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[Review] Sennheiser IE7

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

 

Introduction

 

I have recently gotten my hands on a pair of Sennheiser IE7 which is a real treat for me. These were supposed to be my first pair of good earphones a couple years ago but things never worked out unfortunately but I have finally gotten to hear these. Also I do realize that these have been out in the market for a long time but something that intrigued me was that the IE7 is typically overlooked by it's bigger brother in the IE8 and there really is not that much information out on them compared to other models except for one long appreciation thread (but then again who goes through an entire appreciation thread of that length) and not much reviews out there.

 

One thing I don't like is audio jargon but that's inevitable here. There are times when I have some issues trying to explain what I am hearing as that is not easy to do imo so hopefully you will all understand me. I know some of you may be new and don't understand some of the terms so this link should make it easier for you and imo is the best audiophile dictionary I have seen.

http://www.integracoustics.com/MUG/MUG/bbs/stereophile_audio-glossary.html

 

Background

 

As with the rest of my reviews my background is an important thing to know of so you know my personal biases and what I am familiar with. My signature is up to date and consists of my current gear. My previous gear is in my profile listed by order of ownership or to the best of my memory it is. My personal preference goes along the line of what I like to call neutrality. For reference some of my favorite earphones have been the Audio Technica CK10 and Hifiman RE0.

 

My musical preferences in no particular order are pop, rock, trance, country, jazz and asian pop.

 

Also as a disclaimer for my review everything here is IMO so YMMV. Please do not flame me if you disagree. I also make no attempt to try to write this from a neutral point of view since I do not believe that's possible. I will write it from my experiences and how I enjoy listening to an earphone which means certain preference biases which have already been pointed out.

 

Review Gear

 

Source: Cowon J3, Audinst HUD-MX1

Phones: Sennheiser IE7

Bitrate: A mix of mp3 to FLAC

 

Specifications

 

Frequency Range: 10-19000 Hz

Impedance: 16 Ω

Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW

Connector: 3.5mm L plug

Cable: 1.2 m, symmetrical (earphone to separator: 0.4 m; separator to plug: 0.8 m)

Driver: dynamic

 

Packaging and Included Accessories

 

I usually have something here but since this is a loaner I received the earphones and a pair of tips only.

 

Build Quality

 

The IE7 is a well built earphone. There are proper strain reliefs in all the necessary areas which are the 3.5mm plug, Y split and the area where the cable connects to the housing. There is also a chin slider which is very useful for wearing over the ears as well as wrapping it up. The housing is pretty well built as well and on the bottom of the housing near the cable entry looks like 2 vent holes. On the nozzle is a little mark to keep the tips from falling off which is nice. Also on the nozzle are metal filters which are much more sturdy than cheap paper ones. There is a R and L marking to differentiate from the left and right although the housings are not symmetric so after a while you should be able to tell by the feel of them. The cable is soft, flexible and does not retain much memory of how they are stored.

 

My only real complaint with the IE7 is the lack of a shirt clip and that the drivers do suffer from a mild case of driver flex.

 

IMG_1494.jpg

3.5mm right angle plug

IMG_1495.jpg

chin slider and Y split

IMG_1496.jpg

housing and strain relief area

IMG_1497.jpg

back of the housing

IMG_1498.jpg

vents


Microphonics and Isolation

 

Microphonics should not be a concern if you wear them over the ear. There will be some when you wear them straight down but not too much.

 

Isolation is a bit below average. These are not closed earphones but open so isolation will not be that great. Add the fact that they sound better with shallow insertion and isolation will not be a strong suit for these.

 

Fit and Comfort

 

I have no issues with fit or comfort. They are pretty simple to put on and pretty comfortable. They don't disappear like some other earphones but are not so uncomfortable to the point where it is just maddening.

 

A bit of a caveat however. Those with tiny ears *might* not find them comfortable as the housing does have a pointy side to it and those with small ears may find that pointy area touching their ears and might not be comfortable for them. I have average sized ears so I find that to be a non issue.

 

Sound Signature

 

Note: These were well burned in before I received them so no worries from those of you who advocate burn in.

 

Starting out with the bass the IE7 has a pretty impressive bass response. It has pretty good extension and packs a pretty powerful punch and even offers a nice rumble to those who crave the rumble that come from dynamics. It is north of neutral but not quite at the level of a bass monster. It offers a slightly more powerful punch than what I hear out of my HJE900 but not by much. There is a slight mid bass hump which gives the IE7 it's warmth but it is not overly warm. In terms of speed it isn't as fast as a lot of BA drivers or even my HJE900 but it isn't too far off. I find decay to be quite nice as it isn't lightning fast as some BA based earphones can be. It usually is about right although it could be a bit on the slow side especially in complex passages. Bass as a whole is well controlled and doesn't get in the way of enjoying the music. It's also well defined but as you reach the lowest of lows it does lack some definition.

 

There is a bit of warmth from the bass in the midrange but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I find it to be pretty enjoyable actually. I find the midrange to be where the focus of this earphone is and it was done quite well. It is a bit forward in its presentation but definitely was a pleasure to listen to. The IE7 has a smooth and lush midrange. It also has a good amount of detail however it does lack the small nuances that more detailed earphones can offer but those earphones are among the best universals out there.

 

As we move up to the treble I can finally see why no one regards them as one of the best universals that money can buy. The treble while it isn't bad it does not offer the type of detail and resolution that an earphone at the MSRP the IE7 goes for should have. That does however also mean that they are quite forgiving to those (especially the younger ones here) who have poor quality music files. That being said there is some positives about the treble. There are certain treble focused earphones that tend to border line between sparkle and sibilance and the IE7 is an earphone that does not suffer this same fate. This is not an earphone with a harsh treble presentation or one that will highlight sibilance.

 

The sound stage of the IE7 is quite impressive. It is one of the larger sound stages I have heard in an earphone and it has good depth and width. Due to this large sound stage I find that it does a good job in terms of imaging. Instrument separation is pretty decent as well but is nothing to brag about.

 

Lastly we have timbre. I find that dynamics typically have better timbre than it's BA counterparts and I consider the IE7 to continue that trend.

 

Conclusion

 

I find the IE7 to be a very odd earphone. It does many things well but nothing exceptional. It doesn't engage you like other earphones but at the same time it is not boring. I find it to be a pleasant and laid back sound but it isn't all that engaging to me. I would rather have an earphone that does something exceptional rather than everything well but nothing great.

 

I don't know the current price of these but I'd say anything at $150 or less would make these a good buy as long as you don't need top notch isolation. I would consider these as an earphone to wear at work or when you are at home (and don't have headphones) and don't want to be totally isolated from others.

 

Thanks for reading! If you see any errors or have any questions please let me know.

 


 

post #2 of 25

Yay, finally a write up from someone who has heard a lot of the options I have.

 

Great review Rawster. I've always been a bit curious about these as an often mentioned alternative to the IE8's. You make it sound like the RE252 of bassy dynamics heh.

post #3 of 25

@ rawrster, Nice review,very professionally written as usual and great pictures too. Your thoughts on the ie7 seem to be very similar to how i hear them especially in the treble region and your feeling that while they are competent enough phones they just don't quite grab your attention enough to be satisfying for long if i read your thoughts right.

 

By the way they do come with the same shirt clip as the ie8 

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 

@a_recording: that's partly the reason why I actually wrote this review. There's not that many out there and when I was thinking about getting this there was some long appreciation thread and not much reviews. I'd rather read a review than an impression thread since not all of it will be about sound. I have never heard a RE252 unfortunately so can't really quantify it as a more bassy RE252. I would like to hear a RE252 one day but don't see that happening anytime soon unless someone sells them at a price where I feel I'm losing out if I don't buy them

 

@lucozade: I feel that they are competent enough but just not that engaging. I do have a limit as to how engaging they are or if they have that wow factor. Often times there are earphones that have that initial wow factor but after a while they get boring for me. That typically doesn't happen with neutral earphones for me however. There was never that wow factor for me and just went straight to boring. I think it may be that I do have some earphones just as competent or better but are more engaging. if this was the only earphone in my possession my reaction to them might be different.

post #5 of 25

Nice review! Interesting points. I should be able to hear them soon.

 

Recently I've heard the CX250 which somewhat engaging and I had hope for the other new stuff. The CX281, whilst more technically competent, is not as engaging. Heard people describe the IE6 as boring also. We'll see what I think of the IE7.

 

I will compare the IE7 to my just purchased Xears Bullets. As with my experience with the TD100, the Xears are quite engaging. I am not quite sure about the people who like the Playaz N3 better than the IE8 but the Bullets vs. IE7 will be a good fight.

 

What it does seem like is that the bassier the Senn's are, the more engaging they are. To me anyway.

 

post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

I'll look forward to your comparison then. I did hear about the Xears when james had a thread on them but they were reported to be bass monsters that needed EQ (which means I can't use them with my music server on my computer), and them having bad build quality with a J cord did not really appeal much to me.

 

I may have to agree about the bass aspect however I have never heard the IE6 which is apparently the most bass heavy of the IE series. If I was to choose the IE8 or IE7 from memory of the IE8 I'm not sure which one I would pick however. My preferences clearly are closer to the IE7 than the IE8 but the IE8 is superior although it had a bit too much bass emphasis for me and it would dominate at times when it is not meant to dominate. Also isolation is not the greatest and I would prefer earphones to have good isolation even though there's no universal that will take the place of my Livewires on my commute.

post #7 of 25

nice review of a nice IEM

post #8 of 25

nice review..very informative

post #9 of 25

Gee two nice reviews in a row, good job.  Again you hear these the same as I do.  I would like to add that it is important to get the right fit/seal with these to get the most from them.  A shallow fit and a loose seal is all you want to get the most balanced sound.  For me one of the most attractive features of the bass on the IE7 is how effortless it is, the bass just flows forth.  With some iem's and speakers too the bass sounds like it is forced out of the device but not with these.  Sorry, I don't know how else to say it, hope that made sense.

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 

Well I did have them both at the same time so only made sense to put a review out at the same time :) I didn't like these as much but could see people liking them a lot. It wasn't fun and engaging for me as some other earphones in my possession and was just boring for me. I'm sure others like them better than I do.

post #11 of 25

Well I can't say I was bored with them but I do rank several of my iem's as better.  While I like them they are mid-pack of what I have now and I don't listen to them much.  I don't feel they are worth the suggested retail though. 

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

I think from $150 and under they would be a better buy. There's a seller selling refurb units on amazon and they are legit as far as I know from reports of other users buying from that seller. I consider them boring but that's subjective hence the YMMV somewhere in my review there.

post #13 of 25

I just received a refurb pair from Amazon for just under $100. They sound great and are legit as far as I can tell.

post #14 of 25

anyone know how they compare to MTPG or some other big-brand IEMs in a similar price range?

post #15 of 25
Nice review I totally agree with you thus why I use my super.fi pros muchh more, and to the guy above me theres. Review that was posted on my thread I think and the reviewer stated the ie7s were better than the golds though from what I've read I would enjoy the mtpg sound more than my ie7s
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