The Sennheiser HD700 Journal (Mar 16, 2012)

hd700_sketch_01
More Sound Impressions (February 27, 2012)

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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  • mike roderigo

    hey mike,
    any way that a the HD700 paired with something like the burson ha160 and a little tweek with equalisation (remebered your article on than…but still afraid to be flamed ;-) might to the trick?
    kindest regards
    dookie182

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      It would probably help… yes but still it would be better if they can do it from the factory..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DFE2B4QWROOWZVZJKWYP7Z4P4Q CannedG

    Hey Mike,
    Did you get a chance to try the HD 700 with a Fiio e11?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Nope, but the Ipod drives the HD700 just fine!

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/DFE2B4QWROOWZVZJKWYP7Z4P4Q CannedG

        That’s amazing! I can’t wait to get my pair.

        Thanks.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Nope, but the Ipod drives the HD700 just fine!

  • mizot

    Hi Mike,
    I’m french (sorry)…
    I listen to Techno music. I currently use a hd598 (plastics are noisy, and the bottom of the headsets is not comfortable) I do not appreciate the excessive tightening of the HD650 (I wear glasses) Therefore, I intend to focus on HD700 (more ergonomic) Is it a good choice (bass)?

  • jjhfhj ghmhg

    Hi Mike,

    I live in Iran & can’t test headphones before buying, so i should choose only one definite headphone.

    My budget is about 300 (headphone & amp) & I listen to & make dark ambient (e.g. lustmord, Raison d’etre & …) & noise music (e.g. Merzbow) through PC (with PreSonus audio interface), so as i read i need an open headphone with deep precise sub-bass and wide big soundstage for ambient stuff.now can you recommend me a headphone & an amp (if it is needed).

    Thanks in advance.

    • Fabio_Rocks

      Something like Hifiman he-300 (249$) and Fiio e10 dac/amp ($80) will be fine

  • http://twitter.com/Pickcick Pickcick

    Is it on the market yet? Hardly wait…

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

       see above :D

  • http://twitter.com/stepaboveearth The Red Atelier

    How does this compare with HE-500?

    • Damián Bonadonna

      I second that! Please :)

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        I don’t even know where to start.. very different.

        • Damián Bonadonna

          I will make it more difficult!!

          Choose only one for your everyday use :)

          I really appreciate this, I don’t have the possibility to audition what a planar sound is :(

          • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

            Luckily we don’t have to choose one… At the moment I wouldn’t even know. HD650/HD700/HE500…

  • dalethorn

    So is the HD700 readily available? I haven’t seen any sort of reliable review outside of this site, ignoring the headfi chatter.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Wasn’t that june?

      • http://twitter.com/Pickcick Pickcick

        It’s June now… :)

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          I’m waitlisted ;)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      No, not yet I believe.

  • The_Grudge2

    Double post (slow verification process)

  • The_Grudge2

    Why would you ignore head-fi chatter? There are many great members there and it is also an excellent community of enthusiasts.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/E5PZ3FGISBH7LJBIYUKJBTALWM NGUYEN

      did you read the hd 700 thread ? The whole site is good. But that thread is all about people who haven’t listened to the headphone and already say they disappointed in it as not as good as hd800 bla bla. While  all people who actually have listened to it give very positive feedback. 

    • dalethorn

      I can’t argue against conflicting opinions. Opinions that differ are very important when you might be risking some money on a purchase, even if it’s not the whole amount. But when it’s page after page of pure opinion that doesn’t make careful comparisons to known entities, then it’s just a headbanger. I know they need good moderation there because of the large number of members and newbies, but they also go overboard and suppress a lot of important discussion, so more headbanging. I could get more out of it if I had some high-tech forum search tools, but I don’t know if those would work on every forum.

  • Fabio_Rocks

    Do they finally answer to your request to add more bass body?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      They only say that the final version will be slightly different. I have no idea what that means, but I think it should have more bass yes.

  • GettCouped

    Thank you for the revision. First impressions and quick reviews are very difficult from a very subjective category like audio. It seems that the HD700 is an excellent headphone, but not a pinnacle of value, as if any $1000 headphone could be considered as such.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bruce.weiser.58 Bruce Weiser

    My experience with the HD800 is that it sound so so with an average headpone amp, butbwhen paired wirh the Cayin Ha1A its one of the best sounding audio components I have ever owned.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yes, Bruce. Pair it with a Manley 300B if you have the opportunity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/javier.garciaburguera Javier Garcia-burguera

    Hello Mike. I’m getting reconciled with the Ultrasone Edition 8 sound signature… I know that you reviewed this hp longtime ago but, could you make any observation about bass punch/weight and overall character compared to the HD700?
    Thanks for your attention and your wonderful site

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Javier,
      The difference is very big. The Ultrasone has a much better bass impact, faster pace, better PRaT and attack, just a little hollow on the mids. The HD700 is more laidback, smooth, warm, bigger sound.

      • http://www.facebook.com/javier.garciaburguera Javier Garcia-burguera

        Your description of the ultasone couldn’t be better. Thanks for your very appreciated answer.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          You’re welcome, Javier

  • http://www.facebook.com/hahariz Hariz Razali

    I am torn between between HD700 and T1 for my next upgrade. The price gap is very small and it seems HD700 is kinda overpriced (in my area anyways). This may be a surprise but I find the HD700 to be a lil bit ‘rough’ for the lack of a better word (or is it grainy the word I’m looking for?) compared to T1. Micro details is also better on the T1 and let’s not even talk about build quality. I’m sure everyone agrees T1 is built like a tank and IMO HD700 build quality is kinda flimsy. I’m really scared of the plastic material they’re using, they feel like they’re about to break (hopefully any HD700 owner could prove me wrong).

    However with HD700 I find it to be more fun sounding, especially the bass. This is probably because I’m used to DT880 sound. I also find that HD700 is much more comfortable to wear.

    If only HD700 is slightly cheaper (by $100) or have better build quality, I would definitely go for it; no question asked. But since over here the price difference between HD700 and T1 is less than $100, T1 seems to be a better purchase. But HD700 bass is too much fun!

    I don’t know why I’m ranting here. Just wanna share my 2 cents. :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Thanks, Hariz.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.thompson.5815 Eric Thompson

    Wait so you like the old LCD-2 better? I thought the REV2 was better in every way than the original? You need to update your reviews

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      No we both really do like the Rev 1 LCD-2 better. We prefer how it’s tuned over the 2nd revision, a lot of people do actually. Too bad the Rev 1s are getting scarce, you should listen to them both and then decide which one you like more

      • http://www.facebook.com/eric.thompson.5815 Eric Thompson

        Did I read the LCD-2′s Rev.2 update wrong?

        The only Audiez dealer withing 500miles is only about an hour from me. I wonder what the chances are they have both?

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          The dealers probably won’t have Rev 1.

          • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

            Maybe ALO still has one? No idea

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              Yes try ALO they may have one.

              • http://www.facebook.com/eric.thompson.5815 Eric Thompson

                Ok. I’m still confused why did you say the Rev-2 was so much better in the update?

                • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                  I said it *I think* in the context that the Rev-2 gives people the treble and the midrange they’ve been asking for, as well as build quality improvements. The Rev-1 is very dark, but personally I like it best.

                  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.thompson.5815 Eric Thompson

                    Ahhh ok il really have to try both then.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

    Question for Mike, what was the “crossfeed” system that you had in mind?

    And on the other note, I think I don’t understand what you meant by the 800′ having more capable bass.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Crossfeed system? Can you post what I said here? Doesn’t recall saying it. If I have to guess it’s probably Fidelia’s FHX.

      800′s bass is just richer with information. Far richer. HD700 was quite one dimensional in terms of bass layering, for instance, compared to the HD800′s.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

        As in compared to HD700 which blends the two channels together well, you’d still listen to the HD800 with a crossfeed system. So the impression I’m getting is that the two channels of the HD800 are really isolated so that you’d want a crossfeed to blend in the two channels to create a better center image

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

    Hey Mike, one more question regarding the HD700, how does the size of the soundstage compare between the 600-650-700-800?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I’m not mike but

      HD800>HD700>HD650/HD600 :D

      It is reasonably bigger and more spacious as the 650! Loved it!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

        well that was fairly obvious… lol why did I even ask

        no actually, that comparison between the 650 and 700 was good enough. Though I was wondering what people mean when they say that the soundstaging on the 700 is “just right”

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          it’s wide and deep but not overly wide like the HD800 can be or the HD650 can’t be :p

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692862021 Nick Tam

            so really it’s true when the HD800′s soundstage sounds artificially large

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              It is when they play compressed recordings. Or closed-mic recordings.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yea, what L said.

  • Markus Köhner

    hey guys, i know this thread has been dead for some time now, but i hope that someone could help me out here..
    i own the hd700 for quite some time now and im very excited with it, i compared it to the hd800 when i bought it and i acutally prefered the 700 which i found much more alive and enjoyable especially with rock music.
    anyway, so far i mostly use the asus xonar essence to drive it along with a head box from ject audio. i was aiming for an upgrade for that. especially to help out the hd700 with its bass performance. i was having a look at the aune t1 amp/dac. does anyone here have some experience with that?
    or can someone recommend a good amp/dac combination in the pricerange of around 300$? tube preferably but not mandatory.
    thanks a lot in advance and keep up the great work, really enjoy your website

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Markus,
      I don’t know about the T1 but normally when people want more bass i steer them toward the Burson or Violectric amps

      • Markus Köhner

        hi mike,
        first of all thanks a lot for your quick reply.
        i wasnt just looking for more bass, mostly i want a amp to get the most out of my hd700. i do also poses a hd25 which i use a lot for metal and rock music, i enjoy the versatility of the hd700 a lot, also its awesome comfort.
        i would be open to any recommendation for a good amp that complements the hd700, i was looking into tubes because i always like the sound of the tube guitar amps i was using back in the days, but in all honesty i dont know how good that sound translates to headphone amps

        • Dave Ulrich

          Well, in L’s review of the HD700, he thought the Bottlehead Crack made great music with it.

          • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

            That’s correct!

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          I really enjoyed the HD700 out of the Fostex HP-A8. Tubes do sound very good for headphone amps. The Bottlehead Crack that I recommend strongly for the HD650 also works very well for the 700.

          • Markus Köhner

            given my horrible skills in assembling stuff i dont think a DIY project is the path for me, but i think the pan am will be a good alternative judging from the review on it?

            • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

              PanAm is $499.

              • George Lai

                Plus the Passport and the Gateway?

              • Markus Köhner

                actually its a 15% holiday sale right now but yes true.. i spent too much money on my hobby. but then again who here doesnt? ;)

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              Yes the PanAm is a good choice