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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The Sennheiser HD700 Journal (Mar 16, 2012)
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159 Comments

  • Reply February 24, 2012

    Mike

    The article is a work in progress, I will add things as time goes. (Also photos obviously). 

    • Reply February 25, 2012

      zeroryu

      you made me preorder on amazon. #theregoesmywallet

  • Reply February 24, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Wow, no way!  You compared it to headphones I never thought you would compare them to.  Sennheiser must have really outdid themselves this time.  Makes me want this can myself. Great review so far, Mike.  Can’t wait to see this article finished entirely.  Will for sure give it a re-read. 🙂

    • Reply February 25, 2012

      Mike

      Yea it’s just so extremely different than anything else Senn has produced in the past. 

  • Reply February 25, 2012

    Hal Espen

    I’m really enjoying your exploration of the HD700, to the extent that I’m working up several embezzlement schemes to finance a purchase. But I have to admit I’m confused by the repeated invoking of “dark” as a quality of these headphones in a way that clearly isn’t meant to be a bad thing. In your FAQ you say, “Dark is the opposite of bright, hence it refers to a headphone with little treble presence.” That doesn’t sound good. In J. Gordon Holt’s Audio Glossary, dark is “a warm, mellow, overly rich quality in reproduced sound. The audible effect of a frequency response which is clockwise-titled across the entire range, so that output diminishes gradually with increasing frequency.” Again, this doesn’t sound like a complimentary quality. The simultaneous darkness, clarity, and wow factor seems paradoxical. How can these headphones be “dark” but not TOO dark?

    • Reply February 25, 2012

      Mike

      Thank you Hal. 

      I think I’ll start out by saying that for me, the adjective dark is strictly related to the quantity of the treble (as you quoted me saying). 

      Holt’s Glossary was much probably based on speakers, and in the past whenever you have a speaker that is dark sounding, it would almost always be mellow and overly rich. But these days, I think it’s more appropriate to use the word dark apart from the characters of mellow and rich, and only associate dark in regards to the treble presence factor. This because of two things:
      1. The headphone community these days use the word bright in the context that something has a lot of treble, without necessarily being dry or lean.
      2. Sometimes, as in the case of the HD700, you actually have a headphone that sounds dark but not mellow or overly rich. So it would be good to be able to say “dark” without implying any of the additional adjectives. 

      The darkness and clarity factor is an extremely rare combination, and that is why it seems paradoxical. But by definition, dark and clarity are totally independent from each other. 

      At the end it’s just like using other adjectives. It’s like “He’s tall, but not NBA-player tall.”

  • Reply February 25, 2012

    Dietmar Gsell

    You really sold it to me.Christmas will be early this year!
    You just recommended in your Q&A a tube amp like WooA3 or Figaro Darkvoice to go with my HD 650s,so I dearly hope that is also true for the new HD700…as I have ordered now the Figaro!!!!
    Anyway,thanks for great review so far.

    • Reply February 25, 2012

      Mike

      That sounds great, Dietmar. I haven’t tried it with a tube amp as I don’t have one laying around, but I’ll try to include that in the future update list. 

  • Reply February 25, 2012

    asdfac

    mike..so how would it compare to hd600, FR-wise?? does the hd700 still darker??

    • Reply February 25, 2012

      Mike

      Good question. 

      Roughly similar, but there are a few differences that may throw off the perceived “darkness”. I’m hearing a more forward low treble on the HD600, where the HD700 is more laid back, more linear. The only treble issue on the HD700 is on the high treble I’ve mentioned. 

      Also since the HD700 is overall much clearer sounding and also more spacious, you don’t really get the feeling that it’s dark sounding. 

      I think a lot of the comments I’ve made can be confusing to some people, especially on the word dark. One of the reason I can think of is that there isn’t quite another headphone that sounds like the HD700. In this case a listening impression would help to clarify things up. 

  • Reply February 25, 2012

    Dan Alexandru Gheorghe

    Excellent article. After i heard hd800, even though i liked the details, the soundstage , and absolutely loved classical music on it, other music genres did not sound so fun as my hd650. Since then i have yearned of something combined of those two. I thought as many others, and now i see that you too thought the same, that hd700s`sound signature would be more close to hd650 bringing in some of the wonderful features of hd800 in the same time. After reading this it seems that sennheiser went even deeper. They studied and took the fun factor from some of the best and most loved headphones from other competitors.
    I can`t wait to listen to it 😀

  • Reply February 25, 2012

    hifiboy

  • Reply February 25, 2012

    Gary

    My question is that, how well does the HD700 with some of the 128kbp MP3 music?  One of the reason I haven’t upgrade is that the HD650 is very forgiving regarding music recording quality.

    Thanks again.

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      That’s a good question, but I think you’re confusing MP3 bitrate and recording quality. The two are not the same thing. You can have a 500MB WAV file and if the recording quality is bad, it won’t mean a thing. On the other hand a 128kbps MP3 of a great recording is still a good recording. 

      The analogy is like this: Say you’re looking at a photograph on  your computer’s monitor. The file format/128kbps MP3 is like the quality of the monitor. The recording quality is like the quality of the photograph. 
      – Great photograph will still look good on an old monitor. 
      – Bad photograph will look bad even if you’re using a $2,000 monitor. 
      – Best viewing experience is achieved when you use a good monitor to view a good photograph. 

      Let me know if you still want me to test out some 128kbps file on the HD700.

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      I tested some 128kbps file on the HD700. What I did was I take a WAV file and convert it down to 128kbps. I think the original recording quality is the deciding factor here. If the recording is good, I can enjoy it in 128kbps just fine. 

      • Reply February 28, 2012

        Gary

         So on a lower recording quality music the HD700 will still edge over the HD650 in short?

        • Reply February 28, 2012

          Mike

          Yes I think overall it’s still the more impressive headphone.

  • Reply February 26, 2012

    822

    Mike,

    Great write-up!
    Is the cable on the 700 the same as on the 800 or the 650, or does it use different connectors from those models?

    Best,

    Stormy

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      Hi, 
      I can’t believe you just asked that! Well the connector is a 2.5mm mono. You can find a gallery on the last page of the Journal with photos of the cables. 

  • Reply February 26, 2012

    Dominic Li

    Woah, better than a Stax 007??? Wow, I gotta try me some HD-700s 🙂

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      Did I really say that? 

  • Reply February 26, 2012

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  • Reply February 27, 2012

    Don Vittorio Sierra

    Has there been any confirmation whether the HD700 you have is different from the one at the CES? Do you think Sennheiser improved them after getting some negative comments?

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      Were they getting negative comments? I didn’t ask them if this is the same unit, but I sort of assumed it would be from a similar batch. 

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      By the way what were the negative comments?

      • Reply February 27, 2012

        Don Vittorio Sierra

         Just that the treble peak on the hd700 is supposedly worse than the hd800 and that there were more spots with peaks on the hd700. This is from the headfi hd700 thread

        • Reply February 27, 2012

          Mike

          Surprising. Well I don’t know but I think the treble peak is higher up, and less glaring even though you get more sibilance than on the HD800. It’s like how with some pop and especially Jpop recordings the HD800 is just too glaring on the treble, with the HD700 it isn’t, but there is just too much “sssh” on the top part, where on the HD800 there isn’t.

          • Reply February 28, 2012

            Don Vittorio Sierra

             From your descriptions, I really think your hd700s are slightly improved from the loaner pairs that the guys at headfi had. Anyways, I hope they did that loaner program there for the sake of being able to get feedback to be able to retune the hd700s to the people’s standards. I read on headfi also that yours was a revision II. I’m not sure about where people get their info from though. I wished sennheiser would chime in here and comment.

            From how I see it, it seems like the hd800 is what senn designed to be their technical best among dynamics then the hd700s slightly lower so far as technicalities are concerned but I feel that it will be tweaked a few times before release to be the people’s cans so to speak 🙂

            • Reply February 28, 2012

              Mike

              If they can add the weight in the bass and tune down the treble peak, then the HD700 is going to be one successful headphone, that’s for sure.
              Even at the current form it’s already winning fans when I took it down to the local Jaben.

  • Reply February 27, 2012

    Vic

    Is it worth trying the HD700 if I already have the HE-500? 

    • Reply February 27, 2012

      Mike

      Good question, Vic.
      Okay a few pros and cons, but I let you decide for yourself:

      The HD700 is:
      – Easier to drive.
      – More comfortable ergonomics by far, lighter too.
      – Far better soundstage three dimensionality.
      – Somehow smoother, clearer bass.
      – That treble peak I wrote about is bothersome (but again, let’s hope the final product will be free of that). – Likewise the weightless low.

      I think with all headphones, it’s hard to decide until you have time to listen to it. And even then, sometimes short listening sessions during meets may not be conclusive enough. Sometimes, some headphones are bad enough that it’s not worth spending time and effort to audition them. The HD700 on the other hand is quite special. I think if you have the means to audition it, or even better have it for in-home listening for a 2-3 days, that ought to help you decide better.

  • Reply February 28, 2012

    Eugen

    HD700 or the LCD2 rev.2? That is the question.

    • Reply February 28, 2012

      Mike

      You know it depends on many things.

      • Reply February 29, 2012

        Eugen

         No, it’s how I say … it goes like this:

        sub-bass: under 60Hz
        bass: 60-300Hz
        low mid: 300-600Hz
        midrange: 600-2000Hz
        upper midrange:2000-4000Hz
        presence: 4000-6000Hz
        highs: 6000-8000Hz
        upper highs: 8000-12000Hz
        brilliance:12000-your hearing limit

        The HD650 has a peak in the upper midrange but after that when it gets to the presence region it dips abruptly, giving it that “veil”. It recovers though after the presence band. The HD650 needs a little presence lift and that’s all, it’s frequency response is very good. Too bad it completely fails the timing aspect and it has that closed in sound.

        The HD800 has a dip in the actual midrange then a peak in the upper midrange that goes into the presence region and keeps going to around 7000Hz. It’s right there between the presence and the highs and it’s annoying if you have a revealing solid state source and amp with most recordings. It’s not annoying if you have natural sound or instruments that are well recorded.

        What I wanted from Sennheiser for the HD700 was a HD650 with a little presence lift (around 2dB), open sound (just looking at it it can’t help having an open sound). And you know, to fix the bass speed without losing weight. Am I  easy to please or what? 🙂

        • Reply February 29, 2012

          Mike

          Yes basically on the HD700 and HD800: the glare on the presence range (HD800) is not there on the HD700, and that region is nice and smooth on the HD700. But going a little up at perhaps 8k-10k where the sssh are, there is a peak on the HD700 which will emphasize siblilance, though overall the effect is less annoying as the presence glare on the HD800 on bad gear and bad recording (as you say).

          In respect to the HD650, you’re not going to find the veil on the HD700, but on the other hand you don’t get the HD650’s bass weight on the HD700 — and this is what I hope Sennheiser will be able to fix on their final production unit. 

          I think it’s difficult to get both bass weight and bass speed together in one package, so I think there’s going to be some compromise there. Also when bass weight is good, clarity tend to suffer a little, so again a case of compromise. With the HD700 they’re clearly going for bass clarity and speed, but I’d like to have just a little more bass weight, because that’s where the emotion in the music is. 

          • Reply March 1, 2012

            Eugen

            It’s not difficult to get speed and weight at the same time if you have a (partially) closed speaker, I’d say it’s difficult to get weight, speed  and open sound at the same time. 

            That’s why the LCD2 has such good low bass – look at it, it’s huge, it has a much larger driver and a stronger motor.  It’s like they say in cars, there’s no replacement for displacement. That goes double for open baffle speakers. 🙂

            The thing is, there’s nothing you can do to a HD700/HD800 to make it have real bass but you can equalize the LCD2 to have your preferred frequency response. You will lose refinement / resolution due to the big driver but most people I think would agree the trade-off is worth it.

            The best speaker I’ve ever heard was a Tannoy System 215 DMT2 a huge dual concentric dual 15″ driver beast. It sounded fast, powerfull, controlled and effortless at any volume level. I hope I get to own an open baffle speaker like the Jamo R909 someday … 🙂

            • Reply March 1, 2012

              Mike

              Yes I suppose you are right there.

  • Reply February 28, 2012

    Carlo Clavo

    Thanks mike for the impressions.

    A headphones with a dark tonality in the level of LCD2 and Stax O2 but with annoying sibilance (on upper treble) and lacks bass body, I say a very curios and confused headphones. Can you think of another headphones that shares the same charateristics?

    • Reply February 29, 2012

      Mike

      Good question, Carlo.

      I think I need to clarify the LCD-2 comparison part as such:
      – The HD700 is not as dark as both the LCD-2 and the O2. I think I pointed out that fact specifically on the LCD-2 comparison. What’s similar is the way the treble (apart from the top treble peak) down to the bass region is very linear and uncolored, unlike say the HD800/HD650. But the HD700 is not as dark as the LCD-2/O2. – Aside from the point above, if you think about it, it’s possible to have a treble peak on the top treble while the lower treble frequencies remain linear. – I don’t feel that the bass lacks body, but it does lack weight, which I find to be superb on the HD650 and the LCD-2. The bass is not as full bodied as on the HD650/LCD2, but it doesn’t like a bass thin headphone either. This part is probably confusing. I.e how can something that doesn’t lack body be lacking weight? In this case an audition would probably help.

  • Reply February 28, 2012

    Jovytheseeq

    Wow the HD700s could really be the headphone I am looking for!I just can’t wait to read some more about  their scalability/source pairing/amp requirement.The HD700s may fall into my price range but a $3000 amp definitely does not.
    Take your time Mike I didn’t mean to rush you though 🙂

    • Reply February 29, 2012

      Mike

      The HD700 scales well though not as the HD800. Amplifier requirement is actually very low. It’s extremely easy to drive, almost like you’re driving a portable headphone. I enjoyed it with both the Schiit Asgard and the O2 amplifiers.

      • Reply February 29, 2012

        Jovytheseeq

        Glad to hear that Mike,I was planning to get a GS solo ultra linear, in your opinion, is it capable to make HD700 show its full potential,or not worth the extra $$$ over the Schiit Asgard?(strictly for HD700)

        • Reply March 1, 2012

          Mike

          Definitely, the GS is a much more refined amp.

          Personally I still think the SRG II is the smoother amp and the one you should go for. Get the PSU1 power supply if you can.

          • Reply March 1, 2012

            Jovytheseeq

            Thanks!

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    Julian Junishev

    I won’t read the forthcoming in this article. I’ll buy the book when it’s finished. :p

  • Reply March 1, 2012

    Elie Imelda Rik

    I was on the verge of buying an LCD2. This makes it so hard again!
    When I read your comparison with the LCD2, is it correct to say the HD700 would be better for these kind of music genres? =>
    – 70’s Rock (Pink Floyd, early Queen, Yes)
    – Indie Rock (Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade)
    – Vocal oriented music (Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Bright Eyes, Sigur Ros)

    • Reply March 1, 2012

      Elie Imelda Rik

      O yeah, have you tested it with a Burson ha-160D? I was thinking about that because the Burson seems to be going so well with the LCD2.

      • Reply March 1, 2012

        Benjamin Lee

        I just want to give an opinion here since I owned a LCD2 Rev2 before and have auditioned HD800. Although the LCD2 sounds very very good for all types of music especially Rock and bass heavy music, the weight and the clamp on the headphone is just too much, the LCD2 fails in fit and comfort and quality too (as i went through two pairs because the wood crack, and the headphone itself feels kind of DIY home made), it will feel like you are putting 5lbs weight on your head, putting pressure right on the top of your head and the clamping will make your jaws numb in 10mins (unless your head is very small). Thats how bad the comfort was for me but the sound especially sub bass mid bass is very awesom . In contrast to the HD800, it was basically a brick (LCD2) and feather (HD800) on your head. At first when I was considering the LCD2 i thought people were just exaggerating on the weight and clamp and after i owned it, I can hardly wear it for 20mins before my jaws and my head hurts.  I am definately going to try the HD700 as it is less weight, bigger soundstage and more clarity. I would sacrifice the low bass thump on the LCD2 for better comfort, better clarity, bigger soundstage. Just my 2cents on LCD2 

        • Reply March 1, 2012

          Elie Imelda Rik

          Thanks for your input!
          What are your impressions with the LCD2 and vocals? I mainly listen to low tempo vocal music like Leonard Cohen, Bright Eyes, Nick Cave, Sufjan Stevens kind of stuff.

        • Reply March 1, 2012

          Mike

          Yes the weight of the LCD-2 was one of its drawbacks. The HD700 is actually even more comfortable than the HD800. But still, bass weight, I hope they can add a little more bass weight.

      • Reply March 1, 2012

        Mike

        The Burson – LCD2 pairing is simply superb.

    • Reply March 1, 2012

      Mike

      For the 70s rock, I think the LCD-2 is still the better headphone. For vocals, I would lean toward the HD700 though I’m not too familiar with the ones you posted. But stuff like Diana Krall or Adele, I would use the HD700 on them.

  • Reply March 1, 2012

    Fred Ling

    I owned LCD-2 for a while but eventually sold it.  It is a very good headphone for sure, but just way too dark sounding for my taste.  It is clearly missing the air at the top.  I found SE535 in-ear monitor to be much more accurate.  When I am doing a recording session, the SE535 sounds very close to the real thing, the LCD-2, not so.

  • Reply March 1, 2012

    Fred Ling

    I owned LCD-2 for a while but eventually sold it.  It is a very good headphone for sure, but just way too dark sounding for my taste.  It is clearly missing the air at the top.  I found SE535 in-ear monitor to be much more accurate.  When I am doing a recording session, the SE535 sounds very close to the real thing, the LCD-2, not so.

    • Reply March 1, 2012

      Mike

      Fred,
      I would agree that the LCD-2 is missing air at the top, but compared to the SE535 I actually think that the LCD-2 is much more accurate. The SE535 however has an emphasis in the vocals and if you’re recording vocals or speech that may be a good thing.

  • Reply March 1, 2012

    Gorboman

    Thanks for giving me a chance to have a listen to the HD700, Mike. It is easier to drive and easier to like; in my terms: it’s an ‘easy going’ headphones. Good for people like me who don’t really like to have big and bulky set ups. Yes, the clamping could use a little bit more pressure. And
    I see what you mean about the HD800 being superior in technicality; more of a hardcore audiophile pair of cans.

    • Reply March 1, 2012

      Mike

      You’re welcome, and thanks for the Vmoda loaner too. 🙂

      • Reply March 2, 2012

        Mate Mayer

         How does the Vmoda sound? Anything special?
        Mate

        • Reply March 2, 2012

          Mike

          I like it! Best bass I’ve heard from a portable. 

          Here is my impressions, Mate: https://www.facebook.com/notes/headfoniacom/v-moda-m-80-impressions/350896801621690

  • Reply March 3, 2012

    Elie Imelda Rik

    I know they’re not close to being in the same league but how do these compare to the HD598 sound signature wise?

    • Reply March 3, 2012

      Mike

      Very different. Again the HD700 is not like any of the previous Senns. 

      The HD598 still has the typical Senn grainy sound, it also is much narrower in soundstage. The sound signature is warmer, and it pushes the midrange forward. The HD700 is much more linear, spacious, clearer and cleaner sounding. 

  • Reply March 4, 2012

    Ville Heiskala

    I rarely anymore go to these hp. sites, since I have found my perfect system. Emu 0404, Black Cube Linear and HD800. In my opinion all the whining about HD800 being too revealing or dull etc. is absolute bull shit. I listen to a lot of very lo-fi music and I have no trouble with HD800. If the music is exiting, it sounds exiting in all head phones including HD800. If the music sounds dull with HD800 it means the music is just bad. 

    Also if the music is uncomftorable and tiring to listen to with HD800 then it clearly was not meant to be listened with such high end equipment. The only reason I ever got into hi-fi was to hear what the artist meant me to hear. HD800 does this well in enough with most music, and if the HD800 sounds “too revealing”  I just switch to my hd25. 

    Also I think buying better headphones does not make you enjoy the music any more. Since it doesn’t matter what head phones you use after you have got used to them. All that better head phones do is make you hear better what the artist meant you to be hearing. This exactly what I want from my head phones.

    Also DACs are not worth the extra money in my opinion. I had Benchmark DAC1 and Mytek Stereo 96 for a while and the difference to a 200€ sound card was very small. Little differences like this do not matter in practice.

    Good Luck with your head phone gear hobby!

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Pete Manakit

    So, here’s a seemingly short question…

    I already own the HD600 and the HD800. Is the HD700 ‘different’ enough to warrant yet another purchase?

    • Reply March 7, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Pete,
      Haven’t seen you around for a while. 😉

      The answer is: VERY DIFFERENT.
      The 700 is unlike any other Senns, or any other dynamics on the market.

      • Reply March 8, 2012

        Pete Manakit

        Yes indeed. As I venture off into photography I thought I was finally able to ‘settle down’ in the headphone world. I stopped visiting the headphone websites… before I saw your post popping out in my facebook feed. I should not have clicked!! 

        Brought the HD600 out of its hibernation today and wow… after living daily with the ‘sophisticated’ HD800 I forgot what wonder the veteran can achieve. One do not simply say no to proper bass 😀

        So, on a quantitative scale of bass where the 800 is at 0 and the 600 at 10, where would the 700 sit?

        • Reply March 9, 2012

          Mike

          Cameras and lenses are expensive! For a decent medium level photography set up you can have a top end headphone system. I used to have a lot of lenses but the past few years I’ve only shoot mainly in studio so my main workhorse lens is only the 24-70L now. A 100 macro for close up stuff, and a 35mm f2 for my candid lens.
          Bass on a numerical scale, uff it’s not easy. Better listen to it yourself.
          Regardless of my complaints on the bass, I think the HD700 is still an incredibly special headphone. It’s just that if they are able to add some more bass to it, it’ll be awesome.

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    Javier_Burguera

    First of all, thanks for your wonderful site; its a great pleasure to follow your reliable reviews.

    Your comments about the HD700’s energy and PRaT make me feel very excited, hoping this new headphone to be in the line of my beloved 20 years old Sennheiser HD480 II (dynamic, open, supraural, 60 omhs).

    I have bought HD25, 595, 598, 600, 650 and 800 and, though the sound quality and long term comfort are better, the energy of some of my prefered music (Genesis, Supertramp, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Art of Noise,…) is lost (except in the HD25, but the SQ and the soundstage of the HD480 are better ).

    My perception was that the Sennheiser sound signature had changed or that my all time model was a rara avis.

    I have also the Ultrasone Edition 8 and sounds quite good, but not wow!  There is punch, but definitely not energy; it is also brighter, the soundstage is more congested and not very comfortable.

    • Reply March 9, 2012

      Mike

      With the HD700, the punch is good and the speed and PRaT is good too. But the bass lacks weight and even though I haven’t listened to your HD480, based on my experience with older Senns, the HD700 still lacks weight compared to them.
      I know it’s difficult to understand. Good punch, but lacks weight, because usually they go together.

      • Reply March 9, 2012

        Javier_Burguera

        Mike, thanks for your answer. 

        I keep crossfingering … the HD480 has not too much bass weight … it is smooth, very clear but not over bright, good punch and with a special touch in dynamics that I have never heard in any other headphone that I have tried.

        • Reply March 9, 2012

          Mike

          Well, I don’t know.. as I’ve said I’ve never listened to the HD480. 🙂

  • Reply March 16, 2012

    L.

    I’ll be having the HD700 as well pretty soon, I’ll add my findings of course 🙂

  • Reply March 17, 2012

    Austin Morrow

    I’m quite interested to hear how these perform once my review unit arrives. You see, I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different amps lately (all from $200-2000) and I’ve noticed that the Sennhesier HD650 scales up and has a different signature depending on the system. In one system, the HD650 can actually sound really good up top and below down on the bass and lush midrange, making it a lot more resolved with the treble being more accentuated. Now, let’s say you were to take a dark headphone amp (maybe even the Dark Star) and hook it up to the HD650. It has some absolutely incredible bass response when scaled up enough. Tight, fast, punch, with awesome transients and a lot of surge and still the fun, warm coloration I’ve come to love. You say that while the HD700 scales up, it’s not a huge step up from the portable amps except in minute details and technicalities. I really wonder how Sennhesier designed the driver that caused it to be like this.

  • Reply March 18, 2012

    Eugen

    The HD700 should be a 500$ headphone.  Also, the HD800 should be a 800$ headphone – and it was available for 800$ in Europe for a while at debut, I know a guy that got one for 580 euro. 🙂

    • Reply March 18, 2012

      Turok Rocks

      I agree , HD800 should be max $1000 esp. as the technology by time gets cheaper and the HD800 has been for how long..?

    • Reply March 19, 2012

      Mike

      What about the other flagships?

      • Reply March 19, 2012

        Eugen

        Well, you can’t compare Audeze and Hifiman to Sennheiser as economies of scale greatly favor Sennheiser. Audeze is almost DIY. 🙂 At least Hifiman constantly works to improve the product and lower the price.

        Grado are a special case, none of their current high end headphones are nowhere near worth the prices. The SR80i, SR325i, the HF2 and the RS1 are the only Grados you need.  Out of those, the SR80i and the HF2 are the stars.

        I can tell you that Audio technica makes a KILLING on any anniversary headphone they sell, but hey, they also have the best build quality so at least they give you something for your money if not sound quality. 🙂

        I can’t comment on Stax, they own their market so they can dictate the price. That’s why they’re such a small company, they boxed themselves into a little corner of the market and as a result they had to increase the prices to silly levels to survive. The recent edifier purchase can be a good thing for headphone enthusiasts if it’s handled well and it results in cheaper AND better products at lower prices due to economies of scale.

        AKG have no flagships, their headphone program is frozen for a LOONG time. After the Harman purchase they didn’t to anything new so they’re long overdue in launching something better than the K701.

        Beyerdynamic have their solid build quality to be proud of, recently they developed their products too (better/ angled drivers), too bad their voicing is done by deaf bats. 🙂

        Have I missed anyone?

        PS: I didn’t cover any rapper headphone, my bad … 🙂

        • Reply March 19, 2012

          Mike

          Lol.. too much excuses there Eugen.. though there is a reasoning between each of them, I really don’t think they are valid in the context that we’re talking. 

          You’re making it sound as if a company have the right to charge more if they are small. 😉

          • Reply March 19, 2012

            Eugen

             I bet Sennheiser would make more profit from a 800$ HD800 than Audeze from a 1000$ LCD2. Of course the market(ing) dictates the price, not the actual value of the product. 🙂

          • Reply March 21, 2012

            Eugen

            Let’s give some prices then:

            Beyer – T1 – 500$
            Audiotechnica – AD2000 – 400$
            Sony – CD3000 – 400$
            Akg  – K1000 – 500$
            Denon – D7000 – 300$

            I can’t comment on Audeze and the Hifiman, haven’t heard their headphones.

            • Reply March 22, 2012

              Mike

              Pretty mean on the D7000 there. 😉

              I think we have to agree that headphone prices in general are more expensive than they should be. And I think a lot of that has to do with the general consumer mentality too. Not everybody is into evaluating headphones, and for them prices correlate strongly to perceived value. And if Beats are selling the Studio for $300, surely the D7000 can sell for double that price just by looking at the quality of the wood finish. Then surely Beyer won’t sell their T1 at $500 as that would put it close to the range of the Beats Pro headphones.
              But in all industries, prices of goods are rising much faster than the general rate of inflation. Watches, clothing, jeans, shoes, automobiles, just about anything.

              • Reply October 3, 2012

                Eugen

                Yes, I blame the Beats too for the increased prices on actually good headphones.

                I listened to the LCD2 at last, just a few tracks but it underwhelmed me, I heard some kind of coloration in the upper midrange and a general lack of refinement.

                I also heard linear bass for the first time and it’s not what I thought it would be. I now think the bass/midbass has to be 3dB up in headphones for them to sound right. In portable headphones the bass lift needs to be even higher.

          • Reply March 21, 2012

            Eugen

            Let’s give some prices then:

            Beyer – T1 – 500$
            Audiotechnica – AD2000 – 400$
            Sony – CD3000 – 400$
            Akg  – K1000 – 500$
            Denon – D7000 – 300$

            I can’t comment on Audeze and the Hifiman, haven’t heard their headphones.

        • Reply March 20, 2012

          John123John

          Sennheiser definitely need to up their build quality in their mid tier headphones, especially for the price.
          flagship headphones are kinda overpriced (alot) lol.
          I will stay comfortably at my mid-fi level 🙂

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      dalethorn

      Declaring absolute prices for such high-tech items isn’t meaningful. Comparative pricing is. And comparing HD800 to others, the price is right.

  • Reply March 18, 2012

    Jeffrey Teuber

    Mike, I have made many positive comments about your reviewing in the past, all of them sincere. I must say, however, that I am at a loss to understand your remarks about the HD 600/650 in this review, as well as your apparent desire to influence Sennheiser to augment the bass of the HD 700 to be more like the other  two.  My following remarks are based on many years owning and listening to the HD 580, HD 650 and HD 600 (in that order) and with a variety of solid-state and tube amps. First, to my ears, the HD 600 and HD 650 decidedly do not have similar amounts of bass nor a similar bass character. I find the HD 650 to be almost unlistenable on fine classical and jazz recordings, due to a combination of bloated bass and soft, dark high frequencies. The HD 600 in a much more accurate ‘phone, I believe, with better neutrality and articulation at both ends of the spectrum. I have always felt that Sennheiser made a serious error in departing from neutrality with the 650, apparently to please audiophiles (they have as much as said so in their brochures for that product). Maybe it’s great for rock, but that only makes it a “great niche product.” I have not heard the HD 700, but if your review influences the company to modify it’s bass to be more like the HD 650, I believe we will all end up with a lesser product that could have been so much more. Thanks for listening.     

    • Reply March 19, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Jeffrey,
      As I’ve written on this article, clearly the HD600 is a different headphone than the HD650: http://www.headfonia.com/the-sennheiser-trio-hd580-hd600-hd650/

      When I say “HD600/HD650” bass, it should be read more as “either having a HD600 like or HD650 bass weight”.
      Also, I was talking about the bass weight, never the bloated aspect.

      Cheers.

  • Reply March 18, 2012

    Turok Rocks

    One word,Disappointed! Sennheiser, please do your magic on the HD700.

  • Reply March 19, 2012

    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

    • Reply March 19, 2012

      Mike

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

  • Reply March 24, 2012

    CannedG

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

    • Reply March 24, 2012

      Mike

      Nope, but the Ipod drives the HD700 just fine!

      • Reply March 24, 2012

        CannedG

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

        Thanks.

    • Reply March 24, 2012

      Mike

      Nope, but the Ipod drives the HD700 just fine!

  • Reply March 28, 2012

    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)?

  • Reply April 12, 2012

    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.

    • Reply April 26, 2012

      Fabio_Rocks

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

  • Reply April 16, 2012

    Pickcick

    Is it on the market yet? Hardly wait…

    • Reply April 25, 2012

      L.

       see above 😀

  • Reply April 22, 2012

    The Red Atelier

    How does this compare with HE-500?

    • Reply October 10, 2012

      Damián Bonadonna

      I second that! Please 🙂

      • Reply October 10, 2012

        Mike

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

        • Reply October 10, 2012

          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 🙁

          • Reply October 10, 2012

            L.

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

  • Reply April 24, 2012

    dalethorn

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

    • Reply April 25, 2012

      L.

      Wasn’t that june?

    • Reply April 25, 2012

      Mike

      No, not yet I believe.

  • Reply April 25, 2012

    The_Grudge2

    Double post (slow verification process)

  • Reply April 25, 2012

    The_Grudge2

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

    • Reply April 25, 2012

      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. 

    • Reply April 27, 2012

      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.

  • Reply May 11, 2012

    Fabio_Rocks

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

    • Reply May 11, 2012

      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.

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    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.

  • Reply June 17, 2012

    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.

    • Reply June 18, 2012

      Mike

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

  • 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

    • Reply June 21, 2012

      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.

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

        • Reply June 22, 2012

          Mike

          You’re welcome, Javier

  • Reply August 31, 2012

    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. 🙂

    • Reply September 1, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, Hariz.

  • Reply September 27, 2012

    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

    • Reply September 27, 2012

      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

      • Reply October 4, 2012

        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?

        • Reply October 4, 2012

          Mike

          The dealers probably won’t have Rev 1.

          • Reply October 4, 2012

            L.

            Maybe ALO still has one? No idea

            • Reply October 4, 2012

              Mike

              Yes try ALO they may have one.

              • Reply October 5, 2012

                Eric Thompson

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

                • Reply October 5, 2012

                  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.

  • Reply September 27, 2012

    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.

    • Reply September 28, 2012

      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.

      • Reply September 28, 2012

        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

  • Reply October 5, 2012

    Nick Tam

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

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      L.

      I’m not mike but

      HD800>HD700>HD650/HD600 😀

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

      • Reply October 5, 2012

        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”

        • Reply October 5, 2012

          L.

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

          • Reply October 5, 2012

            Nick Tam

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

            • Reply October 5, 2012

              Mike

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

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      Mike

      Yea, what L said.

  • Reply December 6, 2013

    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

    • Reply December 6, 2013

      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

      • Reply December 6, 2013

        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

        • Reply December 7, 2013

          Dave Ulrich

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

          • Reply December 7, 2013

            L.

            That’s correct!

        • Reply December 9, 2013

          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.

          • Reply December 11, 2013

            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?

            • Reply December 11, 2013

              L.

              PanAm is $499.

              • Reply December 11, 2013

                George Lai

                Plus the Passport and the Gateway?

              • Reply December 12, 2013

                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? 😉

            • Reply December 13, 2013

              Mike

              Yes the PanAm is a good choice

  • Reply January 24, 2016

    Khloe85

    Hi.
    Can someone please tell me what the author means by “grain in sound” and technicalities.

    • Reply January 24, 2016

      dalethorn

      Check out the square wave charts on the innerfidelity site – there should be an explanation of how those relate to rise time, slew rate, ringing, all those technicalities that contribute to speed, PRaT, etc. Grain I found in the $1500 (now cheaper) AKG K812, but it wasn’t immediately obvious because of the shrillness. Lots of headphones boost the bass or roll off the highs, to mask all kinds of sins. If you get past the basic signature somehow, even by modding or EQ’ing, you might hear a very fine underlying roughness in some headphones that sounds grainy. The best headphones often have such smoothness in the mids that they sound ‘liquid’.

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