Sony PFR-V1 review

Reinventing the headphone

These headphones from Sony are unlike anything we've seen before

TechRadar Verdict

We love these bizarre ‘phones, but wouldn’t wear them on the train


  • +

    Stylish and unique design

  • +

    Strong bass

  • +

    Extraordinary audio experience


  • -

    Quite intrusive for surrounding people

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Sony's PR people were insistent. 'You have to test these headphones, they're remarkable,' they implored. So I did, and they are.

I can confidently say, Sony's PFR-V1 Personal Field Speakers are unlike any cans I've ever tried before. But there are caveats.

Radical design

Sony's loudspeaker engineers have taken a radical new look at 'phone design. The PFR-V1 aren't noise-cancelling headphones, far from it. The principle behind them is to basically suspend miniature speakers in front of your ears and then encourage you to turn up the volume.

They look quite extraordinary. Wired described the design as 'steampunk,' which is about as good a label as you can get.

Metallic ducts are used to deliver bass frequencies directly into the ear canal, while acting as spacers to hold the main spherical drivers away from, but just in front of, the ear.

This combination of direct and reflected sound creates a dynamic and convincing 'live' environment. And with no traditional enclosures, there's zero physical sense of constriction
or containment to the audio.


Naturalistic bass noise and a real enveloping experience.

Excellent for use with a PC system or portable games system/PMP.


Probably the most antisocial headphones I've ever come across. Sit next to someone wearing them and they're as loud and intrusive as you would imagine miniature speakers to be.

Best to get the optional booster which sits in line between the phones and your source. The average personal music player simply can't drive the V1's relatively large drivers.

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