The MDR-EX71 are similar to Apple’s In-Ear Headphones–there’s even an available iPod-matching white finish–but provide significantly better sound quality and noise isolation, mainly due to better eartips. (Several sizes of eartips are included.) Neither attribute is as good as those of the more expensive Shure and Etymotic models reviewed here, but for $45 you can’t beat the EX71 for traveling. Those who enjoy extra bass will be especially pleased with the EX71, as these canalphones tend to add a good amount of oomph to the bottom end.
A small plastic “case” is included, but we found it to be fairly useless for anything other than keeping dust and dirt off the eartips. Since the capsule-shaped case only holds the earbud/driver pieces, the cables are left loose.
Note that the MDR-EX71 use Sony’s “behind the head” cable — instead of each earpiece’s cable being the same length, a single cable goes to one ear, with a connecting cable that is intended to be run around the back of the head to the other ear. Some people love this design; others hate it.
Several feature combinations of the EX71 are available: black (non-WK models) and white (WK models), as well as SP and LP designations. The SP models include a short cord and extension cable, whereas the LP models have a single, longer, cord.–Dan Frakes