OK when I bought the HP700 I was looking for a portable alternative to the D7000 and for the most part the HP700 full fill my requirement. But to say it’s just a cheaper slightly lesser option would do both headphones an injustice as there is enough difference between the headphones to justify a proper comparison. So I have taken many songs and wrote a brief breakdown of my feeling as I did a direct A/B comparison. As you will see I actually prefer the HP700 for some genres and the D7000 for others so feel they both offer enough differences to justify having both outside of using one for portable use and one at home.
All of my testing was done using my solid state amp from RWAudio and my Little Dot Dac_1 through my computer and my Auzentech Forte 7.1 sound card using an optical out connection. I have also used the HP700 straight from my iPhone and would say it plays well through that source but has the same loss of detail that the D7000 has in this regard, still nice but not at it’s best.
So lets get a few basics out of the way. The HP700 is a DJ style headphone and has the comfort one would expect from that type of headphone, in other words nice but not great. The cable is also more utilitarian versus high end and is half coil and half straight which I like. The D7000 on the other hand has a very nice feeling long cable that is much higher quality but would be impractical in most DJ situation. The D7000 is also extremely comfortable as it lightly hugs the head which gives it an almost open headphone type sound including the loss of isolation.
The biggest thing I can say about the HP700 is how close its bass is to the D7000 in regards to depth and impact (in some songs I think it even has more impact) but with NONE of the boominess I have heard in other small closed headphones including the A100 from Denon and ZERO cavern effect. It just presents a deep controlled bass that is present when it’s in the music and does not color the rest of the sound spectrum.
The next biggest thing is it’s mid-range which is much more forward in comparison to the D7000. If you like the D7000 but wish it had more foreword mids, the HP700 may be just the ticket for you.
Finally the treble is almost as nice as the D7000 but not quite as sparkly and clean. For some this might actually be better but I did find myself noticing and missing the difference.
The HP700 is also a more intimate headphone in regards to it’s sound stage and instrument separation which works to its advantage in some instances and hampers it in others.
But for me the kicker is this is only a $100 street price headphone that comes close to the D7000 and offers a bit of a change up for those who can afford to own both!
For anyone who cannot afford to buy the D7000 or anyone wanting to hear something similar to the D7000 before jumping, these are an excellent option that more closely compare to the D7000 sonically than the D1100 and the A100 (both of these headphones would be a bit more comfortable though) in my opinion.
In comparison to other brands and headphones I would also say these are one of the best bang for the buck headphones on the market. I like them more than the ATH M50 I have heard, my old ATH AD900/700, Sennheiser HD600, and a slew of others. I also like them more than any of my IEM’s from a sonic perspective and that includes my current Earsonic SM3, Sennheiser IE8, Monster Turbine Pro Copper, Radius DDM and others. These deserve a lot more recognition than they get here on Head-fi.
When I did my A/B testing I sometimes started with the HP700 and other times started with the D7000 and have reflected that in my comparisons below. If any of the comments seem disjointed I apologize as I was more interested in capturing my train of thought than good diction and writing technique. I then went back and edited my comments but like to leave some of the original thought flow.
TNT - AC/DC :
- D7000 - the song has nice clean vocals that convey most of the grit associated with AC/DC, the guitars are clear but lack a bit of the growl and crunchiness I expect from AC/DC. The cymbals sound a bit quieter and in the back ground. Bass drums sound clean and have decent impact. If I was to compare it with a concert I would definitely be in the middle rows vs the front.
- HP700 - the vocals are bit more forward and have more grit than the D7000, the guitars have a lot more growl and crunchiness. Cymbals are more present but not in a bad way. Bass is also a more impact-full.If I was at a concert I would be much closer to the front but far enough back I could appreciate the full sound.
- The HP700 is better for the song and this genre due to the mid-range.
Turnip Farm - Dinosaur Jr. – This song has a lot of guitar with some serious distortion and needs a solid midrange and treble to pull the song together.
- HP700 – The guitars have a lot of live and the distortion is well done, with nothing sounding off or missing. The cymbals are a bit further in the background and not quite as detailed as the D7000 but I have to listen hard and do direct A/B testing to notice it a lot. Bass has a lower role in the song and the HP700 is true to that design as the bass is present but unobtrusive.
- D7000 – The lower register guitar sections are a bit recessed but the main guitar is clear and present. Cymbals are a bit clearer and present but not in a bad way. The singing is also clear but a bit further back on the stage.
- I give the advantage to the HP700 for this song due to the clearer mid-range.
Snow – Loreena McKennit
- HP700 – There is a bass instrument playing through this song and the HP700 manage to present this clearly with fairly decent resonance. Loreena’s voice sounds very clear with a lot of her inflections coming through. In my recording you can hear the slightest amount of distortion due to lower bitrate of the song. Showing the amount of detail this headphone provides and the fact it isn’t kind to bad rips.
- D7000 – The bass is a bit more effortless with similar levels of detail to the HP700. Loreena’s voice also sounds very clear with the same amount of detail as the HP700. The D7000 while detailed and revealing doesn’t reveal as many flaws in the song as the HP700. The treble is ever so slightly more shimmering and clear and the overall instrument separation is better do to the larger sound stage.
- This song sounds better on the D7000 due to the larger sound stage. But was still impressive on the HP700.
As I Roved Over – Loreena McKennit
- HP700 – This song has a strong bass component to it that the HP700 conveyed strongly with great resonance. The midrange was also cleanly carried with Loreena’s voice coming through clearly along with the other instruments in the song. The highs were also clear and the sound stage was well done as was the instrument separation.
- D7000 – The bass of this song was slightly deeper and more resonant in comparison to the HP700. The midrange was slightly darker and smoother but still conveyed Loreen’as voice clearly along with the other instruments. The highs were also slightly cleaner. The sound stage was larger and instrument separation was also a bit better.
- Like the other song by Loreena the D7000 sound better due to the sound stage and instrument separation as well as a bit better bass. But the without an A/B test I would be very happy with the HP700.
Hotel California – Eagles
- D7000 – The bass line was a bit subdued but present and clean. The singing sounded a bit recessed but clean, guitars also come across as a bit subdued. Cymbals are more present and seem a bit out of place in relation to the rest of the music.
- HP700 – The bass line is very similar to the D7000. The guitars are more present as is the singing. Cymbals are not quite as bright or forward as the D7000. I do notice that the extension of the HP700 is not quite as big as the D7000.
- The HP700 again trumps the D7000 due to the more forward and detailed mid-range plus the smaller sound stage actually works better for this genre of music.
Your My Thrill – Diana Krall
- HP700 – Diana’s voice is fully preset with all detail and intimacy of the song thrill, you can hear her breathing as she sings. It’s like she’s singing to only me. The piano has great tonality and sounds very natural. The bass in the background has nice presence and body without sounding out of place. The cymbals sound very clear and present and again natural and sound about right in regards to the rest of the song.
- D7000 – Diana’s voice again sounds very close and intimate but a bit further back like if I was at a Jazz club a couple rows back from the front. The piano and bass are not quite as clean as the HP700 and not quite as forward. The cymbals are slightly cleaner and a bit more present.
- It’s a draw as the HP700 are so much more intimate but the D7000 gives the effect of a jazz club which is nice in a slightly different way.
Miss Otis Regrets – Patricia Barber
- D7000 – The bass of the song was clear and precise. Patricia’s voice also comes across with a sense of vibrancy with nice detail. The guitars have a nice vibrancy as well and cymbals sound very nice. The song does seem to be smoother than on some headphones in regards to the sense of urgency the song conveys as it goes along.
- HP700 – The bass is slightly harder hitting but with the same precision. Patricia’s singing is more intimate with better detail and nuances. The guitars also have a lot of very nice detail. Cymbals are clean and nice presented but are not quite as lively as the D7000. The song better conveys the urgency of the song as it plays through.
- Patricia Barber seems to be a more intimate performer so is better served by the HP700 with its more forward midrange.
Smile – Nat King Cole
- HP700 – Nat’s voice comes across very clearly with a lot of nuance but the instruments almost feel a bit to close. The recording I have also has the sound production of its day which is a bit to revealing with the HP700.
- D7000 – The song has very detail in regards to Nat’s voice but the instruments sound much better placed and the D7000 don’t reveal all the flaws in the recording making it sound much more pleasant.
- The HP700 almost acted like a magnifying lens for this song whereas the D7000 just allowed me to enjoy the music.
Rudy – Supertramp
- D7000 – The beginning railroad tracks sound nicely realistic. The piano throughout the song is clean and sounds very organic, the bass is clean and resonant and the guitars also sound very nice. Cymbals are clean and very realistic sounding. The singing is also clean but a bit recessed. The sound stage is nice and works well with the railroad tracks at the beginning and the speaker announcing the trains in the second half of the song. There is a wonderful instrument separation throughout the song.
- HP700 – The tracks are a bit closer with more detail making you notice them longer at the beginning of the song. The piano’s again sound very clean and organic but with a bit more detail and clarity as do the guitars. The singing is more forward. The whole song sounds more forward with a smaller sound stage. The train announcer sounds a bit clearer but not at the expense of sounding to close. The instrument separation is not quite as clear as if the band is playing at a smaller venue.
- Overall I like both headphones for this song as the D7000 gives a large concert feel and the HP700 more of a smaller stage feel. One is grandiose the other intimate.
Two out of Three Ain’t Bad - Meatloaf
- HP-700 – This song is driven by the piano and Meatloaf’s vocals and the HP700 brings both forward very well. But the cymbals sound a bit off with almost a bit of echo. This may be the revealing aspect of the headphone of a bad recording though.
- D7000 – The D7000 takes this song and does everything the HP700 was doing in regards to complimenting the best aspects of the song but much more smoothly and effortlessly. It has better cymbals.
- This song like Smile just sounds better on the D7000 as it doesn’t magnify it’s technical issues.