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Sony MDR-ZX-700

Posted

Pros: Style , Comfort , Bass extension is pretty realistic and smooth , Nice midrange , can be modded and scales up relatively well for what it does

Cons: Grain , clarity , frequency balance , build quality

                                                                                       

 

 

 

Hmmm , first review on Head-Fi :D
Alright little information about me , I am 16 from India ..... recently got into HiFi , although I once had the ESP-950 which my Dad bought when he visited the states a long , long time ago anyways my journey began in 2012 fall when I was in the process of finding the "one" headphone yes "one" :P
Well that was the 650 , before that my first headphone or proper headphone was the v6 which died on me so naturally I had to get a replacement and the only possible or viable option was the zx700 which "wasn't" that different from the v6 according to many but ...... this is where things get interesting 

That is enough , lets talk about the good stuff first .......

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of comfort these are fantastic , the clamping is not present at all as a matter of fact sometimes I complain it to be too loose for a proper seal (That is because of time but its nice to mention) , the headband has generous padding but not the same case with the earpads , maybe for saving some money on the foam they made the clamping loose so that padding would not be a concern but with the thin earpads comes excellent sealing , the isolation is commendable compared to the competition , its better than my HM5 (FA-003) known to have good isolation and the Ultrasone HFI-450s.
The build quality isn't bad but certainly I would not go around shaking it or giving it a hard time , I am sure things will snap off and eventually it might break but its not bad .......
Hmmm what else , yeah the SOUND , now you might wonder why the Uppercase , well two things can be assumed either its too good or too bad , for now that is a mystery :P

This part will be precise if you guys want a casual overview of the presentation then you might want to check out the video I did on my YouTube Channel - Right below 

 

YouTube -  


Ok for the people who want a brief opinion ......


Lets respect the ascending order of frequencies shall we :)

 

Bass - I am not a basshead by any means but it lacks in extension , its not loose but nor is it tight .... its having a very poor presentation in general which is just not acceptable considering the other aspects of sound , there is not much else to say here 

 

 

 

Mids - Hmm this is the place where things get interesting , according to Tyll from innerfidelity this is the place where it excelled ... now the very respected m50s are said to be recessed these on the other hand are brutally accentuated , its not smooth or anything like that its just filled with number of uneven spikes around the 3-6 Khz region which make it a tin can in some songs it just sounds like a hollow metal container being hit by a stick continuously some songs like "So lonely" by The Police are close to unbearable , Police songs are usually mastered with a lot of High frequency extension anyways but with the bump before the presence region its brutal I mean its bad , I wish I  had something good to say but ..... no my Treble heavy HE-300s are better with Police :P

 

 

 

Treble - No detail , with the mids they are overshadowed completely , if you listen to songs from Best Coast the Indie rock band (They make music with heavily mastered bass ) I don't know how but it sounds pretty good the mids suddenly become bearable mainly because of the bass , maybe and the presentation as whole is pretty good but ......

 

 

 

Instrument separation - Now I think the word Soundstage should be completely eliminated it confuses me :P , anyways separation is not good it is supposed to be reminiscent to the classic 3-Blob and I don't disagree there .... it just sound terrible , not well defined and even if it was the lack of fidelity makes me wanna listen less 

 
So now its obvious I don't like it and if I end this abruptly I am sure people will not like that so .......I have a lot more to say , now some may say "Hey man you had the v6 so ......... you said they were similar" yes that is true but I never got to compare them and my v6 were always EQ'd with an iPod , I was just a normal listener at that time so I really don't remember the flat sound , some may ask what about gaming with 7.1 ... no , I would not use them for gaming maybe I would if comfort was more important than sound for me , yes this brings us to another thing what was my source ? It was the Xonar Essence STX , all my tracks were lossless with some being 24/192 as well , although I used it in the gym with mp3s and they were just fine with that too , now this is not a biased review at all I own them , so what else to get ? Well , I have a lot of answers .......

Not the m50s (They deserve another "special" write up)

I would say go Ultrasone HFI-450 at the loss of some roll-off up top and a bit bass emphasis in the bass if you want neutral then the HM5 (FA-003 - one of the best closed under 300 IMO) The Uptowns are said to be good as well although never tried them , there is one last thing about the zx it plays nice with EQ ......

 

Conclusion - So its obvious I don't like it , now here its not a case of preference or signature preference its about sound , its not good ...... I don't know why Tyll liked it ? That will remain a mystery for me , anyways you can find me on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/user/MrTechAgent and of course constructive criticism is appreciated , hope you guys liked it take it easy and have a good one :D

UPDATES - 

 

Just changed the pads of the zx700 with some Brainwavz pads ......not a huge difference but certainly better than stock , bass seems to be more refined at the lack of some extension the crazy spike before the presence region seems to be muted now , overall this has turned out to be good ....more opinions coming soon 

 

*

Mod Video on YouTube 

 

 

 

 

Update (June 2014) 

 

I think I was a bit rough , over the days I have gained respect for the sound , before I start I have done some mods so , its not the stock sound .....

 

Take a look - http://www.head-fi.org/t/721577/sony-mdr-zx700-mini-xlr-removable-cable-mod-take-a-look-d#post_10604736

 

The ZX shines when it comes to bass and mids , fantastic texture and extension , the most realistic I've heard in the range and above .kills everything 

The mids and great , quite intimate and warm and wonderfully clear sounding ....its just a great headphone ...classic Sony signature , love it !  

Posted

Pros: great sound quality (balanced, neutral, detailed; deep, tight & well controlled bass; good comfort; feels solid; nice unobtrusive design

Cons: they do get warm after a while

 

REVIEW: Sony MDR-ZX700, Philips Cityscape Uptown, Sennheiser PX 200 II

 

 

Recently I've been in search of a pair of portable headphones. My main use scenario is music on-the-go. I do cycle a lot so I really needed something that would be compact, light and sturdy (in case of accidents) and yet not lacking in SQ department. Amps were a no-go since I want my setup small and simple, so I had to settle for something easy to drive. My budget - €100 / $125. 

 

I chose two candidates: 

Sony MDR-ZX700 (€79 / $99 ) & Philips Cityscape Uptown (€ 99 / $125).

 

I'll compare the two to my girlfriends Sennheiser PX 200 II (€56 / $70) here & there just to give some perspective.

 

 

 

BACKGROUND & TEST PROCEDURE

 

 

I'm a photographer, I love my music on-the-go, I do care how things look on me, but wouldn't call myself a fashionista. Note that I don't consider myself an audiophile and don't have any experience with expensive headphones other than listening briefly in the eletronic store.

My source was my trusty Sansa Clip+ (the thing has been reviewed by many, whats more it has been measured aswell and it did admirably for its size/price). No EQ has been used at any stage of my review (EQ set to normal on the Clip). I've listened at fairly loud level in a silent room.

For the listening test I've settled for 320kbps CBR mp3 files. Why? Well, I've tried in a blind listening test and honestly I couldn't tell the difference between those and the FLAC files. Call me deaf but I think that at this price point, with the source that I have (Sansa Clip+) the setup is not revealing enough to discern any difference. And the battery hit that the Clip gets playing those flac files just isn't worth it.

 

Track list:

Amy Winehouse "Know You Now"; Anna Calvi "Suzanne and I"; Aphex Twin "Fenixfunk 5"; Atlas Sound "The Shakes"; Buena Vista Social Club "Chan Chan"; David Bowie "Station to Station", "Candidate"; Lou Reed "Walk On The Wild Side"; Massive Attack "Protection"; Norah Jones "Sunrise"; Orbital "Way Out"; The Pixies "Bone Machine", "Hey"; Primus "Here Come The Bastards"; Radiohead "Myxomatosis", "There There"; Rafal Blechacz "Chopin Preludia"; Roxy Music "Amazona"; The Chemical Brothers "Block Rockin' Beats"; The Cinematic Orchestra "Flite"; The Tuss "Last Rushup 10F", "Rushup | Bank 12"; The Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil"; Jimi Hendrix "Hey Joe"

 

Please keep in mind that I'm not a native speaker and this is my first review, so be forgiving. Ok, now read on!

 

 

 

BUILD QUALITY & COMFORT

 

 

Philips Cityscape Uptown

 

Philips has made some good effort here. The materials used are of good quality, everything is well put together, the stiching on the faked leather is spot-on and the heaphone makes a good first impression (the retro design is nice too, at least for the Mini Cooper crowd ;-). The earcups are nice & soft (memory foam they say). The faked leather does feel a bit fragile however. So, on the outside everything perfect so far, right? Well there is one thing that bothers me, one flaw that is maybe not a deal breaker, but is worrisome to say the least. The cable. Now I've had some low-fi headhones with terrible cables (Senn HD201 anyone?), but what on earth were those Philips guys thinking?! Honestly the cable is like they've forgotten to design one and afterwards went like: "Well, we still have those old telephone cables in-house, let's use them!". It shouldn't happen at this pricepoint!

The remote thing hanging on the cable works, I've tried it with Samsung Galaxy Note. Pressing the button PLAYs/PAUSEs your music player (the music player launches as soon as you press the button) or answers calls. The volume slider is, well, a volume slider. A bad one. It introduces noises and distortions if not at max level. At max volume level there is none of that however. In general I have no reservations concerning build quality save for the cable. 

The Philips headphones were really comfortable. They don't get warm since they don't touch your ear. It's a real over the ear experience, more like a full-sized cans. They clamp quite firmly, but if you move yor head a lot they do tend to move kind of round your ear and can slide of of your head. 

 

 

 

Sony MDR-ZX700

 

The ZX700's look sturdy. It's an all-plastic and faked leather design but the materials used feel solid. The cable is good too, it's of a round variety, has its weight and is quite assuring.  I would say that the ZX700 induce confidence. 

The fit of the Sony's is quite different compared to the Uptown's. Those are over ear aswell, but there is signifficantly less space over your ear. Actually the earcup is shallow enough to touch your earlobe. I wouldn't call it uncomfortable, but it can get warm after 1-2h of listening. Clamping is good, the headphone sits firmly (moreso than the Uptowns). I have to admit that while on your head the Uptowns do feel bulky in comparison. The ZX700's are compact enough to call it portable, which I cannot say about the Philips. Its not bad or good, its just that while the ZX700's feel compact and sealed around your head, the Uptowns feel more like full-sized cans.

 

 

 

 

SOUND QUALITY IMPRESSIONS

 

 

Philips Cityscape Uptown

 

At first the Uptowns sound signature appeared to me right away. The sound is clear, separation is very good, bass is thumping and rumbling nicely, the highs are prominent and the mids are there aswell. It's all quite detailed too. What I especially liked about them though was that it never felt crowded, there was always room for yet another instrument. The bass never got in the way of the midrange. In busy tracks like Radiohead's "Myxomatosis" they excelled - the buzzing sound that goes throughout the song was dominant, yet  I could still hear the vocal, percussion and hi-hats very clearly. David Bowie's "Candidate" is another example of that - it's a wall-of-sound type of track, but it never felt crowded, nothing got in the way and I could still hear instrument separation.

Now, I must point out that these are the most difficult to drive of the bunch. On too many occasions I had to crank the volume all the way up on my Sansa Clip+ to reach satisfying sound level. There is absolutely no way that these will be too loud with the Clip on any track. So keep that in mind.

 

 

Sony MDR-ZX700 (...and Philips Cityscape Uptown)

 

The Sony MDR-ZX700 is a completely different beast. At first I wasn't impressed. It has a right-in-your-face presentation. There is plenty of detail (more than in the Philips), but the mids can kill you if the volume is set too high. The highs seem to be gone when you come from the Cityscape cans. What I really loved about the ZX700's right away though was the bass - it's clean, fast, detailed & deep when needed. Now I've noticed that some people say these headphones lack in low tones - it's definetely not the case. My previous headphone was Sennheiser CX 300 II - so, bass-heavy-low-mids-mixed-with-bloated-lows-no-highs kind of affair - and I can assure you that the ZX700 has some really good low frequency response. When the track asks for it, it can go properly low and yet it still keeps its tight/fast/detailed nature. When the kick is dominant in a track you hear a KICK, no additional rumble or bloat. I would say it's very nicely controlled and neutral sounding. These headphones are a bit mid-range heavy. It seems that the mids are always a bit up-front, although on most occassions they stay clean and detailed. There is one case where the Philips has the upper hand - it's instruments separation in busy numbers. Especially when it gets busy in the mids (many Radiohead tracks, Bowie's "Candidate" mentioned before etc.) the ZX700 do tend to sound crowded and the instruments separation gets lost in the process. High tones are there, but to be honest they're not exceptional. I wouldn't mind a bit more high frequency response, but I guess it's asking too much from a €79 / $99 set of headphones.

Now, I've said I wasn't impressed with the ZX700 initially. But these headphones grew on me (and they still do :-). The more I've listened to them the more I preferred them over the Cityscape Uptowns. Why? Well, on some tracks the Philips sounds just downright faked and artificial. Take Buena Vista Social Club's "Chan Chan". On the ZX700 you hear the music as if it was played live by musicians in a room. Everything is clear, every instrument is well presented, nothing really dominates in the track. It's balanced and natural sounding. On the Philips Cityscape Uptowns however you get the impression that the musicians are far, far away as if the music was being played in a hall. There is this strange kind of reverb created by these headphones (my girlfriend referred to it as "the music being played in a tube" right after the first listening). This effect is always present with the Philips, it's just that on some tracks it doesn't get in the way and on some - in combination with the boosted highs & lows - it sounds awful. It's never the case with Sony's headphones - when there is reverb/echo in the song you will surely hear it, when there is none, you won't hear one. Same applies to low and high tones. Due to the ZX700 midrange nature all acoustic/guitar/vocal dependant tracks sound really satisfying. The mid-range of the Sony's has that agressiveness to it that the Philips lacks. It's more detailed too - you can clearly hear the texture of the guitars in rock tracks or even the air that's being breath out while singing (Norah Jones "Sunrise").
The Sony MDR-ZX700 are also extremely easy to drive. They reach ear splitting levels with my Clip+.

 

 

Sennheiser PX 200 II

 

The little Senns are not bad at all in comparison. Their signature is far more on the neutral side than the Cityscapes. The sound is nicely balanced throughout the spectrum. They have a fairly good bass extension aswell, but it does get bloated at times, as it gets mixed with low-mids easily. The Senns do get destroyed by both other headphones in detail & instruments separation department however. Don't get me wrong - for their price they're still worth every penny and they easily trash the Sennheiser's CX 300 II in almost every respect. It's just that they don't stand a chance compared to the other two (although if you cannot bare the colored presentation of the Uptowns you might actually prefer the Senns, especially considering the price difference).

 

 

 

WRAP UP

 

 

Wrapping up, it all boils down to the listeners preference. The Sony MDR-ZX700 & the Philips Cityscape Uptown are superior to the little Senns in almost every respect (save for portability). But if you start considering the price/value ratio things do get complicated. I would say the Sony's at €79 / $99 are well worth it, same applies to the Senns at €56 / $70. The Uptowns at €99 / $125 however... If you're after something that would be a good Beats replacement, they're good enough not to dissappoint. They sound good, they look good too (for the style aware ones). Keep in mind that the cable is really dreadful and the way it's attached causes concerns aswell. This is something that I personally cannot accept at this price point, especially if we're talking portable-everyday-use-workhorse kind of headphones. If you prefer a more neutral presentation stay away from them.

The Sony MDR-ZX700 (as you may already tell from this biased review ;-) is my heaphone of choice in this case. Their closer to neutral presentation, their rigid build quality, simplicity & portability in combination with their modest pricing has won me over. They sound clean and loud with my Sansa Clip+ so my setup stays nice and pocketable. I'm not afraid of damaging them on the go (it's just plastic ;-) and their comfort is reasonable for my needs. Every time I listen to them I'm more and more impressed with their performance. Although I must admit (and warn you!) that some of my favourite tracks don't sound as good as I thought they sounded. The truth is when the song is poorly mixed/recorded there is no escape - it will sound dull, flat & lifeless. On the other hand in those rare cases where the track is properly mixed the ZX700 shines. And that's just about enough for me :-)

 

 

Posted

Pros: Sounds good for the price, comfortable

Cons: Not durable

I used these for about three months at my desk at work. The left side went out in that short time. They were great while they lasted.

Posted

Pros: Decent sound, lightweight, comfortable

Cons: No accessories, can get scratched (but not too often)

Decent pair o' cans. I got em 30$ off, so totally worth it. I wouldn't use these for major listening, as they aren't too detailed, but they still have nice sound. They also don't have a case. Not the best portability

Posted

Pros: Nice mids, very easy to drive, very good build

Cons: lack of realistic sound

I had it for a week then sent back, i didn't like the slow and unrealistic presentation.

Rolled off treble made it sound like a tetris with electronic music. It was an acceptable performance

for most of genres, exceptionally good with instrumental music. Very comfortable and it has never been harsh.

Posted

Pros: Light, "fun" sound, nice styling

Cons: Not the most comfortable, all plastic parts

 

I used the MDR-ZX701iP which is the same but with iphone controls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build Quality & Design: 4/5

I like to start off with this category because it is one of the first things you notice about the product. You see how it is presented and what it looks like. These have a simple yet elegant design in my opinion. They aren't flashy, but they also aren't unappealing like other full-sized headphones can be. The structure is entirely plastic, but it feels very solid and I'm not worried about it break or developing cracks like other headphones can. However, over time I imagine the plastic could end up being a weak point. The inline mic is a nice feature for those that want it, otherwise the MDR-ZX700 would be work just as well.

 

Accessories and Functionality: 2.5

I changed this category so that it not only measures the accessories that come with a headphone, but also how the headphones functions in its intended purpose and if the accessories are beneficial. For example, if a headphone is designed for portable use and for traveling, then it would be nice if it folded-up for storage, had a case for protection, and isolated well (blocked out noise).

In the case of the Sony MDR-ZX701iP it is obviously advertised as a portable headphone due to its compatibility with the iPhone. It doesn't come with anything besides the headphones and the tiny sheet of instructions that is included with every electronic purchase I've ever made. Immediately this is a bit disappointing, especially after the great case that came with the Koss TBSE. The headphones themselves do not fold up, and do not have a removable cable, both of which help increase portability as it allows for easier and safer storage. Also while a bit on the small size, these are full sizes, over-ear style which makes them just slightly bigger than others in the portable category. They do have a nice profile and are quite unobtrusive. The isolation is quite nice, as I felt like I was in my own world when the music was playing at a reasonable volume. I could not hear anyone around me and those around me could not hear my music. These are both important thing when looking for something meant to be used in public places. Overall, they don't come with anything extra and they lack some of the things that would have improved their functionality as a portable headphone.

 

Comfort: 3.5

At first I thought these were super comfortable. They have a very well padded, and nicely shaped headband. The ear pads, while pleather, are also very soft and feel nice. My initial impression was that these were going to get an excellent grade on comfort. However, as I've been wearing them, the issues in their design have become present. These have a bit of clamp on the head, but the soft pads prevent this from being an issue. The problem that I discovered is that the depth of the ear cups is a bit shallow, so my ear actually brush up on the inside and this is bothersome, especially for longer listening sessions. If the pads were maybe 1/4" thicker I think my ear would be good and the comfort would be greatly improved.

 

Sound: 7/10

I enjoyed listening to these. Despite what the box says, these are definitely no "Studio Sound Quality," but they are fun nonetheless.

Bass: The bass is solid, and clearly a little more than neutral. It doesn't go quite as deep as others have tried, but the bass that is present has good impact (you can feel when the note hits). It is not the cleanest or tightest sounding bass, but it will appeal to most people.

Mids: I'm not sure what to make of the midrange on these headphones. It isn't bad, but it also isn't anything special. I think what I've noticed is that vocals seem a bit unnatural, making it clear that I am listening to a recording and not a performance.

Treble: The treble is the part that under performs  The treble sounds recessed except for one spike, which I think might contribute to the slightly unnatural sound of the vocals. The treble that is present is nice and clear, but I felt like I was missing details in the music because of the lack of treble.

Additional: If you noticed in the photos, the drivers are angled in a way so that they are aimed more directly at the ear canal. I don't know exactly how this affects the sound, but I thought it was interesting.

Overall: 7.25 (7.75 MDR-ZX700) / 10

At the full retail of $150 I would say these are good, but there are other options worth looking into. If you don't need the iPhone capabilities though, the Sony MDRZX700 Headphones
can be found for around $90, and then these are a very nice option  for the price. While not the most portable, they should hold up well enough if put in a backpack or worn around your neck. I may have said some bad things about the sound, but they are still quite a fun listen. They aren't accurate, but sometimes that makes for a better, more enjoyable headphone.

Worth a try if you like the design and can get them under $100.

Posted
These are great headphones. They isolate external sounds well under the condition that you hear also music but not necessarily high. A 30 to 50% should be enough to isolate almost everything. Without music playing they just reduce external sound but not that much. Sound leakage is minimum. With maximum volume they barely leack any music so they are great for times and places were you don't want other people to be disturbed your music. Comfort is also excellent but they do look big on your head eventhough they are really light.So why not 5 stars? First of all they don't fold at all and they also don't come with a case or pouch. An extension cord is also not supplied.Would I recommend them? For people who need a portable solution with great comfort and isolation and with minimum leakage these are great.

Posted

Pros: Very 'true' to the recording, surprising separation and soundstage for a closed can, comfortable, easily driven, portable.

Cons: Require some amping for the bass presence some may like,do heat up after a while.

These just arrived a couple of hours ago so I can't say anything conclusive yet but so far I'm loving them! I've been wearing them for an hour now (with glasses on) and had no problems with fit or comfort, the cans are starting to heat up a tad though, that could be due to me being in quite a hot room. I find myself preferring my HD598s for most tracks so far but it's a close call on many and for the money I don't think I could have found a better buy! Admittedly there is a slight lack of bass but not to the extent that some people have been claiming. The ZX700s still produce a noticeable and 'thump' when necessary. Definitely far more controlled than the XB line, but that's to be expected. 

Posted

Pros: build, sound, isolation

Cons: comfort, non-removable cord, retail package

I bought this headphone at the sony store in Paris for the msrp of 100euros and been using it for the past 3 days with my iPod shuffle 4g(ALAC), aony nwz-a829(mp3 320kb/s) and FiiO E11. Haven't done any burn-in yet.

2011-12-09-054.jpg2011-12-09-055.jpg

The package included the headphones and only an extension cable(1.8m). NO case/pouch, NO extra ear pads and NO 3.5mm-6.35mm adaptor. I felt they could've atleast included extra pads(stock pads are removable) for the asking price.

 

The build quality is really good. They are mostly made of robust plastic. The headband is covered with fake leather and the spines are plastic aswell. The cups are made of the same plastic and the pads are also fake leather but are very soft and comfortable. Only the silver swively thing(?confused.gif) is made of magnesium alloy. The cable is thick enough so you don't have to worry about damaging it. It is 1.2m long but unfortunately it is unremovable but the right length for jeans/jacket pocket. In hand it does feel(only the feel) a little(very little initial feeling) bit cheap but it does looks awesome!! You can't fold the cups inwards or turn them flat but the phones are very portable. But when you hang them on your neck they will feel kind of tight(atleast for me personallyblink.gif).

2011-12-09-058.jpg

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Out of the box they sounded great with my walkman without amp. The mids and highs are really visible. I could hear every single detail which I never heard with my shure se115. The bass is there smooth but not earth rumbling. Bass lovers may want to look elsewhere. But i can assure you the bass is there. And when you pair it up with an amp it opens up great. The treble rolls out with no distortion nor hiss. You actually don't have to use an amp to enjoy it but my E11 boosts the sq and bass to a new level. The sonicstage is not very wide but I don't care much about it.

 

The isolation is really great and there is very little or no sound leakage at all.2011-12-09-062.jpg2011-12-09-063.jpg

 

Comfortable is a mixed bag for me personally. If you don't use glasses then you will immensely enjoy itL3000.gif. But for me as I can't see w/o my glasses(and I hate contacts) after an hour of use they tend to hurt. So if you are a spectacled user I would say try it before you buy it. If you have 20/20 vision then comfort is not a problem for you and I highly recommend itdt880smile.pngbeerchug.gif.

 

UPDATE: After almost two weeks of use, these became much more comfortable to use than before even with glasses! But mind you after 3-4 hours of continuous use it will become a little fatiguing(as with most other headphones I guess). I am really enjoying these headphones!

Posted

Pros: very comfortable, incredible isolation, excellent sound quality and sensitivity

Cons: painful with glasses

I recently picked up an X-Series Walkman and wanted to replace my old Sennheiser PX200 'phones that I used to listen to my A-Series Walkman with. A friend lent me his FiiO E11 for a day and I bought one immediately. The difference in the Sennheisers was spectacular but I decided there and then that I would need something a bit better. 

 

After discovering this site and scouring the forums and reviews for a few days, I decided to go out with my player and newly arrived amp, and test some headphones. 

 

As I listen to a vast variety of music, I wasn't sure whether to go with open or closed back cans so I tried the ATH-ES5, the Shure 440, Grado SR-80i, and the Sony MDR-X700. 

 

Test tunes that I used were Money by Pink Floyd, Bad Boy Bass by Gaudi, Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli (off Disney's Fantasia), and some twisted-to-buggery psychedelic trance, all in 16 bit WAV format at 1411kbps. 

 

I hadn't yet discovered the FiiO LOD cable, so was using the 3.5mm jack-to-jack connector to connect the Walkman to the E11. I had no EQ or sound processing turned on.

 

The Audio Technica ES5 'phones sounded lovely. The only fault I could find with them was the imperfect isolation.

 

I didn't like the Grados at all. I found them far too harsh in the midrange and, of course, they leak like crazy. Now, I'd read that they leak like crazy but reading it and being able to lip-synch across Tottenham Court Road are two different things...

 

I didn't get on with the SRH-440 cans at all. They kept feeling like they were sliding off my head, though the pads were dreamy soft and the sound quality was lovely.

 

Then I came to the Sony headphones.

 

Audio heaven! The bass was perfect - full-on and punchy when it should be, but never overpowering. The mids are lovely and clear, nice and bright. The highs, again, were just so. Nothing was overpowered, nothing was overpowering. Overall, the phones had a lovely sound and they were the most comfortable of all the ones I'd tried, so I bought them.

 

Since then, I have given them 24 hours of white noise, and then listened to them every chance I get. As the pair I bought have gradually burnt in, the sound has attained some depth and warmth; they were considerably flatter than the ones in the shop but this was to be expected.

 

I can't comment on soundstage; it sounds fine to me but since every recording is different, who's to say whether it's big or small? The classical recording has every set of instruments placed in a different spot, and you can even hear the orchestra turning pages. Again, in the Floyd tune, all the instruments are placed individually - I couldn't tell you how far apart though. It sounds like stereo. LOL.

 

Isolation is superb. I don't need noise-cancelling 'phones on the train - I have a pair of Sony ZX700's. They are driving my wife insane! From outside the office door she can't hear any leakage, and I can't hear her...

 

The earpads are lovely, so long as you have 20/20 vision or contact lenses. I'm afraid that after a while, with glasses on, glasses have to come off and lenses go in, or eyes get shut. That's the only downside for me, really. I like to read with my tunes on, and I don't always want my lenses in. Ah, well; compromises have to be made, eh?

 

I have found, as the days pass and I use the cans more and more, I have been using any sound processing on the Walkman less and less. Unless it's a particularly poor recording or low bitrate, I've found the unprocessed sound through the 'phones preferable. The E11 provides plenty of bass and an extra richness to the sound (and more volume if needed), and the Sony kicks out an excellent signal to begin with.

 

Overall, I am extremely happy with my first "real" audiophile headphones and I've been digging out tunes that I haven't played for years. Get some; you won't be disappointed.

Sony MDR-ZX-700
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Appreciate the true-to-life audio reproduction from the MDR-ZX700 – equipped with 50mm driver units that produces studio quality sound tracks. Ensures accurate sound reproduction with high power input and offers urethane-cushioned noise isolation earpads for pressure-reliving and comfortable fit. 360 kJ/m3 high power neodymium magnets are used to reproduce clear mid-range sounds and wealthy low range sounds.

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