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Sennheiser HD 700 - Sound Quality, Value and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams


  • Recommended by TR
Sennheiser HD 700


Our Score


Review Price £599.99

On each side of the Sennheiser HD 700 there lies cause for raised expectations. Below it in price are the Sennheiser HD 650, extremely popular headphones with a bassy, dark sound and above it the HD 800 - which are some of the most intensely detailed-sounding headphones in the world.

True to form, the Sennheiser HD 700 fall somewhere in-between. These headphones are darker sounding and warmer than the bright-ish HD 800 and better-resolved and more detailed than 650s.

Sennheiser HD 700 9

Having given Sennheiser a great many plaudits over the past year, part of us wanted to be able to announce it had finally mucked-up. That the HD 700 weren't worth the money, and aren't a patch on the HD 800. Sadly, we can't.

Superb balance and a smooth run from low bass to the top of the frequency spectrum give them a simply wonderful sound that makes them good for all-day listening. At our original preview during CES, there were points where we seemed to encounter some harshness, but we're yet to hear any with out review units. If anything, the warmer, darker sound makes them less tiring to listen to than the breathtaking HD 800.

Sennheiser HD 700 10

Bass character is similar to the Sennheiser HD 800. It's lean and muscular, with plenty of attack and enough volume to lend excitement to tracks that rely on a pounding bass line. However, if you're upgrading from the HD 650 or other lower-end HD-series open-back headphones, you'll need to get used to the reduced level of bass on offer here. As a result, though, clarity is much, much improved - there is zero sense of mid-range muddling here.

Sennheiser HD 700 5

The character of the sound is nevertheless on the dark side, which is one of the key things that differentiates these headphones from the HD 800. Well, that and the less-wide soundstage and overall lesser detail - although this should be viewed from the perspective that the Sennheiser HD 800 are the outliers in their field on both these fronts. These are still highly-detailed headphones with a wide sound that you'd expect given their open-back design.

To find out how they compare closer to their own field, we pitched them up against the Shure SRH1440 and HiFiMAN HE-5. They offer greater clarity and sonic integrity than the SRH1440, and perform on a similar level to the HE-5, but with greater warmth and thickness - perhaps not an entirely good thing, depending on your outlook.

However, they are also less warm and bassy than a great many Sennheiser headphones. We found this helped to get rid of the tendency to sound slightly dull, seen most recently in the otherwise-great Sennheiser RS 220.

With great mid and treble crispness, the texture of driving instruments like guitars and synths is rendered with great verve - they can and do sound exciting. As such, we prefer them to the lower-end models for rock music, much as you might assume their weightier bass might hand them the win. This same crispness does wonders for dialogue in films too.

Easy to drive?

The 6.3mm jack at the end of the HD 700 cable should be enough to tell you that these headphones are not there to be plugged into your MP3 player. Most of our testing was done with the basic Fiio E9 desktop amplifier and the more powerful HiFiMAN EF-5, but these headphones are not particularly hard to drive. At 150ohm impedance, they should in theory be easier to handle than the 300ohm Sennheiser HD 650.

Sennheiser HD 700 8


Once you get into the land of serious headphones, the notion of value becomes hard to quantify. The best we can do is to compare the Sennheiser HD 700 to their rivals. They significantly outperform the Shure SRH1440, and are a definite upgrade over the Sennheiser HD 650. These aren't the magic headphone that manages to surpass all its more-expensive rivals, though - the Beyerdynamic T1 and Sennheiser HD 800 are better in several respects. However, they do deserve their place on shelves, even at the high price.


The Sennheiser HD 700 are serious £600 headphones that sit between the long-standing HD 650 and HD 800 models. Tonally, they sit somewhere in between too, melding the dark-leaning tone of the 650 with the more refined detailing and superior bass balance of the HD 800. If you want plenty of detail without a bright sound signature, they're an excellent choice.

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January 13, 2012, 10:35 am

Never understood why companies like Sennheiser are considered high-end and quality ones. You never hear the high-end of the sound with Sennheiser headphones and the rest of the frequencies are extremely laid back to be taken seriously. Headphones for dead people.
Strange thing is that many companies follow the Sennheiser path lately. That's sad.


January 15, 2012, 1:35 pm

So what's good headphones then? I'm pretty happy with my Senn HD 25 II.


January 16, 2012, 6:53 pm

The HD 25 II are pretty great. These are a different proposition altogether, though. They're open-backed and have a very different sound sig. A more detailed sound, perhaps, but they can't really be used outside.


January 17, 2012, 8:55 am

Sure, the HD 700 are meant to be audiophile headphones, not DJ/production like HD 25. I could only buy them if the stage were notably more impressive than on HD650 though, or sound/dynamics much more detailed. From my experience with 650's, they're a very exhilarating listen already, but I've also heard the quality jump to HD800 is thrilling. So it would make sense to make something in between. Some people say it's just cutting the coupons though, as is general Sennheiser's late doings. Personally, I dont't hop to such conclusions.

Stranded up there commented on the whole company's offers, not just HD 700 - he or she said, from what I understand, that Sennheiser's products play dull. I couldn't disagree stronger with that, maybe he/she is just used to sound from different companies, like Sony, but different doesn't necessarily mean universally better, does it?


January 20, 2012, 1:28 am

And I never understood why people comment on headphones that they've never heard. Sennheiser HD800 are arguably the best headphones on the market today (although there's no such thing as THE BEST, since no headphones work equally well in all situations). Sennheiser has always been on top. They've always had headphones that could compete and best best in all price ranges, and they've always had high end headphones. If Sennheiser doesnt make high-end headphones, then who does? There are companies that make ONLY high-end, and there are companies that make high-end, mid-end and low-end phones.


February 25, 2012, 5:30 am

Have had the HD800's now for about a month. They are without doubt the most accurate headphones I have. Obviously not everyone appreciates accurate audio reproduction.


June 1, 2012, 3:03 pm

Zombie review!!!

What is this the third time its been resurrected?


June 9, 2012, 6:28 am

I understand what you mean, in every sennheiser headphone I've heard (senn ie7, hd595, pmx680, and the hd25 II 1), I found treble area the most frustrating , lacking some sparkle or extension. I also have the hd800, and the treble seems fine , but a pity you have to shell out 1500$ for this. The treble is a bit smoother than I would like though.
Regarding some frequencies being "laid back", it's not necessarily a bad thing to me.


December 14, 2012, 3:30 pm

Listen to the HD800 and your comment will be invalidated. The HD800 has incredibly revealing highs, nothing like any of the lower end Sennheiser products. I'd expect the HD700 to also be quite detailed in the highs. The HD650 on the other hand is quite laid back in the highs as you say but don't make comments like that until you have heard something considered high end from Sennheiser.

Dean Lu

June 16, 2013, 6:43 pm

How are these versus the shure srh1840. I saw the 1440 being compared but those are $600 less.


January 30, 2014, 10:03 pm

Have you ever tried Audio - Technica ATH - W1000X ?

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