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Stunning in many ways.

A Review On: Pioneer SE 700

Pioneer SE 700

Rated # 305 in Over-Ear
See all 1 reviews
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $150.00
takato14
Posted · 1444 Views · 2 Comments

Pros: Very flat response, nice soundstage, excellent imaging, phenomenal detail retrieval, most gorgeous headphone ever

Cons: Lack of bass and treble extension, slightly uncomfortable, hard to drive

First off I adore this headphone. It's the most beautiful headphone I own and it's also the rarest. It has a lot of things about it that make it unique, and it deserves a place in everyone's collection. 

 

While it does not have a 'real' soundstage, it has the best imaging of any headphone I own. The sound is very directional, and seems to emanate from nowhere as opposed to two distinct places on your ears. They are very well-detailed and have fast attack. Decay could be better, but it's not bad. The fast attack and decay throughout the whole frequency range gives them an amazing sense of rhythm. They sound extremely lively and perky, and the whole sound is crisp and clear.

 

These headphones have a remarkably flat frequency response. No peaks, no recessions, just a totally level playing field. However, they don't have a lot of treble or bass extension. They do have bass and they do have treble, but the bass has a very steep roll-off and lacks weight and impact. This is a flaw of piezoelectric headphones; they are phyiscally incapable of reproducing bass below a certain point. The bass that is there is well textured and detailed. The treble doesn't have a lot of sparkle, but it extends much farther than the bass so I rarely notice where it rolls off. 

 

Despite the ridiculously neutral tone and the slight analyticality of these headphones, I can't put them down. I am a moderate basshead, but they are still my favorite headphone, and my best technically. My ears adjusted to them very rapidly and I absolutely fell in love with them. Their awesome sense of rhythm engages me in the music and makes me tap my feet in pleasure.

 

The build quality is also phenomenal. The backs of the earcups are brushed aluminum with stiff steel mesh, the struts/yokes are brushed steel (I think), and the headband is a spring-steel core with a leather sleeve. The adjustments make a satisfying click noise when you move them, and they stay put. The cable is cloth sheathed and very long. The vinyl on my earpads has worn out and flaked off, but hey, they're 42 years old.

 

They do have some downfalls other than the extension issue. They are totally open, so no isolation and massive leakage. They are very difficult to drive, you absolutely need an amp, and a good one at that. They are also moderately uncomfortable as the earpads are thin and they are supra-aural. My pair might be more comfortable than most, because it is my understanding that most units clamp a lot more than mine do... I think the previous owner of mine stretched out the headband because of the comfort issue. They also sound a bit thin at times due to the stifling lack of bass; these headphones do not work with all genres for that reason.

 

If you find a pair of these, I would advise you to grab them. Even if you don't like their sound, they are an utterly gorgeous display piece and are the first piezoelectric headphone ever made, making them an awesome piece of history.

 

Updated 11/24/12

2 Comments:

I am an original owner of this headphone and pretty much agree with your assessment.  Obtained in 1974 after high school, they still sound amazing.  Originally driven through a headphone out (w/ vol control) on a Yamaha receiver until it went kaput.  The subsequent receiver's headphone out simply couldn't drive the SE700's-- a Technics… so, I put the them away until, years later, I acquired an Adcom GFA535 amp (60 watts/ch into 8 ohms).  After doing some research last summer, I discovered that all these 30+ years, the SE700's should be driven via the speaker outs using a Pioneer JB21 junction box.  I snagged one of those on eBay and hooked it up to the Adcom.  All I can say is  … wow… they sound even better than ever.  I did notice, however, that the JB21 box must have heated up pretty good recently as it deformed the plastic top of the unit.  In order to take full advantage of this headphone, you have to really drive them. The volume on the Adcom preamp is always at or a bit passed its center position (3x what it takes for the speakers).  
 
One note about comfort and the ear pads.  The original pads are, indeed, rather flat and tend to sit on the ears instead of cupping them. After extended listening you get that clamping feeling and they just have to come off.  Since mine were old and crappy I went on a vision quest for a replacement.  I finally found a very close fit on Amazon with the Shure HPAEC750 replacement ear cushions for the SRH750. Easily applied with ¼ inch double sided adhesive, these pads are perfection. They cup the ears nicely and relieve the pressure. No discomfort….ever.  So, proper ear pads should solve that clamping sensation. 
 
Very good review. Thanks for posting it!
 
Dave
Hey, my first headphones when I was only 18 and spent my entire summer breaks wages on them! Yeah, they are very nice. Yes, you need a good amp, preferably tubed. I only sold my set because I went the Stax route (second hand Lambda, the Lambda Nova Signature, then SR-007 Mk2s) I kinda miss those Pioneer phones. I got me into this hobby and I am still into it now all 35 years later...
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