Sennheiser HD 700 Headphone

Average User Rating:
  1. project86
    "The next big thing? Maybe... "
    Pros - Exceedingly comfortable, easy to drive, many of the strengths of the HD800 at a lower price
    Cons - The price will be an issue if it doesn't get discounted, highs can be bothersome, plastic construction may not feel like $1K headphones


    Just adding a quick summary based on my time with the prototype version of the HD700. In my opinion this is a very good headphone, yet I know it won't be perfect for everybody. But no headphone ever is!
    It basically takes the HD800 sound, reduces the treble energy to some degree, and possibly bumps up the bass impact a tad. Either that or it just seems that way due to the treble balance. Since mine was a prototype version, there is a chance that the final sound will change. Therefore I'll be speaking in generalities. I know for sure that there will be updates to the headband to offer more padding. Despite that, I already found the HD700 to be supremely comfortable. Maybe it is just my head being the perfect size for them, but I think these are the most comfy headphones I've ever worn. Revised padding shouldn't change that, and if anything will make it even better.
    As mentioned above, these have a similar overall tone to the HD800. If you despised the HD800 then the HD700 probably won't win you back. But for some people this might be perfect. Maybe you loved the HD800 but couldn't afford it. Or maybe you could afford the HD800 alone but not the quality amplification it requires. Or maybe you loved the HD800 clarity and soundstage but couldn't quite get over the lightness of the bass in relation to the treble. The HD700 addresses all of those issues to some degree:
    1. At $999, it isn't cheap, but still quite a bit less than the $1500 HD800
    2. It seems significantly easier to drive. Not only that, but it seems less "picky" about amplification, pairing fairly well with almost anything I threw at it. This might be partially due to the less tipped-up sound signature in general. 
    3. It has a somewhat more "mainstream" ratio of bass to treble. By that I mean the treble is shelved down by a noticeable amount (though still prominent - this is no HD650). So while the best sound still comes by way of Diana Krall style "audiophile" tracks, you can comfortably play some Steve Miller Band and not feel like the bass is too shy. I know that many people find the HD800 perfect in this regard - but we have to recognize that many others do not. 
    Is this headphone actually better than the HD800? Not exactly. The HD800 still has superior imaging and soundstage, though the HD700 comes rather close. The HD800 still has better details. And on the proper rig, I think the HD800 is just a more transparent window into the music. But the HD700 comes close in many ways, and doesn't take as much to get there in terms of source and amplification. I think it could be a better match for more people and more systems.
    It isn't the perfect headphone. There is an issue with sibilance in some tracks. In other cases the highs can be peaky and sharp. The plastic construction, while extremely light weight and comfortable, will be fundamentally disappointing to some users. And in the end some folks will still find them too bass light. There is strong competition from planar models like the HE-500 and LCD-2, though in my opinion the HD700 is roughly as good as those (though obviously different). The HE-500 manages to undercut the HD700 by $300, which can't be ignored.
    Take all this discussion with a huge grain of salt - these are not yet finalized, and could have some significant changes before they come to market in a few months. A big determining factor will be the manner in which Sennheiser handles their sales: if retailers are forced to strictly enforce the MSRP, I believe there will be less interest. But if the "street price" drops to around $800-something I believe they will become extremely popular. Either way I believe HeadFi will be buzzing about the HD700, for better or worse, for some time.
    And now some eye candy:





    Sennheiser, dangill, Balmoral and 3 others like this.
  2. mikebirm49
    "The Sennheiser HD 700 is a viable alternative to their flagship HD 800"
    Pros - Superlative imaging, accuracy and transparency, generous sound stage, comfortable to wear
    Cons - Expensive, its accurate sound is what some object to as the Sennheiser "veil"
    Designed to fill the gap between the HD 650s and the flagship HD 800s, the new HD 700s essentially share the status of flagship top-of-the-line headphones with the 800s. The open 800s are superb dynamic headphones featuring spatial accuracy and unparalleled imaging. Their innovative design uses a large "ring radiator" driver that is positioned a bit forward of the ears and then angled slightly backwards so that they deliver a more planar wave front. That modified acoustic wave front is the source of the 800s improved imaging as it more closely mimics the way we actually perceive sound. Listening to orchestral music, for example, produces an often uncanny sound stage of depth and breadth that enables you to position each instrument with impressive accuracy as to spatial location. The timbre of each instrument is likewise accurately reproduced, making the 800s the headphone of choice for recording purposes if accuracy is the major criterion. But all of this spatial and acoustic accuracy comes with a price. Some listeners find the 800s to be overly accurate, too acoustically detailed, too "analytical" in its approach. There is a slight increase in frequency response at 7khz during the otherwise nearly perfect treble roll-off, which may be the source of that perceived aggressive accuracy which some have found fatiguing. My listening experience has not found them problematic but nearly perfect in their ability to reproduce almost any given recording. The 800s are well engineered for reproducing instrumental and vocal music recorded with "passive" techniques, that is without the added distortion, compression, coloring, bass or brightness of many current popular music recordings. Headphones like the Audeze LCD-2, with their potent bass and fast response, may be more attuned to this variety of popular music.

    The reaction of some to the 800s may be why the new HD 700s were created. They have a slightly warmer, more gemutlich (congenial) sonic approach. Their spatial imaging is nearly as well focused as the 800s but with an acoustic signature that sounds less analytical, more "analog" in comparison to the 800's slightly more "digital" quality. What some perceive as the 800's incrementally brighter treble seems to have been modified a bit, creating a more rounded and even plumper (in a good way) upper range. To my ears the HD 700s sound less aggressively realistic and more "relaxed" in reproducing treble. Their musical accuracy remains excellent. Listening to Mozart, for example, their sonic quality matches the elegance of the music note for note. Mozart's transparent orchestration for the Piano Concerto No.17 is reproduced by the 700s with comparable transparency. The qualities that struck me while listening were their transparency, elegance and musical warmth. To my ears, they possess the best attributes of a cross between the older HD 600s, with their natural and relaxed presentation, and the HD 800s, with their superlative imaging and generous sound stage. My guess is that the slight rise in frequency response at 7 khz, found in the 800s, was significantly reduced while engineering the HD 700s.

    The bottom line is that the HD 700s boast nearly the same spatial accuracy and imaging capability as the flagship HD 800s. With good source material the 700s create a palpable sense of true-to-life acoustic presence. Bass reproduction is crisp and punchy. Mid-range is vibrant and clear. Treble is crystalline and sharp without a hint of auditory fatigue after hours of very comfortable listening. I noticed no obvious sibilance, though older mono recordings did manifest some distortion in the treble. These headphones are superbly musical. In my experience, only the much more expensive Audeze LCD-3's approach them (amongst non-electrostatic headphones) in reproducing the richness and life of the musical spectrum. As with all of Sennheiser's top of the line dynamic headphones, you'll need a headphone amplifier in order to realize their full potential. Without an amp to drive them the 700s sound slightly anemic and generic. With an amp they seem to bloom like the desert after a rain storm, coming alive and adding a sense of urgency to the music. Even if you already own a pair of the 800s, you may still want to audition the 700s. Their "relaxed" upper range mitigates what a small minority of listeners have occasionally found tiring in the HD 800s: their relentlessly accurate and analytical acoustic approach. The HD 700s reproduce music with a natural, burnished warmth and non-aggressive clarity. Their substantially lower price than the 800s make them a bit more enticing when considering value. The Sennheiser HD 700s are a solid choice amongst many available options. They are not better headphones than the HD 800s, just different with an appealingly natural approach to music. The two models make an interesting complementary pair at the peak of Sennheiser's price range. The HD 700s will definitely appeal to audiophiles.
    [An addendum added July 7, 2012: Several weeks of further usage have yielded some additional observations. The HD 700s have a very broad dynamic range, a frequency response between 10Hz and 42kHz and a sound pressure level of 105 dB. Music can get loud very quickly. Your listening levels should be on the conservative side in order to safeguard your ears. Their impressive range and sound pressure level also means that they can literally "turn on a dime", supporting the HD 700's faster and more aggressive response to musical dynamics. They are an excellent headphone for Rock, especially impressive with music that features more complex mixes. Bands like Genesis, Tears for Fears and similar groups, whose music reflects countless studio hours, sound exceptionally vivid and exciting. Music that had previously been obscured by multiple layers of sound is suddenly audible and distinct, adding immeasurably to the pleasure that headphones uniquely provide. Sennheiser includes a 3 meter long Kevlar cord that arrives kinked, stiff and unwieldy when first removed from the box. Straighten the cord and leave it out for a day or two so that the kinks and knots disappear. Kevlar, used in bullet-proof vests, is intrinsically very thick and heavy. The cord is quite well behaved following this simple procedure and proves itself solid and robust. The relatively light clamping force of the HD 700s induces the wearer to shift the headband forward, which accentuates the sound stage produced by their angled transducers. The intention is to mimic the placing of front speakers. The depth and breadth of the resulting acoustic image is striking.]
    pdrm360 likes this.
  3. purrin
    "Sennheiser brings aural excitement to my ears"
    Pros - Super comfy
    Cons - Too exciting for my tastes, mid suckout, spotlit treble, too expensive, ugly
    born2bwild and thegunner100 like this.
  4. z0nda2650
    "HD700 Review"
    Pros - Comfort, large soundstage, clear audio, design
    Cons - Pricing, bright trebles, large redundant box
    Let me start off by say that i am not a perfectionist nor am i a totally audiophile, but rather an enthusiast (because my rig is mostly mid-fi) that never really found any need to post a headphone review, but since the HD700 has been getting mixed impressions i'd like to give my opinion, also i've only listened to the HD800 for around 30minutes therefore i will not compare them (c'mon guys its Sennheiser's flagship headphone for a reason).
    With that out of the way i can now get to the actual headphone, which i believe has i very unique design which to me looks like a face-lifted version of the hd800 albeit made with slight less premium materials. It also comes in this extremely large useless box and no accessories.

    For the first 10 minutes of listening i found the soundstage to be incredibly wide and the low end surprisingly punchy (guessing its them trying to get some of the HD650 sound signature), the mids were there and was very flat, what i was most impressed was the fact that it would always keep up with the music even when there was a lot of instruments going off in the background it would still bring out every detail, the HD700 is very comfortable though made from plastics (at least it seems durable).

    After 4 days of burning in and listening, i believe that the hot treble has smoothened (though i also highly predict that my ears have simply gotten used to the sound signature) and it retained its super detailed and clean approach towards projecting my music.
    In comparison towards the HD650:
    Though i never owned one, I've listened to a HD650 for around 3 hours recently and always found to be very warm, detailed and punchy. This i believe, is a stark contrast towards the HD700 because the HD700 has a more clinical sound albeit with a slightly punchy low end and hot treble therefore leaning towards the HD800.
    In comparison towards my other headphones:
    HD700 blows the others out of the water.

    In conclusion, i am really impressed with the clinical yet slight "fun" sound approach taken from the HD650 which was exactly was i was expecting when purchasing these headphones therefore i have no problem paying full price, i understand why some cannot  justify its asking price because i believe its not a direct upgrade from a HD650 but rather a sidestep with newer technologies implemented inside the headphone.
    HellaSteph likes this.
  5. DrSeven
    "After about 300h of listening I have to say these cans qualify as pure awesomeness"
    Pros - overall sound quality, clarity, detail, mids, soundstage and separation, extreme comfort, good cable
    Cons - little sibilant in the beginning, some fragile parts, maybe too bright for some people
    Sennheiser HD 700
    At the moment I unfortunately have no time to write a complete review. So my apologies for that but I'm going to finish this review as soon as I can

    Low pitch: 4/5
    maybe not enough bass for the bass heads but for my taste just enough -and whats more important- HQ bass
    Medium pitch: 5/5
    absolutely stunning! near perfection IMO
    High pitch: 4/5
    a little harsh in the beginning but after some time (burning in or getting used to them) I really think the highs sound great
    Well I like it ...also they are not as big as for example the HD800 and LCD 2/3 what I think is good 
    Most comfy cans Ive ever had I can wear them for hours without any discomfort
    I think they are not that overpriced and you get pretty good cans for your money 
    I compared them to some cans ( to name only some: Shure SHR1840, AKG K 701, Sennheiser HD 650, Denon AH-D 7100,..) and I always ended up with the HD700 as the for my taste most euphonic headphone (dunno why but esp. when paired with a colorfly c4 player)
    So I can absolutely recommend them for most genres (except maybe Hip Hop) and I think they are great all-rounders
  6. David Chavez
    "A hit and a miss.."
    Pros - Comfort, looks, non fatiguing
    Cons - Value, overall audio quality,
    Let me begin by saying there is nothing special about these headphones.  My first impression of them made me smile because I fell in love with the oral shaped ear cups (I'm a sucker for "small" full ear headphones). Comfort is a highlight that sennheiser did not lose when they made these headphones. But when your paying $1000 dollars on headphones comfort shouldn't sway you from giving up large gapes of audio quality.  Which leads me to audio quality, if the only headphone drivers that existed were still dynamic drivers then this would have a great success for sennheiser. (Note I burned them in 6 hrs a day until roughly 250hrs) The best way to describe these headphones would be to call them average(neutral a good thing for studio) with plenty of warmth and a bit of harsh treble (not good for studio).  A big con is the pain it can create in your ears if you listen to songs with lots of T's and S's. Some characterizes of headphones in the 300-500 dollar beat these headphones.  And stiff competition such as the Audeze Lcd 2 and even hifiman he500 (that are hundreds less) make these headphones a rip off to some extent if your in the market of hifi headphones that are in the warm side.
    BobG55 and PDC3 like this.
  7. pdrm360
    "A nice pair of headphones between HD650 and HD800"
    I spent a few months to find a good upgrade from the HD598. I had tried HE-500, LCD2.2, and Grado GS1000. I had never wanted to try a HD700 after having read the criticism about the sound and the bad measurements.  Between those I chose the LCD2, but because a friend's suggestion I got a HD700 from amazon. I just wanted to make sure LCD2 is the best choose on $1000 range headphones but from the first minute I tried the HD700 I found that it’s not as bad as some of the reviews. 
    After burn-in the headphone for around 40 hours I spent whole a weekend to compare HD700 to LCD2, to me they had a same sound quality with different sound signature, for some genres I preferred HD700 and for some genres, LCD2.  Finally I decided to keep the HD700, since it had a same SQ but much more comfortable than LCD2.  The HD 700 feels like it weighs almost nothing on my head and the earpads don’t make my ears sweat even after hours of use.
    Honestly I didn’t find any 5.5 kHz peak, but maybe a bit around 6.5 kHz. Yes, I found some hot trebles and sibilance in the beginning but after a couple months of listening what I can say according to my ears and impression, most of them have been smoothen out. 
    The HD700 build quality is not bad at all; it is constructed by high quality plastic with a hint of metal. I don’t have any concern of its long-term durability base on my experience with other plastic made headphones from Sennheiser. 
    In compare to my HD650, the HD700 has more trebles energy, deeper and more refined bass, wider sound stage, better instrument separation, more revealing and much faster, though the HD650 is more transparent to my ears.
    K-Otar likes this.
  8. Rob80b
    "Nice addition to the Senn line up."
    Pros - Very good imaging, staging is very speaker like, seamless tone from top to bottom, excellent clarity, midrange and tight tuneful bass.
    Cons - Unruly cable
    January 1st  2014

    Initial impressions
    First off "Happy New Year"
    Took awhile but my HD700s finally showed up yesterday, a cursory listen (5-6 hrs) mirrored more or less yours and Mike’s impressions.
    As mentioned above I’m using a Bryston BCD-1 as source balanced to a BHA-1 for amplification, so no hiss, hum, you name it just a jet black back-round allowing every little nuance to come through unscathed.
    What was great was that instead of jumping through numerous tidbits of audio nirvana and being swept into audiophile neurosis I actually got immersed and “almost” listened to each disc in its entirety.
    Started off by burning the 700's in with Underworld's "Dark and Long" and then Kraftwerk's Live "Minimum-Maximum" and kept them on repeat until I closed my shop at the end of the day.
    Finally getting a chance to chill out I sat down with Brian Eno's "Another Day on Earth", George Crumb "An Idyl for the Misbegotten", Leslie Fiest's "The Reminder" and Dave Hollands “Prime Directive”.
    The Senn signature was there but different, the HD580/600 are great phones and have stood the test of time but the HD700s appear to have brought everything up to date. Clarity was one word that came to mind but what I was mostly impressed by and just to quote you, “I would even dare to say the HD700 is speaker like in a way, it’s a dangerous statement, I know, but they sound so open and clear it’s amazing. “
    My biggest caveat with the Senn 600 series was that even though imaging layering was great, the central image quite often was produced larger than life and disproportionate to what I consider a proper sound stage, therefore more convex in nature, my AKG K701s do the opposite and produce a staging that is way too concave.
    The HD700s IMHO nailed it, producing the best natural staging, width and depth that I’ve gotten out of a pair phones and somewhat reminiscing my Dynaudio Special 25s speakers, that also applies to tonality and voicing, therefore neutral.
    But to sum up without sounding too pretentious I’d say the HD700 is very “audiophile like”, at least from what I have experienced so far, in that they do not overlay any specific sonic signature of their own to the recording unlike my AKGs, Grados and other Senns, so basically very chameleon in nature.
    Follow Up

    Not to mention the HD700s appear very well made and nice form factor, too bad they didn't throw in the balanced cable.[​IMG]
    Ps. Just a word about pricing, not too sure why but Sennheiser Canada has never followed suit with Senn US, those with short term memory may be surprised to know that the HD600 were priced here at $699 and the HD580s at $549.00
    Working in the industry at the time I got my first HD580s ten years ago my dealer costs were still $349.00, needless to say I bought them on line from the US for a much reduced price and even still today that trend continues, the HD700 are still listed at their original offering $1000-$1199 along with most of their line up.
    So the current price of $649 in the US for the HD700 in my eyes, retrospectively speaking, makes them quite the bargain.
    IMHO the 700s are everything the 650’s should have been, the HD600 were/are very well balanced phones and I was expecting something special with the 650s, but in the end I felt it was really only Sennheiser’s answer to the boom of Home Theatre at the time, with the augmentation and proliferation of the use of sub-woofers.
    We got bass but at a cost of losing what made the 600s special, congruity of tone.
    Impressions after almost 8 months, August 24th
    Well maybe it’s just me but the HD700s have proved themselves over and over again as one of the most satisfying phones I’ve owned with all types of genres.
    I’ve now forfeited most of my headphone collection, Hd580/600s, Grado SR325is, AKG K701s, K501s and the 240DFs, the HD700s filling the gap. Along the way I also purchased a new pair of HD800s but after week even with all their technical superiority they failed to engage me musically so off they went back to the supplier.
    I still needed a second set of phones so just took the plunge on the AKG K712s, hey I was AKG supporter for as long as I can remember, their sound signature has dramatically transformed compared to my original K701s, being darker, warmer, smaller sound stage and now come very close to my HD580/600s but with a lot more bass, ironically this is all due to the implementation of the thicker, deeper memory foam ear cushions, which I confirmed just by swapping out the pads on the K701s.

    But again the HD700s proved themselves as a better phone, percussion having better attack and decay, superior focused imaging over the K712s allowing one to hear deeper into the mix, overall better clarity from top to bottom, both phones are very good but the HD700s just give you more. I’ve read the Annies ( again with slightly different pads) retain some of the previous AKG K7xx openess but with the bass and may be a better contender with the HD700s.
    Eventually I”ll most likely get around to the Audezes and Hifimans but for me Sennheiser have indeed produced a wonderful head-set and am always at a loss to hear otherwise.
    pdrm360 likes this.
  9. mwhouston
    "An extremely good pair of headphones for the serious home listener."
    Pros - Un-coloured sound, feel solid and professional, removeable and replacable cord.
    Cons - The cotton cord with a mind of its own, very open design lets a lot of sound out.
    After building a very exotic valve headphone amp, with a Sophia Mesh Plate Rec. tube, I wanted to match this thermionic marvel with REAL quality phones. I have a pair of AT ATH700 Airs which I love and think excellent value for $160. I also have my "train" pair of Phiaton 400s with their closed back. The Phiatons are good but the ATs much better. I Googled for the "best headphones" the the answer came back "Sennheiser HD700s". Too many good reviews to ignore them and at around the $1K mark I must have a pair. RRP for these pro. phones is $1,100. Even on eBay they were going for $1,050. But shopping about I picked up an authentic new pair for $750. At $750 these are a steel. I'd pay $750 just for the foam padded box they came in. The HD700s are made in Germany and feel solid and very profession. And that's just how they sound. Rated 150ohms and 105db efficient these are easy to drive phones.
    But lets talk about the sound. Firstly the bass is very extended but far from overblown like so many cheaper phones can be. Bass is very articulated and no problems following a slap bass (doubled bass) being played with gusto. You can hear inside the bass and the air around it. Mids are linear, clean and harmonically rich particularly through the valve HP amp. I could understand if some think them a little dry because they really add nothing to the mids where some might want extra weight here. Treble is balanced and not over bright and sibilance is controlled but not overly so. They may be a tough too much "sshhh" and not so much "S". Again a different amp may offer a different balance.
    I would thoroughly recommend the Sennheiser HD700 even if you pay full price. These phones are keepers for the at home serious listener. To achieve the very best from them match them a high quality amp\driver and play REAL music through them not compressed mp3 sound files. These phones are why we listen to music the way we do.
    AN94Master likes this.
  10. stpope
    "They hit a sweet spot"
    Pros - Comfort, light weight, spectacular sound: response and imaging
    Cons - Not cheap
    I've used most of the old-school brands (Grado, AKG, Sennheiser, Sony, Koss, David Clark, ...) and have tried several of the Jonny-come-latelys, and the HD700s are simply the best for comfort and sound that I know.
    I can wear them for hours and never get fatigued.
    Most of the others that I've heard fail relative to the HD700 in terms of either wearability or audiophile sound.
    I use an after-market cable that's shorter and lighter than the stock cable.
    My other options are Etymotic fitted in-ear 'phones or Genelec active monitors.
    I've never heard the HD800s with anything better than a computer (and a PC at that) driving them, so I can't really compare the two.
    I listen mostly to computer audio (Apple Lossless or AAC@320kbps formats) through a TC Electronic Impact Twin FireWire DAC/Headphone amp, which I also highly recommend (esp. for the price of $250).
    I've used lots of AKG 'phones over the years, and liked the sound, but the Q701 is noticeably heavier than the HD700 and flops around more when you move your head, the Senns are snugger and lighter, in addition to having a killer soundstage.