We shall begin with an unboxing and overview of the build quality and physical features. All images are clickable to make them bigger.
*WARNING TO ALL FUTURE K701 OWNERS*
This unboxing contains spoilers.
Direct from Hong Kong! Good to see they are capable of being used with so many sources
Simple looking box. Gives the impression of class.
Slide up the inner box from the outer cardboard and you are greeted with one simple word. 'Expect'... Where are they going with this?
Open up the front flap... 'And discover' DISCOVER WHAT? WHAT?!?!?
Aaaah... Perfection. Very very cool. Certainly a great way of making you feel like your money is well spent. Top marks on the packaging.
Nice to see an included accessory too. The stand is pretty much a bit of foam glued inside an oval of plastic. But still, it does what it should do very well and looks quite nice too.
People have described the K701's as looking like a toilet. I wish my toilet was as beautiful as these... The glossy white is very ipod-esque but manages to be much more classy, thanks to the silver and gray highlights. They also feel very very sturdy. They're heavier than both the DT880's and the AD700's but those are exceptionally light headphones. The K701's are quite light overall.
I love the brownish-red leather headband too. Without it the headphones would look quite boring. It adds to the classyness too. The K701's sure are headphones that look like they're worth a lot! The elastic mechanism on the headband is also much smoother and overall better working than that of the older vintage AKG's.
A bit of a mixed bag here.
The pads are not really that soft. They don't 'squish' inwards like on the DT880's. But they're still not that bad, certainly better than the K270 Playbacks hard leather pads.
The real problem with the comfort are the little bumps on the bottom of the headband. They have the annoying habit of 'burrowing' into your skull which is quite painful after a while. Moving the headband further back on the head does improve things but it makes the headphones loose and increases the chances of them flying off during headbanging.
Both the DT880 and the AD700's are far ahead in terms of comfort.
I was mainly looking for something that has lots of details and instrument separation to emulate the amazing sound of the ER6i's. Let us find out whether the K701's fulfill my desires and whether they beat my beloved AD700s and the 'growing on me' DT880's. Please remember this is all my opinion which is most likely different to yours.
While the DT880's have a bright sparkly treble the K701's is more polite. It is by no means recessed though and is still quite present but it can only be described as neutral really, for that is what it is. Both the Beyers and the AKG's are also very detailed in the treble range. In comparison the AD700's treble seems kinda 'grainy' and unrevealing, but its sparkle is somewhere inbetween the DT880's and the K701's.
DT880's are the weak ones here. The mids on them are quite recessed compared to the rest of the music and seem to appear in the middle of the head, separate from everything else. The real comparison is between the AD700's and the K701's. The AD700's mids are much more colored than the crazy-natural K701's, but they're still a beautiful color which shines on female vocals. The K701's mids are still very nice sounding and are perhaps a bit more present. They somehow manage to weave themselves into the music very nicely. I'm not really sure which I prefer.
DT880's are clearly on the top here. The have nicely detailed and textured bass which has much more punch than the AD700's and possibly extends lower too. AD700's are known for being lacking in bass punch and while they do have enough extension, they lag behind in bassy tracks. K701's do have bass when its needed and it does have more punch than the AD700's but its still not as nice as the DT880's. In all cases the bass is tight and unflabby.
AD700's have a more colored gradoey tone than the others mostly due to the sweet mids. Both the DT880's and the K701's are fairly natural, but the K701's are clearly moreso. DT880's are slightly on the bright side due to the sparkly highs.
DT880's lose out here. IMO they have a fair amount of left to right soundstage but its still not immersive and '3d' like that of the others. The AD700's manage to be upfront yet still have an amazing airy soundstage. Its like sitting in the middle of the band and having them playing all around you. The K701's place you in the first or second row and the soundstage is possibly more natural and the instrument placement is top notch. Still they have an incredible soundstage with lots of air (not as much air as the AD700 'air' though...).
The AD700's are clearly the less detailed of the three and the instrument separation isn't as good as the others either. The K701 and the DT880's though are much closer. While the detail of the DT880's and K701's is quite similar, the instrument seperation of the K701's is superior. Neither of them however have as good detail as the ER6i's. Dang those things are really something...
I am unsure of which I like more. I suppose they all serve a different purpose. The AD700's are coloured, fun and fast but are not as 'hi-fi' as the other two. The DT880's are more rock oriented than the K701's (although the K701's do rock well too) but the recessed mids are quite annoying IMO. They do very well with metal though. The K701's are like a more 'studioish' version of the AD700's. They have a nicely big soundstage and similar bass and mids but are much much more detailed and natural. What I do miss with them is the unique tone of the AD700's.
The AD700's do perform amazingly for their price. We must remember that the K701's and DT880's are roughly $100 more expensive. And the AD700's do not require an amp at all.
I don't think I can justify three cans so I think one set must go. Deciding which one though will be VERY VERY hard.
UPDATE 19th October
I have decided to sell the K701's. Not necessarily because I don't like them but because I like the DT880's more. The K701's somehow seem too thin compared to the DT880's. Plus I already have headphones that don't have much bass (AD700) and the DT880's have the nicest bass I've ever heard. I just like them more. I think I prefer the meatier and grittier sound. But still, they're not bad headphones and perhaps with a more expensive amp and stuff I would like them more. They'll be up on Trademe soon for all you New Zealanders.