The quest for definitive stereo music reproduction finds a new acoustic chamber with the...

Sennheiser HD 700 Headphone

Rating:
4.30357/5,
  • The quest for definitive stereo music reproduction finds a new acoustic chamber with the Sennheiser HD-700. Using Sennheiser's mastership of acoustic properties, the HD 700 delivers an advanced acoustic DNA never before heard in headphones. Sennheiser engineers pulled out all the obstacles to create transcending headphones that recreate and restore your music excitement. Beginning with an angled transducer, the 700 angles sound to mimic the positioning of a set of reference monitors. This, in tandem with the DuoFol diaphragm, provides a wide sound stage with ultra-fast response and rest times: close your eyes and you are in the front row. A great headphone transducer is only half of the equation. Sennheiser's acoustic team used the HD 700 project as motivation to obtain a cleaner, purer sound in unconventional ways and thus the patent-pending ventilated magnet system was born. By venting the magnet laying behind the diaphragm, airflow was properly managed and overall turbulence was minimized. This advancement did not add to the sound- but subtracted an artifact from it. The results? Purity. The outer transducer chassis was also considered as a component of shared acoustic duty. By utilizing a specialty steel mesh molded to the natural shape of the acoustic sum, the open-aire system remained pure while properly directing airflow. These techniques combine to support the impeccable capabilities of the transducer with world-class, practical acoustic management. Borrowing a design cue from the flagship HD 800, the HD 700 also utilizes a vibration damping frame-- strategic layering of materials to aide in eliminating unwanted resonances from entering the acoustic chamber. The culmination of these technologies lends to the warm, detailed, balanced and utterly revealing sonic signature that is luxurious and practical for the audiophile

Recent Reviews

  1. Pharron
    The HD700 is an acquired taste
    Written by Pharron
    Published Jan 10, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Exceptional sound stage; Incredible detail; Punchy bass; Unmatched comfort
    Cons - Overly analytical sound at times; Vocals can seem distant; Treble peaks can bother some
    The HD700 has been on the market for some time now, so most of its strengths and weaknesses have long since been covered. To my ears, this is one of the strangest headphones out there, and so I’ll try to explain why this product is so polarizing.


    First off, Sennheiser is a giant in the world of HiFi headphones. There one of the older manufacturers, and they produce some of the most coveted headphones on the planet. Seriously, they make the benchmarks that all other headphones are measured by. Many of their products have been on the market for decades, and they’re still at the top of most people recommendation list. So why are the HD700s regarded so poorly?


    The answer to that question is the subjective nature of our perception of sound. Our ear are all unique, and so are our taste. Some folks like cherry jelly beans, and others like those foul black ones. Some folks like Taylor Swift, and others Beethoven. While a few of us like one thing or the other, most of us are somewhere in between. Our tastes are broad. In my opinion the HD700 was not made for broad tastes. It serves a very limited slice of preference. If your likes fit into what it’s serving, you’re in for a treat, otherwise your going to despise the 700s.


    After trying every type of genre, I feel fairly confident saying that the HD700 works best with instrumental music. Music made with real instruments that are not enhanced or synthetic. Genres like Classical and Jazz are a dream on these things. Genres where the vocals are the focus fall short.


    All this comes from the sound signature Sennheiser has built into the 700s. The one thing that has confused me with 700s is they seem to shift in quality based on what genre or even song within a genre I’m listening to. One minute I’ll think these things are terrible, and then when the next song comes up, I think I’m hearing sonic greatness. It’s strange.



    Before we dive into sound though, let’s talk about build and comfort. In this category the HD700 is in a league all by itself. Especially for the sub $500 price. All the material are high-quality. Much nicer than what’s found in the HD6xx line. The construction is primarily plastic, but it still feels premium. The weight is blissfully light, and it’s easy to forget you’re wearing them. The clamping pressure feel is almost non-existent. The ear pads are soft and plush, and the ear cups are enormous. Just about about any ear shape or size should be accommodated. About the only complaint I have is with the cord, which is well made and braided, but too stiff and thick. It feels very durable, but it often gets in the way, and I would probably replace it if I was going to own a pair of these.


    Lows:

    The low end is punchy, but it doesn’t dig deep into the sub bass frequencies. It rolls off like most dynamics. With the bass, the graphs all show a slight bass extension, but with the way the treble is presented, I hardly notice. I found it adequate to render instruments accurately, but nothing beyond that. It’s quick, and detailed, but it’s not full and rich.


    Highs:

    The treble on HD700 is superb! That is if you enjoy sharp treble, which I do. I want to hear all the detail of my music, and in this area HD700 does not disappoint. It’s a very capable headphone, and the driver provide holographic imagine. Seriously, it’s an experience. These things are very positional, and even though the sound stage is not enormous like the HD800, it’s still much larger then the HD6xx models. They’re so detailed that it actually works against them on some recordings. If a live recording as a little noise in the microphone you hear it. It’s not subtle, and sometimes it becomes so distracting it’s hard to appreciate the music you’re listening to. Still, it’s impressive how resolving these things are. They may lack all the attributes required for a complete HiFi package, but when it comes to detail they are very competitive at any price point. If unrelenting detail is what you’re after, you will be pleased with HD700.


    So what’s wrong with it? The problem stems from dip( more like a hole) in the response from 1k to 4k. This makes vocals seem distant and thin. All the smooth vocal presence that the HD600 is famous for, is completely missing here. I suspect, when most people try to raise the volume in order to hear the vocals, they end up pushing the treble to uncomfortable levels. Like I said before though, if you’re listening to instrumental music, you’ll never notice what’s missing.




    Can you fix them with EQ? I couldn’t. Nothing I did seemed to bring the sounds of HD700 back into balance. These things are an acquired taste




    Comparisons


    HD 600

    Vocals on the 600 are much better than the 700. This is not because of a lack of clarity. It’s because the position of the vocals. They’re upfront with the 600s, and recessed with the 700s. From the graphs you might think that the 700s have more bass, and perhaps they do. I hear more with the 600s though, this is probably due to the excellent mid-bass of the 600s.


    Audeze LCD2.2

    There’s really no comparison between these two. LCD2 is a far superior headphone. The bass of the 700 is not even in the same league of the LCD2. The highs are much more pronounced on the 700s, but they’re sweeter and easier to listen to on the Audeze set. The two areas where you might prefer the 700s are in sound stage and comfort. In these areas the 700s are the winner.


    Hifiman HE560


    I would say that the HE560 is much more musical, and it definitely has deeper bass response. That said, I may prefer the 700, as its detail is so much better.
      Justin0505 likes this.
  2. BigBadBirdman
    Great for Opera and Orchestral Music
    Written by BigBadBirdman
    Published Oct 2, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Fantastic soundstage and big orchestral sound
    Cons - Sound changes with ear cup placement, high price
    Introduction

    The Sennheiser HD700 is a controversial headphone. It is the most expensive headphone I own and in many ways, it is my favorite. Others do not like it at all.

    The main problem for me is the sound changes depending on how it is situated on my head. When I bought the HD700, it sounded muddy. After 3 weeks of trying to burn it in I was on verge of returning it for a refund. I decided to give it one last try and found that if I removed my glasses and moved the ear cups back and pressed them inward, the sound dramatically changed. Suddenly the sound became crystal clear and it had the best soundstage I have ever heard from a headphone.

    There have been many reviews of the HD700 and nobody else has had the problems I have, so maybe there is a chance I got a defective unit since I bought it used.

    I use the HD700 primarily for opera, choral and large orchestral. I have 5 other headphones and I use others when listening to small orchestral, chamber, or solo piano.

    My Setup

    I use CD, Blu-ray, and DVD as my sound source. I mostly use a Marantz CD6005 but sometimes use an Onkyo C-7030 as my CD player. I use a cheap Sony Blu-ray player for video.

    I drive all my headphones with a Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amplifier. However, when I purchased the HD700 I was using the headphone jack from my CD player and it sounded fine.

    The HD700 is designed for home use. I do not use any portable listening devices and do all my listening exclusively at home.

    I primarily listen to opera and orchestral music. The other headphones I currently own are the Sennheiser HD600, Audio Technica ATH-MSR7, Beyerdynamic DT-990, Beyerdynamic T51i, and Philips Fidelio X2.

    My speakers are the Apogee Centaurs driven by an old Carver solid state amp and a passive preamp. I live in a small condo, so I cannot play my music very loud without disturbing the neighbors. I do most of my music listening with headphones and use the speakers for movies and television.

    Sound Quality

    I would characterize the HD700 as a warm sounding headphone. It has more upper bass and lower midrange than my other headphones. This can be a problem on some recordings but it can make a big improvement on others.

    The biggest flaw with the HD700 is that the sound changes with ear cup placement. With all my other headphones, you can just put them on your head and listen. With the HD700, I have to jiggle them around, push down on the ear cups, and move them around some more. Small adjustments to the ear cups make a huge difference in the sound quality. Since I wear glasses, this makes getting the best sound from the HD700 even more of a challenge. Sometimes it can take me a while to find the ideal position.

    I notice that nobody else has remarked on having problems with ear cup placement being such an issue, so maybe it is a problem with my particular unit.

    The Highs

    I find the treble on the HD700 to be one of its best qualities. It is detailed and well extended. I have found a few recordings where the highs sound harsh but that is something I attribute to the recording, not the headphones. Some of the older reviews for the HD700 complained about the treble quality but I have not had any problems with it. I find the treble is well extended but not overly prominent. In fact, the treble volume is lower and less harsh than my Beyerdynamic DT-990, Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 and Philips X2.

    The Midrange

    The midrange is smooth and warm. On some recordings the midrange can sound muddy due to too much warmth. On other recordings, it sounds just right.

    Most headphones I own have a big dip in the lower midrange and upper bass that accentuates the upper midrange. The HD700 does not have that dip. The warmth of the midrange can make some recordings that sound harsh on other headphones sound lush. On the other hand, some recordings with too much lower midrange can end up sounding a bit muddy.

    On Stravinsky’s Pulcinella conducted by Pierre Boulez, the sound was real grainy on my HD600, DT-990, and X2. Changing to the HD700 completely transformed this recording to a lifelike concert experience.

    The Bass

    The bass if full, extended, and warm. It does not have the big impact of the X2 but it is more detailed and textured. When I listen to the video of Giulio Cesare conducted by William Christie, the lower strings sound fantastic. It sounds like sitting right in front of the orchestra pit.

    On the Mozart Requiem conducted by William Christie, the bass was thin and anemic on the HD600. When I switched over to the HD700, it was big. It was like I was sitting in the front row of the concert hall. It entirely transformed the sound of this recording.

    Soundstage

    On some recordings, if you have the headphones just right and the volume set correctly, you can get the best soundstage I have ever heard from headphones. On the Giulio Cesare video, you can actually hear that the orchestra is in the pit and the singers are on the stage.

    On the Ariodante recording conducted by Alan Curtis, you are surrounded by the orchestra as if you are on the podium and the singers are in front and above. You can hear every instrument in the orchestra and they sound like they are all coming from a separate location. You can hear the texture of the instruments, especially the lower strings.

    Conclusion

    The Sennheiser HD700 is the most expensive headphone I own. I purchased it for $400 “used” from Amazon Warehouse Deals in January of 2016 and there are many excellent headphones available at or below this price point.

    At its best, it is the best sounding headphone I have heard but it is also the most frustrating. It can be very hard to get it to sound its best. I need to get the ear cups positioned just right and the volume setting needs to be precise. If the volume is too loud, the soundstage collapses.

    The HD700 is pretty comfortable but I prefer the HD600 and DT-990 for comfort. The HD700 sounds best with a good seal and wearing glasses compromises the seal which makes it more difficult to get good sound. However, the HD700 is the headphone I use for the majority of my Blu-ray opera recordings, so it is work the effort as far as I’m concerned.

    The Sennheiser HD700 is the fussiest headphone I own but under the right conditions it can be the most rewarding.

    Addendum

    I have invented a modification for the HD700 that addresses the problem I have when wearing eyeglasses. It is super simple, easy to install, and it does not involve destroying anything on the headphone.

    Simply wedge a piece of cloth or tissue paper into the top of the ear cups so they do not pivot.

    When you do this, the ear cups will not seal against the side of your head. There will be a big gap on the back and the bottom of the ear cups and you will need to increase the volume due to the lack of a seal.

    I find that this not only makes listening with eyeglasses more comfortable, but it improves the sound stage and imaging.

    If you own the HD700 and have had some of the problems I have mentioned, you might give it a try.

    IMG_3661.JPG IMG_3663.JPG
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  3. ganzosrevenge
    Sennheiser with a Sledgehammer
    Written by ganzosrevenge
    Published Jan 27, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - In-Yer-Face, LOVES the PONO, easy to power, not as distended soundstage as HD800
    Cons - Can be harsh / in yer face, reveals poor sources / media, somewhat high impedance,
    Sennheiser HD700: Sennheiser with a Sledgehammer
     
    Sennheisers of the HD6xx and HD8xx line have a tendency to be fantastic reference headphones with ample soundstage that generally share one (or both) of the following two tendencies: An expansive soundstage with exquisite detail reproduction, or the ability to find their ways into studios as reference headphones for listening, mixing, and editing recorded audio. They also have a tendency to sound veiled at the high frequencies regardless of their analytical nature. The HD700, one of Sennheiser’s high-end headphones, seems to buck this trend; eschewing reference quality for a more “Grado-esque” sound generation. This more “in-your-face” approach has made it one of the most polarizing high-end headphones on the market, and I’m going to write this review as a first impression; primarily focusing on the empirical, and about 20 to 25 hours of “break-in” having been done. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I KNOW THAT THIS IS NOT A FULLY BROKEN IN HEADPHONE.)
    This review will focus on the HD700 as a headphone used in the PONO player, and in comparison to my Sennheiser HD598 that have been upgraded with a Moon Audio Blue Dragon cable. I’m going to, as applicable, compare the sound quality, portability, and even how the PONO’s battery life is affected between the two headphones. I will also go over less “audio-important” aspects such as the presentation of the headphones, the cost, and whether the price : performance ratio validates one, or both, headphones in one’s headphone arsenal. Before this review goes further, I’m going to lay out the specs of both headphones.
     
    Sennheiser HD598
    1. Color: BEIGE / Brown
    2. Impedance: 50 Ω
    3. Build: Plastic body, faux leather headrest, velour pads, steel ear-grilles
    4. Driver Size: 40mm
    5. Sound Range: 12hz – 38500hz
    6. Weight: 270g
    7. Jack: ¼ inch Jack included (Moon Audio Cable has 1/8 inch jack)
    8. Head Connector: twist-in 2.5mm jack
    9. THD: 0.1% (1khz / 100db sound pressure level)
    10. Where’s it Made: China
    11. Price and Where I bought it: $120 @ Amazon
     
    Sennheiser HD700:
    1. Color: Anthracite / Light Gray / Black
    2. Impedance: 150 Ω
    3. Build: Plastic body, metal earpiece adjusters, alcantara earpads (I think), stainless mesh ear-grilles with visible driver backside
    4. Driver Size: 40mm
    5. Sound Range: 15hz – 40000hz (-3db); 8hz – 44000hz (-10db)
    6. Weight: 270g without cable
    7. Jack: ¼ inch gold plated jack, I use a Grado ¼ inch to 1/8 inch converter for PONO use
    8. Head Connector: 1 2.5mm click-in headphone connector per earpiece
    9. THD: 0.03%
    10. Where it’s Made: Ireland
    11. Price and Where I bought it: $749.99 MSRP; $425 @ B&H (before coupons and gift cards)
     
    With enough variables out of the way to give this review some semblance of science, let’s compare the initial handshake that the HD700 gives. The handshake is also known as the unboxing process.
     
    UNBOXING AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    The HD700 comes in a rather large box with a silhouette of the HD700 on the front, and the slogan “Truly Excite Your Ears” on it. I’m not sure if this means that Sennheiser is trying to make a more “in your face” headphone meant to entice those who feel other high-end Sennheisers are more “veiled,” or if this headphone was the beginning of a new direction for Sennheiser that accepts less “reference sounding” headphones. Anywho, opening the box reveals…. ANOTHER BOX! (albeit a very nice one) This box opens on a hinge to reveal the HD700 sitting inside, surrounded by super soft foam, and the 3m kevlar-wrapped cable is kept in its own separate compartment. It’s not the crushed velvet introduction of the HD800 / HD800s, but it’s also not a handmade-in-Germany, cost-be-damned headphone. It’s one step below, but Sennheiser is still letting you know that this is a serious headphone that’s more than capable of bringing world-class performance without the exorbitant prices of its German superiors. In contrast, the HD598s came in a basic box, with blister plastic around them, but otherwise very well presented for their price point.
     
    Removing the HD700s was a bit of a task at first. The foam surrounding the headphones themselves holds them very securely, but I was not expecting the headphone cables to be connected at the initial unboxing. Thankfully, the 2.5mm earpiece connectors were solidly in place, and the box itself was not compromised. I do wonder if this is how it came from the factory, or if it was a return… either way, they work, and they play nicely, so I’m content. The factory cable itself is a 3 meter (about 9.8 foot) long cable wrapped in a kevlar-like cloth. I’m not sure what the wires inside are, but they are extremely flexible and it is extremely high quality. So far, everything about this headphone seems to be up snuff for the $425 street / $750 MSRP. So I began clicking them to get them set up. Initially I tried to eyeball them to my HD598s, which I liked at 4 clicks short of maximum. I lined this up to 6 clicks past the smallest size on the HD700s. Over time, the HD700s broke in, and I found that reducing this to 5 clicks past the smallest size provided a better fit. Clamping force is light, but assured, and does not harm my glasses. Will they move? No, will they clamp? Yes. Will they clamp so hard that they’ll snap the arms off your eyeglasses? Thankfully, no. The HD598s, would clamp hard enough to bend the ear-pieces on one’s glasses, relegating a lot of its listening to glasses-less time. In contrast, the HD700s can be worn for hours with glasses with no ill effects on the glasses’ integrity.
     
    My enthusiasm was dampened somewhat by the connector itself. Not due to an issue on the part of Sennheiser; they market this as a high-end, near-endgame headphone, so a long cord with a ¼ jack is justifiable, but why not throw in different cables as well? Quite a few HD700s are pressed into service on portable DAPs, so a 1.5m 1/8 termination, or an XLR balanced cable not unlike the HD800s that was released early in 2016, would be a welcome improvement for increasing its versatility out of the box. (Now ideally, I’d like a balanced cable for my PONO player, since this set of HD700s will see extensive use with it, but that’s such a niche request I can understand Sennheiser not going that route.) The HD598s come with a 3m cable, rubber coated, and also terminated into a ¼ inch jack, but presumably due to the lower impedance and subsequent greater likelihood of being used with a mobile DAP, a ¼ inch to 1/8 inch converter is included. A nice touch, but due to the length of connector that ensues with the HD598, it can put a LOT of torque on DAP connectors, and PC connectors. (NB: 2 of my sound connections were damaged by the HD598s ¼ to 1/8 inch converter mechanism that, when combined with a 10 foot cable, can easily yank connectors right off their solder points…. Be careful.)
     
    However, the HD700 required a connection converter of its own, because it did not come with a 1/8 inch male jack. To this end, I put a GRADO ¼ inch to 1/8 inch converter on it. Whereas the 598’s included converter was a direct plug, the GRADO plug had a small amount of cable on it, which helped to relieve some of the torque-factor that was inherent in the 598. Unfortunately it would make the cable even more snag-prone, and only serves as a roundabout solution. OK, enough handshakes and empiricals, let’s get to the headphone behavior itself!
     
    THE MUSIC EXPERIENCE
    In Full Disclosure: Before I go further with this section, I do need to disclose that my music experience is based on using my HD700s in stock configuration through a PONO player. The PONO Player is a DAP that was designed by Ayre Acoustics, and much of it resembles a sort of cross-breeding between a traditional DAP (ie: iPod) and the Ayre Codex, which is a dedicated DAC / AMP that shares much of the PONO’s design, albeit in a larger and SUBSTANTIALLY more powerful form factor. The PONO has a balanced mode achieved with certain headphone / cable combinations that does allow for the player to send double the power up to the headphones, while effectively canceling out noise, but for the purpose of this review, I will limit my observations to single-ended (ie: plugging one 3.5mm jack into the player) experiences, with the volume at approximately 35 to 50% for the HD700s.
     
    The initial impression of these headphones was, to put it gently, BOXY. Sure, alcantara feels nice, the body and cable and connection reek of quality, but these headphones were BOXY… the soundspace was not developed, bass was dominant, with mids and highs nowhere to be found. I decided to give the headphone a bit of “break-in time” where I wouldn’t listen, and I would return to the same track in a week to see if any progress ensued. I performed about 20 to 25 hours of break-in by leaving the PONO player charged and leaving the PONO in “mix mode” so that it could randomly pick tunes while I was at work to feed the HD700s in the hopes of “opening them up.” The test song in this case was “Good Lava” by Esperanza Spalding off of her 2016 Album “Emily’s D+Evolution.” I bought the album in 96/24 WAV from HDTracks. The listening level on the PONO was approximately 35 to 40%, accounting for the lowish DR of the song. The initial listen was all bass, and there was not a great amount of fidelity in Ms. Spalding’s voice, and the soundstage was a bit more closed in than I would have expected. I knew these were 150 ohm headphones, so they may have been a bit hard to drive. So I looked at InnerFidelity’s headphone measurement compendium for the HD700’s page (see: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SennheiserHD700.pdf) and found that only 0.15 volts was needed to get to a 90db listening level. A bit higher than ideal for running single-ended (it should be less than .1v RMS), but not as bad as I feared.
     
    After the initial break-in with the aforementioned track, I found that Ms. Spalding’s voice opened up, there were more than just pile-driving bass and drums to be found, and that the various instruments (guitar, bass, drums, backing vocals) had begun to space themselves out to where the songs did not sound as “congested” as initially. I tried a different song, “Kodachrome / Maybelline” off of Simon and Garfunkel – The Concert in Central Park, in order to move away from the bass-heavy to something a bit more folk-rock in nature. (Format: 192/24 WAV, also from HDTracks.). Whereas the HD700s absolutely crushed it with the bass-heavy fusion-cum-funk-cum-jazz of Esperanza Spalding, they presented almost an excessively heavy-handed presentation to Kodachrome that gave a wide soundspace, but over-emphasis to the bass and drums. Other songs, such as “Mrs. Robinson” and “The Sound of Silence” had an exquisitely open, yet never brittle, presentation. In comparison, the HD598s, even with the improved Blue Dragon cable, gave a very bass-light presentation to “Good Lava,” but absolutely nailed it with Simon & Garfunkel. These HD700s weren’t your traditional Sennheisers, they were bringing me back to my days as a college DJ where I ran my show with Grado RS2s into a console…. Punchy, and in your face.
     
    I decided to mix things up a bit and move away from folk-rock and modern-engineered fusion-pop and geared up to my reference albums; Bob Marley: Legend (192/24 WAV), Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (192/24 WAV), and Claudio Abbado conducting the Berlin Philharmoniker through Beethoven’s 9th symphony (96/24 WAV). Each one gave me a varied result. Bob Marley’s Legend was a bass-heavy experience on the HD700s. I never felt wanting for more bass, and the album hit the headphones hard. At this point, I realized that the HD700s were something that the 598s were not: FAST. These headphones never stumbled over passages that melded piledriving bass lines with delicate female background vocals, nor did they fail to pick up nuances when instruments peeked in (i.e.: Jammin’) out of nowhere. This trend of picking up nuances continued with Kind of Blue. On the HD598s, the opening of “So What” had a noticeable bassline, but the HD700s revealed a more analytical mindset, picking up the bass plucks, but the sound of fingers going onto the fingerboard right before the pluck itself. My fears that the lack of treble would hurt the listening experience (as it did somewhat in the Simon and Garfunkel Central Park concert) were unfounded, as even Bill Evans’ delicate piano work was brought to the forefront. Even in “All Blues” where the piano takes a backseat to Miles’ muted trumpet, the random progression of piano that sounded like one note being pushed constantly was in actuality many notes played rapidly in a progression. The HD598s stumbled here, seemingly having to choose between muted trumpet and rapid piano, and not asserting either one.
     
    Lastly, Abbado’s rendering of the 9th symphony. I’m not going to ever say that the HD700s are the ideal “classical listening headphone,” as while they are analytical, they’re anything but reference (whereas the HD598s are not terribly analytical, but very neutral). They powerhouse through the album, and while they sacrifice some absolute top-end, they bring out the bass. On O Freunde nicht dise Tone”, the bass of the timpanis was highly emphasized, while vocals and violins somewhat subdued, although very existent. I’m not sure if this is because the DR of this album is 16, or if it’s because the glut of this album is outside of the HD700’s sweet spot. I consistently found myself having to raise the volume, only to be caught out by one of the more powerful sections (i.e.: Ode to Joy) of the movement. At the same time, it could be that the PONO is near its power limits in single-ended operation. The HD598s won out here, being grainier in delivery, but more consistent based on the available amount of power that could be sent to the headphones.
    Listening to the HD700s is not like any other Sennheiser, and could be described as a cross between the analytical nature of the HD800s, and the in-yer-face nature of a Grado RS2e. It does reveal flaws and limitations in the playback media, the DAP, as well as even in the listener. At 150 ohms, it is right at the limit of what the PONO can do single-ended without any outside help. That being said, they have become my #1 go-to headphone for music listening, and won out over the HD800 and HD800s when I went to buy them.
     
    SO WHERE FROM HERE?! (AND WHY OVER THE HD800?!)
    I will wrap up this review by answering the second question first. To be blunt, the HD800 is a WONDERFUL headphone, analytical, and more than capable of bringing out the best of your DAP and DAC / AMP setups when configured right. However, with Rock Music, or any DAC / AMP combo, it becomes the headphone equivalent of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory. Wickedly intelligent, yet incapable of not talking about quantum physics even at a beer bash. It is so open and revealing the sound almost appears distended. The HD700s, on the other hand, proved to be adept at classical music, providing enough soundspace to be enjoyable, yet not sounding distended when listening to rock and roll. It showed the limitations of low DR / poorly mastered albums, and still allowed the reference works plenty of space to show off why they are considered reference material.
     
    The first question is not as easy to answer. The PONO is amazing with the HD700, but I feel is pushed to its limits powerwise. Additionally, in the brief attempts with my computer, the HD700s never felt fully powered. I may take two steps to rectify this: A balanced cable for the PONO to allow for more power to hit the HD700s (and possibly opening the sound up even more and getting rid of some fidelity issues), and getting a dac / amp setup to plug into my computer to allow for even more power than the PONO could ever provide to get to the HD700s. Whether I go with a combo such as the Ayre CODEX, or some sort of dac / amp combo remains to be seen, but the HD700 is a great headphone, isn’t terribly picky, but just needs some extra power to really make it shine.
     
    9/10.
     

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    1. Malfunkt
      Great review of the HD700, give it some time to adjust to the sound. I'm a relatively new owner of the HD700 and I think they are exceptional for classical music. In my opinion, while they may not have the same familiar reference signatures as say something like the HD600, they are much more realistic in tonal presentation combined with their soundstage.
       
      Familiar with the 598s, good headphone, but not close to the technicalities of the 700. Still, I can see how it can still be more enjoyable in certain contexts. But for music with true dynamic range, the HD700 excels. Listening to Martha Argerich right now on the HD700 :) 
      Malfunkt, Jan 28, 2017
    2. barondla
      Super review. You explain the sound well. The 700 should sound even better with more breakin. Give them time.

      I bought Senn HD600 years ago (directly from dist.) and the cables came attached. It was years later I found out the cables were detachable. I like the long cable. The HD series are pretty big to use as portable.

      Excellent pick on the Pono. I use one as well. Can't be beat sonically. You should notice a big improvement going to balanced cables. Now I am thinking about HD700.
      Thanks for the illuminating review.
      barondla, Jan 29, 2017
    3. ganzosrevenge
      @Malfunkt Thanks!  I'm giving it a bit of time.  I got to try a pair of HD800s with the HDVD800 DAC/AMP combo today @ the Sennheiser Pop-Up Store in SoHo.  While it does whip the HD700 in terms of soundstage and "reference accuracy," The HD700 is a more fun and portable headphone (if you can call the HD700 portable) compared to the HD800s.  It's also easier for me to drive on my PONO.  That being said, I'm thinking to get a CODEX to hook up to my computer, which will be my desktop DAC/AMP and absolutely will wipe the floor with my PONO
       
      @barondla I'm at about 40 to 45 hours right now.  I'm talking with @drubrew and the crew at Moon Audio about getting a Black Dragon with Balanced PONO outs for my PONO player.  I do have a balanced cable for the HD598s, and it does make a HUGE improvement for the 598s (still not 700 levels, but definitely makes things better).  The reason I did not add that as part of the review is because it would be an unfair variable.  In the interest of keeping the review somewhat fair, I wanted to do single-ended vs. single-ended.  Not a fair fight in favor of the 598s (either way), but it would be one less variable for me to have to deal with and explain how each one works.
       
      To All:  The PONO is CRIMINALLY underrated.  Take away the Neil Young promotional fluff, and what you get is a seriously legit, very well-priced music player that will play 99.9% of recorded music out there and put it through about 90% of headphones without any outside assistance.
      ganzosrevenge, Jan 29, 2017
  4. LugBug1
    Now the price has dropped - snap em up!
    Written by LugBug1
    Published Aug 18, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Detailed, warm, relaxing sound with extended top.
    Cons - awkward stiff cable that needs ironing!
    Few early impressions from my first night and following day with these fellas (I think early impressions are important before they have time to brainwash you :D ). I was pleasantly surprised by the treble straight away. It's hard not to have preconceptions when a headphone has been labelled this or that.. So I try as hard as possible to listen with my ears and no-one else's when judging SQ. My music preference is Classical and Jazz.
     
    So... Starting with the overall balance and image: These seem balanced to me in regards to treble and bass. I hear both a hump in the mid bass and also a peak in the upper registers. This creates an exciting/fun sound. Its fun, but also refined at the same time. There is a missing part in the upper mids (just like the HD800) that helps create a smoothness. This gives this headphone a more U shape compared to the HD800 because of the extra bass lift. Sometimes I'm getting the feeling that the bass is sometimes segregated a little too much from the treble. Bass extents low but is more concentrated further up. The imaging can change from recording to recording... One minute I'm really impressed then the next I'm thinking it doesn't sound right compared to the HD6xx. This is obviously to do with the angled drivers and overall different presentation. Something I'll no doubt get used to.
     
    Soundstage: This took me a while to understand fully. It doesn't seem that much bigger than the HD6xx series when you first put them on, but when the music calls for it they are capable of going very wide indeed. (something the 6xx can't do) So depending on the music, they don't over-stretch a cozy quartet, but they will expand to let an orchestra breath. The depth is good but not much different to the 6xx. What is better, is the space around instruments and overall control of different timbres. No smearing.
     
    Tone: The overall tone is warm. Very warm at the bottom but also reasonably bright at the top. The treble extends all the way up and is on par with the hd800 for allowing the top to breath. Every nuance in the recording is there. There is also no hardness in the treble as with the 6xx series and I'm putting this down to the dip in the upper mids. The bass seems to change with amplification. On my trusty NAD vintage amps (the best amps I've tried with HD800) the bass is big, warm and thunderous at times! There is a slight bloat in the lower mids but not as much as the 650. Changing to a solid state hp amp and the bass drops significantly. It is tight and better controlled. But this loses too much drama for me. It turns a fun hp into a more delicate and easy listen. 
    I'm still sussing the mids out. I was expecting these to suffer with the freq response graphs I'd seen posted. But just like the HD800 they are actually very pleasing. Strings sound silky smooth, violins don't have the hardness (grain) that the HD600 especially can show. Now, I know a lot of folk like the response to be flatter in the upper mids as this gives electric guitar grit and texture for example. But from an acoustic perspective the mids here are pleasing. Maybe a little polite, but pleasing. Vocals sound natural to me, again for the same reasons quoted above.
     
    Compared to the other top Senns. (HD800, 600, 650)
    These come across as being more different than better. Yes they are technically impressive but I believe it comes down to music enjoyment - as that is the their job right? Last night I was getting shivers up my spine with some of my favourite classical tracks and so this is a good sign. Other times my attention was drawn to the "sound" of the headphone itself. So only time will tell if I can switch off completely from the technical merits/effects of this hp to immerse myself fully into the music (like I can with the HD650, but couldn't with the HD800 sometimes).
    Putting my HD650's on this morning after another hour with the HD700 and I welcomed the airy, relaxing sound.. But I could soon hear the 650's shortcomings in regards to the treble and separation. I went back to the HD700 and welcomed the refinement and smoothness. They do inherit a few traits of the HD800 but are very different to my ears. The HD800 are still the kings of dynamic headphone hifi in respect to accurately reproducing music.    
     
    Love the design and size of these. Small, light and fit over my ears comfortably. Might change the cable though.  
     
    Early days, but I think I'll be welcoming these to live alongside my trusty 650's. For my preference the HD700 are better than the HE500 or LCD2 for example, so in that respect they are an absolute bargain now.   
     
    *Edit 4 months later*
     
    Delighted with this purchase now. So much so I sold my HD650 and now use these as my main headphone. All headphones have a burn in time (whether brain or or whatever) and these when amped right can sound outstanding. Seriously, there's not much to miss having owned the HD800 for two years. These are more fun. So.. Unless you have a high end set up, I'm sure you could live very happily with these rather than paying for the HD800. Especially if you want a bit more oomph down below :)   
      HungryPanda and trellus like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. LugBug1
      @abby normal Well in the uk you can get them for around £350 if you look around, now thats nearly half of what they cost originally. 
       
      @mien , I can't kill you. I can't kill you because I love you.  
      LugBug1, Aug 19, 2016
    3. QualitySound
      @abby normal
      On Amazon they are $426 right now in the US, referb models for 350-370
      QualitySound, Oct 24, 2016
    4. DLR Group
      I got mine for 424.00/ free ship, B&H, Amazon, most others same price late December.  I agree the cable could be ironed!
      Otherwise, they must be improved since the assholishofhollies reviewed, as mine a par excellence, better than my Audeze LCD's.
      DLR Group, Dec 28, 2016
  5. DJ Liquid
    These are enjoyable sounding long session headphones for edm to jazz with tight bass and overall crystal clear sound
    Written by DJ Liquid
    Published May 28, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Aesthetically pleasing comfortable for the discerning audiophile grade
    Cons - The pretzel cords are annoying along with the unfounded negative critiques
    These headphones need to be amped. If you choose to use them without doing so, they will sound weak and lifeless. The complaints I read about seem to me to be with people that haven't synergized them correctly with the right equipment. They are not as picky as the HD 800's to match up with the right dac/amps. They like nice files to listen to as they hear crap files like crap. Reading that they are bad??? is just absurd. Those folks are just trolls demonstrating their finest behavior. I respect opinions but only knowledge based ones.
    1. seanwee
      I love your "pretzel cords" comment XD
      seanwee, May 28, 2016
  6. snapacap
    The Smirking Guy in the Back of the Room. :smirk:
    Written by snapacap
    Published Mar 17, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Comfort, sound quality, non-fatiguing, Scalability
    Cons - Cable (come on Sennheiser...), pad material, fells a bit reaching
    I put off this review for a while for a few reasons. First, I wanted to try these out with more than one amp before making a call on these. Second, The HD700 have some things that just generally confuse, or/and seem a bit odd/hard to describe.
     
    The HD700 is my first venture into the >$300 price range, and I now see the potential high-end headphones really have. The scenario that has occurred while using these is confusing to say the least.
     
    Looks:
    Well, the Sennheiser HD700 are one odd, strangely cool, somewhat mysterious looking headphones. The way I describe it is the title: "The Smirking Guy in the Back of the Room. :smirk:"
    They clearly know what's up, but also have no intention of sharing any insight. They also don't care for what anyone thinks of them, while still being cool.
     
    Build:
     
    The headband has the same adjustment system, and many equal parts to the G4ME/GAME series, and the HD380 Pro. The part that gets weird is the headband pad, and layered, rubber-like top portion. The weirdness of this build is in part due to the headband pad. The cloth has a feel that reminds me of those tan self-adhesive sports injury wraps. It is like Sennheiser wanted to make velour bleed sound less, and at the same time be a microfiber/Velour combo. The result is kinda odd, and I don't think I like it very much. The same fabric is used on the earcups as well. The headband pad itself is thick for no reason. The cushion does not compress too easily, and the headphones do not weigh very much. As a result, it looks a bit odd, and feels as such. Actual contact space with the head is kinda low, and for me can get a tad annoying after a while. I think Sennheiser could have done a better job on the headband, specifically the cushion.
     
    The actual earcups are something other manufacturers should have learned about a looooong time ago. Guess what! They are shaped like ears! What a novel idea! Something designed for an ear, shaped like an ear! Who would have thought! In all seriousness, this is fantastic that they are shaped like this. It makes them more comfortable for sure. The HD700 has a unique earcup design that borrows largely from the HD800. The lighter colored panels are actually a fine mesh. Light passes through these, as does some sound. The inside of the earcup is spacious compared to most other headphones, and the first to only touch one of my ears on the inside! space that would normally be covered over in most headphones is contoured by the inside mesh/dust cover thing that keeps you from touching the actual driver build. This allows much more room for your ear, and I think it looks kinda cool as well.
     
    Sennheiser has this bad habit of making the worst cables ever. They all tend to be too long for most, defaulting to 1/4 inch, and have an unnecessary springyness.
    The HD700 is no exception whatsoever. The cord is like a quality-scaled version of the cord on old Oreck vacuums. The cable loops for to easily, is isn't malleable enough to sort itself out either. It is heavy too. As someone who rearranges his setup all the time, this cord just gets in the way, and is a real pain. On top of that, these cables are super expensive to replace, if you want the official one (not that anyone would want another one of these...). At least it is braided from the split to the 1/4 inch.
     
    I'm bored of talking about the build, just look at the thing...... Let's move on.
     
    Features:
    Adjustable headband, which pivots slightly, and rotates vertically further than anyone would need them to.
    D-shaped earcups, or ear-shaped if you prefer. (Which is sad that this is a notable feature.)
    removable cable (thank goodness)
    Light Weight
     
    Comfort:
    Are they comfortable? yes. Are they all you ever wanted? no.
    As stated before, the headband leaves something to be desired. The pad does not make enough contact with the head, and is covered in that microfiber/velour weird fabric that I don't like. I much prefer the Headband of the Philips Fidelio X2, or the Philips SHP9500. I think the SHP9500 has one of the best headband designs of all time btw. 
    The clamp force is low as the default width is quite high, but it is not super flexible, and can bother me a tad.
    The headphones are quite lightweight, which add to the comfort too.
    The pad material bothers me a bit too, which is a shame.
    Only one earcup touches my ear inside at all, which I cannot say about any other headphone I have tried. The G4ME Zero comes close, and I think are overall more comfortable than the HD700.
     
    I think most people will find the HD700 to be super comfortable, but for me there are just enough things that bother me to not hit the mark. Quite comfortable overall, but not perfect by any means.
     
    Sound:
     
    The HD700 is once again that smirking kid in the back of the room. 
     
    I first noticed that the HD700 are quite similar to the K7XX in sound. The HD700 being more spacious, more exciting, and cleaner than the K7XX, but the K7XX seemed more neutral to me. I think the strongest link between them is that I can hear a treble spike in roughly the same place, but found it to be less of a problem on the HD700.
     
    The HD700 is quite odd in that it has some of the best mids I have ever heard, yet the mids are a tad recessed. This trait is the opposite of most headphones. the best frequencies are usually a little forward to display their strengths well. I did not feel like I was missing the mids though. Another odd thing is that as clear as the audio is, most of the time if does not sound totally natural. This is not so in the mids, but apparent elsewhere.
    Some things, especially in the mids simply sound real. For example: while listening to Tusk - Fleetwood Mac a tuba appears at one point that made my jaw momentarily drop a little. 
    I find the highs to be about half-way between the K7XX and the Fidelio X2, but far cleaner. The revealing factor is very, very good, but I feel it is possible to be even better. 
     
    I usually give headphones a trial with a few people who do not know very much about the subject to get their impressions without any kind of brand, or price bias. The results were overwhelmingly good for all but one person. I had to almost pry these out of the hands of a couple of people. (Odd correlation, they were both well toward the older half of the population.) They could not get over how clean, and spacious they sounded. The odd person out did not like how they felt on his head, but thought they sounded very good.
     
    I decided I had to try HD700 with more than one amp to truly determine their worth. I found that they are surprisingly efficient, taking a bit more power than the Fidelio X2. I do note that they are much better with a better source than a mobile phone, or onboard computer audio. They do seem to scale quite well. unlike most Sennheisers, I found I liked them more with a solid-state amp than a tube amp. I think these would really shine with a high end amp/dac. 
     
    The bass is not particularly lacking, but the HD700 is easily recognizable as a bright headphone. The treble peak is noticeable, but the particular air of headphones I got specifically because they had less spike in the peak. If there is one thing sound-wise I would prefer different would be to smooth that peak even more.One good thing about the treble peak is that some vocals are quite intimate when they sit in the range of the peak.
     
    For gaming, these are Fantastic. For CS:GO, these are a no-brainer. They are spacious, and have great imaging, especially with the right dac/amp. I went from "I hear a couple lower tuns" to "I hear two at lower tuns box, and one on the stairs."  Also, they are not very fatiguing (only a little, to me at least) so that helps in the long sessions.
     
    With the HD700, I finally understand the mp3 vs flac mess. It is possible to distinguish between 320 & flac, but the difference was so insanely small that I see no point in spending more in both storage and dollars for the "higher quality" tracks. Only in tracks which I knew well was the file format even distinguishable at all.
     
    sound conclusion: These are seriously good headphones, they just seem a tad confused about their identity. They want to be relaxed and fun, but also wanna be super clean and accurate. The result is not doing either particularly super. Their best traits are recessed, while others are emphasized. Luckily they sound so good, that it does not matter much. These are technically the most capable headphones I have bought, but definitely not the most neutral or analytical. I will keep using them until I find something I like more, and comparable or better in comfort. The advantages they offer in sound over the K7XX is clear, but I don't think they are worth double the price for what is gained in personal taste. The people I had try them thought otherwise, as most of them found the K7XX to be very boring in comparison.
     
    Another thing I should mention is that I got the HD598 a couple of days before the HD700, and the result was a slaughter. The HD700 makes the HD598 sound like you are listening to the song through a thick cotton-filled sock. I generally think headphones are just different rather than better or worse, but I have to say that the HD700 makes some lesser headphones sound awful, regardless of sound signature.
     
    Recommended song:
    Suna No Oshiro - Kanon Wakeshima
     
    Overall, I think that the HD700 is a headphone that points to what is possible in other headphones by exhibiting its own unique qualities which you cannot simply take at face value. I feel as if the HD700 is reaching toward what could be. The feeling is almost mysterious, but not in a good or bad way. They feel like that that guy who sits in the back of the room and just smirks at everyone like he is hiding something. They are a unique pair of headphones with something to prove. I will keep loving these until I find something I like even more, or realize how much money I have put into audio.
     
    Edit: After allowing even more time for my ears to adjust, I have discovered that the HD700 is FAR better than the Fidelio X2 in bass quality, and better in extension. Again, they are not as inherently bassy as the X2, but the bass is significantly smoother, well defined, and just better.
    1. Brettclue
      Great review, these headphones are my first nicer headphones and I am really enjoying them so far.
      Brettclue, Mar 18, 2016
    2. Solarium
      I sold the HD700 recently, since upgrading to my HD800. Even with the HD800 and the T1, I often reminisce having the HD700 around. I've gone more on my sonic journey to try different amps/DAC's and other headphones, but I still believe that the HD700 is an extremely capable headphone for everyday listening. They are still the most comfortable headphone I've ever worn on my head and one of the most fun and enjoyable headphones I've heard.
      Solarium, Apr 6, 2016
    3. mikek200
      LOL,one of the best reviews I've ever heard on head-fi,so much so,I will order the HD700's.
      Thanks snapacap...good job.
      mikek200, Sep 10, 2016
  7. techboy
    HD 700 vs HD 650 Comparison
    Written by techboy
    Published Mar 10, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Absolute resolution and clarity; very clear, superb transients, awesomest comfort - extreme comfort; sound good out of everything; good vocals
    Cons - slightly peaky treble; not ideal for extended listening sessions
    Sennheiser was kind enough to lend me their HD 700 for a home demo. And as you know, I already own the HD 650 (silver drivers) to compare them to. And thankfully, Sennheiser has also agreed to lend me their HD 800 in a few days, for a more thorough side by side comparison. But that is best left to another review.

    I'm not sure whether these HD 700 headphones have been burned in or not. But. Neither do I care. Because I'm not a big believer in burn in making a radical difference to the sound. At least in the majority of cases. Anyway, just mentioned this to explicitly state that I've no idea.

    How much time have I spent with Sennheiser's HD 700 so far?

    Not much. Less than 24 hrs in fact. But. I've already listened to a few songs I'm reasonably familiar with.

    So. This isn't a review done after extensive testing. But. I've tried to be as accurate as possible.

    How much time have I spent with the HD 650 and the rest of my setup?

    At least over 2 years or so. Maybe longer. So that shouldn't hinder this review.

    The Setup

    Headphones: HD 700 (2012), HD 650 (silver drivers)

    Headphone Amplifier: Project Ember v1.0 (just tried a single tube, Marconi 6dj8 is what I recall from memory)

    DAC: Asus Essence One Muses Edition

    Transport: Asus Essence STX SPDIF to the PC

    The HD 650 was tested with and without Sonarworks. Sonarworks is a VST plugin that neutralises the tonality of supported headphones. Sonarworks doesn't support the HD 700 yet.

    Music

    Bollywood (Arijit Singh etc)

    Mozart (very little)

    I'd like to sum up the basic advantages of each headphone over the other, before I proceed to a more detailed review. So those in a hurry can still quickly get to know the overall gist in brief.

    Advantages of the HD 700 over the HD 650
     
    Way more comfortable. In fact, the HD 700 is so comfortable that that alone justifies twice the price over the HD 650 if you consider them equals otherwise.

    More or less better all around when it comes to technical prowess.

    Clearer, cleaner, more articulate, crisper transients and better speed.

    The overall sound is very tight and coherent.

    The bass is a lot tighter.

    Much better resolution; more detailed.

    Reasonably improved soundstage and imaging.

    More open and slightly more speaker like.

    More detailed and believable vocals.

    Basically, the difference in going from a mid range to a high-end can. ​

    Disadvantages of the HD 700 over the HD 650

    Additional treble that makes it unnaturally bright (not ear piercing though).

    Fatiguing and not as polite for extended listening sessions.

    There is something that makes them sound less natural and less musical.

    The tonality isn't as neutral; the vocals are a bit upfront as compared to the rest.

    Advantages of the HD 650 over the HD 700 (Many of these advantages may be audible only if you have Sonarworks, as that takes the experience to another level.)

    More musical, lush, smoother and sweet overall.

    The bass isn't as tight but perhaps more natural and with greater punch.

    The treble isn't as sharp; it is smoother.

    More suitable for extended listening.

    It has most of the pros of the HD 700 but not quite to the same level. In terms of technical prowess, it is what it is. An outdated flagship. 

    Now.

    You're probably waiting for a more in-depth comparison between the two. And that is exactly what I'm coming to now.

    HD 700 v/s HD 650 (with Sonarworks) - One on one

    Sound signature

    HD 700

    The HD 700 isn't as connect in tonality. But it is a very enjoyable sound signature nevertheless. The bass is super tight. The treble is lively and slightly Brit. The vocals are upfront. The sound is very tight overall. Everything is very tight.

    HD 650

    More neutral and balanced. Sounds smoother and sweeter, more musical. Nothing stands out even though the vocals are delicious.

    Soundstage & Imaging

    HD 700 > HD 650

    The difference isn't huge. But is still significant. And easily audible. Can be a deal breaker for many once they get used to the HD 700.

    I'm not too certain about the imaging. But. I think the HD 700 has an edge there as well.

    Vocals

    HD 700

    More articulate and realistic. They have better resolution and are more detailed. Also more upfront. Crisper.

    HD 650

    More musical, rounded and smoother. But not quite of the same stature.

    Bass

    HD 700

    A lot tighter. Perhaps artificially tight. Not sure though.

    HD 650 

    Far more hollow and rounded. But a tad more natural. Smoother. And with more punch.

    Treble

    HD 650 > HD 700

    HD 650's treble is just right with Sonarworks. HD 700 is a bit peaky and that takes time to adjust to. Note, the HD 700 isn't very bright. But the 650 is just more natural and balanced.

    Transients, speed, articulation

    HD 700 > HD 650

    Not even a contest. There are really far apart here. The HD 650 is very good in its own right. But not of the same pedigree.

    Timbre and tonality

    HD 650 is a bit better than the HD 700 here.

    Comfort

    Don't get me wrong. The HD 650 is pretty comfortable on its own. However, although its sound is suitable for extended listening, it's comfort isn't exemplary. It is just good.

    The HD 700 is probably the most comfortable headphone ever. More comfortable than the HD 800 I think. (I have tried the HD 800 twice.)

    It is like going from average to superlative in terms of comfort. That alone justifies 2x the price for the HD 700.

    Finally. Is the HD 700 a true upgrade to the HD 650?

    Technically, yes. Definitely.

    However, since the sound signature isn't exactly the same, subjective preferences may differ. Some may take one over the other.

    But as far as technical prowess is concerned, the 700 definitely has an edge. And a definite one at that. And combined with the much better comfort, its price is justified. Without doubt.

    Yes. I recommend the HD 700 over the HD 650 even at twice the price. But only if you feel the need for something that the HD 650 is unable to deliver. And ideally, you should try to audition before you buy it.

    Update to Sennheiser HD 700's review

    I have had a chance to listen to the HD 700 with two more setups:

    Asus Essence One Muses DAC/Amp

    iPad Mini 2 -> FiiO E12

    I also compared it to the HD 650 with both setups.

    The Fiio E12 setup sounds pretty good. With both cans. But not quite at the level of my previous setup or even the Asus E1 Muses.

    I didn't do an AB test or DBT, so I can't be sure. And being an objectivist, I'm not sure why or whether there should be this kind of difference. But for some reason, the Asus setup sounds cleaner, clearer and less muffled.

    The FiiO E12 is very good in its own right. And even with low gain I'm at about 12 o clock to get reasonably loud volume with either headphone.

    HD 700 vs HD 650

    After some more listening, I have come to realise that the HD 700 is a clear and very significant step up. And not only in terms of comfort. 

    The HD 700 is a lot cleaner, clearer, tighter, more articulate, faster and just gets the vocals a lot more right. 

    The HD 650 is still better for extended listening as the HD 700 does fatigue you after a while. But I've become used to HD 700's treble in under 72 hrs (and less than 2 hrs of use). It is not really fatiguing. But definitely a bit for extended listening. Unlike the HD 650. 

    Everything else goes in favour of the HD 700. You can hear a lot more detail. And the transients are a lot crisper as well.

    The HD 650 does sound musical and lush. But vocals are relatively frighteningly real with the HD 700.

    Honestly, I can't see much reason to choose the HD 650 over the HD 700 except for the smoother treble and better suitability for extended listening.

    The HD 700 is difficult to use for over 20-40 minutes tops at a time. Unlike the HD 650. But that could be very personal. I couldn't listen to Soundmagic E80s for over 5 minutes tops. So maybe I'm just used to the less treble energetic HD 650.

    Also, do note that most of these comparisons have been done while using the HD 650 with Sonarworks. So the HD 650 was dot neutral. In its stock form it is a bit too laid back for my tastes. And just can't compete with the HD 700.

    Stuff like breath and air movements are something that really make the HD 700 shine. The HD 650 is okay here. But not in the same playing field.

    The Fiio E12 does a good job with both the HD 700 and HD 650. But. I don't know why. I preferred the Asus Essence One Muses Edition with both the headphones.

    Solid State vs Tube

    For some reason, I always felt the HD 650 felt dead and cold with the Asus Essence One Muses edition. It felt lifeless. Like something was lacking.

    However, the HD 700 also fares really well with this solid state amp. In fact, I preferred it with the Asus over my hybrid tube amp Project Ember, I think. I'm not sure though.

    But. With the HD 650 I always chose Project Ember instead.

    Now I'm really not sure why this is happening. I may have gone mad and maybe this is all placebo. But these are my findings so far...

    P.S. Honestly, after listening to the HD 700 for a while, the HD 650 sounds like a distorted and muffled mess. The difference is at least as big if not bigger than moving from a HD 598 to a HD 650. The jump is probably a lot bigger in fact.

    The HD 700 does better most of the stuff the HD 650 does well, and much better at that. But it is definitely a different presentation. And it is best to audition before you buy either!​
    1. Barra
      FYI, the SonarWorks HD800 plugin works wonderfully with the HD700 eliminating the treble issues. If you try it you are in for a real treat and there are is no comparison to the HD650, They are two very different signatures, but the HD650 as fun as it is only scales to mid-fi IMO while the HD700 with the SonarWorks plugin scales to TOTL. This comes for direct AB comparisons with most the TOTL HPs with the HD650 in the mix. The problem with the HD650 SonarWorks plugin is that there is nothing to correct with the HD650 as they got it right out of the box as is. The HD700 on the other hand has a treble veal that is very clear if you use the HD800 plugin and toggle it on and off. Not saying that there is anything wrong with the HD700 as is as it does sound great out of the box, but once you hear it corrected with the SonarWorks plugin, it is hard to go back.
      Barra, Mar 10, 2016
    2. techboy
      I tried with Sonarworks. With that enabled a lot of HD 700's strengths' take a hit.
       
      It is no more really detailed or as tight.
       
      Sounds better without Sonarworks in this case I think. With the HD 650 it is the opposite.
      techboy, Mar 13, 2016
  8. genclaymore
    Great sounding headphones
    Written by genclaymore
    Published Feb 19, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - very Comfortable,Very lite, Works very well, Great all over sound and sound stage, Good seperation.
    Cons - It can be bright with certain Amp's, Op-amp or tubes, No 3rd party earpads.
    HD700_2.jpg
     
     
                                                   
     
     The Sennheiser HD 700 is the little brother of the HD 800, the design looks like it stolen from an art museum in the future, Or a futurist earmuff. The cups are in the shape of your ear, the ear pads can be removed by unsnapping them from the headphone’s themselves, and sadly I haven’t seen any 3rd party ear pads as Sennheiser HD 700 ear pads cost around 80-99 dollars. Maybe in the future (no pun intended) they will create different ear pads that are thicker for those whose ears touches the drivers or that stick out further from their heads.
     
    The each ear has a plug for the headphone cable’s which are Dual mono, Also besides each cup has a connector on them, it makes it easier down the line to swap to balanced cables to use with a balanced Amp.
     
    The headphone’s easily adjust to the size you need, You have to make sure you get both sides the right amount for your head, having visual numbers would have made it easier to do, cups moves forward and back, but they do not twist.
     
    The HD 700’s are very light headphone’s other than my ear touching the driver a bit, the ear pads them self are very comfortable as so the headband pads. I just wish the ear pads was thicker.
     
    Unlike my last pair of headphone’s the HE-500’s, the HD700 are easier to drive, they work great on both my Gustard H10 and my Burson Lycan the only thing that I have that they don’t work with on is the Fiio E7 which can’t drive them correctly, The HD700’s are 500mW @ 150ohms.
     
     
    The Setup
     
    For the review, I will be using my Gustard X12 Dac paired with my Burson Lycan amp which will have the Burson V5-OPA-D Op-amp installed.
     
    HD700_1.jpg
     
     
    The Results
     
    Shazzka – Showtime
     
    The first thing you notice in this song is how hard the bass hits while going deep, Its clean and not messy, It does not leak into the other freq’s either. The Snare’s and the drum’s sound really good, the snares have a type of snap to them.
     
    The highs are detailed while clean, not too bright, Sound really nice to me. They have a good image as I can hear the location of the different instruments.
     
    The Vocals are in the center, they have weight behind them, some of the vocal’s pan out towards the left and right, while still sounding nice. The sound stage to me is big and sounds like it’s 3Dish to me, the sound isn’t close to my head but surrounds it.
    CloZee – Koto
     
    The instrument and the snares in the first part of the song is spread out thru the sound stage, it’s very clean and heard. The sound imaging is really good in this song. The bass also hits hard but not as hard like the other song, but it still goes deep as well.
     
    The vocals are in the center like the singer is in front of you on the stage in the back ground. While another sounds like is in the front of that one.  The 3rd is at the left of the center, All 3 of them are heard clearly and does not overlap each other.
     
     
    Arkaik – Moving on (Original mix)
     
    The song has a very airly feel to it, the drum kit is in the center directly in front of you, clearly heard and detailed. The location of the bass is in the left channel which is very deep. Both the drum kit and the bass is heard separately.
     
     The 2nd bass note feels like it surrounds you before it goes into an error, when it just the drums kit and the bass note playing. The sound stage feels like it very open. I enjoying this song.
     
     
    Ben Soundscape, Superior Selectionz – Abbey (Original mix)
     
    Like the last song, this one also have a airly feel to it, The drum kit and the snare is in the center of you in a such a way like the drummer is hitting the drums just for you. The Snare and the bass is separated from the drumming. The drums hit very deep and there some weight behind each fast hit.
     
    The vocals are soft and the position of the singer is in front of the drummer, they don’t drown each other out.
     
    The sound stage is also 3D while being large and it surrounds you like the other song, each person and instrument is easy heard all thru the sound stage as their separate thing.
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    Over all I enjoyed the way most of the songs sounded on the headphones, it worked really well with what I paired with them for this review. Prior I had the HE-500, Honestly I glad I move on to the HD700 as I prefer the way that these headphones sound over them. While the HE-500 did sound good, I just like the HD700 more so, since they like I said very light and you don’t feel them on your head unlike the HE-500.
  9. Ataka
    Full upgrade to my AKG K701
    Written by Ataka
    Published Jan 8, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - almost perfect all-rounder, very realistic and wide sound stage, impressively detailed and very live-like sound presentation, extremely comfy
    Cons - ocassional sibilance, for some electronica it lacks just a bit more subbass energy
    I would like to share my experience with Sennheiser HD700 and compare them directly with AKG K701.
    I bought HD700 as upgrade to my K701.
     
    INTRO
    =====
     
    At first please note that I wrote these impressions immediately after I finished the listening of mentioned track/album.
     
    Secondly please note that I'm comparing two headphones where one today costs two times more!
     
    My equipment:
    HTPC-> Foobar2000 with ASIO plugin-> FLACs -> moded Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 Hi-Fi
    (I know that it is the weakest point of my audio chain, but still quite capable to sound good) -> 
    -> CustomWorks Hypa300SE (top class solid state DIY headphone amp)
     
    My music range is quite wide - metal, rock, neurofunk, elctronica, industrial, minimal, classical/piano, indie etc.
     
    Sennheiser HD700 (I paid 430EUR for new) vs AKG K701 (Price in year 2016 - 200EUR for new)
    ======================================================================
     
    Metallica - Load (album)
    Whole album seems to be mastered with preferred mid bass and more recessed trebles, which make these songs absolutely beautiful through HD700.Following of the bass guitar, which is perfectly separated, is simply a joy.Drum kick reproduction is nearly perfect but some sub bass energy below 50Hz is just slightly missing. But PRAT is very strong.Texture of distorted guitars is excellent. It is the main reason why I think that HD700 is a secret treasure headphone for metal, see below.Vocal is well placed just right in the middle horizontally and vertically- slightly distant. I noticed no harshness or shhh through the whole album, mainly due to mentioned mastering preferences.I have to say that K701 did not failed on this album and reproduced it very well. 
     
    Metallica - ...and Justice for All (album)
    What a suprise! After my experience with K701 I expected something lifeless and unlistenable. But HD700 brings new life to this album. At first impressed me the amazing texture of distorted guitar and outstanding dynamics of midrange! Second impression was the clarity of cymbals - impressive body and steel feeling to them. And finally I can feel and follow bass - very well defined and fast. PRAT was also very strong. Dynamics of drum is first class even on this old album.I would like to pinpoint the song "One". For long time it was the only song on this album which I was able to listen through K701 - mostly due to presence of acoustic guitars and it's perfect rendering b K701. Always I was enjoying the first half (mostly acoustic part) of this song with K701 due to wide soundstage and detailed midrange repoduction of guitars. When distorted guitars staredt to play I immediately stopped reproduction every time in the past. HD700 gave me even better quality in the fist acoustic part and gave me excstasy when distorted guitars starts!Amazing experience to me.K701 had no chance to compete on this album without bass impact, more treble extension and too much forward midrange. Also with K701 I found that the midrange is sounding something like unreal on this album. Also too much wide and horizontally stretched soundstage of K701 did not help to reach reality of sound.All in all HD700 pretty amazed me on this album.
     
    Metallica - Black album (album)
    I never heard better bass guitar reproduction than here on this album through the HD700 - on "Enter Sandman" I was easily able to follow it through whole song. Lead guitars are extremely alive and perfectly placed on soundstage. Drum kick has energy but maybe just a bit of lowest subbass is missing here to really feel it right.Cymbals are very clear, steely, crisp and have trully live-like feeling. Hitting of cymbals is extremely dynamic. It balanced between revealing and sibilant through the whole album but luckily to me it never falls to the sibilant side. But I can imagine that sensitive persons would like to attenuate a trebles a little on this album.All in all the repoduction of this album was outstanding and very dynamic to my ears...K701 was suprisingly not so far away in sound quality. Of course bass had less weight, but midrange quality was very good on this album. Biggest surprise were the cymbals. K701 had same livelike feeling to them but slightly less prominent. Good steely splashing was also there but to my ears the lack of crispiness and treble dynamic leaves the K701's trebles just a level behind the HD700. Also something was not right with soundstage. What is it to me I will explain later...    
     
    Fear Factory - Genexus (album)
    My main intention with this album was to check the speed of bass. Double kick reproduction is pretty fast with the right "sticky" sound with good amount of weight - not slow or lean at all! Lead guitar has again very seductive and organic texture which drag me to listen the whole album again with HD700.Trebles are naturally recessed/compressed and sacrificed for the rest frequencies on this master.HD700 tried to bring some life to them with their slight treble emphasis - no complaints here but also no amazement.K701 has bass which is same way fast but it lacks again the impact and weight. Also guitar is reproduced worst but more prominent. 
     
    Black Sabbath - 13 (album)
    Studio master is made toward the midbass and midrange, trebles and lower bass are less prominent in the mix. Also a lot of compression was used.
    Somewhere I read that some fans were not happy with mastering of drums on this album. I have to say that I agree with them.
    For the most time on album the drums are sounding thin to me, especially the snare. HD700 gave a some more body to them compared to K701 but simply you can not squeeze out of song something what is not there. Maybe HD650 can help here I don't know yet :) On the other hand the Geezer's bass is incredibly detailed and it is crushing my ears with perfect dynamic. But HD700 shines especially in reproducing of Iommi's guitar - organic and liquid texture with impressive placement on soundstage. The each detail is so beautifully reporduced that I have feeling that he is standing right here in front of me. Again I have to say that the midrange quality of HD700 is top class to my ears and this album proved it to me again.K701 lacks especially in midrange quality - there was simply something not right.I read that some people described it like plasticky sound and now I know what they ment. There is much more midrange quantity than quality from K701.
    Here I would like to pinpoint song "Zeitgeist". K701 was able to reproduce this acoustic trip to the outer space very good so I had big expectations from HD700. And HD700 outclassed K701 again in every spectre especially in realism and detail of reproduction. Especially the percussions were more crisp and alive with HD700.Also in "Damaged Soul" I felt like I'm sitting in front of the band inside the club and they are jamming only for me. Beautiful experience of precise soundstage imaging of HD700. K 701 had no chance on this album based on my ears.
     
    Rammstein - Reise, Reise (album)
    First time with HD700 I experienced shhh/sibilance issue during intensive vocal sequences. Not nice! On the other hand the midrange shines again. I would say that I don't agree that mids are recessed on HD700. I just think that mids are too much prominent on K701. It is same logic when my friend told me "I think that Note 4 is too big smartphone" and I told him back that "I think that other smartphones are too small":) . On HD700 the quantity of mids is just right to my ears. Also the quality of midrange on HD700 is excellent. I would like to mention it again - quality (HD700) vs quantity (K701).
     
    Black Sun Empire - Salvador (song)
    Simple overall impression - with HD700 I can finally listen to the neurofunk, but with some small compromises.Bass on this track is prominent in the mix as it is expected from neurofunk. With HD700 the bass has a very good quality but slight lack of the subbass is more audible here than on metal tracks. HD700 is trying to heal it with more energy on midbass but body is still slightly missing. I expected a bit more here I have to say. But compared to the K701 it is like the night and the day to my ears. K701 was not even close to the overall bass quality/quantity. The rest of spectrum was reproduced very similar, but for neurofunk the bass is essential. It looks like I have to buy the HD650 especially for neurofunk...hmmm
     
    Black Sun Empire - Tripel (song)
    More-less the same as for "Salvador" is valid also here but on this track I was more satisfied with bass quantity of HD700...

    Combichrist - We Love You (album)
    Texture of synths are excellent, also midbass. Again I beg for just a bit more subbass here to get a perfect bass. But a little worst thing happened - on some tracks I experienced some strong shhhh in vocals so I had to go down with volume. What a shame! The overall reproduction was perfect through the whole spectrum until sibilance appeared. But overall full bodied sound through the all tracks can outshine this issue. But, you know, we always want to have everthing perfect.. K701 had no chance again with modern industrial where the strong bass needs to be reproducted.
     
    Limp Bizkit - Chocolate Starfish and The Hot Dog Flavoured Water (album)
    Great energy of this band is rendered very well on HD700. Drummer plays a lot with cymbals and HD700 really likes it a lot (and me too as well). The drums on this album are one of the best sounding metal drums which I heard so far (yes, sometimes too much compressed, but what we can do...). Kick is fat and strong, PRAT is great. Distorted guitar shines again. Especially in "Full Nelson" the render of distortion guitar is spectacular. Very enjoying experience overall! K701 shows the ability to similar quality of reproduction, but lack in bass region dismiss it. The trebles were very good and close to performance of HD700. K701 struggled in midrange again where the naturality of instruments (especially guitar) was lacking. But again treble of K701 was very good here!
     
    London Grammar - Wasting My Young Years (song)
    This nice indie-pop I played especially to test the rendering of female vocals. Out from all tested tracks, on this song the both headphones were closest in terms of performance.
    K701 is very strong in female vocals reproduction. The voice was rendered perfectly and just right to my ears. But HD700 did it the same way and add on top the more coherent soundstage.
     
    Depeche Mode - Welcome To My World (song)
    Fat analog synths needs good bass extension and proper imaging. During this track I realised what is really wrong with K701 to my ears - IMO the Headfonia was right in their review od DT880/HD650/K701 when they tried to describe the K701's issue with soundstage. To desribe this I will use terminus-technicus from recording studio - the PAN.PAN is simply the potentiometer for setting where the recorded sound should play - on the left side(let's say that maximum is L10), on the right side (let's say that maximum is R10) or in the centre of soundstage (let's say value is 0). K701's soundstage is rendering well sounds around the centre (usually drums, bass guitar, vocals, etc.). But when I start to focus on soundstage quality between PAN=0 and PAN=L5 or R5 I found...virtually nothing! There is hollow place on soundstage which is filled only by some "air" or by stretched sound bodies from more left/right soundstage regions but not with the real body of instruments. I think that this is caused by lack of bass which is making drums and bass guitar sounding too thin and somehow separated from the left/right side of soundstage spectrum. This defect generates the hole between left/right and the centre of soundstage. Also I found that sounds which are playing very close to the maximum PAN=L10/R10 are compressed and squeezed toward the end of soundstage and there is no air around them. Something like a border is present here below the maximum PAN.
    HD700 has not any soundstage issue at all. It is as wide as K701 but there is still air around the instruments if they are playing on the corners of soundstage. The soundstage of hd700 seems to me like a limitless place without any borders, which push HD700 to much higher quality league than K701 in terms of soundstage realism and imaging.
     
    Ludovico Einaudi - In a Time Lapse (album)
    I expected though fight here in classical/piano music arena. K701 use to render piano very well, but compared to HD700 reproduction was somehow lifeless and not 100% natural. HD700 shows how to do it right. Especially on "Brother" the gradation was ecstasic. HD700 wins due to precise midbass and it's fluent connection with midrange. Midbass gave a perfect dynamic and body to the piano while the midrange rendered main tones more realistic than K701. In the end the real sound stage and top class layering of HD700 nailed K701 definitelly.The song "Orbits" made this "hole" between these two headphones even more evident. The HD700's trebles plays their best in this track - the sparkling bells/tringels with prominent violin made me cry. Sorry guys I shall not to write it :) Ehm...again I have to mention one of the biggest weapon of HD700 - the soundstage realism and layering ability.I think that K701 is very good in this aspects (especially layering) but HD700 clearly plays higher league."Newton's Cradle" with HD700 was experience out of this world to me. The soundstage and imaging was so real that I thought I'm right in concert hall. Reproduction had everything which it should have IMO. Trully spectacular here. In overall the HD700 gave me absoultely flawless experience with piano/classical music, much better and unforgettable than with K701! Extremely real and strong experience to me...
     
    Andy Stott - Hatch The Plan (song)
    ...good elctronic track to test sibilance:) HD700 impressed here with much better bass than I expected. Electronic kick drum is going quite low and I have no necessity for more subbass here.  Noisy sounds and vocal effects are usually a good feed for HD700 but on this track they are very close to sibilance...a there it is , the first shhh...and second shhh! Hmmm, I'm not happy. I have to say that one should be careful if  knows that some particular track is mastered with dominant trebles and agile/loud vocals, HD700 can have problems (more correct is to say that your ears on high volume can have problem:) On the other hand also K701 was sibilant on this track but much less. The drum kick rendered by K701 was, gently said, simply unsufficient here.
     
    Pink Floyd - High Hopes (song)
    Not much to say - true joy with HD700. Very coherent and alive, perfect details and soundstage. K701 is able to sound close to it but midrange and bass is playing lower league evidently.
     
    Pink Floyd - Coming Back To Life (song)
    Very complex song, because guitar on left is often playing different notes like guitar on the right. With K701 the soundstage issue mentioned above was clearly audible - the song sounds strange and not coherent at all - like two different songs played at the same time from left to right perspective of soundstage with common drums. HD700 had again no issue and due to perfect sound stage consistency the song was rendered really like the one song...Idiotic describe I know :) 
     
    OVERALL
    =======
    HD700 is clearly the upgrade to K701 to my ears. It is perfect all-rounder. It can play very well a lot of different genres. Even old metal and rock tracks are sounding very good again through them. Ocassional sibilance can occur if the song is mastered with lot of treble and lot of shhh in vocals. On the other hand K701 is not sibilant but due to forward mids they were even more fatiguing to me for long time listening at higher volumes. HD700 was never fatigue to me at all on. HD700 simply improves the every sound aspect of K701. Bass is better, midrange is better, treble is better, soundstage is better and comfort is better as well.
     
    Also the design is very nice and the comfort is excellent.
     
    All-in-all HD700 is a very good headphone in my opinion and the right upgrade for me.
    Also the HD700 price dropped a lot during last months. Current price tag of 430EUR is just OK in my opinion.
     
    PS: Currently I'm finishing DIY clone of MAD Ear+ HD Super II tube amp so I'm looking forward to the happy marriage with HD700 :)
     
    Thanks for reading my mess...
      
      iano and tf10charged like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Ataka
      Thanks all for reading! Yes, black album is mastered almost perfectly IMO. But as I wrote, I was really impressed how good HD700 sounds when playing metal. They have some special ability to make older tracks (especially tracks from 1980 to 1990) sounded very good and same time reveal all micro details on recording. K701 is just like opposite kind of animal - they really hate to play my metal/rock oldies collection...
       
      Today I listened to the Tool - Stinkfist,  and Vicarious. Both sounded amazing with HD700 to my ears, especially the overall realism and sound of guitar.
       
      I will update my impressions here when I will finish building of DIY clone of MAD Ear+ Super HD II tube amp...
       
      PS: Anyway I think that new AKG K701 for today's 200EUR is pretty damn good buy!
      Ataka, Jan 9, 2016
    3. Redcarmoose
      The difference though is the new k701s are from China, where the originals were from Austria. Maybe the quality is the same? I like the k701s for soundtracks and classical. But yes, I could see how you love your new headphones, seems like they have pace for your favorite songs and a sound that makes some of the older and maybe duller metal dynamic! Enjoy! Every once in a while I do find the k701s wake up. Today was Duran Duran and maybe due to the vocals, they worked? I have two pairs, lol
      Redcarmoose, Jan 10, 2016
    4. Ataka
      LOL you seems to be addicted to K701 same way as I was :)
       
      Yes, the "Made in Austria" label on cups is missing on current K701 production. Also you can see on images i.e. at AKG homepage that there are no bumps on headband anymore. It is good news for a lot of people I think, including me.
       
      Regarding quality I think/hope that acoustically they should be 99% same as older production from Austria. I assume that AKG have set very high quality standards for their products and they will not risk their credit by using of cheap materials or assembly quality, even if product is produced in China.
       
      As I told - I think that at 200EUR price tag one will not be able to find today a better headphones than AKG K701 - in terms of transparency, layering, detail and sound stage. The best bang for buck especially for piano/orchestra and vocals IMO.
       
      Mine K701 are 6 years old and they were made in Austria. I had a plan to sold them but today I decided to keep them. :)
       
      Keep it play!
      Ataka, Jan 10, 2016
  10. vaibhavp
    Great with right system
    Written by vaibhavp
    Published Oct 11, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - detail and resolution, dynamics, imaging and huge soundstage
    Cons - system dependent, cable a bit kinky
    I wanted to discuss a bit about HD700 today. I wouldnt include graphs or too much technical information. Simply the way I hear them and how I made a system around them as that is very important with HD700. So, lets get started with little details.
     
    BUILD AND FINISH
     
    HD700 is built very well. All sliding and rotating mechanisms work with a precision that give away its stature as second only to HD800 in Sennheiser food chain. Head band is silicone treated and gives a rubbery texture on touch. Headband padding and earpads are covered in velour that feels a little differently textured from other pads I have tried of same material. Its a bit stiff at first but after a bit of time, it breaks in and becomes soft and comfortable. Ear cups are made by a mixture of plastic and metal parts. Plastic is of nicer variety and feels more dense and stronger on tapping. Overall it looks intriguing and people who see it are left in no doubt its a rather expensive headphone.
     
    COMFORT AND ACCESSORIES
     
     Its comfort is very good. When I put it on, all of its weight is distributed on top of my head. As I mentioned, headband padding is a little stiff that allows it to suspend a bit on top rather than put weight on my and ears completely. They have very subtle clamping force that keeps them on head if I lay down on bed, but not not too much to be uncomfortable. Overall all it remains firmly in place no matter how listen to them without uncomfortable clamp or anything. Weight distribution is quiet good. All contact points are covered with velour like material which is very comfortable for long listening sessions. Earpads are sufficiently deep and I can feel AC aor on my ears while wearing them. Perhaps a sign of how open they are.
     
    Accessories are rather sparse. It comes in a cardboard box that is pretty big with generous foam cut outs to keep it protected in transit. Apart from that there is only a manual. The cable is removable with 2.5 mm mono plugs on one end and 6.3 mm jack on other. It does'nt come with 6.3 to 3.5 mm adapter so you will have to use your own if you want to plug it into source with 3.5 mm jack. Cable though is nicely made and covered in cloth below y splitter, kinks a lot and still has memory of how it was wrapped when you opened it. Its a bit intrusive in day to day use, and I have to sort the kinks everytime I start using it.
     
    SOUND
     
    Ok so the important part. I will divide this section into subsections for easy reading.
     
    Initial impressions
     
    When I originally recieved them, I was using Audinst HUD Mini. Its an entry level dac\amp unit and sounds good for the price. After few hours of burning in, I plugged in HD700 and was not convinced. Treble on HUD mini is not very refined and in just 30 min listeing session, I had to put down hp. It was too fatiguing. For me, simply unlistenable. Now I had two options, either to return HP or build a better setup for it. I obviously decided to do latter, to see if HD700 can sound convincing and enjoyable. Its treble had a bit of ringing to it, so I decided to go for a warm dac. After reading a bit on different threads, I decided to buy Fiio X5 classic and use it as transport and source. Some people were using it with HD800 and it seemed to solve treble issues. Also Sennheisers are known to work well with tube amps. After asking a bit on HD700 thread I decided to go for one of garage 1217 amps. So I am using following system at time of writing this:
     
    Fiio X5 classic > Garage 1217 Project Solstice with 6H6N tube > HD700.
     
    After Burn in
     
    As I learnt from my first tube amp, tubes take a lot of time to settle down and sound their best. I can still detect sound changing from clausterphobic to wide open, mid focussed bass light to bass heavy. But its bigger issues, mainly treble ringing is completely cured with this setup and I can easily listen for hours at a time.
     
    Bass
     
    HD 700 is very system dependent and dependent on your preferences you can make it sound bass light or bass heavy. Its major characteristics remain same, you can change how much spotlight and space in soundstage it gives to bass frequencies. Bass is round and snappy. Its dynamic and fast. Does not go very deep like my closed back cans but has a bit of mid bass punch. It has good detail. Bassline almost always occupy lower half of soundstage, giving vocals and other instruments space above it. Maybe cause of great imaging I am able to pin point it. It holds nothing back if track allows for it and you use a bass heavy system.
     
    Mids
     
    On solid state system, generally instuments sound in second layer behind bass and vocals. Not distant but just one step behind. On tubes , everything expands and mids show bloom and are lot more prominant. In both cases mids are detailed, resolved and thick. If you love mids, I doubt you will remain dissatisfies, especially with tube amps. To show detail, it does naturally and does not sound forced. It seems like a higher quality driver with effortless resolution. Midrange is neutral sounding with little warm tilt.
     
    Vocals are very lifelike and natural and it takes listener closer to their favourite artist one step. Does not polish them or give extra bite. Vocals are not overly forward and are well integrated with rest of instruments.
     
    Treble
     
    Treble has substantial presence, but it aids in giving an organic and natural presentation. It is not used as a tool to give perception of a lot of detail, or bite to vocals and guitars. It has sennheiser house sound and treble is not etched. I must warn you though, with a lot of systems, it can be ringing and fatiguing. But this hp only if you are ready to build a setup around it, if needed.
     
    Treble is not rolled off and is detailed. Though I must say, tube I am using has little prominance in treble. Also my dac is warmer, so judging treble is a bit harder. But I can say as it is, its neither offensive nor rolled off or vieled. It aides presentation very well.
     
    Soundstage and imaging
     
    If I were to choose one aspect where a lesser hp can't touch it at all, it would be imaging. Its so pin point and gives cues of where sound is coming from extremely well. Soundstage width is very good. With my system, it gives a feel of 2nd row auditorium. All instruments are very big in size and not distant at all. Also soundstage depth is very good. Some instruments are in your face, while others are a bit distant, resulting in a very convincing presentation. Overall soundstage performance is its strong point, it can sometimes, depending on recording, can sound out of the head as well, as if sound is coming from in front of me.
     
    Dynamics and timber
     
    Dynamically very alive and give feel of ebb and flow of music really well. Very refined dynamics with lot of steps between loudest and quietest passages.
     
    Timber on my system is rich, a little bright. It conveys inherent properties of instruments and vocals very well. 
     
    Conclusion
     
    It was initially priced at $1000 and I think it performs like a higher end can. Its a definite step up over mid range cans I own or tried. The price I paid for it, I think its a very good value. For some people it can be a bit uninvolving as it tries to mimic the way music sounds in real life, without adding too much colouration. It does an excellent job at that and if you are looking for a hp that sounds natural, neutral, true to recording and music, you should check out Sennheiser HD700.
     
    Thanks for reading. 
    1. kevinq
      Very nice review, thank you.
      kevinq, Oct 11, 2015
    2. Gamergtx260
      Great review.. Could you compare these with the HD600s?
      Gamergtx260, Apr 4, 2016
    3. vaibhavp
      Hello,
      I have not heard hd600. Though there are lot of detailed comparisons out there. Try searching for hd600 vs 700 by brooko in google, from top of my mind.

      One thing I would like to add is this hp is good. Nothing like ppl told me it would be. 600 is more of a classic so gets praised accordingly. Keep that in mind.
      700 is considerable step up over 650 i once tried.
      vaibhavp, Apr 4, 2016

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