Sennheiser HD 700 Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by windsor, May 31, 2012.

  1. sygnus21
    If you've got the card you should know there are two modes in the software for the headphone output - Normal: 32/300 Ohm, and High Gain: 600 Ohm, which can be toggled to one or the other...
    Considering the HD700's are rated at 150 Ohms, I don't think you'd want to run them in High Gain mode as you'd run the risk of damaging them there.
    And the only bad question is the one not asked; Sorry if my tone sound sounded annoyed, I didn't mean that. Ask away [​IMG] 
  2. DavidA
    @sygnus21, I forgot about those output settings, the Asus sound cards have that option also, but it gives you 3 levels,
    Under 32 ohms, 32 to 64 ohms and above 32 ohms.
  3. sygnus21
    @DavidA, You know I've always heard a lot about Asus' soundcards but always stayed with Creative. Been using their cards since their AWE 64 Gold back in 98.   I also don't trust Asus' customer service but that's a story for another time. However, I do recognize that Asus is well respected for their Xonar cards.  I hear their musicality quality is pretty good.
  4. sygnus21
    Man I’m going to say this right now… the HD700 absolutely shine for jazz, especially with female vocalists jazz like Diana Krall, or even the raspy voice of Norah Jones.
    I have and listen to all types of music from metal, rock, jazz, soul, rap, county, disco, electronica, world and undetermined. And in all those categories, I find these phones shine the best in simple uncomplicated music like jazz/jazz vocals.
    Listening to Diana Krall’s The Look of Love CD, was like I was sitting at a jazz joint listening to her and the band perform live, with her voice full front and center.  It was almost like this was the first time listening to this CD.  Prior to that I was listening to Norah Jones’ Feel’s Like Home CD and was like WOW, this really sounds good through these headphones. The clarity and spaciousness was amazing.
    For reference, I always try to provide info on the equipment and setup I use when describing my listening experience with audio. Here’s my setup….
    Teac UD-503 running through the USB 2.0 port off my Windows 10 custom built PC. The 503 is upsampling the 44.1k flac files to 176.4k. I could go up to 352 or even DSD, but at this setting the music sounds rich and open without being harsh.  Oh and the bass is hitting as I now listen to some Samantha Siva off here contemporary jazz CD Identity.  Media player is JRiver’s Media Center 21.  No signal processing except for EQ settings as seen here….
    Using this custom profile really let these phones shine with a smoothness that isn’t too bright or forward, yet still open with a good balance of bass, mids, and treble, and not a hint of harshness. Listening level was -32.5db, perhaps a bit loud, but even at -50bd now, everything still sounds good.
    I also need to state, that I’m also using Audioquest’s Jitterbug filter which is said to eliminate noise. I don’t know about noise, but you definitely notice the impact it has on bringing out vocals.  Cable is a $30-dollar entry level 5 foot AudioQuest Pearl USB cable. Are they needed, probably not, but…
    Getting back to the HD700’s and closing…
    When I first heard the HD700’s I didn’t like them as the sound wasn’t what I expected, and I seriously considered sending them back. In fact, I called the vendor and was told to give them a few more days. Glad I did.  Quite frankly I’m loving these things more and more.
    Yeah they don’t have the bass presence of the Audio Technica ATH M50X’s, or the Bose QC 25’s (though the bass of the HD700 and M50X is cleaner), but there’s a spaciousness and clarity there that the other phones don’t have, and I find I like that character of the HD700’s very much; especially if you’re a jazz fan.
    I think if you have good equipment, and patience, the HD700’s will reward you. They’ve certainly done that for me, it just took a minute to realize what I had.
    My two cents.
  5. DavidA
    @sygnus21 I used to only use SB cards but I got a free Xonar DG card from a friend who didn't have a free PCI slot and I liked it, seemed more stable than my Audigy at the time when Win7 was just released.
    A little of topic, do you have problems with MS Edge? I have one system with Win 10 and using Edge to browse is about as bad as it gets.  Any suggestions?
  6. sygnus21
    Though I've been using Windows 10 since pre-release, I've never gotten into Edge. I'm so use to IE11, that Edge just doesn't quite provide the feel I get with 11.  One of the biggest things is I like the way a new tab under IE11 shows your most frequently viewed sites, where edge doesn't.  With IE11, I just open the new tab and click the one of the frequent sites I visit. I like this a lot and find it rather convenient. This is one of the thing that's been keeping me off of Edge. That said I'll give it another try seeing MS is starting to push it hard. For now though I'm comfortable with IE11.
    Anyway I found this on the net, though I've not really given it a hard look so I'm not sure how useful it is - A guide to Microsoft Edge.
    Oh, BTW you do realize you don't have to be stuck with Edge, right? Go to Settings, System, in left pane click Default Apps, scroll down to Web Browser and click the browser showing and a drop down box will appear when you can set Internet Explorer as default.
    If you want a shortcut on your desktop or Taskbar, just go to "C"-Drive, Program Files (x86) (for the 32-bit version of IE), Internet Explorer, right click iexplore.exe and choose to pin to either desktop or taskbar.
    Good luck
    DavidA likes this.
  7. moonbogg
    When I first heard the 700's a couple days ago I really didn't know how I felt about them either.  Comparing them to my X2's, they were so different that I didn't know if it was good, worse, better or what.  The mids sounded hallow or forward or something, I don't know how to describe it.  That said, I am now loving these babies. 
    Last night I listened to Metallica's "one" and I can say it sounded better on the 700's and it was awesome.  GTAV sounds more open on these as well.  I am not stuck with these headphones.  I got them from Amazon and can return them right now if I want.  I can log in to my account and start the return process and they will be gone in a flash and a refund given.  I can buy many other headphones for the nearly $600.00 that I spent.  I have options with no pressure.  I won't be doing any of that though because these things kick ass and are perfect for my needs.  I like them. 
    By the way, I use the low gain setting on the ZxR.  They get very loud with the low gain setting. 
  8. snapacap
    I believe the term is 'airy'. In comparison, I found the X2 to have enough bass to make the mids sound significantly thicker than the HD700. The HD700 have some of the best mids I have heard.
  9. Solarium
    You guys are making me regret selling my HD700's, maybe I should have kept them for casual listening and gaming, or anytime I want to wear headphones for an extended period of time. They are to this date by far the most comfortable headphones I've ever had.
  10. sygnus21
    I definitely agree with comfort. They really are comfortable to wear, and you hardly notice them after hours of use. Contrast that with my AT M50X's that wear you out after an hour's use.
  11. MWSVette
    Of all the headphones I own the HD700 are easily the most comfortable.  I sometimes forget I even have them on...
  12. moonbogg
    They are also probably the most badass looking high-end headphone I have ever seen.  It feels good putting them on when I'm about to play BF4.  I know its superficial, but it adds to the fun factor for me.  I am a sucker for that stuff at times.  I like aesthetics.  It adds to the experience.  Because they look exotic and high-end, when you put them on it makes you feel like they are exotic and high end.  From a 1st person perspective, everything is subjective, so the subjective nature of a product is important IMO.
  13. chowmein83
    Not sure if you mentioned doing this before, but have you tried using your Creative Soundcard to just do the digital processing (virtual surround, etc.) and then send that to your external Teac DAC? I'm currently doing this with my X-Fi sound card to an external USB DAC, and I get the best of both worlds - both the X-Fi's virtual surround and my headphones being driven with real oomph using the external amp and DAC.
  14. sygnus21

    Yeah I could do that as well since I also have the DAC hooked up the daughter card (DBPro) of the ZXR itself. However, the DBPro processes it's own signal and doesn't use the main card's features per se. so that basically means it won't process sound effects from the main card. If you want those, you'll need to hook un to the main card... which does not use digital in/out connections. For clarity the ZXR card comes with both soundcard and a daughter card called DBPro. You can see it here: The DBPro Daughter Board.  Since the DB card itself doesn't use a PCI slot itself , it must get it's power from the main card, thus the connection point you see. 
    chowmein83 likes this.
  15. techboy
    Sennheiser HD 700 - Sennheiser's Queen In 2016

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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!

    trellus, tf10charged and Matro5 like this.

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