough Handling Well

In spite of their lightness, these phones seem quite forgiving of abuse. I’ve often dropped them on the table or floor when done listening. They’re not fragile, and thus, hold up well in rough listening environments such as studios and DJ gigs.

Sensitive

Just a little audio power produces quite loud output from these phones. An iPod Touch drives them sufficiently.

Flat Sounds Real

There’s no need to use an equalizer to cut down on the bass response of the MDR-V500 headphones. They sound pretty good with “flat” music sources indeed. They’re a bit strong on the mid-range audio.  Yet they’re not so bad that they require an equalizer.  But one does make them sound much better when you lower the mid-range a little.

Picture of the Sony MDR-V4 digital dynamic headphones, right side view.
Sony MDR-V4 digital dynamic stereo headphones, right side view.

Disadvantages, Cons, Limitations, and Problems of the Sony MDR-V4 Digital Dynamic Stereo Headphones 

Short Life Ear Cushions

The ear cushions begin flaking and pealing only a year or two after purchase. They’ve left little black specks in my hair.

Not Very Noise Isolating

Poorly reduce surrounding noise, which is a drawback of the open-back design found within. They use a metal grill plate that encloses both driver speakers, allowing sound to pass both in and out. Thus, there’s significant audio spill with this model. These make for a poor choice to listen to when other people are close by.

No Gold Connectors on the Sony MDR V4 Stereo Earphones

None were included in this model.  Look like silver or nickel instead.

Non Detachable Audio Cable

The cables are more difficult to replace than they would have been, had they been made detachable.

Not Completely Flat Output

These earphones favor the higher mid-range frequencies. So they can make the ears ring a little after long listening sessions. We have an equalizer to tone it down the highs a bit, and that helps extend comfortable listening time.

Our Rating for the Sony MDR V4 Stereo Headphones

The Sony MDR-V4 dynamic digital ready stereo headphones spell decent audio quality for practically all casual listening purposes. The unit lacks only a few of the features that we expect from a truly great pair of headphones. We wish they had around-ear cans and a deeper, more moving bass. Still though, we would indeed buy them again.  We thus rate them at 90 out of 100.

We found them on eBay and Amazon, although they’re not made anymore. Look for them in a clear plastic box, that shows almost all of them in its front panel window.  The sides and back are mostly black in color.

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References for this Sony MDR V4 Headphones Review

  1. Where to buy   the Sony MDR-V4 Digital Dynamic Stereo Headphones
  2. Where to get     Sony MDR-V4 Ear Pad Replacements

Revision History

  • 2019-04-04: Added tags, key phrase targeting, and subheadings. Shortened post title, url, and many sentences too.
  • 2017-02-24: Revised the tags list.  Changed post title to: Sony MDR-V4 Digital Dynamic Stereo Headphones Review.
  • 2015-10-16: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-09-28: Originally published.