I wrote an email to Sennheiser today making a suggestion if it’s going to be possible to add some bass body to the HD700 to make it more weighty like the HD600/HD650. At the current form, I think while the clarity, speed, soundstage are amazing, the lack of weight in the lows is like a big Achilles’ Heel. Here we are with one of the best headphones we’ve ever seen coming from Sennheiser, and yet without a proper HD600/HD650 like low end weight, it’s still not as satisfying musically as it could’ve been. Another thing that I think should be changed for the final production batch is the top treble peak which again is bothersome, and definitely would cast a shadow to the otherwise brilliant driver.
Other than that, I’ve tried it with some more different music over the weekend, and the HD700 is definitely a very versatile headphone. One of the hardest genre to play on audiophile-grade headphones is Jpop recordings, which are often hot on the treble, overly forward and over compressed. The overall laid-back stance of the HD700 makes those forward sounding Jpop songs easy to the ears, while still maintaining a good vocal presence (in contrast the HD800 fails miserably when you start playing Jpop music).
I also tried the HD700 with some metal recordings and find that the presentation is quite decent. It’s not as engaging as some forward sounding headphones like the Shure SRH-940, but it still carries the energy and speed of metal songs very well especially when compared to the HD650 and the HD800. Again I would’ve wished that there is a little more bass weight to support the bass notes, but at least you’re getting a good punch out of the HD700, where the HD800 tend to soften and dull the attack on the bass notes.
One genre that I can’t quite enjoy on the HD700 is techno and house, as the upper treble peak strikes a wrong synergy with techno and house recordings that are mostly hot on the top treble. Also the lack of bass weight on the HD700 doesn’t make for a convincing presentation.
The way the HD700 presents the vocal is quite different than the usual thick and smooth vocals of the HD650/HD800. Vocals are more natural and uncolored. People who are used to a thick and smooth vocal sound from the HD650 would find the HD700 to be too thin and perhaps even borderline dry, but that’s a matter of personal preference. The vocal presence is very good, and to my ears it’s refreshing to hear a more uncolored presentation of the vocal. It’s like choosing between a thick and mellow vacuum tube sound like the Minute 45 or the clearer and more transparent sound of the WooAudio WA5 tube sound. The HD700’s sound character falls more to the latter (here is the review on the Minute 45 compared to the WooAudio WA5).
I think the bottom line is that while the HD800 remains a technically more superior headphone, it’s clear that the HD700 is easier to enjoy, less picky of the set up, and has a wider genre bandwidth. Compared to the HD650/600, the HD700 is much faster in pace, clearer sounding, and is more precise. However, I still feel that the way the HD600/650 does bass is a lot more involving emotionally, and in that way still irreplaceable by the HD700 at the current form. But what I know is that a lot (if not, all) the complaints often brought up on the HD800 and the HD650 have been addressed on the HD700. I just hope that Sennheiser would add some more bass weight on the HD700.
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