If Evander Holyfield were to appear in your living room, you’d somehow just know he was there. The same can be said for one of Onkyo’s AV receivers – industrial and powerful, they have a presence bordering on the menacing. So it’s even more impressive that the same company can also produce such an attractive product as the E700M in-ear headphones.
At £75, the Onkyos join a highly competitive marketplace, where they face tough competition from the likes of Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic. At this price, we expect quality and, housed in a robust aluminium body that envelops the 13.5mm high power drivers, the E700MS exude class. This is underlined by the 1.2m dual-colour twisted cable and inline mic.
The E700MS are supplied with three pairs of silicone caps and one pair of Comply foam tips. Once we find the right ones for us, the fit is snug and comfortable.
“Like the company’s amplifiers, these Onkyo E700M headphones have a certain presence”
Lying in wait
We kick off with Primal Scream’s Vanishing Point – a multi-layered recording, full of rich textures waiting to ambush headphones that aren’t quite up to the job. The Onkyos survive this test. They have an agile and articulate sound that tracks the various instrumental strands of the song well. Detail levels are decent, with the E700MS giving a degree of insight into the production. There’s a pleasing consistency of character from the lowest frequencies upwards and Onkyo hasn’t over-egged the bass like many rivals have.
Yet things aren’t perfect. The E700MS, if anything, deliver lows that are a little too thin and restrained, losing too much in the way of substance and authority to truly convince. There are issues at the other extreme of the frequency range, where treble sounds thin and a touch hard despite plenty of running-in. It makes listening to compressed pop recordings harder work than it should be. We’d like crisper timing too more expressive dynamics too, particularly through the midrange.
The Onkyos look good, but that’s not enough for our recommendation, not when just a little more money buys some superior alternatives.