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Universal Fit item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Good soundstage; Very clear sounding with great bass.
Cons - Piercing treble; Extremely bad cables.
Nice looking small hard leather case that is not so usable due to a lot of cable folding (when I describe the cable you'll understand why is case so useless), plenty of silicone tips of different sizes but no foam tips like with EX1000 for example.
Build & Comfort:
Earphones themselves are built pretty good, they look nice and feel pretty nice, they have magnesium body which I found to be decently light for the size (they aren't that huge but still, 16mm dynamic driver had to fit somewhere) and nice looking, nice design overall. Cables don't go over the ear and they are not replaceable which might be a deal breaker for the price (it's a good thing when a 300$ earphone stops working because of the cable and you just buy new one for 10$ instead of whole new earphones). Cables are simply extremely bad, they lasted me for around 9 months (and I took as much care as possible) and I've sent them under warranty (2 years, as usual) and got full amount of money back because they didn't have another EX700 to give me as replacement since they were discontinued I think some time ago, and they returned money pretty fast so good support on that side but still a disappointing situation. Cables are really thin and their design where one earpiece has longer cable so it goes around your neck isn't the best either in my opinion, one earpiece keeps falling down all the time even tho cable is light (due to it's thinness, not because of it's build quality or something!). But generally earphones themselves are comfortable, housing is light and it doesn't touch ears much (only the silicone tip) and the driver placed on the side is pretty good solution since it's 16mm which is like the biggest driver in any in ear earphone ever (next to 2 other Sony models and Final Audio Design Piano Forte IX/X).
Excellent bass, just great! Honestly I haven't heard better bass on in ear headphones. It has really good sub bass, that feel... on some songs almost sound like real subwoofer speaker and not in ear headphones, I guess brain trick you there but it's really engaging. Mid bass is also decent and it doesn't interfere with mids like many other dynamic driver headphones so EX700 sound very clear, accurate overall, with a lot of details.
They have a problem tho, a huge one - highs. Highs are sibilant, piercing, deafening. Good source can fix it to some point, but if you crank volume up a bit it becomes really fatiguing and unbearable. Not only the highest freqs here... I couldn't listen to one of my favorite bands (Guns n' Roses) because Axls voice makes me deaf with them. Jazz tho and all kinds of audiophile recordings and acoustic instrumentals sounded like heaven, much much better than the Sennheiser IE80 I own for example.
Not much to say about the mids overall, clear nice sounding, bit recessed tho, but in my opinion strong point of these is excellently controlled and deep low sub bass, not overbearing but well present while the weak point is treble.
Isolation is not the best but also not the worst I've heard, it's sufficient (haven't tried foam tips tho since they don't come with earphones) - at the same level as lets say IE80 if you've heard them.
If you are sensitive to piercing highs and like to listen at louder volumes skip these without even trying them on but if you like to listen at lower volumes, mostly at home (so you don't break awful cables that can't be replaced) relaxing music, audiophile recordings, jazz and such this might be the best choice for money you can make - very accurate and clear sounding with so great sub bass. They should be still around to buy at 250-300$ which is fair if you are good with the highs.
Pros - Great sound, lows and mids are definitely well done on these.
Cons - Sibilance
These aren't too great for hard rock or anything with high-pitched crashing sounds like symbols. It's ok at medium volume levels. Loud crashing symbols can sound more like high pitched white noise on these, it will get painful at high volumes.
With more bassy genres these are actually very good.
Pros - comfort, good isolation, quality, design
Cons - grainy, highs are little artificial, sub 50hz is gone
Good IEM, classy, comfy. Audio quality is very correct. Not audiophile like, but when you're commuting or doing sport you don't wear your full size headphones with amp in the pocket!
Those earbuds are solid, reliable, stock cable never even once rattle in 6 years of use. Still going strong the sound is smooth but I remember the first year or use the highs were really grainy. Now highs are tamed and bass is still lacking! I'm talking sub 50/60hz lows. Normal pop music don't use that much. Overall commercial radio music is mixed for car speakers so if you listen to jazz or classical there those are not the critical pair of IEM out there.
For the others sony IEM have now better earbuds but in its time those buds were the best. I like them because of nostalgia.
Pros - Really excellent sound... IF you use the right source and eq! Pretty good with classical and acoustic music, but really shines with my dark electro!
Cons - Harsh, weak imaging, deceitful, some users may find sibilant, some users may find blissful. Deafening.
I used to use the ck10 and ex700 to complement eachother as my standard IEM's, which was a nice pair of two very different IEM's, I used the ck10 much more, but I liked the sound quality of the ex700 sometimes, if you click on my username you can find my ck10 review where I compare them with certain songs and sometimes find music quite a bit more enjoyable with the ex700, factoring in price and the qualities I liked in both, I leaned more towards the EX700, and I ended up selling the ck10 to explore other IEM's and kept the EX700, and I do not regret this. The most vivid difference you ask? the EX700 could convey emotional expression via music where the ck10 could not, it is like natural and enveloping versus synthetic and accurate.
In regards to the oft-mentioned sibilance, I must be technical and digress, I don't think the EX700 is sibilant, at least not like the CK10 or the SA-5000 which is what I call sibilant, especially the SA-5000 where "s" sounds are actually resonating into your nasal cavity, but I could handle that, it was kinda cool.
The vice of the EX700 is it's just harsh in a dissonance of the mids kind of way, which becomes literally deafening with extended use, it's literally impossible to listen to the EX700 with sony hybrids, flat eq, and high volume, impossible, after half an hour my ears are ringing, after an entire 7 hour plane-trip, it'll take my ears a day or two to completely normalize again, like I was at a harsh concert! I have however learnt to circumvent this flaw, so I now use decored Shure Olives tips, along with eq'ing, my source of choice is the Teclast T51, and now I just get the best qualities out of the EX700 without much harshness left, the best qualities are IMHO excellent transparency, tonality, decay, resonance and sweetness/clarity, the latter of which I attribute to the 6kHz FR boost, but I do find the imaging in these really quite weak especially on the Y axis, and I certainly miss the flat-FR of the ck10. If I could sum up the EX700 in a few words I would call it the "harmony of dissonance" IEM, or "the deceitful angel", whatever Sony has magically done to the housing or driver of the EX600/800ST/1000 it seems to have recorrected itself into the "harmony of resonance" IEM instead.
It seems like the EX600 is the new recommendation now, but if you can pick up an EX700 for less than the EX600, or would like something with a different flavour than the EX600 and can handle some minor eq'ing or tip experimentation, or perhaps would like more of a collectors item product, I insist it is worth it at that price, for the sound signature.
The EX700 doesn't have a good reputation on head-fi, but I find this is slightly erroneous, I think newcomers and veterans alike should be able to appreciate it's high level of sound quality, one such example is when my ex girlfriend was trying some of my different IEM's, and to her "they all sounded like earphones", until she heard the EX700, that one stood out to her and after listening to some pop and dub-step from her laptop she said "I feel like listening to all my music all over again!", and I have seen reviews on the internet in the same vein.
There has been some discussion on the FR graphs of the EX700/600/800/1000 created by sonove.angry.jp, mostly along the lines of "what was Sony thinking?" with the 6kHz boost, but it is now clear to me that this boost is intentional, as we can also find it in high-end custom IEM's like the Rooth LS8 which even goes over and beyond whatever Sony was thinking with that SS.
Source synergy is important too, I do most of my listening with the Teclast T51 which has a good synergy with the EX700, another strength it has, source transparency, I can now hear the difference between my laptop and T51 clear as day, which was much harder with the ck10 as it is more forgiving and just takes whatever signal it gets and says "let's ck10 this", whereas the EX700 is let's the signal shine through, albeit it is stained glass.
On the T51, the eq allows for adjustment in the 60Hz, 300Hz, 1kHz, 3kHz and 6kHz range, looks pretty useless right? No, not with the EX700, as 1kHz and 6kHz are important sectors of where you have to eq it imho.
I usually adjust the eq like this:
So as you can see, 4dB less at 1kHz, that is quite a decrement, but that is what it takes, and then 6kHz +2? not necessary, but it sounds good! boosting the natural peak exactly where it is, improving sweetness and detail just a tiny bit more along with the reduction of harshness at 1kHz, the HO and LO both sound good on the Teclast T51 with the EX700, but the LO is the vivid, clear, clean and sweet one and thus my favorite here, however I use the HO quite a lot so I can adjust the volume and it sounds fine with pop and stuff.
In Foobar2000, I can't adjust 6kHz, I can only adjust 5kHz and 7kHz, that adjustment doesn't sound very good, 5khz sounds OK, but not 7khz, which starts learning towards piercing, so I leave them alone.
In Foobar2000, I can't adjust 1kHz either, only 440 Hz, 622 Hz, 880Hz and 1.2kHz, you have to play around with those to get a good sound. The eq adjustment and sound-quality out of the Teclast T51 is on a whole different level here though.
So what of genre? I said I thought the ck10 excelled in trance music, smooth detail and excellent imaging, so I listened to more of that and similiar electronic music, but it performed at a pretty high level across the spectrum.
With the EX700 I find I'm listening to more alternative rock, like live björk recordings, and quite a lot dark electro, harsh EBM, where the bass impact, clarity, tonality and transferral of emotion suit that music very well. Of course I'm listening to a few old Nirvana albums now too, where the rawness, decay, transparency, texture, shimmer and spirit gives any music like that a good character, likewise these are well suited for piano's and female vocals, combine that with bass-impact and you have a winning IEM for pop and r&b here as well.
The weakness again is violins, it sounds pretty good, but I'm very picky there and haven't quite found the IEM for my classical music tastes yet. Yet another weakness is imaging and layering, I miss the flat-FR and addictive pacing and speed of the ck10, they can't quite keep up there, but these are very different IEM's. Some recordings will also lose some crunch or character with the eq adjustment, and have the harshness without it, so I find sometimes there isn't a perfect solution and there will always be some hassle with these deceitful IEM's, which is a shame.
I'd have to expand this into a proper review with music links to go into detail in this section though, I might do that when I'm home again (travelling right now, writing on my laptop with wireless internet) and have proper amplification and sources to be more just, as I only have my laptop soundcard and Teclast T51 here right now, this review is not final and I may finalize it at a later point and reserve the right to some slight adjustments.
Pros - Nice fit, good mids, if you are hf deaf. Great mids/highs details
Cons - Sibilant highs,uncomfortable y-split, back plate on L fell off in 1/2 year, cable expanded and became slimy, plug and earpieces enamel peels off in 3m
These will make you lose hf sensitivity, if you haven't already. Nice bass and mids,but intolerable highs with sharp, sibilant sounding peaks:
No, they really will not improve with burn-in. Really. Especially wrt sibilance.
Pretty comfortable (tips/fit), but otherwise practically fall apart in months and sony only gives 90d ltd warranty and flatly refuses to replace afterwards.
In 1/2 a year of intense but careful use:
The back plate off L earpiece un-stickied itself and fell off.
The cable moistened up and became slimy
The purple parts coated with enamel had the ename peel off (earpieces + plug).
Never again...Sony...That's what I always say and end up with more sony iems.
700lp. Aside from the enamel peeling (plug/earpieces) and a slight paint chip on the plug, everything else looks ok.
700sl to see what the lp will look like within a year lol:
(you can see more enamel peel, and the bit where the back cover is missing).
For the 700lp - enamel peel is no big deal, I think you can prod it with your finger until it all flakes away so it'll all look a bit lighter. Must be some sort of 'protective' coating...
Pros - cohesive presentaion, natural lower frequencies, quite detailed
Cons - SIBILANT, you really need to EQ off 8 db from 5-6khz
This review will likely be all but redundant soon, as Sony seems to be constantly re-branding its earphones. But I believe these are still available, and relatively good value.
They have excellent clarity, but not much soundstage. Separation is quite adequate.
These headphones have great and natural bass impact, a smooth midrange, and a horrible sibilant lower treble. The upper treble is actually quite good, if not great for the price.
Basically once you EQ off the sibilance, there is little treble left. Sony engineers must really be deaf... These are quite literally unbearable without an equaliser, unless you have some high frequency hearing loss. This really limits their application and usability.