Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphones › Over-Ear › AKG Q701 Premium Class Reference Headphones, Quincy Jones Signature Line

AKG Q701 Premium Class Reference Headphones, Quincy Jones Signature Line

93% Positive Reviews
Rated #43 in Over-Ear


Pros: Enormous Soundstage, Solid Bass Impact, Accentuated Mids, Textured Treble, Durable, Velour Earpads, Big Earcups

Cons: Weak Center Imaging, Lean Bass, Unnatural mids for some songs, Painful Headband, Big Earcups, Picky with Sources

TL;DR Review of the AKG Q701’s

Accentuated Mids: Enhances most female vocals, also forwards vocals, “livens” synthesizers in electronic music. Can cause vocals to sound uneven due to the 2khz bump.
Grainy/Textured Treble: Gives texture and dynamics to ride cymbals and high hats, may force treble into songs that suffer with treble. i.e. Metal genres. Not to be confused with “sparkly treble”.
Lean/Solid Bass: Bass is solid and fast, impact hits hard but rumble is lean, benefits in most techno, jazz, and classical/orchestra music. Quality of bass leaves the listener wanting more.
Soundstage: Large soundstage that has a 3D Surround better than 5.1 gaming headsets. Suffers from center imaging that relates to “in-your-head” feeling, however it has a prominent forward stage. Soundstage similar to standing in the back 24’x18’ room, 5' away from the wall.
Comfort: Bumps in the headphone gets uncomfortable overtime, earcup placement is crucial in relative to sound perceived. I.e. earcups placed too far backward can cause mids to sound muffled. Velour earpads and ~270 gram weight allows comfort over long periods of time.
Build Quality: Dropped over 5 times at height of 5’ (unintentional), still working. Plastic used for earcups allow scratches to not be visible. After 3-4 years of constant usage, earcup swivel may develop friction and creak.
“Sound Signature”: Somewhat reliant on the source, however most of the time the Q701's sounds dry due to the fast decay of notes. Especially sounds analytic when compared with other headphones, soundstage gives a dynamic feel to songs, but it suffers from center imaging in regards to intimacy.
Amplification: Requires more current than voltage to power them right in my opinion. Performance on Q701’s rely more on the quality of source rather than how much power it can output.

Conclusion: The AKG Q701’s are bright sounding headphones at first without proper amplification and brain burn in.
If you don’t need isolation for gaming, throw away your gaming headsets and get AKG Q701’s. If you’re looking to get serious with your music, like detail retrieval and don’t mind spending an amplifier/dac combo that costs the same as the AKG Q701’s; get yourself a pair. If you want boomy bass, if you want isolation, if you want a smooth experience; look somewhere else, the AKG Q701’s aren’t for you. The Q701’s can be found for cheap now and definitely worth it.


Day in the Life with AKG Q701’s



I got to visit a studio today and it was nothing short of audiophoolishness delight. Upon entering the studio I was greeted with just two tower speakers made by Strauss (Strauss-SE-MF-2). These gave off a very life-like impression in sound and I was quite blown away by how close they sounded to actual instruments.  The only issue I have with the speakers is that I had to be at a certain position in the room for everything to sound just right in regards to soundstage and for the treble to not sound muffled. I guess you could say this is similar to how the Q701’s need to be centered for them to sound right.

Alongside listening to the studio, I got to listen to my friends’ band play in a rehearsal room a while ago, a concert hall, and a venue all with the same song. Though none of you know the song, I used this song as a benchmark for all my tests with the Q701’s.

Cataclysm by Motivated by Foolishness
Songs found above.

The Q701’s I have are third hand, pre-burnt in, Austrian made, and so far have about 3000 hours on their mileage, not including the hours used by the previous owners. My review is solely opinion based and I’m not too hard focused on specifications (except for the measurements), and please do take the titles of the review into consideration. As there may be misconceptions of my review if they are ignored. I will assume you already have done research about the Q701’s from other reviews, I’m just providing more insight.


Q701's vs Real Life Instruments


After an entire day of listening to just instruments. I came to the conclusion that the Q701's:

  1. Sound a bit dry, instruments seem to not linger around very much (not regarding reverb though)
  2. Lack a bit of center imaging
  3. Tom toms don't have enough attack
  4. Treble is a bit grainy, and needs some more sparkle. However the Q701's have the high hat texture not many headphones have.
  5. There needs to be a bit more upper mids/lower treble flatness, electric guitars though have the detail and crescendo-like sound, they don't have the smoothness needed during reproduction. This upper mid is what makes pianos and violins sound more solid, the Q701's lack the solidity of piano notes.


Needless to say I believe headphones exaggerate sound overall, the only way that reproduction can be saved here are through binaural recordings. In which replicate sound much better in comparison to regular stereo recordings. Unfortunately, most songs that I know of aren’t tuned and mastered for headphones, rather for speakers instead. If I had to mention soundstage, I’d have to say the Q701’s are spot on for an acoustically tuned 24 feet by 18 feet room with musicians playing in it. Nevertheless, soundstage does indeed require a good sound signature to illustrate the distance of instruments. So the only nitpicks or comments I have about that is the flaws I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph in regards to soundstage.


Q701’s vs Strauss-SE-MF-2 Studio Monitors

The problem I actually have with listening to reference tuned studio monitors is that they sound a bit bland with my songs. Mids don't stand out enough and bass is a bit too much for my taste.…


The Q701’s lean bass allows more detail for the rest of the spectrum, from strings getting plucked to the fingers sliding along the neck of a guitar. As you’ve noticed, I do indeed enjoy a certain part of headphones even BETTER than live performances or studio monitors; and that’s a sense of intimacy. Though these headphones don’t have the accurate reproduction of studio monitors, or the ‘in-your-head’ feeling with other headphones, I can get quite enough of intimacy through the Q701’s. I believe that intimacy can be achieved through:

A) As if you were in the room with the band members
B) Having the band members being shoved into your brain.
So it’s fairly obvious which one the Q701’s strive for. (B)


Q701's vs Other Headphones in Brief.


So why do I still have the Q701's?
Why don't I have DT990's? In which they clearly have more bass oomph and a higher treble spike?
Why don't I have HE-400's? That have a flatter sound signature, extremely solid sub bass, and smoother treble that allows me to turn up music higher?
Why don't I have HD800's?

Sennheiser HD800

Well first off, I don’t have the funds for HD800's, if I had the money I'd sell my Q's and own the HD800's. I've auditioned them before and fell in love with them.


Hifiman HE400


HE-400's yes, are nice, but I prefer the near weightlessness of Q701's. The issue I had in regards to comfort with the AKG Q701’s are indeed the headphone placement and headband. They have to be placed somewhere near center of my head so that sound is directed into my ears and that I get full advantage of the spectrum. As for the headband, I cut off the bumps and replaced it with 0.3mm of foam. The bumps molded into my scalp and eventually I got fairly uncomfortable when I had less hair on my head after a haircut.

Also,  the HE 400 don't offer a big enough soundstage for me. If you’ve heard of ASMR, the enormous soundstage heightens the effectiveness of ASMR videos. Also due to the enormous soundstage of the Q701’s, instruments feel as if they’re just being suspended mid-air, ready to be picked and listened to individually.

Beyerdynamic DT990 250 ohm

DT990’s (250ohm) slightly emphasize bass and higher treble spike, although I didn’t feel the same excitement of music when the mids weren’t quite there. However the DT990’s actually have a bit more detail.

Other Headphone Recommendation that Compliment the Q701


Audio Technica ATH-A900X


My favourite “fun” headphone would be the A900X. When I switch back to the Q701 after 3 hours with the A900X, the Q701’s sound life-less and I need at least 15 minutes for my ears to burn back to the Q701’s. In which I listen to Flamenco Rumba or a song that takes advantage of soundstage to get myself accustomed to again.


Etymotic Research ER4S (Tri-Flange IEM)

If you have the Q701’s, I recommend the ER4S. They have similar sound signatures and the extreme isolation of the ER4S compliments the Q701’s open back nature. Of course both headphones have comfort issues, but if you already have the ER4S or Q701’s, we can already assume you’re a masochist.


Sennheiser HD598

Be warned, there's another wall of text if you click this spoiler tag! (Click to show)




  • I found the bass quantity increases with stronger amplifiers, regular amplification makes the HD598 sound flat

  • HD598 with regular amping (i.e. JDS Labs ODAC/O2) still have more mid-bass than the Q701's, but not by much

  • Q701's have more sub-bass


  • I found the Q701's to have more bass texture, but sometimes can be found lean compared to the HD598

  • Sub-bass is also dry on the Q701's, so bass will often roll off faster without giving satisfaction of proper "oomph"

  • After some brain burn in, I found the Q701's to have slightly more solid and faster bass than the HD598's.




  • Mids are flat and I found all vocals to work well with the HD598's.
  • Mids have more weight, smooth and grounded to the floor, however the HD598 can be airy when called for
  • Vocals can sometimes be a bit boring since they're flat.


  • Mids are more intimate and exciting than the HD598's due to the peak in the 2khz area and brighter treble
  • Mids are light and airy, giving vocals a magical presence
  • Mids can sometimes be too much especially in fortissimo sections of a vocal solo
  • Vocals can sometimes be sibilant. With well mastered recordings there is no sibilance. Vocalists such as Susan Wong who emphasize the letter S a lot introduce a lot of sibilance.



  • HD598's have a more extended treble peak on the spectrum, therefore giving the HD598's a more subtle sparkle
  • However the highs on the HD598 are smoothed out and not as exciting as the Q701's



  • Treble has a flat peak and gives high hats more texture, however lacks the sparkly shimmer sometimes.
  • Treble is more emphasized than the HD598's
  • Lower treble has a steeper dip that makes the Q701's sound more clean and black, but hides instruments that need it (explained later)




  • Left and Right channels have slightly more depth and have good center imaging, but front and back soundstage is less apparent. This can be visually seen by the design of the headphones
  • The HD598 sounds more solid and grounded.



  • Have a better frontal soundstage with less center imaging, has a harder left and right sound panning due to the lack of center imaging.
  • Left and Right channels extend out into airiness, compared to the solid left and right depth of the HD598's.
  • Soundstage is larger in regards to front-to-behind depth
  • Q701's sound light and airy.


Gaming, Isolation, and Comfort


  • Less clamp, Less clamp = more pressure on the top of my head.
  • Deeper cups, my ears don't touch anything inside the headphone at all
  • Soundstage is much better presented in Source Engine games (Counterstrike/TF2) that have less audio effects due to the forwarded drivers.
  • Fully open, all sounds go in, all sounds go out.



  • Headband bumps are a nightmare, after these are sliced off/modded. Q701's have better weight distribution.
  • Shallower cups, ears poke the inside foam but cause no discomfort to me.
  • Wider earcups mean I have to center the drivers to get the best sound quality.
  • Soundstage is much better presented in games with audio effects such as Frostbite Engine games (Battlefield/Mirror's Edge).
  • Fully open/semi-ish closed, most sounds go out, most sounds come in. External treble frequencies muffled more than the HD598's.


Microdetails, Amplification and Burn-In


  • HD598 has a tad less microdetails, however due to the flatter response and less dips/peaks; multiple instruments are easier to pick up in busy tracks/compressed music.
  • More powerful amplifiers seem to increase the bass more on the HD598's. However for these to sound more flat than the Q701's, I like to use the JDS Labs ODAC/O2 that are already tuned to be neutral.
  • HD598's are nevertheless an easy headphone to drive
  • I found the sound to be very open and enjoyable after 30-40 hours of brain and driver burn in.



  • Have better microdetails but it's hardly noticeable, however due to the better mids in the Q701's; microdetails are more evident in tracks that have good mastering.
  • Benefit from a better DAC, however requires an amplifier to extract the details from the DAC.
  • Louder volumes without an amplifier will cause the Q701's to distort earlier than if it was amplified.
  • Noisy amps pair well with the Q701's, as these pick up noise from amplifiers a lot less compared to the HD598.
  • Unfortunately I can't comment on burn in, but my friend enjoyed his Q701's about an entire week of burn in.
  • The Q701's are all about finding the right source and music to sound magical with, I absolutely love using the Q701's with tube amplifiers that colour sound.

Genres, Instruments and Presentation


  • Does better with classical/orchestra music in which cellos are more emphasized
  • American punk rock/metal/screamo is suited better for the HD598's since these are less active in treble and can be turned louder without fatigue
  • Hip hop and rap is better due to more bass (via tube amplifier)
  • Violins and Pianos are smoother and more enjoyable/presented since there is a flatter lower treble compared to the Q701's.
  • Male vocals sound better
  • American Female Pop artists with lower octave registers sound more intimate and smooth
  • More forgiving than the Q701's, making a larger variety of songs enjoyable in comparison.
  • In regards to Techno: dubstep, hardstyle, europop and bass dependent songs are better.
  • A flat/warm-ish sounding headphone and sometimes unengaging
  • Can be airy as the Q701's when called for, but just not as much
  • The Sennheiser veil is not as present in this headphone compared to the HD600. I think the veil what people are talking about is the lack of a large treble spike with a mix of a warm/bassy presentation the sennheisers have.



  • Acoustic Guitars/Flamenco Rumba are much more detailed and fun to listen to
  • Jazz is presented much better 
  • Poprock is more active and engaging
  • Classic rock from the 80's sound brighter and lively due to the large soundstage
  • Female vocals in higher octaves sound better, sweeter and more active.
  • In regards to Techno: Trance/Nu Disco/EDM involving a lot of synthesizers sound clearer and faster.
  • An active/airy-ish headphone and sometimes fatiguing
  • A brighter headphone would be something like the AD900X, in which treble is much more sparkly, airy and a lot less focused on bass.


Durability and Accessories


  • Feels like cheap plastic, but extremely durable nonetheless.
  • Cable is a 6.5mm jack, but comes with a 6.5mm to 3.5mm adapter. Looks awkward on my amp but I'm not too picky about it.
  • Velours are bound to get dirty.



  • Thicker plastic and solid, but also extremely durable. Metal headband rods saved the headphones from landing earcups first
  • Green cable is bound to get dirty.
  • Velours are bound to get dirty.


Sidenote: My headphones that were marketed to be durable broke first compared to these two headphones that have absolutely no issue in durability.



Overall Impressions

Both are good and allow me to enjoy my entire playlist of music. Though I prefer the AKG Q701's since I have more female vocals, I prefer the HD598's equally due to it's flat nature that allow me to enjoy  a variety of genres. I'm getting the Shozy Alien that apparently has more detail than any of my sources so I'll update this post accordingly in regards to how the headphones scale up to them, images coming soon!. When I need to have music or noise in the background, I grab the HD598's since they're a bit more laid back sounding. If I need to get in the zone and active/listen to my daily ASMR, I grab the Q701's.


Powering the Q701’s


I’m just going to flat out say, there’s a certain point in which the Q701’s don’t need any more amping. I believe, similar to the music played through these headphones, the Q701’s are picky with its sources and need a good match for them to sound good and taken to full advantage. Heck, if my initial purchase of a mid-fi headphone was an HD650 instead of the Q701’s, I’d probably have about 500 songs in my entire music collection, rather than a tailored 180 songs for the Q701. Although I have no regret, I’m enjoying my 180 songs 6 hours a day, for the past 2 years. Like any headphone, each one has their own pair of songs that just simply sing. I can't emphasize how nice Jazz sounds with the Q701's.


FiiO E07K


The nature of FiiO products so far is that their soundstage is a bit narrow compared to desktop DAC’s like the JDSLabs ODAC.
The FiiO X3 sounds a bit better than the E07K in terms of clarity and bass solidity (Firmware 3.2).


FiiO E12


The FiiO E12 cleans up the sound of the X3 or E07K. It smoothens the treble, enriches the mids and the bass is a bit more solid.


Odd Devices

Regular devices such as an iPad, Supreme FX III (Asus Crosshair Formula-Z Motherboard/Onboard), Xonar DGX and Sony Walkman E474 (which the Sony could BARELY drive the Q701’s to audible levels) make the Q701’s sound “average”. I would have sold the Q701’s and stuck to my A900X if it weren’t for source upgrade.


JDS Labs ODac+O2

The jump from the E07K to the ODAC/O2 by JDS Labs however was the game changer, and which I started loving the Q701’s. Warmth covered the harsh treble of the Q701’s, and bass was there! Mids sounded more intimate, and treble had more texture to it.  Bass wasn’t emphasized too much but it hit hard and it was THERE!


Dared MP5 Vintage Tube Amplifier

Now I’m powering the Q701’s with a vintage tube amplifier, the Dared MP5. To be honest the sound didn’t improve very much, if anything it was a change in sound signature. I believe all that changed was that treble is a tad bit more revealing, and a slight hint of natural distortion in the treble peaks exist so that treble is more forgiving. Mids are sweeter, the bass became increased a bit in quantity for enjoyment purposes. The Dared MP5 has some background noise/hiss, but for some reason, these don’t pick up the noise as much as my other headphones even though the Q’s are detail monsters… This is quite a contradictive sentence, but if you have a noisy amp, you’d be glad to pick up the Q’s.


Side Notes

This could simply be an exaggeration, but if I listened to a headphone long enough, my brain starts burning in to that sound signature. Then once after listening to a new source after a period of time, the difference is evident. The opinions of this new change of source is also biased with emotional opinions. These emotional opinions sometimes get mixed in with facts. When I switched between devices too quickly, my brain doesn’t have enough time to adjust to the new source. So as a result I believe that what I’m hearing with the improved source sounds the same to downgraded source. That’s how minor the improvements are with the Q701’s. However this proves that the Q701’s are sensitive to change in sources.

Gaming with the Q701’s


After the upgrade to the ODAC/O2, soundstage felt 3-Dimensional and I could hear the distance of bullets whizzing by in Battlefield 3. If a bullet whizzed across my face 2 meters in front of me, I can tell, if bullets hit behind my feet, I can tell. Out of all the $300+ gaming headphones I’ve tried (Astro A40’s, Razer Tiamat/Kraken/Blackshark/Carcharias)… there’s nothing more immersive than a product just meant for audio like the AKG Q701’s. Headsets are just utility knives, packing devices like a microphone, batteries; they're basically a jack of all trades and a master of none.

In regards to games made by Valve, you’re in for a treat. Games like Counterstrike Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Half-Life series all benefit from the AKG’s. Valve already implemented an “around your head” soundstage that’s immersive for regular headphones/headsets. The additional soundstage from the Q701’s are beneficial for sound depth. The only issue with Valve’s audio is that they didn’t implement a very good algorithm for sounds in front and sounds behind. In which the Q701’s falter because it doesn’t have a solid central soundstage. Other headphones I have such as the A900X do better with Valve’s front and rear soundstage due to the angled drivers.


Q701’s Modded vs Unmodded


This mod is known as the AKG Sticker Mod. The sticker mod is literally a sticker inside the earcups that can be removed to increase sub-bass. All you need is tweezers to stick into the "Q" grill of the earcups, rotate it counter clockwise, unscrew two screws to carefully remove the plate that requires some force to peel off, and finally use the same tweezers to gently peel off the sticker that covers the bass port.

When I did the frequency response sweeps on the Q701’s, it was fairly evident the sub bass came first a lot earlier than the earcup that had the sticker still on. There’s definitely a tad looser bass with the sticker off however, although what you get is sub-bass, and a bit more bass to boot. The downside of the sticker off is less mids, and less airiness in soundstage due to the increase in bass.

The good part of the mod is that everything sounds neutral one might even consider it as an improvement, not an improvement for me; but a possible improvement nevertheless.
Mids are flat, bass is more full bodied, treble is not as grainy and has sparkle to it. Similar to the Etymotic Research Er4s frequency response, except the ER4S sounds more lively with this response than the modded Q701's.

Note: This is a raw measurement of the AKG Q701, usually there would be a compensation chart to simulate sound perceived in the room, but I don't have that unfortunately. That's why the treble seems over-emphasized here.

The stickers off also increase the higher treble area. I don’t notice this at all since the bass balances this out. Also, the graph looks weird, I apologize if this isn't an exact interpretation of the AKG Q701's, because the mids and bass through my ears sound like they're balanced with the treble.

I tried the bass mod but the slight reduction in soundstage (in regards to circumference, not depth) somewhat turned me around back to stock.
I prefer my stickers on, I’m a purist and prefer to use the product as is.


Alpha Design Labs iHP-35 Cable

The cables indeed do sound similar. The signature of the Q701's are still there; but it just sounds a bit smoother now like my Sennheiser HD598's treble.

I had a hard time justifying a very expensive 1.5m cable. The guy at HeadfoneShop kept telling me for an entire year, "Hey, it's up to you if you want to buy it man, you just have to believe me there's a difference". As he continued to play World of Warcraft on his laptop.

I took up his offer a year later and finally bought it.
Was there a difference? Thankfully yes, I was ready to return these. All my doubts lead to no until I finally got a chance to listen to the overpriced cable.

The cables made my Q701's lean a bit towards the smoother side.
There's a bit more treble grainyness on the green stock cables compared to the ADL cable that sound oh so great with guitars that I miss.
The cables are less sensitive to my amp's hiss but more sensitive to detail somehow.
I would also like to re-iterate that these cables introduce a bit more sibilance.


Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)


My audio preferences? Big soundstage, solid bass, forwarded and sweet mids, and treble that could attack fast in electronic music and provide texture for high hats in which the Q701’s definitely provide. The Q701's are not headphones for everyone, since these headphones are only $150-$220 on the market, we can assume that one hasn't gone into the higher end market that already has a headphone tailored for their music preferences. Or an even better headphone that presents music better for a wider range of genres. A place that is not in reach for the near future.

The Q701’s are indeed a hit or miss, and for me they were definitely a pinpoint shot. I believe that one needs brain burn-in equally to driver burn in of the Q701’s for these to be enjoyed. I certainly don’t think these are headphones meant to be enjoyed out of the box.

Thanks to BlueMonkeyFlyer for the In-Ear Microphone!


Pros: Well balanced, open, clear, expansive sounding, stylish and well built. Fast and reasonably well detailed. Great value for money (street value)

Cons: Headband comfort (bumps), lacks some bass impact (slight), imaging can be a little too left/right (lacks some center image clarity)

700  700




From AKG's website - they describe the Q701 as:


Sparkling harmonics, incredibly low distortion and unequalled realism in the lower frequencies – it’s the huge, airy, three-dimensional sound available only in the finest high-end speaker systems and microphones. Now, we've engineered it into the most accurate and responsive reference headphones we've ever produced, the Q 701s. Hear music exactly as the artist intended in true surrounding sound.


Let's see if they match the 'marketing' .......


Pre-amble (about me)
I'm a 46 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile - just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current entry/mid-fi set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (i-devices) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  My main headphones at the time of writing are the Shure SRH1840, AKG Q701, AKG K701, Beyer DT880 (600 ohm), Shure SRH840 and Shure SE535 Ltd Ed. IEMs.  My recent headphones have also included the Sennheiser HD600 and Grado SR325i (full woody). I have auditioned quite a few entry and mid-tier cans, but have yet to hear any flagships (at current time of writing this review).  I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical and opera to grunge and hard-rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced - with a slight emphasis on the mid-range.  I am neither a bass or treble head.  Current amps = NFB12 and LD MKIV.  I also formerly owned several portable amps - the most notable being an Arrow 4G.
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

700  700


Packaging & Accessories

I purchased these (in immaculate condition I might add) from another Head-fi member.  They did not come with the box - but did arrive with both cable lengths (3m and 6m) and a screw on 3.5-6.3mm adaptor.


Technical Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 10Hz - 39.8kHz
  • Maximum Input Power: 200 mW
  • Input Impedance: 62 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/V
  • Cable: 3.00 m & 6.00 m
  • Connector: Hard gold-plated jack plug and contacts
  • Weight 235 g


Frequency Response Graph

Courtesy & credit to Innerfidelity



Main points are relatively balanced and flat response with some slight sub bass roll-off.  They definitely have some peaks around the upper mids and highs - and tend to be quite a bright presentation.


Build / Comfort / Isolation / 'Style'

I've always found the AKG build to be very satisfactory.  Mine is pretty snug on my head and although a lot of it is plastic - it's always felt solid to me.  The headband assembly seems almost indestructible - although (apparently) the elastic tension bands do become looser over time.  My K701 is definitely looser (it's older).  The cable is sturdy and the mini-XLR connector is both handy and appears well built.


Comfort is interesting with the Q701 for me.  The pads are huge, and successfully encircle my ears.  The self adjusting headband provides a perfect fit.  They are not overly heavy - pretty light actually (235g).  Their problem is the bumps on the headband.  They are reasonably rigid and after time - the pressure can get to me.  It was worse with the K701 (7 bumps) as the central one would press directly on the apex of my head.  The Q701 is slightly better (8 bumps) so the top of my head is between 2.  But it still is not a comfortably design.  If it wasn't for the fact that I will sell these eventually I would have performed the same surgery I did on my K701 (knifed off the bumps, added flat padding, and hot-glued a soft lambs leather cover to the underside).  My K701 is supremely comfortable after the mod.


700  700



Isolation - there is none.  it's an open phone.


"Style" - I love these.  The AKG style to me is timeless.  They really are an attractive headphone in my opinion (especially in black).  They really do look like a reference studio phone.  I'm glad AKG hasn't changed the overall aesthetics.  If I have one nit-pick, I'm not overly smitten with the neon green cable.  It sure stands out though!


Sound Quality

I'm not going to give this too long - just my subjective notes.  All of this is via my PC > NFB-12 > LD MKIV (upgraded tubes 6H30PI Gold & Mullard M8100)


Detail - the Q701 are definitely slightly tilted toward the upper mids and highs - which gives them a very clear and reasonably detailed presentation.  It's only when I compared to other similar headphones (DT880) that I realised that although the first impression is of extreme clarity - I actually find the Beyers have a little edge in detail retrieval.  The Q701 are good though - a sparkling presentation.


Sound-stage - in one word expansive.  If I used another word it would be massive.  A great deal of air and sense of space.  More than any other headphone I've owned (maybe not the AD700 - but I never compared them side by side).  My one concern is that at times the depth / width of the stage is overdone - and is simply too large.  Funnily enough if I was not comparing to other headphones, I would not notice this - so it is relative.


Imaging - generally good - but does have some issues with some central imaging that is not apparent with other headphones (DT880, HD600 and SRH1840).  With the Q701 I occasionally get quite expansive left and right cues, and a reasonable solid but narrow central image - but with little either side of it (ie 45 deg left and right).  On the same tracks with the SRH1840 and DT880 the entire image is more circular.  I'm not sure if this is directly related to the expansive size of the Q701's entire soundstage.


Highs/Mids - to my ears a definite tilt toward upper mids and highs.  I occasionally experience a little grain in the upper registers but it doesn't detract from the overall presentation.  The mids are slightly forward - which I prefer.  They shine with female vocals.


Bass - it's actually not bad at all on the Q701.  My own personal preference would be for a little more impact - but it's not really noticeable unless you compare (again) to other headphones.  The Q701 by itself actually has very good bass in quality with nice texture and good speed.


Power Requirements

The Q701 is not a very efficient headphone, and although they are only 62 ohm impedance, they do require some reasonable amping to get the best out of them.  I found this explanation (worth reading) when I was originally researching the K701.  It also applies to the Q701.  The better the amp's ability to deliver - the better the overall bass response should be.  Anyway - don't skimp on amping.  On the plus side - depending on the dynamic range of the recording (classical suffers a little) - a Q701 can get to reasonably loud levels straight out of an iPhone4 at around 60% - and still sounds pretty good.  BUT - it definitely lacks bass impact from the iPhone.  Both the NFB-12 and the LD MKIV (to my ears) are very good with the Q701.


700  700




I picked these up from the forums for USD 240 delivered to NZ - so equivalent about USD 200.00 if we were talking USA only.  They didn't have the box - but they did have all the accessories & they were in almost perfect (9.5/10) condition.  Considering the tone and balance - they are an incredible value IMO.  If you are wavering, and enjoy more of a bright, clear, airy presentation - then the Q701 really are a no-brainer.  These are a great mid-fi headphone that punch far above their street value.


Genre Ability

From the genres I listen to - these really are a great all-rounder.  They excel with stringed instruments - especially acoustic guitar and violin.  I really enjoy their expansiveness with classical, and their detail with jazz.  They have speed for rock and electronic - and for my ears they are very good with both male and female vocals.  The only issue I have with them is that occasionally with some tracks they can sound a little distant - and with any brightly recorded music - they can get peaky.  If you've heard Beth Hart's "Live at Paradiso" - you'll know what I mean.  Overall though - great all-rounder.


Gaming / Movies

A lot of fun.  Bass is enough for immersion.  Soundstage really helps for accuracy (FPS) and enjoyment.  Recommended.



For someone looking for an open all-rounder - and whose preferences are for clarity, speed, balance, and an expansive presentation - the Q701 are a very good headphone for the money.  You'll need a reasonable amp to enjoy what they are capable of though.  If you enjoy the bassier side of things - they won't satisfy, and if you're treble sensitive, there will better options (HD600).  In the mid-fi range though - these are one of the big 3 that I would recommend without reservation (Q701/DT880/HD600).


After this review is posted though - these are about to be packaged up and sent to their new owner.  My recently purchased SRH1840 (for me) are simply a step-up.  Smaller stage - but far better separation and imaging.  I will miss the Q701 though - expansive and engaging - nails it in two words really.


Pros: Great Detail & Clarity, Expansive Sound Stage, Neutral, Light but Strong build, Generally Comfortable (with lots of hair or a hat)

Cons: Uncomfortable headband, Poor Without High Quality Equipment, Annoying Creaking Noises, Lack of Bass, Treble not well controlled

Just wrote a review for these here: http://noblehifi.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/akg-q701-review.html



The Q701 is AKGs top circumaural headphone model - an open back, reference headphone endorsed by Quincy Jones. The box design and materials are rather uninspiring for a flagship model, there's not much more I can say about that so lets get it open..





Once passed the flimsy container things get more interesting. The coloured parts are plastic (white in this case) but they look pretty solid and nicely designed. The headband is metal, covered in leather with an embossed "Quincy Jones" logo in the middle. The easy fit comes down to some thin bits of elastic connected to the ear-cups, my main worry for this is that time would naturally destroy these as I have had things like this go on previous headphones but I don't know how strong they areThe metal arches (which carry the signal to the right diver) are described as "unbreakable", looking at all that plastic I really don't want to test that but hopefully there is some truth to it. The large black ear pads look very comfy and visually contrast nicely on the brighter coloured models.


The looks in general are certainly not for everyone but I quite like them. Nothing much has changed since the K601 model design wise. By AKG's own words: The difference between the Q701 and the previous model are limited to exterior aesthetics chosen by Quincy Jones. The colour choices, name and logo branding are the only things that have been modified since the K702. Actually the K702 only adds a removable cable from the K701. The driver and general construction remain unchanged throughout the three x70x models. This could make some people feel rather bitter if they find this out after shelling out for the significantly pricier Q701. The only silver lining to this is that (unlike the K702) the actual price of the Q701 seems to fluctuate substantially - at least on the Amazon website anyway. On rare occasions it can be found even cheaper than the K702.




The box contains two detachable cables, the headphone connection of which is proprietary which is a shame as it means replacements will need to be ordered directly from AKG. The lengths of these cables are 3m and 6m. When I first read that Iassumed they had mixed up feet with meters but no - they're humongously long ! The longer of which means you could walk around a large room whilst plugged in to a Hi-Fi. They are both 4n (99.99% pure) copper terminated in a gold plated connector. This 3.5mm connector suggests the Q701s can and should be used with various average devices and this gives off the wrong impression because they really shouldn't.



The comfort of the Q701 is mostly great. They are very light, they don't touch your ears, the ear cups are nice and soft, they don't make your ears hot, they don't clamp your head too hard and the headband doesn't need adjusting... 


The main thing that lets it all down is the the headband's cushioning. There are small ridges on the underside of the band that contact with your head and they are pretty hard (don't cushion well at all). If you don't have a decent amount of hair to help cushion these ridges you'll probably experience some discomfort (like me). This marred an otherwise great feel to these headphones. To say it completely ruins the experience would be unfair but if there is one design aspect that should have have been improved from the previous model it was this.


One other slight negative point: They tend to make creaking noises if you wear glasses and this feels like it's amplified to your ears if you move the cups slightly. I can't completely blame the headphone for this but it's something that other large headphones do not do.





Being "reference" headphones they provide a very well balanced and neutral sound - crisp, clean and revealing, the sound stage is wonderfully airy too. Although the bass it tight and detailed here for some people it can seem to lack power. I like, possibly even love, the Q701 sound signature but I also enjoy powerful low frequencies that other headphones offer which these just cannot match. I would not want to live with only these headphones for my music collection but this, probably more so than most, is a very subjective issue. What it may or may not lack in bass it certainly makes up for with a wide sound-stage and plenty articulate of detail (compared to the competition). They demand lossless or uncompressed audio and high quality equipment to drive this detail - if you plan on plugging them directly in to an unmodified portable you will get a fraction of what they excel at. One final word of warning regarding the lack of isolation: The open back design is guilty of leaking sound, both in & out, a lot. If any of these characteristics concern you and you're tempted to buy them I strongly advise you to avoid them or find a way to test them before buying.



I tested these headphones almost exclusively plugged into a computer via the Yulong D100 mkII - a decent desktop USB DAC from China with a very respectable built in headphone amplifier. This is quite capable of playing back my losslessly compressed CD quality files. The USB connection supports asynchronous transfer and I run the WASAPI driver on the Foobar software for a bit-perfect audio stream to the DAC.





The small headphone plug (3.5mm) is convenient if you want to plug it into a portable device, directly in to a computer or tablet but you would be doing them a huge disservice if you do. You will be lucky to get much volume out of them and almost certainly wont get any of the detail that they are capable of. 



The iPhone 4 was probably the best experience I had, it went to acceptable volumes and could squeeze out a little detail, the DAC it has is obviously not too bad. The Samsung Galaxy S got to similar volume levels as the iPhone 4 but was starting to feel lacking. The sound quality however was very soft and muddy, in other words it destroyed most of what is good about the Q701s. Then I tried it on my favourite portable player - a Cowon S9: The volume just wouldn't reach any kind of enjoyable level at all, this is kind of odd because it hasn't been the weakest of the 3 portables for other headphone's volume (previously it was the Galaxy S that suffered most). It was so low in fact that I simply couldn't tell if it had any nice detail, knowing Cowon output it probably had some but was totally unusable at these volumes. 



My laptop (Dell Vostro V131) showed more than anything else that these headphones are a high maintenance creature where sources are concerned. Volume wise it had plenty of power but resolving detail was just nowhere to be seen. I'm sure this will vary from laptop to laptop but mine made the Q701s feel like they could have been trampled by a cheap mp3 player, some low quality MP3s and headphones 1/10th of this price. 



A chance to show off some of my favourite tracks and help me pick up subtle differences in equipment due to me being familiar with their sounds. I have also tried to pick tracks that emphasize different types of sound, thus covering the widest possible range of these headphones abilities.


  1. Butch Clancy: TinieTempah, Passout
  2. The Crystal Method - The Grid (Remix of Daft Punk's Tron Legacy song)
  3. Henry Mancini: The Ultimate Pink Panther - The Pink Panther Theme
  4. Bear McReary: Battlestar Galactica: Season 2 - Prelude to War
  5. Hans Zimmer: Sherlock Holmes - Is It Poison. Nanny?
  6. Yoko Kano: Cowboy Bebop (disc 1) - Spokey Dorkey
  7. Tony Bennett / Lady Gaga: The Lady Is A Tramp
  8. Rodrigo Y Gabriela: [self title] - Juan Loco
  9. Skunk Anansie: Hedonism
  10. Metallica: Of Wolf And Man
  11. Holly Cole: Train Song
  12. Queen: One Vision


  • Butch Clancy's Dubstep is my go to music for heavy bass. I'm sorry to say that all the detail and sound stage do nothing for this kind music and there is no other trick up the Q701's sleeve to make this kind of music enjoyable in my opinion. They present a pleasing and detailed midrange but if you try to turn the volume up to get some bass you will get attacked by harsh treble.
  • The Crystal Method's mix has enough dynamic elements to make this a much more pleasant experience than the one trick pony Dubstep. Although I feel like the track could benefit from a more weighty low end it's mostly because I am used to something that has it. If the Q701's are your only headphones and you settled in to their sonic character it's likely that you wont be displeased with them here. The sharp and speedy detail with great sound-stage do wonders for most electronic music.
  • Henry Mancini's classic sounds crisp, textured and wonderfully detailed. The Stereo imagining and instrument separation sounds wonderful. Although this is not a live track it makes me want to hunt one down.
  • Bear McReary's track, with it's long build up is beautifully rendered and starts up sounding more like a piece of classical instrumental than a film score here. All the instruments seem to pop out that bit more than I'm used to and the heavy drums (3 minutes in) still sound deep enough to carry the immense impact they were shooting for. 
  • Hans Zimmer's subtle orchestra piece comes out brilliantly detailed. Every tiny sound feels very well rendered even at low volumes. It's so clear I don't feel like I could be missing anything in this presentation. Each note can be easily isolated in your mind with the slightest concentration, it's possibly more revealing than engaging but still thoroughly enjoyable.
  • Yoko Kano's harmonica can be real assault on the ears with the high frequencies but it makes a great benchmark piece. It's difficult for headphones to keep the treble under control at normal volumes here and the AKGs don't quite manage it. Turned down a bit the issues quickly go away however and what you are left with is extremely enjoyable. This could easily be as much of a problem with the amp considering how awkward these headphones are to drive so if I were to take too many points of it here for such a minor infraction it would be unfair.
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga's vocals sound sublimely smooth and dynamic. This rendition felt nicely in between the typical emphasized upper midrange presentation from Grado and the rather lacklustre one from the Beyerdynamic DT770 pro. The AKG seems to manage a more exciting compromise while keeping all the finely crafted detail from the neutral signature.
  • Rodrigo Y Gabriela's guitar duo is stunningly presented here. The texture to the guitar and the clarity of every little beat and pluck were fully brought to life, I just can't get enough of this music with these headphones. Even the deep beats from Rodrigo drumming the acoustic guitars sound surprisingly weighty. The live performances of this music are even better too!
  • Skunk Anansie's mellow song is another female vocal that seems to shine on these headphones. To me it's just about right, not too forward and not recessed. As crisply detailed as all the instruments are they never overpower any of the vocals. On the rest of the album when the music gets loud it can get a bit overpowering and messy but the less aggressive tracks like this are wonderfully well presented.
  • Metallica's heavy song is really quite enjoyable here. The lack of low end punch could have been an issue but the fast attack of the different guitars just sound great. I actually found the deeper low frequencies of other headphones destroyed heavy metal like this for me because of the warmer signature. 
  • Holly Cole's song doesn't punch with the same weighty percussion as it does with decent floorstanders (or even some headphones) but the clarity and priority of the vocals come out really well balanced with the acoustics. 
  • Queen's upbeat classic sounds great on these phones. Dynamic, engaging and very fun! 



OK lets get the bad stuff out of the way first: A bit uncomfortable, a premium price for the name, searching for bass reveals harsh treble and a very decent DAC / amplifier is needed but... is all of that forgiveable because of the detail and sound-stage? yes I would say it is! I have probably put too much emphasis on negatives in this review because all the good points just seem so close to greatness it feels a bit frustrating. The truth is I really enjoy putting these headphones on a lot of the time. My search for perfection is ongoing but they really are very good.



  • Great Detail & Clarity
  • Expansive Sound Stage
  • Neutral response
  • Light but Strong build
  • Generally Comfortable (with lots of hair or a hat)


  • Uncomfortable headband ridges (if you don't have much/any hair)
  • Sound Poor Without High Quality Equipment
  • Glasses Wearer's Will Get Creaking Noises
  • Lack of Bass Not Everyone's Taste
  • Treble not controlled as well as some of the competition




The normal street price of the Q701 puts it squarely against the venerable Sennheiser HD600/650. Like the the AKG this benchmark open headphone is equally awkward to drive / scales massively with a good source. The AKG is arguably less genre versatile and comfortable but I found them to be more revealing with a wider sound-stage which for me made them more exciting. The HD600/650 is getting quite long in the tooth now, there are a lot of interesting headphones beginning to emerge so I wonder how long AKG can lean on such a rehashed design with the Q701 at the top of it's catalogue - both visually and sonically.





Pros: other colors, detachable cable

Cons: connector only 3 pins


20. October 2010
I can not wait and all notes and "warnings" to spite, I made a sound check with no burning-in.
After about 1 hour a very detailed sound, more detail than the K701 - but I've known from the test of the K702 and has no significance - it will show whether the stops.
Marianne Faithfull - Blazing Away
Pink Floyd - Final Cut
Phil sings Maria Ola Magnell - Malvina
Short cross-check for K501 (which I bought used) - very musical and relaxed - but a bit less detailed.
Appendix: Philips CD650 modified / amplifier WNA MKII
01. Nov. 2010
The Q701 is currently in the "Burning-in" - let running continuously unattended not my thing - after 25 hours it sounds great - with some songs, even the D7000 left with nothing - for the K701 it sounds different and fresh, clear, more details, but as I said this can and will change even more - as will be seen.
06. Nov. 2010
After 70 hours, "Burning-in"
Very detailed, almost analytical sound reproduction, bass very far down but not as dominant as the Denon AH-D7000
Stage widespread, space between the instruments and artists.
Compared to the K701, both are on the system (modified Philips CD650 / WNA MKII amplifier) is very similar and sometimes lightly different, although it seems to me to show the Q701 sometimes a touch more subtlety. I still have to recheck with the Marantz SA7001 KI / amplifier GSP Audio Solo. What surprises me very dedicated to the "old" K501 behaves so well! Almost sounds a bit more "musical" as K701/Q701 also appear if the highs a little more restrained - I noticed only the background noise of "Esther Ofarim, Esther first Album record".
Esther Ofarim, Esther first Album
Max Lässer & das Überländerorchester, Überländer - above all, track 10 jaw harp, 11 jaw harp and harp, vocals track 14
Laureena McKennitt, An Ancient Music
Appendix: Philips CD650 modified / amplifier WNA MKII
07. November in 2010 over 75 hours, "Burning-In"
EMI - Paganini, 24 Caprices, Itzhak Perlman
Track 9
Q701 a trace silkier than K701
K701 a bit harder than Q701
K501 silky
Sony, Johannes Brahms, Concerto for Violin, 0p. 77, Isaac Stern, NY Phil, Zubin Metha
Track 3
similar to above, but hardly noticeable differences
WB, Quincy Jones, Back on the Block
Track 2, Back on the Block
Here the differences between Q701 and K701 are hardly easily identified, said the trend seemed to exist more softness in Q701.
The K501 sounded restrained, not because I wanted to adjust my level settings.
Appendix: Philips CD650 modified / amplifier WNA MKII
08. & 09 Nov. 2010 (to 80 hours behind in Burning-In)
Just relax listening to music
Esther Ofarim, Ether first Album
Loreena McKennitt, An Ancient Muse
Neil Diamond, Jonathan Seagull Livinston
Kari Bremnes, Erindring
Dire Straits, Brother in Arms
All the songs sounded very detailed, balanced, deep but not over emphasized bass, silky, non-sharp highs.
Stage-wide, air between instruments, singers.
Appendix: Philips CD650 modified / amplifier WNA MKII
10. to 14 Nov. 2010 (at the 80 hours, "Burning-In" behind her)
Just relax listening to music
Ariel Ramirez - Misa Criola (two recordings)
José Carreras - Philips
Mercedes Sosa - Decca
Q701 bass very let down but not over-emphasized; drums punchy, clear string instruments and details; deep pipes very faithfully with significant blowing sounds; singers are well displayed (especially the deep voice of Mercedes Sosa); stage widespread, plenty of room (where you would on a headphone playback can say at all), positions definite, choir spacial.
Both versions very dynamic response.
Cyminologiy - per se & Bemun (Jazz, 2CD's)
The Klematics, Live - Brother Moses Smote the Water
All three live CD's kept their character. Very detailed, assessment as above.
One of the next steps I will return to the comparisons with the K701 and also address the Denon AH-D7000.
The AKG Q701 (K701, K702) is in my opinion the best in its price range (up to 500 EUR / USD) and can certainly compete with higher-priced headphones.
System: Marantz SA 7001 KI / amplifier WNA MKII
10. to 14 Nov. 2010 (more than 80 hours, "Burning-In" behind her)
Magic of Himalayas, Mystical Scent, www.windmusic.com.tw - XRCD
This music cannot describe with words.
With the AKG Q701 - powerful, deep bass, more neutrally, if one can say with this music at all.
With the Denon AH-D7000 - such a profound and powerful bass I have never heard with headphones before. Despite this, the mids and highs not too short. The Q701 is missing something here the pressure at the very low notes. An ideal headphones in my opinion should be exactly in between.
System: Marantz SA 7001 KI / amplifier WNA MKII
The differences are such as in the test's not worth to be blind subjective.
For more objective results would have to use at least the verdict of several people.
The sound impression of the Q701 can still change, speak thus in some Internet forums, some owners suggest of more than 100 hours for the K701.
Comparing the K701 with the K702 (last year) was noticeably after 100 hours no clear difference.
January 2011
Malvina, Maria sings Phil Ola Magnell, Meyer Records
D7000 cymbals hisses more / Q701 the hissing seems a little more contour (details)
More volume difference between a singer and the hissing of the cymbals
During Q701, the hiss seems to be quieter than the D7000
Upper bass
The D7000 seems a touch over-emphasized
The D7000 deeper and punchier than the Q701
D7000 closer / Q701 spacious, open, airy
Audio Great Music V - Recordings 2000
Track 1, 3, 9
Q701 more difference in loudness between loud and soft passages
D7000  more low-end power
This is one of the images with the deepest and most impressive bass
Yun-Tian He - Mystical Scent
D7000 with short blows air between the ear pads and ear
Even with the Q701 - The Q701 a little bass less pressure, but very detailed too.
A complete list of my songs which I will use the test I put together this week as well.
A part of the list, I also published here:
I hear my well-known pieces of music to the smallest details that are often in the background, clatter of the valves of instruments, creak of chairs, (eg) with Pink Floyd "The Final Cut" jingle of coins, shuffling walk on pavement, etc.
Change Requests:
The current packaging may look good from outside but from unsuitable for permanent storage of the headphones. As is the case of K701 significantly more appropriate. My request to the board of K701 with the images printed by the Q701.
Since with high quality headphones, for headphones a lot of freaks want to control symmetrical - this means, the connections of the two capsules must completely separate from the plugs out to be - it would be good to prepare the headphones have that effect. In plain text instead of the 3-pin mini-XLR connector it should be a 5-pin mini-XLR connector looks like similar the AKG-K1000.
PS: Some mistake could be in this translation from German, please let me know about!


Pros: good soundstage and tone, punches above weight, fairly light

Cons: rattle in right driver, schiit headband

Q701 is not really a headphone that merits a long review. It was my entree into the high-fi world, and a good entree at that. If you listen primarily to classical/jazz/acoustic music and/or are using the headphone for mixing purposes, it is a stupendous value for ~$200. Piano especially is airy and wonderful, but all orchestral stuff is ably done. Other than that, probably just recommended for clinical things like mastering. It can be driven by an iPhone, though amplification is worth considering for a better sound. 


Headband has bumps. I think they feel like schiit. (K1000 on temples is far worse, however). Worse than this though is the rattle in the right driver. Not dissimilar to the rattle in my K1000, it comes and goes, but affects certain piano tracks in particular at unpredictable frequencies (I should do a lab test of this).


All in all, at anything under $200 a great value. Amazon fluctuates a lot, and they're only over $200 right now, so I'd say don't buy over a cheaper K701/02/12. For ~$100, which it's regularly listed at used on HF, an utter steal. Even if you're not a fan of the sound signature, it would be a good neutral (though on the brighter side of neutral) can for critical listening, and a small investment next to the HD800. AKG's 700 series is incredible, and as used cans continue to plummet in resale value, the community collectively reaps that reward. Get one!


Pros: Linear audio, can reach down to 10hz, amazing spatialization

Cons: Headband can be uncomfortable, requires good amplification

Bought from Memory Express in Canada for about $220 CAD.  Don't overpay, these can be found for around $250 if you search around.


Sound impressions:

Measured with a UMIK1 and the response is very linear with a smooth increase up to 1khz then a smooth decrease back down to 20khz.  Can reach as low as 10hz with a tone generator (can't hear it but can definitely feel it on the skull!).  The sound is incredibly spatial!  Live music (concerts, orchestra) sounds amazing!  Songs with reverb sound awesome.  Can hear a lot of detail.  Very linear audio and if you're into equalization (or tube rolling) these things have a lot of diversity available due to the linear response.  Can make them sound like anything.


I've grown to love the sound.  I listened to an assortment of grado & beyerdynamics headphones at a local shop on various amps and preferred these to headphones over $2000.


Amplifier Requirements:

These are not efficient headphones.  Needs 150mw at 64 ohms and headphone/phone jacks can't do that.  Don't buy these headphones unless you plan on getting a half decent headphone amp.  Not even my fiio X1 can drive these things.  I get good amplification from the following items I own:

  • NAD 326BEE integrated receiver headphone jack
  • Audioquest Dragonfly 1.4 Black (connecting this to android makes it my most portable amplification solution)
  • Little Dot I+ Hybrid Tube/SS headphone amp (amazing combination!)


I highly recommend the Little Dot I+ Hybrid tube amp if you're looking for a headphone amp and don't want to spend a lot.  Get it with the 6CQ6 tubes which pair well with the headphone's audio signature.



Large ear cups are comfortable even with glasses.  Headband feels "hard" and tight and can become painful after an hour of use.  Spring is a little too tight.



I haven't done it yet but supposedly these can be easily modified to have a balanced audio jack for balanced outputs.  The 3 conductor mini-xlr jack is replaced with a 4 conductor, soldering separate negative/ground terminals on two separate conductors.  Then order a 4 conductor balanced cord with mini-xlr for the headphones and whichever balanced connector on your headphone amp.  That's a nice feature in case I move to a very high end headphone amplifier.


Supposedly can open up the side covers & slip in some cloth for a little more bass and a little less spatialization.  Haven't tried that yet.


Pros: good sounstage, nice clean bass and very engaging mids

Cons: headband bump, sometimes upper mid might be too bright for some songs

overall this is a good headphone, and i love it very much.lucky for me i got the Austria version, as i happen to know they are now manufactured at china 


the sound is just what i am looking for in most of the headphones, where i prefer a more emphasized mids and trebles. a lot of people complained about the lack of bass but for me the bass is just a clean bass, not bassy type that u can find in other headphones. bass are punchy and u can feel every "thump" of it instead of muddy bass, which is very nice as this does not affect the mids and vocal.


soundstage are amazing, music and songs played by it feels like being played by a speaker instead (not literally but you get what i mean). i dont feel like the song is being pressured into my ear, like forcing me to listen, instead it were presented at a very comfortable level. although some claimed to be able to differentiate which instrument is played at which row in an orchestra, i personally cant really differentiate that, maybe its because the lack of really high quality files (the highest quality i had is just lossless 24-bit files).


vocals are very nice, although sometimes might be too bright for long listening sessions, but tone the volume down a little bit on my Centrance hifi m8 DAC amp and its just nice. Amber Rubarth's sessions from the 17th ward sounds amazing with this cans. it gets better with every listen.


love the detachable mini xlr, as it gives option to change to a balanced cable or other brand instead of modding. And green cable looks just fine after awhile.


the headbump sure can cause some pain though on my head after some time, but a slight adjustment to the front or back of my head can solve this problem


overall very happy with this headphone, and its my first AKG, the other cans are Grado SR325is and Audio Technica M50


Pros: Very fast, beautifully textured, respond well to a variety of amplification, elegant design, smooth mids, great price:performance ratio

Cons: Weak bass, cold, can be fatiguing very quickly, not very suitable for poor recordings, 'impersonal' sound, comfort

  I purchased the Q701s in September of 2012 after thoroughly enjoying an audition with a friend of mine's about a year earlier.  I had heard a lot about AKGs beforehand: polite, analytical, cold and detailed.  I wasn't prepared for how exciting and energetic they could be even through my relatively weak Nuforce Icon HDP.  After a little more than two years of owning them (and purchasing a pair of V-Moda M100s for mobile use), they had become my main headphone after the left driver of my beloved LCD-2s went kaput.  
Design and Comfort
 I thought the green Q701s were a little silly looking so I chose black.  They are elegant, high-tech looking cans with clean lines and excellent symmetry.  Not quite as high-tech as the HD800s, but they're definitely more space-age than my robust M100s or my luxurious LCD-2s.  The headphones are otherwise very light, both on the head and in the hands.  I've always thought suspension headbands were the way to go both for stylistic reasons and ergonomic considerations, but AKG did well in removing the bumps in future offerings.  As well, the cushions are still firm and slightly uncomfortable after years of frequent use.
Equipment: Audio-GD NFB-10SE, Foobar 2000, pain-in-the-rear 20ft cable
 Being a cold headphone, the highs can be very sibilant on some progressive and electronic albums.  Even on upper mids listening can become fatiguing for albums that aren't well recorded.  Bright recordings are headache inducing and electronic music can be painful.  That being said, orchestral music is always a pleasure.  Despite being polite relative to the M100s or LCD-2s, the highs can make the Q701s seem very aggressive.
 If you like mids, you will love the Q701s.  Vocals are intimate, textured and clear.  Female vocals are beautiful, smooth and engaging while male vocals have forced and engagement.  The Q701s are by no means at the level of my LCD-2s but I don't feel I'm losing a lot by switching from the latter.  Even tracks like 'Where the Hood At' have an excellent sense of engagement, and string music will make you shed a tear or two.  Mids are, by far, the best part of the spectrum with the AKG Q701s.
 This may sound eerily familiar from other reviews, but the Q701s have very weak bass.  It is, however, capable of producing insanely fast bass for death metal tracks ("Failure in the Flesh" by Through the Eyes of the Dead, "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer" by Behemoth) and tight, punchy bass for jazz (Good Bait by Coltrane) and blues ("Played Twice"). 
Soundstaging, Transparency and Detail
 The Q701s are an excellent pair of headphones for all three.  Be it intimacy for violin and cello duos or vast halls for Gregorian chant, the Q701s handle soundstage well.  I prefer the consistent intimacy of the LCD-2s, but a wide-open soundstage definitely has its place for the music they do especially well.  
 Transparency is another excellent trait of these headphones.  While they sound artificial - my LCD-2s do spoil me - there is nothing between you and the music.  Every note feels very crisp and well-articulated.  Detail plays into this transparency as every note is well sculpted in space, almost to the point of making heavy metal hard edged or almost plastic-like to the point of discomfort.  The need for quality recording with these headphones cannot be stressed enough.  Even slightly critical listening will make poorly-recorded music an exercise in masochism. 
 The Q701s are cold, detailed, energetic and sometimes sibilant.  Comfort is okay, but you get a lot for your money.  If you love classical music, jazz and female vocals and have some SACDs or a sizable FLAC library you'll love 'em.  If you have a more varied library, you'd do well to have a fun, bassy headphone (say, the V-Moda M100s) to pair with the Q701s.  Either that, or keep the Q701s as a bit of extra flavor with a lusher pair when you're feeling more critical or really want to hear John Coltrane sweating in 'A Love Supreme'.


Pros: Decent sounding

Cons: Big ear cups, uneven headband tension, uncomfortable for long term wearing.

I've given these at least two dozen chances as few of my colleagues swear by it. However, I find them highly uncomfortable to wear. I am a small person and these headphones for one, feel huge on my head. I find it hard to position them just right to get the imaging right every single time. The headphones sit on my ears and not rest on my head which causes discomfort/ on my earlobes after a few minutes.

This one is far from being my favorite headphone, unfortunately. 


Pros: Sound, comfort and price(!)

Cons: Some headband parts are fragile, upper mids are sometimes too loud and takes a while to adjust for the best sound.

200 bucks?!

In short, these are the strongest performers I've heard and they made me sell my HD650 very quickly. I did enjoy the HD650s with some recordings, mainly vocal music, but they were lacking some breath, air and energy to me, while Q701 delivers all that and more. HD650 were like visiting your grandma -- fuzzy, warm and cozy, and Q701 is a lively party -- everything is lively, accurate and no detail is ever left out. They have a very nice impact. Every drum hit is very satisfying. Oh and the soundstage...why repeat ourselves; it's been said enough times already and I guess it's so good because of the angled ear pads. Also they don't choke no matter how intense your music is. That is, they are really fast sounding; fast rock music on Beyerdynamic DT250/HD650 sounds a bit dull and details/instruments get lost in a mess. Q701 presents every part of the music for you to focus on. And they sound so lively and clear. Choir and classical sounds truly impressive. The upper mids are sometimes a bit too loud with modern hotly mastered music. Though that never gets in the way with proper recordings, ever. Be gentle with them though. Those clear plastic parts in the headband tend to break easily. If that happens, cups won't be sliding as smoothly when adjusting and may start creaking. So yeah, don't sit on them.



Bass port mod

Mind you, all my impressions are after doing the bass port mod. I don't remember how they sound stock. Some say it's the same, just without the sub-bass. Yeah, sub-bass -- it goes very low and is another star of the show, fellas. Tightest and most accurate bass I've heard. HD650 bass was anemic compared to these. I never use EQ. The pair I have was made in Austria.



Cup placement!

If these headphones would automatically adjust to their best acoustic position around your ears -- they would be perfect and their fragility could be forgiven. I used to push the cups towards my face, until they touched my helix. This placement is far from ideal, as I later discovered. For me it's best to start from placing them all the way towards the back of my head, until I feel the cups touch my tragus. And then push them just a bit towards my face, until the cymbals sound right and my ears end up somewhere in the middle of the cups. After that is achieved, I'm presented with the best sound. Otherwise they sound quite wrong.


Highly recommended

If anyone asked to recommend a desktop set-up, this would be it: ODAC->O2 Amp->Q701[+ bass port mod]

If they don't need isolation, this setup could easily be the most they would ever need, and for a great value.

I rather like this one, while I myself have the generic ODAC + a DIY O2.


If you're feeling adventurous, try these headphones. No, I mean try them. Screw that, just get them now. I could keep adding impressions. But that's really starting to get in the way of listening to them right now. There's really nothing to lose, they're $200 on Amazon, which is crazy.

AKG Q701 Premium Class Reference Headphones, Quincy Jones Signature Line

Music has never sounded better or closer than with the Quincy Jones Signature Series Q701 Reference Class Headphones. Sparkling harmonics,incredible low distortion and unequalled realism in the lower frequencies - it's the huge, airy, three dimensional sound that's been only available in the finest high end speaker systems and microphones. Now, we've engineered it into the most accurate and responsive reference headphones we've ever produced, the Q701. Hear music exactly as the artist intended.

FeaturePatented Varimotion Diaphragm
Height9.84 inches
Length9.45 inches
Weight1.73 pounds
Width5.12 inches
LabelAKG Acoustics
List Price$479.00
ManufacturerAKG Acoustics
ModelQ701 (Black)
Package Quantity1
Product GroupMusical Instruments
PublisherAKG Acoustics
StudioAKG Acoustics
TitleAKG Q701Premium Class Reference Headphones, Quincy Jones Signature Line
WarrantyOne year
Number Of Items1
Release Date2010-10-30
Publication Date2010-10-30
Departmentmusic, instruments, instrument accessories
CatalogNumberList - CatalogNumberListElementQ701WHT
Item Height9.84 inches
Item Length9.45 inches
Item Width5.12 inches
Package Height5.1 inches
Package Length10 inches
Package Weight1.5 pounds
Package Width9.7 inches
PartNumberQ701 (White)
ProductGroupMusical Instruments
UPCList - UPCListElement885038028642
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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