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Hey, AKG K-1000 owners! Have you tried...

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
... backing a (low back) listening chair into a corner when you listen to the K-1000's? It struck me the other day that, if the head of the listener was within several inches of a wall-boundary, the sonic reinforcement might affect the sound of these "earspeakers". Possible? Advisable? Also, has anyone tried running a subwoofer in the room with these AKG's? Strange questions perhaps, but I am thinking of buying a pair of K-1000's soon. I probably have the type of system one would need to drive these little beasts pretty well. I guess my imagination is starting to run a little wild with anticipation (and other things). Please feel free to advise me, chastise me, or even roll me in tar and feathers if my questions invoke delight, suprise, or even riducule... Thanks.
post #2 of 19
Naw, I haven't tried it, but I think some have gotten the subwoofer + K 1000 to work with great effect. Congrats man, I think I said it once elsewhere, the K 1000 is one of the most rewarding headphones to build a system around. I've got one on right now

Tho honestly, I think the sound volume is too low/disappates too much to really take advantage of the sound bouncing off the walls.

But this is the right kind of thinking

What are your plans for an amp/source?


post #3 of 19
i usually sit sloched down on a couch with my k-1000's. im not really sure that i notice a diference in sound though.

i have not personally (yet, mwahaha) done the "subwoofer & k-1000" thing, but it has been done. it is supposed to sound REALLY good if you get the crossover points setup well.
post #4 of 19
I have used the sub type of set up. Another thing besides the better low frequency response is the mid range on the phones sound better since the main amp is not driving the lows. This may only be an issue with the Quad II's I use but I would think separating the lows from the main frequencies would help any lower power tube amp. I feel I do get some phase shift in the low frequencies though. I will play with the setup over the winter a bit when life is doing the winter quiet thing.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Encouraging thoughts, all... Jason, (see my system listing) my amp is a 22 watt per channel N.E.W. A-20.1. It's a solid state, high-bias class A design that sounds very musical to my ears. Based upon what I've read about the requirements of the K-1000's, the N.E.W. should be an ideal driving source. The amp is, in turn, well mated to the Audible Illusions L-1 and AES PH-1 (phono) preamps, which in turn is fed by sources like my Sugden CD-21 and my SOTA Sapphire TT. Finances allowing for it, I hope to post my impressions of it all pretty soon... Thanks.
post #6 of 19
My absolute favorite way of listening to the K1000's is to use them as an integral part of my 2 channel speaker listening experience. You can do this by using them with any CD player that has 2 sets of outputs. Use one pair of outputs from the CD player to send a signal to your preamp/amp/speakers (or receiver/speakers as the case may be) and the other set of outputs to go to your headamp/K1000's. In my case, I use the RKV, but it would work with a Sonic T amp or whatever. (Note: You could accomplish the same thing with a pair of "RCA splitters" if your CD player has only one pair of outputs.)

Then I run a long headphone extension cable to my "sweet spot" listening position (where I normally sit while listening to my speaker system), adjust the volume settings on the preamp (for the speakers) and the RKV (for the K1000s) and once I get it "just right" I'm in sonic bliss!

There are some tricks to it, but essentially it's something that you would have to experiement with to get the volume levels set just right, such that neither the speakers nor the K1000's "dominate" the overall presentation. It might not be for everyone, but I love it myself, as do countless friends and visitors.

For my listening tastes, I prefer to let the speakers get 60% of the volume such that it "feels" like a speaker-based experience, but with the K1000s adding "fills" and details that I wouldn't pick up otherwise, and widening the soundstage considerably (especially with the K1000's in their full opened position).

With a little too much K1000 volume relative to speaker volume, you begin to lose some of the visceral (chest thumping) impact ot the bass notes and you also start to experience an odd sort of timing delay. Plus you get the "in head" type of feeling which is not what I'm after in this situation. Even though the speakers might only be 10 feet away, the K1000 drivers are inches away, and when they receive too much volume, your mind suddenly gets "information overload" and has too much to process. You begin trying to figure out whether it's the speakers or the K1000's that are delivering the vocals or the piano notes or the guitar or whatever. To avoid this sense of confusion, I let the speakers have a little more weight and authority so that the 2 channel experience takes "control" of the sound while the K1000s provides "fills" and details, a wider soundstage and a greater sense of intimacy (the K1000s sort of act like back-up singers for lack of a better analogy, although the result is definitely to bring the vocals forward).

When you get it "right" you will be MUCH happier with the results than you would be with either the speakers alone, or the K1000s alone. Note that I say this with all due respect to those of you who have invested the time and money in putting together an excellent speaker system like I have. I've yet to encounter a single visitior who would disagree that the K1000s add a nice flavor, but then again none of them are "audiophiles", so they tend to say, "Wow!!! That sounds awesome!!!" but they don't bother to analyze everything in accordance to how it "should" sound. I suppose that if you have a dedicated listening room that has been professionally treated and you've put as much "science" into your speaker system as you've put time and money, then you may eventually reach a point where adding the K1000s into the mix would be purely annoying and cause more aggrevation than anything, but my speaker system (and room design) hasn't yet reached that level of perfection.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey McManus, now YOU are really thinking "outside of the box"... Or, should I say, instead, that now you are truly thinking "inside of the box"? Well, maybe it's a little of each..? Interesting. I have heard of a type of headphone listening, almost exactly as you have described, only using standard headphones. Proper level matching is essential, no doubt. It will never catch on in a big way, because part of the appeal of headphones is the compactness and simplicity of the normal way. But for those of us who are truly over the top, the sky is the limit! Thanks.
post #8 of 19
Michael, you're absolutely right about volume matching, and this will vary for everyone. It's a little tricky, and can sound quite odd at first. Even after you think you've got it "right" it still takes a while to get adjusted to the "new" sound because the nearfield earspeakers change your perceptions of the music more so than would almost any "component" change/upgrade that I can think of. Plus, it absolutely DOES NOT WORK if you are sitting off axis, or anywhere even slightly out of the sweet spot, for obvious reasons.
post #9 of 19
I used a subwoofer for a long time with my K1000, and the sound was great. I'm no longer doing it, because I'm using the subwoofer in another location, in a home theater setup. If you do a search, I think that you'll find many postings regarding the use of a subwoofer with a K1000.
post #10 of 19
When I listen to K1000, if I lean my head against the head-rest of my office-type chair in my room, I perceive more 3D soundstage in the recording. YMMV. I will try integrating K1000 with speakers and see if it works.
post #11 of 19

Oh my! Wmcmanus is right!

Originally Posted by Wmcmanus
My absolute favorite way of listening to the K1000's is to use them as an integral part of my 2 channel speaker listening experience....
Read Wmcmanus' post and I thought this guys was nuts.
I was highly doubtful if this the sound of K1000 and the speakers could integrate seamlessly. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot in my system.
The result is simply amazing, to the point that it totally trasnformed my conception of headphone listening.

My approach was different from Wmcmacus. My speaker system is decent but not top-notch. K1000 offers better clarity and timbre accuracy. So I use K1000 to provide the main sound (70%), and let speakers fill in the ambience. The presentation is still right around my head, but there is a lot of additional ambience which is uncharacteristic of headphone listening. The sound is intimate and distant at the same time. While K1000 provides an accurate, direct sound, while direct speaker sound arrives with a slight delay (6 ft takes ~6 ms) and reflected speaker sound comes even later. In reality, I can't hear the speaker at all, even though it is playing slightly below normal listening volume. I suspect that the ear treats speaker sound as delayed, reflected sound.

However, the integration is probably not trivial. When I use my Cayin HA-1A to drive K1000, K1000/speaker integration is seamless. When I use my Jolida to drive K1000, timbre and ambience becomes a bit wierd and confusing, and I prefer K1000 by itself. When used alone, the Cayin (single-ended tube) and Jolida (tube/SS hybrid) drives K1000 equally well, but with different characters. I suspect the key to integration is timbre matching.

Since my speaker is playing at a lower volume than K1000, and K1000 itself has rolled-off bass below 50 Hz, getting enough bass impact is a bit tricky in my case, due to the ear's non-linear loudness perception in bass frequencies. Fortunately, I have two powered subwoofers, so I simply turn up subwoofer volume a bit higher than normal speaker listening to add a bit more visceral impact to fill things up.

While I sit in the speaker sweets pot, the K1000/speaker integration is at its full glory. However, even if I face 90 degrees away from the speakers, as I am typing on my desk now, the speaker sound still can't be heard and still provides a good amount of ambience. It appears that my brain perceives K1000 as the primary sound source and any delayed sound from speakers is perceived as ambience or reflected sound. Previously I have tried K1000 with my subwoofer, but there is poor integration because the sub sound appears too slow.

I do feel that there is a slight of loss of details and resolution while using K1000+speaker vs. K1000 alone. But that is hardly a problem for a detailed headphone like K1000. Adding the speakers does not really expand the soundstage much, but the sense of room ambience and the acoustic space around the instruments feels like tripled. The instruments don't seem to move further out but there is a sense of acoustic depth behind it. The room reflections in the recordings now seem to be much more natural.

I think it is just a matter of luck that my K1000 and speaker systems integrate seamlessly in sound. Of course it is also possible that I tweaked both systems to share very similar tonal balance by extensive tuberolling. Still, I am listening to two tube amps (single-ended EL84 and class A push-pull EL84), two SS amps (inside subs), 8 drivers (2 from K1000, 4 from monitors, and 2 from subs), and four crossover circuits all working seamlessly together. That so many unrelated components work synergistically is probably just coincidence. Simply switching to the K1000 amp I normally use during SACD listening destroys the synergy.

To my ears, K1000 has three minor flaws. It sound a bit too bright and lacks a bit of ambience and lowest-octave bass. Now I use single-ended triode amp make the tone darker, the monitor speakers to fill in the ambience and the active subs to add bass impact. For classical and jazz I could not be happier. For pop/rock, it is still too slow and acoustically accurate, and I much prefer the fun and aggressive sound of my DAC1+SR225. No, my K1000/speaker system is still not perfect, but it has magic. The magic is shrinking a real concert hall to the size of a two-feet-wide helmet and wear it on my head. The room acoustics is still all there but the sound is so imtimate.

Many thanks to Wmcmanus!!! Kudos to a true audiophile! He has defied the norm of audio equipment uasge and discovered an amazing way to listen to music. Although I can't fully reproduce the effects he heard in his system, I have found my own ear candy following his suggestion.
post #12 of 19
Wmcmanus & Ferbose - When a K1000 is used in this way, is there any point in owning a high quality of speaker system? Could a K1000, in combo with a mid-priced speaker system, out perform a high quality speaker system that's without K1000 support?
post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by mikeg
Wmcmanus & Ferbose - When a K1000 is used in this way, is there any point in owning a high quality of speaker system? Could a K1000, in combo with a mid-priced speaker system, out perform a high quality speaker system that's without K1000 support?
LOL, good question

It has been too long since I have heard truly hi-end speaker systems. Based on my vague memory, the >$30k speaker systems I have heard don't sound as good as my K1000+mid-price speaker combo for classical/jazz. But I supplement K1000 with speakers, so all the instruments are still inches away from my head. I realize that adding ambience via speakers takes away the last trace of harshness or coldness in violins, even with CD (at least decoded by my beloved DAC1). Listening to a solo piano recording, it is kind of like putting my head very close to the lid's opening. Most of the sound is directly from the instrument, but I can still hear the reflections of the entire room surrounding me. Playing multi-instrument recordings the result is kind of like putting my head close many instruments at the same time and hearing them all very clearly--physically impossible in real life but sounds very good nonetheless. Some people would probably still prefer full-size speaker setups, especially in large, acoustically correct rooms, to simulate a larger acoustic space. But I don't know how much money need to be spent to achieve the transparency and timbre accuracy of K1000. Last time I heard a Wilson Watt/Puppy, the piano and volin sounds were still not tonally accurate, although the whole sound was big and impressive, especially the bass (my cheapo subwofers can't compete at all). And that was the best speaker I have heard. Wmcmanus has a much better speaker system, and supplements speakers with K1000, so he would probably be in a much better position to answer the question than me.
post #14 of 19
I just had my non-audiophile room mate listen to the K1000/speaker combo.
He verified that the speaker is completely inaudible although it is only ~5dB lower in volume than K1000. So it is not just my ears that get fooled.
When I turned the speaker volume up and down, he hears almost no difference except that the sound is fuller when the speakers are playing. BTW this is bass-light music so he did not experience added bass from the sub.

This basically means a loud, -5 dB sound with a slight delay is completely perceived by the ear as ambience in my system. Holy cow, we are talking about a huge amount of ambience being injected in a sonically transparent manner. K1000 is the only headphone that satisfies the two physical rules of biaural hearing (interaural delay and full pinnae interaction). Now inject a truck-load of ambience again in a biaural manner (stereo speakers), while remaining transparent. The result is just a fuller, more natural sound, and nothing more. Maybe the injected ambience compensates for the lack of ambience in close-miked recordings, or the directionality limitations in microphones. Whatever the theory is behind the ambience recovery, I just know instruments sound more like in real concert venues.

Interestingly, injecting ambience seems to sweeten the tone as well. Stradivari violins are known to sound extremely brilliant in close distance but very sweet in concert halls, where well-controlled reflections and delays create pleasant ambience. It is very peculiar indeed.
post #15 of 19
After thinking a bit more about the whole K1000/speaker integration thing, I think what the speakers may be doing is turning my listening room into a big reverberation chamber. The direct sound of the speaker and room reflections may simulate the natural delay of a larger room, since they are all delayed from the primary K1000 sound by 6 ms (~6 ft) or more. Since recorded reverberation is also played through the speaker, they are probably further amplified or exaggerated.

Anyway, I realized that the remarkable things is that not only are speakers themselves basically inaudible, they also make K1000 disappear. Pardon me for the confusion of language, but inaudible and disappearing are two different things. Inaudible means if the volume is turned up or down, there is hardly any perceived effect. When people say speakers disappear, they mean they feel the sound is naturally emanating from the vicinity of speakers' location but don't feel the sound coming directly from the speakers. Turning the volume down of course the listener notices loudness dropping, so the speakers disappear but remain audible.

Listening to K1000 alone, despite its natural soundstage, I can hear their physical presence. I know there are two drivers producing sound at a certain distance and angle. Now add the speakers, and I can't feel the presence pf the drivers. Sound is still emanating from the vicinity of their physical location, meaning instruments are just inches away from my head. But there is auditory cue hinting the presence of K1000 drivers. I can feel K1000 physically on my hear from the headband's clamp, but can't feel the presence of its dynamic drivers. This is analogous to speakers' disappearance in an ideal speaker setup.

Sorry for all this blah, blah, blah... What I am hearing on my system right now is quite different from any ordinary audio system. It is pretty hard to describe what is going on and trying to make a rational explanation of everything.
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