Sony Fontopia headphones are very poorly made

The Sony Fontopia MDR-EX71SL headphones that I got on the 3rd of March are already broken. This is hardly what you expect from a pair that cost more than $50. The cladding around the wires is made of really cheap plastic that bunches up and breaks down: even under the kind of delicate use to which I have been subjecting them. I was warned too late about how poor their durability is. It makes quite the contrast with the pair of Fontopias I bought in 2000, and which only failed immediately before I bought these ones.

I will try to have them replaced under the warranty. Otherwise, I am soliciting opinions about earbuds that have comparably good sound and dramatically better construction.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

14 thoughts on “Sony Fontopia headphones are very poorly made”

  1. I expected them to be the same as the identical looking pair I had been happily using for the previous six years. Obviously, standards have slipped. I’d much prefer my money back to a replacement pair, but I am guessing I am unlikely to get either.

  2. Milan,

    Why does your stuff always break? Maybe you just blog about it more but it seems like you have this problem all the time.

  3. I would attribute it to a number of factors:

    1) I have more electronics than most people.
    2) I have high expectations of them working properly.
    3) I can tell when they aren’t.
    4) I am confident it’s not my fault.
    5) I am not too apathetic to complain.
    6) I believe I can take some minor revenge by slagging the broken product on a blog.

  4. That Amazon page seems to be full of people giving warning about how cheaply made these things are. Were those warnings not there when you bought them, or did you ignore them?

  5. $150 for a pair of earbuds is more than a bit steep, especially given my newfound experience about how long they can last.

  6. You can get the Etys for less than $100 US plus shipping if you shop around online. They’re very well made and the manufacturer has a good reputation. I tend to rather grossly abuse my electronics and they’ve held up well for two years.

  7. It was suggested by email that I:

    “get the Shure E2Cs.

    They are absolutely fantastic – the same in-ear, high quality, sound as the Sonys. However, they are very well made – the wire is thick, the wire joints are all well reinforced. They are quite expensive, but I’m sure they will last you many, many, times longer than the Sonys.”

    First, I need to find out what, if anything, I can get through whatever kind of warranty the Fontopias may have had. It doesn’t say anything on the box or the Sony website about any kind of warranty at all.

  8. I’ve now spoken with Sony customer service and learned that the problems with the cladding are a ‘known issue’ with the MDR-EX71s. As such, if you send them in with a recent receipt, they will replace them. I’d rather have my money back, to put towards something better, but this is much better than nothing.

    The address to send them to is:

    Sony Central Service
    Sony UK Ltd
    Freepost NAT19792
    Thatcham, Berkshire

  9. If Sony does refund my money, as I am hoping they will, I may just bite the bullet and buy the Etymotic ER6Is. Does anyone know a reputable but cheap online store that sells them and will ship to the UK? They are £68.51 from Amazon.

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