Post by garbulky on Mar 9, 2019 20:42:14 GMT -5
If you want to skip my usually verbose reviews just read the next paragraph (THE SHORT BIT)
Garbulky's HD700 Review!
My love for Sennheiser headphones go back about a decade with extensive use of the legendary HD600. Doing my research on HD 700 reviews I realized it was very hard to understand what these headphones actually sounded like. So here are some things that I read about.
- These are not much of an upgrade to the HD600.
- A whole lot of negative about a huge treble spike and terrible tone.
- Annoying cable
- So naturally this stuff scared me ESPECIALLY the treble spike! I am a stickler for treble tone and I figured there was a good chance this issue would drive me crazy.
The Good news/THE SHORT BIT
I wouldn’t classify the treble as being spiky, however this is a bright headphone. Overall the treble is slightly brighter but of the same open large feel of the HD600 vs the closed slightly rolled off treble of the HD 6xx. However the HD700 treble is quite a bit faster and more detailed while the HD600’s treble was slower in dynamics.
However the treble is bright. Nobody will call this a dark or laid back pair of headphones. For the vast majority of music, this is nice and non fatiguing. Every once in a little while, you may encounter a piece of music where this doesn’t quite work usually it's a treble heavy piece of music. With the wrong amp, I could see this making things worse. I say this to be fair because I DO enjoy the treble. But I am nitpicking here. But if there is a con, yes this is probably it.
I wouldn’t say the cable is annoying (but it is different and stiff).
And more importantly, YES it is definitely an upgrade to the HD600. Taken holistically, all things considered, this is a worthy upgrade to the HD600 in every way having a larger soundstage, more detail, more bass, and more dynamics, and equal comfort. Similar comments for an HD6XX comparison except the difference is that the HD6xx's tonal signature is a bit different and warmer with less treble.
But is it a must buy, or should you save for the much more expensive HD800? I got no clue. But it was a no regrets purchase for purposes though.
What it does RIGHT.
It's clear the soundstage exists a bit outside the headphones which is the most obvious change giving you a larger feel reminding you of a speakers soundstage but not quite there. Nevertheless it's very welcome. I was getting tired of the sensation of things so close to my head.
You get the sense that there is a sense of genius to these speakers. If you ever watch a movie, you’ll notice that things are just a little cooler than in real life. You want to see your heroes do kick ass things, make those neat stylistic moves in that special action moment. Well with the HD700’s that’s what I get when I’m exploring my records. There’s more punch to the bass, there’s tons of texture to it plumbing way down low. The vocals pop. One thing you won’t be hearing yourself say is that you didn’t hear what happened on the song. Because the little details are revealed. The headspace is significantly bigger than the HD600’s. And the increased resolution, speed, dynamics and palpability captures your attention. The new driver can handle significantly higher volume loads and dynamics than the HD600 driver which can audibly distort vs this one which just delivers it right out to you. That’s what makes this headphone a winning combo. It’s a performer. It doesn’t do small. It’s a muscle car which is ready to take you on a sweet ride, and you can’t help but not notice how good things sound on these.
Compared to the legend: The HD600
First it’s simply audibly faster than the HD600. The beauty of this is that the brain doesn’t have to concentrate. It’s just there. This allows me to hear a large amount of separation in instruments, hear the expressions of artists from vocal dynamics, how hard one string was plucked versus another on a guitar in very minute gradations. The same goes for bass - it plumbs the depth, is very textured. I can say that this is some of the best reproductions of upright bass I’ve heard. I can hear every note, the unique texture of the instrument, the vibrato, the punch, the large size etc.
It’s also capable of a lot more power than the hD600. Going A to B it was clear that the HD700 was just warming up while the HD600 had met its limits of clean dynamics. The difference is to do with the leading edge of the transient - is delivered better with these headphones.
My goal when I bought this set of headphones was to substitute my craving for speakers by bringing better resolution and larger soundstage than the hD600 while I worked. Well this did it. Imo this is on a different level to the HD600 series. It sounds fantastic with jazz, classical, and female voices.
HD6XX thoughts and comparisons are similar. The HD6xx is a bit different in tone, being warmer and slightly less treble. It has slightly better "bass dynamics" and soundstaging than the HD600.
Ceaveats and other thoughts
Ya better amp it!
Just like the Sennheiser HD600 and HD6xx headphones, these headphones need some impressive headphone amplifiers. I love what my A-100 does in direct drive to them. HOWEVER, the noise floor is undeniably audible in this mode with these headphones. I tried it with my DC-1’s headphone out but it couldn’t manage the same separation of instruments or open sound.
These headphones take a long time to coalesce to its proper tone, about three days of continuous playing.
There is a very cheap no tools fully reversible $15 mod nade by Modhouse Audio which significantly knocks out any brightness of the hd700 and also increases bass punch. It’s easy to install and reverse. The result is increased mid range detail. I reccomend not using the pad mod that comes with it, and just use the smaller felt ring pad. However, depending on who you are, you may prefer the stock headphones due to its “liveliness” and increased treble detail which is what I’m doing right now. At $15 it turns them in to a very different set of headphones so it can’t help to figure out what you like.
Build Quality and comfort
The comfort level is the same as the HD600. The HD700 has these unique D shaped earcups that I like. Though it is slightly heavier than the HD600, you honestly won't find it any less comfortable - which is to say you won't get tired of wearing these.
Above are the HD 201 ($45), HD600 ($300) and HD 700 ($500.
The HD700 appears to be built out of slightly more solid plastic materials. They swivel smoother in their frames vs the hd600 etc. But the big problem is the "open" drivers which honestly scare me versus the nice protective grill of the HD600. I'm not confident as to how well these drivers will be protected from damage due to the open feel to it. It also has metal mesh petals that surround the rest of the ear frame which also doesn't lend to my confidence. The HD800 appears similarly built. It looks ok but I'm not a fan. The HD600s have withstood without complaint a lot of handling over a decade. Will these be as sturyd? Hard to say. Having said that it is completely modular and most of the pieces are replaceable.
Here you can see a comparison of the cables. The HD700 has the thickest and stiffest cable out of the three with a larger sturdier connector. All of them have completely BS earcup proprietary connector ends which simply drive the price of replacement cables up. The HD800 also have a different (BS) proprietary connector for equally no good reason. Thankfully the 600 and 700 are so popular and longlasting that there are several options on the market.
You can get this brand new for $500. It used to cost $1000. It’s also available refurbished w/warranty from Sennheiser for $400. I paid full price. I have no regrets.
B’zilla got to try it briefly. He did agree that it was a superior headphone in details compared to the HD6XX though he felt the differences were small. He didn’t think it was worth the cost difference. I think that’s a valid critic. Depending on ones needs spending that much on headphones may be outright silly especially when a great headphone amp is also a must.
However, if you listen a lot to headphones, imo the HD700 is a worthwhile upgrade. I wouldn’t call $500 a steal for these headphones, but I also have no issue with the price.
So there you go, the hd 700s are now the best headphones I’ve heard (second to the HD600 and HD6xx). On my upgrade list is the $1560 HD 800S.