„I found the bass on the Z7 to be extremely loose and flabby“
- I can’t confirm this “extremely” statement at all. It is not the most accurate, like from Elear or HE-6, that’s true. But it is imho not that bad. Listen e.g. to Mickey Hart “Planet Drums” or Yello "Jungle Bill". Z7 produces the drums extremely well and natural. When I compare the TH-X00 Magohany with TH-900 it is similar. The bass on the TH-900 seems to sound thinner, but more accurate and deep. The Z7’s bass is similar to D7000. It's little flabby depending on the recording and volume level. But both Z7 and D7000 provide a very fun sound.
„The Z7 is laid back while the X00 is a much more forward and engaging presentation.“
- Yes, with Z7 you can listen to any recording without any fatigue. You can call it laid back sound. But the TH-X00 has somewhere too much treble in comparison. So, even „Graceland“ from Paul Simon can be problem to listen because of “zzsss”.
“I have the Z7, Elear and TH-X00, T1 and T5p“
- That’s cool. Me too.
„IMO the Z7 does not sound anything like the Elear.“
- OK. Every headphone has its own sound. If two headphones sound similar (never 100% identical) other aspects like comfort, finish, design, price etc. will make the difference. Z7 is closed-back whereas Elear is open-back. Even though the Z7 sounds more spacious than the Elear. The Elear is really a perfect Allrounder. I agree. With very forward mids, fantastic voice presentation, especially at higher volumes. The bass is present and very accurate without supressing the trebles. But, my comparison was about the fun listening factor. When one puts on the Z7 he won't think of changing it no matter which music he listens. I also have the impression that Focal copied some of the features from Z7. The impedance and sensivity is nearly the same (Z7/Elear: 70/80 Ohm, 102/104 dB), also the usage of 2 x 3.5 mm mini-phone connectors and the headband mechanic (better on Z7). Z7 has the better cables and input connectors also...
„The Elear has a much more neutral tonality“
- I wouldn’t say much(!) more, because there is also a permanent bass bump over the Elears, but yes it has the tighter bass and present midrange. But, do one needs a neutral sound to have fun? Especially when listening to all kind of music with diferent quality available...
“..while it's upper registers are not as bright as the T1's or the TH-X00's, the Elear does not lack treble or mids like the Z7 or Z1R do.”
- A lot of people don’t like beyerdynamic because of the highs. So, e.g. the 1st gen of T1 has the “famous” 8 Hz peak, which is no problem for me. With the TH-X00 it can be problematic even with recordings like Paul Simon’s “Graceland”, whereas the Z7 does a great job in those case. Check also Eva Cassidy "Live At Blues Alley", inaudible with bright sounding headphones. But with Z7 just fanstastic. Listen also to Leonard Cohen’s “You Want It Darker”, you will love the Z7 with its its extremely relaxing sound.
“..Z7 it just has a very distinct sound signature (dark, bass heavy and far from neutral) “
Dark? Did you ever listen to an Audeze LCD-2 (non Fazor) or Sennheiser HD 650?
Z7 is far away from dark. Again, if you take T1 (typical beyer) or Fostex or the Grados as baseline, it seems to be darker.
For sure. But one could also say the other ones are brighter. Listen to one of my favorite test tracks from Mike Oldfield’s “The Songs of Distant Earth”, Track “Ascension”. At 4:05 min. Turn up the volume as loud as you bear and you will understand why I am not confirming that Z7 is dark. I could post an endles listing about such tracks that are awesome to listen over the Z7...Supertramp "Breakfast in America" - Child Vision, "Brother Where You Bound" - Better Days", "Cannonball",.... Bob Marley "Exodus" - purely fun.
“For someone that owns the fidelio x2, do u think the elear or mrspeaker aeon would be a better choice as an upgrade, i don't mind what ever the sound signature is, just want to get the wow factor, i mean an Upgrade rather than sidegrade.”
I do not know Philips Fidelio X2 but own X1. It's a headphone with superb value for the money. But the bass is really flabby. If you can afford go for Focal Elear. It has definitely those Wow effect.
P.S.: I use as Headphone Amplifier Violectric V281 (balanced and non-balanced), Lehmann Black Cube Linear Pro, C.E.C. HD53N (fully balanced), beyerdynamic A2, Hifiman EF5