Accessory Review: Sony Earbuds with iPod Controls

Sony has been well known for manufacturing many electronic products like the PS3, audio systems, laptops, computers, and headphones. I have personally trusted Sony headphones to deliver quality sound to my ears for the last 4 to 5 years of my life. I have owned the Sony Earbuds with iPod Controls, or MDREX38iP (38iP) models, for about a full year now, and have used them constantly. Through my year of using this pair of headphones, I have learned that they have a great design, deliver above-par audio quality, have unbelievable build quality, are extremely comfortable, and are well worth their money.

What’s Included

  • Sony MDREX38iP In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic
  • 3 Sets of Earbud Tips
  • Cord Adjuster*
  • Carrying Pouch*

This picture includes everything that came with these headphones minus the cord adjuster

Technical Specifications

  • Drivers: 9mm neodymium drivers
  • Frequency Response: 6-23000Hz
  • Impedance: 16Hz at 1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 100dB/mW
  • Gold plated L Plug


As I already stated, I’ve been using Sony earphones for the last 5 years of my life and I’ve seen just about every design that Sony has offered customers on their headphones. This includes the design on the MDREX36v (36v) headphones. I’ll actually talk more about my pair of 36v headphones later on in this article.

With that said, I’d just like to go out to say it; Sony recycled this design. I actually like this design, so it’s not going to hurt the score. Sure, I would have loved to see a new design, but if it works, why change it? The design on these headphones is not too flashy, but it’s not dull either. The outer part of the headphones is a glossy silvery-black color, while the inner part, the part that faces your ear, are just black. The whole headphones and remote are constructed of black plastic. This makes the headphones very light. The wires do seem to look a little thin though.

The Sony 38iP headphones offer a design that isn’t too flashy, but isn’t dull either

These Sony earbuds look great and do have a nice design to them that is both familiar and pleasing to the eye. Sony did a beautiful job designing these earbuds… again.

Design: ★★★★★

Audio Quality

Sony has always had great audio quality associated with all of their headphones; I have always loved them because of this. They feature a unique signature to them that is perfect for rocking out with, literally. That’s what they are best for.

Sony’s headphones seem to really go towards the mids more than anything else. The bass is there, it doesn’t boom, but doesn’t have too. This was always something that I liked about the bass of Sony’s, they were just right. Although I do wish they were a little louder. Just a little though. The mids sound great with the Sony headphones. They aren’t perfect, but still good nonetheless. The treble is barely noticeable. It’s there, but just not noticeable at all. Something that needs to be added to have that extra sparkle to the headphones.

The noise isolation in these headphones is not the best either. I would call them average at best. Like the mids, they are there, but at the same time, absent. With them in, I would estimate that the headphones block out about 20% (max) of sound. If you are buying a pair of headphones for just noise isolation, I’d look elsewhere as this is the worst part with these headphones.

Sound Quality Breakdown:

  • Bass: ★★★★½
  • Mids: ★★★★
  • Treble: ★★★
  • Noise Isolation: ★★★½

Now to microphonics. The microphonics on these headphones aren’t the best. They are there and you can hear it. They are really bad, however, I normally wear headphones underneath my shirt, so it does get rid of it.

Sony does a great job incorporating their signature into another pair of headphones. Since I do listen to rock and alternative mostly, the signature works perfectly for them. However, the lack of highs and noise isolation will take a huge hit on the audio quality score. The other main thing that will reduce this score are the microphonics. Don’t let the score fool you; it still has great audio quality.

Audio Quality: ★★★½

Build Quality

Remember when I told you we’d go back to talk about the MDREX36v headphones? Well I wasn’t lying. So let’s go back 3 years ago when I first got them. These headphones are exactly like the 38iPs with some small changes, like the remote and mic. After using my 36vs one day, I forgot to take them out of my pants and left them there. I remembered after I had finished my laundry… And found a pair of 36vs in my pants pocket. These headphones went through the washer and the dryer for about 2 hours round-trip and worked afterwards. Actually, they still work today. They sound just like my 38iPs, no jokes. Sony has always been great with build quality on their headphones, I’ve owned my 38iPs for about a good, long year now and it’s still running strong.

Now let’s get back to talking about the 38iPs. The wires on these headphones may seem thin, but they don’t break easily. The construction on these headphones is nice and sturdy, yet they still remain very light. The gold plating on the headphone jack ensures that the headphone jack will resist corrosion, allowing these headphones to last just a little longer.

The gold plated headphone jack ensures that they will resist corrosion

Sony headphones in general were made to last. Every pair that I’ve ever owned has lasted me at least 2 full years. I’ve owned four pairs, and 3 of them still work today! Sony works hard to make sure that these headphones will last through anything; I give them kudos for doing so.

Build Quality: ★★★★★

Comfort Quality

These headphones are comfortable. It’s comfortable to insert them into your ears, which is rare for any IEM headphones. It’s comfortable to use them after you put them on, even after a few hours. These headphones are, say it with me, just plain comfortable. After a couple minutes, you’ll forget they are in your ears.

Comfort Quality: ★★★★★

Value for Money

The 38iPs MSRP at $39.99. However, online shopping has made jokes out of MSRPs, so with a website like Amazon, you can actually get a pair of these for 30 bucks. Even at 40 dollars, these headphones are well worth the price.

They have great audio quality, are extremely comfortable, and have amazing build quality. The build quality is the other reason why I purchase Sony headphones. They just seem to last me a long time. They have good sound and lasts, what seems like, forever.

The headphones also contain a built-in remote and microphone. Just like the remote and mic on the Apple headphones and IEMs, this remote and mic allows you to play, pause, skip, go back, scrub, use voice control, and lots more without interacting with the actual iPod. This can be done with gloves on as well, which is a plus for Touch and iPhone users. However, this still requires a newer iPod. If you do not have an iPod that supports these functions, I would suggest you actually get the MDREX36v earbuds instead of these. They are about 10 dollars cheaper and sound exactly the same.

These Sony earbuds offer users a remote and mic on supported iPod and iPhone models

These headphones are well worth their price. They are affordable and just have great quality associated with them. However, the lack of treble and microphonics does make for a small decrease in value. Sony definitely made these headphones with a bang for the buck.

Value for Money: ★★★★½

Final Thoughts

Although it isn’t the best at isolating out noise, the Sony MDREX38iP headphones are an amazing value at 30, or even 40, dollars. They are built with quality and last a lifetime, not to mention they just sound great. They are an all-in-one package at an affordable price. Sony did a great job with these headphones and I’m really pleased with them.

Final Scores

  • Design: ★★★★★
  • Audio Quality: ★★★½
    • Bass: ★★★★½
    • Mids: ★★★★
    • Treble: ★★★
    • Noise Isolation: ★★★½
  • Build Quality: ★★★★★
  • Comfort Quality: ★★★★★
  • Value for Money: ★★★★½

Overall Score:

Available on Amazon

† All prices are in US currency unless stated otherwise.
This review was written by the Review Team. Overall scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
All applications and accessories were purchased at their respective prices unless stated otherwise.

*According to SonyStyle’s website, the cord adjuster and carrying pouch aren’t included anymore. Don’t be surprised if yours don’t ship with them.

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