I didn't post my impressions yet but I am going to give some insights, as I am still exploring this new headphone. My impressions are mainly based on the O2+ODAC combo that I finished building this week.
Short story: Is the HD700 an upgrade to the MODDED Q701? Yes! Is it worth the money? Mmmmm... Definitely not $1000 nor $850, but in the $650 bracket... It's gonna depend...
My experience: Disclaimer, this is just my personal opinion and may differ from others opinions.
I will start saying that the modded Q701 and the HD700 are more similar than different, and I'm not even kidding. That said, first time I put on the HD700 I said... BRRRRRR, me don't like this!! But I decided to keep them a little bit more and keep comparing them, and they've been growing a lot on me for several reasons. Going point by point:
- The HD700 is definitely darker/warmer than the MODDED Q701. The bass is more emphasized in the former in all the range of frequencies, but specially on the subbass. I didn't like this at first, but when I put the Q's back I miss some of that subbass in some recordings, even though I don't consider myself a basshead. The bass can be overwhelming at the beginning coming from the Q's.
- Vocals: The Q's have a really funny effect on female vocals due to that peak in the treble around the 2kHz. Although I have to admit I enjoy that peak and sometimes even miss it, the truth is that sometimes it can be painful at medium-high listening volumes. In other words, you cannot reach the same volumes with the Q's because female vocals are so prominent that somehow take the main role in the songs masking other instruments. The HD700 feels weird in comparison at the beginning but in the end is more natural and the voices sound more integrated in the music.
- Soundstage: Due to these two previous points the soundstage is slightly bigger in the HD700 and positioning is better. On the other hand, the soundstage presentation is different as well and somebody might not like it.
- Instrument separation: The clear winner here is the HD700, although some instruments may lay a little bit in the back due to that valley around the 2kHz.
- Detail retrieval: I found the HD700 to scale better with the source than the Q's. The detail is very slightly better. I would need to check other sources but it seems I am not making this up.
- Compared to other headphones: The HD700 is just in between the HD650 and the HD800. HD600 is more similar to the Q's. Just for the ones wondering, the HD800 is above, way above the HD700 (specially soundstage and detail retrieval).
As a conclusion: The HD700 is a better all rounder than the Q's. There are songs (not all) that just sound better in the HD700. It is very very difficult to justify the $450 (or $650 or $800) of difference. The Q701 is a great headphone at the great price ($200 or less used). For those thinking between the HD700 and the HD800, I would consider the HD700 between $450 and $650, and at a higher price, I would consider saving for the HD800 if you could get it between the $900 and $1250. I wouldn't pay retail price for none of them.
Final note: Even more and more curious about the HE-500 right now. The more and more I read I consider the Hifiman more as the real contender.
Let me know if I left anything in the inkwell.
Edited by Ashade - 1/17/14 at 10:47am