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K701 not cutting it?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for some new headphones. Currently, I have the K701 powered by a Tube Magic D1. The K701 simply do not impress me. Sure, they do sound very good, but there are still many flaws.



  • Soundstage does not sound realistic. It's very wide, but too wide. For instance, when I'm playing CoD 4, other players often sound much farther than they actually are. For instance, if someone is right in front of me, it will sound like they are 20-30% farther away than they really are. In addition, the soundstage isn't very accurate. Footsteps are often muddled into a blob, which will give me the general direction of where the steps are coming from but not the exact place. The sound gets lost. Also, in music, it often sounds as if songs were recorded in a massive chapel or tunnel or something, as in there is a large amount of reverberation. Thirdly, though the soundstage is very wide horizontally, it's not very strong vertically. It seems more like an ellipse, rather than a sphere, which if what I imagine a soundstage should be.
  • The overall response is slightly too treble heavy. I do like treble, but there seems to be a fairly massive peak near 12kHz. This, in turn, results in the bass response being weaker, due to there being too much treble. Additionally, some instruments and vocals sound slightly unnatural, due to the pronounced treble. A flat response is what I'm looking for.


Even so, the K701 are by no means bad. Here are some things I like about them.



  • The detail retrieval is really excellent. I feel like I am really hearing almost everything that is in the recording.
  • The treble and bass extensions are very good. The treble doesn't even start rolling off to about 16kHz, and is still ample up to ~18kHz. The bass extension remains solid to about 40Hz, in which it starts to roll off. 


Are there any headphones that eliminate the cons of the K701, while still retaining all the pros? Also, would I have to upgrade my source/amp to get the best out of the new phones? Thanks.

post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 


post #3 of 18

FWIW, I owned the D1 and thought it was absolutely terrible with my k702s, although many here like the combo. I was much more impressed with them straight out of my uDac-1 even. Get an M-Stage, and you will realize that your AKGs were being grossly underpowered all along, and it's only $50 more than the Maverick. They are a match made in heaven and I miss them dearly (sold to fund LCD-2 setup). And as far as competetive gaming is concerned, you'd be hard pressed to find a better phone, period.


Bottom line: get the Matrix, and prepare to be blown away with what the AKGs can truly offer you.



post #4 of 18

I had all the same issues you did. I owned the k701 for over 3 years and didn't really notice them (I didn't know as much back then) until I compared them with other headphones with similar pricing. Specific instruments just did not sound natural or accurate compared to my HD-600 and DT-999. Mostly stringed instruments. Ukulele's sound horrible on the k701, but luckily nobody listens to that music. Despite all this I still liked them. Vocals were also good, but male vocals were a bit thin sounding compared to my HD-600. Eddie Vedder just doesn't sound as good on the k702.


I now use the k601 and feel as if it's a k702 upgrade. As long as it's not for studio use. The k702 is probably better for classical and is more neutral compared to the k601. To me the k601 has slightly forward upper mids maybe. They're especially good for female vocals.


k601 vocals to my ears are much better and everything sounds more accurate. I have no issues with how stringed instruments sound on the k601. I even think that the k601 has maybe a bit more bass than the k701, but maybe not.


I don't think the amp is the problem. These are all problems others have experienced too (Uncle Erik is the only one that comes to mind).


The k601 is worth a try if you can return them if you don't like them. The sound is very non fatiguing and I'm really sensitive to treble and it never bothers me with them. They're also more comfortable due to not having those bumps. They are somewhat harder to drive. I use them for gaming, but I don't play FPS games online.


To me, the k601 sounds nothing like the k701. You can easily find them online for $250. Don't pay $399 or whatever some places charge!


I was going to say to try the DT-880 600 ohm, but I think I would not suggest that if you didn't like the treble of the k701. The DT-880 600 is my favorite Beyer Dynamic headphone, but I preferred the k601 and returned the DT-880 (had them both at the same time).


Here's an OLD graph I've found on google. I don't know how accurate it is:


k601 vs k701.jpg

Edited by tdockweiler - 12/5/10 at 2:22pm
post #5 of 18
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

I had all the same issues you did. [...]

I don't think the amp is the problem. These are all problems others have experienced too


Same here - The OP's description is pretty much exactly what a lot of people don't like about the K701/2. Better amplification will certainly improve things, but it won't turn them into a different headphone.


My suggestion is to sell the K701 and get a similarly priced phone - Senn HD650, Beyer DT880 and Grado SR225 are common choices in this price range. Try a few and keep the one you like best.

post #6 of 18

I just wanted to add that my experience with the Beyer DT880/600 is that it is more balanced, overall, than the K701, but has quite hot treble, which is annoying since the soundstage is "closer" than the K701. The K701 has a very wide and distant soundstage, while the Beyer has a moderately wide but very "close" soundstage. Detail is on-par or better than the K701, bass impact is better, midrange is slightly recessed (so vocals or overdriven guitars are not as good on the Beyers), and treble is a little more "overpowering" on the DT880. They're still very good cans and probably worth at least a listen if you've never heard them. It's been a week and I still haven't been able to decide if I should keep the DT880/600 or the K701.

post #7 of 18

Funny how people say that Beyers and AKGs are good for gaming but Sennheiser is never mentioned. I'm not much of a gamer anymore but I find both my Sennheisers to be great for gaming. 

post #8 of 18

I found my HD580s far better for gaming than my K701s. HD650s even more so. My DT880/250s are pretty good, but I think my HD650s are a little better.


The K701s are too thin and bright sounding for most gaming, and this doesn't really improve much by changing to a better amp.

post #9 of 18
Originally Posted by danzal View Post

I found my HD580s far better for gaming than my K701s. HD650s even more so. My DT880/250s are pretty good, but I think my HD650s are a little better.


The K701s are too thin and bright sounding for most gaming, and this doesn't really improve much by changing to a better amp.

That's just it...IT ABSOLUTELY DOES get better with proper amping! Will it change the sound sig? No. But will a great synergistic amp calm the highs, and bring out incredible bass? YES! A thousand times yes. Burnin will do wonders (for these) phones as well. I firmly believe that a lot of the issues with these polarizing 'phones can be solved with proper amping, and that a lot of the 'haters' if you will, never had the right gear to bring these amazing cans to their potential.


Trust me, I hated these phones out of the box. Harsh, weak, brittle, etc. 300 hour's of burn-in made me like them a whole lot. Adding a modded m-stage made me fall in love. It really did seem like I was listening to a whole new headphone after that.


As far as gaming is concerned, I'm speaking from a strictly competetive multiplayer perspective. It is almost impossible to beat. But for single player, yeah, I could probably recommend a dozen other phones first. My .02




post #10 of 18

I had a pair of K701s which I liked very much.  I can empathize with the OP's concern about the treble-heavy balance but that's because the headphones are underpowered.  The K701 is finnicky.  You need the right amp to get the full effect.  Unlike the Grado RS1, RS2, GS1000, et cetera, there's no real air chamber.  The disk acts as a horn, flanging out to some very comfortable velour pads which breathe a lot more than leather but perhaps less so than scratchy, porous Grado sponge pads.  This setup maximizes HF dispersion but requires the right amp to produce its best bass.  The "excessive soundstage" complaint is common.  There may be something to it.  While I found the soundstage lush and abundant, there's a difference between soundstage and boosted treble, which this can has between 6-8 kHz before succumbing to a major suck-out from 10 kHz to 15 kHz.  With insufficient power, the bass - which is dynamic - still rings hollow and the speed of the diaphragm is not at its peak.  This is what is producing the anemic bass, bright balance and somewhat splotchy or fuzzy detail you're hearing.  If you have the coin to buy the right amp, you'll hear a difference.


On the other hand, why not just save yourself the trouble of upgrading six months from now and simply buy the HD800?  It's faster, with better bass (digging very low) and the detail it retrieves is out of this world.  It's not my favorite rocker can but it's light years ahead of the K701.

post #11 of 18

The OP's criticisms of the K701 are actually benefits towards classical music, ie too large of a soundstage, which seems to be the goal of AKGs that few headphones can match.


If you want smaller sound stage, Beyer seems a much better option. 880/770.  The semi-closed model actually sounds very very similar to the open. The opinions of the Beyers seem mixed, but I never felt these Beyers have stronger treble than K701s.

post #12 of 18

I don't think he wants to try a new amp to see if the sound improves.  If he thinks the soundstage currently is too big an amp will not fix that, if they are really underpowered it will make the soundstage wider.  Personally I find the soundstage just right an accurate for gaming but you'd probably do better with another pair.  The Sennheiser HD580 was pretty good for gaming.  Soundstage is smaller by a little bit from what I remember but it is a different sound to that of an AKG [sound signature].  The treble is still there but hidden a bit with the Sennheiser veil, they do have a natural sounding midrange (that the K701 lacks), and the low end has more impact which is good.  You cannot go wrong with a pair of HD580 or HD600.




And before you bash me I love my AKG K701's, but they just don't seem like a good fit for this guy.

post #13 of 18

I can't help you OP, but I did enjoy what you said and as I look into more headphones I will take this into consideration.


I have a question though, how are you able to use your headphones while playing COD? Are you playing on the PC?

Edited by NigForce - 12/5/10 at 5:53pm
post #14 of 18
Try a K-501. Older, cheaper and better than a K-701. The trouble is getting an owner to part with a pair.

The Sennheiser HD-600 is also a good option, however, you need to go back in time and pay less to find an improved K-701.
post #15 of 18

Sennheiser = 3 blob soundstage. Questionable imaging, but then again most headphones don't do that very well at this price range. Sure you CAN game with them fine, and you can get used to them for whatever reason, but it will always be worse than an all rounded one.

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