Sennheiser HD700 Unboxing

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First of all, thanks to Rosmadi Mahmood at Sennheiser for giving us the privilege of being among the first to have a look at the latest Sennheiser HD700 headphone.

I rushed to take these pictures as soon as I’ve received them, and so I actually haven’t had the chance to listen to them! My impressions upon unboxing it is that the HD700 is much smaller than the HD800. I’ve seen it mostly from the pictures from CES, but since there were no comparison photos to the HD800, I thought that the size of the housing is roughly the same as the HD800, but it is not (as some of the comparison photos here would reveal). I’m guessing that this is due to two reasons, one is the use of the 40mm drivers on the HD700, as opposed to the much bigger 58mm drivers on the HD800. Second, I think the smaller housing should provide a more intimate listening experience, the way the HD650/HD600 series are (a lot of people find the HD800 to be too spacious, and indeed it is too spacious for a lot of studio-recorded mainstream music).

The build quality is not as solid as the HD800, not even close. If you’ve had a chance to hold one of the RS170/RS180 wireless headphones, the HD700 feels a lot like those, both in weight (lighter than the HD800) and in the density and finish of the plastic finish. The differentiation between the build quality is much bigger than say a Hifiman HE-6 to HE-500, Audeze’s LCD-2 and LCD-3, or Beyerdynamic’s DT880 to the T1. I sort of expected a nicer build quality, but hey the development process is done and there is nothing I can do about that.

Lastly, when you are browsing the photos, you would notice that while both headphones have a letter-D shaped housing, the orientation is actually reversed. On the HD800 the round side of the letter-D faces front, while on the HD700 it faces back.

That’s all for now, and I will try to update the article with some listening impressions in one or two days’ time.

I forgot to make a note that this is a pre-production sample. The final production unit will have a better build, finish, and a more proper headband pressure (this one is a little loose).
Note: please press the “i” button on the top left corner for the captioning.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/destroysall Chris Allen

    Can’t wait to hear your impressions on this can, Mike.  Definitely looking forward to the review!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yes, thanks Chris! I will give them a listen once I have some quiet time. Don’t want to be giving out misleading first impressions. 

  • zeroryu

    are you saying that the housing is more closely to hd600 ? how about the depth of the housing? when i use my hd600, the housing touches my ear, and that sometimes made my listening session less comfortable.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Nope as you can see in the pictures, it’s still D-shaped while the HD600 is oval.
      If you see this picture, you can get a better idea of the HD700′s shape — it’s similar to the RS180 pictured there, only slightly bigger (but smaller than the HD800). Also notice that on that picture the orientation of the D-shape is reversed as well.

  • TheMiddleSky

    Can’t wait to see it in real Mike!

    But somehow, the build quality seems “not that great” based on your great photos, and I think 40mm driver isn’t interest me that much.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yea the 40mm driver seems really small next to the HD800′s 58mm (Philips’ Fidelio L1 uses a 40mm driver as well). But size isn’t always everything and the HD700 brings a new technology or two into the mix, that isn’t found in the HD800 as well.

  • http://www.theideate.com Aria Gorba

    Did you get this from Sennheiser Indonesia? Price tag: above or below the HD800?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Nope. I don’t think Sennheiser Indonesia has it. It’s priced below the HD800 at around $999 if I remember correctly.

      • http://www.theideate.com/ Gorboman

        Hmm… Since Senn’s price tag in the US is mostly the cheapest, I don’t think I’m going to like the tag if the HD700 ever get to Indonesia.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          The HD800 is price fixed all around the world, and given the weak US dollars we actually have the HD800 cheaper than people in Singapore are buying theirs. 

          I think the same price-fixing will be applied to the HD700. 

          Another thing that you have to remember is that with some headphones like the LCD-2, you’ve got to pay 30% import tax to bring it in, whereas the HD700 will be available through the local Senn distributor.

          • http://www.theideate.com/ Gorboman

            Thanks for the heads up, Mike. I never knew that Senn has a fixed price policy for some of their cans. This is getting more interesting.

  • masterasia

    Hi Mike,

    Can a portable amp like the JDS421 power the HD700? Or do you need something like the O2?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I’ve only tried it with the RSA Dark Star, but my impressions is that it’s very easy to drive. I’ll try it with those amps and get back to you.

  • Fabio_Rocks

    Hi Mike!

    I am really exited about this headphone even if it’s out of my money range. The flagship Sennheiser hd 800 is a superb headphone but it fails on one important point: It’s not good for all the music genre. That is a kind of fail for a reference headphone. With the HD 700 Sennheiser try to answer that, plus, it’s an answer to the direct competition of Beyerdinamic, and Hifiman. 

    I wait for your review!

    So sad they leave you the headphone just for one month, if I was a big company like sennheiser I will leave you the hd 700 as a gift. How many times you recommend the hd25 to your readers??? 

    Shame on you Sennheiser!!! :)

    Fabio

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Ooh I like that. Especially the last paragraph ;)

      Thanks, Fabio.

      • Fabio_Rocks

        Mike you must take in consideration to start writing bad reviews….:)

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Sort of blackmailing Senn? ;) 

          • Fabio_Rocks

            Something like: “Sennheiser HD 700: The Worst Reference Headphone EVER” LOL 

  • spudgered

    Hi Mike, 

    I’m eagerly anticipating your review and ask that you compare the HD700 and HD800 sonically, particularly with regard to the latter’s unforgiving treatment of source material, as some owners have commented that the HD800 sounds `sterile’ by being too revealing. So is the HD700 a more mellow proposition?

    Cheers,

    Andy.  

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I will definitely do that Andy.

  • Hep Dude

    This sounds similar to the concept of the HD518 vs the 558/598.  I tried the HD518 for an extended period of time, compared it to HD590 and K240 (what I had on hand), and then read the 558/598 reviews, and the main difference of the HD518 vs 558/598 is build quality (lesser earpads, etc.) while keeping the same technology (and thus the superior imaging) at a lower price point.

  • Jovytheseeq

    What about the cable? Same as HD800?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I think the length is more or less the same. The HD700′s is flatter while the HD800′s is more round.

  • Jovytheseeq

    What about the cable? Same as HD800?

  • http://www.facebook.com/shinji97 Leo Sun

    Hi Mike, 
    is it possible for you to try the HD700 with a nuforce icon HD/HDP?
    I really like the looks of the HD700 and was wondering if the HD/HDP is enough to drive it.

    Thanks

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Leo, 

      I think the HDP should be powerful enough. The HD700 is extremely light to drive. As for sound synergy, I wouldn’t know. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/rodrigopitamd Rodrigo Pita

    Hi Mike, 

    If possible, could you pair the HD700 with Schiit Asgard just to test synergy? =) Thank You

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I will, Rodrigo. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/rodrigopitamd Rodrigo Pita

        Thank You!   :)

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          I tried it with the Asgard, and though it drove the HD700 just fine, I thought the pairing is not extremely ideal. 

          In fact I’m enjoying the pairing with the O2 more.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Actually I take that back. With the devilsound DAC the Asgard + HD700 pairing is very nice. Much fuller mids and richer details than the O2 and Dacport LX set up. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UGJ3SZR3YRF4O4IZBPFIOIVFII Eugen

    The HD700 should have been a 800$ headphone with a street price of 600$.

    It’s too expensive for what it is IMO, most people will just skip it and get the HD800.

  • nphung01

    build quality similar to the RS180??? No thanks Sennheiser….

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      The RS180 is very nicely built. You’ve seen one?

      • nphung01

        Yes I had one, was not happy at all about its cheap and flimsy build :(

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Actually I’ll let you decide when you see the HD700. I may not have been too accurate about the RS180 comparison.
          It’s no HD800 build, but the HD700 is still built very nicely and better than the Audez’e or Hifiman headphones.

  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

    I forgot to make a note that this is a pre-production sample. The final production unit will have a better build, finish, and a more proper headband pressure (this one is a little loose).

  • http://www.facebook.com/donunus Don Vittorio Sierra

    And the sound?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      One thing that I can say at this point is that the HD700 is more than just a downgraded HD800. In fact the sound signature is totally different, something I’ve never heard from a Senn before. In my eyes, the sound is more appealing than the HD800, though technicalities wise it’s not over the HD800. There are some parts that the HD700 does better, and some part that the HD800 does better (though the HD800 mostly is still the more superior technical headphone).
       
      Some of the earlier comments brought up the pricing issue, which people feel are not justified (by the way the HD800 is $1,499 now). If the HD700 was simply a smaller HD800, then yes it may not be justified (though at a $500 price difference, it may be a different case). However, listening impressions should reveal that this headphone is very different than the HD800. I can’t guarantee if everybody will like it (is there ever such a thing as a universally-likable headphone?), but I can see the majority of listeners choosing the HD700′s sound over the HD800 (I definitely prefer the HD700). 

      And again this is not a case of HE-6 vs HE-500 or Beyer’s T1 to the T5p (the two latter models inferior in technicalities but sounding more pleasing). Yes the HD700 is not as technically capable as the HD800, but it excels on some areas that the HD800, and overall I think the wow-factor is higher with the HD700 (though that may just be because I’ve lived with the HD800 for 2 years, but I don’t remember being as impressed with the HD800 when I first listened to it).

      • http://www.facebook.com/donunus Don Vittorio Sierra

         That comment scares my wallet there Mike :D Oh boy

  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

    Senn certainly has made this headphone a lot easier to drive. I think one of the reasons for the 40mm driver is that they want it to be easier to drive. The driver feels very light (in terms of power demands), roughly the same power demands as the HD598 headphone. Lighter than the HD580/600/650/800, and even lighter than the 600 Ohm T1 (higher impedance headphone tend to need more current).

    I can drive it just fine with an iPod. Though as always, I can never get enough impact with the iPod’s headphone out, and that’s the primary reason I’m using an amp no matter what. 

    I’ve also tried it with the O2 amp. Epiphany’s build has a very low gain at 1x and 2.5x, and I’m only using the 1x gain, with the DACPort LX as the source. Volume is at 1 O’clock. Of course the headphone sounds so much better on the LX-O2 set up. But my favorite so far is still the Halide DAC HD + RSA Dark Star set up.

    I will try it with the Asgard later. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/rodrigopitamd Rodrigo Pita

    Mike, I don’t know where to ask this but here I go:
    You said “But my favorite so far is still the Halide DAC HD + RSA Dark Star set up”, and last week I found this Halide DAC HD for sell at Moon  Audio web site  but could not  find much info about it. Do you think it is better them MusicStreamer ll+? Tell me where we can continue this conversation so I don’t disrupt the topic =) Thank You

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Rodrigo, 
      Just briefly, the Halide DAC HD is a product of Halide Design. You can see it here: 
      http://www.halidedesign.com/dachd/

      I think overall the DAC HD is a more musical DAC than the MS2+, but the MS2+ is still better in recreating soundstage. Personally I enjoy the DAC HD more, it’s one of the most musical DAC’s I’ve listened to.

      • http://www.facebook.com/rodrigopitamd Rodrigo Pita

        Thank You again! It helped me a lot

      • masterasia

        Hi Mike,
        Would you be doing a review on the Halide DAC HD? comparing it against the dacport lx?

        And how about getting a W4S MDAC for review?

        Don’t forget about the JDS C421 (OPA2277) pairing to HD700. :)

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          I will be writing about the DAC HD, and comparing it to the LX yes. 

          For now, briefly: 
          The LX sounds clearer, but the DAC HD is more fun sounding. The LX has better soundstage depth, but the DAC HD is wider. 

  • Tyler DeLisle

    I know the HD700 is likely the most hyped piece of equipment all year, but when you get the extra time, please don’t forget the little guys.  Anxiously awaiting your thoughts on the Fidelio L1.  I was starting to give up trying to find a (semi)closed pair of cans in the $300 price-range with the sound I want, but these give me hope.  Thanks Mike!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Thanks, Tyler. I will try to publish the L1 review soon, hopefully this week.
      What sort of sound are you looking for? The L1 is dark and full sounding, sort of a HD650 kind of sound.

      • Tyler DeLisle

        Thanks Mike! I’ve found a few vague first impressions, it sounds close to what I’m looking for, but no real comparisons or anything.  I’m definitely in love with the look, hoping they sound half as good as they look.

        I haven’t heard the 650′s yet, but the sound I’m looking for is slightly dark, probably more neutral sounding but aggressive.  I listen to a lot of fast paced music, rock, Jazztronic, Electronic with hip hop beats like RJD2, stuff to keep me groovin’ at work, so definitely want to feel the energy.  

        Punchy, textured mid-bass is a must, bass guitar, bass drums.  I’ve found my Denon 2k’s to be too bloated in the sub-bass, yet somehow the mid-bass is lacking, and they’re too laid-back overall.  But there isn’t much competition for closed/semi-closed phones at this price-range.  I’ve heard the L1′s don’t leak too much for being semi-open.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Hi Tyler,
          It seems that what you’re looking for is something more like the LCD-2, as you put so much emphasis in the bass, and the LCD-2 does that very well.

          • Tyler DeLisle

            Yeah, I’ve read a lot about those and they do sound like my dream headphones.  Someday.  Not really ready to spend a grand on headphones just yet.  I like to leave my headphones at work on a headphone stand with a small lock on it.  Anything more than $300 would be too much to risk in that setup, my amp setup is also pretty light in that regard.  So I’m looking for the little brother to the LCD-2.  At least something that can handle bass respectably so I can get my funk on.

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              Maybe you should look at the HD650 then. It’s not a small LCD-2, but it has one of the nicest bass around.

          • Tyler DeLisle

            Really? I hadn’t heard that about the 650′s bass before.  I’ll have to find a place where I can audition them.  Regardless though, I’d be concerned about the open-back on them.  Being at work, I have people sitting about 5-6 feet away from me.  Which is really my problem. There doesn’t seem to be a set of closed cans that are regarded as having quality, tight bass without having bloated sub-bass or too much treble.  You don’t think the L1′s really suffice?

            I appreciate your time, and feeback!

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            Well the L1s are open too. 

            Actually a lot of the Ultrasone headphones have a really nice bass. Clean, tight, strong impact, not bloated. The issue with them are mostly the recessed midrange. 

            If you’re looking at a flagship level, you can look at Beyer’s T5p. Very nice treble-mids-bass. Clean bass, great quality.

  • Guessous Mehdi Imed

    I  think the the hd700 are even more overpriced than the hd800 : cheaper build quality, smaller driver, and “technically” inferior sound.  I’m tired of Sennheiser milking as much as possible consumers. The worst part, is that it works.

    • derbii

       Oh man

      • Guessous Mehdi Imed

         My hd595 were overpriced (boring, and not solid ).  My senn IE7  were overpriced (highs are meh) . My hd25 is a bit deceiving in term of sound quality/ price ratio , but yet fun. But yet, I  might still consider one day the senn hd800 one day I’m drunk or whatever. The fact is that I  hated that sennheiser downgraded a bit everything from hd800 to hd700 according to article.  When I  read “The build quality is not as solid as the HD800, not even close.”, I’m a bit upset. At the price asked you’d expect top notch built quality.

  • Apogee

    Have you tried the HD700 with the schiit lyr, and if you have how does it compair to the HD700 with the asgard.

  • Apogee

    Have you tried the HD700 with the Schiit Lyr and if you have how does it compare to the HD700 with the Asgard. and do you recomend the HD700 with the Asgard.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I would try to get a more refined amp for the HD700. The Woo Audio 6 is a better match for it than the Schiits.

  • Peter

    Get the HD800 it’s so much better.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRmaoa8gdlo