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My K1000 journey (a blog)

post #1 of 156
Thread Starter 
A few weeks ago, I happened on a couple of posts discussing the merits of adding a subwoofer to K1000s. The enlightening part for me was the fact AKG K1000’s are best powered like speakers, from a modest power 2ch amp.
That’s when the lights began to flash: I have a good power amp. I also have a great CDP, a very musical subwoofer, and a world-class balanced crossover to tie it all together. So could simply adding these unique earphones to my current 2ch rig put me on the path to near world-class performance?

Based on a few hours with my new K1000s, I am optimistic the answer will be a resounding YES!

But K1000s –- especially when partnered with a sub –- are not exactly plug-and-play. Rather, over time as I tweak the system or make new discoveries, I plan to share my thoughts and impression in this blog.

So if you're a K1000 fan, or maybe considering them for your system, please join me in my journey. You are also encouraged to make suggestions, ask questions, or respectfully tell my I'm full of cr*p.

Coming soon: I hope to fully explore the potential of my new earphones, to the point I’m pretty sure I’ll spring for a Stefan Audio Arts Equinox hardware cable, and maybe even a custom cable for the woofer while I’m at it. I'll probably post my requirements / specifications for these custom cables in the next day or two.

Thanks for tuning in
post #2 of 156
Thread Starter 

For the record, K1000 / 2W specs

K1000

- 120 ohms

- Recommend a Class A amp (recommended wattage?)

- Specifications

- User Manual (PDF, 1192.3 KB)

- Service documentation (PDF, 494.1 KB)

- Brochure (PDF, 238.8 KB)

Vandersteen 2W Quotes from this review.

- Connected in parallel with the K1000s (speaker terminals on power amp)

- Input impedance more than 100,000 Ohms -- "The internal amplifier is designed with a sufficiently high input impedance that it merely samples the signal of the full range amplifier, while having no effect on its load."

- Placement -- "The manual suggests that the 2Wq be placed in a corner. While corner loading will, theoretically, result in the most powerful and even loading of the room, I strongly suggest otherwise. Because of the shallow crossover, the Model 2Wq runs up rather high into the midrange. One can clearly hear image shift if the 2Wq is not placed in a central location."

- Crossover -- "The crossover of the Model 2Wq is divided into separate low-pass and high-pass sections. The WX-2 high-pass crossover is inserted between the preamplifier and power amplifier, while the low-pass crossover is integrated with the 2Wq's amplifier. Both sections of the crossover are transient perfect, 6dB per octave designs. It is this crossover topology which enabled a substantial simplification of my system hook-up, replacing a Bryston 10B electronic crossover and two interconnects, along with the requisite amplification for the passive subs used previously.

- From user manual -- Bi-polar main speakers require that the polarity of the sub be reversed. The positive and negative wires from the amp should be reversed at their connection to the 2W.

EDIT: Fixed link to PDF doc.
post #3 of 156
Thread Starter 

Budget

I had set a $500 budget to add 650s / aftermarket cable to my Wadia. At street prices for new products, I ended up closer to $600 for the cans and a balanced Zu Mobius. After living with the Zu for a period, I am happy with this round of upgrades.

For my K1000 journey, I've earmarked the cost of the phones, plus another $1,000 for system tweaks. Tweaks I'm considering include:

- Update to latest Ayre mod = $250 + shipping
- Update to Wadia, which adds second power supply = $500 + shipping
- Stephan Audio Arts hardwire cable (I'm still researching config / pricing)
- Stephan Audio Arts custom woofer cable (again, still researching)
post #4 of 156
Thread Starter 

Cable(s)

While info on K1000s cable upgrades is not abundant, I did find a few comments pointing to Stephan Audio Arts’ K1000 hardwired as a good (maybe great) choice. The installation process is rated difficult, so –- at least in my case –- I also need to budget for professional installation...
- Hardwired 12-ft terminated with silver soldered ends : $329
- Hardwired 15-ft terminated with silver soldered ends : $359
- Woofer cable; 8-ft Equinox sub-woofer cable with silver soldered ends : $239

Notes:

1.) Best termination?: SAA suggests silver-tinned wire

2.) Will silver-tinned wire be a good fit with my binding posts (SAA uses 20 gauge wire)?



3.) How will the 2W sub be connected?: Banana’s for sub; probably same for amp

4.) Who will do the installation?: In US, SAA uses Red Wine Audio – I don’t know if his prices are published, so please go to him for info
post #5 of 156
Thread Starter 

Listening impressions

Spent about 2 hours tonight. Listening confined to a couple well engineered recordings, including Janis Ian’s Breaking Silence; Eric Clapton’s Unplugged; Patricia Barbor’s Nightclub.

Sonic impressions

- At times I heard completely through the equipment to the performance
- Lots of detail and air
- Expansive soundstage -- beyond my balanced 650s / Zu
- Some 3D, but mostly 2D soundstage (here's where tubes or a cable upgrade might help?)
- Janis Ian's "Some People's Lives" (recorded live to two-track) : The piano was incredibly natural & realistic
- I could literally listen for hours

System-related impressions

- SQ, image and bass very dependent on getting a number of little things just right (ear speaker angle; how they are placed / positioned on the head, proximity to sub, etc.)
- Sweet spot for the sub is small -- And while I'm sure I'll prefer having the sub, at best I'm getting 70% of the lowend quality / impact compared to my main speakers (phase issues? limitations of ear phones vs speakers? proximity to ears?)
- It is very possible that a sub with a steeper rolloff may be easier to integrated (say 12 or 18 db / octave, vs the 2W's 6 db / octave)
- Vandersteen recommends trying crossover points + and - one setting to determine best fit (which I have not yet tried)
- Vandersteen indicates that with polar devices, the 2W should be reverse polarity -- I tried this but it was not a benefit (K1000s are dynamic drivers, so I guess this was to be expected)
- I'm finding best bass integration while sitting close to the woofer
- The image also sounds best if woofer is mostly behind my head (again, probably because of the 6 db / octave slope)
- I have a high-back chair, and find resting my head on the headrest or lifting my head slightly off the back provides additional body to midrange
- I'm finding best SQ with ear speakers mostly toed out (my amp puts out plenty of power, plus the sub and high back chair are helping to make this highly toed out position work for me)
- Nice not having my ears in contact with cans

I can only imagine how good things will sound after full burn-in and a cable upgrade
post #6 of 156
AWM,
I am following your thread with interest, loads of interesting details.
From your posts I now understand a lot of things about the K1000.
All I need now is to put my hands on a pair of them
post #7 of 156
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vic
AWM,
I am following your thread with interest, loads of interesting details.
From your posts I now understand a lot of things about the K1000.
All I need now is to put my hands on a pair of them
Thanks. I love the phones, but good sub integration is not easy.

More thoughts / impressions...

This morning I spent some time with live recordings from Mary Chapin Carpenter & the Eagles. I have some serious concerns about sub integration. Cancellation is definitely a problem. Need to try:
- Changing settings on crossover
- Variety of listening positions relative to the sub
- Removing crossover, and running K1000s full range to see how they compare
post #8 of 156
Most audiophiles I know 30+ years into it, will not bother trying to integrate a sub with speakers because each recording is different and it becomes such a hastle that they can't just enjoy the music. Have you thought of just enjoying it without a sub?

What is the distance are your earspeakers toed out (from the base to the earspeaker)?

post #9 of 156
I'm just glad I'm not a basshead; I mean, I'm sure the sub would improve that part significantly, but I think to some degree it takes away from the idea of wearing earspeakers; not only do I want to enjoy my music as much as I can, but I also don't want to disturb the neighbors.
post #10 of 156
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by robm321
Most audiophiles I know 30+ years into it, will not bother trying to integrate a sub with speakers because each recording is different and it becomes such a hastle that they can't just enjoy the music. Have you thought of just enjoying it without a sub?

What is the distance are your earspeakers toed out (from the base to the earspeaker)?
robm321, when you said 'speakers', did you mean K1000s? I already have the sub and xover (and get very good integration with my existing monitor speakers). The K1000s, however, have been much trickier. I can find spots in the room where the base is pretty much gone due to cancellation (same principle as Bose Noise Canceling?). As far as the hassle, it doesn’t bother me to tinker. And I'm well over 30 years old
post #11 of 156
Thread Starter 

Balanced V-3? E-mail from Ayre Acoustics, Inc.

There has been so much discussion (in other threads) about what constitutes a balanced amp. I was curious enough on this point to contact the company that manufactures my V-3.

Charles Hansen, Ayre's Founder and Designer, was gracious enough to personally respond. He also gave me permission to publish this response in my blog...

Hello Kent,

1. Does Ayre V-3 with K-series update use any negative feedback (when used in balanced mode)?

No. All of our products are zero-feedback, including even the power supply regulators.

2. What is the mode of operation?

High-bias class AB. (With a 120 ohm load, the amplifier will remain in class A up to the full voltage swing of the amplifier.)

3. Will driving the K1000 (dynamic drivers; 120 Ohms; relatively high efficiency) have any impact on product performance / reliability? [Note: I also use a Vandersteen 2W with Vandersteen´s balanced crossover - the 2W also connects to the speaker outs on the Ayre - the crossover is placed between the line-stage and amp-in.]

There is no problem with the load impedance. However, keep in mind that the outputs of all Ayre amplifiers are balanced. Connecting a load with a common ground (such as most headphones) will at the very least blow a rail fuse, and may damage the amplifier.

Using the Vandersteen crossover will roll off the bass output from the amplifier, and the requires compensation in some other method. It sounds like you are using the acoustic output from the subwoofers to augment the headphones. This would not work with sealed headphones, but should be fine with open-air type headphones. (I have never tried it.)


4. In the world of headphones, a balanced headphone amp drives an ungrounded balanced signal (i.e. the signal driving headphones is inverted for the `negative´ side). Are the speaker output connections on the V-3 balanced?

Yes. The AKG K1000 will work with balanced amplifiers (such as Ayre) as there are four separate connecting wires. However, most headphones have three-wire connections and cannot be used with balanced amplifiers.

Best regards,
Charles Hansen


Wow! My V-3 is Class A, zero feedback and balanced operation. Should be a very good fit for K1000s.
post #12 of 156
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by robm321
What is the distance are your earspeakers toed out (from the base to the earspeaker)?
See the second part of post 5 (above) for all my parameters. This is a new toy, so some of this is bound to change over time.
post #13 of 156
Thanks for doing this alwayswantmore, I'm subscribed
post #14 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwayswantmore
See the second part of post 5 (above) for all my parameters. This is a new toy, so some of this is bound to change over time.
Ah, I overlooked it.

I was talking about speakers when integrating with subs. It's not my opinion since I've never tried and won't, but if it's that difficult to integrate with speakers I imagine with earspeakers it would be even more difficult. That being said, for tinkering sake why not? Not only that, but here's someone who's had success with it:

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr...d&keyw&zzk1000

I'm with Meyvn, the whole point of headphones for me other than the intimacy is isolating noise from going through the walls, etc. If noise wasn't an issue, I'd just listen to my Von Schweikerts which I don't need a sub with.

Why do I keep writing this is your blog which I'm enjoying and thanks for sharing the journey. I will shut up now.
post #15 of 156
Thread Starter 

To sub, or not to sub? That is the question.

I'm glad at least a few fellow Headfiers are giving this blog a shot. And I do appreciate your feedback (and banter).

Let me start with this: I love music. And I’m perfectly content listening to music on an Ipod or even a transistor radio. But IMO, K1000s (and my 2ch rig) are about more than just music. With this level of gear, my goal is to be transported into the performance.

Some perspective... Do you remember those 3D pictures that used to appear in your local newspaper? They were printed in 2D -- but if you relaxed your eyes, and looked 'though the picture', the image suddenly became 3D. That's what K1000s in my system remind me of. When everything comes together, everything comes to life.

And don't let my comments on sub integration scare you. I've had my sub for probably 10 years now, and love it. It's just that positioning relative to the K1000s can make or break low-end when using a sub (at least with my sub).

More impressions...

- Another sweet spot: Found a corner (about 10' from the sub) where everything comes together with Deep and Tuneful base. Based on this finding, I think that I'll go with the 15' cord, allowing flexible positioning in the future.

- Disconnected the xover / sub: Even though it may not be perfect (or at a minimum takes effort to approach perfection), IMO the sub makes a HUGE difference (you’d need to hear it to appreciate it). But I already own the sub / xover –- so at least for now –- I plan to go forward using the sub.
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