Ok guys, I just received the 701s back from Soloz Audio which swapped out the stock cable for 12' of Cardas with dual leads into the cups (stock is only one) with a high quality 1/4" termination (gold plated Neutrik).
Here's the cost breakdown:
12' of Cardas $145
Replacement cup from AKG for the side without a hole $25
The headphones can be purchased for only a little more than that and represent one of the best headphone bargains out there. My Audio Technica W5000s cost me $620 USED.
I'm listening through my brand new Jeff Rowland phono stage that he installed in my Continuum 500 yesterday. So, the phono section and the new headphone cable have only minutes on them.
So that you don't have to read back up the thread I'll outline the weakness in the stock AKGs that caused me to rate them behind my Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pros by a good margin. Although I thought that my well broken in 701s had great overall balance, they lacked the transparency and detail that I heard UEs and my Vienna Acoustic speakers. Well, I can tell you right now that that's no longer an issue. They've jumped to the top of my headphone pile.
Getting rid of the tube phono stage and replacing it with the Rowland's ultra quiet phono stage is allowing me to listen deeper and deeper into the music. With the new cabling on the 701s, the resolution is right up there with my VA speakers.
Bass impact, slam and balance is incredible. I'm playing a GRP CD right now (switching sources of course), "a twist of motown". The second cut is "Pappa Was A Rollin' Stone" which has incredibly deep synth supporting the electric bass. Not only is the line low, but it's full of harmonic complexity and rich detail. Now, for the first time with the 701s, I'm hearing all those rich details and two instruments. At the same time the vocals and Chris Botti's trumpet obligatos pop right out of the mix, along with swish-cymbal sound, percussion, wah guitar, flute, other synth sounds. Versus my speakers, the only thing missing is the slam in my chest.
Imaging, such as it is with cans, has opened up, with sounds all around my head. The AKGs were good at this before, but now they're really giving my a spacial show, with almost nothing right in the center of my head and most of the sound to my sides and out front.
I don't know what I'll do if they get better with burn-in. Frankly I'd be happy if they don't improve anymore. I'm ordering a RIAA inverting attenuating card to put between my universal player and the phono input, so that I can leave the player on constantly and quickly get a couple of hundred hours on the phono cards. I'll keep the cans plugged also and let you know what I hear a couple of weeks from now.