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Initial impressions - K501 vs K601 vs K701

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
Disorganized thoughts only right now. My full-length three-way review is not going to happen for a while, as I have to burn in two of these 3 headphones. Since my full-lengther isn't going to be for a while I thought I would just throw this up with quick impressions.

First, it should be noted that I got the K501 used with a handful of hours on it (less than 10 from what I understand) and the K601 brand-new. The K601 currently has about 20 hours on it.

These 3 headphones are definitely all about 2 vs 1 - the K701 and K601 vs the K501. I know, the K501 and K601 aren't burned in yet, but it's pretty obvious what burn-in won't do (it doesn't work thank-the-lord-I've-got-bass-after-1000-hours! type miracles folks, let's get real). The K501 clearly has its own signature while the K601 and K701 are actually quite similar. I'm just going to come out and say it: the K501 isn't a bad headphone, it has its strengths. But the K601 is definitely worth the jump, it's a taste of more than 67% of the K701, for a good amount less. I might regret saying this later but I'll just do it anyway - the K601 is the value killer in this round-up! Bass is already satisfyingly deep, it's got nice and warm mids, the trademark AKG female-vocal emphasis, and good clean highs. The highs aren't very extended but who expects them to be? It's all you need really - I don't know why anyone would consider <$300 headphones if they want a response that high.

Yes, the K501 has a lack of bass. It's actually really noticeable. Its signature just lacks weight. I'm completely guessing without doing a formal test in saying that it probably drops off around 45-50 Hz (I'll try to get a number later). However it's very crisp and clean, and has a great transient response. It actually doesn't sound too unlike a Grado. Has a great attack too. Focal point is in the upper-mids on this one.

The K601 sounds a bit more full than the K701 right now. It sounds less tonally-neutral than the K701 - a bit more coloration over the mid- and upper-mids. Focal point is on the mid mids here. It already sounds more involving than the K701 - more engaging, more of that emotional factor. I'm starting to suspect that maybe AKG designed the K601 for pleasure-based listening and the K701 for monitoring.

All 3 sound great with tubes, no question. So eargasmic - it's like a hot sexy woman grabbing you and jumping you. Or something like that.

That's all for now, will provide a couple more updates over the weekend.
post #2 of 56
Why do people always say that about the K501's?

IMO, they have just enough bass.
If they don't have bass, then what the hell do the E3c, E4c, and ERP have?
post #3 of 56
Yes, let's get it on. K#01 SHOOT OUT!

Previously, due to mixed reactions, I skipped out on all of the AKG's (K5/6/7, respectively) until I actually get to hear one up close and personnal. This review may help shed some light, because as far as I know this will be the first one of its kind, since the K6/7's were introduced.


ASR - Thanks for stepping up to the plate on this; looking forward to reviewing your thoughts.

post #4 of 56
Excellent! I'm starting to get interested in the k601's.
post #5 of 56
Originally Posted by 3lusiv3
Excellent! I'm starting to get interested in the k601's.
x2 !!

I also found the 501 too bass-shy for my tastes compared to the MS2 and A250, neither of which are known to be bass-monsters, FWIW.
post #6 of 56
if i wasnt obsessed with getting the dt880 i think i would be very keen on the 601. Only reason i havnt already got the 601 is that it has a roll off on the highs. sparkle adds so much more life to a headphone.
post #7 of 56
What is so special about this thread and the K601? Others including myself have talked at length about how great a can it is. Maybe people are finally starting to catch on?

On a side note I was turned on to a source of a brand new K501 shipped for $99, so I had to bite the bullet. I want to compare it at length with my K601, once I get it this coming week. I'll have it Monday after work and will have it burning in the whole week, so they will have over 100 hours by Saturday morning. At that point I'll give them a serious listen. I always want to find out just how hard they are to drive. I agree that the K601 really shines with my Gilmore Lite, but I also found them to sound just fine out of my girlfriends 1st Gen Nano. They actually seemed mellowed out in a nice way (not better, just different). I want to see if another 120 ohm, but lower sensitivity can, can be driven by a portable source directly.
post #8 of 56
I'm really looking forward to hearing more K601 impressions.
post #9 of 56
The k501s are my jazz cans.Thats the only thing I use them for.Paired with the Gilmore Lite their perfect for jazz.I think the 501s do acoustic bass very well.Anyone who thinks they have no bass should listen to Medsky Martin and Woods Combustion CD.For rock and other music I use my Senn 600s, or my soon to be delivered(hopefuly) sr225s.
post #10 of 56
Originally Posted by kramer5150
x2 !!

I also found the 501 too bass-shy for my tastes compared to the MS2 and A250, neither of which are known to be bass-monsters, FWIW.
Count me too! (oh well...I've been interested in the K601 since I first saw it, unlike with the K701)
post #11 of 56
ive tried the 501 out of a 1st gen nano. it can be driven past a reasonable volume but only just. i compared it to out of a dared mp5 and it is still very detailed. its just not very warm or solid either way. tubes help with that though overall it works just fine out of an ipod but it needs an amp to give it any proper authority. i think it improves greatly with an amp. it loves tubes!
post #12 of 56
I'm pretty much with milesbeyondjazz on the K501 (and driving it with a Gilmore Lite). It sounds fantastic with jazz, and is probably my preferred can for that, next to the ER-4S. The bass is great-sounding bass as far down as it goes; it just doesn't go down as deep as many other popular cans.

As a K501 lover I listened with interest to a K701 at the recent Marin County meet, and was a little surprised. I liked it in every way, but I did not covet it. It didn't make me say, "ohhhh, I need to upgrade" at all. I played some favorite tracks through it and they just didn't stir me the way they do played through the K501. Perhaps with greater familiarity that might have changed, but my early impressions of headphones don't usually change all that much with time. As it was, I really liked the K701, but I didn't love it the way I love the K501. I'd love to have a chance to audition a K601.

Re burn-in: I just bought a second pair NIB (probably same place as VR6ofpain) and (based on just a couple minutes of listening) it sounds pretty close to my zillions-of-hours-on-it old pair. Burn-in probably does have an effect on this headphone, but it doesn't seem to me to be huge.
post #13 of 56
I've been wanting to try the 501s out for a while now. With that kind of price I had to give them a try, order placed
post #14 of 56
Originally Posted by Wid
I've been wanting to try the 501s out for a while now. With that kind of price I had to give them a try, order placed
Way to go Rick! This wouldn't be LD2 rebound, would it!?

....just kiddin'!
post #15 of 56
Hey Rich,

Nah, just a good price that was hard to pass up. I've been looking for a used pair but these a cheaper than any used price I've seen so far.
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