Brief: Highly portable supraaural headphone designed to replace the ATH-FC7 in Audio-Technica’s extensive lineup
Build Quality (6.5/10): The ATH-FC700 is very similar to Denon’s AH-P372 in size, form factor, and price. Like the P372, the FC700 can collapse into a tiny portable package and comes with a soft carrying pouch for safe transport. Unlike the Denons, the FC700 has a metal headband with a spring-loaded adjustment mechanism which, while annoying at first, actually works when it comes to fit (for best results, the headband of the FC700 should be fully extended prior to putting on the headphones and then allowed to retract to size). The FC700 also has a modular cord which is better than that of the P372 and identical to the one found on the ATH-SQ5.
Comfort (8/10): The FC700 is on the large side for a supraaural headphone and features soft pads covered with thick pleather of the kind found on the ATH-ES7 and Meelec HT-21. The headband is unpadded although a bit of plastic covers the metal band. Clamping force is fairly low but the spring-loaded headband mechanism keeps them secure and the cups have a fair amount of freedom for a compliant fit.
Isolation (6/10): Isolation is on-par with the majority of small closed-back portables. The FC700 does a good enough job of muffling external noise when music is playing but won’t make you completely oblivious to the outside world.
Sound (5.75/10): The sound signature of the FC700 is quite typical for a <$50 portable headphone – big bass, warm mids, and relaxed treble. The bass is impactful and full-sounding but gives up too much control for my taste. It’s a little slow and muddy, making the overall sound somewhat mushy and overly soft despite the fact that the FC700 actually has pretty strong bass impact. Kick drums have a nice warmth and fullness that puts the higher-end ATH-SQ5 to shame but when things get busy the SQ5 pulls ahead very quickly with its superior speed and separation. Expectedly, the bass can intrude on the lower midrange, which is just a touch recessed in comparison to that of the SQ5 or Meelec HT-21. The combination of slight midrange recession and strong bass gives the FC700 a slight veil but on the whole the mids are warm and pleasant. Clarity and detail lag slightly behind the similarly-priced Meelec HT-21 and the headphones tend towards intimacy when it comes to presenting vocals and instruments.
The treble transition is fairly smooth, with no prominent harshness or sibilance, but the high end can sound a touch grainy. The treble is competent but detail and extension lag slightly behind the ATH-SQ5 and Meelec HT-21. Presentation-wise the FC700 is spacious but a little flat-sounding, lacking the depth and separation of the pricier SQ5. Tonally, the FC700 is the darkest of the three headphones – closer to something like the Koss PortaPro – but also the least fatiguing. On the whole, the ATH-FC700 is a fun listen with no pretensions to high fidelity. It obviously wasn’t designed to compete with the pricier SQ5 or ES7 models in sound quality, but it does well for the price.
Value (7/10): While not nearly as impressive from a sound quality perspective as the pricier ATH-ES7 and ATH-SQ5 models, the FC700 is a solid entry-level closed can. Available in a multitude of color options, the FC700 is also more stylish than competition from the likes of Denon and Sennheiser. However, while most Audio-Technica headphones manage to find a good balance between style and substance, the FC700 is biased towards the former. For those who just want a bass-heavy portable for use on the move, the FC700 is comfortable, reasonably isolating, and built well enough for every day use. For sheer sound quality, there are better options.
Frequency Response: 10-24,000 Hz
Impedance: 40 Ω
Sensitivity: 102 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 1.6ft (50cm) + 3.3ft (1m) extension; Angled Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Collapsible