The Sennheiser HD700 Journal (Mar 16, 2012)

hd700_sketch_01
Introduction to the Journal

This article is a work in progress and as time goes I will be adding things to it, like a Sennheiser HD700 Journal. Please refer to this table of contents for the sections:

Introduction

When Sennheiser introduced the HD800 three years ago, the resolution of its 58mm ring-radiator driver was mind blowing. However, there were two things about the HD800 that prevented it from getting public acceptance: First, it wasn’t voiced quite the right way (treble issues, bass issues, et cetera). Second, the competition from Beyerdynamic with the T1, Hifiman with the HE-6, and Audez’e with the LCD-2, were quite advanced with their own offerings. And for many people, they had a more “correct” voicing than the HD800 is. Especially the planar based drivers was winning a lot of fans around the world with their fast and accurate transients. Even though the planars don’t scale up as well as the HD800 on high-end set ups, it wasn’t relevant because the HD800 simply didn’t have the sound that they were looking for (and I agree, it was a hard headphone to enjoy).

And the fact is this:

Ten years after the release of the HD650 (2003), people are still yearning for something that sounds like the HD650 but a little more advanced in technicalities. Certainly, the HD800 was missing something important, and that is musicality.

I can imagine a hypothetical situation where the engineers at Sennheiser started the blueprint on creating the best headphone they are capable of. All the years of technological know how was poured into the design, and the result is what we know as the HD800. With the HD700, however, it was different. A different design team was gathered, and this time I would imagine they actually gathered a lot of feedback from users (especially the Head-Fi guys) and listened intensively to the planars from Hifiman and Audez’e to examine what is it about them that made them so successful.

We know for sure that Sennheiser is listening to the market, and that the HD700 should be a more musically involving headphone than the HD800 was. When the HD700 was finally unveiled, I am guessing that the headphone is going to sound a lot closer to the HD650 — the ultimate representation of the classic Sennheiser sound. Now that I have listened to the HD700, while it is mostly a darker sounding headphone than the HD800, it was completely different than what I had imagined. It was radically different and unlike anything else I’ve ever heard with a dynamic driver. It was not simply a re-tuned or a scaled down HD800 as the HE-500 is to the HE-6, the LCD-2 Rev 2 is to the Rev 1, or the Beyerdynamic T5p is to the T1.

I was awestruck. The design team, which is apparently a different team from the HD800, has pulled off something brilliant. Out of this world. Genius. I wish my HD800 sounded like the HD700. I really do. I wish Sennheiser would give me an HD700 sound, with a build quality like the HD800, and label it as the new HD800. It wasn’t simply a downgraded HD800 with a darker tonality. It was revolutionary and I’ve never heard anything like this being done with a dynamic driver.

I wish my HD800 sounds like the HD700

When the HD800 was launched 3 years ago, I received an invitation to audition it in Singapore in a private Sennheiser event. The system that we were listening to was nothing short of high end. They had that German high end audio brand T+A CD player that has this uncanny transients, paired with the highly transparent Lehmann Black Cube linear amp. They gave us private listening sessions in private rooms. They had audiophile recorded CDs that you can choose from, or a CD of your own if you happen to have one.

I though it was an impressive headphone technically, but I had mixed feelings about it. Impressive technicalities, but it was not one of those “I had to have one of these”.

I eventually bought an HD800 because I knew that it is the reference by which other headphones would be compared to. Over the years of doing reviews for Headfonia, I learned a lot about the HD800′s characteristics: what makes it work and not work, how you should build a set up around it, what makes it so painful at times, and what makes it sublime when the set up is right. And I still tell my friends today with their $3,000-$5,000 tube amps that the HD800 is the only headphone that will let them hear every single penny they’ve spent on their amps. It had the highest scalability factor, period. But once again, there is something missing with the HD800.

 

Continue to the next page…

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  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

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

    • zeroryu

      you made me preorder on amazon. #theregoesmywallet

  • http://www.facebook.com/destroysall 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. :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

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

  • http://twitter.com/HalSF 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?

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000455411784 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.

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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. 

  • asdfac

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

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.gheorghe 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 :D

  • hifiboy
  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BW6HZ63YQZRCLAVNAY7HO53DNM 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.

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/BW6HZ63YQZRCLAVNAY7HO53DNM Gary

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

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

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

  • 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

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=664216800 Dominic Li

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

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Did I really say that? 

  • samet ayar

    eline sağlık dayıoğlu

  • http://www.facebook.com/donunus 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?

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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. 

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      By the way what were the negative comments?

      • http://www.facebook.com/donunus 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

        • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

          • http://www.facebook.com/donunus 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 :)

            • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

  • http://twitter.com/Elllliassss Vic

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

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

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

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

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      You know it depends on many things.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UGJ3SZR3YRF4O4IZBPFIOIVFII 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? :)

        • http://www.headfonia.com 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. 

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UGJ3SZR3YRF4O4IZBPFIOIVFII 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 … :)

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              Yes I suppose you are right there.

  • 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?

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

  • 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 :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

      • 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)

        • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

          • Jovytheseeq

            Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julian-Junishev/1525337896 Julian Junishev

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

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/elie.hendriks 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)

    • http://www.facebook.com/elie.hendriks 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.

      • 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 

        • http://www.facebook.com/elie.hendriks 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.

        • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        The Burson – LCD2 pairing is simply superb.

        • http://www.facebook.com/elie.hendriks Elie Imelda Rik

           And Burson – HD700?

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            I think it’s just okay, not the best pairing.

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

  • http://www.theideate.com/ 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.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

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

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mate-Mayer/1335311034 Mate Mayer

         How does the Vmoda sound? Anything special?
        Mate

        • http://www.headfonia.com 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

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mate-Mayer/1335311034 Mate Mayer

            nice!

  • http://www.facebook.com/elie.hendriks 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?

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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. 

  • 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!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601862825 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?

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601862825 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 :D

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

        • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

  • 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.

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

      • 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.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

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

  • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

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

  • http://twitter.com/ontheedgeaustin 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.

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

    • 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..?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      What about the other flagships?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UGJ3SZR3YRF4O4IZBPFIOIVFII 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 … :)

        • http://www.headfonia.com 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. ;)

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

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

            • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

              • 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.

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

        • 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 :)

    • dalethorn

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/jfteuber 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.     

    • http://www.headfonia.com 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.

  • Turok Rocks

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