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Review: AKG K701 vs Sennheiser HD650 w/ KICAS Caliente + Pictures & Videos

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

Review:

 

AKG K 701 & Purity Audio K.I.C.A.S Caliente

 

The AKG is a headphone that attracted my attention for no particular reason. It looks very clean in white with silver trimmings. The elegance of it is in the simplicity and classy design. The AKG Leather Headband is a Ferrari-like appeal. Yet, the microphone look of the open ear design reminds me of a Porsche Turbo’s mean intakes.The fit of the headphone when wearing is perfect. There is no substitute. These headphones have a gentle clamp. As soon as I opened the box and actually saw them in person, I immediately noticed how “large” and “light”—I soon realized why they are made exactly this way.

 

The AKG and the Caliente are similar: You get what you pay for. I absolutely think the KICAS is a gorgeous amplifer. A beautiful piece of metal to look at, really. The feeling of the knob is firm and smooth, just like the finish on the amp. I like their approach to keep it clean & simple.

 

The sound signature of the AKG 701’s is definitely not of a sharp or shrill headphone. Of course, it doesn’t have that studio room bass. I think the word neutral is the best description. I love all types of music and the AKG always give a high-fidelity sound. Perhaps it is an acquired taste, or what I expected in a headphone. Obviously, expectations and experiences both are completely subjective. Yet, you can always form a good idea or opinion from others. Case in point, how I actually like listening to the subtleness of the bass in the music. A very realistic perspective; I can tell how hard the person is hitting the string and the noise evaporating just before another note. Acoustic guitar immediately lets you know you’re listening to something special. That is why listening to Pink Floyd is great. The “unrealistic” soundstage of the AKG makes the music very interesting and real. I call it "trippy"; and undoubtedly deserves at least a listen. “Hey You” is a great example of all this….the strings, and the drums sound powerful, and when the electric guitar kicks in just as good. I remember when I first got the headphones I would tell myself, “I feel like I’m in a large room and I’m standing right in the center…and there is speakers all around the walls.” It is these characteristics that make me really like these headphones. “Comfortably Numb” gives you that enveloping sound in your mind. “Wishful Sinful” is amazing. The violins sound so good, and all the instruments wonderful. “Touch Me”, also by the Doors, lets the trumpets sing. What the Caliente does is make the music just a bit more smooth with a hint of luke-warmth. A subtle flavor with which music never really feels fatiguing, unless it really should. The AKG’s can get loud but never distorted, it is a tempting crave. Whenever I felt the AKG’s distant or uninvolving I simply turned up the volume. I listen at about 3 o' clock, and sometimes down to 11 o' clock. The flatness of these headphones make you critique and tailor your individual sound. I think this is an awesome pair of headphones that I really can’t get mad at anything for. As the head time increased, the bass felt more textured and I learned to discern it more. I did 90% or burn-in on my head from the first day. I know that break-in was a factor with this amplifier. I can truly tell a difference in the bass now in comparison to the initial impressions, and it makes that small change very significant. The deep, deep bass is there with plenty of texture. It is articulate. And prominent, when need be. I think the amp slightly, and I emphasize slightly, rolls off the very extreme highs; which is something I appreciated. I also do not want to underestimate the transparency this amp brings. The highs are not intervened with or hindered (by other frequencies). The mids are always clear and present. The amp brings this unique lushness to the sound. I think the amp may seat you back an extra row, just in case. I think that extra row, the smoothness, beautfiul bass, and imminently, musicality is what makes the Caliente special. I would describe this setup as smooth, yet neutral and accurate, with a great soundstage for all real music. Songs like “A Brick in the Wall” have a nice weight and smooth sound, and Jim Morrison’s voice sounds exactly as he wants to give it to you. So if you are wondering what my source is… L.A. Woman, The Wall & Dark Side of the Moon are a must.

 

Headphones and amps are truly a wonderful thing. It is a piece of art and craftsmanship. I enjoy the engineering and the concept of even wearing a pair of headphones. It truly lets you hear the pinnacle of the modern electronics. It is amazing what $500 can buy you. Each to his own really. I simply love to listen to Pink Floyd, the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Jazz, Live, sometimes I just listen to classical to imagine what actually experiencing Beethoven must be like. I love to listen to music, lie back on my amazing leather couch, and close my eyes.

 

 

…..and imagine a pair of Beyerdynamic T1’s singing with tubes.

 

 

 

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Edited by jeust0999 - 3/19/11 at 8:54pm
post #2 of 32
Thread Starter 

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AKG K 701 ~

 

Balanced across the spectrum, from lows to highs

 

Rich and engaging mids

 

Very wide sound stage / airy sound

 

Great separation of instruments

 

Acoustic Guitar / Jazz are strong points

 

Vocals are very realistic and intimately presented in all recordings

 

Hear the air in instruments (sax, horns, violins, harmonicas, etc..)

 

Analytical (lets your pick out instruments and concentrate on each instrument individually; i.e. maracas or a triangle, or a very subtle bass line in the background)

 

Dynamic presentation with decay and texture to the intricacies of the instrument or sound

 

Can  hear the power and decay of bass and drum slams, but you do not "feel" it

 

This AKG is a dynamic headphone that gives an incredibly accurate portrayal of instruments and voices.

 

 

KICAS Caliente ~

 

Slightly on the more comfortable side of neutrality, perfect for K 701's

 

Gently provides a smooth layer of sound

 

Lush, while retaining all details in recording

 

Bass became more refined with break-in (100+ hours)

 

Keeps good sound stage

 

Excellent quality of materials and solid build

 

The Caliente verison of the KICAS is a subtle and well-implemented touch of a more "natural" sound, meanwhile,

still retaining the high-fidelity of a recording.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SENNHEISER HD650

 

 

 

 

 

Sennheiser HD650 + KICAS Caliente

 

 

 

After spending a lot of time listening exclusively to the AKG 701’s the Sennheiser HD650’s needed a gradual transition. The HD650’s new-fresh-out-the-box gave me an underwhelming sensation. My initial reaction was to the rolled off highs and noticeable mid/bass bump. The 701’s soundstage is considered unnatural and artificial by many; hence, I feel they have skewed my idea of a soundstage. This led to a feeling of limited headroom with the HD650’s. For whatever reason the word dark does not necessarily depict my idea of the Sennheiser sound, however, the word warm came into my mind several times. Some guitar and bass notes felt a little too heavy. The music never felt slow, but the agility of the 701’s didn’t come across. The attribute that makes the 701’s special is how there is a sense of space between every musician’s instrument’s note.

 

After some physical burn-in, and probably psychological, the HD650’s really grew on me. The soundstage is large due to the open-ear design, which I feel is a must for a truly great headphone. I noticed more depth to the music, something I liked a lot. I once again learned to appreciate all the subtleties of this headphone with more time. They are an exceptional headphone, and a wonderful all-arounder. Honestly, I feel there is a lot less to talk about than the 701’s, and I enjoyed the music more than the instruments this time around.

 

The amp used is the KICAS Caliente. Although the Caliente has a slight-bass boost, it doesn’t feel intrusive. The 701’s had freely soaring, sparkly highs, yet somehow retained a smooth flow with the KICAS. This is a smooth amp and to some may not be the ideal pairing for the HD650’s. I never felt the HD650’s overly lush or smooth to begin with. Truthfully, I like a more laid-back sound, anyways.

 

I’m not using an outstanding source…just enjoying my music, saving some cash, and debating when to jump on a pair of LCD-2’s.

 

 

 

Comparison:

 

Simply put the AKG’s felt more immersive and the Sennheiser’s felt more intimate. The 701’s have an intrinsic analytical nature to them. The detail it extracts just comes off easily. On the other hand, the 650’s don’t feel technically superior. The music feels more integrated, or probably congested if you had just spent a few months with the 701’s. The best analogy is comparing the AKG and Sennheiser to a Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Take for example, the 911 GT3’s raw feeling, giving you every bit of information and sensation off the road. The CL63 just drives over the same road but is an entirely different experience from the driver’s seat. Powerful, but subdued. Similarly to the 701’s, revealing the source to you as is, but the HD650’s give you the same song, except more unassumingly.

 

 

The AKG Perception vs...

The Jimmi Hendrix Experience

porsche-911-gt3-gt3-rs-turbo-wallpaper-pictures.jpg

 

Mercedes_Benz_CL65_AMG_3.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by jeust0999 - 8/14/11 at 11:43pm
post #3 of 32

Great review, I enjoyed it and I completely agree with your description of the sound signature on the 701. Enjoy your sounds. Life goes by too fast not relish the things we love that bring us pleasure.

post #4 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot.

post #5 of 32

Nice pictures.  What's your source?  

post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 

I have a Pioneer CD player.

 

I also have a Monster y-cable that I use directly to my laptop sometimes.

post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeust0999 View Post

Review:

 

AKG K 701 & Purity Audio K.I.C.A.S Caliente

 

The AKG and the Caliente are similar: You get what you pay for. I absolutely think the KICAS is a gorgeous amplifer. A beautiful piece of metal to look at, really. The feeling of the knob is firm and smooth, just like the finish on the amp. I like their approach to keep it clean & simple.


Giggle.

post #8 of 32
Thread Starter 

It's funny because that was the thing I noticed when I turned it on for the first time.

 

 

 

post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeust0999 View Post

It's funny because that was the thing I noticed when I turned it on for the first time.

 

 

 


You turned on the firm, smooth knob? I like where this is going..

post #10 of 32

Quote:

Originally Posted by matthewh133 View Post


You turned on the firm, smooth knob? I like where this is going..


Haha

 

= D

post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 

I want another pair of headphones to compliment the 701's.

 

So should I....

 

A) Get the HD 650's

 

B) Buy a DAC

 

C) Keep saving for the T1's!!!

 

 

Thanks.

 

post #12 of 32

A

post #13 of 32
Thread Starter 

I'm also leaning towards A...

 

I know I'm going to get a lot more pleasure out of a new pair of headphones than a DAC.

 

Other opinions or suggestions on this matter?

 

 

 

....by the way I think the AKG's were made for Johnny Cash's music. Bliss.

post #14 of 32

Try a little Elvis Presley on the AKG. From Elvis in Memphis is the King at his finest, circa 1968. Re-released last year on a 2 disc Legacy recoding, it sounds superb.

post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 

I had not listened to Elvis Presley in a while, and I specifically searched and found a torrent of this.

 

Good Stuff, Thanks.

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