CES 2012: Sennheiser

Damn! I was hoping for a ring radiator in a less expensive to manufacture headphone --- the new HD 700 has a domed dynamic driver. Show listening conditions are absolutely miserable, made worse so by a headphone designed intentionally to be very open. My first take on the HD 700 is that it's quick. Whether that turns into incredible imaging, or a lean listening experience will have to wait for some place that doesn't sound like a middle school basketball game. I've got a lot of faith in the Sennheiser team though, so I can tell you that I'm very much looking forward to future listening.

A headphone that didn't suffer from the mayhem that is the CES show floor, is the new Sennheiser Amperor, which provides a good seal from outside noise. A direct descendent in the two decade long lineage of HD 25 series headphones, this gem of a headphone steps forward from the HD 25-1 II with aluminum anodized cups, micro-fiber ear pads, redesigned cable (pretty slick too); and, from what I can tell, a revamp of the acoustics.

I plugged it into my HeadAmp Pico Slim/iPhone rig and instantly fell in love. The previous HD 25-1 II is probably the world's most common DJ headphone, and for good reason: they're light and stay on your head, they isolate pretty well, and they sound great though a tad bit sharp. Boy, it sounded to me like they fixed that in these new cans. Eric Stubbert gave me an evaluation pair. Wooot!

I'll tell you a story: Jon Iverson and I went to dinner to talk shop and eat sushi Tuesday night. When we were done, I picked up my gear and said, "Say, Jon, I think you should have a listen to these."

I settled up with the waiter and he sat and listened through a whole song gently bobbing his head often. He took the cans off after the song and said to me, "It's really the fault of the rooms in these hotels, but I think that's the best sound I've heard yet at the show."

I was digging the walk back to the hotel Monday night, that's for sure.

donunus's picture

Nice! This is exciting news about the new HD25. I really liked the look and feel of the old one but found them to be lacking a little in the sound quality department. Besides curing the brightness problem, I also hope they don't sound as cuppy as the old one.

thune's picture

I think I prefer "Amphonator" to Amperior actually.

droilfade's picture

Totally loving the coverage!And do you what the price point of the Emperor/Amperor/Amphonator/Amsjhdakhdtor will be?

John Grandberg's picture

I've actually heard an important headphone before Tyll? I feel so cool now....

Sennheiser was nice enough to let a few people from HeadFi try out the pre-production HD700 before launch. I'm listening to it right now and I quite enjoy it. HeadFi has turned into the typical spectacle, 34+ pages of discussion with very little meaningful info... so I'll summarize things as best I can:

Some of us who got a sneak peak really like them, including Jude and myself. The other few liked them for the most part but had issues with the highs, or the price, or both. I believe everyone was in agreement that the comfort was spectacular.

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on them Tyll. To my ears, they address some of the shortcomings of the HD800, while adding a few of their own.

ypoknons's picture

Now that this site is up and running there's no way I would buy a $1000 headphone without seeing the measurements and at least paying some attention to your hearing impressions. I think I'm quite at your mercy when it comes down to the HD700 or the Shure SRH1840 ;)

dalethorn's picture

I wonder if Sennheiser will publish the typical HD-700 response curve. Here's what they sent me - the actual measurement of my HD-800.


John Grandberg's picture
They showed it to a few of us already, though I don't think I'm allowed to post it yet. It looks pretty much identical to your HD800 from 100Hz to around 1.5kHz, then it gets a bit less flat.
dalethorn's picture

If the Shure 1840 fixes the complaints about the 940, and it had better do that for $700 compared to $300, then it's going to be very hard for Sennheiser to beat unless Sennheiser manages a 800-like soundstage with the 700 and Shure falls noticeably short of that.

So unless the 1840 isn't a significant improvement for Shure, the 700 -vs- 1840 should be the contest of the year for ordinary dynamics.

John Grandberg's picture

To my ears, the HD700 has intoxicating soundstage performance. It really is close to the HD800 in pretty much every way. There are other issues, such as some harshness/sibilance with some tracks, which may bother people.... and of course the price. But I think everyone is in agreement so far about the phenomenal imaging and soundstage.

I have high hopes for the Shures, but I'm also staying realistic - we've never seen Shure do a "true" high end headphone (not counting IEMs), but we *have* seen Sennheiser do it. I'd love to be blown away by the 1840 though.

ypoknons's picture

I have a hunch that since the '700 is the not the flagship headphone Sennheiser might give dealers more leeway to adjust prices. The 1840 and HD700 might be closer competitors than we currently know.

dalethorn's picture

Sennheiser did make the point about angled drivers in the 700, and the confirmation here says they are getting that aspect of the 800's sound in the 700. Shure's 1840 is an open design which is a plus, and the high quality parts compared to their previous plastic headphone says they're serious about other issues too, so that looks doubly good for Shure, not to mention a price several hundred $$ lower than the 700. I remember reading a funny comment from one critic of the Shure 940, who said he felt that Shure and some other companies were exaggerating the brightness of their flagship headphones to appeal to older, more well-heeled buyers whose high frequency hearing might not be as good as it used to be. I don't know if that's relevant or not since the normal hearing loss process is above the "brightness" range, but still an interesting observation.