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Designing Sony Headphones

A conversation with Sony’s acoustic engineer for headphones

Meet Shunsuke Shiomi, Sony’s acoustic engineer for headphones. Wherever he goes, music and sound quality are on his mind: how people experience music, what music sounds like in different environments and how to improve the listening experience.

Read on to get a glimpse into his world of music, design, sound quality and High-Resolution Audio technology.

Delivering the Best Music Experience

Shiomi’s unique approach to listening to music allows him to deliver the listening experience that music fans crave.

“When I go to a club or a live concert, not only do I enjoy the music, but I also think about how all the different sounds balance each other out and how that music would sound through a pair of Sony headphones,” Shiomi said.

A guitar player himself, Shiomi understands the importance of music in people’s lives and the passion that musicians inject into their songs. Making sure that passion is translated through Sony’s headphones is almost second nature.

Designing the Headphones

There’s a lot of work that goes into making headphones, from the design on paper to the final product. Shiomi and his team build many prototypes and go through hundreds of tests to ensure the best sound quality.

“The reason why I love headphones is that you can enjoy music by yourself, anytime you like, and anywhere you like,” Shiomi said. “It’s very important to recreate the same atmosphere you experience at a club or live performance.”

Part of recreating that atmosphere is making sure your headphones have high frequency capabilities and are compatible with High-Resolution Audio. Shiomi believes that compressed sound files, like MP3s, cannot preserve all the digital information and details that you hear in the original recordings. At the end of the day, Shiomi wants music fans to be able to enjoy every detail of their favorite songs — from the pluck of the guitar strings to the delicate shimmer of a cymbal.

The Inspiration Behind the Sound

Each headphone series has a different target audience and unique design and features that reflect the lifestyle of those listeners. To ensure that each of his headphones produces the best sound quality possible, Shiomi conducts extensive research.

For instance, when designing the MDR-1A headphones, Shiomi and his team went straight to the source for inspiration: the mastering studio. Shiomi talked to the sound engineer and musicians at the Sony Music Studio to gather feedback on the audio equipment used to create the music. These conversations set the quality sound standards that you can hear while listening with the MDR-1A.

Not only did Shiomi research in the mastering studio, but he also sat in on concerts to experience how the sound moved there. His goal was to create headphones that reproduced the sounds you would hear in the front row of a concert.

Shiomi’s research, vision and heart go into each pair of headphones that he designs. Thanks to his craftsmanship, every audiophile and music fan can get their hands on world-class audio equipment.

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