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)
From AKG's website - they describe the Q701 as:
Let's see if they match the 'marketing' .......
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.
- 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.
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!
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 queues, 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.
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.
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.
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.