Morimoto: Of the models I designed-the MDR-EX600, EX510, and EX310-those with a regular cord emerging from the bottom (the MDR-EX510 and EX310) proved most challenging. Only when in-ear monitors form a good seal do you hear the sound they were designed to produce. Although the original Sony vertical format would have helped them slide easily into the ear canal and create a tight seal, this time I investigated other approaches to combine the benefits of the vertical format with an even better fit.
What came to mind was an older model, MDR-EX90. Although they're not vertical earbuds, they earned a reputation for being snug-fitting and staying in the ear. I sought a structure in the MDR-EX510 and EX310 that would combine the advantages of both formats. After analyzing why the MDR-EX90 fits so snugly, I noticed that a protrusion at a certain position helps keep the earpiece in place. I added a rubbery bump to the housing, and immediately, the secure fit was even better than expected. It's an example of how a little ingenuity in product design can make products more refined.
Still, making it happen was very difficult. I compared 3D data from the MDR-EX90 and the proposed MDR-EX510/EX310 to determine which parts improved performance and which were not needed. Using rapid prototyping and mock-ups, I checked the fit on a variety of ear models. To adjust the shape, I carved away portions of the mock-ups by hand. Again and again I repeated this process. Of course, I also tested the fit with human subjects. After all, 3D data won't tell you if something is uncomfortable.
?Cord management also took some finesse. Stress on the ear varies greatly depending on how the cord emerges from the housing. Hanging the cord straight down from the back of the housing without any special structure would tug the monitors out from behind, compromising the fit. That's why the cord follows the contour of the housing until it reaches the bottom surface, where it drops straight down.
Komiyama: Headphones must recreate the soundstage, but beyond this, they must capture the original ambience. Purchasing headphones is like buying a ticket to a music venue. The Sony SA series take you to a concert hall, so to speak, and the XB series, to a club. So where do MDR-Z1000 headphones take you? You could say that you've acquired a pass to a professional recording studio.
And with the range of Sony monitor headphones and in-ear monitors available, you can choose the right recording studio for your needs.
We can make this comparison with cars, too. Each driver has his or her own favorite style of driving. Some people drive a sports car to enjoy the speed, and others love the exhilaration of a spirited compact that handles well. In this way, the Sony headphone product line satisfies a variety of listening tastes.
Step into the headphone section at an electronics store, and you may see as many as 2,000 models lined up. From all of these, people have to choose the one set that's right for them. Choosing by price or styling alone makes this difficult, but those who choose monitor headphones or in-ear monitors undoubtedly want the sound sought by musicians or sound engineers. Even within this group of people, values and listening habits vary widely. I want people to pick up the best headphones for their own listening preferences, and I think the only company that can satisfy this range of tastes is Sony.