Brief: Wearing the ATH-ES7 in public will undoubtedly turn heads, but even without the style the ES7s have enough merit to draw attention
MSRP: $169.95 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: N/A (discontinued)
Build Quality (7.5/10): The most obvious feature of the ES7’s exterior is the mirror-finish cups, which look absolutely stunning when they are clean. This latter nuance may not seem like a big deal but the polish attracts scratches and fingerprints like an industrial-strength magnet. A microfiber cloth and soft carrying pouch are included to help keep the headphones clean. The structure itself is quite robust, with a rubber-covered metal-wire headband and smoothly-rotating cups. Cabling is fairly average, similar in feel to what is found on the smaller and cheaper Sennheiser portables.
Comfort (5.5/10): The rubber-covered headband doesn’t provide much padding and the odd shape causes the cups to exert quite a lot of pressure on the wearer’s ears. Though the ES7 stay in place very well as a result, discomfort is noticeable after just minutes on a stock set. The clamping force of the ES7 can be decreased by stretching the headband or bending it outward at the ‘shoulders’. Though I do like the rough leather-like pads, Sennheiser HD25 velour pads fit on the ES7 for a comfort boost. Even with the possible modifications comfort is mediocre at best – great for (very) short walks outside; not so good for a 3-hour listening session.
Isolation: (6/10): For a closed supraaural of its size the isolation of the ES7 is below average – I often felt compelled to crank up the volume when wearing them outside. The pronounced bass does help make this more tolerable, as bass is usually the first characteristic lost due to lack of isolation. Leakage is expectedly minimal.
Sound (7/10): The ATH-ES7 provide a distinctly ‘fun’ sound signature that betrays Audio-Technica’s poising them for mainstream success. They’re heavy hitters in the bass department with a smooth and full-bodied low end. Extension is adequate and these can produce a good amount of bass rumble when prodded. The speed isn’t quite up to par with the HA-M750 and Q40s but the softer impact may even be preferable for some. They are certainly less tiring to my bass-sensitive ears. The midrange is slightly recessed but clarity is quite good and vocals sound more or less natural. There seems to be a small hump in the lower midrange response, which gives the sound some coloration. The treble is on the bright side but not fatiguing enough to be a problem. It’s quite upfront and very crisp and clear. They do a good job relating a track’s dimensionality but don’t quite manage an open and spacious sound -soundstaging is very close and intimate. Despite this I still find them perfectly enjoyable headphones when listening on the go.
Value (7/10): Among all of the reasonably priced portable headphones, the ATH-ES7 is a unique offering in that it manages to combine style and substance without compromising much of either. The mirror-finish cups are stunning to behold and the sound is very fun and involving – bright-n’-shiny treble, deep, impactful bass, and a clear and articulate midrange. Comfort and isolation are unfortunately not quite on par with much of the competition and those in search of a more neutral sound may want to stay away. If, however, looks are given any weight at all in a purchasing decision and absolute fidelity is not the goal the ATH-ES7 are worth a second look.
Frequency Response:5-30,000 Hz
Sensitivity:100 dB SPL/1mW
Cord:3.94ft (1.2m); Straight Plug