Sennheiser is probably one of the better-known headphone designers in the marketplace today. The company was founded in 1945 and is based in Germany, with manufacturing plants in Germany, Ireland and the United States. The HD 700 over-the-ear headphones are second in command in Sennheiser's audiophile-oriented, full-size headphone category, with the HD 800 taking the lead position. The HD 700 retails for $849.95 on Sennheiser's website. This particular product was designed and engineered in Germany and manufactured in the Ireland facility.
The HD 700 is intended to be a dedicated, high-end, home-use headphone. As such, it doesn't fold, there is no active noise cancellation or smartphone functionality, and it's not designed to take the abuse of traveling. The earphone cup is made up of three large steel mesh panels that surround the open-air dynamic driver, which allows the earphones to breathe, controls sound, and minimizes turbulence within the driver. Impedance is rated at 150 ohms. The HD 700 is made of high-quality plastics, metal, and fabric. It is exquisitely manufactured, yet has a fragile demeanor. The included cables are silver-plated OFC (oxygen-free copper), three meters in length, with an outer cover of high-quality fabric. The cable can be detached from the main headphone unit and has a standard 0.25-inch (6.3mm) connector. A storage box is included.
The HD 700 is exceptionally comfortable. Despite its large size, you could wear these headphones for hours without fatigue ... or even forget you have them on, like I did. The ear cups have microfiber fabric circular pads, which surround your ear. The tension of the headband is perfect and has its own microfiber pad. The HD 700 is among the most comfortable headphones I have ever auditioned. Comfort and fit should not be overlooked in a headphone because, regardless of how great a particular product may sound, if it's not comfortable, I doubt you would actually use it.
I auditioned the HD 700 using an Oppo BDP-95 to spin the discs. In this setup, I used both the analog outputs to power a Grado headphone amplifier and the HDMI output to connect to a Marantz AV8801 A/V processor, to utilize its headphone jack. With "Latin Quarter" by Marc Antoine (The Very Best of Marc Antoine, GRP Records, 2003), the sound was involving, expressive, and large. Balance between upper, midrange, and bass frequencies was excellent, with no fatiguing quality whatsoever, and the sound was very detailed. Imaging is fantastic in width and depth.
I moved on to "Crash" by Dave Matthews Band (Crash, RCA 1996) and again experienced the same high fidelity. However, I noticed a few instances where I could sense an ever-so-slight smearing on specific upper frequencies and "s" sounds but, over time, they disappeared, indicating the need for a proper break-in period. I was able to easily toggle between both the Grado and Marantz setups, and in all cases, the Grado amplifier gave the best performance, providing a more effortless sound quality with greater dynamics and separation between instruments. The HD 700 definitely benefits from a proper headphone amplifier.
Click on over to Page 2 for the High Points, the Low Points, Comparison and Competition and the Conclusion . . .