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Fake Sony MDR-EX90EX confirmed. - Wolfgang Fener [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Fake Sony MDR-EX90EX confirmed. [Apr. 11th, 2008|03:12 pm]

I finally got my real MDR-EX90LP directly from Sony today and had a chance to compare it to what I bought on ebay.

This is confirmed, the MDR-EX90LP sold on ebay by good_shepherd_closeouts  is a fake (probably coming from Han yu electronic. Chances are ALL "brand new" EX90 sold on ebay are fake.

Difference number 1 : Impedance is not the same. Measured using a Fluke 73 multimeter the fake measures about 33 Ohm and the original measure 17 Ohm (this is a DC measurement, hence the small difference with Sony's spec of 16 Ohm at 1KHz). Any cheap multimeter will allow you to do this test, just measure on the connector between the metalic part close to the wire and the tip. If you read above 20 Ohm, for sure you got a fake.

The fake plays louder but of course the sound is very bad. The real sony is not full of thumpy muddy bass and the highs are clear. I'll wait at least 24 hours before writing a full review of the real MDR-EX90LP, allowing some burn-in time but right out of the box, it already sounds way better than the fake. I paid 150 can$ + taxes for this, a bit too expensive compared to other availlable offerings in this price range but I'll gladly keep this EX90 in my collection. It is a good pair of earphone. Here's the link to my Cnet review.

Open the original box and you can smell the leather. The fake uses a good faux leather which doesn't smell like the real thing but looks nice nonetheless. The fake pouch is also softer and doesn't feal the same.

The wires are rubberish on the fake, almost elastic. The original use quality, supple and non tangly wires. The ear tips are also thiner on the original and a little bit harder to put on the earphone.

The aluminum is machined on the original. The fake is probably casted into a mould. On the fake, there's tiny lines in the metal only on the side of the cylinder. On the real one, there's tiny lines everywhere. On the real original plastic case there's a mould marking and a "2". Not on the fake.

On my original, the Sony trademark is black but the print quality is better. I'll try to capture this detail on my macro photos later. There's also a few other visual details I'll show side by side on the pictures like the marking on the connector and the small gray band of plastic from which protrudes the golden metalic part of the connector (thicker on the fake) but for now, I said enough so you will be able to authenticate your pair. The original earphones I got directly from Sony doesn't exactly look like the Sony website picture but it is the real deal for sure.

Here's the link to my Ebay guide (in construction). 

Here are the pictures. Clic to see more details. :

Unless otherwise noted, the real original is at the left and the fake is at the right.


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From: (Anonymous)
2008-04-15 07:37 am (UTC)


I have been looking for updated review between "latest" fake EX90 and the original one for a while and finally found your site. I haven't even realized the fake one includes the leather case until then. Although I did get the real pair long time ago, it's still good to know they can't copy every details of those headphones!

Thanks a lot, man!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wolfgangfener
2008-04-15 01:11 pm (UTC)

Re: Great!!

For the sake of exactitude : the fake includes a *leatherette* case. It is a quality immitation so some people may not notice this at first (but the smell doesn't lie).
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Re: oooooo - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: oooooo - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2008-04-17 03:32 am (UTC)

Chinese Copy

It's funny to see that both are actually made in China but sold in USA, it prove that American are not even able to make a good fake and have to rely on China for doing them.

Both metal body are machined aluminum, but it is easy to see with your pictures that the copy has a much thinner anodization, since anodization cost increase with thickness it's easy to understand why...

Also finishing of the metal part is clearly absent on the copy the edge are almost sharp

Also the Sony imprint on the fake is only an ink film, on the original it seem to be printed used a technique called Tampo Pad Printing (like a computer keyboard)

Nonetheless you have to admit that my Chinese brother are very good at sucking American money ;)

Great work!

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From: (Anonymous)
2008-05-16 06:02 pm (UTC)

Great Review!!

Thanks for the info.
I almost bought it on eBay for $20...
No wonder they are so cheap...
Thanka again!
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2008-05-19 07:43 am (UTC)

Re: Great Review!!

These Chinese ones only lack to duplicate the mother, because of remaining portion not surplus nothing!
I almost bought this excrement also in Ebay !!
Thanks for the info.
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Re: Great Review!! - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2008-07-06 06:44 am (UTC)


I was so close to buying one of these from huiloveyan1314 on eBay cause the price was so low, but something just felt weird about it. I then did a quick google search and found a link to this site on cnet reviews. I'm sorry that you got ripped off, but I really appreciate you posting this information.
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-08-27 07:58 am (UTC)

fake or real?

great review my ass. on what basis are u judging these as fakes? where are your supporting evidence? posting comparison pictures does not prove anything. such a n00b...
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-09-01 02:19 pm (UTC)
thanks for making this guide :D
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-09-18 10:18 pm (UTC)

can you review this?

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From: (Anonymous)
2008-10-22 03:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the help! What do you think the chances are that the $62 ones on Amazon.com are genuine?
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-03-11 08:04 pm (UTC)

From amazon.com is real but...

I just bought one from a personal seller at amazon.com and yes they were fake. =(
I bought it for 30 bucks.
The case smells weird not like real leather.
If not for this site though I might have mistaken them for real.
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-10-25 09:54 am (UTC)
damn... i've got those x phones now -_-
i'm from germany and i bought it from a british seller in eBay.
but these fakes are really good..

i mean the sound is okay (for 26€) and the appearance looks exactlty like the original for example the package.

it's sad to say this but i'm satisfied with these x phones ._.

but to be honest i want real sony mdr ex 90
and i don't know how to handle with fake items on eBay
do i have to give the seller a bad rating ? do i get my money back ??

here is the link : http://cgi.ebay.de/SONY-MDR-EX90-LP-EARPHONES-MP3-PSP-RETAIL-BOXED-UK_W0QQitemZ320312596677QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item320312596677&_trkparms=72%3A1229|39%3A1|66%3A2|65%3A12|240%3A1318&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14
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[User Picture]From: wolfgangfener
2008-12-12 04:15 pm (UTC)
Just tell you have good reason to believe these are fake. You will then have to return it to the seller to get a refund.

Since I didn't check for UK, maybe you could first verify with Sony UK if they have an authorised seller on ebay uk... I doubt it but maybe.
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-12-01 10:35 pm (UTC)


Believe or not, even the "real" Sony headphones are made in China. Thanks for the article though.
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[User Picture]From: wolfgangfener
2008-12-12 04:12 pm (UTC)

Re: Rahul

and this may be the reason why it is so easy for some unscrupulous chinese to make those copy.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2008-12-06 03:22 am (UTC)

Thank you; this was incredibly awesome resource

I'm on my third pair of these (keep losing them), and I decided to go the Ebay route to save money. What do you know ... RIPOFF. I opened them up and saw all the warning signs off the bat--poor machining, gray insulation, 35 ohm (!!!!!) impedance and TERRIBLE SOUND QUALITY. Thank you so much for providing such a great resource for conscious consumers.
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From: dan_zz
2008-12-28 09:42 pm (UTC)

Fake Sony MDR-EX90LP now better copies?

The fakes are getting better! I just bought two pair of fake Sony MDR-EX90LP on eBay. The package looks identical to Wolfgang's real photo. Some, but not all, of the other details are getting cleaned up too. This must be an ancient Chinese secret or something? :)

I received an email from an eBay member that asked if I had the real thing. I never even entertained the possibility that these might be fake, so I investigated. Thank you for the article Wolfgang. They're fake alright. I measured an impedance of about 32 ohms at 1 KHz. Wolfgang's test with a common ohmmeter works well too.

My investigation came up with the following:

For $4.80 (minimum 10) fakes go to -

For Genuine $35.00 (minimum 10) fakes go to -

For a photo that seems show a different earphone, see the cnet review at -
In the cnet review the shape of the outside end of the earphone is different, includes the letter "R" inside the endcap, and the word "SONY" looks engraved (not black ink). Why is this so different from the fakes and Wolfgang's real phones?

The fake leather case will melt if touched with a hot soldering iron. Real leather won't melt.

My story -
After buying two pairs of phones on eBay, I was so impressed with the sound that I ordered two more pairs. A comparison between the fakes and some lower cost Sony earbuds ($50) proved the fakes sounded very good. Just after placing my second order I got the inquiry as to whether these were the real thing. As soon as I discovered these weren't real I contacted the seller. He cancelled and refunded my recent order and gave me a 50% refund on my first order. He pulled his listings from eBay too. That's $12.50 each for two good sounding fakes. This was a fair compromise and an education for me. I can't say I'm happy, but I'm not furious either.

This whole situation reminds me of the television show What's My Line.
Would the real Sony MDR-EX90LP please stand up? :) ...err...uh...I mean speak up?
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-01-04 02:08 pm (UTC)
On Ebay also midgetjones225 sells a fake MDR-EX90LP. :-(
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-02-01 02:47 am (UTC)

Does Sony even care?

I contacted Sony about a Canadian eBay business selling the EX90 model and asked if this seller was legit.

Note the low price and "Genuine leather case" in the description. Are the fakes coming supplied with genuine leather cases now? Could be.

Sony's reply:
"Unfortunately I can not speak to the validity of a product sold by an unauthorized or personal reseller. I recommend purchasing the product either directly from Sony or from one of its authorized resellers such as Best Buy or Frey's (edit: I assume Sony meant Fry's). I have included a link to a page on our site where you can purchase a definite authentic pair of EX90 head phones."

duh.. Of COURSE they want you to order directly from them at full retail. That's a given.

What stood out to me was that Sony didn't bother acknowledging the link I provided to the seller's page (the agent probably didn't even check it), nor made any mention of their desire to pursue "unauthorized" resellers. It makes one wonder whether Sony is, in fact, going after the fakes at all or if they're leaving it up to us to decide what's legit -- based solely on price, apparently, since we almost invariably cannot listen to them or make electrical tests prior to purchase.

Sony should release a blanket statement regarding fakes, be it targeted at a specific market segment (i.e., eBay) or a specific price point -- e.g., Any brand new, unopened EX90 normally selling for under $65 (my arbitrary value) from a non-individual (i.e, a business entity) is almost certainly a fake.
I say "normally selling", because there would need to be some mention of special circumstances such as liquidations where inexpensively priced high-end models might indeed be genuine.
An individual offering a low price on say one or two units might simply be desperate for quick cash (moving, rent is due, etc.), so one cannot automatically assume individual sales are bogus.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-02-03 05:42 pm (UTC)


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[User Picture]From: jazzycat0818
2009-04-03 10:06 pm (UTC)
I really have to say thank you for posting this.

I am EXTREMELY pissed off. The seller on E-bay screwed me.

As soon as I opened them and tried them, the sound was lesser quality than my $10 2 yr old JVC Gumys.

After comparing EVERYTHING to the photos, every single fake matches with mine.

Thank you thank you thank you.

I have no experience with buying electronics and I would have never known.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: jazzycat0818
2009-04-03 10:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, and my seller was Zoaxis.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-04-17 09:48 pm (UTC)

How bad are the fakes?

Thanks, for the useful comparison.

This confirms that the earbuds I bought on eBay are fakes, but I am not so sure that the sound is as rubbish as you suggest.

I am no audiophile but to me they sound rather better than the $10 you suggest, and I am not too displeased for the £13 (23$CA) that I paid for them. If longevity turns out to be OK I shall be satisfied with them.

Han Yu currently seems to be asking $35US (42$CA) each for a ten-off batch.

A pair of genuine Sony MDR-EX71SL would have cost me more and I wonder whether they would actually sound any better?

Do you have an opinion on this? Or the facilities to do a proper sound comparison?
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2009-04-23 07:09 am (UTC)

Re: How bad are the fakes?

There's more to a fake pair than just inferior aesthetics. They are cheap for a reason: numerous corners are cut in their design and manufacture to keep production costs to a minimum.

Everything is inferior to the genuine article, from the quality of the materials to the fabrication techniques and equipment employed. These two items affect performance and reliability/durability.

The corners cut and the degree to which they're cut will vary among fake models and their manufacturers, of course. As an example, I recall seeing side by side images of real and fake high-end phones (can't find the link), where the poster had opened them up to show differences between their guts. You could clearly see inferior, inaccurate adhesive/mounting of the voice coil to the diaphragm in the fake, and the driver was smaller.

The impedance almost invariably does not match the real phones. Impedance is a function of dc resistance (as in a carbon resistor) combined with a/c reactance (of concern here is inductive reactance of the voice coil). While reactance is less of a concern at audio frequencies than say radio frequencies, it exists nonetheless and can make a small difference.
There may be fewer or more turns of wire, or smaller gauge wire, etc. The magnets used will also be inferior. The cheap drivers won't have as good performance characteristics as the real units, notably sensitivity and power handling (e.g., distortion may crop up at lower levels than the real ones).

The cord(s) will likely be made of cheaper materials and may therefore experience internal opens sooner than the real deal. The plug may have a much thinner (or zero) gold plating; if thinner, it will wear off with fewer insert/removal cycles; if no gold, it's more prone to oxidation and poorer contact with the jack tabs over time.

All these things and more add up to a significantly inferior product. As for initial sound quality, if your hearing is up to par and you like how the fakes sound, give a test listen to the real phones of a friend or in a store (be sure to use new cushions/caps) and be amazed at how much better they sound.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-05-20 07:21 pm (UTC)

These fake Sony headphones are now really good.

I bought some that I thought were genuine until I opened the packet and (thanks for the tip-off) realised that the pouch was not leather and it had the Guang Tong press studs on.

The headphones themselves are quite well made from turned metal, no scratches. The workmanship is pretty good. I think the giveaway is that the 'SONY' print on the aluminium is not straight, they are not lined up with each other and not that clear.

The fabric over the sound-hole is also not on straight when you take the ear buds off.

The lead is also well made, with all the right mouldings etc.

The box also has the right printing on and looks exactly like something you would buy in a retail store.

The other giveaway is that they sound awful, horrible boomy bass and not much scratchy treble. Much worse than a basic pair of Sony's that I have.

I bought them from an ebay seller who I won't name, I got a refund. I think it's reasonable to assume that 99% of the EX90-LPs on ebay are fakes.

But most of his customers don't seem to have noticed, they seem to like them and like the sound of them so there you go!

So here goes with the pics of my fake ex-headphones:

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