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Got the K1000's... here's what I think

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
I ordered one of the last K1000's from headroom and waited in excitment for them to arrive as the hype about them seemed too good to be true. Well I finally got my K1000's a couple days ago, hooked them up to a 110watt solid state amp and so far, I'm very disappointed by them. Not that they're bad, but completely not up to my expectations and the hype I've been hearing. Here's why....

1. Tends to be on the edgy, metallic, brighter sound. And I'm not a fan of dark sounding equipment. Heck, I own B&W's with nautilus tweeters and they don't sound bright to me. I feel like if you were to draw a graph, it would be a fairly linear line and increasing as you get to the high frequencies. The sound overall sounds lacking in body. Sounds top heavy to me. Not as sizzling as the RS-1's but definitely not as neutral as the HD600's.

2. Bass is totally not there.... no slam or punch what so ever... and I"m not a bass freak at all. My point of reference are from Sony MDR-V600 and Senn HD600's. when listening to partricia barbers companion cd... track 4, when the guitarist slaps the body of his guitar, the sony and senn's give a full bodied punch and yet display all the fine details of texture and timbre of the guitar slap. but on the K1000's, nothing but a small dismal boop.

3. Details are lacking. For example, also on track 3 of companion, immediately in the beginning, you hear the background of glass clinging in the cafe when listening with the sony and senn's. But with the K1000's you still hear them but with less clarity and separation.

4. Imaging and soundstage, no need for crossfeed..... yeah right. Still getting middle of the head imaging. I tried angling the ear speakers all the way out and not too much improvement... not to mention the complete absence of bass. I don't notice any imaging or soundstaging. the only plus is it's more airly and spacious... and I don't get hot from having my ears covered.

Yes, my initial opinions sound pretty harsh I admit. I'm not saying that the K1000 is bad. I'm just being picky on my immediate impressions of the shortcomings of the K1000's versus the sony and senn. I'm still going to give them about a month of listening. I'm in the process of burning them in as well. I'll try hooking these things up to a tube amp and see what happens. I hope these things get better. Othewise, I'll be selling these asap.
post #2 of 47
I bought the K1000 when they first came out in the early 90's and used them with solid state and tube power amps. They were the first expensive headphones I had ever bought. They didnt have much use on them when I sold them on the Head-fi forum about 6 months ago. They have their strong points hyunsac, but as you noticed they also have certain disadvantages. Maybe yours will sound better to you in time, but I never warmed to them.
Free field sources like the K1000 cannot reinforce or contain soundwaves like a room can, or like an enclosed headphone ('room can'!) can. The resulting experience cant help but be different, and not always for the better I think.

Plenty of people would love to try the K1000 so there will always be a market for them, but if you still dont like them after a month you at least dont have to feel like an isolated lunatic; there are at least two if us, I can promise you that.
post #3 of 47
2. Bass is totally not there.... no slam or punch what so ever... and I"m not a bass freak at all.
Yeah, but with all the money you saved on the K1000 on the Headroom sale, you have money left over for an external subwoofer!

Thanks for being so honest and not getting caught up in new toy hype. My only experience with the K1000 was at the Headroom tour (which is totally the wrong venue for auditioning this phone in particular, I know), but I was also unimpressed. I certainly didn't think they were "bad", but I didn't think they were as good as the HD600 (which I also feel is over-hyped). But my main complaint was comfort (or lack thereof). They just didn't fit right on my head at all. I notice you didn't comment on fit-- do you find them fatiguing or awkward?

I don't know, the K1000 has its fans here but FWIW IMHO, I just don't think it's a practical phone. I think the idea of using an external sub with them to make up for their deficiencies is not a good solution at all. You also can't drive them from a standard headphone jack. It's a real idiosyncratic oddball.

post #4 of 47
Hyunsac, thanks for the candid impressions. I owned the K1000s too and while I do like their soundstage (though I agree it's not out-of-head) and their dynamics, I pretty much agree with your criticisms. I could forgive the slight lack of details, because, after all, the K1K is supposed to be more like a set of speakers, and speakers typically are less detailed than headphones. But the metallic sound gets to me... and it seems to be there even with quite expensive amps.

Don't get discouraged, though. Give it a few weeks and then decide.
post #5 of 47


You did not say what your source or material was. I had a chance to listen to the K1000s over several hours using a number of different CDs that I was familiar with. Before you give up on them, try some classical music with full orchestra, opera, or similar.

With a good source program, and proper amplification, I give the K1000s a rating of 9/10 on recreating the sound of an acoustic space. They are also awesome with male and especially female vocals. I could not stop listening to the Andrea Boccelli recording Sogno through these phones. One listen to track The Prayer, a duet with Celine Dion, should provide sufficient proof that the K1000s are capable of some awesome headphone listening.

Another recording that really shows off the potential of these phones is A Portait of Anonymous 4, by the choral quartet Anonymous 4. Think Enya gone medieval, and you have some idea of what these four ladies can do with their vocal talents. Recorded on location in some of NYC's cathedrals, the ambient sound is palplable on this recording. The voices appear to hang in space outside your head.

Then again, they may not be a good match with your amplifier.
post #6 of 47
Thread Starter 
Wow guys... I was really expecting to get flamed but it's nice to know differing opinions are respected on this forum. Also nice to know that I'm not the only one that wasn't thrilled with the K1000's. Anyways... the more I think about them, the more the K1000's don't seem to make sense. Speakers vs. headphones have their inherent advantages and disadvantages. After listening to the K1000's, it seems like all the inherent disadvantages of speakers and headphones are preserved and you lose the main benefits of each type. You get no soundstage and imaging, but then you also lose out on the fine details. The only pro to this type of ear speaker approach seems to be the airy spaciousness presented by the distance of the driver from the ear.

markl... I actually tried it with a subwoofer. A SVS 20-39CS+. Actually blended very nicely and sounded better, but what's the point of going headphones if I'm shaking my neighbors walls. I didn't feel the K1000's fit too awkward. Actually, they fit very nicely. But they were a little tight on the temples. I haven't worn these "speakers" for longer than 45 minutes straight so I can't comment on long term comfort. But I'm sure the sides of my head would start aching if I listened to these things for a long period of time. The sennheisers seem to clamp the head and I feel they are a little too tight. For the sony's... I keep them at work and literally listen to them for maybe 5 -6 hours out of my 8 hour day. These fit the best and are comfortable, but even they start hurting my ear lobes a couple hours into listening. So I can't really complain about any... none are perfect and I'm willing to put up with it.

mkmelt... I listened to patricia barbers companion and cafe blue, diana krall, left and right channel of blue man group dvd-audio, some chopin sonatas and etudes, etc... so mainly jazz, piano, female vocal, and percussive tracks. I'll try to hunt down some classical recordings and give that a shot. The only room for criticism would be my equipment. I'm running a JVC 723 GD and a denon 3802. I've tried both the jvc's and denon's dac. I can't imagine changing the source would help all that much. I think what I've heard are more characteristic of the K1000's and not my source. With my speakers and other head phones, I have not noticed these tendencies.

I seriously haven't given up on the K1000's yet. They've been burned in for at least 30 hours straight now... I have them playing at this moment... so we'll see how they pan out after 72 hours or so. I'm going to take these things to my local hifi shop and try them out with a Rogue tempest and Rega planet and see how they perform. I'll let you all know what I find. I'm guessing it'll help soften the treble out a little bit and help details and smooth everything out but not expecting much of improvement in bass. I'm still on the fence and maybe after some further burn in and proper front end, I might really like these things. I should give them more credit as they are still a very good headphone. But if I had to make my choice now, I'd pick the HD600's over the K1000's. But
post #7 of 47
I was really expecting to get flamed but it's nice to know differing opinions are respected on this forum.
And that, my friends, is the magic of Head-Fi . . . *cue music now*
post #8 of 47
Originally posted by hyunsac
... I actually tried it with a subwoofer...Actually blended very nicely and sounded better, but what's the point of going headphones if I'm shaking my neighbors walls.
Some of us just prefer the headphone experience.
post #9 of 47
Interesting comments. I too recieved my pair of K1000 as well recently.

Although my intial impression was different to yours, I was generally impressed. I too found that extended period listening (more than an hour) was rather fatiguing. Both due to the pads on the temples & the somewhat bright presentation of music.

Bass is definitely there (Not HD600 levels obviously) but at the cost of that brightness (Gear related? See my home rig but add NAIM NAIT 2 for the amplification. The only way to know for sure is to try it out on a friends Krell/McCormack rig or Cambridge Audio rig.). I've run in mine for 48 hours, quite honestly, I can't tell any difference (could be just me!) so I'll reserve judgement till they have more 'mileage'. I won't go so far as to add a sub as I would be too distracted by it to actually listen to the music. But hey, if it works for you... "Party on Garth!" (© Waynes World)

Physical fatigue I'm not too concerned as with my Grado SR80s I seem to be able to use them for a couple of hours nowadays before needing to remove them compared to just 45 mins previously. Time will tell.

One thing I do appreciate besides the 'bang for the buck' is the better integration of soundstage : left to center to right (maybe I'm not describing this correctly I hope you understand what I mean). It obviously isn't like conventional speakers sort of soundstage but the sound is moved out from the center of my head to the front of my head. In my case very slightly like somewhere infront of my forehead. The movement of sound from one channel to the other or spacing between instruments seem to me to be better integrated.

In closing, was I expecting too much from the K1000? Most definitely! But am I dissapointed? Definitely not! I love my new toy! Give's me an excuse to try it out on new gear to replace my ageing home rig! My wallet hates me...
post #10 of 47
With regard to the comfort issue, the rear of the two pads on each side has several detent positions. Adjust the spead to the one that's most comfortable to you. Also, note that the angle of the drivers is also adjustable. If it sounds weak in a particular area, try adjusting angle and see if you get improvement. There are some locks in front to hold the angle you set in place.
post #11 of 47
Thread Starter 
With regards to the bass.... I agree there is bass present but I'm not just talking about the volume of the bass. I'm looking for bass definition, detail, and punch. Again, if you can get a hold of P. Barbers Companion CD track #4, where the guitarist slaps his acoustic guitar, on the Sony's and the Senn's, you HEAR all the details of the tone and reverberations of the bass. On the K1000's you don't. Again, I'm talking about detail and definition, not sheer volume.

In terms of soundstage, I was really hoping to get some sort of left, center, and right, effect. But what's happening is now there is too much separation and the soundstage is broken up into three parts (left, right, center) instead of being one seamless soundstage. In chesky's ultimate demo disk, track 15 "Ask me now"... the sax should be playing to the right of center. On my sony's, the sax image is on the right of center in my head. On the K1000's, I'm hearing the sax a lot out of the right ear speaker and very little from the left side. So the overall effect is that I'm just listening to the right ear speaker. I think this is another area where it fails because it tries to be both a headphone and a speaker. A headphone at least can produce a balance "soundstage" in your head. The K1000 doesn't try to do that and tries to image like speakers do, but since there is very little biaural interaction, what you get is a incoherent soundstage. The best way this can be demonstrated is when listening to 2-channel speakers, don't sit in front of the speaker but move all the way up to the plane of the speakers so that they are at your sides. Now... soundstage is gone... and it feels like you have two speakers at your sides. The only time it images correctly is when you have a center image... but even then, it's still in your head.. just like any old head phone.

I'm trying really hard to like this ear-speaker... but the more I listen, the more criticisms pop into my head. I'll keep listening and burning them in and see how they sound with tubes. I'll let you all know.
post #12 of 47
FWIW, it's my experience that the K1000 is very sensitive to the quality of the amplifier---they REALLT want a good one to shine. I suggest that if you really want to make them shine get yourself a GOOD 20 watt amp. The Antique Sound Lab AQ1005 DTI is sweet.
post #13 of 47
I am still considering the K1000 so it is interesting to view different opinions, but also suspect that the quality and matching of the amp can be crucial, as well as a good source.
There has come an upgrade cable for the K1000 that seems to do as much for this as the upgrade cables for the HD600.
post #14 of 47
The ASL Wave-8s are a great amp for the K1000, and are very cheap - I used them successfully with no transformer impedance matching. Also the Consonance "Billie" 300B monoblocks are a steal.
post #15 of 47
Originally posted by hyunsac
I think this is another area where it fails because it tries to be both a headphone and a speaker
I said the same thing on Headwize about a year ago; its not that the K1000 is a bad headphone it just has some inescapable consequences coming from its design. Its a mechanical issue that has very little or nothing to do with electronics or amps. In a similar way the micro thin Stax film diaphram gives them a quality all their own- and that includes having certain drawbacks compared to dynamic headphones. Its not about the amp.
If you dont care for the K1000 now then dont throw money at the problem. You'll just wind up with probably more gear to sell later on. They sound the way they sound. Love it or leave it.

The idea of starting with a headphone you dont especially care for and then trying to make it sound great by spending all kinds of money on related gear is crazy. Spend the money on gear, but start with a headphone you at least like first!


AKG makes the following claim for the K1000: 'dynamic headphones typically only permit 30% of the sound to exit the system. Electrostatics generally less than 50%. The K1000 allows fully more than 75% of sound to exit the system.'

What they forget is that music heard in a free field environment usually sounds like crap! (or at least less than optimum) ..including unamplified acoustic music. This is exactly why certain performing halls have such a good reputation, or that certain recording studios are favored for their sound. Who the hell ever heard of recording all music out in the middle of an open field as being the optimum approach to take? Of course not. And yet AKG takes the stance that making the K1000 as free field of an experience as possible is some kind of great leap forward. Its not.
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