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468 of 487 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable, great for bass heavy music
I recently bought both these and the Shure e3c in-hear headphones (which cost about six times as much). The Sonys are for the gym (where they will surely take a beating and eventually need to be replaced) while the more expensive Shures will be used for my daily commute on public transportation (a generally less violent activity).
I really enjoy both headphones, but...
Published on July 7, 2004 by P. Gunderson

versus
380 of 392 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Explanation of Recent Reviews
You're probably confused about the reviews you've read regarding this product. People either give these earbuds five stars, saying that they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, or one star, complaining about a cord made of jelly. And then there are the people who complain about the lack of bass, but that shouldn't be confusing at all: These people are not inserting...
Published on August 9, 2005 by Tavi


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380 of 392 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Explanation of Recent Reviews, August 9, 2005
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
You're probably confused about the reviews you've read regarding this product. People either give these earbuds five stars, saying that they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, or one star, complaining about a cord made of jelly. And then there are the people who complain about the lack of bass, but that shouldn't be confusing at all: These people are not inserting the earbuds properly into their ear anal. You can ignore these reviews.

The confusion regarding the first two types of reviews lies in when the reviews were written. It seems (from my own experience, and that of others) that around February 2005, which I will from here on refer to as "Day X," the material of the cord was changed. I have no words to describe the digust I feel towards the new material: After a few weeks, it literally turns to mush and starts peeling off. I don't know what Sony is trying to pull, but it's unfair that so many people keep buying these earbuds after reading the good reviews, which happen to be written either before Day X, or before the disintegration starts. It's also quite annoying that those who bought the earbuds prior to Day X keep telling others to ignore the bad reviews on Amazon, as their earbuds have lasted them years. Of course they have! You bought 'em before Day X, people! Oy.

Like the others who are perfectly content, I was totally satisfied with the pair I bought prior to Day X. In fact, I almost went on Amazon to give them a five star review! After a month or two, I had an unfortunate accident involving the earbuds snapping off the cord. That had nothing to do with their quality: It was a fluke. I purchased a new pair around February, and after about a month, the wire resembled silly putty. Attributing this to my carelessness, I got a new pair. A month later, the same thing happened. I didn't have time to deal with the warranty, so I kept this up until I had wasted over $100 on earbuds. That's where I am right now, and I just don't see myself buying these things every month for the rest of my life.

I have to admit that, aside from this enormous issue, I really do love everything about these earbuds, and hence the two stars. The sound is phenominal, with enough bass to surround you in your music. They're so comfortable that once you get used to them being in your ear canal, you barely notice them at all. One cord is longer than the other, so that it can be wrapped around the back of your neck; thus, when you're not actually listening, the buds will dangle from your neck. Finally, they isolate sound amazingly well: If you're not facing someone, you probably won't know that they're talking to you. If only I didn't break my first pair of earbuds! They were made properly, and I would've been content with them for a long, long time.

I have to say that if Sony keeps this up, the horrible ratings of late will finally overpower the great reviews of the past, and once that happens, they'll no longer be able to sell this horrible material on the back of properly made earbuds. Again, I don't know what kind of scam they're trying to pull, but I'm fed up with it. I'm not going to waste $100 every six months for a $25 pair of earbuds. Not anymore, Sony.

Hopefully I've cleared up the issues for you. Do yourself a favor and, at least for now, avoid these horribly made earbuds. Let's hope that Sony clears up the problem so that we can all once again enjoy the great sound these earbuds produce, just as those who bought them a while ago are still doing.

Good luck!
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468 of 487 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable, great for bass heavy music, July 7, 2004
By 
P. Gunderson (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I recently bought both these and the Shure e3c in-hear headphones (which cost about six times as much). The Sonys are for the gym (where they will surely take a beating and eventually need to be replaced) while the more expensive Shures will be used for my daily commute on public transportation (a generally less violent activity).
I really enjoy both headphones, but they are sonically worlds apart. The Sony headphones are a bit easier to insert and sit more comfortably in the ear than the Shures, whose cables have to be looped up and over each ear, newscaster-style. When it comes to ease of use and physical comfort, the Sonys are simply better. Sonically, it is hard to say one set of earphones is objectively better than the other. The Sonys feature a very prominent bottom end while the Shures have tighter bass response and much more mid-range clarity. I would say the Sonys have been engineered to sound "hot" (lots of bass and treble) while the Shures were designed to sound more neutral. In places where a sense of energy is more important than nuance (e.g., at the gym or out jogging) I'd recommend the Sony earphones. For longer periods of more introspective, careful listening, the Shures can't be beat.
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274 of 298 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These are the ones to get..., October 9, 2004
By 
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Initially I went out to find a pair of the 71's but bought these since I couldn't find them. I was really starting to like them when I lost them. Went to buy more and lo and behold they had the new snazzy white 71's, so I got them. I was a little concerned about all stuff I read here about the cord length, and rightly so once I opened the 71's up. No idea what Sony is thinking with that pathetically short cord with the horribly long extension. The connector weighs down the cord and pulls the left earpiece out, and the whole design is just downright annoying. Exchanged them for another pair of the 51's and am pleased as punch. Also noticed that the cord for the 51's is a little stouter than the 71's which I find reassuring. Sound-wise and "tech-specs-wise" they seem identical. Here's a tip for a carrying case: get some Altoids gum in the long/skinny tin box. The box works perfectly for these headphones.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for walking, biking, driving..., August 24, 2004
By 
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I never intended on writing such a novel for a review, but the size and details are quite lengthy and worth considering in your investment...

Super Shipping:

I ordered these on Thursday, August 19th and got them on Monday the 23rd! That is great I think for free Super Shipping.

Cord:

I do find it annoying that the cord is much longer, but putting the right cord behind the neck is not a bad idea. If you think about it, it is kinda like the band on regular headphones - if you need to take them out for some reason just pull and drop so it droops around your neck. I actually found it comfortable putting the cord around the back of my neck. It's only uncomfortable if you don't obey Sony's design team and don't wrap the right side around your neck.

The whole cord is about have the size of regular Sony headphones and all the other basic $10 headphones. It's similar to the Sony street styles' cord. Size: the total hanging size is just about 7 or 8 inches larger then the cord of the cheap $7 basic headphones that also ships with Sony Discmans. So you do get a little bit more freedom. From the splitter you got about 20 inches for the right side, and only 6 inches for the left phone. The total cord size, not including the right phone, just the left phone is 48 inches or 4 foot (1.2 meters). A regular set of Sony's is just about 40 inches (1 meter).

The cord its self seems like it was made of the same material all my headphones I owned did, but like I said before its about have the size since the splitter is on top, not the bottom.

In the package:

1 pair of headphones with 2 medium ear buds all ready put in, warranty certificate, 2 other pairs of small and large ear cushions, and a funky ear phone holder.

Removing / loading cushions is simple, if they are not waxed up. If they are, just cover the cushion with a shirt or other thin cloth for grip and pull to remove. Just push to put a new one in. You just gotta experiment which ones fits the best:

Wearing:

I almost returned these things the first 5 minutes, but now I love them after I found you have to get the right 'suction' using the different cushions. Put in the left phone (shorter cord) in your left ear, slightly push. Wrap the right cord behind your neck once, and insert the right phone in that ear. With music playing. A trick I discovered to get the best suction is to push down on the part of the phones where it has Sony's logo, that seems to be the best sealing method I found. You know you got a good seal when the world around you suddenly seems to be much quieter, you can hear yourself breathing and most importantly: Your music sounds great!

Sound Canceling:

Don't buy these if you are planning on doing heavy walking. You can't hear anything - these things reduced motor sounds and even crickets to barely nothing. It is too dangerous. Another downside is that you can hear slight pounding noises from your stepping. A way to remedy this, however, is to look straight down at the ground. I'm serious! Or just play your music really loud...

Also you can hear muffling sounds that's real annoying from singing aloud or by talking - similar to the force feedback from walking.

Sound Quality:

The hardest part is getting that perfect suction. Once you do, then you write your review. The first song I played was Goo Goo Dolls - Black Balloon at 64kbps, Windows Media Format (WMA) using PocketTunes 3 on my Palm Zire 71 - no EQ sliders were on and no bass. I was seriously about return these things before that song was over, but I guess I finally achieved 'the suction' and it sounded beautiful. And I thought it was because I was playing a 64kbps song :)

Don't expect these to be more then a regular $7-10 pair of Sony's headphones in terms of sound quality (except for bass which I think is richer).

Sound Leakage:

The combination of the "small 9mm driver" and getting a suction are both two important parts of having virtually no sound leakage. I would have to blast my player on the bus to school to deafening levels to counteract of loud chatter and loud radio blaring. Now I don't, because of good sound isolation.

Storage:

And went its time to store your Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones in your pocket, you get a nice looking storage pod. The headphones fit nicely in the pod, which is supposed to protect your phones and cushions from dirt, dust and lint, but when I removed my headphones from their pod after being in my pocket for 30 minutes - they attracted lint somehow! I have to investigate that further...

Pros/Cons/Neutrals/Target Consumers:

Pros - lightweight, sound great, ultra portable, comfortable, blocks out outside sounds very well, sizes for almost any kind of human ear, no sound leakage.

Cons - not intended for walking, waiting for phone calls, cycling, driving motor vehicles because of the sound isolation; getting a suction is some times tricky and requires some fiddling around, don't have a holder for spare cushions.

Neutrals - the 'pod' storage case - I never liked the idea of a winding case for the cord; the different cord lengths - it doesn't really bother me.

Target: Anyone who rides trains, planes, or buses with loud noises and or don't want anyone else listening to YOUR music.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for specific purposes, November 15, 2003
By 
N. Gray "expert human" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I just got these a couple weeks ago, and they are fantastic for some purposes. They are useless for others, so know what you want to use them for:
I travel alot, and these are *incredible* on buses, the subway, amtrak, and airplanes. Outside noise is reduced a great deal, and the sound quality is comparable to cheaper studio monitor headphones. This combination has allowed me to listen to very subtle music (classical and Indian) in noisy environments.
The stethoscope effect is alive and well. It is at most a mild annoyance when walking, and if you position the headphone cord so that it doesn't flop around then it goes away. However, these headphones are NOT for exercising, and they are NOT good if you are eating anything remotely crunchy.
The only other complaint I have (as has been articulated earlier), is that the interchangable rubbery earplug parts do come off. I'm tempted to try and glue mine on, so that I don't have to worry about losing them.
Anyhow, I love these. If you want to listen to music while sitting in a noisy environment, and don't want huge studio monitor-style headphones, these are perfect.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WORTH THE MONEY, YOU CAN'T GO WRONG ON THIS!, February 26, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I did an extensive research before buying these earbuds. I had to think for a few days between Koss thePlug, the 71SL, and these ones. First I liked the shape of these better than the higher end 71SLs. I am always skeptical that Sony products are usually overrated both in terms of price and quality. So I wasn't really sure I want to buy another Sony product (after my huge dissapointment with the w.ear Q22SL) But I really wanted light earbuds for travel, jogging, and casual walking. So I decided to give it a shot. And I am telling you, the size of these earbuds will surprise you with the sound that comes out of it. The bass is heavy, gives the real party hall vibration (if you have ever stand next to a huge speaker at a party). The highs are crip and the human voice is very distinct. The midrange frequency isn't very good, but personally I am not usually very concerned about it. I am more for the bass and highs. I would advice you to go for the $29.99 and make use of their free shipping.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT, April 25, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
The sound from these headphones is reasonably good, but what's the use of that if the "rubber" on the wires starts disintegrating after 4 months? The other reviewers who have commented on this are absolutely right. I have never seen this happen to ANY product I own, let alone a pair of headphones. I would understand if they were called "Sony MDR-EX51LP Disposable Headphones", because that's what they ARE.

After using the headphones infrequently for 4 months, I noticed little random holes in the coating. Now, after a total of 6 months of owning the product, I can see the wiring underneath and big chunks of the coating are falling away.

Conveniently, the warranty is only for THREE months. I called Sony Customer Service, and the woman there ("Val"), said that it's "WAY PAST" the warranty period and I would need to pay $26 to have the thing replaced. HA! I asked her if she herself would be disappointed if she purchased a pair of Sony headphones and they became unusable after 6 months. She hemmed and hawed and finally said, "I have to consider the warranty in these cases. If it's only a 3 month warranty, then, NO, I wouldn't be disappointed at all."

That's great. Well there you have it ... customer-centric service from the Rootkitters themselves. STAY AWAY from these headphones, and from Sony in general.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Biggest, The Best, Better Then The Rest!!, January 21, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
A lot of customer reviews state that there is no bass response from these headphones (most of them ipod users) and this is simply not true. You need to INSERT the phones INSIDE your ear to experience the full sound of the bass.
These headphones are great because they completely isolate you in a world of sound. You don't have to crank you volume up to deafening levels to hear your music over the traffic or ambient noise. Another great thing about the phones is that no one around you can hear what your listening to, unlike most other products, so you can crank your music as loud as you want without everyone staring at you.
The earbuds do need cleaned regularly but they are rather soft unlike other foam earbuds like the Koss's "The Plug", which I had to modify to make it work. I highly reccommend this product to anyone who wants to hear more music and less noise from the outside world.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding--best headphones I have ever bought, January 13, 2004
By 
J. K. Tappe (Wilmington, DE) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I bought a pair of these in advance of a 10,000-mile round trip vacation that involved 8 airline flights. As a seasoned traveller, I'm all too well versed in trying to crank up a walkman, computer, or other audio device to try to drown out the noise of the engines, other passengers, beverage carts, etc. And if you crank up a conventional set of headphones, you end up with ringing ears and temporary hearing loss after such prolonged abuse of your eardrums.
Enter these in-ear "bud style" headphones. They block environmental noise like earplugs and then send their output into the now quieted environs of your ear canal. This lets you not only use a lower volume setting on your device but the sound you hear is much less cluttered. I'm writing this review to say they work every bit as well as I'd hoped when I bought them. The aircraft noise was muted to a distant hum and I was able to hear every guitar string of the songs I listened to and every footstep in the movies I played on my PowerBook. There were literally times when I found myself looking around the airplane cabin for a strange noise I'd heard, only to figure out it was a sound effect in the film I was playing. I'm serious--the sound was that good!
Even when my batteries ran out, I kept these headphones in my ears as earplugs as I read a book. Many headphones cause pain after prolonged use; they cut off blood circulation or simply induce pressure which can lead to headaches or earaches until they are removed. Not these. They come with three different size rubber cups that you can try to find which one fits you best. And because they are rubber, not foam, they are easy to clean and also do not require any "pre-squishing" like other products.
In quick response to a previous reviewer who claimed these had no bass, that is the result of improper use. These cannot be "set" in your outer ear like conventional mini headphones--they must be pushed into your ear canal so they can create a seal. Think of them as earplugs, not headphones. Once you put them in properly, the bass response is quite astounding.
The only possible downside (if you can call it that) to these headphones is their size--they're so small they are easy to lose when not in use. I did misplace mine for a few months and was ready to buy another set before the originals were found. I never even considered a diffferent product I was so pleased with these. I've wholeheartedly recommended them to all my friends and will continue to do so.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sound, comfortable headphones, May 10, 2004
This review is from: Sony MDR-EX51LP Fontopia Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
OK, I just can't pass up what some of these guys who didn't read the directions are saying.
1) Why are the left and right headphone cords different sizes? The answer is so that you loop the longer one (the right) around the back of your neck. When you pop the headphones out they stay around your neck instead of falling to the ground or having to hold them in your hands when you talk to people you run into. I know it's crazy...
2) Why is there no bass on these headphones? If anything these produce too much bass. They have absolutely no problem cranking out Metallica loud enough to make your ears hurt (and still play folk music incredibly well). The only thing I can think of that is causing a lack of bass is if you don't get a tight seal with the ear buds. That's why they give you three sizes because you MUST get a good fit with the headphones to get good bass (or treble as well). You can tell when you get a good seal with the headphones because outside noise will suddenly get much quieter and often when pulling the headphones out of your ear you get a mild popping sensation as the seal is broken. This can even mildly discomforting if you accidentally get them ripped out of your ears while mowing the lawn or working out at the gym. If you read the reviews for the EX70 and EX71 Sony earbuds (same 9mm sound driver) the people there are complaining of too much bass. This product has no problem with bass.
A couple of other points:
1) Sound is very crisp. You will find yourself noticing some of the softer/more intricate parts of a song that you have listened to dozens of times in your car or stereo that you never noticed until you listened to it with these headphones.
2) Very comfortable especially for those of us that listen to music for up to 8 hours a day at work. Your ears don't get sore like they would using normal earbuds.
The only bad thing I would say about these is that they are not industrial strength and will break. The caveat there is the amount of use and abuse I put them through. So after about 2 years I'm not too shocked that my old set is falling apart and I need a replacement.
Needless to say I'm going to get another pair of Sony earbuds.
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