Many people refer to the HD 700’s as the HD 800’s evil twin brother. Or sister. Lol. It’s sad because they don’t really receive the same accolades as some of Sennheiser’s other offerings, but still remain a very important headphone nonetheless.
They are an exceptionally warm set of cans, but at the same time neutral and honest. They have a great sound-stage as well, with a more relaxed treble reproduction. Where as the 800’s have been accused of an overly bright signature in the high end, the 700’s are much darker. What is the Sennheiser veil?
Warm character. These are very transparent, and elegant, with a musical warmth and a true to life acoustic presence.
They don’t over emphasize any particular frequency range. They allow for nuances in sound to be heard in each instrument and voice.
A subject of debate is the treble. Is it bright? Sure. Is it peaky/harsh? Folks go back and forth on it. I would say that the overall signature is very balanced, with a spike at 6k. A lot of people say it’s what gives the HD 700 it’s character. Others claim it’s too bright. Your mileage may vary. If you find it harsh, EQ it down.
Chord is somewhat iffy. It’s a solid chord overall, but may break near the 1/4″ phone plug. Alternatively, you could purchase the cable that sells with the HD 477 and 497, each of which fit the HD 700.
The Silver mesh material on the cups is very easily damaged.
While they are pretty solidly built, I saw quite a few complaints regarding some of the materials used. Specifically, people were saying they were disappointed over how much plastic was used in such a high end model.
I’ve read a lot about these headphones, and many say that they do need an amp to reach their full potential. However, The jack from the iPad and iPhone were both said to work phenomenally well.
What are people using?
Grace Design M903
JDS Labs 02
Schiit Magni/Modi (Amp & DAC)
Little Dot MKII/MKIII
Audioquest Dragonfly v1.2 DAC/Amp.
Woo Audio WA7
Do not purchase:
FiiO E7. This cannot drive them correctly.
The Schiit Magni/Modi will power the 700’s just fine from a volume standpoint, but the combo may be a bit too harsh/bright.
In this case I would go with the Vali 2/Modi 2 combo. Being a tube amp, it will come across as less fatiguing over a longer period of time.
Pop, Rock, R&B. Some did say they were good for Rock, while others disagreed.
Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
Your listening volume should be on the conservative side. The music can get very loud very quick.
Music that had been previously obscured by layers of sound is suddenly audible and distinct. The HD 700’s are really a crystal clear sounding set of cans!
Chord should be stretched and left out for a day before use to loosen it up (removing knots and kinks), or wrapping the chord around a foam ball, and letting the outward pressure of the ball smooth out the odd bends in the fabric. You should be aware that quite a few people complained about the chord, but it was never a deal breaker.
These are darker sounding headphones with not as much treble presence as say the HD 800’s. With the 700’s it’s like being in the front row. With the 800’s it’s like your on stage.
These are not portable. They are designed for the home audio enthusiast. They also have zero noise isolation. Don’t expect them to block out any sound. You will be able to hear things going on outside of them as well.
You may not feel “connected” to the music or be emotionally involved. Even though you can hear every instrument in a complex orchestral work, and every subtlety, there is just this sense of artificiality.
May need to EQ these for EDM, as the sound can sometimes get a bit harsh/sharp/piercing.
They really need good source files. Expect the sound to be crappy from poor audio sources.
I’ve heard these are like a cross between the HD 600 and HD 800.
These have a more analog quality as opposed to digital.
The HD 700’s are an extremely comfortable, grand listening experience, complete with a really good sound-stage and a crisp overall sound. Be aware of the lackluster cable (which can be replaced if need be), and the plastic like feel.
Similarities & Differences (with the HD600)
Both are open back, with no noise isolation.
Both are very neutral.
Both need good sound sources to sound their best.
The HD 600’s do well with any genre, while the 700’s are somewhat limited.
Impedance ratings are different. The HD600’s is 300 Ohm vs. the 150 of the 700. Fortunately, the HD600 isn’t very amp picky, even with a higher impedance.
The clamping force of the HD 600’s will take a bit of break in to get used to. The HD 700’s won’t.
The HD600’s are some of the most accurate cans you will find. The HD700’s may add a touch of warmth to your recordings.
The HD700’s are said to have softer pads, and an overall more comfy feel.
The bass on the HD700’s is more detailed than the 600.
The mid-range on the 600 is more smooth and detailed than the 700.
The treble on the HD700 felt uneven and out of place. Almost too “in your face” as opposed to the laid back, relaxed treble of the HD 600.
Because the HD700 is so alive, and demands your attention, the sound may become fatiguing after awhile. Not so with the 600.
The Soundstage on the 700 is a bit better (according to most), although a guy on Head Fi said that the 600 had a better sense of depth and imaging. He said the sense of space was superior, while the HD700 can give a little more impression of detail and separation.
The HD700 is not as modular as the HD600. What this means is that you can take apart the entire HD600 and replace parts as needed. You can replace stuff on the 700, but you’ll need a screwdriver to open a lot of it.
The 700’s cable is rugged as all get out. The HD600’s is solid, but some say a bit cheap feeling for a high end headphone.
There are times when the HD700’s can sound hollow, forced, or unnatural. With the 600’s you always know what you’re getting. A neutral, laid back, but also detailed sound. Their tonal balance is virtually unmatched.
Think of the HD700 like a power hitter in baseball. When they connect, there’s fireworks. When they miss the mark, often times it’s pretty ugly. The HD700’s are the same way. They do some things brilliantly, and fail miserably in other areas. The 600’s would be like a .300 hitter. You can always rely on them to come through when the game is on the line. Similarly, the HD600’s just excel at all times, in all situations.
Someone on Reddit made a really funny analogy comparing the HD700’s treble with Peanut Butter:
“I don’t know how to put it in audiophile terms, but the treble was like having peanut butter stuck on the roof of your mouth. When you first take it in, you’re like, wow peanut butter, so goood. Then you get to the part where it gets stuck and you’re like wait a minute somethings not right.”
It’s hard not to recommend the HD 700’s, as the price has come down considerably as of late, and they are a great set of headphones. But the HD600’s are the Gold Standard here. They are what every headphone strives to be, and should be the benchmark for what headphones should sound like.
If you’re contemplating what your first Sennheiser purchase should be, look no further than the 600. It’s just about the best investment you can make in the world of snobby audiophiles. Lol. Interested in learning why (in great detail)?
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.