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post #16 of 29

AKG/SAC K1000: Initial Listening Notes (LONG)


interesting to read that the A500 sounds better than the dedicated SAC amp!

I currently use my K1000 on a Cyrus IIIi + PSX-R (nominal 70W@4Ohm) and I certainly like the result, with the volume setting never exceeding the 10:30 position. Brighter than connected to my Dynaudio Contour 1.3, but of course much more analytical.

I am in the process of buying a 2nd system, replacing my Technics SL-XP5 + Stax SR Gamma Pro + SRD-X Pro (purchased new in 1986). Since there are still some new, budget priced SAC K1000 amps arround and I like the compact size I still consider them.

But now I suspect that a "decent" integrated amp offers better value for money and possible even better performance in absolute terms on the K1000, with the additional benefit and option to connect "real" loudspeakers.

post #17 of 29
Forgot to mention that "my" local dealer has a AKG K1000 + BAP 1000 on commission. The BAP is a diffuse field processor with integrated amp for professional monitoring. There are 9 pre-set modes and in addition you can have your individual profile programmed on a magnetic card.

Of course I took the chance to listen to this set-up, supplied by an Accuphase CD player (can't remember which). Playing with the pre-set modes, compared to the "direct" setting, changed the colouration of sound, voices in particular, but at least for my personal set of ears did not improve anything.

After some 45 minutes of listinging to Boulez' latest recording of "Sacre du Printemps" and Lou Reed's "New York" I however found the sound a little bit tyring to my ears.

post #18 of 29
I meant to respond earlier to Squirt's post stating his preference for the Cambridge Audio integrated over the AKG. I suspected that some of edginess I heard was attributable to the AKG amp. I recently have been busy auditioning the Cary 303 cdp so have not offered any new impressions of the amp/headphones. I will continue to audition this new source through the AKG K1000 with Silver Lace inter-connects.

For now, however, I can say that the screeching, pinched, nasally highs started to become less irritating after a week's worth of listening with the old source. With the Cary (4 days so far) they have been eliminated. The amp seems to respond pretty faithfully to the source. (This does not, however, argue against Squirt's preference for the Cambridge Audio. I have hooked up to my computer an old Cyrus I - which I love - and I think I'll hook the AKG's up to that.)

The SAC K1000 (or maybe I should say the AKG K1000?) is still no bass heavyweight but I am impressed by how well it handles itself across the "acustrum" (or some other acoustical correlate of "spectrum"). I just love the the musical (as opposed to clinical) precision and detail of these headphones -- I am immediately immersed in the musical performance.

post #19 of 29

Hey Holderlin, nice review...

I was beginning to get worried, since I got the SAC over a week ago, and I thought that you had ordered around the same time.

I have noticed that the SAC amp exagerates the agressive highs of the K-1000s. I hadn't expected that. I haven't listened enough for a conclusion yet.

For vocals, try setting the panels parallel with (but not touching) the outer ear. Then tilt the panels inward by pressing the bottoms toward your head (jaw actually). The sound will warm up, and the bass response improves. It may just be the shape of my head, but I had too much gap at the bottom, so I tweaked to fit. Personal preference rules here.
post #20 of 29
More and more it is my conclusion that, putting aside expensive tube amps, an ordinary integrated amp from the shelf is the most appropriate option to drive the K1000, preferably one that is somewhat complementary to the K1000 tonal characterisdtics. The lacking need for a dedicated headphone amp even levels the k1000 high price.

post #21 of 29

I didn't care for the sound of any of my amps...

driving the K1000 from the speaker outputs. I like the sound of my old Yamaha CR620 IA driving out of the headphone output. I haven't opened it up to check, but I suspect that they may be driving off the mains with some sort of impedence matching to the HP jack.

I would suggest trying an IA with an impedence matching circuit. Jan has a method for this on his website in the headphone tricks area.

I still like the SAC amp. I am guessing that it will sound better the more I listen to it. Funny how that works with new electronics.
post #22 of 29
I am investigating options to drive my AKG K1000:

2nd hand integrated amp, preferably of "British" make, with somewhat laid back highs to compensate the K1000's tone. Since my main system is Cyrus I would prefer a Mission Cyrus One or Two. Compact size.

New old stock SAC K1000, still available from some dealers. Some reviewers have notified sort of aggressive highs which however may disappear after some time of listening (after burn-in or after getting used to it?)

New Amity HPA3A or HPA5A (see www.amity.de). I am confused by the low, nominal watt rating, but according to the designer/manufacturer (Mr. andersen), some tweaking on the sensitivity setting should be sufficient to run the K1000.

2nd hand BAP 1000 digital binaural processor with integrated amp (like SAC?) which claims to produce real "in front" localisation, better even than the diffuse field processors for Stax headphones. By far the most exotic piece, but while listening to this I wasn't really able to notice a benefit. Possibly it may take time an experience to appreciate.

post #23 of 29
hpl, I have another K1000 amp option for you: I have a pair of VTL mono-block tube amps that work great with the K1000 (I own the K1000 too.) The amps are rated at 100watts each in tetrode mode and 50watts each in triode mode (yes theres a switch on the front panel.) I might be willing to sell them. Let me know if interested. I have all the original packaging and paperwork, etc.


post #24 of 29
After a few weeks of heavy break-in use the Cambridge Audio Amp / K1000 combo continue to show sound quality improvements. I originally only intended to use the A500 as a low cost interim amp for the K1000 pending the release of Headrooms K1000 dedicated amp or till i could afford a higher end amp such as the Antique Sound Labs AQ 1005 DTI. However in light of the A500's excellent performance thus far i may put off replacing the A500 anytime soon if at all. The A500 (C rated by Stereophile which is still places it far ahead of the vast majority of integrated amps) is actually made in China, which frankly worried me at first, but its clear the workmanship is first rate. The exterior is "plain vanilla" but the sound quality the amp produces is very satisfying to me, producing a warm, very full and wide soundstage with good dynamics and bass response. The only other amp I’ve used the K1000 with is the dedicated K1000 SAC amp which as mentioned earlier the A500 easily out performs in all areas and is less expensive to boot. I certainly don’t doubt there are better (some much more expensive) amps out there for the K1000 than the A500 but I’m completely satisfied with it and its likely the A500 will remain my primary amp for the K1000…it’s a keeper.

The K1000 musical image is hard to describe in words (for me anyway) but suffice to say its been said the Grado RS-1 produces a musical image similar to being on stage with the musicians due to its up front nature while the HD600 your more like in the 3rd row in the audience being more laid back. I would say with the K1000 your a few more rows back than the HD600, which may not sound good but then again to me the K1000 puts you right smack in the "sweet spot" of the “auditorium” depending on how the earpieces are adjusted and how the particular music is mixed not to mention the music genre. To me keeping the earpieces about midway between fully open and fully closed gives me the best compromise allowing the listener to hear a wide and spacious and very "open" sound stage that the HD600 simply can't match, less the RS-1. When i think of it when i go to concerts the place i want to sit is in the "sweet spot" not too close to the band and definitely not on stage. Don’t get me wrong; my K1000 with the A500 is capable of pumping out some heavy-duty vibes with gusto even producing painfully powerful pulses in the higher mid-freq range such as electric guitars but typically it’s a little more laid back. Due to its open design the K1000s sound is influenced by objects that are near the earpieces such as when placing your head on a headrest or pillow. The result is some sound gets reflected back to your ears, which not surprisingly increases mostly lower freqs for a slightly warmer sound. I should note that the sound produced by the K1000 remains centered in your head with the outer edges of the soundstage floating around in space coming from a few inches or so outside your head. Extending the earpieces fully out produces a wider soundstage though with loss of volume and lower freq response and also the center moves forward sounding like the music is coming from close to your nose. Overall the K1000 is a really superb headphone once broken in and properly amp-ed and the open ear design really does enhance the listening experience compared to conventional headphones.
post #25 of 29
Squirt, woud you be able to rate the K1000 with the HD600 and the RS1? Or are they unratable?
post #26 of 29
squirt, so I take it the metallic edge and insistent treble some have commented on is entirely the fault of the SAC amp?
post #27 of 29
buta, imho i prefer the K1000 w/ A500amp due to the very spacious open soundstage which beats the HD600 and even more so the RS-1...sound wize the K1000 is somewhat akin to the HD600 though i prefer the high freq timbres of the HD600...for example if you were to tap on a triangle and a wine glass assuming both would resonate at the same freq, with the HD600 you would clearly tell apart the matalic ping of the triangle and the csystaline ping of the glass while with the K1000 and RS-1 the two pings may sound identical...The HD600 clearly has the edge in bass and treble extention over the K1000 and RS-1. The RS-1 and K1000 do about the same on bass extension but the K1000 controls bass tighter and the HD600 is a little too bassy at times. Treble i think the RS-1 extends higher than the K1000 though not by much...of course the RS-1 is tops in mid-range punch though to me sometimes too punchy...So personally i prefer the K1000 / A500 overall with the HD600 w/clou red a close second and RS-1 third...this being primarily based on my own personal musical tastes...your mileage may vary...

SumB, concerning the tinny matalic edge of the SAC amp which extended throughout its range, it is limited to the SAC amp. The A500 / K1000 combo sounds far better to me. The difference is very obvious.
post #28 of 29
I find the K1000 very comfortable to wear, in the first place. The open soundstage is the another great benefit.

The described deficits in tonal characteristics, e.g. compared to the HD600 are subtile, and secondary from my point of view. You either get used to it or find a complementary amplifyer, e.g. with less aggressive highs and some more bass punch which apparently exactly is what the Cambridge A500 delivers. Even with the SAC amp you may find a CD player that is complementary in this sense.

Of course I am tempted to buy the SAC, since it is now offered for less than half of its old, recommended price (which is from 1991 or so!). And it is a sort of last chance to get one new. But it is a very special product, made in small numbers, thus still expensive and only useful to power the K1000.

post #29 of 29
I was lucky to find and win a used Amity HPA3 from that auction site, see www.amity.de. My version in addition to the 6.3mm headphone jack has a pair of conventional loudspeaker terminals on the rear side.

After changing over from my Cyrus IIIi I was initially not very impressed. Similar to the other reports, I found the highs, at least with some recordings, a little bit agressive. This seems to be the common denominator when powering the K1000 with solid state class A amps. And to get sufficiently loud playback, I have to turn the volume control to 11:00 AM for pop and to beyond 1:00 PM for classics.

When changing back to the Cyrus IIIi, I however was astonished how much I was missing! The level of detail the Amity reveals is indeed remarkable and you need some time with the better amp to learn to listen to that and to appreciate. Possibly the detailed sound and the lots of information is what makes listening to this set-up

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