I am considering this to be a layman's review. I know this is long but I feel there are several things that are, quite frankly, scary about getting into the world of "hi-fi" headphones. I have never owned a pair of headphones that cost more than 20 bucks and have been quite content for my 21 years of life to do so. Someone who looks for the audiophile in their headphones won't get much from me because honestly I don't know enough. This is also not a gaming review, as I've heard many people look at these for playing Counter Strike or the like. More on that later but I'm making this review from a music listening standpoint. This review is for the person who thinks a 15 dollar pair of generic Sony's sounds just fine.
As I start writing this review, I've had these headphones on for about an hour. These were brand new out of the box. The very first thing I noticed when I actually opened the box and had them in my hands was "wow, besides the size and the fact that I just paid 90 bucks for something to wear on my head, these are impressively unimpressive." I read many, many review that held this on a pedestal and I was half expecting trumpets when I opened the box. It took a week and a half from the time I ordered them to when I got them today since I choose super saver shipping. I knew it would take a while to get here but the biggest problem was that during that time, I looked at every review I could find. I looked around for about 3 hours before I bought these and then bought them because they seemed pretty good and I'm not the type to stress over a purchase like this.
While I was waiting, I got honestly afraid that I had made a bad choice. It seemed like the good things could be great but if you hadn't already tried these out in person, if you didn't like something, they were no better than a paper weight. The lack of bass, will it move around or fall off, is my head several inches too small to be in the same room as these, do I need an amp, do these leak sound like water in a pasta strainer, and PURPLE. I even thought about canceling the order and just taking a trip to Wal-Mart. I'm glad I didn't. Here's why:
THE BAD (or so I've heard)
-The lack of bass. I think this was the most common issue I heard on any site. I've heard that there is no bass at all and I've heard that it is there but it is controlled. I am with the latter camp. The very first thing I did when I had them on was put on some dance music. I was worried that half the notes would get lost somewhere between my iPod and speakers. And then... there they were. My head was in no way being knocked around from the bass thump, but I could clearly hear the notes. That was the first big difference I noticed between these headphones and the apple ones that came with my last iPod. My iPod headphone had one bass note then another bass note and over and over without much change. With the 700's I can clearly hear each bass note for what it is and each note is given its turn to be in the spotlight short though it may be. If you want headphones that may fracture your skull, go elsewhere. These headphones play each bass note like a note, not a jackhammer. I've heard that using the bass booster in the EQ will add bass. Yep, it does. It also makes the music terrible. This could be because I just got them and they haven't been broken in yet, but it gave the song a really muddy sound. The bass seemed to just rattle and not actually make music while the anything higher than a bass drum retreated. The bass is fine as it is.
-The Size. These are big. This is the second biggest issue I saw. If you are still growing, these probably wont be a great fit. I can bop my head around a good bit without trouble and walking isn't a big deal. They do shift a bit and they do feel like they could slip off. They shift because they aren't clamped down on my head like a vice which makes them comfortable. The feeling that they could slip off is more mental. My ears fit quite nicely in the hole in the middle of the pads and so long as I don't whip my head from one side to the other, they stay on fine. They feel lighter than it seems they should for their size which doesn't help but so long as you don't go running with them, they should be fine. Their size also makes them not portable without some effort. They have a long cord and they don't fold up. If you are just going to use these at a desk, not a problem, but you will have to work around the headphones a bit to make them you primary pair for going from place to place. Not impossible but a challenge.
-The amp. "I've heard some headphones need an amp to sound good. Do I need to buy one for these?" No. These work just fine on their own. If you have an iPod, there's already one in there. It probably wouldn't hurt to buy an amp specifically to use with your headphones but mine sound fine out of my iPod.
-Sound leakage. These were not designed to block out noise of any sort. They are an open design and NOT noise canceling. I had a normal conversation with these on while a song was playing and I could hear both perfectly well. If you have the volume at a reasonable level, you can hear everything that goes on around you. I can hear the click of each key as I type this and I'm just slightly below half volume on my iPod. This works both ways. If you have this up in a quiet environment, other people can hear what you are listening too. If you keep it at a moderate level and there is some background noise, you could listen to these in a library.
PURPLE! Yes, they have purple mesh. Yes, you will look like you have part of a space helmet on your head. The purple really doesn't look all that bad. I think that it looks nice and classy and fits. It looks overwhelming in the pictures but unless someone has a deep hatred of purple, you might actually have people telling you they like it. Worse comes to worse, buy a sharpie of any color your little heart desires and go wild. That being said, prepare to have all respect for your fashion sense lost in the eyes of anyone who sees these on your head and to possibly be called some not so nice things. You will look like a goofball wearing these. As I said earlier, they are huge. They nearly double the size of my head. The cups are thick and the wings will mess up your hair. While the purple isn't really noticeable, everything else is. I don't really care because of all the good things I'm going to mention shortly make up for looking like a spaceman.
Here's why you will want to buy these. Now.
-The Sound. Brilliant. The bass is clear and each note is present. The midrange and vocals ring and sound natural and the way they are meant to. The highs aren't a struggle for these headphones to reach. The entire range is clearly there and yet no one section is more important than any other. It sounds like you are in each instrument. In an orchestra, instead of the entire group being one giant collaboration of musicians, you can hear each section individually. On a high quality recording, you can almost hear every instrument being played. A lot of reviews say that you can hear subtle parts of song that you've never heard before in songs you memorized a hundred listens ago. This is true. Since the entire range is present you hear parts of the song that on other, lower quality headphones are covered up by either vocals or another section of the range. Each sound gets its own place instead of just blurring everything together. On the other side, it still retains the flow of the over all piece. Each part fits into a constantly building puzzle.
-Construction. Despite looking strange, they are built very solidly. Nothing feels flimsy or like it would break quickly from normal use. I haven't had these very long so I can't say how long they will last but I'm not worried they are going to snap in two if I set them down too hard. The cord is very nice and doesn't go anywhere near your face like some others do. It also doesn't feel like its going to pull out of the cup like some cheap earbuds do. The wire only goes into the left side and uses the spring on top to power the right cup.
Comfort. The highest quality thing about these. I'm not used to things this big being on my head for long periods so I'm having to do a bit of fidgeting with them to get then right but I've felt no pain since I first put them on. The cup and padding design angle the speaker so the face is pointed more towards your ear with an empty space for your ear to rest comfortably. The wings on top are barely noticeably unless you think about them but they keep the pads off the top of your ears. The pads themselves are very soft and don't hold heat. These are the least noticeable headphone I have ever worn so long as I don't think about them and just listen to the music which is the point .
Soundstage. Another biggie that people talk about. You can tell different noises a part. This is part of why the sound is so good. I'm not a big gamer so I can't mention anything there but on a capella track that have used multiple microphones for recording, I can hear where each person is standing. One of its best features without a doubt.
I highly recommend this for someone who wants to buy a set of quality headphones but doesn't have much interest in learning all the fancy jargon that comes with the audiophile community. There is a noticeable difference between some cheap earbuds and these fantastic pillows with speakers. If you can try a pair, do. They wont play a brand new song but what you do hear is improved.