Pros: Noticeable detail and placement definition
Cons: Midrange shy and bass shy when driving rock & metal
Out of contrarian rage, I ended up getting another pair of 701s just to see why everyone is so intent on bashing these cans. All my silver-haired classical mastering guys love these cans and go on about their ability to open the soundstage and layer it with subtle and rich detail . Indeed, Vocal, jazz groups , piano solo, acoustic jazz, Guitar and plucked instruments, and ethnic music sounds exemplary through these cans. They are noticeably cleaner and better defined when generously amped.
The build quality is above average for this pricepoint. The design feels solid, well balanced and well thought-out. It's a relatively "big" assembly but never gets gets in the way once they're on your head.
The velour earcups are comfortable and fun to wear and the leather band an excellent stabilizer. It clamps less noticeably than the Sennies. The Wires connecting the headband and cups give it a distinctive AKG design feel.
Sonically, These phones are "airy". They provide details about the recording space and the high spectrum sonic tail coming from vocals, breathing, diction and vowels. I hear instrumental details concerning the string bindings, bowed strings and and tone color of upper partials of the trebles in certain recordings that are unusually revealing. Instrumental placement and movement is as accurate as a Senn HD600, but perhaps lacks the "speed" and presence in some imaging mixes.
They don't work well with maisntream electric Rock n' Roll, metallica, or Pink Floyd. The richness in the middle is missing as is bass depth and speed The only time I changed my mind about this is when I ran the 701 through a Audio Gd Fun, or C1 SE amp/NFB7. Even so, I would probably reach for a different headphone if was going to head-bang through Primus' Sailing the Sea of Cheese.
This is a beautiful headphone at its current price.