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AKG K701 after 1000 Hours - Final Review - Page 2

post #16 of 42

Nice job, Asr

Asr,
Thanks for taking the time to write the review. I have to agree with you on about all aspects. The K701's are very good phones indeed, but often there is "just something missing" to my ears. You articulated much of what I hear with them.

There will be those who do not experience this, and that's ok - perhaps even lucky for them.

Cheers from the scorching center of the US!
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr
I think I may need to edit this review.
I'm going to need to clarify this in the edited review. I think specifically what's going on is a disconnect between the highs, the upper mids, and the mids, because: (1) violin sounds are way too delicate on the K701 - and believe me I know, as I play violin, (2) female voices in particular don't have a certain "weight," (3) I distinctly heard the Arcam's liveliness with the HD600 and DT880, but I just can't hear it nearly as well with the K701, (4) there's an overall lack of body and "grit" to music. It seems the highs are being disconnected from the mids, which is where emotion/passion comes from, in the "gritty" part of the performance.


Thanks for the review. Very helpful indeed.

I am having exactly the same problem with the AKG-701. I notice this issue the most with violins, accordeon, some brass instruments and piano. When hearing high notes on those instruments, I feel that something is missing. I am no musician, nor a regular attendand of concerts, but I feel that those instruments, even at the highest notes they can play, should maintain a lower frequency substrate. The sound should be fuller, the resonance of the body of the instrument should contribute more to the final sound. I don't know how else to put it.

I would not characterize the final sound signature as lean. Bass, cello etc. are very present, the texture is nice and the sound goes very deep into the lower frequencies. My ER4S are considered lean, and generally speaking they have a thinner sound than the K701. But they don't exhibit this problem. Needless to say that the HD650 does not either.

On the other hand, the higher frequency component of violins is very nice. Very smooth but yet they maintain texture and sparkle. Better than the ER4S and the HD650 in that respect.

I am really confused with the K701. I was thinking to go look for a small concert to attend, hoping to listen to the same instruments unamped in order to find out how they are really supposed to sound.

From your experience as a violin player, which of the headphones you own does a better job? I am not talking about the overall sound of an orchestra. Leave out soundstage, sepereation, dynamics etc. and let's focus on timbre and naturaleness of the sound of violins. Which headphone sounds more as the real thing in your opinion?
post #18 of 42
I know of that "something missing" feeling in the K701s and I have noticed it. However in my experience your ears/brain get adjusted to it in way that it really just goes away at some point. I've likened it before to eating your food with less salt and one day just realizing that there are so many more subtle flavors that come out when you eat food with less salt.

The other thing that really took my listening with the K701s to a new level was to pair it with some tubes. Although my Dared MP-5 is a hybrid amp, it just makes the K701s sing. You might want to look into either the Dared, or Darkvoice or even the Little Dot 2 to begin your sampling of tube power.
post #19 of 42
you should try a balanced pair coming out of headroom's balanced amp as i did in yesterday's NYC meet. not only was there a big difference between stock and balanced but there was also a very noticeable difference between a recabled pair and the balanced. i bet it would just about answer all of the shortcomings your ears heard. i was floored and am totally sold on getting a pair of K701 then getting them modded to be balanced at some point down the road. ahem... in other words, when i can afford it!
post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sxr71
I know of that "something missing" feeling in the K701s and I have noticed it. However in my experience your ears/brain get adjusted to it in way that it really just goes away at some point. I've likened it before to eating your food with less salt and one day just realizing that there are so many more subtle flavors that come out when you eat food with less salt.

The other thing that really took my listening with the K701s to a new level was to pair it with some tubes. Although my Dared MP-5 is a hybrid amp, it just makes the K701s sing. You might want to look into either the Dared, or Darkvoice or even the Little Dot 2 to begin your sampling of tube power.
Yes I agree. I am a firm beleiver of "brain burn-in". I have been using them for various hours per day for almost a month and I am only begining to evaluate them. I usually prefer to keep a can for 4-5 months before I draw any conclusions.

I am using a Headfi-Millet hybrid and a SuperMacro3 v6-OP275. It should be enough, I am midfi guy, not that demanding at all.
post #21 of 42
I really liked this review. I felt that you were almost turning a mirror to the headphones, and you seemed more than fair.

I might add that the K701 handles baroque and very early classical music very well, and chamber music with harpsichord is a pleasure. On the other hand, it fails with any style of reggae - should that be in your collection.
post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sxr71
I know of that "something missing" feeling in the K701s and I have noticed it. However in my experience your ears/brain get adjusted to it in way that it really just goes away at some point.
Interesting I had the exact opposite experience with the 701s. I liked them right off the bat for their pretty even tonal balance and neutral presentation but the longer I owned them the more I started to dislike them to the point where they just weren't worth keeping.

Asr, you did a wonderful job on this review, its detailed, easy to follow and strikes a good balance between the positives and negatives of the 701s.
post #23 of 42
Wonderful review, imagine if every headfier wrote their impressions this way, then we would really know what people thought of the headphones they've tried.

I'm also surprised about your not including classical among the 701's most suitable musical genres though. But I only say this out of expectations from other impressions, not out of my own impression.

For the record, heard the 701 only briefly (source: modded Toshiba 3950 and Bel Canto Dac2, amplifier was a Dynahi, headphones: K701, Zu+650, SA5000). Still, just from the brief audition, in my opinion the 701 was lighter/airier than I like, the sound lacked some "body". Same comment that I had from the 501 years before compared to the 600. In fact, I remember liking the fluidity of the 501 slightly better than what I heard from the 701. But this is memory comparison, not instant one, not with the same rig, not with the same music, and years apart, so feel free to dismiss this comment. (650+Zu remains my preferred sound, and I'm going off thread )

All in all, Great review, should be a sticky in the Featured Full Reviews of Headphones
post #24 of 42
Wow, very good review, very organized, analytical and well-written.
post #25 of 42
Excellent review!!!! and spot on.

I have the exact same feelings in almost every area you discussed.

I totally agree with your comment on the "dead sounding" issue - I realize that's not what you meant - they do have life to the sound, and it is in comparison to other phones that this is noticeable. They are emotional to a degree but to me have an "everything sounds alike" - glossed over sound - compared to other phones. It's probably the airy quality that brings this on. It's not necessarily a flaw but a preference thing.

I also agree with the comment about classical music. Violins on the K701 do not have the accurate timbre that the DT 880 or Senn 600 have.

These negatives are small though considering the price and everything else the K701's do well.

Anyway, great job. This review sounded so professional and detailed/non biased that I can't think of a single criticism.
post #26 of 42
Thread Starter 
Glad to see people like the review, I wasn't sure how it'd be received. I've been compelled to write up a review of this length for a while, as markl's thread was more a progress update on burn-in rather than a straight-up review.

Anyway, I've edited the review to include a bit on the dead-sound aspect, it's the last paragraph in the Mids section. Should be the only edit I have to make, other than that the review is pretty much complete as far as I see it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fewtch
P.S. you seem to recommend the 701 for female vocals, but above you said female vocals are lacking a certain 'weight' -- might want to be careful on the consistency thing.
I clarified on this in the edited review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackmore
First off all GREAT REVIEW!

I read some comparing with K240 ,which very interesting, cos see this for the first time.
I own AKG HEARO 888 DIGITAL that seems to be based, qua sound, on K240 like. Well that's what AKG claims. Personally never heard AKG K701 yet...

Can you give more detailed comparing to those two, will be very nice. Don't have to be a very detailed, like this, just some big lines if possible.

Many thanks

Great review
Sorry, I don't own the K240 and don't see myself getting one either. The one time I heard it was rather short-lived.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ntsour
From your experience as a violin player, which of the headphones you own does a better job? I am not talking about the overall sound of an orchestra. Leave out soundstage, sepereation, dynamics etc. and let's focus on timbre and naturaleness of the sound of violins. Which headphone sounds more as the real thing in your opinion?
My HD600 gives the most realistic rendition of violin, hands down. Not even a question.
post #27 of 42
Excellent review!
I kept a k701 for a week and I initially thought I liked the sound. But the more I listen to it the more I find there is something 'missing' about the sound. I can't really describe the 'missing' elements but you certainly did. I agree that it sort of takes away the emotion, soul of a live acoustic performance.

This is the few instances in my evaluation of audio equipment where a reverse burn-in was taking place; it sounded worse the more I listen. I totally agree about the 'boring' sound. It's non-offensive and smooth sounding (in a good way!) but just not for me. I like my sa5k way more.

I also have no doubt that if I used a different amp (or different tubes) or used a balanced configuration my opinions on k701 might change completely. System synergy is everything.
post #28 of 42
Don't mean to thread crap but a fellow voilin player here too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ntsour
...

From your experience as a violin player, which of the headphones you own does a better job? I am not talking about the overall sound of an orchestra. Leave out soundstage, sepereation, dynamics etc. and let's focus on timbre and naturaleness of the sound of violins. Which headphone sounds more as the real thing in your opinion?
I have a hd580 with stock cable. In my opinion it is far too veiled and lacked the detail of the 'gehhh' sound when the bow is changing directions on the string. Sa5k reveals that 'gehhh' sound perfectly on close miked recordings. In fact I can hear the soloists' finger pressing on the finger board on quiet passages!

BTW you will hear that 'gehhh' sound only if you are less than 10-15 feet away from the voilin. If you sitting in a concert hall in the middle or the back rows (over 30-100ft from the soloist) you will NOT hear the 'gehhh' sound.

ASR has a recabled hd600 so it may sound totally different from my hd580.
post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr
violin sounds are way too delicate on the K701 - and believe me I know, as I play violin.
I play the violin, too.
So I really understand what your complaint about violin sound is all about.
Congratulations! I think you are hearing the effects of jitter.
With very good amplification and a highly neutral headphone like K701 (HD6X0 too dark, DT880 too bright), and violin still sounds a bit too thin, and tubes still can't correct it--that to me is the clear manifesto of jitter.
If you try to get an almost jitter-immune DAC and swap in some warm and rich-sounding tubes, I believe you will be rewarded with the realistic violin sound you have always dreamed for.
post #30 of 42
I'm a big fan of the 701 and really enjoyed your review. I agree with almost all your comments...I could never have put it so well.
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