Review Price £599.99
Sennheiser HD 700
We are huge fans of the Sennheiser HD 800 headphones, and the sight of the gleaming new HD 700 set sitting at Sennheiser’s stand at CES 2012 had us pretty excited. This new pair bridges the gap between the £1000 HD 800 and the £300 HD 650. Retailing for $999, they should hit UK stores at around £700. But are they worth it? We went ears-on with them at the show to find out.
The design of the Sennheiser HD 700 cans has more in common with the HD 800 pair than the 650s. Senny’s odd, slightly sci-fi vibe is back, as is a lightweight-is-better approach. There are more seams on show than you’d find in a shirt factory, but they’re here for a reason. Each part of the headset is separate, to make the frame as sonically inert as possible.
They are smaller than the higher-end HD set, with pads that clasp your noggin around the ears, rather than dominating just about all your head’s sides like the HD 800s. Build quality is up to Sennheiser’s usual excellent standards, although it’s closer to the HD 650 than the top-end model.
With a lightweight frame and open-back design, these cans are very comfortable. They don’t heat up your ears like some closed-back sets and the mesh pads offer decent padding. It goes without saying that, as open-back headphones, these are strictly for home/indoors use. They leak sound and the listening experience is ruined in a noisy environment.
The cable plugs into the cans on both sides, using a removable cable that’s a standard among high-end Sennheiser models. It uses a fabric mesh outer that gives it a durable, high-quality feel that also helps to reduce tangling. It ends with a 6.3mm jack, like most decent at-home sets.
Wanting to show off its headphones at their best, Sennheiser laid-on a fantastic setup for testing, with a reference-level CD player and proper headphone amp. Not only that, but the HD 650 and HD 800 models were right alongside. As any of you headphone fans will appreciate, we were in headphone heaven.
The Sennheiser HD 700 bear many Senny attributes, but they have a signature that’s different to both the HD 800 and 650. These headphones’ soundstage is gigantic, offering a wide sound that benefits from the open design. There’s plenty of warmth and there’s a certain thickness to the sound that makes the HD 700’s personality perhaps closer to the lower-range model than the top dog HD 800.
While detail is good, some of the ultra high-resolution rendering of the wonderful HD 800 is missing. You’re not getting the same sound as Sennheiser’s top-end model for £300 less, but what do you get is great. The sound is harder-hitting, which should come in handy for rock and dance music. The eminently tasteful folks at Sennheiser supplied us with Eric Clapton and John Coltrane albums to test with, so we’ll have to wait for our review sample to crack out the happy hardcore, dubstep and Nepalese finger cymbal classics.
Approaching the Sennheiser HD 700 from a more technical perspective, they offer a claimed 8-44,000Hz frequency response and their impedance is actually lower than both the HD 650 and HD 800 – 150Ohms instead of 300Ohms. In theory, this should mean they need a headphone amp less than their series brothers. Again, we’ll see how they fare amp-free at review.
The £700 gulf between the Sennheiser HD 650 and H 800 has been bridged, as the HD 700 joins the esteemed ranks of Sennheiser’s high-end headphone range. With a wide, open and highly musical sound, they deserve the position. You don’t get all the fidelity of the HD 800, but they fill the gaping hole in the 2011 HD line-up with style.
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