Say what you will about Sony, but they make solid audio gear. Their fancy DAPs are hard to compete with, and many of their headphones have become heavy hitters as well. At $799, the IER-M7 ranks just below the much pricier M9. But it’s still a pretty penny, considering that companies like Shure and Campfire have produced outstanding IEMs for just a couple more hundred bucks. So, will the M7 wow us with a striking new sound? Or is this a true musician's IEM, as advertised, delivering an honest and reliable mix? Let’s find out in this Sony IER-M7 In-Ear Monitor Review.
Reviewing Sony IER-M7 In-Ear Monitor
IN the BOX
All good in this department. Even with the around-the-ear wire, these IEMs are easy to pop in. Perhaps, this is because the memory wire is more of an elastic design that retains its shape. So, you don’t have to spend time moulding the cable around your ear. Sound isolation is also great, and in this sense, I’d put it on par with anything from Shure or Westone.
The IER-M7 sports 4 balanced armature drivers with magnesium inner housing, which minimizes vibration. Unless you’re listening to the Beach Boys. Ugh, sorry. Sony has been very generous here and included a balanced cable, which it has started to do on all of its high performance cans. So, I wanted to live a little, and hook up Sony’s balanced cable to the buds. But I was using the FiiO Q5 DAC, which only had the 2.5mm input. And Sony is married to 4.4mm. So, keep that in mind before committing to a player or DAC.
Now, this is peculiar...When I plugged the M7 into my iPhone, I actually enjoyed the sound more than I did when I hooked it up to my DAC. Maybe it felt tighter and more energetic. Maybe I forgot to take my meds. Who knows. But take it as a precaution. The source seems to effect these IEMs more than one would expect.
I should also mention that these buds aren’t the easiest to drive. And if your phone is the source, you might be at 80-90% volume if you’re dangerously rocking out.
Overall Impressions: Technically skilled, can feel lackluster at times.
In classic Sony fashion, there’s a good deal of low-end presence here. And just to see how low the M7 could go, I played a little Drake. The sub frequencies were there with bells on. But, listening to pop, the bass avoids leaning too forward. So, although the M7 offers plenty impact, folks with bass-anxiety can still sleep peacefully. And listening to rock, the low-end was clean and well separated from higher frequencies, while still giving nice warmth to big tracks. Golf clap.
We’ve got present mids. However, the upper mids have the slight upper hand, causing most vocals to sit forward. That being said, I still got a decent low-mid fix and felt the entire scope of the track. In fact, the separation and layering of instruments is primo, and probably one of the M7’s better qualities. Even in the most convoluted of tracks, every instrument was conveyed with relative richness. And in terms of transparency, these buds get the job done as well; listening to cellos, there was a good amount of texture and a realistic sense of tone.
Violins presented enough nuance and resolve to warrant the price tag. And listening to brass instruments in the highest registers was relatively easy on the ears. So, if you’re easily fatigued by high frequencies, this IEM may be a good choice. That being said, it lacked just a bit of sparkle and snap when listening to percussion in pop songs.
I dig the soundstage on these buds, and it might be one of my favorite aspects of the M7. The precision of the imaging is particularly impressive in terms of width and depth, giving mixes a colorful sense of dimension. I could have used a little more height. But hey, I’m 5’3”. Story of my life.
If you’re new to the audiophile world, the IER-M7 is a great way to enter the realm of high-fidelity. It checks all the boxes in terms clarity, separation, soundstage and balance. You’ll also get a bonus 4.4mm cable to bring your sound to the next level. And if you're a stage musician, you can trust the M7 as well. But if you’re a seasoned audio nerd who has listened to a lot of great headphones, you might find that this very capable IEM lacks just a bit of charisma. That is, there’s no major defining quality that would make this the M7 easily identifiable in a blindfold test. Hmm...Let’s just call it, “understated.”
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