Sennheiser HD7 DJ Headphone Review and ComparisonAKiATECH
If you are a regular visitor to the blog then you already know that I’m a notorious Cheapskate and not in the sense that I like cheap things. I always seek out the best products at the most affordable prices. This typically means that anything you see me reviewing is probably selling at a significant discount under retail. Case in point, these great Headphones from Sennheiser. The HD7 DJ Headphones came out a couple of years ago as part of a trio of DJ/Producer-centric gear. The HD7 falls right between the HD8 and HD6 Mix headphones from Sennheiser and are designed specifically for DJs with its foldable design and tuning. I did some research on this model and based on what I found it became glaringly obvious that the only real difference between this model and its big brother the HD8 was the materials used to build the chassis. The HD8 being a premium model featuring a mostly metallic build while the HD7 has a more wallet friendly plastic design.
The Sennheiser HD7 carries on the company’s tradition of exemplary build quality. The cans feature a Gunmetal design with blue accents on the joints, logo and foam speaker pads. There are a ton of accessories included in the box and that isn’t an overstatement. In addition to the headphones you get 2 cables, one coiled and the other straight, and you also get two sets of earpads, one leatherette, and the other velour. The drivers in the HD7 are exactly the same as the ones that you will find in the HD8. They both have a 95 Ohm Impedance and a Frequency range of 8-30,000 Hz and although I haven’t heard the HD8s myself, almost everything I’ve seen says that they sound exactly the same. One of the better design features is the swiveling earcups, each can be angled up to 210° to help with single ear monitoring which is something most DJs do at some point during a set. I like what Sennheiser did with this product but one major problem I have with these headphones is the cables. They are ridiculously long, I mean, you can’t avoid stepping all over them even if you try long. Each cable has a maximum length of 10-ft. The coiled cable is a little easier to use but even when it’s fully coiled the cable is still 5-ft long. If you’ve done some research already you’re probably saying that the cables are removable and they are… BUT and that a big one, they use a proprietary locking mechanism which means that the jack plug that goes into the earpiece is 2.5mm. One more thing, the fit on this model is tight. I’m guessing it’s for the passive noise reduction but I can’t recommend these for extended listening sessions if you have a big head like mine, fatigue sets in fairly quickly. On a good note, the HD7 features dual jacks (one on each earpiece) which make cable placement very flexible and although these headphones are made from plastic, it is a very dense material and is actually cool to the touch similar to what you would feel if they were made from metal.
I’m actually wearing the HD7s now as I write this review and they sound pretty good. The soundstage is not as wide as some of the other Headphones I have, but for the intended demographic of these headphones that won’t be an issue. They are also very transparent, during my testing, I listened to a few low-quality YouTube videos and I could hear a lot of imperfections in the audio that I could not hear on my other headphones. Sennheiser says that they designed this series with beatmatching in mind and according to what I’m hearing in my ears at this very moment, they achieved their goal. Is that a good thing? Well, it depends on what you’re planning on listening to after you buy these or the upmarket HD8s. One of the downsides to Sennheiser’s “tuning” is an uneven balance of frequencies. Imagine that you are looking at an EQ curve that looks like a triangular cliff, with the short edge on the left, and the longer edge on the right, now add a slight incline where the higher frequencies would be…. That’s what these headphones sound like! The lower mid frequencies of where the bite of the kick would be are “enhanced” and not in a good way. Due to how these cans are tuned it makes most music sound off balanced with a bit of “muffled muddiness” where vocals usually sit and a little overlap between the snares and kicks of certain songs. As I said before this is great if you’re a Beatmatching DJ but not so good if you want to use these for any type of multi-genre listening. I bought these for mixing, because they have a higher than typical impedance of 95 Ohms and because I like to mix my music with more bass than what would appeal to the casual listener. These headphones keep my mixes balanced because if I lose focus and mix a little heavy on the low-end, the end result will have less since these headphones have a peak at those frequencies. Before I get ragged on. I always check my mixes on monitors before I finalize them. Plus I create music as a hobby so….
Since I had a few other headphones laying around I decided to do a quick comparison between them. To save myself a lot of typing I’ve dropped everything in a table with some pros and cons of each unit.
|Hot: These headphones are made from premium materials with almost every part of the headphone being or accented by metal. They have been replaced by LP2
Not: The headband material started to peel after about a year and this is with barely any usage on my part since these are for my Bedroom DJ’ing sessions
|The LPs are the definition of “Beatmatching Headphones” which is all I use them for. They barely have any high-frequency presence and the low-end is very pronounced, not very good with any casual music listening except maybe Hip Hop or Dubstep, great at detecting transients though, hopefully, the LP2s sound a little better!||These cans are great and the guys over at V-Moda definitely paid a lot of attention to the materials used, but these headphones fall more into the form over function category. They will be a great accessory to the fashionistas out there but not for any serious listening due to the higher than average low end and mid frequencies|
|Hot: For less than $20 these headphones are solid. They feature a Matte Black soft touch coating and real chrome plated metal sliders. Pads were very supple and feel good although somewhat tight for extended listening
Not: In only a few months they’ve all but vanished from the online retailers. You can only find overpriced used models. If you get your hands on one let me know where you got it.
|These headphones are very clear and would be good for listening to music that does not have a lot of bass. They have very crisp highs and decent midrange performance. The low-end is almost nonexistent without heavy EQ’ing, but for $18 there had to be some limitation.||For what these headphones cost, I think that they are a good choice for any type of music that doesn’t have a lot of bass. These would be good for more practical applications such as listening to recorded dialogue or watching movies. These things are dirt cheap but decent quality. If you get your hands one just remember to let me know where you found it.|
|Hot: These are my mixing headphones and I love them. For less that $50 dollars these things are practically indestructible. Based on either the ISK580 or Superlux 681 you can’t go wrong with the HD7. They feature an “autofit” headband and weigh only 222 grams, great for long-term listening
Not: The OEMs are cheaper by a good margin and the cable is a little flimsy but nothing a little electrical tape can’t fix. It also feels rather cheap for the price you’re paying
|The design of these headphones make them the perfect companion for extended mixing sessions. They are lightweight and they sound great. They are a little on the Bassy side, but it says that on the box. The soundstage is also a good bit wider than the other models in this list. This is probably due to the semi-open design of this model. Just remember to check your final mix on reference monitors before you send it off for mastering because it may be lacking a little low-end due to the enhanced bass response of the HD7s||The combination of lightweight materials and proper tuning make these a good deal but if you don’t care about Brand names you can actually get the OEM versions of these headphones for a significant discount. I’m sure Presonus has their own QA process but I doubt the performance is much different. The autofit band is great for almost any user and the overall design is okay but a little on the ugly side. They work well though so don’t hesitate to pick up a pair of your own|
|Hot: These are probably the most neutral Headphones you are ever going to find under $20. It has its own little following over at Head-Fi and the drivers in these are excellent for the price.
Not: The TH-02 is cheap, not inexpensive. This is the headphone equivalent of a Honda Civic with a Rolls Royce motor under the hood. They don’t look good but get the job done and are just the right size to toss in a paper bag (if you catch my drift)
|The Tascam Th-02 is the most balanced pair on this list. the soundstage is a bit narrow but the reproduction of the frequencies are on point. The bass is lacking but that’s by design. I actually use these when I’m self-mastering because they are very good at picking up low-end distortion and any artifacts that may pop up in your final mix.||I got these for free with a piece of gear I bought a while back. At first, I left them in a closet but after a while, I started using them and I’m happy I did. These headphones are very underrated. The headband material on mine started peeling off after a while but that’s about it. The Th-o2s are so cheap that you can buy a replacement every month and still spend less than you would on some of the “better” cans on the market.|
|Hot: The HD7s are Sex-E if it’s one thing the guys over at Sennheiser know how to do, it’s to design a good can. This is german engineering at it’s best. The swivel mechanism clicks satisfyingly and although this unit is almost all plastic it has a premium feel and presence.
Not: These things will squeeze the living daylights out of your head and there is no way to fix it. In addition to the tight fit, the cables are almost 10ft long and you will be hard pressed to find a shorter replacement since the locking mechanism is proprietary. They do exist though.
|These things get loud and the drivers are very durable. I accidentally overdrove them by a good measure for a few seconds fiddling around with the settings on my mixer but they still work. Lesser drivers would have blown. The sound quality is meh… but for what I will be using them for it works in my favor. I think the HD6 may have been a better buy but these were about $50 cheaper at the time of purchase so can’t complain too much.||The Sennheiser HD7s are a bittersweet experience. Although they have a higher impedance they sound louder than the 32 Ohms models I have. I love that they are built very well but I don’t like having headaches after listening to a few tracks. The dual jacks are great but the cables are too long and expensive to replace. I like them though so I will keep them but I’m just happy I didn’t get the HD8’s because I would not be a happy camper.|