Those now-elusive headphones

I've been running around with Sony headphones, Sony MDR-W08L headphones, to be exact, since the eighties.  Although they invariably fail after three months of ordinary use (as I have said before, obliquely, on Amazon here), at $9 a pair, they were even so an economical way to get GREAT SOUND.  They also had a great, lightweight design, and being headphones, not earbuds, you can whip them off and hang them around your neck so you can do things like, I don't know, talk to people, OK?  Earbuds, by contrast, need to be taken out one bud at a time, and no matter how carefully you wrap them, they tangle into an intractable Gordian knot, by which time your prospective conversational opponent has wandered away, or gotten hit by a bus.  

Unfortunately, Sony quietly phased these headphones out as the defect, apparently relating to a strain point developing in the wires as they exit the body of the headphones, became more widely known.  In my so-far futile quest to find a better headphone, ear clip, or earbud, I've made the following discoveries: #1: nobody makes better portable audio right now than Sony, and #2: every earbud or earclip or headphone I tried has a pathetically flat and tinny sound, except for the Sony MDR AS200 ear clips, which protrude from your ears like alien implants and also which cannot be taken off and hung around your neck, you have to disengage each piece and stash them in a pocket or somewhere, where they again, perpetually, entangle themselves into knots while the conversational opponent wanders and gets hit by the bus.  Even with the failing-after-three-months problem, at $9 a pair, the Sony headphones represented a workable solution.

I called Sony today and was told they can't make the MDR-W08Ls anymore, because they are "moving forward."  
posted September 3, 2014, 12:45 pm

Tantalizingly, these Sonxtronic XDR-8000 Vertical in Ear Ultralight Sport Running Headband Headphones, on Amazon, here,  promised to be what the Sony MDR W08L headphones used to be, but they are disappointing.  First, they are slightly less than ultralight, weighing 0.6 ounce compared to Sony's 0.5 ounce.  Second, they are, inexplicably, longer, with a 44-inch length from apex to plug-in, compared to Sony's 5-inch-shorter 39-inch length.  5 inches may not sound like much, but it's the difference between being able to hold the player or put it in your pocket without a loop of cord swinging around pulling on the earpieces (which happened with the Sonxtronic, but not the Sony).  I'm 6-foot-3-inches, and even on me the extra 5 inches of cord was a drawback, not an improvement.  Still, these were diminishments I could live with.  What sunk the Sonxtronic for me was a small but definite inferiority of sound.  The mid-tones are flatter, and the bass, thinner.  Looking at the headphones, I could see superficial differences between the two: Sony's earpiece is a little smaller and its 5 sound apertures more closely spaced, the Sonxtronic is bigger, clumsier looking with its 5 larger apertures spread wider across the earpiece curve.  I can't tell, of course, what's inside the headphones, Sony's website vaguely mentions, I seem to recall, neodymium magnets, whatever the hell that means, but the Sonxtronics sound is definitely, if only subtly, inferior.  Is it inferior enough to justify the, as of this writing $110 price difference between a new Sony MDR W08L headphones, at $145 with shipping, and Sonxtronics at $35 with shipping?  I don't think so, but even at $50 or $60 for a used Sony MDR W08L from a trusted vendor like The Professional Department on Amazon, I think the slightly better Sony sound, even with the known Sony obsolescence, would be worth it.  
posted December 29, 2014, 7:25 pm

This just in!  Even better would be for Sony to simply resume manufacturing the MDR W08L.  A Facebook group seeks to ask Sony to do just that.  Don't settle for tinny earbuds.  If you're reading this, join the "Bring Back the Sony MDR W08L" Facebook Group here and let's see if we can restore the great-sounding, easy-to-use Sony MDR W08L headphones to the marketplace!  
posted February 6, 2015, 8:24 am

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