What a difference a better cable and a minor tuning tweak can make. The EN700 PRO may well still be a V-shaped presentation, albeit a bit milder than some with a sub-bass roll-off around 50Hz, but that warm to the neutral presentation of the EN700 BASS has been replaced by a cleaner and more accurate sound.
At once, it sounds far more balanced, open, and spacious with a better emphasis on delivering an airier sounding and livelier top-end response.
As before, tips I and II will affect the bias in the presentation with tips II delivering the stronger low-end and generally more body in the note. Tips 1 will deliver more sparkle and energy in the upper mids and even out the bass. My personal preference is with tips I for a generally more balanced presentation but with the PRO I find tips II less polarizing than with the BASS version.
One thing to note with this new SPC 8-core is the far more precise imaging and instrumental separation, particularly in the mids and with tips 1. I found the EN700 BASS to be a bit vague and quite centered with not a huge amount of width. This time the width and spaciousness are increased with better left-right separation and generally a much livelier sound.
Tonality & presentation ‘Eartip I’
As before Tip 1’s wider opening will deliver a cleaner and more balanced presentation than the stronger bass bias of tips 2. That being said, the gap between tips 1 and 2 in terms of preference for me is not as wide as with the EN700 BASS due to the 8-core cable upgrade which delivers a much better performance with both tip sets.
Using tip 1 the bass is still slightly elevated but it’s not as dense sounding or as warm for that matter with a more linear performance than tips 2. As before the mids and treble response on the EN700 PRO sound more open and prominent with a little body taken off the note in the process. As such I find tips 1 to sound a bit more accurate with instrumental timbre with a cleaner attack whilst still being able to deliver a very smooth and forward vocal performance free of sibilance.
Treble is more forward sounding on tip 1, with more sparkle and energy compared to the more laid-back sound of tip 2. Note quality is on the thinner side but it cleaner attack works better for me for percussion and synth work which needs more perceptible clarity and focus.
The 8-core cable also produces a cleaner top-end than before with far better extension and generally an airier sound than the old copper cable on the EN700 BASS.
Tonality & presentation ‘Eartip II’
Tonally tips 2 with the PRO and 8-core cable is not as warm sounding as the EN700 BASS combination. The dynamics are also superior and that congested feel I had with the older copper cable has abated significantly with a far more engaging mid-range.
Granted the low-end is more prominent with more of a V-shaped emphasis and a slight roll-off on the top end but its still more spacious and lively than before making this a great tip combination for anything that needs a bit more impact and physicality.
I have to note though tips 2 doesn’t do a whole lot with the PRO sub-bass response, perhaps maybe 1-2dB at the most. The emphasis is really on a greater mid-bass elevation around 50Hz to 150Hz so it will sound warmer than tip 1’s more neutral delivery.
Lower mid-range instrumental clarity is better than with the EN700 BASS tips 2 combo. Again, you can attribute that to the better cable with its cleaner attack, better dynamics, and generally more articulate delivery.
Instrumental timbre using tip 2 is still more on the euphoric side with a richer presentation throughout than tip 1. Tip 2 will appeal to those who like a smoother sounding more natural quality to their mids and vocal performance. Vocals are not quite as full sounding as the EN700 BASS’s very warm sounding delivery but generally, they are a little more detailed and expressive sounding.
Treble on tip 2 is still reasonably laid back, not quite as energetic as tips 1 but compared to the copper cable of the EN700 BASS it is far cleaner, more accurate and articulate sounding. The level of headroom and air is immediately noticeable on the EN700 PRO top-end.
The EN700 PRO is rated at 16 ohms and 101dB. Given the EN700 PRO uses the same dynamic driver as the EN700 BASS the performance is equally similar in terms of efficiency and amping/noise control.
It is possible you may think the EN700 PRO gets louder a bit quicker but I generally found this more attributable to the better dynamics and cleaner performance of the cable over the more muted copper of the EN700 BASS.
Overall, the EN700 PRO has no issues with the gain on weaker sources such as smartphones and can get loud fairly easily though it is not as sensitive as some BA variants with that 102db rating. It is not out of the normal range for a dynamic driver so you can expect lower levels of background noise and hiss on DAPs and amps with higher noise floors such as the X5iii from FiiO and the Cayin i5.
I generally find dynamic IEM’s to respond better to quality amping, even at the budget end and the EN700 PRO is no different in that respect. The EN700 BASS did have some tweaking with amps also but the improved cable of the EN700 PRO makes the upgrade in the performance that bit easier to discern.
I would have to advise to not get carried away and spend 5 times the price of the EN700 PRO on amping even if the amps on the high end of things sounded very good. Amps such as the A5 from FiiO actually did a good job, particularly on tightening up the bass and increasing stage depth.
Lear FSM-02 V2
The Lear has two distinct outputs, a Class D and Class A. The class A amp has a fuller and smoother sound with the EN700 PRO. It also delivers a spacious sound with better depth as well as a fuller vocal presentation.
The Class D or normal output lost a little richness and vocals sounded a little thinner. The class A higher noise floor left a slightly audible signal at zero on the volume pot but noise levels were impressively low on the EN700 Pro.
AM3a (FiiO X7 Mark 2)
This is a cleaner presentation with a bit more mids and treble sparkle than the Lear or V5 amp pairing using the EN700 PRO. The low-end was well defined but not quite as full sounding or a dynamic in its presentation as the Class A of the Lear amp especially with vocals which tended to be a bit more neutral in their presentation.
This pairing delivered a slightly more neutral presentation to the AM3a. This was more like a mix of the AM3 tonal bias combined with the smoothness of the AM3a on the EN700 PRO. The detail and instrumental separation were excellent though I would advise tips 1 if you throw on the bass boost which tended to get a bit overcooked using tips 2.
ALO Audio V5
Lovely noise control with this amp and perhaps the sweetest purest sound of all the amps used during testing. Mids were very open and spacious with a touch of bass taken off and a pure sweet vocal delivery that I just loved on the EN700 PRO, especially with female vocals.
It is not as full-on as the Class A of the Lear which adds plenty of weight as well as richness. This is lighter but very natural sounding which I think suits the EN700 PRO better, especially with tips 2.
This pairing is not quite as open sounding as the V5, perhaps a little darker but it does add some nice depth to the EN700 PRO’s staging. It does have a bit more of a planted low-end than the V5 or the HA-2SE with tips 2 without muddying up the sound which I quite like.
Again, I wouldn’t bother with the A5 bass boost if you are using tip 2 which tends to make everything a bit too boomy and unbalanced sounding.
AAW Nebula One
The Nebula One has a 16 ohm and 100dB SPL rating so it is relatively easy to drive and remains fairly distortion-free on decent portable amps (DAP/DAC or analog).
It is relatively similar in terms of efficiency to the EN700 PRO so similar sources and voltage settings should see both being driven fairly satisfactorily. Both show similar levels of low noise and fairly hiss free on DAPs and good noise control on portable IEM amps.
The PRO outperforms the Nebula One with cleaner bass response, more spacious sound, and better dynamics. The gap was somewhat closer on the EN700 BASS but the cable upgrade retains the smoothness but widens the staging and increases the dynamics to a far better level. I would still rate the PRO as the slightly warmer of the two though.
Treble on the Nebula One is far more brittle in comparison, particularly in the lower treble response. The EN700 PRO is still the more forgiving of the two but now it sounds a little more accurate with a natural timbre, particularly in percussion where the Nebula One falls down in terms of substance.
The same also for vocals with the EN700 PRO delivering a more forward and fuller sounding vocal presence.
Periodic Audio Mg
The Mg is the entry-level single dynamic driver IEM from US company Periodic Audio. Using a nondetachable unbalanced cable the Mg is rated at 32 ohms and 101dB and comes in a more traditional bullet-type form factor with a slightly more basic case though it does sport a quarter jack and airline adapter.
Both have very similar voltage and power requirements so what works for one noise wise will be largely duplicated by the other with both showing good noise control on DAPs and amps with higher noise floors.
Both show off a V-shaped musical tonality though the Mg is a little more pronounced than the PRO with a heavier hitting and warmer low end and brighter and slightly harder sounding lower treble response.
The Mg’s low-end is much more physical and impactful and will dominate a lot more than the PRO’s slightly cleaner and less elevated low-end. The timbre on the Mg though is thinner and not as natural sounding as the PRO and sound a little more congested.
With tips 1 the PRO will be more linear in the low end but will have a more open sounding mid-range with better separation. Vocal presence on both are forward and natural sounding though the PRO will sound a little fuller and smoother sounding with the Mg getting a touch more sibilant at times.
Whilst neither can either be termed splashy or harsh the Mg is more aggressive in its treble performance with a more forward and livelier sound. I find the PRO’s treble with the new 8-core cable to be just that bit smoother and more natural sounding for my own tastes.
The F5 is also a single dynamic driver IEM and almost half the price of the EN700 PRO. I do consider this to be one of the bargain IEMs of the year with detachable balanced cable options and an excellent design.
Isolation is more or less the same with the EN700 PRO having a slight edge over the F5 in terms of isolation but not by much. The EN700 PRO is a little heavier and you will feel it more in the ear.
The F5 is rated at 32 ohms and 102dB so it’s not too far off the EN700 PRO however in tests it does require a bit more volume and amping power to reach similar levels. The EN700 PRO thus is slightly easier to drive though both do scale nicely with amps.
Bear in mind the F5 balanced capability makes it a very enticing and dynamic sound on balanced DAP and amp outputs. You can of course throw in a balanced 2 pin cable with the EN700 PRO but the cost ratio for me is a little high if you want to match the existing 8-core cable performance.
Tonally both are not that far off each other in tuning bias with v-shaped musical presentations though the F5 sounds a little more neutral, cleaner, and with less body than the EN700 PRO.
This is more evident in the mid to treble response which is a little more forward than the PRO but a little thinner and harsher sounding. The low-end of the F5 is also not quite as full sounding with a bit more sub-bass drop-off.
Staging wise both are fairly spacious with the FiiO’s thinner note perhaps edging it a little in terms of top-end air. I prefer the richer timbre of the PRO’s mids and the more forward and textured sound of the vocals, especially female vocals which are fuller sounding with more character.
The EN700 PRO driver is the same, the body is the same, the tips (not counting the color scheme) are all the same in the PRO edition. Proof positive that the addition of a damn fine cable can make a big difference.
I much prefer the new PRO edition to the next down-the-line BASS edition. It is more open, dynamic, and cleaner sounding with fewer mids congestion and better separation. If you happen to already own some aftermarket 2-pin cables you can possibly take the performance to an even higher plain but the price to performance ratio might not warrant it.
My only concern is what happens to the BASS edition if the EN700 PRO is the better choice? The price is a factor granted at 50% more so those with far tighter budgets may opt for the BASS edition.
However, I really can’t see beyond saving that additional $50 and going for the PRO given the performance step up is just so much more competitive. The EN700 PRO is a very good upper-budget IEM now.
Transducer unit: N50 high magnetic composite moving-coil driver