I have a collection of headset mostly because I like to listen to music and audio books as well as watch videos any chance I can find a small window of alone time. Over the years, I’ve been able to amass different brands of headset looking for that brand that meets my personal preferences: lightweight and portable, good sound isolation, and most of all  not overly expensive.

My current brand of headsets at home include a Sennheiser, Bose, Beats and AudioTechnic. I was recently offered a chance to try out the Sony MDR-1R. Sony markets the MDR-1R as “prestigious” family of premium headsets. There are three models in the Sony Store. The unit I have is the entry model priced at HK$1,880.
The Sony MDR-1R over-ear headphones speak volume about what’s important to the target audince for this series of headset: size, fit and comfort. The MDR-1R is light but has a very sturdy feel. It speaks of premium quality. One of the things I dislike about my Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headset if the skull-pinching after just an hour of use.
The earcups are mounted with three-dimensional flex. It takes a little bit of getting used to but once you find the sweet spot (fit), you are hooked.
Included in the box is a carry pouch and two serrated, non-tangle cables. One includes a remote for use with iPhones. The shorter length cable fits most other devices.
In the weeklong test of the MDR-1R, these have traveled with me on the MTR, on trams, buses and just plain walking around town. When indoors (even with the TV blaring my favorite program) listening with the MDR-1R is heaven. The cups provide some isolation sufficient to create the illusion that you alone in your very own theater listening to your favorite music tracks or watching a video with surround sound.I am not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination. However I do enjoy good music and my pet peeve are headsets that can block out outside noise, including human chatter in an enclosed area. Unfortunately I suspect all headphones are designed this way to keep the user from accidentally getting run over by a passing motorist.
WHAT I LIKE
I love the experience of using the MDR-1R indoors. It feels like I am in a sound-proof room where all I can hear is the music I am listening to or the video I am watching – nothing else. I love not feeling like my head is stuck between the jaws of a bench vice. The feel of the soft leather is difficult to put into words.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
My single biggest gripe about the Sony MDR-1R is its inability to block external noise when used outside of the quiet comfort of your room. These are not your walkabout headsets.
CONCLUSION
At HK$1,880 suggested retail price, the Sony MDR-1R is priced to compete against the fashion-driven Beats headset overpriced headset. Without a doubt the MDR-1R bested the Beats headset IMHO. There is sufficient detail (clarity) in the sound quality using your standard iPod or portable music device. If you want a heavier base, more thudding in your head, consider using one of those portable amplifiers.
For my money, the Sony MDR-1R is comparable value to many of today’s mid to high headphones. These are comfortable, stylish and a great addition to your home entertainment system or when you just want to quietly listen to your favorite music.
PHOTO GALLERY

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TECHNICAL SPEC
Type
Headphone Type Closed, dynamic
Power
Power Handling Capacity 1500 mW (IEC*)
Audio
Driver Unit 40 mm, dome type (HD, OFC Voice Coil)
Impedance 24 Ω at 1 kHz
Sensitivity (dB/mW) 105 dB/mW
Frequency Response (Hz) 4 Hz – 80,000 Hz
General
Mass (g) Approx. 240 g (without cord)
Supplied Accessories Inline remote and microphone cord for iPod/iPhone/iPad (1.2 m cord, using PCOCC, Four-conductor gold plated L-shaped stereo mini plug) (1)**
Carrying pouch (1)
Operating Instructions (1)
Remark
Remarks
** Not compatible with all iPod/iPhone/iPad models.

Wikipedia defines Sashimi (Japanese: 刺身, pronounced [saɕimiꜜ]; English: /səˈʃiːmiː/) as a Japanese delicacy primarily consisting of very fresh raw seafood, sliced into thin pieces and served with only a dipping sauce (soy sauce with wasabi paste or other condiments such as grated fresh ginger, or ponzu), depending on the fish, and simple garnishes such as shiso and shredded daikon radish.

Since having my first taste of sashimi in high school I’ve always detested this delicacy. I love almost everything Japanese – Sony, Toshiba, Nikon, Canon, and even Tempura (天麩羅, tenpura, also written as “天ぷら”), a popular Japanese dish of deep fried, battered seafood, or vegetables. I can even have a bite or two of sushi (寿司, 鮨, or 鮓), vinegar rice topped with other ingredients, such as fish, shrimp, eel and octopus.

So why am I writing this? I was in Tokyo from December 17-19 to attend a business meeting. I was invited by my host to join them for dinner Friday evening. The restaurant they picked was Nadaman, on the basement of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. According to my host, Nadaman is famous throughout Japan for the quality of the cuisine it serves.

For the December 18 dinner, my host treated us to a fine selection of Japanese cuisine in true Nadaman tradition. Unfortunately my host had difficulty translating the names of each of the dish that was served so to avoid giving you the wrong names, I will just publish the photos of each dish and let your imagination run wild.

Appetizer

Nadaman Appetizer

First of main course

Nadaman - main course #1

Second of main course

Second main course

Third of main course

Third in the main course

Fourth of main course

Fourth course

Dessert

The dessert

As I said at the beginning of this blog, I’ve never liked sushi much less sashimi. And for the five years I brought customers to Japan to enjoy a traditional meal (or two), I’ve always passed up the chance to eat the best sushi and sashimi in town. But on this trip, I decided I couldn’t say “no” to my host and so I sucked up enough courage and ate my fill of sashimi. And I can tell you, it was worth every bite.

Oishii.

I’ve been doing marketing for many years now and I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of a brand to a business. As a consumer I never really appreciated “brand” as a business strategy at least until I started to equate quality with brand. Quality is not only about the physical aspects of a product. It also reflects upon the soft-side of a product… things like pre-sales and post-sales support. Are you lost with what I am trying to get at? Let me use a real example.

My birthday was coming and my wife asked me what I wanted for a gift. Looking around the only thing I needed was a portable USB DVD drive (reader-writer). So I went to my favorite computer mall and shopped around for what I thought were brands worth looking into. I didn’t pay attention to what I thought were OEM brands and instead opted for those with familiar brand name like Samsung, Lacie, LG, Sony, and Buffalo. There was very little to differentiate the drives – in fact if you didn’t look at the packaging and brand you’d swear they were all from the same manufacturer suggesting not much effort was put in the creative aspect of design. Anyway, I chose the Samsung Ultra Slim External DVD Writer “Super-writemaster” (US-632/633). The retailer said it came with a one-year warranty, “just make sure you got the invoice.”

My wife bought the thing, gift-wrapped it and presented it to me on my birthday. I was very happy. That same evening I unwrapped it, plugged it into my computer, and off it went to work. I burned one DVD containing my archive of photos and stowed the device away. I used it a few more times over the course of the next two months. At the beginning of the third month, the drive stopped working. The light would turn green for a few seconds as you hear the drive motor quietly whirling about. But when the light died, the drive died. I tested it on three laptops – all different brands, each with a different version of Microsoft Windows, nothing.

I tried calling the number on the box. The line was engaged for the five times I attempted to call – different days of the week, different times of the day. Knowing the PR agency for Samsung, I contacted them for help. After several emails I was told that Samsung Hong Kong did not sell this particular drive model in the Territory. So I am stuck with a US$90 brick.

Its not really the money that I care so much about (well, I can be stingy at times so yes money is still important) but its also about the trust you build with the brand. How can Samsung (or your favorite brand) betray your trust and expect you to be loyal to that brand? The excuse that the product you bought is a parallel import is nothing more than an excuse. Yes, its aimed at protecting the local distribution channel I understand that. But what protection does the customer/consumer have when the product was bought from what appears to be a legitimate store?

We are in an increasingly global world where you can buy just about anything from the Internet. Vendors like Samsung are selling on the web as well. But what does it tell you when your favorite supplier renegs on the promise of the brand citing “not bought locally” as the excuse?

I have a 5 year old Iomega external DVD writer. If not for its humongous size, I wouldn’t have asked my wife to buy me the Samsung drive. But old as it is, it still works perfectly each time I plug a blank disc to backup some of my work.

I say boycott brands that don’t honor the promise of their brand regardless of where their product was sold or bought. The obligation (not duty) is on the brand to honor their promise.

One final note about Samsung and the quality of its products. In case you think this is just me ranting my heart out, try Googling “complaints about samsung products” and you’ll be surprise at the results. Go ahead!